Internet discussion group drama.

Builders:

Here is the best story I have about how the self-exciting ‘drama’ aspect of internet discussion groups work, It actually happened on the Corvaircraft discussion group ten years ago:

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A guy, who had met me in person a number of times, who is a fixture on the Corvaircraft list, gets on the list and says he just looked at his Conversion manual, and evidently I left out pages 113-114 and 115-116 when I mailed it to him. (At the time, I was still allowed on that list), but he doesn’t ask me, he sends the question out to the 750 people on the discussion group.

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Within minutes he gets a reply from another guy with one of my manuals, who says he just checked, and his manual is also missing these same pages.

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Third guy writes back, and notes that his manual is also missing the same pages. He adds a comment that ‘WW really should do better on printing’

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In the next hour, a total of eleven people write in to say they also have checked their manuals, and they also have missing pages 113-116. This starts an avalanche of comments. The first ones are about poor printing control, but within a few posts it turning into righteous indignation, a half dozen commenters piling on, including comments like “Someone could have been killed by things that WW left out, he certainly owes us all an explanation and an apology.”

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What actually happened? Every single one of these people had completely forgotten that page 113-114 was the liability statement, and 115-116 was the manual registration page, and each of them forgot that they had filled out these pages, personally cut them out of the manual, put them in an envelope and mailed them. That’s right, they went right to the keyboard to inflame and indict, with absolutely no memory of writing, cutting out and mailing the same pages themselves. This wasn’t an April fool’s joke, nor drunk people writing in after dinner, it was sober people in the middle of the day.

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I wrote a short reply back pointing out that I had each of their ‘missing pages’, in my filing cabinet, all filled out and mailed to me. None of the people wrote back about how I didn’t owe them an apology now. Keep in mind that this was eleven out of 750 people, but if any rational person saw what was going on, they didn’t speak up and interrupt the drama club. Most of the people on that list didn’t own a manual from me, and had I not been on that list, they would have thought I carelessly left pages out of books. For the last 5 years I have been banded from that list, mostly for not being ‘nice’ in my writings, no matter what anyone else said about my efforts.

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Where are “the eleven” today? They are still on the Corvaircraft discussion group. Have they learned anything about internet groups, or their own conclusion jumping? Maybe not, as one of the people who ‘demanded an apology’ for this weeks imagined insult to Dan Weseman, was one of the same eleven people.  Do I feel left out from Corvaircraft? Yes, I do, but I felt the same way when I became too old to be a Cub Scout anymore.

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The day after the ‘missing page mystery’, it may have seemed The merry-go-round of the endless drama club stuff of the internet might change, but the carb drama this week driven by people who can’t take the time to actually read before commenting shows nothing ever changes, it is still there, 10 years later, and it will always be there. Internet discussion groups provide a place for a certain type of person to feel at home. That’s fine, just make sure that if you are not that kind of person, you don’t wake up there ten years later, listening to the latest drama about who owes who ‘a public apology’ over an imaginary slight.

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Above, Dan Weseman and I stand in my front yard; This was the first run of the Panther’s engine. Last night Dan and I worked on an R&D project until 1 am at our little airport. On the internet, a half dozen people, egged on by a angry guy demanded ‘a public apology’  for Dan over an imaginary comment. This did provide some comedic relief for last night’s work, as we made comments like “You owe me a public apology for handing me that 7/16″ wrench” and “You owe me a public apology for your insincere public apology for my public apology” . On the serious side, we did speak at some length about the rewards of doing the type of work we do. It was about good people you get to work with, learning a tremendous amount of technical information, exercising well engineered creativity, and spending time closer to family while working near home. All stuff pretty far away from internet drama.

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-ww,

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