Well it's been an unusual couple of months and I seem to be getting involved in all sorts of tangles, what with the EFFF and now TFO. Oh well; you can't be liked by everyone. Even Jesus, who was a much better fisherman than I, although admittedly not a catch and release man, wasn't liked by everyone. In fact he pissed a few people off so much that they decided to crucify him. Lucky for me I live in an imaginary car in an imaginary country.
So what happened exactly? I dunno. And maybe we'll never know, but it sure is fun trying to find out. I reckon we've lost some board members as well – at least two – and I'm even getting hatemail now, and I've never had that before. Not even from ex-girlfriends who have good reason to hate me. So it's all been a bit weird.
You know there's this discussion board on Sexyloops, which we call “The Board”. And it's a really amazing thing. I don't think of it as the Sexyloops' Board, or at least I don't consider it when I make decisions for Sexyloops. There are no advertising banners for example. We don't spam the members. We've never tried to sell anything through the board, and we never will. That's a decision I took right from the start – and it's a good one.
But a discussion room isn't interesting in itself. The software is freely available on the Net. What makes a discussion forum interesting is its members. I am one of them. Sure I'm supposed to be a moderator as well. And in my own way I am. But I have never actively gone out to moderate any discussion (I've deleted one, but that was a bit seedy!).
I've made the decision on the Board, as in Sexyloops, as in everything, to be me. And if that makes me “a world class fool”, as according to one recent email, then fine. It's certainly not for the first time, and it sure as hell won't be for the last. Life's more interesting when you fuck up; how else do you think Herb invented his “Collapse Cast”?
So the problem was that we've had a few threads really promoting TFO, and out of all context. Then when I, or anyone else, questions these statements we are told we are world class fools, or worse, and the discussion turns nasty. It wouldn't matter which business it was, Sage, TFO, Sexyloops, or who it was; a first-time poster, Bruce Richards, or me, the response would be exactly the same: The Board is no place for marketing.
The majority of members are actually in the trade. And none attempt to directly or indirectly promote themselves. In my opinion this is out of respect for each other. I would be ashamed to hype Sexyloops flylines (say) on a board where we have input from flyline designers from both 3M and Rio. So I'll endeavour to keep the board free of such marketing, not because we want to market our own stuff, but because we don't.
Many members have expressed a belief that TFO has/is targeting the Sexyloops' Board as a means to promote their product. I don't know if this is true, but if they are and their philosophy is that any publicity is good publicity, then they've certainly succeeded.
On a positive note, I think we've seen a side of the board that we've not seen before, and I don't just mean that I've finally agreed with Frank on something, but that a number of people supported me, who usually tell me I'm talking bollocks. So thanks for that :-)
It's strange, as we get to know each other more, how we start to relate to one another. This for me is really interesting, because I go to the Board for a number of different reasons. First and foremost I go there because it's stimulating; I learn stuff, get involved in technical discussions, and learn to take nothing for granted. There is this serious, hard aspect to the Board; fools are not suffered gladly. I know that if I say something out of place, ten people will immediately tell me, not with any hostility you understand, but as a pure straightforward fact.
If I were worried about looking a fool; I wouldn't post there. But I'm not, apart from which there's nothing foolish in being wrong, that just so happens to be the pathway to becoming wise.
Carl's a pretty good example in fact. He's been arguing about his bloody whiplash effect for the last 12 months, and every time he brings it up we give him so many different reasons why we think he's wrong. I have a lot of respect for Carl for continuing to argue his point; we're learning a lot about flycasting and thinking about things with which no one else seems to bother. And why? Well, mainly because it's fun, this trying to work out a puzzle through looking at it from different angles, but also because we all want to be better flycasters.
I hope Carl is proved right in the end and that he manages to drag us kicking a screaming into becoming whiplash experts.
And I've really got to take my hat off to Frank. In the two years we've known each other we've hardly agreed on anything. We've had some huge discussions, especially on the double haul, but also the stop and stroke length. It's a lot of fun and a real and genuine education. I think, and certainly hope, that Frank has as much fun there as I do.
Finally, there is humour. Maybe it's because it is so hard and technical at times that we need this “whatever it is, it's not serious” side. Who knows, anyway that's my perspective, so thanks to all of you who choose to post on the Board.
And let's meet up more!