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Saturday, September 24, 2005


Pet Peeve #1

A Very Specific Rant

1. I know a guy who is a jerk. He is at least 40 years old, and might be in his early 50s. He still lives with his mother. His mother is retired but has a nice income, her son has never held a meaningful job that I am aware.

This is a true story, by the way.

I picked his mother up in a taxi one afternoon. The guy followed his mother out to the cab, loudly begging for money the whole way. She gave him a ten or a twenty as she was getting into the cab. He said that wasn't enough, and wouldn't let her close the car door until she coughed up another five dollars. He argued with her for a full minute or two, and then called her a bitch.

I'm not one to hold my tongue. I'm also not one to be rude. I told him that was uncalled for and he needed to close the cab door so that we could leave. As much as I was tempted, I didn't swear or call the dumbass a dumbass. I was pretty polite.

What do you suppose he said back to me?


He didn't have to, his mother lit into me like a mother bear protecting her cub.

He just flipped me the bird as we pulled out of the driveway while mother read me the riot act.

Question 1:

Was the guy out of line, even though his mother didn't seem to mind?

2. Another guy has a product he wants to sell. He spray paints an advertisement on an unused billboard.

Question 2:

Is he out of line? After all, the billboard wasn't in use and no one is hurt by his actions.

Which brings me to today's rant: By posting an advertisement for your wares on the BGG forum are you innocently sharing information with game geeks, or are you making a buck off of someone else's time, money and effort with little regard for that time, money and effort?

Although I could go off on this topic for a while I will give the condensed version.

The forum exists because a couple of guys have a passion for games. They are basically maintaining a free database in their spare time. A few users donate to the site, a small percentage is charged for selling games on the site, and some advertising is sold. That's it for income. Even though users add content, it is basically a labor-of-love for a few administrators.

On the other hand, the site is intended for the open discussion of boardgames by enthusiasts. By posting announcements about your game, you are simply putting the word out about your game, and many users appreciate the information.

(Here is where I tie in my first two examples.)

Compare that to the guy who posts his message on an unused billboard. He is simply getting the word out about his product. Many consumers might appreciate the advertising. Why should the owner of the billboard care? The board wasn't being used for anything else.

The point is that the billboard is only there because of the owner's investment of time and money. If the owner hadn't gone to the trouble of erecting the sign, there would be no sign spray paint on. Likewise, Boardgamegeek is only there because of a few guys investment of time and desire to maintain the site.

The guy who uses either medium without paying for the privilege is using someone else's labor and investment without regard. Ethically speaking the advertiser ought to pay for the use, even if he can get away without paying for a period of time.

Several companies do pay for advertising on Boardgamegeek. It is rude, selfish and tacky for other companies to utilize the free area just because there are some nice guys running the site who let such abuses slide. Just because you can get away with something does not make it right. Just as the guy who called his mother a bitch was out of line, so are companies that use the forums for advertising. It matters not that neither mother nor BGG admin are willing to call the abusers on their bad behavior.

Just because it is easier to ignore the behavior than it is to address it, does not make the behavior any more acceptable.

The billboard owner can either invest time and money to go clean up his sign, or he can ignore the abuse. It is probably easier and cheaper for him to just ignore the abuse. Just like the billboard owner, it is probably less aggravation for the guys at BGG to sit back and do nothing. The ad will be off the front page in 24 hours anyway.

The loser who called his mom a bitch was rude and wrong to do it, even though mom didn't seem to mind. The guy who spray painted the billboard was wrong. And it is wrong for a company to not pay for their advertising on Boardgamegeek even if the administrators don't seem to mind.

The site sells advertising. Buy it. Your competitors do. You are abusing the good nature of others by advertising for free. Furthermore, you are profiting from their hard work, which was mostly donated because of their love for boardgames.


I do not think that most people who advertise on Boardgamegeek without paying are doing it maliciously, they probably just never considered buying advertising. I don't think it is right nor practical to be rude to these people, but I see no harm in pointing out the error of their ways. I think that once their error is pointed out, most companies would consider buying advertising. If their behavior is not affected, the guy who is considering utilizing the forums for free advertising might be prompted to pay for advertising instead.

Most people choose to do the right thing when confronted with the right thing.

There are always (cough Shillking cough couggggghhhh) exceptions.

Addendum II:

Whereas the billboard owner placed his billboard where there was already a lot of traffic, the guys at BGG started with no traffic and have built up their audience by hard work. That is worth something in and of itself. The fact that there is a site that attracts so many gamers has value, at least offer to pay to show your appreciation for that achievement instead of taking it for granted.


I think your billboard analogy is flawed because the spray painter is using it in a way that the owner did not intend. (His intention being that you pay the owner money, he allows your advertisement to be placed on his billboard.)

A better analogy might be a public bulletin board -- it may owned by a specific person but has been erected for free use by the public. Further, the owner has designated a specific portion of the bulletin board to be used by businesses. Why would it then be unethical for businesses to utilize it?
One of the things that makes a site grow is the traffic - to me it would depend upon the owners' intent. Do they want for new games to be advertised there? If yes, fine. If not, the billboard analogy holds.

But, that's too much thinking for right now. Need more coffee. Great post.
I'm not bothered by posts about games from publishers. So long as they keep to the unwritten etiquette of the forums: one post per product, one post per month period, no shilling, and complete disclosure about their relationship to the product. Limited length.

In order to alleviate your discomfort, think of the following: you noticed the difference between a company posting to the forums and a company paying for ad space. Others notice this as well. You get what you pay for.
I normally don't disagree with you, Coldfoot, but in this instance, I think you're wrong. When D & A put up a folder marked "press releases", announcements of new games were meant to go there. It's as if I put up a billboard with a small sign underneath it - allowing people to use it for one day. If people used it every day, erasing what others had put there - then they would be crossing a line. Get your own billboard for that. But to use something that the owner has provided, in the way the owner intends, is not rude at all.
Please take this the way it's meant... a way to reduce the negativity, not increase it.

I'll keep it simple: Don't bother trying to run other people's lives... it's a waste of your time, and generally not productive either.

People teach others how to deal with them. That mother encourages her son't behaviour, and Aldie/Derk should have known (and probably do) what it means to have a free forum (there are benefits: a much larger readership, and downfalls: A much larger readership)

Make your life, and your friends and loved ones, as good as it can be. You can never know the whole story on other people's problems, so don't concern yourself with them unless asked to participate.
You know what?

I'm sorry.

Upon re-reading it I realize that it was:

a) poorly worded. It sounds insulting, and shouldn't have been.

b) not the right place to do something like that.

I enjoy your writing (here and at Gone Gaming). keep up the good work.
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