by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Today I want to talk about this blog — what it is and how it operates. Two days ago, several readers got into a flaming war over politics. Each party wanted to have the last word, so the comments kept flying back and forth, getting pettier and pettier as they went. When I booted my computer Wednesday morning, I had 177 emails to read and deal with.
This blog is one of the most popular blogs that deals with the shooting sports. We have many tens of thousands of regular readers. Most of the time, this is a pretty fun place to be. But not yesterday.
Yesterday, a few people ruined the experience for everyone. They got into a political argument, and no party was willing to shut up. Back and forth, they kept zinging their comments, ruining the experience for everyone else.
I don’t mind a political statement now and then. I make them myself. But no one is going to hijack this blog just so they can get in the last word. That’s what the forums are for — or at least that’s how people who are on them behave. Not here.
This blog is successful because it sticks to the topics of the shooting sports. Mostly, it’s about airguns, but from time to time it does stray into other areas. I find the mix of topics interesting and stimulating; and from the success of the blog over the decade it’s been running, I think that sentiment is shared by a lot of readers.
We were established to educate people about airguns and the shooting sports. Some people think that if you talk about anything other than a pellet or BB gun you’ve gone off-topic, but then when I use common shooting terms like flyer or double-action in my reports, they start asking all kinds of questions. So, I’ve expanded my brief to cover the entire range of the shooting sports — just to complete the education process. If you don’t understand what rifling does, then how can you appreciate the way a diabolo pellet works?
Because we’re very popular, we get hit with spams. These are commercial messages that have nothing to do with the topics of the blog but provide embedded links to other websites. Since this blog ranks high in the search engines, the spammers are hoping they’ll be able to ride our coattails and get some ranking for their sites. Edith and I remove the spams all day long, and every morning we have to clear out a ton of them. We get 30-70 spam messages every 24-hour period, and the rate is increasing. As the blog succeeds, the spams increase.
I don’t mind mucking out the blog to get rid of these parasites, but I’m not going to let regular readers spin out of control and muddy the waters at the same time. If you’re a reader, you’re expected to treat this place like you would the living room of your own home. This isn’t an overpass where you can spray paint your frustrations. This is a place where people meet to discuss in a civil way things that interest them. If you can’t do that, go somewhere else to vent.
This blog gets read by school-aged children. Parents email Edith and me, thanking us for providing an internet site where they can go with their kids to read about the shooting sports without having to worry about foul language. We want that to continue. That includes omitting the foul-language abbreviations that are universally recognized by young people.
Longtime readers know this and abide by it without saying anything. But, sometimes, newer readers have to be advised to clean up their language. Well, now I’m addressing everyone. Foul language will not be tolerated on this blog. That goes for slang, innuendo, abbreviations and acronyms. If you think it’s bad, I probably do, too.
We allow comments to go off-topic on this blog. A couple years ago, we had an encounter with several readers who had more rigid views of what should be allowed here. We told them our policy, and they elected not to comment on the blog anymore. Several of them still read regularly, but they no longer post under the handles they used during that encounter.
Sales and self-promotion
This blog belongs to Pyramyd Air. They pay for the servers that host it, and they pay me to write it. Yes — I am paid by Pyramyd Air! I’m not their employee, but they do pay me for what I do. At the same time, they make no attempt to censor me, nor to tell me what to write. From time to time, they do suggest topics that will help their sales people get certain messages across, but these are educational — not sales-oriented! You readers suggest 10 times as many topics as they do.
Because the blog belongs to Pyramyd Air, we do not allow links to competing businesses. That may confuse some readers because we will link to some commercial places — as long as they are not in direct competition with Pyramyd Air. Also, if there’s a product that Pyramyd Air cannot carry for various business reasons, I won’t review that item on the blog. That does limit the range of airguns I can review, but Pyramyd Air is the largest airgun dealer in the United States, so it isn’t devastating.
A couple of our readers are promoting themselves right now, but it hasn’t gotten out of hand yet, so I’ve left it alone. They’ve been subtle about it to this point. If they cross the line, I will take action.
We will not allow one reader to verbally attack another. Edith has removed all comments on the report about the EscapeUL rifle that were argumentative. We can’t just take out the ones that are bad and leave the others — that only confuses things. And it isn’t fair to those who are interested in the EscapeUL to have to wade through a pile of muck to read comments about this rifle.
If we have a problem with a person who just can’t stop flaming (insulting or verbally attacking) others, we’ll ban that person from the blog. That’s a ban on commenting only, not on reading.
This was overdue
I’d planned a different blog for today, but it was put on hold so I could address this issue. We have so many new readers that this was long overdue. I held off because people were behaving themselves, for the most part. But a week ago, we picked up a new reader who went off the deep end almost from the beginning. Then, several other new readers joined him; and yesterday evening it culminated in a hostile food-fight exchange of comments that we had to remove.
So, here are the guidelines. When someone starts off on a personal rant, don’t answer him back. If he persists, we’ll take care of it. When you answer someone, you help create a thread that can get indexed by the search engines if we leave it up long enough. When that happens, this blog starts attracting the bad people. You don’t want that and neither do we.
Edith cleans house
My wife, Edith, is the blog clean-up gal. When the blog gets trashed with comments that don’t belong, she has to stop her other duties for Pyramyd Air and tend to the blog. She had to delete 76 comments in yesterday’s blog. She had to read all the comments to determine which ones had to be pulled. In some cases, the content of a comment or thread had pertinent/useful airgun info in addition to the bad stuff. In those cases, she threw out the baby with the bathwater and deleted the whole thing. So, if you said something useful or helpful about airguns and it’s now gone, that’s why. Feel free to repost that info if you like.
We’ll return to regular subjects tomorrow. Just to get your juices flowing, think about firearm companies like Smith & Wesson and Webley that have also made airguns. I don’t mean companies that have put their names on airguns like Colt and Dan Wesson — I mean companies that actually produced airguns.
Then, think of the airgun companies that have also made firearms. If I said Weihrauch, what kind of a company are they? Are they an airgun company, or are they a firearm company? We know they make high-quality airguns, but they also make and have made high-quality firearms. But Weihrauch has also made some of the cheapest so-called Saturday night specials that were ever produced! I’m referring to their Arminius line of zinc-diecast double-action revolvers.
When an airgun company makes a firearm, how do they make it? Good? Bad? Indifferent? Be prepared to discuss that.