Saturday, 3 April 2021

The Oddity of TMP, and alternative Napoleonic Forums

I hesitated somewhat in making this post, but decided it was worth doing on the chance it might save others from a similar experience!

As readers may or may not know, TMP (The Miniatures Page) has been a central location for Napoleonic wargaming discussion in the past, though today there are many more options of course. Even though the TMP forum software is poor by today's standards and a relic of the 90's (e.g. it shuts down for an hour each day, which annoyingly happens mid-evening here in NZ/Australia!), they have been around for a long time and so have accumulated members and posts for that reason alone.

Recently the TMP owner and editor Bill implemented a new policy stating one cannot make announcements about new products, though you are still able to write reviews on them. This has caused much controversy and somewhat reduced the usefulness of the site. However, I can perfectly well understand the position he took, wanting advertisers to pay rather than getting free advertising.

The policy is written like this:

Can I announce my new wargaming product on the forum?
No – please see the News of the Hobby FAQ section.
I'm a fan. Can I promote a new release from my favorite hobby company?
Please don't. If we allow that, it incentivizes non-advertisers to get their fans to post on our forum and get unpaid advertising. Of course, you can still post a review or a game report.

Fair enough perhaps, but also unclear. For example, I have just recieved a large order of Napoleonic Gringo40 figures (and will post about them on this blog shortly!).  Thus I wanted to know if these would count as a new product announcement given some have been released in the last couple of years I believe. And if I do a review, is it enough to just give them a Amazon style rating out of five stars, or is something more substantial than this needed?  

So to help clarify, I asked for more information on the following two questions:

  1. How new does a product have to be, in order that one shouldn't post about it as a new release (e.g. new release this month, within this quarter, or this year?).
  2. What is sufficient as a review? E.g. is a rating out of five like an Amazon review ok, or would that be that against the spirit of this rule?
In other words, I wanted to make sure I was supporting TMP by only posting appropriately according to the intention of the guidelines. 

I suggested even 3-4 more words of clarification would be very helpful, but strangely the editor Bill refused to offer even the smallest guidance on these two questions. Instead he said he liked to keep things "simple". This approach seems simplistic rather than simple to me, not to mention an odd statement given he has the most complex and detailed FAQ I've seen on any website. Confused I queried whether his response was helpful or somewhat obtuse, and I returned to find my message deleted and my account locked!  I was surprised the editor would have such a thin skin over such innocuous questions, and questions too that were aimed at trying to understand how to appropriately support TMP with posting. Perhaps cultural differences are at play... or he was just having a bad day?

Sadly a quick google reveals my experience here is hardly a unique one. The editor Bill seems to have an art for dramatic reactions like this to perceived slights. An odd way to do business, and create and support community. Though I now have some greater insight into why multiple advertisers, bloggers and wargamers have blacklisted TMP. I'd wondered about this previously and also the paranoid sounding comments from Bill about all these people trying to "KILL" his site (he says it in capitals!). I suspect his own self-sabotage is likely contributing to this, whatever other factors might be at play. 

Good luck to TMP and its staff, but in light of this bizarre encounter, I doubt I will be visiting it anymore (except perhaps the back catalogue of Napoleonic posts if they come up in google searches!). I do hope they manage to turn things around somehow. Ironically my blog will likely still be advertised on TMP because a certain "Tango" there seems to post more links from my site than even I bothered to!

Helpful Napoleonic Wargaming Forums

Anyway, to end this tale more productively and positively, I thought it was also a good opportunity to share other Napoleonic community sites where I have had more agreeable experiences, both in terms of interactions, and in terms of the forum technology itself being less archaic. 

Facebooks Groups

The Napoleonic Wargamer Facebook Group (10'000 members).

Napoleonic Miniature Wargaming (6000 members)

Black Powder Era Wargaming  (8000 members)

Black Powder 28mm Gaming (4000 members)

These sites really have taken over for me as sources for quicker expert opinion and support. For example, the prolific historian and author Dr Stephen Summerfield is a regular and valued contributer to the first group, as are numerous wargames authors and publishers.

There are many other smaller Facebook groups dealing with different aspects, e.g. battlefields, uniforms, scales, solo gaming, and many for specific rulesets. For example, for rules I have reviewed or mentioned so far on this site there are groups for General d'Armee, and Lasalle and language specific ones for Bataille Empire, But the above are more general sites where you could ask for further specific information about groups if that is what you are after. 


Forums are perhaps not as favoured these days due to people making more use of Facebook, but here are some useful ones:

The Wargames Website - Napoleonic Section  (Has Napoleonics sections in news and on the forum)

Lead Adventure - Black Powder Forum

The Napoleonic Wars Forum

Lastly I should say that the blogging community itself is very positive with comments, feedback and information sharing. :)

I'll end this tale here and I hope that is helpful to someone out there! In the next few days I willl try and add a post detailing my newly arrived Gringo 40 Napoleonics and my thoughts on them. Another big Perry order is also in transit, and I have a load of Eagle's newish Wurttemburgers to do this year too.