It should go without saying that the Internet is often the scene of high drama.
Anonymity, fragile egos, and testosterone combine to result in plenty of wailing and gnashing of teeth – rarely with any sort of positive resolution.
A recent example of this was the reaction on AR15.com to a video posted by Daniel Defense. In it, Larry Vickers, who is currently employed as Daniel Defense’s spokesman, compares his life experiences to “someone who repairs laser printers by day, secretly watches SpongeBob SquarePants during the evening, and spends half the night arguing with other assclowns on AR15.com”.
Perhaps understandably, this caused a reaction on AR15.com. It was – although hindsight is 20/20 – ill-advised for Daniel Defense to have posted the video. As many have rightly pointed out, much of DD’s customer base is composed of people who work “normal” jobs for a living – people who might actually repair laser printers and watch SpongeBob (I had to look the show up in order to determine whether that was one word or two).
However, it was, at least to me, delivered in a humorous fashion. I have a leg up on a lot of people on AR15.com in this regard because I’ve taken a pistol/carbine class from Larry Vickers, and know that that is the sort of line he’d deliver to a class. Frankly, it’s pretty tame compared to a lot of his one-liners.
Many folks on AR15.com didn’t know that. Some wrongly ignored those who had met him or knew him and kept saying, essentially, “it was a joke, relax.” The discussion, at times, got fairly heated.
The thing is, though, it was actually quite true. It was a statement that everyone knows is true but just didn’t want to hear (well, some people probably wanted to hear it).
AR15.com is a great website because everyone is welcome to participate – the site’s owners have an “open arms” policy that has proven to be immensely successful. So many different people post on the forum that you can ask a question about pretty much anything and have an amazingly accurate answer within hours, if not minutes.
However, that blade cuts both ways. Because everyone is welcome to post – from industry professionals to high school students – and because the site is quite large compared to other AR-related forums – you’ll often have to wade through a fair amount of misinformation in order to get an accurate answer. In addition, those who continually post blatant misinformation in the technical sections of the website are rarely, if ever, reprimanded – let alone removed. If they are banned, it’s for conduct code violations – which have nothing to do with spreading misinformation. On some of the smaller, more focused forums, those folks generally don’t last 5 posts.
Beyond that, recognized industry professionals get tired of being harassed and insulted by anonymous posters that have quite literally been high school juniors with zero relevant knowledge or experience. If you are an AR15.com team member and therefore have access to the archive search function, do a search for some common topics – the amount of knowledge that was present on the forum four or five years ago is simply astounding. From carbine course instructors to the “captains of industry” who have an astounding amount of knowledge to share – and share they did – the site was a cornucopia of knowledge, an unparalleled resource.
Today, though, many of those folks have left. They’ve been drawn away to quieter forums where they are recognized and respected for their knowledge. Now, some might say that they need to be “big boys” and deal with the crap thrown at them. In fact, that and more have been said – one poster even went so far as to say that they were “stupid” to have left.
Well, when dozens of people whose time is quite valuable – for which they are often paid hundreds of dollars per hour – decide to leave, a problem becomes obvious. That’s not to say that AR15.com is currently devoid of knowledge, far from it – just that it has experienced a “brain drain” as men who have been designing and fighting with AR-platform weapons for decades tire of debating simple truths with anonymous and childish forum members with little knowledge and even less respect.
This is why AR15.com is often derided in professional circles, not just on other forums, where a natural rivalry might develop and lead to minor disagreements or tit-for-tat insults. The concept of being derided by the stereotypical fifteen year old posting from his mother’s basement does not appeal to industry professionals.
Hopefully, some good can come out of it. Daniel Defense and Larry Vickers have separately released statements apologizing for the video, which is a good PR move, without a doubt. I’m afraid, though, that too many folks will see it as some sort of admission of guilt, won by the “hive mind” via a disorganized “firemission”, and move on without seeing it for what it really was – the ugly truth delivered in one short joke.