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Topic: KFS: Kayaking for Simians, finally, the truth! Havabanana!< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
Capn Jimbo Offline
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Posted: Sep. 30 2007,20:47

"It's ignorance meets egoism, meets bad taste, meets mob rule... on steroids"



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In T. H. Huxley's "infinite monkey theorem" if you give infinite monkeys infinite typewriters, one of them will finally create a masterpiece - and will still have not the faintest idea he or she has done so! Oy vey! In Cult of the Amateur, Andrew Keen speaks of the digital revolution: "It's ignorance meets egoism, meets bad taste, meets mob rule... on steroids". A completely accurate description of what has actually happened to Al Gore's hopeful internet in general, and on KFS specifically. And just what happens when these factors collide?


What happens indeed?  The monkeys take over - read all about it: (Link to "KFS: Kayaking For Simians")

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Over the past year or two I finally came to realize that KFS - a huge and self-serving commercial site - has so, so many - hundreds of thousands of posts - that active and effective moderation becomes impractical if not impossible. The result is - that at the least - most interest areas have become dominated by small roving gangs of alpha-posters. Cliques bordering on cabals. Uncontrolled, unmoderated and dominating.


Amazingly, only 0.8% of KFS' nearly 10,000 members post over 60% of the posts.  The "Top 87" alpha-posters average 1812 posts each, while  the other 9900 posters average just 15!  Just go here and meet the Fokkers (Link to "KFS: Kult of MonKeYs".

Worse yet, these simians are well known to both overestimate their own skills and underestimate those of actually competent individuals.  Like me.  It was not until many months later that a perceptive reader emailed me with the proof:

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The Downing effect describes the tendencies of people with below average intelligence quotients (IQs) to overestimate their intelligence, and of people with above average intelligence to underestimate their intelligence. The propensity to predictably misjudge one's own intelligence was first noted by C. L. Downing who conducted the first cross cultural studies on perceived intelligence.
.

This effect was also noted by Justin Kruger and David Dunning, both of Cornell University.

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The Dunning-Kruger effect is an example of cognitive bias in which people who are worst at a task show the most illusory superiority, rating their own ability as above average.

Across four studies, the authors found that participants scoring in the bottom quartile on tests of humor, grammar, and logic grossly overestimated their test performance and ability.


And last but not least...

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Years ago KFS was a pretty cool place, especially the "do-it-yourself" section. Yes, they messed with Dennis Spike and yes, it was a commercial site. But Jon 'n Joey were buds, pretty decent and they were hungry! They wanted to be the biggest yak shop in the, uh, universe! Knowing the Florida is a major player in kayak purchases they reached out...

To me.


In this amazing story you'll learn the real story behind KFS' Florida section, how commercialism crushes truth, why the president of Extreme won't return my call, why KFS requires a full time Hobie flack, er, rep, and finally - why I have belatedly assigned this once wonderful website to the dung heap.  Just click here (Link to "KFS: Commercial Cult Central?"

Enjoy!  And Havabanana!!


:capn:


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Capn Jimbo Offline
The Godfisher




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Posted: Oct. 03 2007,07:28

Some people surely wonder, what's all the fuss?

Years ago, and before mob rule arose I really loved the various kayaking websites:  TKF, Dennis Spike's (one of the originals) and especially KFS' Do-it-Yourself section.  And many more.  Back then they were small, vital, growing and useful.

Virginal and unspoiled.

I found the net incredibly valuable for learning about kayaks, or anything else for that matter.  But I soon learned there was a lot of misinformation.  Someone quoting someone relying on someone else.  Certain myths then developed and became truisms.

Can you think of any?  

It was then I had the opportunity to start KFS's Florida section, and later, my own website for one reason:  to bust myths, and to provide an interesting but scrupulously non-commercial and reliable source of honest information. I continued to post at KFS, and went through a period of really getting into it with certain myth promoters.  And it was then I discovered something:

That I was beginning to see the same names over and over.  I discovered that small groups appeared to be taking over certain interest groups, like "Hobie".  I also identified what I called kayak "cults".  

Done mostly in fun and to poke a stick, but I found my moniker of "cults" seemed more and more accurate as time went on.  Then one day listening to public radio, the light went on!!

Heard Andrew Keen - and ran to the bookstore and checked out his "Cult of the Amateur" which addresses this very concern.

Keen is very well known in the international digital community, regarding the future of media, culture and technology. He is one of the golden boys who develop products like Google, et al.  As an intimate participant he too became aware of a terrible trend on the net - the "democratization" of the internet, with access for all - leads to all posters, all posts as being somehow equal.  True talent - true expertise - gets swallowed whole by mediocrity.  Few have the stamina or expertise to filter out the little true from the massive false.

His main point:  without good moderation and/or editing the net gets taken over by the lowest common denominator and the monkeys take over.  And he means it.

Aha!!!

My semi-joke, becoming more real by the minute - of "cults" (like the OhNoHeads, the Hobieholics and the Bargamaniacs - was actually true.  My instinct was... exactly right!

Knowing who some of the players were, I did more research and made some shocking discoveries:  just 87 posters, less than 0.8% of the nearly 10,000 KFS' members, were responsible for way over 150,000 posts - most of the posts at KFS.  For every post of an ordinary person, each of the Top 87 posted 182 times.

Worse yet, they especially descend upon those who may disagree.  Newbies are forced to accept and follow their views. Their misinformation and viewpoints become the law. A big, big problem.  So this is why I have spoken out.

I believe this is a trend that must be - and can be addressed.

What's your take?


:capn:


Edited by Capn Jimbo on Oct. 04 2007,21:06

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amhirsc0 Offline
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Posted: Oct. 04 2007,12:11

I agree with you Jimbo.  My take on reviews of kayaks that are available on the net, are for the most part personal opinions of the 'just bought a kayak' and no way am I going to say I made a mistake, or I agree with the rest of the mob and I want to see my name on the web, or I am opining with no standard as a comparison.  

The Hobie flap drive is a perfect example.  The Hobie hype ignores hydrodynamics, and that using the stronger muscles of the body will not be able to overcome the inefficient hull design.  The length/beam ration suggests a high surface area and a resulting high coefficient of friction resulting in a high frictional drag resistance.  The relatively short length indicates that form resistance will rise rapidly at a relatively low hull speed and that overcoming the increased drag with your legs will require more energy than that of a well designed kayak hull that can be paddled.  The basic problem of the pedal drive is that the paddler has to sit high, well above the wateline; and in order to provide stability the hull necessarily is wide and it will also will be heavy.

It would be great if Hobie hype included limitations, so that potential buyers who lack understanding can make an informed decision.  

It may be a good idea for this site to redevelop a post to provide any reader a sound basis for making informed decisions on kayaking equipment based on defined criteria, e.g. weight, speed, stability, functionality for the intended purpose.


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houdini Offline
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Posted: Oct. 04 2007,13:12

Wow! I guess if I'm not part of the solution, I must be part of the problem. (So to speak) I had no idea I had that many posts on KFS and was thus, a cult member.
I really can't comment on the Hobie situation on KFS - I don't have one, wouldn't have one and don't for that reason express any opinions about them. I guess most of my concerns revolve around safety issues - a subject near and dear to my heart. Other than that, I have a latent desire to get another boat at some point unless I get to old to justify one and so am interested in the give and take on various developments and new boats. Mostly, I just lurk and read.
I've been on the site for a couple of years and I am amazed I have  750 posts - Wow - that's an average of  about one a day! I ought to get a life.
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critterdog Offline
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Posted: Oct. 04 2007,15:34

I feel that way about this site and its mostly Liberal politics. Most sites don't allow posts about Religon or Politics. I don't see what it has to do with fishing.

 I almost stopped coming here before because of it. I saw how someone with  a diffrent view were descended apon for saying something.

 I know this is your site,and you can do anything you want . Have seen alot of people come and go , and don't know why. There are only a few people that log on here regularly now. Maybe I will log on again or not.Like you told me last time I said something about if  you don,t like it  just don't read it.This kinda sound like what you were saying about KFS

 I am not a Dem or Rep and if I wanted to here about that bullshit I would listen to the totally Liberal media. I come here for talk about Kayak fishing ,Again this is your site  ,good luck with it
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amhirsc0 Offline
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Posted: Oct. 04 2007,16:59

I guess I'm not as sensitive to the insertion of politics into areas of discussion where they don't belong, but I do tend to agree that political comments and diatribes, particularly in the next year, should be restricted to specific parts of this site.  Keeping such in the 'Politics' section would allow those who want to read about kayaks only to skip over, and those who want to particpate the opportunity to blog their 2-cents.

Similarly, pics of babes and boobs could well be restricted to the 'Pics' post.

Enforcement would be as easy as to delete any post that is inappropriately placed or to simply move it.


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Capn Jimbo Offline
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Posted: Oct. 04 2007,20:26

The key is setting an intelligent tone,  and establishing visible, effective and expert moderation.  For example, the kind of namecalling and personal insults that are relatively commonplace at moderation challenged KFS are simply not tolerated here.

And I used to state, only partly in jest, that the Forum in Paradise is an "Idiot-free Zone".  

Although lively debate is encouraged, argumentativeness and personal attacks are not.  Because the posters on this forum know that good moderation does exist here, this has been a rare, rare problem.  In three years I've only had two or three instances requiring my intervention, but intervene I did.

Oddly enough, two of the cases were KFS alpha-posters who attempted to invade and bring their venom here!  Houdini, I note you've been a member here too since 2005, but posting only six times - good posts and  all very welcome.  As noted in "Meet the Fokkers" not all of the "Top 87" alpha-posters listed are cultists.

Let's face it:  there's well over 255,000 posts at KFS. Is there really that much important and valuable information about kayakfishing?  Can you even read but a tiny fraction of that mountain of what is mostly drivel?  Can you effectively separate the very little real expertise from amateur posers?

Nope.

Another example:  there is one thread, going on now, that surprisingly enough, opened with a guy praising my Disco review as the reason he bought one.  The thread took off, soon meandered in multiple directions and has grown to almost 1300 posts, 63 pages and over 16,000 views. Just chock full of "me-toos", bathroom humor, politics, sex and simply tons of stupid "emoticons"...

In one thread! Astounding.  Without moderation, without real expertise, without direction, completely mad and out of control.  And posted - repeatedly - by the same small handful of alpha monkey posters.

I'm glad this forum is much smaller, more intelligent, more accessible. Even so, we get almost 150,000 hits/month. If it grew a whole bigger, a whole lot faster, I simply couldn't moderate it effectively and things would deteriorate rapidly. Seriously, if the Forum in Paradise were to grow very much larger, I'd pay professional moderators to keep order, to encourage focus and post productive and intelligent "seed" ideas, and to set and maintain good tone, as I do here.

Critter, I do agree with your observations - but realize it all can't be about fishing.  Hence, separate sections for "politics" and "pics".  These sections were requested by members, and are not abused.  This way, if you're not political, you can avoid that section.  Perfect.  BTW, Critter is a long time member, and has forgotten more about kayakfishing than most of us, including me, will ever know.  He always has good advice which he has freely shared here.

I'm proud of this forum, respect and enjoy our posters here, whom I find intelligent and often humorously witty.  It's a pleasure and joy...

Thank you all.



:capn:


Edited by Capn Jimbo on Oct. 05 2007,18:32

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houdini Offline
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Posted: Oct. 05 2007,08:08

For a while, I have to confess that I wondered what the moderators on KFS actually did as they didn't appear to do much in the way of moderation. I would concur that the board is in need of closer 'supervision' but as you point out captain, it's basically a commercial board. Getting people to participate (come visit) in a commercial venture is a science and they certainly have people coming and going and some of the action is going to mean sales to them. I think it's a hard line to walk and still not kill the goose, so to speak. I tend to view it like I do news gathering organizations these days - merchandising the news instead of reporting it in a straight forward, unbiased manner. They have, successfully, created a space where people with an interest in what they want to sell can kibitz, comment, come and go, and - oh, by the way - buy things. If you accept that as the fundamental purpose, it succeeds. To expect a higher purpose is naive and somewhat disingenuous.
Seen that way, the more borderline nuts and prima donnas they have - the better.
As for me, being crazy is the only thing that keeps me from going insane.
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Capn Jimbo Offline
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Posted: Oct. 05 2007,14:58

"disingenuous" - lacking frankness, directness, openness -or- falsely/artfully giving the impression of frankness.

The notion that being "commercial" relieves one of the duty or importance of moderating a forum is indeed disingenous.  Why?  To the contrary, if ANY website has the money or capability of providing or hiring good moderation it is most assuredly a big, commercial site.  Frankly (and that's ingenuous, btw) KFS should be ashamed of allowing the namecalling and personal attacks that are commonplace there.

And I say this as a former Director of Marketing.  By restricting the "Top 87", by keeping things clean, open and accessible you only open the doors to more readers, more posters, more buyers.

By not doing so, they achieve the opposite effect and run the risk of being identified as the biased and amateur private preserve of the primate few.  And when the masses figure that out - and they are - this can only hurt sales.  

It is KFS that is disingenous - but in their defense - they may not have been aware of just what was happening.  But happen it has, and they are now stuck with it.

Until they clean up their act, they will become increasingly irrelevent.



:capn:


Edited by Capn Jimbo on Oct. 05 2007,15:01

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Capn Jimbo Offline
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Posted: Oct. 29 2007,07:25

... on the Wisdom of Crowds:


Here's yet another take on the "KFS: Kayaking For Simians" issue.  In "The Wisdom of Crowds" James Surowiecki explores the idea that "large groups of people are smarter than an elite few, no matter how brilliant—better at solving problems, fostering innovation, coming to wise decisions, even predicting the future."

He makes a pretty good case for this, for example the Columbia shuttle disaster where NASA failed to utilize the knowledge and information that was actually available within the organization.  Or 911.  

However, to be effective crowds require certain characteristics:

Quote

Surowiecki: "There are four key qualities that make a crowd smart. It needs to be diverse, so that people are bringing different pieces of information to the table. It needs to be decentralized, so that no one at the top is dictating the crowd's answer. It needs a way of summarizing people's opinions into one collective verdict. And the people in the crowd need to be independent, so that they pay attention mostly to their own information, and not worrying about what everyone around them thinks."


KFS (and most large unmoderated sites) fail on all four counts.  Take the Hobieholics for example.  

The group is not particularly diverse as it is largely composed of relative newbies who have bought into Hobie's simplistic marketing ("pedaling is superior to paddling").  This group is not decentralized as certain alpha-monkey posters tend to dominate.  There is no way to summarize diverse opinions; indeed diversity is discouraged.  And last the heavily social aspects that dominate KFS leads to a kind of group think.

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"Essentially, any time most of the people in a group are biased in the same direction, it's probably not going to make good decisions. So when diverse opinions are either frozen out or squelched when they're voiced, groups tend to be dumb. And when people start paying too much attention to what others in the group think, that usually spells disaster, too"


This was no better illustrated than by the raving reception to the series over at KFS.  For now suffice it to say the primates proved my points in spades.  Indeed, in an attempt to end one of the two nasty threads there, our good friend Houdini (above)  said it best...

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I think six pages of opinions are enough. There certainly have been posts that affirm his view of what we are guilty of - and no shortage of posts which only bad mouth and denigrate. He's entitled to his opinion regardless of what you might think of the merit. I say enough. Let it drop.




:capn:


Edited by Capn Jimbo on Oct. 29 2007,09:35

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