March 09, 2010

"An Open Letter"

A few years ago, I was a moderator for a forum known as MTF, for short. That forum has long since passed into memory, but not without some fond memories of the times spent there and the friends I had made - and for the most part, still keep on PW and RMweb.

However there was one individual who, despite being given some responsibilities on MTF, would cause arguments, strife, leave and then return again expecting forgiveness to be given blindly. His main purpose in life was to make a series of videos for Youtube - not unlike my own in style of filming, but markedly different insomuch that The British Railway Series was at the very least, original writing and characterisation. I helped, on occasion, with his scripts, and tried to steer him into making them more realistic. I even lent my voice on two occasions when voice actors dropped out or were unable to record their lines in time. Now, our associations were not as a rivalry - neither series was better or worse than the other, simply different, and I preferred it that way.

Now, there came a time when the owner of MTF had had enough - and banned this individual. Whilst not taking sides in the debate, I felt that the member in question had long out stayed his welcome through some pretty vitriolic posts aimed at all and sundry.

Roll on December 2008, and this particular member had also up and left Youtube, taking his videos with him. Naturally there were questions from other youtuber members: where had he gone - why had the videos vanished? I had no answers as I had no knowledge as to why. However, a post written on my own account suggested I had had the videos removed by Youtube's moderating staff, for being "infringement on personal copyright". That was not, and never has been, true. I removed the post on my account, thinking it was a silly one off, and hoped that the member in question was alright.

However...I received the first PM that same day, asking me why I had had the member's videos removed. I replied that I had not. Another came - and another, and another...

This went on for about six weeks. I was distraught, some of the emails were abusive, vile and in some ways, chilling in their threats. Each and every member that send the PMs was blocked, via the Youtube system, and I replied to the majority of the PMs in calmest, and best manner that I could.

I have never had a reply from the ex-MTF member as to why my account was spammed in this way - there was a point where it was being openly discussed on other videos, relating to mine, as to why I had "done it". The simple answer was that I had not - and had no inclination to. Up to that point, I had had some sympathy with the plight of this individual, but by the end I was angry and hurt - and not inclined to be sympathetic any longer.

Last year, the youtube member Sparkshot (known as Knuckles to his friends) and I opened The Permanent Way Model Forums. This was meant to be a place where all the ex-MTF members could gather (for in January 2009, MTF closed permanently), and rekindle their modelling discussions. I am proud to say that we're still going after a year, a strong forum that is quiet a lot of the time, but we have fun and help out the members as best we can.

In the February of 2009, the ex-MTF member joined the PW forum, and gave a letter of apology. I enclose the letter here, albeit edited, for I will not use his real name as I respect his right to his privacy and confidentiality. Besides, he knows who he is.

Hiya, it's Wolf

Long time since we last spoke, hope you are both well, this is a really nice place you have made here, i love the background and the setting for the board.

I'm just really writting to apologise my for silly behaviour and to also apologise for that E-mail i sent you before Xmas last year, i just felt so angry with a few people, but, that is all behind me now, i really just want to start over and continue to be friends with you.


This email was almost word for word the same email given the last time he had left MTF and rejoined under a different username. There was no mention of the problems I had incurred on Youtube, despite emailing him on several occasions - even forwarding some of the worst ones to him in the hope he would help out and explain his position. He never acknowledged those emails, and with this apology - which I felt was not adequate - I took the decision to remove him from the forum.

Sparkshot however did not agree with my thoughts, and felt I should forgive him. Despite our differing views, he very, very reluctantly agreed to the removal of the member, and that was that, it seems. Speaking for myself, I have enjoyed the last year - the silence from those quarters is golden.

However, last week some emails were forwarded to me where the member in question chose to ridicule myself and Sparkshot. Now me, I could not care less what this person thinks. The time has long since passed where his opinion was of any value to me. However, he also made some comments about Sparkshot which, suffice to say, were totally unwarranted.

I can honestly say that Sparkshot is one of the most forgiving and supportive blokes I know. He has been wronged many times before and still forgives people for their misdemeanors. Some would say he is a fool for believing them, but I think he's a damn fine human being for turning the other cheek, time after time.

The ex-MTF member was quite clear on his new forum on what he thought of Sparkshot, and this angered me. Here was a man who had supported "Wolf" through thick and thin, even when he was least deserving of it, and had been a fantastic friend to him, even when others like myself had long since given up on him.

What saddened me greatly was how this ex-member was repeatedly stabbing in the back, probably the only true friend he had made in all his years on MTF. Sparkshot never acted anything less than a good friend to him, and now - well...

...he will most likely continue to turn the other cheek - that is Sparkshot for you. No, he is not stupid, he is simply the best type of friend. Loyal, decent, and willing to overlook even the most painful of insults. I can honestly say that "Wolf" has never deserved a friend like him.

In the end, I find it rather sad that in the four years since I have known "Wolf" - he still has not changed, despite everything.

You may be wondering why I have chosen to speak out now, for the first time, on my blog in this way. The reason behind it is simple. I am a good friend - and Sparkshot deserves my support in what I would deem a time of need, a crisis of faith. A betrayal in this way was never deserved by him.

I ask only, those who have read through this essay of intrigue, and not fallen asleep (!) to remember one thing. You will meet hundreds of thousands of voices online - words on a computer screen. Very few will gain a human quality to them, and even fewer will embody the decent qualities of the human race. Sparkshot is one of these rare people. You will also find, for every one Sparkshot, around a thousand wolves - never has the term "to cry wolf" held so much irony for me.

In the next post, I will return to modeling - until next time. Goodnight.

No comments: