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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About William Wynne
I have been continuously building, testing and flying Corvair engines since 1989. Information, parts and components that we developed and tested are now flying on several hundred Corvair powered aircraft. I earned a Bachelor of Science in Professional Aeronautics and an A&P license from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, and have a proven 20 year track record of effectively teaching homebuilders how to create and fly their own Corvair powered planes. Much of this is chronicled at www.FlyCorvair.com and in more than 50 magazine articles.

6 Responses to Internet discussion group drama.

  1. Chuck Callahan says:

    William,

    The morons who flame out on the internet like this are, real verbal gun slingers. They fire off their mouth from the hip, with no thought or consideration of the possible miss queues they may inflict. Imagine if they had a rifle or pistol in their hand.

    The pen is a mighty enough weapon for these d-bags to do themselves in with.

    • Chuck,

      After 15 years of it, you just have to look at it with humor. The silly thing is how far this stuff is from what building and flying was supposed to be. I don’t think anyone looks at the first picture of a homebuilt and thinks “This would be great to build, because it will allow me to get on discussion groups and participate in made up dramas” I don’t know why so many people eventually settle for that. -ww.

  2. Bob Helt says:

    William,
    Don’t you have an alter ego or some friends who, as members of that club, would write in to defend your position and tell the truth as you have now presented it? You need to have some supporters on that forum.

    Thanks for telling the story. It made me laugh because of the dumbness of some people.

    Regards,
    Bob Helt

    • Bob,

      We have plenty of friends in many places, but smart, sane happy people understand that you are not going to get far speaking with some vocal people, so most of them don’t speak up, and I could hardly blame them. Few people, particularly ones out flying planes, have time or will for the drama club stuff, even to offer a bit of reality. -ww.

  3. Alan Laudani, Vision 401, CC23, Shady Cove, OR says:

    I. for one, saw it for what it was, discussion group drama. I try to discriminate between the drama (sometimes remaining an entertained lurker) and real information. I wrote a reply, re-read the draft email and then deleted it as it was non-productive.

    I keep a “Corvair Notes” word doc with verifiable facts that I have collected since 2012 and edit it to transfer to worksheets that will be useful like “checklist for CC38”, “First Flight checklist”, and “Condition Inspection checklist”. I have two FlyCorvair manuals that are read and read again. The keyword lookup on the FlyCorvair website is very handy for finding content. Thanks, William, for allowing content on the website to be copied. Not all websites’ content is open to copy.

    Alan Laudani, Vision N401EX, CC23, Shady Cove, OR

  4. cringely says:

    First-time commenter here, though I’ve been a homebuilder for 50+ years. I’m also a blogger in an entirely different field with more than a million words on the web since 1997 so my back is filled with holes. The issue I’d like to address is the lack of apologies when people are proved to be clearly, crassly wrong. In the fall of 1999 I made for PBS a TV special on Y2K (Y2K: The Winter of our Disconnect?). I had been one of the first people to write about the Y2K problem a decade earlier. But my show said that there would be little impact, that billions had been spent and Y2K was not in the end going to be a big deal. The day after the show first aired I received more than 2500 e-mails from viewers, almost all of them negative and more than 100 containing death threats! People were upset because I was minimizing the downside and, by doing so, putting lives at risk and deserved to die. And when January 1 came and I was proved correct, did even one of those 2500 people write back to say they were wrong, that just maybe I didn’t deserve to die after all? No. And that’s the way the system works. All you can do is say your piece.

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