Tidbits, False Ham News, Fact, Fiction and Trolls
This is a bit of a random post, as I want to cover a fair bit of area. During the course of my amateur radio interests I do participate in the FlexRadio Systems Community Forum, periodically look at the QRZ.com website, and occasionally look at the infestations at other websites like eHam.
The Community is a pretty decent bi-directional information and idea exchange, very lightly moderated and wide ranging. You can find current products, announced new products, hypothetical possible future products and legacy discontinued products discussed. Biggest weakness is the rudimentary Community search and keyword sort the platform offers. There is some workaround for that available if your search using Google.
Personalities, language and temperament do come into play even in a more level forum like this Community, with fairly predictable results. Of course only those who wish to contribute their thoughts and Ideas post. It is a decent place all around, and about the only one where you will see lots of posts from FlexRadio Systems employees and Alpha team members.
There are a bunch of unofficial Yahoo Groups with some FlexRadio System content, but unless you like endless user-created surveys or repeated posts on several Yahoo Groups all cluttering your inbox, they are not so useful, and as a rule I let emails from these “reflectors” accumulate in a special folder. After a periodic skim through they get deleted in bulk. There is almost no FlexRadio System participation other than rare posts to correct misconceptions the Yahoo Group is giving legs to.
On the air you hear all sorts of discussion on FlexRadio Systems. A fellow ham recently emailed me asking if what the 40m (7.133.5) group said Gerald K5SDR was true? Think about this, if Gerald K5SDR was on the air he truly is the voice of FlexRadio Systems, so that there was even a question should have been a clue that BS was being passed as accurate. The storing being told is that on the air Gerald K5SDR had said FlexRadio Systems was now in 2017 going to start hiring actual employees as they had only agency contract staff until now. The implication seemed to be that the company was a marketing shell without any real substance. It seems unlikely Gerald K5SDR was on 40m actually discussing his company’s hiring history & his forward hiring plans. Expect there is some kernel of factual information somewhere at the start (Guessing. But maybe FRS has developed enough need to hire full time professionals for specific tasks they contracted out? I know many firms do this until they have enough need to keep a direct hire fully engaged). But the result was “Fake News” – though that is nothing new for Amateur Radio.
The QRZ.com site underwent a modernization early in the year that replaced the list-based formatting I enjoyed for being so quick to review with a tile-based eye-candy format. I don’t look at the website very often, and it is now only by happenchance that I see a thread that interests me enough to click through. Standards are pretty decent in the forum threads, though there is some name-calling/slagging that seems to be on the simmer ready to be served up by too many hams. The old PHP style forums are pretty ubiquitous and familiar for most internet connected hams.
The ARRL I guess still has a website, but again I seldom go there since they went eye-candy over function and dropped so much of the user based content. Increasingly there are ARRL publications and information that seem to be only part of the story, or even outright incorrect (Example – who could depend on their repeater guide these days? Things that have never changed are suddenly wrong, phantom repeaters that have never been on the air are listed, and somehow they have a disconnect with some of the repeater coordinating groups over sharing data. ) Their website is a non-factoras an information source.
Then once in a blue moon I have a look at the chaos of eHam’s forums. It would seem that eHam has a moderation policy that can be summed up as “as long as we don’t get sued, any forum activity that increases page views (which equates to advertising “clicks” or more simply is money for eHam) is okay.” The SDR forum is rift with open Troll activity – persons who have no first-hand experience the SDR being discussed but have a vendetta that creates controversy are encouraged. Remember the apparent eHam formula – controversy creates page views, which then creates advertising revenue for eHam. Useless place but like a filling missing in a tooth, somehow the controversies draw in participation. For those of you old enough to remember the old original BBS systems (like FidoNet) you would recognize the Troll-Creates-Activity pattern, and the monetarization through advertising makes it in eHam’s best financial interest to let it all roll on. A hit is a hit is a dollar.
There are other information quality problems with online forums. Some of them are Repeated Misstatements, Persistence of Temporary Information, Arm Chair Experts sans Actual Experience, Sock Puppets, Misconceptions of Audience Size/Composition/Quality/Participation/Awareness, Unrecognized Humor/Cynicism, Mischief, Economic Background Agendas, Hidden Trolls, Search Weighting due to Repetition, Language Barriers, Difficulties Timelining Evolving Information, Platforms that lack Error Correction Editing features, Outrageous Noise over Signal Ratios, Thread Bumping games, and so on..
So where does this all leave a ham?
Perhaps taking a sampling of all, but trusting their own personal experience and first hand user experience above other sources?
Would seem to make sense to me.