I am here to announce that AVSIM has decided to ban me from their forums. I am here to protect my interests, interests of the simmers and defend myself from attacks on AVSIM, since they didn’t allow me to do that after the attack. Call it publish bashing.
Please note that this is a very long letter, so take a cup of coffee or something and make yourself cozy, if you wish to read it!
The announcement, as posted on 12.02.2012 by Stephen Wilcox, aka Spiritflyer:
Now, my dear fellow simmers, while I do respect that AVSIM wants to put out THEIR side of the story, and as it always is, each story has two sides. Otherwise this fiasco wouldn’t end up where it did.
It makes me everything but happy to have to post a thing like this. I usually like spending my time posting useful things, posts about my knowledge of the sim and my guides, help people who care about our hobby.
I will not dispute that some of the things Stephen wrote are true. The course of events is generally correct. The statement about my behaviour and deteriorating states is at best ridiculous. I am sad to say, after many years of positive contributions, I have been feeling left out lately, especially after the events that conspired in August/September 2012. But we’ll come to that.
As Stephen carefully pointed out, I have made quite a lot of friends on AVSIM, which I will reluctantly, but forcibly lose (maybe not all, but probably quite a big chunk). I have been a positive contributor since 2003 I believe, and all this time, I have been doing nothing else but helping users and trying to learn as much as possible about our hobby. I was never even thinking about moderating or even stepping into an administrator position. It was only some time about April 2012 or about when I asked Tom if he could give me moderating abilities, solely only because I wanted to move threads where they belong – this was the only kind of responsibility I was looking for, I never formulated it any other way. The reason was to make forums a clearer place, again, for people to easily find what they are looking for. It is also because of my high involvement on the main forums, like FSX Forum, Hardware Forums, why I wanted just to be able to move the posts around (it was mainly hardware posts from FSX forum to the Hardware forum) is to give a little back what I got from AVSIM (and yes, I also supported AVSIM financially with €50 when they got hacked). Finally, Tom has decided to give me an Administrator position – I never really asked for that, as I said, I wanted only the above. But technically apparently, it wasn’t possible any other way.
First I was appointed Hardware Mod, and this led to me putting together the first FSX Tweaking Guide. I was actually consulting many other members via PM about this, what they would think this guide should contain. I will not name names here, but there were at least a dozen people. It was never my intention to discredit anyone, the only reason why I ever wanted to put such document together was due to repetitive posts on forums for the same problems. It was basically giving people a one stop shop for frequently asked questions. At first, it was meant to be a simple question – answer post on AVSIM. As I wrote it, I figured I can’t just leave out parts of it, so it transpired into a FSX tweaking guide. Even before my guide, I was already quite known on AVSIM to know a lot about FSX and the inner workings, being very close to Jesus when he was doing his stuff, working close with Pete on the g3d.dll error (testings)… so people were already coming to me for solutions, at that time also via PM and Email, and I usually tried to help everyone. This was the reason for the guide, it made my job, helping people, easier.
Did the admin position hit my head? Yeah, it did a bit. It’s the first time I got such position on the forums, and I haven’t been able to carry myself fully with it. However, beside moving the posts around to their respective forums and sorting stuff out, taking care of reports, there wasn’t very much administering on my side. Here and there I managed to blurt out on posts I moderated, but that was it. What I never wished for myself is that I wasn’t being seen as a member of the community any more, but rather someone higher – and I wasn’t able to contribute to the forums as I have been used to. This led to a bit of a confusion, me not being able to keep apart the Administrator position and my user helping scheme. Prior to taking my “position”, this was also fully unclear to me. And this explanation came from administrators themselves later on – they told me I have to be careful what I write and can’t just say anything, as I am now a representative of AVSIM. Alright, I tried my best here. It didn’t work out and I wasn’t really pissed when I lost the position.
But what Stephen said here, and I quote: “The harder he became, the more members resisted and the more authority he was granted to enforce his methods of moderation.”
…is just a ridiculous and just a made up lie to discredit me. I was never given “more authority”. Nothing changed in my status of managing. I was still doing the same stuff. This statement has no other use but to put bad taste about me in other users mouths, while the whole time, I never, NEVER attacked AVSIM openly, unlike what they did to me right now. In the end, there were couple of disgruntled users, in which I ended up in a fight, but you could count them on one hand.
Quote: “Srdan seemed to have a gift for finding the wrong way to say something to members that he was moderating.”
And that happened originally couple of times only, as I already said. But I wasn’t alone here, somewhere in the summer there was also another mod who did some stupidity and we just all shushed about it. But the fact is, when Tom, or Chase, or Stephen “do” something like that, nobody really cared, things went hush-hush and that was it. But when I did, not much different than their moderating – and yep, I learned from the best – then it is called gift for finding the wrong way. Stephen is here again turning things against me, hanging himself on petty little lies.
It is also a fact that their moderating is often seen as very sharp, condescending and rude. It was not only once that I had a user PM me why Chase was so sharp, or why Tom had “that voice”…
Before I became a mod/admin, I was only the outsider and never understood the inner workings of AVSIM administrators. After couple of months, I got this bitter taste in my mouth. Maybe cultural things, but my mom has taught me to be polite and nice to people. I have always been a bit arrogant, that is in my nature, but telling me that I have missing human interaction skills? Get a grip, Stephen! – in my real life, I am in a position to judge those, and they are definitely neither missing nor wrong. I have soon realized that AVSIM is basically sort of a militant operation with lots of two-faced administrators – which I would in normal situation never attack like this, but after that announcement, I have no other choice. At one moment, they will be nice to you, all polite, and the next moment you are out. I was not the only user to whom this has happened. But I am probably the only one who will have something to say about it.
Quote: “There were no halfway measures with Srdan, so he became a hyperactive agent of motion throughout any forums that caught his interest.”
And yet again, the great Stephen Wilcox, the Minister, manages to turn a simple truth into a ridiculous lie. He was always good with words, something I was always bad at actually. Here’s why: Stephen himself put a thread into FSX forum, which still stands, that all hardware posts will be either removed or moved. At one point, I even asked him if I should really remove hardware related threads, I was actually coming to him for the advice! Yet he told me to be harsh and remove the hardware threads. But when I stepped in and started moving every thread that had anything with hardware into appropriate forum (call me crazy, but I think moving is better than deleting), I am being called a hyperactive agent. This is how people get treated on AVSIM.
The fact is, apparently, where it all comes down: AVSIM was troubled with me because I was becoming too involved with the forums, more and more people getting to know me etc. I got a message from Stephen at one point, (an excerpt) about my “overbearing presence in the forums”.
Following Stephen’s post further, he now accuses me about stealing other people’s tweaks: again, a bold and very ridiculous statement. Let me just ask one question: did I ever name the tweaks my own or did I ever discredit those who found the initial tweaks? Actually, at the end of my guide, you will find a big thank you note in red to all colleagues and friends. Together, we used to test (that would be in a big part me, and of course others, sorry for not naming now) and find out (that would be in the biggest part Jesus, and of course others) the new tweaks.
Quote: “Over the course of the next short while he accumulated the various pieces most of us hardware and software orientated people had collected and stowed in files, favorites links and buried in old forum threads hither and yon.”
I bet Stephen has been secretly looking in my computer and saw exactly what I was doing. I have been learning. Learning so I can set up my system to the best possibility there is, later on pass my knowledge to the less knowledgable and also help others! I was testing the configurations, tweaks over 3 generations of computers, seeing how they behave. I spent days testing, re-testing and writing up and seeing other results, then again setting other configuration up and re-testing. In the end, after reading all Nick’s suggestions, Jesus’s stuff, my own, the whole collected experience of the FSX tweaking, I decided to put it all down, for everyone else, to easily set their FSX to run as best as it can on today’s computer. What I found, with the SB systems and the tweaks I tested to no end, that there is a key to which tweaks to use and which not. I never *ever* implied I did anything more.
It hurts me BADLY to be this blatantly accused around my own work. What Stephen/AVSIM obviously doesn’t realize is that this IS my own work (beside the fact that I asked couple of users what they might think would be the best to put in, and I thank you for your opinions).
In the end, it was me who put 1 and 1 together for the specific configuration, it was me who tested the configuration hours and hours to no obvious end, it was me who wrote it all down with all the links hosted and explained. It was me who wrote a guide that was simple enough for my mum to understand. Did I learn it all on AVSIM? For one part yes, but also in other places, from other people, google, other forums – did anyone else, at that point, do the kind of a work I did? Not that I know of. And the guide was welcomed with open hands by lots of people.
AVSIM got pissed apparently, when I decided to move my own work to my own website. I have EVERY right to take my work with me wherever I wish to.
And now, let’s get on with accusations:
Quote: “The end had to come, and it went something like this: Srdan decided to support people in the guide on helping their FSX software to run in P3D.”
Alright, if I’m to understand this correctly, we are talking EULA here. The most hated topic on AVSIM, ever.
First of all, it was not in the guide. The guide was solely a guide to make FSX and P3D run well; tweaking and hardware, nothing else.
There is also a compatibility list post, in which I rudimentarily explained how to port a scenery or aircraft into P3D, BUT… I also say, and I quote:
“Furthermore, be aware that the product publisher might have issued an EULA preventing a product from a licensed usage in P3D.” and “The developer can say no, but that also doesn’t mean it doesn’t work. Just that you should not do it and probably would be unwise to post screenshots of doing it.”
It is a warning to the users, and legitimate one. Everyone should decide what they do. It is not my place to tell users what to do.
What I did, was discussing with everyone else, openly on AVSIM forums, about porting add-ons to P3D, before these discussions got canned by the management. Indeed, I also wrote a comparison review of P3D vs FSX, for users to see differences in performance. I used specific add-ons, like NGX, FB KPHX, UTX, UK2000, Aerosoft… the sole intention was to show if users were thinking of going P3D, how will it perform – better, worse… The post was initially posted in P3D forum section of AVSIM. Not a long later, we got a message from UTX makers, that UTX is not allowed to be used in P3D, and that we should remove it. So I removed the UTX comparisons and got instructed by Tom to remove the post. Furthermore, together with the comparison review, I also, together with Ben, opened a place on my blog for a list of add-ons which are or are not compatible with P3D. That didn’t sit well with AVSIM either. So I moved it away from AVSIM.
The kicker though is, just couple of weeks later, AVSIM decided to make it’s very own compatibility list, which was visible directly on the main site. So, when I asked why was I expelled for my list, but now AVSIM has it’s own list, the answer was simply because the Board has decided so. I felt mocked.
Now, here comes the reason why all my “rights” were removed: I opened a blog and posted my comparison review, my guide and add-on-compatibility list on my blog. I was kicked off the team, because as an AVSIM member, I can’t even host an outside site with my stuff. OK with me. I rather bring the information out to the people, rather than be an AVSIM administrator. Call me stupid, if you want. And Stephen got one thing almost right here:
Quote: “Srdan still wanted to put it in his guide (BLOG!!), and Tom said no, Srdan went ahead and did it anyway and put “His” guide on his own domain, and Tom fired him. All members of the AVSIM senior staff agreed 100%.“
So Tom wanted to prevent me to have a place of my own – how monopolistic of him.
I find so cute how Stephen wants to pretend it is “our” guide. Where does he get those ideas?? Did he help me write it? Did he spend countless hours together with me loading and reloading FSX to no apparent end, making hundreds of notes? Too bad I threw them away, would be a nice proof, it was all handwritten… Call some of the tweaks ours, if you want, as we reached them with our joint forces, but all together, as I put it into the guide, what tweaks I took, how well they all worked together, and not mixing the “wrong” tweaks, that is solely my work.
So yeah, I lost my administrator position, only so that I can bring the valid and correct information out to the people (and that without breaking the said EULAs).
Quote: “He still hangs out here, answers the enquirers the same way, still tells everyone to go to his blog which still helps people break their EULA.”
Why wouldn’t I hang out there? It is a place I used to call home for a long time. It was for a long time the ONLY forum I participated. I answered the inquirers with helpful answers, as many have already confirmed. If I was able to answer, I would, and if I thought link to my blog was of benefit, I would link there. Where is harm in that? And to say “I tell everyone” – that is again just bunch of crap. I only told it there, where it was applicable. I would never tell an ATI user to go and use it, I would never tell it to someone with a weaker computer, so I stand by my opinion, saying that I only advised it where appropriate.
A word on EULA:
I have noticed quite a many posts in the thread about me not respecting rules of AVSIM, and going against EULA. Where do you have this from, people? Do you simply believe what you are told?
Concerning me breaking EULA on my site: hardly. The only thing in breach of the EULA currently inside, is the performance comparison of NGX in both simulators. This *was* only for demonstration purposes, I don’t use NGX in P3D. I also have no content on my blog that “helps people break their EULA”. Some developers are OK with users porting to P3D, and that’s a fact because I contacted some personally (they even encouraged me to post screenshots, as it is a good advertisment for them!!). In the end, EULA is the thing between the user and the developer, and neither me, nor AVSIM, nor anyone else, but the two, have anything to say what is and what is not a breach of EULA.
Quote: “He is thereby still doing the things he got fired for and are drawing members out of AVSIM to his blog with impunity.”
Yet again ridiculous. When I got “fired”, I was told that as a representative of AVSIM (mod/admin), I can’t be seen doing that. I was fired for wanting to host my findings, that btw. other users only appreciated, but that was as I was an administrator.
How Tom formulated it, to me it ment that after becoming a normal user, I have every right to post on my blog whatever I wish. Although, I did respect wishes of Flight1/UTX makers not to put UTX in there, as they asked directly.
Quote: “After several months of this conduct and being warned repeatedly by senior staff,”
I got three warnings (if this pertains to my blog):
1) to remove the blog from my signature
2) to remove the “avsim” word from my email address
3) not to poach through PM
I obeyed all warnings.
There have been no direct warnings of me “not to put a link to my blog when replying to the user”. There have been superficial warnings of me poaching users, while at the same time, I didn’t see the linking to my blog as poaching, as other posters also suggested my guide if performance was questioned.
Together with this situation, I got accused of using AVSIM to promote my blog and poaching users for my blog. While promotion wasn’t my direct intention, it is what happened (like it did with any other forum out there). Stephen said the most hits probably originated from AVSIM – at first, this was true – it was the only place I was really active at, at that moment!! But as I pushed my blog further, across other forums too, AVSIM became just a small part of it – and that happened really quickly. So, could I have had done it without AVSIM? Without a doubt, it would have only take a month or two longer.
And this is apparently where admins got hurt. I can understand – first I gave you something, then I took it away. Well, tough luck – you played the cards wrong with me.
But to explain: the blog’s intention was NEVER to poach users. The intention was to be independent; something AVSIM has no idea about what it means. Independence and democracy have no or very little meaning there. There is no freedom of speech. I am a member of more forums than AVSIM, and the blog was intended for everyone, not only AVSIM users. I recently even thought about translating it into German, as I have been active in German forums too. The fact is however, AVSIM got pissed when I moved it to my blog, and when I wanted to post a link on AVSIM. My explanation and reason were simple: maintaining one guide is enough, but AVSIM wanted an up to date version on their site. So they didn’t want to link but they wanted a complete guide, which was impossible and very difficult to port from WordPress to AVSIM, due to different formatting. I only asked them to maintain the link, but that was unacceptable.
AVSIM apparently doesn’t understand the meaning of the word community and interlinking over internet.
They told me they will host my guide on AVSIM directly. But, let’s for the moment turn this story around: why would AVSIM enjoy the hits from other websites if my guide was hosted there in the first place?
Quote: “I officially wrote Srdan asking/ordering him to stop this activity, especially the poaching of our members. He agreed, but did and changed nothing.”
Again, you mask what really happened, tell it in your own words, and call it a day.
As I already said, the only two things I remember being warned about was the signature, email and poaching (PM). All these activities stopped. But still, other users were recommending my guide and this is obviously where you got pissed. So if others were linking, I didn’t see any reason to *not* post a link to my blog, exactly like others are doing. But no one ever told me that I can’t post links to my guide, at least I don’t remember.
Quote: “Of course Srdan was not pleased. At first his comments to Paul were almost brotherly. One day last week he let loose and didn’t bother mincing words or pretending common cause or comradely rivalry. He was vicious and direct.“
Oh that is just s***load of you know what! And you know it! I wrote in a thread about the problem I had and was investigating, and what Paul wrote was dismissive and basically telling me to piss off with my problem, because others know better. The best thing is though, after I got pawned, the cause of the problem came up, and in the end, also the solution to the problem. And the cause was repeatable on other systems. Yes, I did seem a little harsh in my reply (which was btw. hidden), but I also did not know that Paul’s mother died.
On that note: Paul, I’m very sorry I was harsh to you on that day, had I known the circumstances, I would have probably gone another route. My condolences, since I can’t post at AVSIM anymore.
In all honesty, I couldn’t care less not being a hardware moderator any more, as I already previously pointed out, I was glad I was out of the woods with that one. You apparently thought I missed that and wanted the position back. This whole time you fail to realize what it is that I am attempting. If that didn’t come over until now, it never will.
What does bother me however, is that you are blatantly and by force attempting to replace my guide with Paul’s.
To be clear about one thing: I had *nothing* to do with the new AVSIM FSX Guide, except that Paul took some parts from my posts on AVSIM and/or my guide (also credited me in it). It’s complete Paul’s work, he compiled it the way he deemed necessary.
That’s it basically.
On with the story…
Quote: “Yesterday Kosta again began to directly pull people out of AVSIM with the same old line. He was warned by Chase who was mocked for his effort.”
Again, I was never “pulling” people. Stephen, do you really hold me for that stupid that you think that I would open up a BLOG to pull the people out of AVSIM? Eg. poaching users…? Iif I had any such intentions, I would open up a forum or something. I feel like a parrot: the blog is here to make an independent place for my work for everyone and nothing else. If people decide to follow it, ask me a question or something, what is wrong with that? It is apparent that YOU are afraid for AVSIM. And that is really poor, given AVSIM’s position and status. You should actually be proud that you have individuals like me, wanting to share the sources and help users. In the end, that is what Internet is about – and this is what I wrote to Chase. Did I mock him? Sure, a bit, since I really got pissed and knew I was about to lose my account in any case. What you have been doing to me the last 4-5 months is nothing compared to how I mocked Chase in my last email.
You see, I had two exits out of this situation: either becoming inactive on the forums, subsequently maybe hurting my reputation when someone asked for help, and I didn’t answer or going the “hard” way, trying to fight my way out. But… neither of the two would have given me what I was trying to achieve – helping more people in a more efficient way.
Quote excerpt from the Email I wrote to Chase today morning:
“AVSIM apparently wants to close itself to the likes of me, and my only explanation is that you don’t want me helping out and contributing, although I’ve been hugely helpful in the last 10 years. And not only that I personally am linking to my site, only sometimes, only on some threads where people run into big trouble (and I minimized my “linking” as of late greatly), but also coming from another sites, other people are recommending my tweaking approach. So, will you now also delete their posts?“
From the current announcement thread discussion:
I did notice someone suggested that AVSIM should sit with me in couple of days and talked to me: please be noted that I wrote to Stephen to meet on Teamspeak to talk things out. First request went unanswered – 06.11.2012. 2nd Email went out to Chase, asking the same thing, on 10.11.2012, only to get the reply that Chase will email him; still no reply until 19.11.2012, when I asked the 3rd time, finally to get a positive answer. So no one should tell me I didn’t attempt to make contact. Only after couple of weeks, after I asked once more, did I get a reply that he would be glad to discuss things and set things straight. Since then, we had Christmas time in between and that is a time where I virtually work, eat and sleep, until approximately end of January. I now I was getting around to stuff, and now this.
I was never past talking. I *wanted* to resolve the issue, but now, sorry to say, it’s just too late. Damage on the side of AVSIM has been done and this is my defense against it.
Quote: „Meanwhile Srdan is not welcome to be a part of the future AVSIM, nor is his guide welcomed to be hosted, posted or linked to from here. We have a better guide in place that will be updated as needed.”
I figured as much that this will happen. And you know what? I care. I really do. But not about you Stephen or AVSIM, for simply writing this up and taking almost 4 hours of my time to defend myself. I care about the users, I will keep the blog up, I will keep the work up, but not for you. For all other simmers who care about my work.
I’ve seen too many good people come and go because how AVSIM handled them. And like most of them, I’m guilty of helping people. And this is apparently not what Tom & Co want: I feel like AVSIM is into making money and selling stuff. Years ago, AVSIM was a different place, a meeting place for simmers. Now it has become a commercial conglomerate with interests about itself and not the people. You will find numerous other websites on the internet about flight simulators, which contain the posts just about that – helping people and discussing relevant stuff. And these places, although way less users than on AVSIM, have much higher quality of relevant discussion.
What did hurt me was that I thought I was part of AVSIM – in the end, I feel like I was wanted solely for my guide as of late (especially since Stephen was appointed Forums Manager), while was still hosted at AVSIM, but as soon as I pulled it off, the friendship was off too.
To all my friends, simmers, I will still be around, so feel free to contact me via my blog, that is right now the easiest way.
Also, I have found the Flightsim.com to be a very good site, much more friendly, as I have been spending some time there for the last couple of months. The friendliness, warmth, feel of being welcome, even way before than I was banned from AVSIM were overwhelming. What these guys have is what AVSIM has unfortunately lost a long time ago. They concentrate on important stuff, flight simulation and aviation, and not politics, large egoes, the site or financial gain. I look forward to seeing everyone over there!
Also, there is a new kid on the block, iFlySimX.com, I still don’t know much about them, but I’ll be also helping these guys out!