Something Is Rotten In The State Of Denmark

There have been some pretty disturbing things going on in Fountain Pen Network over the last few days.  Sweeping rule changes have been introduced which, of themselves, will affect most members little if at all.  It’s the implication and consequences of these rule changes that are at the heart of the unpleasantness.

Which is the worst thing that’s been happening?

The admins asked for feedback.  In the thread that followed some members made measured and polite criticisms.  Wim replied with what appears to me to be an explosion of arrogance.  We’ve seen this before in the “private” communications to individuals who were being rebuked or expelled, but up to now it has been kept out of the forum.  He then withdrew posting privileges from those involved.  Is that the worst thing?

Unsurprisingly, the new rules gave rise to a number of threads where members questioned the rules (some of which were not very clear) or made suggestions for better ways of raising money.  Several of these threads have been deleted.  Is this censorship (which, truth be told, we should be used to by now) the worst thing?

The rule changes are about making money.  To conduct trading at anything less than the lowest level, a premium account costing $90, $180 or $360 must be purchased.  This is serious money.  It has been asserted (no evidence was forthcoming) that FPN costs $25,000 p.a. to run.  David Isaacson has said that FPB costs around $200 to run.  Admittedly, FPN is huge in comparison with FPB but the comparison does make the figure of $25,000 look suspect.  It has been suggested that they’re doing it wrong but they can hardly be doing it that wrong.  I don’t believe that figure.  I think we’re seeing a community being turned into a meal ticket, perhaps with a sale looming on the horizon.  Is that the worst thing?

FPN has always treated members with contempt, even the most knowledgeable.  Long a bone of contention, the Conway Stewart forum has been the most evident example of this.  It has always seemed strange that there should be a Conway Stewart forum rather than a British Pens forum.  The appointment of an employee of the resuscitated Conway Stewart company as a moderator clarified what was going on there.  It has been shamelessly used as a marketing tool for the company ever since.  Those who complained were unceremoniously booted out, with the result that FPN lacks expertise on British pens now.  Is that the worst thing?

I don’t know.  It all leaves a bad taste in the mouth.

For myself, I was never particularly fond of FPN.  Too much Montblanc and ink for my taste, and the bulk of the discussion rarely rose above the “What ink should I use in my purple Monteverde?” level.  Whereas groups like Lion & Pen and the Fountain Pen Board gradually move forward as shared information is absorbed by the membership, FPN’s huge size and very poor search facility ensures that it remains static and the same questions are asked over and over again.  I took part because I could help a little with repair and history questions, and because it enabled me to push awareness of the excellent qualities of British pens, which is my primary purpose in all of my involvement in the world of fountain pens.

It all reminds me of nothing so much as England’s (things were a little different in Scotland) long and bloody struggle towards democracy against monarchs who believed in their divine right to rule.  I don’t say the outcome will be the same, sadly.  In fact, I suspect that the tyrant will triumph, in this Lilliputian rerun of history.  Still, the LiveJournal example suggests that even tyrants may need to move with caution if they don’t want to see their investment drop like a stone.  In the end, for all forms of internet social networking it holds true that their only value is the members’ input.  Lose that, or lose the best of that, and you’re finished.

37 thoughts on “Something Is Rotten In The State Of Denmark

  1. I’m not familiar enough with either the history or the administration of FPN to have a response to your concerns about the direction it might take, but wholeheartedly agree with the rest of what you’ve said here. There is too much chatter about which ink is the Halloweeniest. The lack of a British pen forum on FPN, in particular, has always seemed nuts, and the new Chinese forum only further highlights that. Let me make a small plea, though.

    I’m an American teaching high school in western Japan. Two kids, slender paycheck and a wife who finds the pen interest utterly baffling. I will never be as deeply involved with pens as someone like you or David Isaacson or any number of other people out there. But I enjoy them a great deal, use my pens daily, and love learning what I can both about the instruments themselves and the people and places that gave rise to them. Lion and Pen (unless I’ve missed something) is gone, and the Fountain Pen Board suffers from (or enjoys, I suppose, depending on your perspective) limited participation and some abrasive personalities. I really enjoy this blog, and have for a couple of years. I love reading about these old British pens, especially the smaller makers. But I’ve also valued your presence on FPN. Earlier this evening I was reading there about a Combridge pen someone had picked up, and not only was it the first time I’d heard of the brand, but your comments about the difference between red ripple and woodgrain patterning, along with the pictures someone posted in response, marked the first time I’d really understood the distinction.

    Which is merely a ridiculously roundabout way of asking you not to abandon FPN entirely. There’s so little online about these pens. The idea that another forum might lose access to your accumulated knowledge, your illuminating answers to fairly silly questions thrown out by ignoramuses like myself, is just depressing.

    All this from a guy who still hasn’t bought one of your pens yet. The cheek! Well, I’m working up to it. Thanks again for the consistently interesting reading.

    1. It doesn’t matter whether you buy a pen of mine. You’re always welcome here. I appreciate your enthusiasm.

      We’ll have to see what happens. This post may already have ensured that my posting privileges in FPN have gone the same way as those of some other people who dared to complain.

  2. I haven’t been to the site with any great frequency lately as I have been concentrating on using my pens rather than talking about them. However I have been disappointed with the quality of the questions when I have visited e.g. ‘Pens In The Breast Pocket: Inappropriate Or Not?”. What are these people on?

    The forum structure has long been a puzzle, it is illogical and poorly defined, I take your point about a British pens forum but what about a Lamy forum? One of the biggest fp manufacturers in the World, a giant compared to Conway Stewart and yet there has been absolute refusal to give them a forum despite many, many requests.

    I stopped visiting Fountain Pen Geeks after a (correct) answer that I gave to a quiz mysteriously disappeared. There are other places on the web such as FPB.

    1. Hi Malcy,
      Good example of what lets FPN down.

      I do contribute occasionally to FPB. Its problem, like Lion & Pen before it, is that it is very narrow, almost parochial. They hardly ever talk about pens that are not American. Indeed they rarely get beyond Sheaffers and Parkers. What there is of it is good, but it’s unlikely to satisfy more than a very few.

      1. Gents, The Fountain Pen Board (also heartily invites discussion of all pens, old and new, with something of a tilt toward “old”. Indeed, we have fora for Euro and Asian pens. Our outlook indeed is the antithesis of “parochial”. However… and this is a big “However”…. we cannot force material from people. As if there were any doubt. If people post about Eurasian pens, then we will have material. If people don’t post on that, we will lack that. We certainly don’t discourage such posting. We have built it. Time will tell if anyone will come.



      2. Hey David, I’m not a gent! I agree that posting about European and Asian pens (I think of Eurasian pens as being like the Duke, which is Chinese but pretends to be German) is not discouraged. I don’t suggest that. However, one poster about British pens told me he wouldn’t waste his time posting again, as his previous posts had met with resounding silence. Again, you can’t force people to reply to posts. However, without that breadth of coverage FPB looks rather like a collection of enthusiasts about American pens. It’s not alone in that. Lion & Pen was limited in the same way. FPN lost much of its discussion of British pens by booting out – or repelling – most of those who took part.

        I would dearly love to see FPB expand its horizons and become more inclusive (I know you’re not at all deliberately exclusive but the effect is the same) of learned discussion on a greater variety of brands from all nations. I think the potential is there but it won’t happen on its own. I’m happy to comment to other people’s threads in reply, but I’m not likely to initiate many threads in FPB given the effort I have to put in here.

      3. Hi again, Deb.

        While I don’t want to nitpick, I remain with the core notion that we have no “limited horizons’ in play at FPB. The issue, again, is that we still are a relatively small board, though now we are #2 on Google Search for nearly any permutation of “Fountain Pen message/chat/discussion Board/Forum”. No writer on British pens was met with silence because of a sanctioned disinterest in such things. Rather, we likely simplly don’t have enough involved and skilled collectors in that arena. I offer answers, personally, to nearly any pen question about which I have information, which mean… most. You might be touching on what proves fatal to anything that is not the largest player on the block.

        We need people to contribute to have an active seen, but early adopters won’t get the feedback (lots of follow up posts) they seek if a given arena still is sparsely populated, and thus won’t continue to play. Unless they understand their value in growing the Board. It might prove true there is no room for any board but FPN. But, if people want there to be such a venue, then sticking around for a bit, even absent instant gratification will be key? Why bother then? Well… we’ve had to delete < 10 posts in three years. The only banned player was one who used coarse terms for female anatomy to assault those who didn't agree with him. Our scene is low key regarding moderation. No topic is too hot. We are the anti-FPN.

        Too, we have plenty of skilled contributors in many pen arenas. We are quite different from Lion and Pen. Our greetings page, and our welcome note mentions that "no question is too basic". We are not, by design, elitist, though I have seen writers note fear of posting because our Board seems to carry so many skilled collectors. But, that at least in part is perception. I cannot force a person not to worry about his "newbie" status, though I can encourage lack of worry as much as possible. I reiterate that we are trying to build a broad base of discussion about pen collecting. But, while I can provide plentiful posts about Parker/Sheaffer/Wahl (and others) from USA, I cannot personally always give expert answers about British pens. Our British arena needs growth, but that involves people being willing to accept lack of instant answers. Several key british-oriented collectors have died of late. British pen folk probably can get faster answers on FPN. But, the cost will be humbling oneself to a condescending and capricious Admin setting there. BTW, we have had some huge threads about Conway Stewart.

        Not sure what else I can say. Come contribute. Help build our weaker arenas. You won't have to fear heavy handed moderation or money grubbing Admins.



  3. The pen in top pocket debate and FPN’s ongoing obsession (mania?) with the water resistance of ink finally got to me too. If it wasn’t for the works of technical and artistic genius from the likes of Fountainbel and the many other contributors from around the World, I’d have given up on it too.

    And could someone please explain what good to the Universe a thread asking to see your overpriced watch and similarly overpriced pen is? I was going to send a picture of a Lamy Safari and a Swatch, but found several dozen better things to do.

    The lack of a Lamy forum is probably because of their efficiency, build and lack of LOOKATMEOHAREN’TISHINY!ness. And if anyone has a late sixties 2000 – I want one.

    Do not mention FP Geeks.

      1. I’m not really a FP Geeks follower. I do have an account there but I’ve never had cause to use it. Seems to me that it’s FPN writ small, with all the same faults and no additional benefits. Well, it doesn’t have the Big Dutch Cheese, but otherwise…

  4. Although I have not used the Classifieds on FPN, the changes are obviously prejudicial to some users. The Soviet or perhaps Kafkaesque making of some dissenters into unpersons is actually ludicrously self-important in the context of something like FPs upon which,let’s face it, life does not exactly depend. It does seem to me to indicate some inadequacy when ideas are censored rather than debated.

    Kindest regards, Timothy

    1. I haven’t used the classifieds either, but I did occasionally use the market watch forum to announce uploads to my sales site.

      It’s the censorship and banning that I can’t take either. I’m in two minds about continuing to contribute. I have avoided it for the last few days.

  5. Well said. I’d rather own a British pen than a pen for any other country although I have some North American pens, mostly Watermans and a couple of Parkers. I have only one German pen, and I’d not buy another. Montblancs are far overrated and overpriced if one wishes to purchase a new one.

    As for client support, I’ve not had much experience with FPN. However, the way the ink sales work is unprofessional, for example. Why not set up a normal sales “cart” with a direct link to PayPal. It’s not that much trouble to accomplish even for amateurs.

    As for having a profit motive, that’s clear from the Noodler’s ink prices FPN charges, which is the same price as normal retail. Members of a discussion group ought to get a discount.

    I’ve not used the classifieds yet but won’t after reading your post. Using eBay to locate vintage pens seems a good method. I’ve bought dozens of fountain pens that way. One just has to be prepared for seller with NO knowledge of what they have on auction and a lot of pens needing repairs. Since I can do minor repairs, that’s not a problem for me.

    As for being talked down to or insulted, that sort of rudeness seems to come as part of the package on any enthusiast forum. Try some of the automobile forums, for instance.

    Finally, I’ll look at the other discussion sites and see what I can learn from them.

    1. Hi Stephen,
      It seems that FPN has become complacent and standards – never all that high – have fallen. It seems unlikely that they will take a good, honest look at themselves any time soon.

  6. Regards to the Mary comment. I believe she was a moderator long before she was an employee of Conway Stewart. I do agree that there needs to be some fairness in the split in forums but the point where Conway uses FPN as a means to publicize their products isn’t a bad thing. Visconti uses it to get valuable feedback from the FPNers. He also uses this feedback to tweak his designs. It’s more of a customer relations department. Lots of FPNers contact VISCONTI’s owner through the FPN and get their pens issued resolved online. You could never do that with Montblanc. Every new pen that gets released is somewhat released on FPN by a user or a manufacturer anyways. And everyone is free to give their opinion.

    Unfortunately FPN is a private site that has a lot of sales passed through his site. One can agree that he is entitled to getting some percentage of those sales much like any pen auctions usually have a small % go to the organizers of the pen show. I found it annoying having some guys post 20 ads in a 10min span for free.

    1. Hi Jay,
      It’s refreshing to see an opposing point of view. That’s always welcome here. I will, however, politely disagree with you about some of the points you have made. Mary, if memory serves me well, was a CS employee before she became a moderator though that wasn’t exactly shouted from the rooftops. I would think, myself, that a forum giving preferential treatment to a company can’t be a good thing, particularly when people were being kicked out of FPN for criticising the modern Conway Stewart. That’s not a good service to the membership. Those criticisms were, in all the instances I saw, fully justified. Why is it OK to say that Parker isn’t making a good job of some of its pens but you can’t say the same thing about Conway Stewart? The most unfortunate thing is that some of the people who were unceremoniously booted out were those who were most knowledgeable about British pens.

      I have no dog in the fight about FPN sales. Never used it, stopped even looking at it years ago. However, I am aware that Wim repeatedly made it clear that sales required heavy moderation and that it took up too much of the moderators time. I expected sales to be discontinued for the good of the forum but instead it has been made into a cash crop. Sales will take up just as much moderator time, so it hasn’t been done to ease the strain on moderators. It has been done to make FPN a good earner. I wish they would just be honest about that.

      1. Deb,
        If I’m wrong about Mary then I apologize. Has these issues about fairness in her boards been brought up to Wim?

      2. Hi Jay,
        The deletion of threads critical of the modern Conway Stewart company and the ejecting of the members concerned was carried out by Wim. Discussion of Mary’s (and more importantly the modern Conway Stewart company’s) anomalous position has never been allowed. It has been assumed by some that the reason this situation prevails is because Conway Stewart is providing some form of sponsorship in return for what is, essentially, advertising space addressed at a captive audience. I don’t know the truth of that, but it is one reasonable explanation for an otherwise mystifying situation.

  7. Deb- it is so nice to see your blogpost after a lengthy gap. i was beginning o wonder why. S o that is god.

    As for FPN- Machiavellian rules if you ask me. I have not been following it keenly of late. And now I saw these rules, it seems too much. No more than 3 pens a week, only single and not multiple pens in one listing, maximum of 24 pens in a year- give me a break. eBay is paradise compared to this.

    I will always remember FPN as the place I first learned a lot about pens from. But I am not a fan of too much moderation, never have been.

    1. Hi Shrikaanth,
      It isn’t easy to keep up with all I have to do to maintain sales and the blog as well as all the other things that life demands of us. Of necessity, I have to let the blog – and the sales site – slide sometimes while I catch up on everything else.

      Having weighed up what has gone on in FPN recently I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s better to jump than wait to be pushed. I would have great difficulty shutting my mouth about some of what I have seen, so I’m better out of it.

  8. The problem is that FPN is large and there are benefits in maintaining the communication of experience and knowledge through FPN to maintain interest.

    I doubt that there are more than six contributors who make valuable and interesting comments which serve to educate and promote the hobby. It isn’t going to be the young and ill-informed but who is going to stop his contributions, because he doesn’t know enough to care. The people who care enough to leave are going to be the experienced and learned, some of whom may make their living from repairs and restoration, who take the view that FPN should not be supported.

    No great supporter of FPN but I do like a large and global forum where I can learn from people, such as yourself Deb, who have knowledge to pass on and to give a helping hand. But having said that, I have been aware of situations where advice has been expertly, honestly and freely given by repair persons, one in particular, who is then accused of having their own motives questioned. Had that been me then my bat would have been firmly under my arm as a I walked home.

    I try and filter out the rubbish and avoid being cheesed off at some of the silliness of FPN at the top and the bottom, not always with complete success.

    1. Hi Graham,
      I agree with you about the benefits of a large and broad-based forum. This is where the others, such as FPB and FPGeeks fail, in that they are both low volume and quite narrow in the subjects they discuss. FPN has always had the potential to be the place to share knowledge with the most people. It has failed to achieve that potential because those who run the show don’t hold learning in high regard and because they are all too ready to apply expulsion of members and deletion of threads. I was never comfortable there for those reasons but like you I felt that I could turn a blind eye to the unpleasant side of FPN and concentrate on the benefits. I can no longer turn that blind eye.

  9. I do understand your position Deb and I do respect it. There are many warts on FPN and yet I have been able to find much information that has helped me grow in knowledge and expertise and in fact led me to off sites where even more knowledge resides. I do like the no religion, no politics of the site as frankly this is something that I do as a leisure time activity and I have no interest in being inundated with the American view of the world. I can get that anywhere. And yes there are a ton of FPN posts that I skip every day because they are at best jejune. But maybe I was once that way as well and had I been dismissed out of hand maybe I would not have stayed in the hobby.
    I find the other boards a bit too self congratulatory and elitist. I still go there and read the and sometimes get some great info but the tone does get to me. I particularly love the threads on Pentrace and the FPB that spend a ton of time slagging FPN for their puritanical ways and yet they can’t wait to get rid of the same malefactors.
    All in all it boils down to how much one can stomach. For now I won’t be selling any pens on FPN because it makes no economic sense. I will still contribute as best I can but mostly I will try to keep visiting the sites that have great information and to keep building relationships with people like you Deb who make this hobby enjoyable.


    1. I completely agree with you about some of the other boards, particularly FPB, both on the elitist score and on their self-praise. FPB is convinced that it’s the cream of the crop, but it’s very narrow in its range of discussion and comes nowhere near the scholarship of Lion & Pen before it crashed and burned. I am a member of FPB though I find little opportunity to contribute, not being well up on the minutiae of Vacumatics and Balances. I occasionally read Pentrace, mostly for the nice photos but it’s almost all show and little tell.

      With regard to FPN, I accept that there is value there, and for the last six years or so I have tried to concentrate on that. However, I have always been made uncomfortable by the deletions and expulsions that were going on behind the scenes, and it has been so obtrusive in this last week that can’t really ignore it. Frankly, I despise the way these people are behaving and I won’t give them my tacit support any more.

      1. Deb, it might be bit harsh to without evidence (my view) accuse FPB of being convinced “we are creme of crop”. Besides there being no “FPB opinion” on anything (I’m the Admin, and I’ve never posted any “cream of crop” claims) every other person who posts on FPB expresses merely his own opinion, not “FPB’s”.

        We are trying to grow and we offer a lot. Our members seem to have knowledge and (i hope) enjoyment for members. That’s about all we seek. Unlike Pentrace, FPN, and Zoss, we don’t grovel for or demand financial contribution. What might seem like (or might in fact be) a narrowness of focus, both results from what people *choose* to contribute and reflects to a serious degree a natural distribution of collectors. There are far more collectors of 1930’s Parkers/Sheaffers than of Burnhams. None of that means I would not be happy to see plenty of posts about Burnham.

        I guess I am in placed in position of having to “apologize” that FPB has not yet grown enough to offer everything to everyone, but I note that this failure hardly reflects a sanctioned “disinterest” or a non-existent claim of “cream of crop”.



      2. “FPB that spend a ton of time slagging FPN for their puritanical ways and yet they can’t wait to get rid of the same malefactors.”

        First, as the least moderated pen forum on Earth, “FPB” spends no time doing… anything. FPB posts essentially nothing, save for occasional board-function announcements.

        People… who post on FPB… post things. People like Philip.

        Second, FPB has a bout the lowest ejection rate of members among big boards, currently totaling… one person, who was purged (as was his imaginary cousin) for posting hate filled anti-female rhetoric spewing the most X-rated terms for female parts. I doubt Philip would have liked to see such a discussion.

        Furthermore, FPB (I can say this with some assurance, what with being the main Admin), has no desire to get rid of… anyone, never mind getting rid of anyone for posting issues about FPN such as have been cited here. It demeans Philip to file baseline claims about what FPB “Cannot wait” for.

        I make no assertion that The Fountain Pen Board (FPnuts) is meant for anyone, never mind everyone. But, if one likes to discuss pens and pen collecting (no, we don’t discourage but don’t encourage either threads like, “what’s yer favorite ballpoint”), and if one wants a Board that has trivial moderation, not heavy handed purging of anything at mere whim of Administration, then do check us out. And, if you have concern that there are not enough posts, then do add some. All Boards start out with few posts.


        -david isaacson

      3. You have been busy, David! I’ll try to answer your main points here rather than at each comment. As regards broadening the discussion of the group, that bird may already have flown. How long has FPB been around now – almost three years? The longer the group remains predominantly concerned with American pens, the more it attracts like-minded people and puts off those with broader, or different, interests. Your lumping together yesterday of all pens not American as “Eurasian” does suggest where part of the problem may lie. You are well intentioned to the pens of other countries, but not really interested. Broadening FPB’s purview won’t just happen. That has already been tried by people who now rarely post there. It has to be nurtured and given an environment conducive to its growth and, frankly, I just don’t see that.

        Perhaps the “cream of the Crop” remark was a little too strong. I withdraw it. I’ll stick with “self-praise.”

        I agree whole-heartedly with all you say about moderation. You have proved yourself to be an excellent moderator, somewhat to my surprise, having seen the wrangles you’ve gotten yourself into elsewhere – but who am I to talk? I think you have proved that with a very light hand the group has remained mostly on-topic and hasn’t descended into internecine warfare, as Wim seems to fear for FPN. I heartily commend what you have done.

        You say, “we have had some huge threads about Conway Stewart.” Maybe, and maybe they’ve been more about FPN than anything else. They certainly haven’t been about the fascinating historical pens made by the original company of that name. Perhaps if there was less FPN-watching and more hoeing of its own row, FPB might be all the better for it.

        I think discussions like this can only do good, and it’s notable that you came here and, of course, Wim did not. I wish you well and hope you continue to succeed and go on to greater things. From a purely selfish point of view, I would love to see a forum where I could discuss with others the pens and issues closest to my heart. There isn’t one at the moment.

      4. Deb, when FPB started, we lumped Parker/Sheaffer/Wahl/Waterman/Conklin into one Forum called “American Big Five”. There were not enough posts to justifiy separate Fora. Took a year before there was some split in that group. Hardly a case there of “ship having sailed”. Things evolve…

        More a case of not wanting to have a cluttered Board. Europe/Asia (Eurasian) pens currently have too few posts to separate into separate Fora, on basis of activity. If/When more activity happens, there will be more Fora. Activity on various boards (I predate 98% of current pen collectors regarding internet pen involvement) has waxed/waned over the years. It’s fine by me if any given Forum is hot or cool on FPB, but that has nothing to do with me, it has to do with those who post. Zoss List is dead. Pentrace has no Archive (go find a British Pen post more than two weeks old). FPN wants to be little Stalin, as evidenced by the very chat you started here.

        I point out merely that we provide an open forum, more low key than most, more active than most (not all, obviously, just #2 on Google), with less moderation than most, and with no financial begging, unlike most. I can post links to a number of excellent chats about European pens, though clearly we lack the volume of FPN.

        The nurture of an arena really does come at the hands of those who collect in that arena. We have made space available on the front page. How goes the saying, “Can lead horse to water but can’t make him drink”. Lack of involvement becomes a self fulfilling prophesy. I harbored no illusions, even when starting the Board (I’ve been on the pen internet long before any board software whatsoever was available. I’ve seen spaces come and go), that FPB would survive at all. We flourish, but not yet in all arenas.

        As for “FPN Watcing” and Conway… I don’t make the rules as to what is posted. Indeed I hardly comment on such things. But, our members, having experienced FPN, want to write about that. Who am I to limit such chat? Oh, right… I’m running the Board that… doesn’t… erase people’s precious writings 😉

        I agree that different groups of members can lend different flavor to different Boards. I merely wonder where British collectors prefer to do their message thing, given there is no other active forum that is not heavy handed and controlling and that has archive of posts.

        The somewhat ironic thing here is that we probably offer the perfect space in which motivated collectors can play… if they so choose.

        So it goes.



      5. David,
        I think we have reached the stage of repeating previously-stated views. While our views are not all that far apart, I just can’t see them converging any further.

      6. Hi again,

        To lend a smidge of credibility to my assertions: 😉

        1. 90 posts and 5000 views about Conway Stewart business/historical aspect (probably with some FPN views too)

        2. History/context of british Burnham, 13 replies, noting the author of this thread just passed away this month…

        3. The First Pelikan Fountain Pen

        4. Soennecken

        And so forth. The space is there, but we are far smaller than FPN in this arena. But, no one’s posts have ever been removed from the Europe/Asia forum.

    2. “FPB that spend a ton of time slagging FPN for their puritanical ways and yet they can’t wait to get rid of the same malefactors.”

      First, as the least moderated pen forum on Earth, “FPB” spends no time doing… anything. FPB posts essentially nothing, save for occasional board-function announcements.

      People… who post on FPB… post things. People like Philip.

      Second, FPB has a bout the lowest ejection rate of members among big boards, currently totaling… one person, who was purged (as was his imaginary cousin) for posting hate filled anti-female rhetoric spewing the most X-rated terms for female parts. I doubt Philip would have liked to see such a discussion.

      Furthermore, FPB (I can say this with some assurance, what with being the main Admin), has no desire to get rid of… anyone, never mind getting rid of anyone for posting issues about FPN such as have been cited here. It demeans Philip to file baseline claims about what FPB “Cannot wait” for.

      I make no assertion that The Fountain Pen Board (FPnuts) is meant for anyone, never mind everyone. But, if one likes to discuss pens and pen collecting (no, we don’t discourage but don’t encourage either threads like, “what’s yer favorite ballpoint”), and if one wants a Board that has trivial moderation, not heavy handed purging of anything at mere whim of Administration, then do check us out. And, if you have concern that there are not enough posts, then do add some. All Boards start out with few posts.


      -david isaacson

  10. Rarely on that forum, preferring the geeks, but this explains the influx of refugees on the geek forum recently… Hmmmm

    1. Hi Yvonne,
      Yes, some went there, others to FPB. I don’t suppose it will make all that much difference to FPN. The noise to signal ratio will be a little worse but it was already deafening.

  11. Wow! So much to comment on, so little time…… I’ll limit myself to two basic points.

    Firstly, the murky history of the FPN Conway Stewart forum (yes, it has been murky for most of its existence). This was launched in c. 2005, I believe at the behest of Max D. (I’m sure you know who I mean) who, as maxpen, was the first moderator and he proceeded to use the forum in his inimitable style solely to promote his newly launched vintage CS sales website. One might legitimately speculate whether some sort of donation to the FPN coffers was made to expedite this. Max also did the world of CS collecting a great disservice by disseminating loads of incorrect historical information through the forum. He then disappeared from the FPN scene and the next moderator was, I think, New Zealander garythepenman. It was during this fairly benign period I found FPN, because it came to my notice that Max had been posting pictures of my pens there without my permission and implying they were part of his ‘stock’. Needless to say, the FPN administrators did not give a toss about this particular infringement of my copyright. The next moderator was Mary Burke, who was at that time the US representative for the modern CS company, later to become after the period of administration (in her own words) ‘Director of Marketing and Development at Conway Stewart Manufacturing (UK) ltd’. Heavy promotion of the modern CS company started immediately after she became moderator. Mary was apparently very keen to achieve world dominance of the Conway Stewart name because she at one time contacted me to see if I would help her persuade Jonathan Donahaye to allow her to host his website at a time when he was temporarily offline, an offer he sensibly he declined. A second moderator, Carrie was later appointed. As far as I can see, Carrie has made just one post on the forum in the last 4 years or so yet she is still listed as an active moderator – you may have noted my comments elsewhere about FPN ghost administrators throughout that board. I first noticed disappearing threads in late 2007 and when I raised the query of conflict of interest, I was told ‘I thought you understood that Mary didn’t actually sell pens, therefore there is no conflict of interest’, amongst other things in a fairly heated exchange of e-mails with the lovely Wim, This is obviously a complete nonsense and though I wasn’t banned, in the interests of my blood pressure I absented myself from FPN at that time. So all this probably explains why FPN has a Conway Stewart forum and it possibly hints at why there is no British pens forum – there has been no commercial incentive to set one up.

    Secondly, about FPB. What I like is the lack of moderation, the focus on vintage pens, the fact that opinions can be held and stated freely, the way idiots are not generally tolerated by members and the way David deals with the very few miscreants. On the other hand, what I dislike is that apparently only 4 or 5 other members there are remotely interested in the pens that I like, so posting there is decidedly unproductive for me. You are right in saying most of the Conway Stewart stuff at FPB is not related to anything other than expressing opinions about FPN’s CS forum or the goings on at the modern CS company but to be honest, that’s the main reason I still look in there, it’s nice to be able to have a place to speak freely so I can put the records straight. You can’t reasonably expect to attract many lovers of British pens when their favourite manufacturers are grouped with the rest of the world in the ‘not USA’ section. A good example is a recent post about a CS Dandy on FPN – Paul M. directed the originator of the topic to FPB where he said he was sure his query would be answered. Paul was right – i would have been happy to give chapter & verse on his query but he never turned up, presumably he took one look at most of the topics there and thought he was in the wrong place! So FPB is what it is, I will still pop in occasionally and answer any queries I can but because I am not interested in the pens that appeal to the vast majority of members there, it is still not a place I can feel genuinely ‘at home’.

    1. Thank you for your contribution, Andy, both on FPN and FPB. Needless to say, I concur with your views on both issues.

      This latest round of sending offenders to the gulag was so blatant and so little deserved that it leaves a very bad taste. Too much power resides in the hands of someone not responsible enough to use it properly.

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