Forum Cronies and Forum Coneys

Hot dogs. They’re good.

Now that I’ve paid off the title, let’s talk about “guerilla marketing” on forums. I’ve ranted a bit about color on model planes–and we all know (I hope) that this isn’t really a big deal. You can paint your model any way you like, etc. But I get a little “ranty” about it because I have no rational brain when it comes to on-line bullying, dirty tactics like “sock puppetry” and selling through “guerilla marketing” by posting remarks on forums using paid shills.

All that stuff is evil as far as I am concerned. It’s also as out-dated as high button shoes and griping about it makes me look like an old fart who uses words like “griping.”

But I don’t care. This stuff is really outrageous. Let’s begin at the beginning. Person A wants to make and sell decals or kits or books or subscriptions of some kind. Person A then decides that in order to sell book or decal or whatever, it has to offer “new” and “never before seen” data. Person A then works long and hard to create the illusion that such data exists (using very sophisticated sophistry to build a kingdom in the clouds where Zeroes are caramel colored, Messerschmitts are caramel colored, Soviet warplanes are caramel colored–you get the picture, wherever there is ambiguity, color it caramel).

Then bring out your product, complete with some “guerilla” marketing where you and a team of two friends set up “sock puppet” accounts to promote your product. You go on forums and ask bogus questions, such as “Excuse me for asking, as I’m new here, but how caramel were the SpAD’s flown by Eddie Rickenbacker?” Then you answer back “The caramel coefficiency of Rickenbacker’s horizontally oriented reflexive unit is P.A.L. 31 marked against both CRANDAL and the french Vouvray system using modern techniques and technology. But what does a simple old paint seller like me know?” (Be sure to include the smarmy self-effacement. It works wonders.)

Now that we have puppet show going, refer to the historically important publication of the paint/decals/kit/book whatever created by the world-famous I. M. Expert who, from time to time, graces us with his presence on this forum *gush*.

Now, woe unto the fool who challenges the opinion of I. M. Expert and his stooges. If you point out the obvious, that no evidence supports this conclusion, then you receive the following gentle replies, from grown-up people.

“Why is it that somebody always has to start trouble?”

“If I were the kind of person who calls people names, I’d be using names like ‘barnaby,’ and ‘whipper doodle,’ and other obscure curses that are obscene in my country but because I’m so clever I use them on a blog in another country and get away with it, and anyway this whole thing is hypothetical you poncy little jack-a-black corndoodle! Get lost!”

“I’m the moderator here, and I have been told by hundreds of sock puppets and shills (okay, that part would not be in there) that you are a bad person. I am counting to three…ONE…”

You get the idea. In a few posts the idiot who DARED to attack the life’s work of I. M. Expert is buried, insulted and then threatened with a ban (or actually banned). You’d end up on double-secret probation, anyway, so you learn. Don’t question “your betters.”

Right and wrong, true and false make no difference. Also, the sock puppet shills of the monied interests will go APE. They froth at the mouth.

“Never in my life have I encountered a bigger fool–you have the maturity of a power ranger fan and the power of a modern maturity fan. I hate hate hate you. Please die.”

…and it goes on.

Nobody becomes totally unlaced over “airplane colors” but a shill. It’s intended to intimidate. To bully. To control. It’s deliberate. Forum owners make a choice to let the bullies have their way–and it’s all about MONEY. Yes, my friends, as hard as it may be to believe, the almighty dollar will, from time to time, show up and prove why it’s called “almighty.” It’s all about the benjamins.

I can’t change the world.

But I can go to my blog and (let’s see, need an archaic term) bellyache. What’s really hilarious is that these tin pot experts will promote a new color scheme, then, some guy with a restored warbird, or a museum with an old plane will paint said plane to match the B.S. scheme promoted by said expert. Then, you search google for “colors for Battle of Britain Messerschmitt” and you get hundreds of beige Emil models, warbirds and museum planes.

So who can fight it?

Mottled wings. Yes, there is such a thing. A lot of it.

Brushpainter

Well look, I already told you! I deal with the customers so the engineers don't have to! I have people skills! I am good at dealing with people! Can't you understand that? What is wrong with you people?

comments
  • Is it Jurgen, Kiroff and Merrick? I seem to have them in mind as the Lutwaffe colour proponents ‘on top’ of the current debate. What timeframe are we talking about here for the Book and Paint release?

    I have noticed more overt domination by eg; somebody owns a shop, they stock a certain brand, and post in forums spruiking their stocked brand while denigrating non stocked brands. I haven’t yet seen anything you describe, not on Aussie forums anyway. Yet.

    • Merrick’s early book, “Luftwaffe Camouflage and Markings” may have started this whole “thing”–but it wasn’t the cause. His book contained some (supposedly) new information and it sold for that reason. Perhaps Merrick simply did what any resourceful person would do–massage the data to support the conclusion that paid off for him. It wasn’t such a terrible sin. But after one success came the army of imitators, and each imitator, attempting to duplicate Merrick’s success, engaged in more and more disreputable behavior. The truth is that a forum is just too porous to be any good for “serious” research. It’s a disaster as a way to convey this type of information. It’s just too easy to “cheat” on a forum. It would help if the moderators were aware of the problem and looked out for it. Sadly, most of them don’t (Hyperscale and Britmodeler are soaked in marketing fluff). The problem arises in human nature. We are just too greedy to be trusted. Caveat Emptor…caveat emptor. The buyer alone is responsible for checking the quality.

  • AMEN.
    Yup, it’s all true as sin. I’ve noticed a
    lot of the greedy little and big slime.
    The proliferation of paint colors and stuff for weathering, panel line mania, and my favorite – weighted tires, is insanely mind boggling.
    I now disclose I’ve been a detail freak since age 10, so I came about it honestly, as I’m sure many modelers did. The model industrial complex noticed this, and got us addicted.

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