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If you are a Knifemaker....then be a Knifemaker

Discussion in 'Tech Support, General Q&A, Site Feedback & More' started by Stacy E. Apelt - Bladesmith, Dec 19, 2013.

  1. Matthew Gregory

    Matthew Gregory Chief Executive in charge of Entertainment Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Jan 12, 2005


    I couldn't possibly add anything to Nathan's post, other than to agree with it wholeheartedly. Wow, man - you nailed every bit of this in one post. Nice!!!!
     
  2. Esav Benyamin

    Esav Benyamin MidniteSuperMod

    Apr 6, 2000
    Sheaths & Such is supposed to be for sheath information. Questions on buying, selling, and trading belong in the Exchange. Report them and we'll put them there.

    Lets keep sheaths away from hot metal. :)
     
  3. Spark

    Spark HPIC - Hatas gonna Hate Staff Member Administrator Super Mod Moderator

    Oct 2, 1998
    Sheaths and their construction would probably fall under the shop talk banner though, when you think about it. I don't know, it's worth exploring.

    Nathan, I'm working on a response to your post, the last one got eaten.
     
  4. Spark

    Spark HPIC - Hatas gonna Hate Staff Member Administrator Super Mod Moderator

    Oct 2, 1998
    Nathan, I see your side of it, and I respect your opinion, however I disagree on a couple levels.

    One, you are mistaken about the core audience of WIP vs metallurgy & tools. WIP will have a much wider audience than tools and such as customers love seeing what it takes to make a knife - and this isn't limited to our industry; see the success of the various reality TV shows such as Monster Garage, Hells Kitchen, Top Chef, etc. Look at the explosion of Youtube channels where anyone with a camera can have 100k fans. Separating WIP into it's own area gives people a reason to get exposure to knifemakers they haven't seen before, allows knifemakers to reach a broader audience, without the potential buyers having to dig through huge amounts of "what carbides this" and "how heat treat that" - specific detailed information is a niche good that has limited broad base appeal.

    Two, we're not trying to pigeonhole and subdivide each and every aspect of the industry, but there is room for greater organization. The key is balance. There may not be enough traffic now; there may never be. You claim that further subdivision will kill traffic; Contrary to this there's the fact that there's multiple separate webforums in this same industry covering a great variety of topics. The nice thing about subforums is that if the traffic dead, we can always close and consolidate it. Unlike facebook or several other areas, we have a level of permanence that allows for archiving and future traffic.

    With regards to professors not paying to teach, here's the thing: they are staff. The knifemakers who left weren't, and aren't - they aren't expected or required to provide anything. I haven't asked anyone to teach anyone - I've simply provided a venue for people to talk about their topics and share their knowledge should they so chose because it helps the community as a whole. That's the core tenent of this site: people helping people learn. Both Brian and Kevin have repeatedly expressed that they want to help people learn, until it became burdensome to do so.

    If recognized industry masters want a place where they can preach to the choir about the gospel of [subject matter], I can certainly provide that. It's no skin off my nose; it's literally a click of a mouse.

    I've done post searches on this topic by several of the people involved and there's a couple recurring trends: stress, dealing with inaccurate information, dealing with trolls, etc. Let me make this clear: I don't need troublemakers & dramaqueens here at any level, especially when they are messing with people trying to improve the community. Unlike other places, this website isn't about bankrolling the profits of certain makers & manufacturers & their preferred dealers over others. We're not charging people for "protection" and we don't squelch discussion or ban people for violating a bro code. I don't care how much the haters hate.

    At the same time though, I'm not Ms Cleo, Dione Warwick or John Edward - I don't have mystic powers. If someone is having personality issues with trolls, it's incumbent on them to reach out and let the moderators know. If action isn't being taken, they need to let me know. Be part of the solution - If you aren't willing to ask for help or bring attention to issues, that's being part of the problem. If you think that the direction of moderation in Shop Talk needs to change, step up and help out.

    If they want some sort of compensation for providing quality content, they should approach me and we'll discuss it, but this is not a magazine; nor is it a teaching facility where students are paying to be taught - this is a discussion forum where people interact with the community at large. Should we transition to incorporate blog-type content & articles then that's something that would require further discussion. If we were having workshops, it'd be required. Let's focus on what is happening.

    If the old guard isn't ever coming back no matter what; let me be blunt: oh fucking well. If people want to see a positive change, the help me help you; Shop Talk isn't my hangout - I just provide the venue. It's on you guys to help me make it better, and the way to do that is for people to be active and help chip away at the problems until they are solved.
     
  5. Omega Leather Works

    Omega Leather Works

    Jun 13, 2007
    Yes, I agree. I do think it belongs with the Makers forums. Most of the sheaths being put out are by the guys making the knives that fit them. I'd like to learn from them, and maybe help someone out that's stuck on something.

    Ultimately this may or may not be high on the priority list. There are some really interesting things being discussed, and I think they warrant that, but at the same time I'd be bummed if this was forgotten about. :eek:
     
  6. Nathan the Machinist

    Nathan the Machinist KnifeMaker / Machinist / Evil Genius Moderator Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Feb 13, 2007
    Kevin,

    Have you thought about who actually makes the WIPs and what is their motivation? It's optimistic to think that creating an area for something is going to magically make that something happen there. That isn't how humans work.

    WIP threads take an enormous amount of (uncompensated) work to put together well. You have to consider a person's motivations for making one before you can consider the "cost/benefit ratio" for the person who makes it. If it costs too much (time) and the benefit is low (it's stuck somewhere like hammer and tong where nobody is going to see it) the WIP won't be made.

    I happen to be one of the people making quality WIP threads on your forum. I'm taking pictures now for an integral WIP. I'm making a dagger now that is similar to the one I made that is on the cover of Knives 2013, and I expect it will probably be a pretty good WIP if I can find (justify) the time to write it. Nick Wheeler is another, you might ask him his thoughts.

    In my view there are two kinds of WIP. One is informative, the other is instructive, and they have two different audiences and are made differently.

    An informative WIP talks about how and why something is done and is intended to be consumed by people like collectors. Lots of good photography and a discussion about design choices etc. It is to inform and educate buyers and users and would get good traffic on the Handmade and Collectors forum.

    An instructive WIP talks about how to do something and is intended to be consumed by other makers. The quality of the photography is less important but there is a lot more detailed information where a person reading the WIP doesn't simply have a better appreciation for the work but could actually attempt it themselves with the more detailed information presented. It is a WIP intended to educate other makers and would be inappropriate on the Handmade and Collectors forum but would be a big juicy steak in the maker's forum.

    It is human nature to congregate and hang out in "their forum". You'd be pissing into the wind trying to change that. If I make an informative WIP and stick it into some WIP forum, most of the collectors I made it for are not going to come over and look at it. It would be a considerable waste of my time to make it. The collectors want the WIPs in their forum and I'm happy to oblige. And the makers want their WIPs in their forum. I think that everyone will be best served if you focus on giving the people what they want, rather than what you deem they need.

    I appreciate you hearing my concerns.
     
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2014
  7. Spark

    Spark HPIC - Hatas gonna Hate Staff Member Administrator Super Mod Moderator

    Oct 2, 1998
    The motivations behind doing anything break down universally and are pretty well known. Your motivations may not be the same as someone else.

    Which is why I suggest a dedicated WIP forum where it's restricted to people who are actually invested in what they are doing and not cluttered with BS.

    I think these categories are overly broad and miss many of the nuances behind the motivations to make a WIP here. Instead, consider the following acronym: RASCLS

    • Reciprocation - The desire to give something back to the community, to repay in kind what has been provided to them. This is a universal trait among all societies
    • Authority - BladeForums is the largest discussion site in the industry and carries a measure of prestige with it. Stuff that's featured on here is seen worldwide, and despite doomsaying has a large knowledge base of experts. When you post a WIP you are saying "I know what I'm doing, look at how I do it, this is how it should be done."
    • Scarcity - Let's face it, most knifemaker's are one man shows. Their products aren't widely available which makes them more desirable and therefore more expensive. This also plays into the next aspect...
    • Commitment & Consistency - people want to see that you know what you are doing and that you aren't cutting corners. Look at the fallout when fake knifemakers get exposed.
    • Liking - You want to be with people who have shared interests and value systems.
    • Social Proof - At one end, being able to have people lined up for your product (or close your books to new orders), at the other, having a cult like group of rabid fanboys

    There's a huge amount of psychology behind each of these reasons, but this is a thumbnail overview.

    See, that's an example of your motiviations - money. You want to expose your WIPs to your potential customer base. That's not the same motivation that Kevin & Brian stated they had.

    The Shop Talk Forum isn't for the collectors. It's for the knifemakers. If the collectors want to see pretty pictures, that's what the gallery is for, or individual knifemaker forums, or a WIP forum. Narrowing the focus to ask what's best for the end buyer misses that the WIP isn't strictly about selling; but education, ego boost, feedback, and more.
     
  8. Nathan the Machinist

    Nathan the Machinist KnifeMaker / Machinist / Evil Genius Moderator Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Feb 13, 2007
    Thank you for the detailed reply.

    It's difficult to make decisions with limited information. It was my goal to provide some insight from the inside before you pull the trigger. Thank you for your ear.

    While I may not follow all of your thinking, whatever it is that you decide to do with the forum, I'm hopeful that it will be the best move.
     
  9. Varga Knives

    Varga Knives

    Aug 12, 2006
    First of all, ST is extremely lucky to have Stacy as a mod and he does a fantastic job. However, and I could be wrong, I don't see Mark coming back and I think it's too much for one person. I vote Nathan for moderator (not that I even have a vote or anything).

    Less is more as far as subformums are concerned. IMHO as long as a new post isn't bounced to page 2 within its first 24 hours then we're okay as natural selection will determine a posts staying power. Also, something like a heat treating forum would never get opened unless someone specifically is looking for an answer on a HT question they have or they woke up that morning and felt like answering a question on HT. However, I read and get value out of HT threads that I just stumble upon.

    I like James' idea of a sticky for the around the grinder type posts because I think I have a mental limit on how many forums (given the volume of traffic) I can peruse comfortably. My small mind gets overwhelmed after three.

    As far as bringing top level makers in (I hate to rehash an earlier analogy) but I think of it as a celebrity at a night club. Not only is the door charge waived but a comped bottle of Dom wouldn't be out of the question because the celebs draw the paying crowd. Just my .02.
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2014
  10. NickWheeler

    NickWheeler

    Dec 3, 1999
    Nathan put his thoughts down very eloquently, and I could not agree more with what he has said. :)

    THANK YOU NATHAN! :thumbup: :cool:
     
  11. james terrio

    james terrio Sharpest Knife in the Light Socket

    Apr 15, 2010
    Forget nuances. What "nuances"? Y'all are thinking about this WAY too much. It's a goddamn knife forum, not international/foreign policy, FFS. :rolleyes:

    Wanna sell/advertise? Pay for your share of bandwidth and support a tremendous resource for selling knives. Don't wanna pony up/sell/advertise? Don't. Wanna ask questions? Ask. Wanna share your experience? Share.

    WTF is so complicated about that? :confused:

    "Overly-broad" is a lot easier to navigate than overly-micro-managed, overly-divided, overly-complicated and ultimately confusing sub-divisions and rules that no one really understands. We already have that, and clearly it's not working.

    The more complicated it becomes, the fewer makers - new and experienced - will even attempt to be part of it.

    KISS.
     
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2014
  12. Matthew Gregory

    Matthew Gregory Chief Executive in charge of Entertainment Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Jan 12, 2005
    I think I'm in agreement with James on this one... Trying to determine the 'nuances' of motives is actually called 'guessing', and in the greater scheme of things serves no point other than finger-pointing and micromanagement. Traffic is what I would think would be the major factor, here - although, as Nathan has already stated, we don't have all the facts. Seems to me, though, that if you had a heap of serious knifemakers participating - and that's the key - PARTICIPATING, it would draw from all walks, and increase the value of the forums overall, no?

    Perhaps I'm naive. I don't have access to the details, but that certainly seems like what you'd want...
     
  13. Spark

    Spark HPIC - Hatas gonna Hate Staff Member Administrator Super Mod Moderator

    Oct 2, 1998
    You know, I'm really biting my tongue here. We're talking in circles and it's obvious that several of you aren't reading what the other says. I'm trying to be polite and sort out the constructive criticism but some of you are focused on the small picture and are missing the forest for the trees. When I refer to nuance, it's in regards to people's motivations for performing specific actions such as WIPs. Bear that in mind before making a reply.

    Identify the key problems you guys are having and we can take action on them. I'm seeing a couple conflicting issues here and contradictory statements being made. There is no "everybody is going to be happy" solution that I can see. Nobody is making suggestions that are workable and "make the website free for everybody!" isn't workable.

    So let's start hearing constructive criticism and actual workable suggestions. Shop Talk isn't my hangout so I am not fully versed on the various personalities. If you want someone to start frequenting there, ask them to. If they refuse, ask them why, and if it's a problem I can solve, I will solve it.
     
  14. Spark

    Spark HPIC - Hatas gonna Hate Staff Member Administrator Super Mod Moderator

    Oct 2, 1998
    You know, I'm really biting my tongue here. We're talking in circles and it's obvious that several of you aren't reading what the other says. I'm trying to be polite and sort out the constructive criticism but some of you are focused on the small picture and are missing the forest for the trees. When I refer to nuance, it's in regards to people's motivations for performing specific actions such as WIPs. Bear that in mind before making a reply.

    Identify the key problems you guys are having and we can take action on them. I'm seeing a couple conflicting issues here and contradictory statements being made. There is no "everybody is going to be happy" solution that I can see. Nobody is making suggestions that are workable and "make the website free for everybody!" isn't workable.

    So let's start hearing constructive criticism and actual workable suggestions. Shop Talk isn't my hangout so I am not fully versed on the various personalities. If you want someone to start frequenting there, ask them to. If they refuse, ask them why, and if it's a problem I can solve, I will solve it.
     
  15. ron_m80

    ron_m80 KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Mar 1, 2009
    Not pointed at you, but for comparison...

    The other night I was thinking to myself, and I wondered if Bladeforums would still be the "biggest" knife forum on the internet if it did not host a knifemakers forum. I think it might still be the biggest for along time to come, even without the makers forum. It wouldn't be the same because of my personal interests, but I bet several thousands of users wouldn't even notice.

    I like the fact that knifemakers have a venue that isn't moderated by a manufacturer, or any "brand interest", and its already on the biggest knife forum on the internet. I think that is pretty damn nice. No need to analyze it much further in my opinion.

    I missed some of the big name makers posting here, I wasn't a member early enough. I don't feel like questions are not getting answered, nor do I think there is a shortage of knowledge in ShopTalk.

    I am happy being online at Bladeforums, even if it stays the way it is. :D

    -Ron
     
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2014
  16. Fellhoelter

    Fellhoelter

    Dec 29, 2005
    OK Spark, I have received 6 emails today, asking why I no longer post in Shop Talk.

    It is because I was sick of being accused of advertising, being nitpicked, and generally just being treated, in my opinion, very poorly by management.

    I was also told, the following, in a direct quote by management.
    Your posting/helping others does nothing to generate money for Spark. Your paid membership when you wish to advertise does. I wish some of you makers would come off your high horses and recognize this.

    This is very clear, and unambiguous.
    Management does not believe that helping folks adds any value to the site.
    Any time a guy like me does anything, it is viewed as advertising. Because lets face it, name recognition is advertising. So technically it can be viewed that way. Even if that is not the motivation for posting, or even frequenting the site.
    I'll be honest. I would rather be anonymous and not get direct emails asking for help, or asking about ordering (books are closed), or asking "hey, how do I get on the list?" (I have no list)

    But, from a makers perspective, there is a lot more value when the advice comes from somebody who knows what they are talking about than from some 15 year old busboy at the Waffle House.
    Folks being anonymous can actually be detrimental.
    If Kevin said, here's a workable procedure for heat treating that steel, I can believe it is a viable method, and sound advice.
    When JoeMammyBooger46 gives me the same advice, I am going to look and see who he is.
    Oh, it's that teenager from the Waffle House. Yeah, I'm not going to trust that. There's no value to that advice.
    So I get 6 different pieces of advice, all from unknown entities, and never from someone that I believe actually knows something, eventually I quit asking, quit paying, and go away..

    So Spark, I think that maybe the whole understanding of why some people frequent the site, and why some folks pay money needs to be re-evaluated.
    Why are a lot of these guys paying?
    Clearly, reading many of the responses here, in this thread, the reason that many do so is content.
    With out valuable content, many will go away, or at least stop paying.

    When enough of the guys that provide the content get hassled and harassed enough that they just go away, there will be no more valuable content, and that revenue stream will die.
    That may be OK, I don't know, but from an outsiders perspective it just seems a lot like shooting yourself in the dick.

    Sure, there will still be content when a newbie asks a question, and gets 6 different answers from other newbies, but is it valuable content?

    Now, it's possible, likely even, that the shop talk section generates very little income directly.
    This can make it appear like it is more trouble than it is worth.
    I get that.

    However, for many makers, it is the soul of the place, it has helped get them where they are, and that in turn spills over to them paying money, selling and advertising.
    Which in turn feeds the marketplace, which is likely where the bulk of the money comes from. I've never frequented those sections, so I have no idea how all of that works.
    If they go somewhere else for the content that makes them better, the stuff that helps them grow, it's a pretty good bet that they'll take their sales and advertising dollars there too, and eventually just leave altogether.
     
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2014
    12345678910 likes this.
  17. Nathan the Machinist

    Nathan the Machinist KnifeMaker / Machinist / Evil Genius Moderator Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Feb 13, 2007
    ^

    for what it's worth I'm a paying member at the other site where Brian is at. I wouldn't be considered a regular there (BF is my home) and I don't generally sell there, but I buy a membership to support the site because of the content. I think most people, when they can, try to be supportive. I really like Brian, he's a great fellow.


    Wow, when is the last time a thread in tech support hit 25,000 views?

    To answer the question:

    1: no, most of us don't want the forum broken into a lot of pieces.
    2: there is room to improve the quality of the content. Perhaps it would be helpful to tweak some policies to make the place more welcoming to visiting makers.
     
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2014
  18. Spark

    Spark HPIC - Hatas gonna Hate Staff Member Administrator Super Mod Moderator

    Oct 2, 1998
    Whoever told you that was wrong, and the buck stops with me, period.

    I have always stated, from day one, that this site operates as a service to the community, and is not about making money. If it were possible, I wouldn't have paid subscriptions on this site at all. We're not anywhere near that point.
    That is an entirely separate issue from whether what you post adds value to the site. You are right, your name recognition is a form of advertising, however I personally couldn't give a shit if you got sales based off name recognition from passing on knowledge provided you are following the stated rules of the site regarding advertising. IE, not showing pieces and saying "this will be available at BLADE, or NYCKS" or wherever, or "come check out my site for more pieces like this. Sharing information for the sake of information and teaching will never cause an issue between you and I, and in the end I'm the one who calls the shots.

    We have had people telling us 'f you and f your rules, I'll do whatever I want' and have had to ban them for it. Some people go out of their way to be contrarian or to test the limits as much as possible. I don't have an interest in dealing with that sort of thing. I'd rather have 1 guy who is happy to be here and helping make the community better than 10 assholes paying memberships and causing me stress.

    Tell me about it, you should see the hundreds of emails I get.

    This is definitely something we can address. I have no problem setting up a separate user group for subject matter experts so that they are recognized as such.

    And again, everyone's motivations are different. I don't think anyone is paying the knifemaker's membership fee simply to read threads - the knifemaker's membership section is open to everyone. Like Nathan said, they pay to support the site, or they pay to sell their wares and advertise.

    That's one way to look at it. What is missing, though, is that you can also take the time to let someone in charge know that forums poster CluelessMoron1234 is making a habit of posting garbage and hassling you and others like you and the mod staff can step in and deal with them. At the bottom left of every post is an icon that looks like a triangle with an exclamation point in it. Click on that to report the idiot, and it will be handled.

    If you don't want to post on the site because an unnamed moderator pissed you off, that's fine. If you are interested in resolving that issue and moving forward, you can deal with me directly as much as you need to.
     
  19. Fellhoelter

    Fellhoelter

    Dec 29, 2005
    Of course not. But they frequent the place because they value the content. Because they frequent the place, they pay to "use the facilities" so to speak. Once they stop frequenting the place, they will stop paying.

    Oh, I wasn't trying to imply that any poster was causing trouble.
    I don't think that I ever had that happen, or really noticed that.
    I was just saying that getting 6 answers that you can't use doesn't provide any value, or motivate a guy to keep hanging around.
    That 7th post, that gem from a guy who knows, keeps it interesting.
    There will always be chaff, and should be, but there needs to be wheat too.

    The hassle and harassment was from the Moderation team, behind the scenes.

    I personally enjoyed helping folks where I could.

    I didn't enjoy being nitpicked behind the scenes, or being called an ego-maniacal freeloader who was just using up bandwidth, and doing nothing to help the forum.
     
  20. Fellhoelter

    Fellhoelter

    Dec 29, 2005
    And thank you for this.

    It's good to have your ear.
     

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