The Derek Smart Phenomenon

Sorry, brush fans. I just don’t feel like doing any model kit stuff today, so you get this. On one hand I feel like I should be writing a meaty, well tailored article on paint application every day, but on the other hand I’m really not that guy. That guy does plenty of videos and writes all kinds of cool stuff about models, but that guy is not me.

But I’m hoping, fervently, that I’m not going to end up like Mr. Derek Smart, a game designer who has become famous for being involved in the longest flame war in Usenet history (50,000 entries? 100,000?). Smart was pulled into a mind-trap called a “flame war” back in the good old Usenet days when true flaming wasn’t just allowed, it was expected. Plenty of profanity and personal attacks (and I mean plenty) accumulated in the name of Usenet “honor”–with the “rule” being that the first flamer to stop posting would be the loser.

Unfortunately, neither side would relent. As a matter of fact, a quick googling will reveal that the war is STILL going on–in modified form (Usenet has been dead for a while now) and Mr. Smart and his enemies are still going at it. The “Derek Smart” Wikipedia entry became a battlefield, and so the wizards who oversee whatever Wikipedia is had to intervene.

Bad blood there. Also nuttiness. Some nuttiness. Definitely.

I posted a review of the Aviation of Japan website authored by Mr. Nick Millman. I genuinely dislike this guy, and I’ve never met him. I was hoping that by explaining that I don’t like him the review would be seen for what it is–biased. I’m not doing a “neutral” review–but it’s not an unwarranted review. I dislike Mr. Millman because he doesn’t play fair online.

But online feuds are dangerous. I’m not good at avoiding them because I feel a compulsion to attack bullies. I was bullied as a youngster and so I harbor old feelings regarding people who use intimidation to get what they want. I don’t really understand the fight that Mr. Smart has had with his critics for all these years. But I have a feeling that at least part of this unholy determination to carry on the fight arises from childhood trauma. Only something planted in the psyche very early in life can lead to over twenty years of internet sniping that still goes on today. Only a person who feels like the last defender of truth and justice would go to the trouble to post messages over and over again repeating the same tiresome insistence on who’s right and who’s wrong.

It’s not a sign of good mental health.

I got a message yesterday from a Mr. Malcolm Hood which defends Mr. Millman for providing helpful advice and offering pdf’s for sale at reasonable prices. It was not an email. It was comment intended to show up on the blog with the article. I’m not going to allow defenders of Mr. Millman to post comments. It’s a blog. It’s not a discussion forum. But I will post an excerpt:

I wrote him cold to see if he might help. He wrote me back with his own ‘best guess’ about it that was pretty comprehensive, as well as specific about the sources that informed his opinion. In the twelve years since, I cannot think of another author who has more freely shared (through his blog) more information, stuff most authors in his field would keep ‘proprietary,’ with their future publications in mind. Other modelers I know have shared similar stories of reaching out to Nick for and receiving helpful replies.

My review of Aviation of Japan reflects my feelings about the author of the blog. Actually, I did not write a dossier. Mr. Millman’s nasty behavior was mentioned in passing. I did not mention his numerous bizarre antics because I felt hesitant to step off into the Derek Smart Singularity. It’s a thin line between listing someone’s online stupidities and name calling.

Mr. Millman’s philanthropies are commendable. But he could devote half his life to saving sick children and I still wouldn’t like the guy. I get a bad feeling from him because he has the thinnest skin in Christendom and takes offense at the drop of a comma. He attacks people on forums, gets angry for no reason, and behaves like a troll.

The information he used to provide on forums, when he decided to get involved, was hampered by a truly awful signal to noise ratio. Trying to understand what he was saying, buried within thousands of words of techno-babble, was impossible. I made the mistake of calling him on his bullshit, and so he got angry (of course) and attacked me and got away with it.

I strongly suspect that Mr. Millman uses sock puppets to manipulate forums for purposes of “guerrilla marketing” and although some people don’t have a problem with it, I do. I think it’s dishonest and underhanded. I can’t prove anything, but when I responded to one of these bogus messages with a “take Mr. Millman’s information with a large grain of salt” on Hyperscale the thread was deleted.

The strangest thing about Mr. Millman is his lack of consistency. Yes, he seems like a fine fellow to some people at some times. At others–forget it. This lead me to the conclusion that he may suffer from some mental disorder. His wild “swings” in personality must reflect some kind of problem, and I would like to say that if he wrote me a personal letter, explained about the disorder, and, in other words, offered up an apology, I’d be the first one to join his fan club.

I mean it.

In the mean-time, I won’t continue this into the next century. By Grabthar’s hammer, no more about Mr. Millman or his activities on this blog!

All comments regarding his “niceness” will go into the spam pile. Please don’t try to post them. It gets you banned.

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