A LETTER TO RICK McCAY
I was going to email the below to Rick in reply to his post yesterday in the comments section concerning ‘an increasing level of vitriol and the use of quite unpleasant language when dealing with vague or inaccurate information’ on ww. But I decided to post it for all to read.
Firstly – Hi Rick, thanks for the praise re the site, I value it coming from you.
Thanks for raising your concerns – before I address those let me explain a few things. I try not to edit / influence what appears in the comments section of ww, someones first comment on ww is always moderated e.g. to ensure they are not a spammer & their comments are related to the ww site & its content, but after that they can enter comments ‘live’. Its a bit ‘chat-room’ like. I can chose the number of comments that appear ‘live’ on the site at any given time, you may have noticed that comments drop off as new ones are added. As comments do not get captured in the ww search function its a good place for debate around a topic, if a comment is factual & interesting & will add value to the original post, I will transfer it over to the original post.
One of the big pluses of the blog format is that only the blogger (person that set it up) can post on the site, this keeps the site focused & not dragged off onto random unrelated topics, this is very important to retaining the readers & keeping them coming back each day/week. With ww this has worked well & I now have a very good feel for what content works & when best to post particular content.
Now onto the big pink elephant sitting in the room 🙂 no point beating around the bush, the issue is Ken Rickets & Harold Kidd. I have hundreds to people who send me information & photos but these two are very productive. In their own way, each have contributed to the growth of ww, in the early days Harold took me to task re the accuracy of the data & I spent weeks (nights) back tracking, correcting & cross referencing content – the kick in the bum from Harold resulted in the site becoming an amazing reference tools for classic wooden boats & most things associated with it. Harold is New Zealand’s foremost marine / nautical historian & most published author -the site needs a resource like Harold & I am very appreciative of his input in keeping the site & myself focused, we are lucky to have him on ww. I told him once that I was going print a business card for him & under his name it would say ‘Stubbornly Traditional’, that is how I view Harold & I think it perfectly suits one of his roles in the classic boating movement.
Now the other party – Ken Rickets, what Ken initially bought to ww was a collection of old b/w photos, dating back to his boating youth when he had what appears to be almost unlimited access to a camera & film (a luxury in those days), over the years Ken added to his collection. When Ken was emailing me these photos everything was fine but then Ken got addicted (as have a lot of people) to ww & he started writing supporting copy for the photos, this is where things started to go a little wobbly – Kens writing style & frequent repetition of certain matters was not well received by readers, without boring you with details I can see how each post performs in terms of how many people open it, how long they spend on each post etc. End result I had to step in & have for a long time been editing / re-writing all Kens copy.
Then Ken started writing (live & unedited) in the comments section which resulted in topics dying off as people were had low interest in a lot of what was written. I started editing these comments also. Now you might ask – why did I bother doing all this editing – 2 reasons. (1) To protect the credibility of the ww site (2) I believed that Ken had valuable content that deserved to be seen.
Now Ken is no angel – in the past he has been ‘suspended’ on the site for breaking agreements we had & is currently on total moderation i.e. he is unable to write ‘live’ in the comments section. His writings are all moderated & where necessary edited. I have also had a lot of negative feedback about his ‘dock-side’ manner when gathering information.
I’m a trusting person & I tend to believe what people tell me, so I used to assume that the copy that Ken supplied about boats & events to be correct but unfortunately with Ken a lot is based on memories from his youth, which was a long time ago, so things get a little (or a lot) muddled & on top of this Ken started practicing what journalists used to call ‘interviewing his own typewriter’. A combination of embellishing the story & not having access to people (most deceased) to validate the data has resulted in a high percentage of confusing & misleading data being published.
Numerous ww readers have been contacting me & challenging Kens writings, the most frequent being Harold Kidd, as you would expect as he is, as my son would say ‘The Man’ when it comes to detail. ww needs Harold & others to ensure the ww content is as accurate as possible. The fact Harold chooses to draw attention to any mistakes via the ww comments section is healthy, it encourages debate & that is a good thing. Now Harold’s delivery can be cutting at times but its my belief this is driven out of frustration that one individual continues to offend & makes no attempt to change their ways.
What have I learnt along the way – ww is lucky to have Harold Kidd on-board. I have learnt that Ken Rickets is a passionate collector of material related to motor boats (launches) but his passion & strength is in the visual platform (photos) not in the written word (details). Now he will disagree but ww has shown this is the case.
Going forward I have put in place some steps that should reduce Harold’s need to correct comments, but I hope he continues to. This involves further moderation of Kens writing, if he can not substantiate claims or is unprepared to admit he knows nothing e.g. “This a very cool photo I took in 1948, I know nothing about the vessel or the location, can anyone help” – then I will do that for him. If he gets frustrated with this – then he can do what anyone can & stop being a ww blog follower. I hope not.
Now lets finish this post on a upbeat – Rick has impeccable taste in wheels & keels – see below 🙂