Save MWC: An open letter to the membership

Discussion in 'MWC (defunct)' started by ProfessorChaos, Apr 29, 2014.

  1. ProfessorChaos

    ProfessorChaos Active Member

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    After a four year hiatus exploring America by motorcycle, I had my arm twisted until I agreed to build another ship and see people I’d not seen in quite some time. I’d forgotten how much I’d missed people I’d not spoken to in those years.

    Arriving at Nationals, it felt really good to reconnect with old friends and meet new battlers who’s joined since I last attended. I was free to have a low pressure good time, since my ship was barely complete and I predicted multiple sinks in my future (I nailed the number exactly). I had many good conversations and felt optimistic about the week.

    After Nats, I saw that things had become even more polarized in MWC. Everywhere I looked I saw warning signs of issues. Lack of respect for fellow members. No quarter given for mistakes. A general feeling of mistrust. I felt the root cause of the problem was that communication had broken down to the point where MWC was less a club than a bunch of cliques pointing fingers at each other. I resolved to try to be part of the solution instead of adding to the problem. I called several people I’d had conflicts with in the past to address those past conflicts in person to reach a mutual understanding. I asked for help to reach out to others to start a dialogue and jump start friendly communication again. I also reached out to try to mediate between people who felt slighted by some event at Nats that they felt slighted by to foster understanding and remove the hard feelings. I felt I was actually doing some good. Now, I feel like the Little Dutch Boy.

    Sides:
    There are “sides” in warship combat. The Axis and Allied fleets exist so that there is a side to root for and a side to shoot with glee. This is not just a hobby of robot combat, it’s also a kind or role playing game where I can sink your barbarian ships while you attempt to put holes in the pride of the imperial fleet. When we are on the water, the other side is the enemy. When we are planning for the next battle, the other side is my enemy. When we are in the pits, anything in my tool box is yours if you need it. When we are at dinner, we drink beer and laugh.

    Some people have always had a difficult time separating the game from real life. They are interested in personal glory or glory for their side at the cost of anything else. I recall my rookie Nats having a vet try to have me removed from the next battle near the end of the week because my hull was hard from patching. He wasn’t trying to make sure I was having fun. He wasn’t interested in fostering new members. He just wanted to make sure my BB’s stayed off the water so I couldn’t gain any points with a ship that had proven to not be a cream puff. In the end, he was overridden by the CD (Bart) because winning isn’t the goal.

    Another example of the “Sides” issue: I was involved last year with trying to devise fair rules regarding rudders and bulkheads. Ultimately, those efforts failed due to finger pointing and outright accusations of favoritism towards one or another “side”. “You Axis” and “Those Allies” comments flooding my inbox. For shame. What is important? Some perceived advantage or the club? On the rudder issue, I worked with others to try to gather actual data (gasp) and found that my assumptions were dead wrong. It didn’t matter. Facts didn’t matter. The facts were obviously lies designed to favor a “Side”. This level of distrust isn’t viable.
    I was recently informed of an email titled something along the lines of “The Axis Problem”. I’ve not seen the email and I hope that such a thing never happened. However, if it did, the author should be ashamed of himself. Have enough respect for the club and for the rest of the members to address concerns constructively.

    Club vs. Cliques:
    When I joined MWC, there were many members who garnered respect. Bart Purvis, Fleugel, Don Cole, and Lars stand out as fair minded leaders who cared about MWC as a whole. Their stabilizing influence kept many of the hotheads and cliques in check. Most members were in it for the good of the club as a whole and not in it for their group to be in power. Over the years, many of those respected members who felt it was their duty to lead have fallen away. Some have stepped up to try to fill their shoes (Bob comes to mind) but the pendulum has steadily swung towards fractured groups centered around hotheads with their own personal agendas trying to use the club as a hammer against others who disagree with them.
    When there are groups who call themselves “Elite” and call others “Don’t Matters” who are allowed to drive the direction on an organization, the organization is doomed. I can proudly say that I’ve never been a member of an exclusive group. I’ve always tried to be inclusive in every organization I am involved with. Hell, I even support the member of my STAR chapter who bough a Harley. Having secret meeting to strategize how to hurt or eliminate other members of a club means the club is done. If a member is honestly a problem, address it respectfully and give everyone a chance to correct errors. If you just disagree with their positions, allow for the fact that you may be wrong. Respect your fellow members. Give them the benefit of the doubt.

    You Get Out What You Put In:
    Clubs are work. Hard work. As long as there are a sufficient number of members who are willing to bear the load out of duty to the club, it can survive. Bob is a good example of this. I’ve not always agreed with Bob on issues, but I have a lot of respect for Bob. He’s done more to grow this hobby than any single member I’m aware of. He’s worked for the CLUB. Unfortunately, most of the club has let him down by letting him shoulder the burden. The same goes for people like Lars, who spent years begging for help for TF144. Not to make this about me, but I’ve YET to get a "thank you" for the many months of research and money spent to correct the Japanese cruiser list. Some probably thought my revelation that the sole 3.5 unit Jap cruiser needed to be downgraded to 3.0 units was an Axis plot . :)
    The BOD has become a problem. They are unresponsive to member requests and attempting to use the rules as a hammer to stifle dissent. The issue isn’t even so much the structure of the BOD, its that some of the members of the BOD (not all) WANT to be on the BOD. They WANT to run the club. It’s their hobby. They have an agenda of directing the club instead of letting the members run the fun parts while they take care of administration. The BOD has been secretive and has the power to change any rule they like at any time. This was not the original intent, but this was emphasized to me by Tom Palmer when I spoke to him about some of my concerns. The BOD has become this way because the membership as a whole will not step up to help their club. They are willing to leave the running of the club to those who WANT to have power. That is the death knell of any organization. You get out of a club what you get into it and most of the members seem to be happy to let this club die from lack of effort.

    Gossip:
    It’s been brought to my attention recently that I said mean things either about or to Brian Kohler. That was a surprise to me. To my recollection, I’ve had nothing but constructive conversations with Brian and don’t recall even having serious disagreements on issues. However, someone is spreading that rumor. If that person is reading this, man up. Stop acting like a gossipy sorority girl.
    This is just an example of the rumor spreading that goes on. The reason people spread rumors is that they don’t respect the people they are speaking about. If you spread rumors, you are the problem. If you allow others to spread rumors, then you are the problem. If you want to save MWC, then it will take action to fix this culture, not just a personal promise to not do it anymore. Try to have at least a minimum level of respect for other club members.

    In closing, I’m not going to be a member this year. Some of that is due to personal change. Some of that is due to the BOD and their heavy handed and condescending treatment of the membership. The personal change will no longer be an issue in the near future and I hope that the members take their club back from the negativity before it’s too late so that something worth joining exists when I can again.

    Remember, this is not just playing with toy boats. People have thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars invested. Some people have no other outlets. This is worth saving. Make a stand and save it. Think of the club, not your petty desires or agendas. If you have been standing on the sidelines, step up and help shoulder the burden. If you have been and are burned out. Take a break and encourage others to help. Point out that its not nice to be a parasite.

    To those of you who are my friends, I hope to see you on or off the water again. You are the people I tolerate this for. For those who are acquaintances, I can disagree with you vociferously, it doesn’t mean I don’t respect your position. It just means I don’t agree with it. Disagreement doesn’t imply hate or distrust. It just implies you’re wrong. Ask my friends. I don’t pull punches with them either. :)

    Thanks,
    Professor Chaos.
     
  2. Tugboat

    Tugboat Facilitator RCWC Staff Admiral (Supporter)

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    Professor, I too am taking some time away, battling locally as time allows, largely because recent... unpleasantness has made me averse to the national scene. I freely own up to not doing much outside my region towards the club specifically, apart from one lonely article in TF144. My contributions have mainly been online to help people building boats or troubleshooting brushless stuff. I fully agree that Bob H has been a stalwart in working for the club (as a whole). He is a champion in my book.

    I haven't been too into the diehard Axis v. Allies stuff, although I enjoy yelling BANZAI!! (my guilty pleasure) from time to time. I also enjoy going flag/no-flag so that the units are more or less even. I also know that such things are not everyone's cup of tea.

    As far as Brian Koehler rumors go... Brian and I have been friends for just over 10 years. We build and battle boats together, play video games together, and I help with his son's Scout troop from time to time. One could say that we're best friends. If Brian thought that someone was bad-mouthing him, I would have heard about it from him, and I haven't heard a whisper.

    While I'm on the subject (and this is not directed to the good professor...), for anyone who may be a detractor of my friend, whether you agree or disagree with his opinion, or anything that he may have done, take it to the bank that he is ALL ABOUT the good of the club. He doesn't care whether Axis or Allies or the Green three-headed martian fleet wins Nats as long as it's a good fight and everyone has fun. I happen to share that opinion :) At my last Nats (2012), the rudder on SMS Scharnhorst jammed pretty much daily and I could not figure out why; Jackie Fisher solved my problem, and we got back on the water and started shooting each other, as gentlemen should. I have been privileged to meet many good people in the boat hobby, which is why I've stayed with it so long(God knows that it wasn't the high quality of my ships!). The recent ungentlemanly rancor (note that I do not single out single person) has led a few people that I know to also feel like avoiding the national level for the present. It is distressing but a lack of civility drives people away, whether it's a boat club, car, club, or other group.
     
  3. DarrenScott

    DarrenScott -->> C T D <<--

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    Well said.
     
  4. Hovey

    Hovey Active Member

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    Everything you said may be true (I hope not as that would be a club in serious trouble). But put you name on it otherwise you are just spreading anonymous rumors on the internet like every other forum troll.
     
  5. Murchisonge

    Murchisonge Active Member

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    Well Professor,
    I have not been to any battles yet, nor have I actually met anyone on this forum in person or even over the phone. It has been my experience at least, that everyone I have reached out to has been more than helpful. I have talked with people from the western part of the U.S., along with people from the eastern and southern regions, either directly or indirectly. I don't know if anyone I talked to was a member of MWC Board or not. I am not yet a member because I am waiting until I have a completed boat to join with. I have very little skill and not much free time, but I am more than willing to help with anything I can, which probably isn't much because I don't have a computer or internet at home. I have seen some bickering on the forum, but it always seemed to be a misunderstanding or different interpretations of the rules. The confrontations I have read seemed to work themselves out after better communication was added to the problem. I respect your opinions and fully understand that this should be about having fun. That is why I am here. I hope to meet you on the water one day, along with everyone else on the forum.

    Cheers,
    Garrett
     
  6. daisycutter

    daisycutter Active Member

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    We are such a small group. Behind closed door meetings/gossip/negative mojo is bad mojo. This will all turn out for the better.
     
  7. ProfessorChaos

    ProfessorChaos Active Member

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    For those who are unaware, Professor Chaos = Bryan Finster
    My intent isn't to troll. The club has some issues that need to be adressed. They've been shunted aside and kept in the dark for far too long.
    Thanks. :)
     
  8. ProfessorChaos

    ProfessorChaos Active Member

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    Garrett,
    Your expirience is spot on. Better communication usually solves most problem. To foster that communication requires you assume a minimum level of trust and respect. It's important at times to remind people that if you treat people with some trust and respect, you may find you get it back. You get nothing by demanding it.
    Clubs are groups of people who can grant each other some slack. Without that slack, the club fails.
    Build a boat. Make sure it's one you love. Don't worry about it being perfect since it won't be. None ever are.
     
  9. Anachronus

    Anachronus Well-Known Member

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    Quite so. Letting things fester is never good.
     
  10. Gascan

    Gascan Active Member

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    Unfortunately I am seeing similar things happening back home in the WWCC. When I left to join the Navy, there were simmering bad feelings that have only grown worse. Once one of the largest big gun clubs, easily putting 20-30 warships on the pond at regular monthly events, I now hear they are lucky to break ten boats including unarmed cargo boats (which often outnumber the armed ships). Even worse, it looks like they are not going to be able to renew their permit to use the battle pond because they cannot agree on the wording. Although I am proud of my WWCC heritage, I have not had time to really keep up with the goings-on back home, so I really don't know all the details. That said, it looks like the club is in dire straits.
     
  11. Kun2112

    Kun2112 Active Member

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    Sadly this is something that has happened too many times: The NASWCA split, the IRC/MWC split, the Treaty spinoff, the current rift between the two largest treaty groups to the point that one doesn't even consider the other's battles valid Treaty battle for membership/voting purposes, and now it looks like there is dissent within MWC as well.

    Unfortunately, some people will always take things personal, and others will always make things personal. The only remedy I can think of after my research on some of the old splits and having experienced one myself, is a re-examination of each organization's By-Laws. Some of the things that should be addressed are:
    1. Clear process and procedures on adding and removing people from the governing body, including a provision for a vote-of-no-confidence by the membership at large by a supermajority of 60-75%
    2. Term limits for members of the governing body.
    3. A clearly defined, carefully thought out, and robust rules change process. Most of the splits have happened because of factions that have formed regarding rule changes.
    3a. (kind of a pet idea of mine) The creation of a rule proposal review committee to impartially review proposed changes, provide a list of ship classes affected, in the case of a technology related rule determine any changes the adoption of the new tech could have on gameplay, and present them to the membership for rules discussion.
    4. A grievance/arbitration process for settling disputes between sub-organizations within the organization as a whole by an impartial third party
     
  12. ProfessorChaos

    ProfessorChaos Active Member

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    Those are excellent points. When MWC was founded, there was an effort to dilute leadership power and to make it difficult to change the rules. Term limits and the ability to have a recall vote were not considered since it was hard enough to get people to serve. Now it appears there is a group of members who've had their axes just waiting to start grinding when the BOD votes were available. They are beginning to grind away. I've actually been informed that my membership may be rejected if I lifted my objection to the changes to the wording of the contract I'd need to sign to join. When I queried the president about this and asked for an explanation, he deflected the question.
     
  13. mike5334

    mike5334 Well-Known Member

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    Perhaps discussing club business on a public forum isn't he way to go. Heh.

    Some very good points in the initial writing though. :)
     
  14. ProfessorChaos

    ProfessorChaos Active Member

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    I suppose that depends.
     
  15. NickMyers

    NickMyers Admin RCWC Staff

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    Sometimes public forums are the best location, especially if a certain amount of distrust regarding backroom dealings and grievances has built up.
     
  16. Buddy

    Buddy Active Member

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    I agree pretty much with all the points said. I have run in to my own problems with clicks and groups. I still try to work on the wording in emails I send because they can be miss read. You know I really miss picking up the phone and calling some one or remember when we used to talk tapes back and forth ! some day I know this is a pipe dream but I would like to hold a gathering with basic rules where any one can come and just have fun !!!
    Buddy Friend
     
  17. ProfessorChaos

    ProfessorChaos Active Member

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    It appears that some on the BOD object to my prose. In the MWC area, unless someone spuriously marks it as abuse, you will find a description of their action against me. I have every intention of keeping the warship combat community apprised if the situation. If my post is censored, I will be happy to email a copy to anyone who is interested.

    Thanks,
    Bryan Finster
     
  18. Tugboat

    Tugboat Facilitator RCWC Staff Admiral (Supporter)

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    Please keep club politics off this board, that's not what it's for.
     
  19. ProfessorChaos

    ProfessorChaos Active Member

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    I apologize for any violation of the TOS.

    Thanks.
     
  20. Tugboat

    Tugboat Facilitator RCWC Staff Admiral (Supporter)

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    No problem, no malice intended :)