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 Post subject: "Railfanning" ?
PostPosted: Fri Feb 22, 2013 11:16 am 

Joined: Sun Jan 30, 2005 2:27 am
Posts: 389
Location: Winters, TX
Noticed the new section when I logged on this morning. I like the idea and the new guidelines for it and the Interchange section. Hope that it's a success.


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 Post subject: Re: "Railfanning" ?
PostPosted: Fri Feb 22, 2013 1:15 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:51 pm
Posts: 8354
Location: Baltimore, MD
Here's the problem I have:

One person's serious historical inquiry, analysis, or information post is another's "railfan slobber" or "foam."

I have no use for posts of the "train H55HX just went south past West Springfield signals with an SD75!" ilk--unless, of course, it's my hometown branch line (which just saw, amazingly, a NS Genset prototype). I think it's universally agreed that we don't "do" those here, though we've had exceptions (that "steamer" seen on a trailer on I-95, for example).

I have no use for continued debate on which boiler design/stays are best, or what someone researching the Podunk Loco Works found on this week's trip to the historical society library. Others find them fascinating. There's a place for this stuff, though I hope the guy sets up a Podunk Loco Works website or blog instead of using this forum as his only podium.

I have no use for old photos of long-gone or preserved locos on this forum without specific context in a discussion--that, to me, is "foaming" of a different sort--but I administer a Facebook page of almost nothing BUT that from our NRHS Chapter's holdings. ( https://www.facebook.com/pages/Baltimor ... 5824370567 ) My only complaint with one member's persistent postings of such photos years ago was not the subject matter, but that he flooded the forum with dozens of such posts at once, pushing back more timely content.

Buried locos? Locos supposedly sunk in quarries? what paint to pot on Old 97? Stop wasting our time, I might say. But instead, I simply ignore those posts.

When I read a newspaper (or news website), I read it with the intention of being informed and educated. I'm going to read stories about news that directly affects me, and stories about things that I find interesting. And I'm going to discover stories about things I had utterly no idea about, but found interesting and maybe fascinating, just because it was elsewhere on the page, and maybe read those, too. I have utterly no use for sports save for the Olympics, so the Sports section gets yanked out and tossed in the trash or left for someone else. But sports coverage is the only reason some newspapers/websites survive in 2013, so I put up with it.
And I'm going to read/look at several such sites or listen to several news media sources daily, because none of them cover everything, all have their built-in biases, and I want to hear about what else is going on besides what I already know about.

The further we narrow our information sources to specialized sources or forums, the more ignorant we become in a broader sense. Someone who wants to hear ONLY about Brill truck parts or EMD porthole windows or Lackawanna M.U. brakes or the Fort Boomtown Railroad is going to miss out on the bigger picture--why the Grand Canyon "dieselized," why C&O 614 isn't running, why the Fayette Central stopped excursions, etc. It's like using Rush Limbaugh, or Diane Rehm, as your only source of "news."

I've referenced here before a 1991 paper that suggested "train spotters" may suffer from Asperger's Syndrome, where victims develop an increasingly focused worldview on a specific topic of fascination, to the potentially dysfunctional exclusion of the "real world." It's for reasons like this that I object to increasingly-specialized subdivision of discussion, not just here but everywhere in society and life.


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 Post subject: Re: "Railfanning" ?
PostPosted: Fri Feb 22, 2013 1:21 pm 

Joined: Fri Dec 03, 2004 9:42 pm
Posts: 2431
> When I read a newspaper (or news website), I read
> it with the intention of being informed and educated

You'll also note that most newspapers, if you can still find one, have a comics section and a sports section. They also have local news, world news, stock reports, etc.

Very few people read them all. Most people find having sections for each to be useful. Apparently this forum has finally realized that's a good idea.


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 Post subject: Re: "Railfanning" ?
PostPosted: Fri Feb 22, 2013 2:06 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:51 pm
Posts: 8354
Location: Baltimore, MD
But do we "need" another "railfanning" forum?

There's Railroad.net. There's TrainOrders. There's Trains.com. There are Yahoo Groups for specific lines and locales and entire railroads. I'll be amazed if there is anyone here that doesn't maintain at least some token presence, if not administrative oversight, at at least one other forum or group.

As near as I can tell, the "Railfanning" forum may well be just a place where the moderators "chuck" threads/topics they deem to be too "foamer-ish." Whether that's good or bad, or used effectively or not, remains to be seen.


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 Post subject: Re: "Railfanning" ?
PostPosted: Fri Feb 22, 2013 2:30 pm 
Site Admin

Joined: Sat Aug 28, 2004 1:15 pm
Posts: 1260
Location: Henderson Nevada
As your moderator, It gives us a easy place to seen people... It makes it easier to crack down on the foam level (boilers excepted)

I continue to hear long time member complain that this site is overrun with railfans, and is no longer dedicated to preservation. This site is not "curated" and there is no editorial board in the background steering the site. It is driven by questions and answers and reports from member. I continue to ask people to post restoration progress reports, questions and the like here... Good questions, good reports bring good answers and good comments...

There is lots of active railroad preservation "out there"

Randy

_________________
Randy Hees
Director, Nevada State Railroad Museum, Boulder City, Nevada
http://museums.nevadaculture.org/nsrmbc
http://www.nevadasouthern.com/
https://www.facebook.com/FriendsOfNevadaSouthernRailway


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 Post subject: Re: "Railfanning" ?
PostPosted: Fri Feb 22, 2013 3:10 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:51 pm
Posts: 8354
Location: Baltimore, MD
Randy Hees wrote:
I continue to hear long time member complain that this site is overrun with railfans, and is no longer dedicated to preservation.


This smacks of Lucius Beebe and E.M. Frimbo complaining about the "riff-raff" and "daisy-pickers" on an excursion--the same folks that made said excursion possible, aside from one of Beebe's invitation-only soirees.

If you want to chase away the "railfans," feel free. And don't complain when no one shows up to ride your trains or trolleys, or help you restore your station or streetcars a year/decade or two from now. Because you chased away the folks that could have been your future volunteers/donors, along with the one or two "pain in the posterior" foamers.


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 Post subject: Re: "Railfanning" ?
PostPosted: Fri Feb 22, 2013 6:30 pm 

Joined: Sun Jan 30, 2005 2:27 am
Posts: 389
Location: Winters, TX
The problem is that railfans don't want to ride your trains or trolleys. All they want to do is photograph them and then gripe about why you idiots didn't restore them right.

While there are tons of other forums out there, I do feel that a new one would be good for this forum. I'm sure that there will be conflicts between it and the Interchange site, at least it'll be a step in the right direction. And hopefully the moderators will have the power to move inappropriate threads over to the right forum.

One suggestion I'd like to make (hey, I'm sure y'all appreciate unsollicited advice) would be to re-activate the Briefs section for restoration and museum news. Like Joe Friday, I just like the facts. And it'll save me the trouble of reading 745 posts about why the idiot who actually owns the 643 should listen to all the experts here and do something with it.

BTW, welcome back to the trenches Doug. Since you like this kind of work, I wonder if you could help me drive a herd of cats to Dodge City this summer...


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 Post subject: Re: "Railfanning" ?
PostPosted: Fri Feb 22, 2013 6:55 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:51 pm
Posts: 8354
Location: Baltimore, MD
Charlie wrote:
The problem is that railfans don't want to ride your trains or trolleys. All they want to do is photograph them and then gripe about why you idiots didn't restore them right.


And everyone in an inner city is an unmarried mother on welfare. And everyone in West Virginia is missing teeth and eats squirrel. And everyone from France is a cheese-eating surrender monkey.

Seriously? With a negative attitude like that, no wonder they don't want to help us. Oh, wait, that would be why *I* don't want to help you, because I'm a railfan, too. Gee, I guess that guy that left a six-figure estate to our rail museum wasn't a "railfan," much as the contents of his house (including a streetcar in the basement!) say otherwise. I guess the guys who used their company buy-outs to buy and preserve a couple locomotives, cars, or a railroad weren't "railfans." Andy Muller, Nelson Blount, Bennett Levin, Doyle McCormack, Ross Rowland, George Hart, Jerry Jacobson, Dick Yager, the Claytors--poseurs all.

There are railfans that give the avocation a bad name, just as there have been, and maybe still are, rail "preservationists" that give the tourist train "industry" a bad reputation with botched restorations, "tourist trap" attractions, and "dog's breakfast" operations. The "bad apples" set the tone for the group only if you let them and don't collectively rise above the bad ones.

Quote:
And it'll save me the trouble of reading 745 posts about why the idiot who actually owns the 643 should listen to all the experts here and do something with it.


Of the alleged 745 posts in question, I recall only a scant few actually being about "why the idiot that owns 643 should listen to us." I recall far more posts defending his right to do as he darn well pleases, including asking too high a price for his loco.


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 Post subject: Re: "Railfanning" ?
PostPosted: Fri Feb 22, 2013 9:58 pm 

Joined: Sat Aug 28, 2004 3:25 am
Posts: 1025
How's this for a switch? I went from railway preservation to railfanning. As a boy I had been fascinated by the Pacific Electric line that ran by my home in Monrovia (CA). When the line was abandoned, I went "dormant" for many years, not "awakening" until I joined what was then Orange Empire Trolley Museum in June 1963 (yes, just a few months too late to ride the last LATL lines before they were abandoned). Over the years I've worked on many different aspect of the museum's operations: everything from track building (and salvaging) to selling goods in the bookstore. Meanwhile, I learned about current railroading and rail transit operations and started taking photos and movies. Today, if someone asks what I'm doing in retirement from my "day job", I say "Amateur streetcar mechanic and honorary roadie for a Rock 'n' Roll band". This afternoon, I went out and photographed our local light rail construction project; tomorrow I will probably be working on a 1906 Huntington Standard streetcar at OERM.

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Bob Davis
Southern California


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 Post subject: Re: "Railfanning" ?
PostPosted: Fri Feb 22, 2013 11:04 pm 

Joined: Thu Nov 22, 2007 5:46 am
Posts: 2447
Location: S.F. Bay Area
Alexander D. Mitchell IV wrote:
Here's the problem I have:

One person's serious historical inquiry, analysis, or information post is another's "railfan slobber" or "foam."

... The further we narrow our information sources to specialized sources or forums, the more ignorant we become in a broader sense. Someone who wants to hear ONLY about Brill truck parts or EMD porthole windows or Lackawanna M.U. brakes or the Fort Boomtown Railroad is going to miss out on the bigger picture--why the Grand Canyon "dieselized," why C&O 614 isn't running, why the Fayette Central stopped excursions, etc. It's like using Rush Limbaugh, or Diane Rehm, as your only source of "news." ... It's for reasons like this that I object to increasingly-specialized subdivision of discussion, not just here but everywhere in society and life.

I know. It's a problem.
That's why it's important to have the RIGHT amount of classification. The newspaper does that with the sports section; sports are in a section easily discarded, instead of woven into every few paragraphs of every article, where it would clutter and annoy.

RyPN is already classified. In a very particular way. It is not effective because the classification has lagged behind social conditions on the forum.

Quote:
I have no use for posts of the "train H55HX just went south past West Springfield signals with an SD75!" ilk--unless, of course, it's my hometown branch line (which just saw, amazingly, a NS Genset prototype). I think it's universally agreed that we don't "do" those here, though we've had exceptions (that "steamer" seen on a trailer on I-95, for example).

Great example. Those guys tend to classify by geography. http://railroadfan.com/phpbb/

Quote:
I have no use for continued debate on which boiler design/stays are best, or what someone researching the Podunk Loco Works found on this week's trip to the historical society library. Others find them fascinating. There's a place for this stuff, though I hope the guy sets up a Podunk Loco Works website or blog instead of using this forum as his only podium.

I have been thinking about this for RyPN and came up with categories I think would work. This would be "Dreaming about Steaming". (since steamfap sets the wrong tone).

Quote:
I have no use for old photos of long-gone or preserved locos on this forum without specific context in a discussion--that, to me, is "foaming" of a different sort--but I administer a Facebook page of almost nothing BUT that from our NRHS Chapter's holdings. ( https://www.facebook.com/pages/Baltimor ... 5824370567 ) My only complaint with one member's persistent postings of such photos years ago was not the subject matter, but that he flooded the forum with dozens of such posts at once, pushing back more timely content.

"Pictures of the past" for Bobyar, and hopefully others who would be encouraged to do the same.

Not sure what to do with Sloan, he was kinda redundant to Flimsies. His goal was to create discussion about certain cherry-picked Flimsies articles. One option is to actually make Flimsies a forum.

This is a great example of dynamically changing social conditions in a forum as these people (and thus the need) come and go. If there were 100 musuems doing what Catskill does with their status reports, we might need a forum for that.

Others I imagined would be
- "Practicing Preservation"
- "Member's Lounge: Off-topic Social Fun and Nonsense" (which could be members-only to view.)
- "Dreamin about Steamin"

Randy Hees wrote:
As your moderator, It gives us a easy place to seen people... It makes it easier to crack down on the foam level (boilers excepted)

Bingo. It's more comfortable to move a thread than delete it. That requires somewhere to move it to that isn't "here".


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 Post subject: Re: "Railfanning" ?
PostPosted: Fri Feb 22, 2013 11:34 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:51 pm
Posts: 8354
Location: Baltimore, MD
One other "problem" that may pop up.

In my music library, the vast amount of stuff I like best is the stuff that utterly defies categorization. Japanese "New Age." Scottish folk-rock fusion. French-Canadian folk. Historic recordings of "big band." Afro-Celt Sound System. (No. really.) As I've normally told mainstream store clerks, "If you can't figure out where to put it on the shelves, I probably want it."

Ditto beers. Belgian-produced "Scottish Ale," honey-malt blend with raspberries and nutmeg, session-strength pumpkin-and-nutmeg lambic.....

We're going to come up with topics that defy categorization. They do all the time on TrainOrders or Railroad.net, and mostly they cross-post to several categories. Barnum & Bailey Circus Train running across several geographical areas. Saving an Amtrak car or locomotive. Commercial dinner train operation. How to move a loco.

To avoid appropriate people missing stuff, we'd have to cross-post. That doesn't reduce clutter. Moderate stuff to only one category apiece, and people with information to contribute may well miss it and not contribute. If I ignore the "cool old photos" section, you miss out on my being able to remember that such-and-such was scrapped in 1945, is now an Amtrak wire car, or that I can yank down that Electric Railway Directory I have....

I've long said we need a "Resources" link section, where readers could instantly click on links to SteamLocomotive.com/info, caboose websites, roster sites, diesel loco databases, the Railroad Station Historical Society, etc. and explore for themselves what we instinctively know to check. We don't need a link to every rail preservation website or blog, just the primary data resources.


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 Post subject: Re: "Railfanning" ?
PostPosted: Fri Feb 22, 2013 11:41 pm 

Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2004 12:37 pm
Posts: 435
Location: Missoula MT
Today's foam is tomorrow's history.

Michael Seitz
Missoula MT


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 Post subject: Re: "Railfanning" ?
PostPosted: Sat Feb 23, 2013 12:07 am 

Joined: Fri Dec 03, 2004 9:42 pm
Posts: 2431
robertmacdowell wrote:

- "Member's Lounge: Off-topic Social Fun and Nonsense" (which could be members-only to view.)
- "Dreamin about Steamin"

Randy Hees wrote:
As your moderator, It gives us a easy place to seen people... It makes it easier to crack down on the foam level (boilers excepted)

Bingo. It's more comfortable to move a thread than delete it. That requires somewhere to move it to that isn't "here".


I have been running online forums for about 20 years now. Yes, 20 years, and yes, the web haven't been around that long. When I started, they were geeky dial up BBS systems. Anyone recall GEnie? I ran the railroad and Model Railroad forums. I was a sysop on Dorr's railroad site on Compuserve. I also moderated on Delphi.

My current railroad related site is http://www.railroadforums.com/forum/ If you like foam, that's the place to find it. It's lacking in serious discussion, but that's OK, it's not designed for serious discussion. It's a virtual reality train club for foamers. As I type this, there are 300 people online there. The site has over 5,000 members and nearly 250K posts. My model railroad site is even more active. Those are my credentials.

Every single forum I run has had one thing in common. All of them...
The FIRST thing I created in each one is the "Off-topic topic" The place to discuss stuff that the forum isn't about. In this forum it would be where Sandy rambles on about beer, Lee talks about warbirds and where I post photos of sailing ships. Don't like that stuff? Ignore it!

Online forums are communities. People need a way to have some ideal chatter. Provide it, enforce the rules that keep it in that area, and you will probably find it works better.

Oh, and the rules are simple. Chatter goes in the off topic area, and NO serious on topic discussions of any kind are permitted there. Those rules should both be enforced well. That way folks can simply ignore it and feel comfortable they won't miss anything. Religion and politics are off limits, though holiday greetings of your favorite flavor are fine.


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 Post subject: Re: "Railfanning" ?
PostPosted: Sat Feb 23, 2013 12:14 am 

Joined: Fri Dec 03, 2004 9:42 pm
Posts: 2431
Quote:
To avoid appropriate people missing stuff, we'd have to cross-post.


Nope, you simply pick the most appropriate topic and go with it. What is the lead on the story? 261's first trip after restoration is marginally about restoration, but the main subject is that it's an excursion. If the site had categories for both, it would go in excursions.

Most folks will browse most if not all of the categories. For that matter, most will simply browse the "What's new?" list and call it good. The categories simply provide a way to search more efficiently for those who should choose to do so, or for somebody who simply can't stand a certain subject to see less stories about it.


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 Post subject: Re: "Railfanning" ?
PostPosted: Sat Feb 23, 2013 12:20 am 

Joined: Fri Dec 03, 2004 9:42 pm
Posts: 2431
Alexander D. Mitchell IV wrote:
I've long said we need a "Resources" link section, where readers could instantly click on links to SteamLocomotive.com/info, caboose websites, roster sites, diesel loco databases, the Railroad Station Historical Society, etc. and explore for themselves what we instinctively know to check. We don't need a link to every rail preservation website or blog, just the primary data resources.


Those sites are much more difficult to maintain that you might think. This site had one for a while. When it was discontinued, I offered my http://www.railroaddata.com/ as an alternate. For a long while they had a link to it. A few years ago it was removed. Should you wish to create a directory about preservation, you are welcome to use that site. I have a railway preservation category, as well as categories for stations and depots and an extensive list of tourist railway links.

In my opinion, duplicating that site would be effort that could be better spent elsewhere. Obviously I have a bit of a biase, but I'm not worried about competition. The site is the first or second link you get when you google "Railroad Links" and has been for a long time.


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