04 June 2008

Discussion Board Gremlins?

Sigh. You know, the Old School Wargaming Yahoo group is a wonderful thing. Since I stumbled on it in late 2005, I check in maybe twice a day most of the time, to see what kinds of things are under discussion. And sometimes, to the chagrin of the Grand Duchess, I visit OSW more than twice in a 24-hour period.

The discussion threads at OSW rarely fail to inspire me and keep up my enthusiasm and motivation for the hobby. In the last 2 1/2 years, I’ve met some great people, made a few friends around the world, and learned a fair amount about the hobby’s early days. And who can forget all of the great photos of their collections that OSW members regularly share? I short, for someone like me, who has always painted/collected/gamed in relative isolation, OSW is a goldmine of like-minded souls around the world. But it has is downside too.

Recently, I posted a question on figure choice there, similar to one here, in an effort to liven things up a bit. The discussion board had been rather quiet for a number of days with summer coming on, etc., etc. Well, many fellow wargamers piped up and contributed their two cents worth. So, my questions and criteria had the desired effect and gave us something to talk about for a few days. Mission accomplished.

One thing annoyed me a bit though. There are some members of OSW who seem to have a propensity for taking these friendly discussions in unpleasant directions with their “back and forth” e-arguments that accomplish nothing except stirring up bad feeling, occasionally causing the group owner and moderator to lock down the group for a few days. Well, I simply cannot understand why adults behave that way. And frankly, I have no patience with it. Now, before you start throwing sticks and stones in this direction, let me explain.

OSW is supposed to be a place for sharing our enthusiasm in a fun and POLITE way. Of course, I have no problem with differing and even dissenting opinions about various facets of the wargaming hobby. People are people and will always see the same issues from a variety of different perspectives. No problem there. But, to turn nasty at the slightest provocation, well, I just don’t know what to say. I mean as interesting, fun, and rewarding as the wargaming hobby is, it IS only a hobby after all. Life is full of real things to get worked up about. So, why turn an otherwise happy meeting place like the OSW group into something unpleasant?

Oddly enough, it seems to be the same people (usually) there who get their hackles up and perceive what others are saying as a personal attack. Worse are those OSW members who post messages that are (thoughtlessly?) written in such a way that they seem to provoke an unpleasant retort from one member or another. I sometimes think there are people who simply do this kind of thing to get a rise out of others. Or, to put it in a slightly less polite way, like male dogs engaging in a certain personal activity, they only do it because they can. Sigh.

Ok, to wrap up my rant for this morning, let’s consider a few words of wisdom from my mother and grandmother, who used to tell me two things that are applicable here: 1) You only get your feelings hurt by others if you choose to let them do it; 2) Just let it roll off your back, like water on a duck, and stop letting it get to you. Familiar words of wisdom that are as valid now as when I was seven years old. I'll add my own two bits and say this: If people have nothing nice to add to an exchange at OSW, they might do worse than to keep their negativity to themselves (i.e., hold their tongues -- electronically speaking of course).

We now return you to our regularly scheduled programming. . .


guy said...


I agree. I thought the exchanges were regretfully intemperate and contributed nothing to what could have been an interesting discussion. As per usual I took one look at it and switched off. I have enough stresses and strains in my job without straying into arguments about what is after all for me a hobby and an escape.


Martin said...

Hi Stokes,

Right On Bro! I have never understood how anyone could get worked up over a hobby that is supposed to be fun and relaxing. Guy is right. There is enough trials and tribulations in life, so the LAST thing I want to do when I have some "Down Time", is get involved in an arguement, either face to face or over the internet. I always thought Abraham Lincoln had the right idea when he was challenged to a duel. He suggested cowpies at fifteen paces!



ColCampbell50 said...


I agree wholeheartedly!


Bluebear Jeff said...


I know what you mean . . . but please remember that there were also several other "legitimate" responses to your question. It was really only two who got into the negative stuff.

I didn't post there since I'd already replied here . . . but just to let you know that IF I were to "get angry" . . . I'd tell my Imagi-Nation to declare war on your Imagi-Nation and let them fight it out on the table top.

But then I'm not upset with you, so Saxe-Bearstein and Stollen are still on good terms with each other.

Stagonia, on the other hand, is always a loose cannon . . . but this is polite company so we won't go into details about the vile ones.

-- Jeff

A J Matthews said...

I agree, Stokes. I experience enough negativity at times in everyday life and I don't want to see it on the hobby loops I favor. The best method is to ignore it, I feel.

Part of the problem lies in the very nature of the internet - everything is done at a remove, with no way of judging a person's reaction from their tone, expression and body language. A remark or comment that *may* have been intended in a light vein can be misconstrued as an insult because the reader can't judge that from the tone and expression of the poster. Equally, there are those who get their kicks from stirring up trouble.

The principle should be, "if you won't say it to a person's face, don't say it on the forum."

Martin, cowpies as a dueling weapon? Yet another reason to admire Old Abe!

Steve said...

..Stokes - I agree completely and I'll go further and say I didn't even understand what the problems was! I've noticed in the past though that one of the people involved (and you know who I mean) does seem to be mightily sensitive... :o))

PS. Feel free to delete this one if you'd like - just wanted to register my "support", and to say 'carry on throwing in the questions'


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