Blogging is kind of fun but can occasionally get tedious. On the list over the next few days is a relatively wistful look back at the 1970s and innovation the sport experienced, all triggered by looking at a restored IndyCar from that period while at the Fontana race. Writing for an external audience can be a chore at times when you are stalked by a handful of ‘fans’ that continuously contribute commentary that is completely unrelated to actual blog topics and usually expressed in the colorful language of an average fourth grader.
Why is this important enough to discuss? It is not, really. But considering the volume of ‘fan’ mail received about a recent incident I should at least provide the courtesy of a blanket response. A few weeks ago my ‘Defender’ persona was banned from a relatively new racing bulletin board/forum called OWR Online. A few months earlier the ‘Disciple’ persona was banned from the larger and more popular trackforum after the previous 15K post level ‘Defender’ met the same fate. In both cases no specific reasons were given other than obtuse, vague generalizations about the ‘tone’ not being right, not being a ‘fit’ for a forum, contributions to other sites and other such obfuscation and excuse making.
The D ‘fan’ club seems obsessed with this. Why? I do not understand. They are forums on the internet. They are not saving any lives. It does not matter in the big picture. My thought is that my absence from such forums is their loss, not mine. My forced absence also provides an opportunity to point out odd behaviors by otherwise well-intentioned forum operators which can vary from hypocritical to dishonest to downright ludicrous and a lot in between. One laugh inducing claim forum operators enjoy making is that diverse viewpoints are encouraged. I do not know of one racing forum that actually does that.
Saying one thing but enforcing something else is not unprecedented in society. American history is rife with examples of ‘undesirables’ being excluded, banished or otherwise castigated because, well, they just do not ‘fit.’
If some of these self-important forum operators were honest with themselves and others their behavior would not be so simultaneously funny and egregious. One friend of mine called it the ‘Howard Stern’ syndrome in which readers complain vociferously about the way ‘Defender’ expresses his opinions but hang on every word to see what will be posted next. I would disagree, but given the volume of mail about something as insignificant as exclusion from a public forum the point is easy to understand. If operators of places like trackforum and OWR were actually honest they might say some are excluded because we just don’t like the ‘fans’ Defender drags in.
The primary mistake forum operators make while running their little mini-kingdoms is completely misunderstanding points being made by excluded contributors. They get tripped up over things like ‘tone.’ As always I will put my credentials as a fan up against those of anyone else. I made it to most IndyCar events again this season including Fontana last weekend.
There are very few discernible differences in the rhetoric or actions of insecure forum operators and racists, commie chasers or witch hunters in terms of societal exclusion of certain members of communities they dislike. In addition to their own dishonest actions they do a disservice to their audiences.
Please do not misinterpret my words as bitter, particularly as I laugh. The pathetic behavior of others is their problem and not mine. Besides, I have my own place to express opinions, and folks seem to like it. So what is the problem?