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

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.

32 comments:

  1. Funny thing Mark - I have never even been on TMP and I dislike it intensely and hope it does collapse, because the guy who runs it seems to be a prize dick! Seems to be the type who would bang on about the First Amendment rights (not to mention the dreaded Second Amendment) but doesn't want anyone else to have freedom to even ask him for some clarification on his attempted censorship of his readers!

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    1. Thanks, it is indeed an odd position to take!

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  2. I could go on a long discourse about TMP’s Admin but will not! I experienced a similar situation about two years ago in which the response to a discussion with Admin resulted in my account being locked almost immediately. Still locked too. I have retold my experience more than once and agree with Keith’s assessment 100%.

    Please post your reviews here. They will be welcomed and appreciated.

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    1. Sorry to hear you had a similar experience Jon! Wow that really does help put things in perspective.

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  3. Re what Jonathan said. Blogs are a great resource to each other. It is a shame about T.M.P., he is quick on the trigger.

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    1. Yes blogs are great, and agreed shame about TMP as there were some good people there in the past.

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  4. I have enjoyed TMP over the years, but this conduct seems inexplicable, and certainly the main consequence of the restrictive policies have been a dramatic decrease in the usefulness of the site and traffic thereupon, which benefits no one. I am sad that Jon had a similar experience.

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    1. Thanks Peter, I had noticed that the depth of community isn't what it used to be and discussion becoming sparser over the last few years. Not uncommom for there to be zero replies on topics and worthwhile topics are few and far between, least for the Napoleonics section. Such a shame :(

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  5. Hi Mark - see my blog post below (and check out the comments). Havent been on TMP much since unless google takes me there.

    http://soundofficerscall.blogspot.com/2017/05/banished-from-tmp-and-im-ok-with-it.html?m=1

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    1. Cheers, does indeed seem to be a pattern, unfortunate!

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  6. I reviewed a real ease by The Fat Lardies and then found my account locked and told to contact Editor Gwen. I emailed and said I was sorry but hadn’t realised I had broken any rules. I never had a reply despite emailing 5 times so gave up on TMP.

    Ironically you can’t delete your account or change the name although I have updated my locked account with a fictitious email and decided to base myself in Zambia!

    Don

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    1. Cheers Don, erratic administration combined with poor tech is quite a combo! The latter I can live with I guess, but the former is more of an issue!

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  7. dunno man they've just sponsored some of my content and I've gained a ton of visits

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    1. Cheers Francesc, I noticed traffic from TMP decreasing since the time I started this blog some years ago, as Facebook and other community groups grew. But I'm glad it is still working ok for you!

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  8. I used to use it a lot once, it really is a shambles now with strange rules and some very tangent posts. Tango the paid sock puppet has destroyed it totally and I visit fir info if I am searching for something.
    Cheers
    Matt

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    1. Cheers Matt, it does feel rather chaotic!

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  9. I have enjoyed TMP over the years, but it holds little interest for me now. Discussions seem to have sunk as low as whether Napoleon was a cat or a dog person.

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    1. Cheers Mark, I too have been saddened to see the Napoleonic sections deteriorating.

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  10. I wondered how long it would be until your account was locked Mark, given previous patterns. There used to be some great discussion and some very well-read and generous contributors, but gradually they have either wandered away or been driven off for the most seemingly innocuous things. The sad thing is that some of them appeared to be native German and Russian speakers who would bring to the table original sources which have not yet been translated into English. It always struck me as a good wargamer's alternative to the Napoleon Series which is great but very much drier and slanted more toward the hard core historian than the wargamer with a couple of nagging questions.

    I also have to recognise that I have met some great people through TMP, both online and also a great gaming group here in Brisbane, that I may not otherwise have done. Those of the latter who were active on TMP have also long since moved on. Even Tango, as much as he annoys some people with the sheer volume of his posts, has lead me to some great manufacturers and products I would never have found through just random Google searches.

    Herein lies the problem though, in that if the discussion boards are now bereft of knowledgeable contributors and people are only allowed to discuss new products once they have cross-referenced and made sure that they are advertisers (if I understand the policy correctly, which I too probably don't), what then is the attraction of the site?

    Add to this the editorial policies and seemingly regular controversies and I no longer find myself inclined to contribute. It feels less like a community to me than it used to. I remember being appalled at a topic the editor himself started; 'Are British Wargamers Arrogant?" which, as I recall, was subsequently changed to "Wargaming: A British Hobby?". Hardly an inclusive way to keep a large section of your readership happy and just one of many incidents that I have have found impossible to understand. The irony in the way that Jonathan has been treated is that I have noticed that 'The Palouse Wargaming Journal' is now embedded as one of the newly-created resource links for TMP.

    I still drop in there to see if there is anything of interest but probably now comment no more than twice a year and will move on very quickly which is a shame as, in spite of the archaic appearance, the front-page makes it quite easy to navigate. For me, there is just no longer the content that makes it worth spending more than five minutes at most per visit.

    I'm fairly sure Napoleon would have been a dog person.

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    1. Agreed Lawrence, knowledgeable members were much of the attraction to me, and with them increasingly absent, the quality of the site and its atractiveness has waned. Thanks for your thoughts!

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  11. I don't really go there any more,I found the level of debate descended into various people being quite abusive, I much prefer the LAF you've noted ,I'm glad you're keeping your blog up as I don't do Facebook!
    Best Iain

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    1. Cheers Iain, yes I haven't used LAF as much but have heard good things about it :)

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  12. Lol. Couldn’t agree more. I abandoned TMP past June and prefer Facebook groups and blogs. One particular reason for preferring FB is the ease of posting pictures - TMP is so archaic in that regard. Then add the right wing Americanism (I’m British so prefer understatement and subtlety) and aggressiveness and I find I just don’t miss it.

    Final nail in the coffin is Bill. His approach (and his supporters’ cries of his rules his house etc etc) just leave me cold.

    Carry on the great work via Facebook and you blog.

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  13. 'Tis A Silly Place
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P8ghXxXyAuw&t=88s

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  14. The Blackpowder Era FB group has lost my connection.

    They shut down discussion about the lost leader marketing of Warlord for their ACW "epic" scale vacuumcleanerfodder (ahem) minis. The 'argument' was that as soon as pricing gets discussed then the 'negative' manners - or something to that effect - comes out.

    I view them now as a marketing arm of Warlord and not wasting my time on them.

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    1. Cheers for the info Murdock, I tend not to visit that one as much simply because it is broader than Napoleonics specifically.

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  15. I have come to hate TMP. I hate to use this word but so many people on there are Toxic to the extreme. It has really outlived it's usefulness. Tango grates my nerves as well, why rob pics from other sites just to post there but never really interact with folks.

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    1. Cheers, it has been sad for me to see the reduction in quality/quantity of Napoleonic posts in particular. There are some good ones, but mostly from the past now.

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