I told y’all the other day that I had one more Saabnet post left. This is it.
Before I get started, I’d like you all to bear in mind my SOC 2005 challenge.
Oh, and the days banned from Saabnet: 9
My beef with Saabnet is centred around two separate, yet intertwined issues. Firstly, it’s my perception that the Saabnet audience is both abused and overly mothered. Second up, the really disappointing thing – I really think the Saab community is abused as a result.
It’s my concerted belief that with just a little understanding and a little give and take, the entire Saab online community can prosper. There’s no such thing as a Trollhattan Saab audience, a Saabnet audience or a Saab Central audience. I can’t make anyone come to this site and even if I could, I couldn’t stop them from going to other sites. I’d be a fool if I tried.
Yet it seems that at the moment (and most likely for quite a while now) there have been lines drawn in the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans that many Saabnuts are not encouraged to cross.
Shortly after I commenced Trollhattan Saab, I advertised the fact amongst the Saab community at Saab Central, where I’d been a reader rather than a contributor. I let people know about the blog via a few threads on SC that related to topics I had written about here. I found an audience that was both enthusiastic about the medium and forgiving of my limited ability to write.
As I was also an interested TSN reader, I decided to join in on a chat and let the folks there know about the blog as well. Again, I found an interested and enthusiastic audience.
Over the coming week I’d write something and leave a note at SC and TSN about the post. All I wanted was to share my thoughts and maybe have them spark some discussion, which I was happy to have happen wherever the reader had come from.
You might ask at this point why I didn’t just post my thoughts directly at SC or TSN? We’ll get to that a little later, but for now just think self-expression.
Anyway, after about a week, I noticed that the notes I’d dropped at TSN had been deleted. Further to that, when I logged onto the chat session, I wasn’t allowed in and I was referred to the site mission page, the first major beef that I have with TSN.
Here’s a few quotes:
New users quickly find that this site is unapologetic and uncompromising when it comes to narrowing its audience to only the most mutually respectful, intelligent, and mature Saab owners – the kind of people with whom you’d want to meet and interact with……..When someone tells you they are banned from the TSN site…they are revealing a lot about themselves.
…..the focus is on the best Saab owners in the world……This is a unique forum on the internet in which smart, respectful people are having discussions with other smart, respectful people……If someone tells you they lost their priveleges here…they did something that showed they clearly did not fit that description.
My emphasis added.
I am banned from The Saab Network. Yet somehow I have managed to own two Saab 99s, a 900 and a 9000.
I am banned from The Saab Network yet I run this website dedicated to the sharing of Saab media and interaction between those that choose to participate. Sheesh! I’m dedicated to Saab!
I am banned from The Saab Network and yet I am University educated – I even have a CPA!! O boy! I’m intelligent!
I am banned from The Saab Network and yet I started the Tasmanian chapter of the Saab Car Club of Australia, was it’s inaugural chairman and retain a seat on the committee even now. Haven’t these people seen through my evil disguise yet like the clairvoyant from Cali?
I have a loving family, a good job and a bright future – so how could this be?
Well, in my humble opinion, it is the absolute height of pig-headed arrogance to presume that your site has only the best readers perusing it. The most respectful and smart people on the internet. The most mature Saab owners in the world. And IF, perchance, one of these blessed ones falls out of the good graces of the webmaster, then they clearly no longer fit that description.
Scott Paterson is a person that I generally admire and respect in the Saab Community for what he’s done in establishing TSN and his dedication to running it over a prolonged period of time. Like said earlier, I have been there and found the locals quite hospitable. My direct dealings with Scott himself have always been courteous and friendly.
But I’m not above telling anyone they’re wrong when it’s obvious and it’s in the best interests of everyone involved. And I’m not above hearing that I’m wrong myself.
The characterisation, the bastardisation of anyone banned from Saabnet as somehow less worthy, or less interested in advancing the marque than other people, is totally inappropriate and arrogant. The total exclusivity of the site is evidence of the contempt held for others and it’s a wedge in the online community. It’s a wedge that serves no purpose whatsoever.
Personally speaking, I resent being referred to in such a manner. I am a dedicated Saabnut, have been for a long time. I’m a thoroughly decent guy. When someone writes…..
“When you come across someone who claims to be banned from this website, please understand that the only way to lose access priveleges is to do something very seriously wrong here”
…..and then refers to threats of violence and racism, lobbing me in with the lunatic fringe in the process, I get bloody-well offended. I’m one of the many banned from Saabnet and you’re publishing that load of tripe!!
The fact of the matter is that Saabnet can no longer claim to be a moderated forum. It is a policed forum, and if you don’t toe the company line then I’m afraid it’s curtains for you, sonny Jim.
And the beauty of the system is that the regulars there need never know. It’s the Saab community’s very own Truman Show. Blemishes are erased and the show goes on in an uninterrupted blue and grey hum.
Now, there are certain things that I understand.
First up, Saabnet wants to ‘protect’ their advertisers. It’s a very old-world and pretty selfish mentality, but I get it. I personally think that there’s so much more to be gained by sharing opinions, points of view and therefore, traffic. Saab is a worldwide brand and why anyone would make their site so one-sidedly geocentric and then work hand over fist to protect it can only be explained by one thing: money.
The second thing I understand is this: No-one, and I mean no-one, should have to put up with threats, whether they be for real or a bluff, in exchange for providing a forum like TSN, Trollhattan, or SC. I’d ban people who threaten me, too.
Third, and another area where Scott and I agree, is the misunderstanding many people have about free speech. Free Speech is the concept where I can express myself on my site and you can express yourself on your site. Remember when I mentioned earlier that yes, I could have just chosen to spark discussion directly on TSN or SC, but chose to do so through my own site? Well, this is why.
As the creator of my own site, I am not beholden to advertisers or anyone else’s editorial. I have my views and whilst they’re generally not very controversial, if I want them to be then they can be. My site, my thoughts.
Early in the piece, when I sought a loosely-based strategic partnership of sorts with TSN, I was told it was possible on the condition that I tidy up some code and then ensure that I don’t link to other forums (the TSN site mission paraphrased: I do not allow links to sites with classifieds or English-based BB’s – “There are no exceptions”). In other words, TSN’s rules would have to become my rules. I’d have to toss aside the forum that had supported me (Saab Central) and position myself in the good graces of the Webmaster, and obviously I’d have to make sure I stayed there.
Again, arrogant protectionism in the extreme.
I like Trollhattan Saab. I’m proud of the way it’s turning out. The fact that it’s reaching a new audience and riding the blog wave. I’m pleased that I’ve been able to provide a service to readers that meets their needs for some Saab news and meets my dual needs: writing and a Saab fix of my own. I’m pleased with the diverse crowd that’s dropped by here. I’m glad to say i’ve been able to treat them with respect as they have with me, and it’s taken no effort thus far on either side of the fence.
I actually also like TSN. I think the people there are a valuable resource and I look forward to meeting a few of them, maybe at SOC 2006 (although apparently us banned people aren’t the type that’d go to a SOC). I think TSN could be a heck of a lot better, and the Saab community could be a lot better for it, but that’s not up to me – it’s up to the people that peruse it and the people that run it.
I’ve said my piece and I won’t be saying anymore on the subject (not too soon anyway). I hope we can all work this out, because Sixten Sason and the cars he designed deserve better than what they’re getting.