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I’m Looking for a “Happy Medium” E-Cig Forum

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UPDATE (7/14/14): Feel free to read the below post since I decided not to remove it, but my stance on this rant has changed some.

Over the last week, I’ve had a couple people reach out and provide me some more insight about the online vaping community. As I openly admitted in this rant, I am new to vaping and the vaping community. While I still don’t agree with everything I complained about, I understand more about why certain things are going the way they do.

What I didn’t mention in this rant was some of the events that led me to make the choice to withdraw from VU. I am not going to rehash those events, but I will only say that they contributed to my choice. I am not normally a short fuse kind of guy, but I just have to say that what I posted about here isn’t the whole story. I will leave the other parts of it out of the public view though.

Conclusion: Instead of taking my ball and going home, I am going to continue to help any way I can. This isn’t about websites, this isn’t about being “known”, this was about staying out of the drama and more importantly, helping others staying off cigarettes.  I am going to continue to offer my help and contribute to conversations on VU.

I AM A NEW VAPER!

I just started vaping 82 days ago today. I created this site almost 2 months ago. I created this site because I always end up building a site about subjects I am passionate about. I’ve built sites about freebies back in the 90s, about sports gambling, college football, technology, and gaming. Many of my sites have been mildly successful or better. When I found vaping, after 27 years of smoking, I had to build this site! I had a lot of plans for this site including forums, but I quickly realized that there were plenty of great sites out there already doing most of the things I planned. Forums, done and done again. B&M directory… way more than I knew existed going into this. The list goes on. I decided to scale back and just blog for the most part.

Up until 2 weeks ago, I had not registered or even visited a single forum about ecigs. I’ve since signed up at Vaping Underground, ECF, and Ecig Advanced.

About a month or so ago, I got turned on to Vapers.tv and started watching the shows on there. It turns out that I ended up watching Nova Broadcasting shows more than others.  While watching these shows, I started hearing rumblings of a new forum being launched. I didn’t even know who Joe Petner aka Vapor Joe was until I watched Mod Envy. I started friending Nova (and other network) hosts on Facebook and joined some of their Facebook groups, some of which I have already left already. As an aside, I wasn’t watching these shows to win freebies like a lot of people do, I was there to learn. I’ve passed on 15-20 wins of juice and a couple minor accessories, but if I was to win an authentic mod, I’d take it.

I had not even considered joining any forums since I have been spending most of my awaken free time working on this site or learning about the industry, whether that be advocacy or ecig gear. I kept hearing all these Nova Broadcasting host pumping up the new forum that was in the works, Vaping Underground, and I decided that I would join and become a part of something new an exciting when it launched. I even offered my assistance with looking for bugs or general consultation prior to the launch. I had zero desire to be a part of the site, I just wanted to offer my expertise as a former big forum administrator/owner.

For the weeks up until the launch, I started learning more and more about the people involved and learning more about the site’s direction. It was quite clear to me that Vaping Underground was being launched as an anti-ECF forum. I didn’t know much about ECF but quickly learned that they are an old, established forum that has turned into an overmoderated forum. I learned that they charge people for basic functions like having a signature. I learned that they charge vendors to participate. As a former admin, I was appalled at some of what I was hearing.

Despite the negative things I was starting to learn, I was interested in becoming an active member of Vaping Underground.

Vaping Underground launched and I was one of the 1st couple hundred members. I was quite active initially. I found some bugs and reported them. I offered to help populate the B&M database. I was helping members with general questions about the forums.

Joe Petner is quite proud of Vaping Underground and I don’t fault him. There were some attacks that came in from people about the ads, adblockers, etc… I didn’t much like the way Joe and his staff responded and a big thing that turned me off was when he and his admin went on a vapers.tv show and cussed users that complained. That bothered me inside but I continued to use the site. I even helped defend Joe from an attack in the forums from another vaping forum owner, BrianJ.

I used to run one of the largest forums for a particular tech product / OS and I made plenty of money with my forums/sites. I had minimal ads but they did pay for all 3 of the $299/mo a month servers the site needed to stay online and much more. I spent a lot of the extra loot on other sites that weren’t profitable that I was also passionate about, give-a-away prizes, and plenty of pocket cash for me to have fun with. That didn’t mean I wasn’t passionate about the subject matter of the site. That didn’t mean I had a hidden agenda. I’ve always built my websites based on passion. If money came with that, so be it, if not… no worries, I have a great day job. 

I can’t speak for Joe, because I don’t know shit about him, but if he is passionate about vaping and makes money in the process, that’s his fucking business, not ours.

Like I said, I kept on keeping on until the most recent drama started to unfold.

Vaping Underground vs ECF

This is what it was all about anyhow. If I was Joe Petner, I would have done things quite differently. I would have launched the site with the same intentions but instead of instigating, I would have take the high road.

Apparently, ECF has banned the words VaporJoes and Vaping Underground. The members of ECF are not allowed to talk about or link Vaping Underground at all.

I had a similar thing happen to me, very similar.

In 2006, I launched a gaming website, complete with forums about a subculture within a video game. Similar to how vaping has a subculture of cloud chasing. I soon found out that there was a really good, established forum for this subject. I took my forums down and just blogged about the game. I got into a beta for a new expansion and started sharing videos and images that affected us. I had become a member of the other site’s forums and decided to republish one of my stories in their forums since users were asking questions. I put 90% of the articles content in a different format in their forums, complete with my images. There was no reason for the readers of that site to leave that site, but I did include a link to my blog at the bottom of the post. I was banned.

I decided to reopen my forums. Many readers of the other site were already reading my blog posts daily. When I announced that I was opening the forums, quite a few people joined. Everything was cool and we started to coexist just fine. A few weeks later, someone republished a guide they had written for the other site on my forums. He was told to remove it from my site by the owner of the other site. The author complied but publicized this request. Some were outraged and it started a war. The other site ended up banning people for mentioning my site. The site owner also added many words associated with my site, including my name, in their profanity filter so members couldn’t say anything about my site. Very similar to what’s happening to Vapor Joe right now.

I never posted about this until after the battle was over. I never encouraged members to leave that site. I never asked anyone to post over there. I never asked anyone to complain on my site about the other site. People did though and I wasn’t going to delete their posts. I took the high road personally.

Six months later, that site shut the doors. Six months after that, the site went offline. I am not saying that this will happen to ECF though. ECF is much more established than the other site that banned me was. There are way more vapers than there were people in our gaming community also. We’ll see what happens in the ECF vs Vaping Underground drama.

Instead of reveling in the drama, I took the high road. I honestly believe that this decision actually hurt the other site more than engaging in the drama. I would have suggested that to Joe Petner if he asked for my input. It’s too late now!

VU_Header ECF_header

Vaping Underground is taking pride in this drama. ECF is not.

With posts like this, there is no high road to take.

Tomorrow Night ECF goes on the chopping block. They will have to defend themselves over their censorship charges. Banning words like vaporjoes, vapingunderground, and others. Me and Lucidious Rage will be representing VU / Vaporjoes. Will ECF send someone to answer these charges?? Will Vaporjoe destroy them live on air? Who knows!

This goes well beyond putting together a great site with different directions, this is picking a fight. I may not know all the behind the scenes drama and there might be much more to all this than I know, but this is not the type attitude I want to follow. There are  few other reasons I chose to walk away from Vaping Underground, but this drama is the final straw for me.

I am not the only one, someone on VU posted similar thoughts

Vapor Joe and his moderators have set the tone for his forum. The educational and vapor related content is overshadowed by the hate and discourse that they have molded into the fabric of their forum. This quickly became a vindictive, hate driven, and mob- mentality- driven forum.

In a post on VaporJoe.com, Joe says that his two sites finally made it.

Vaporjoes and Vaping Underground have finally arrived.   Those two words have officially been banned on ECF.  If you mention the words “vaporjoes” , “vapingunderground” , or link to our sites it will be stripped from your posts automatically.  A desperate and unfortunate move on the part of ECF.

Finally made it? VaporJoe.com already made it and based on its success, Vaping Underground is well on its way to making it. Having the words banned on another site didn’t do that.

At any rate, Russ at VP Live is going to have Joe Petner on to discuss ECF banning his site name and network from their site. I am writing this rant prior to that conversation. I intend on tuning in and I am guessing that I will end up adding to this post after the show.

Who are you? Why does your opinion matter? You’re Nobody? You’re not “Vape Famous”!

Before I go any further, I want to let anyone reading this know about my “expertise” in all this? I am Chris, I am nobody in the vaping community, and I don’t really matter, but I’ve seen similar situations that I see playing out here in this new area I am passionate about… vaping and ecigs. The fact of the matter is that this post probably won’t even be read by anyone involved. I just wanted to get this rant off my chest.

oldsite

The screenshot above is from an old site I used to run. It was started in 2003 and I sold the site in 2010. The forums were shut down in 2012.

ECF describes itself as the world’s biggest and best e-cigarette website. They have over 200k members and over 12 million posts. This is something I can definitely appreciate. After running a forum for 8 years with 300k members and only 1.7 million posts, I can definitely appreciate the accomplishments of ECF. I can also appreciate the accomplishment of Vaping Underground getting 4k members in 1 week. When the site I ran was launched, I got really lucky and gained 20k members in the 1st month. I was at the right place at the right time. Like Joe, I had other sites that I launched based on the success of this site and I know that having the resources and the eyeballs helps with a launch. Kudos to both sites for what they have done.

In my experience, new forums are peachy for 3 months to a year. If you make it past a year without the tone of the forums getting nasty overall, you’ll be good to go for a long, happy ride.

On the big forum I ran, I allowed vendors (software and accessories) to have free sub forums but I didn’t allow them to spam the regular threads. I don’t believe in charging for any type of membership. I made plenty from ads and had a lot of unsolicited donations as well.

Over 12 years, I ran many forum heavy sites. I have seen it a lot of drama and I believe that my way worked well for me. I kept with a good mix of moderation and letting things ride. I tried my best to keep all my forum communities PG-13.

I am not trying to tell either site how to run their own sites. I am just ranting.

The Future

For me, the future is to find another forum to frequent. I might just use Reddit, Facebook, and Twitter. I did find another forum that looks quiet and seems to have a good tone but I am not sure yet. It’s called E-Cig Advanced. I have it, along with ECF and VU listed in our resource directory under E-Cigarette Forums.

My prediction for ECF and Vaping Underground? 

From what I see, ECF will continue to do their thing. They will probably lose a chunk of users to Vaping Underground, but I doubt it will hurt them much. I think Vaping Underground will do just fine unless it turns into an unmoderated slug-fest, then more people like me will move away to other places.

I feel that ECF, from what I hear, is way too moderated and I fear that Vaping Underground won’t be moderated enough. I’ve already seen some things posted that I wouldn’t have let fly on any sites I ran.

Fragmented Community

Everyone always says they are in it for the community. If that is true, why is there so much drama?

We’ve got vapers vs vapers, vapers vs the FDA, vapers vs city and state officials, shows vs shows, websites vs websites, Youtubers vs Youtubers, vendors vs vendors, and we even have organizations vs organizations. I know that everyone can’t get along, it’s human nature, but senseless bickering is doing nothing to help the vaping community.

I know that I shouldn’t even get involved and probably should quietly leave, but I really felt the need to air my opinion. It might not be a popular opinion and might even end up hurting the chances of this site ever getting a bigger readership than the 150-200 uniques I get right now, but it’s how I feel and I’ve been known to wear my heart on my sleeve. It’s not a good thing, but it’s me.

In conclusion, I don’t care that anyone makes money in this industry. I understand it 100%, I know very well what the costs of running a site are. I have been there, done that. That has nothing to do with my rant. My rant is just about the drama and stirring of the pot. Also, I could care less about ads on a site and I don’t use any form of ad blockers. I support ads on a website. Oh and on this site, I only have paid ads, no affiliate links.

About the author / 

Chris

I am a long time smoker that has gone Vapor! After smoking for 27 years, I put them down and haven't taken a single puff since switching to electronic cigarettes. I am saving money! My health is improving! Everything is getting better... and oh BTW, Ecigs taste so much better than cigarettes!

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