Down with Attaboy Culture

attaboy1

Recently, a certain modeler shared his latest build on a certain forum. A very nice build, with some really excellent touches that I think a lot of modelers often miss.

The thread predictably filled up with comments like “WOW that looks superb – great finish” and “that’s a beautiful build! I love everything about it…” and “that is a superb model! thank you for sharing”.

While I don’t disagree, I saw one area that I thought could be improved upon. Feedback on completed builds is a bit touchy because the damn things are done, and it’s not like we can go back and address. But there’s always the next build, right?

So I posted the following:

Really like it – nice touches especially with the heat shield shading and the scuffed cockpit sills! Really hoping to tackle on of these big F-4s myself, just have too much on the go at the moment.

Only thing I might suggest for the future is a slightly more subtle shade for the panel line wash, but I can say that about way too many of my own builds!

Mine was (and remains) the only actual feedback in the entire thread. The rest is a string of “attaboys”.

In another thread…a sprawling reaction to my recent post on panel shading…my feedback on the F-4 was specifically called out. There was some “why I never!” about modelers denigrating other modelers based solely on their biases, and the frustratingly common refrain that feedback or opinions equal some kind of tyrannical modeling new world order.

The modeling illuminati command you to stop drybrushing! Mwahahaha!

The modeling illuminati command you to stop drybrushing! Mwahahaha!

Attaboy Culture and the Fear of Feedback

head-in-sand

Painting in broad strokes, the modeling community is bizarrely averse to feedback of any kind. Touch that wire and you immediately get hit with accusations of trashing other modelers.

Why? Because “modeling is supposed to be fun”? Because “modeling is just a silly hobby”? It’s both of those things, but you know what? Fuck that. It can be both of those things and welcome feedback and constructive criticism.

The Value of Putting Yourself Out There

As a kid building models in my parents’ garage, I had no source of feedback. Hell, I didn’t even have any kind of connection to a broader modeling community. And it hobbled my development as a modeler.

Once upon a time, I counted this as good

Once upon a time, I counted this as good

As I got older, I found my way into different hobbies, and of course into the professional world. And I encountered the hell out of feedback. Maybe it was in offroading, and tips on a driving line through a certain obstacle. Or in photography, and how to better balance an exposure. Or writing, exchanging sample chapters with other writers and critiquing each other’s work.

Some of it is shitty feedback. Some of it might hurt. But some of it is good, and you take it, and you apply it, and you improve. And over time you come to realize that the benefits of feedback far outweigh making yourself vulnerable by putting your work out there for judgement. And you come to crave it.

Don’t believe me? Here’s what two obscure tech nerds have to say about feedback:

“We all need people who will give us feedback. That’s how we improve.” – Bill Gates

“I think it’s very important to have a feedback loop, where you’re constantly thinking about what you’ve done and how you could be doing it better.” – Elon Musk

Do It For Yourself. Do It For the Hobby.

Even if we build models for fun, even if we acknowledge that it’s a silly hobby, I think most of us want to improve as modelers. For some of us (and maybe many?), the desire to improve might be held back by a fear of messing up. To which I say, get out of your comfort zone.

If you don’t want to improve, if you just want to keep slapping plastic together the same way you always have, and painting it the same way you always have, well then I honestly don’t understand your motivation at a fundamental level. Hobbies are by their very nature intrinsically motivated. We pursue them because we want to. To do that and to not want to get better at it just…doesn’t make a lick of sense to me. Even if it’s just to relax – which I totally get – modeling is my decompression mechanism – there’s pride in accomplishment. In a job well done. In a build being slightly better than the one that came before it.

And here’s the thing. When you decide you want to welcome feedback, when you decide you want to push yourself and, as Elon Musk says, think about what you’ve done and how you could be doing it better, you’re doing a service not only to yourself, but to the modeling community as a whole.

Instead of just doing things by rote, there’s experimentation. Instead of stagnation, there’s innovation.

Now, I know somebody will be reading this and around this point be getting all huffy about how it’s “not a competition!”

Nobody said it was. Feedback does not equal competition. It does not equal modelers dumping on other modelers or denigrating them. It’s not about putting other modelers down. It’s about helping each other. Looking out for each other. Sharing what works well and trying new things.

So here’s my challenge to every single one of you who reads this. Reject the “attaboy” culture. Since we’re mired in this whole “oooh can’t offend anybody’s delicate sensibilities” thing, ask for feedback on your builds. Real feedback. Stuff you can chew on.

And if you see someone else asking for feedback, give it to them. Don’t be an asshole about it or anything…focus on improvement. What could they do better next time, and how can they do it?

I’m already on board with this. And I’ll continue to ask with every build…what did I overlook? What can I be doing better? How else could I tackle this aspect? If you have feedback for me, give it. On any kit. Any time. On any site. If you want to start right now, there’s a pulldown menu up top that leads to all of my completed builds. I would rather have one person point out an overlooked seam or something than have ten people pat me on the back.

I hope you all will consider doing the same. Let’s get past the “attaboy” stuff.

Who’s in?

38 thoughts on “Down with Attaboy Culture

  1. You’ve hit the nail right on the head.

    Most of the time if you criticise someone on the net you just get called a Troll. No matter how well intentioned it is. So people just stop giving anything but positive comments. Giving silence, instead of help.

    I’d much rather receive constructive criticism for my endeavours, than getting feedback that lulls me into a false sense of accomplishment.

    It all stems from political correctness if you ask me. This aversion from offending people comes at the cost of honest reflection of your supposed achievements.

    Very good post Mr Doog 🙂

  2. I totaly agreed, when I submit a model it is to get some feedbacks, or pointers, to what I should improve for the next build. Things that will help me
    turning out better builds. Isn’t it what we hope for, better built models?

    • One would think! As I posted in a forum recently…in my experience there are generally about four reasons people are resistant to feedback:

      1 – Primadonna sensbilities. My work is so great and if you’re critiquing it you just don’t understand.

      2 – Insecurity. I depend on extrinsic affirmation and am terrified of anybody finding my work wanting.

      3 – Indifference. The pursuit is one which my heart is not in, so I don’t really care about improvement.

      4 – Terrible feedback. This usually comes from clients.

  3. There you go again Matt. Slapping reality around all over the place. I love a good critique on my builds, end of story. Regardless, I will elaborate.

    An “ohh ahh” is nice. What I really want is critical comments, it only helps me. Your comfort zone analysis is spot on. Think out of the box, be creative. I applied this model during my MBA studies. It ruffled feathers often. Each team of 5 in our class had different DNA, number cruncher, techie, consultant and sales/marketing…we had to work together. Things started out as an oil vs water scenario. One of my instructors reminded us, “There is no right or wrong answer to this project. Your decision/presentation/recommendation is not what you think I might like. Your decision/presentation/recommendation is based on your approach to solve the problem.” We as a team were continually evolving during the 2 years we spent together. My boss asked me, “what did you get out of your MBA program?” My response, “I learned to collaborate, take criticism, take fails as a learning tool…”

    I certainly apply this model to my hobby and to life in general. Any parent understands.

    Is there a right way to build? Is there a wrong way to build? Beauty is in the eyes of…you. If you cannot take criticism then it might be time to move on to something else.

    My modeling is always in a continuous mode of evolving and improving. Not for the viewer, but for me. That is all that matters.

    When I lay down a model at contest or our local IPMS meeting I am all ears. When I get a critical comment my next question will be, “what are your recommendations?” My frail male ego aside I listen and digest. I’ll know after 3 words if it’s a load of crap or a heartfelt recommendation. I learn from it and move on. In life and in modeling I make it a point to surround myself with people smarter than me. It is quite beneficial.

    I am more interested in use of substrates, weathering and finishing. The angle of the landing gear splay and colors too dark or light falls under my FICE prime directive.

    Always love listening to what you have to say Matt.

    Cheers – Rick

    • Yeah, if my career as a creative has taught me anything, it’s the value of feedback (and the value of knowing which feedback to take, which to ignore, and which is worth pushing back against).

  4. I’m all for this! I have been think this way for years, but for fear of being called a troll rarely say much about people’s builds. I get utterly bored with all the “stunning job” and “awesome build” comments when they are clearly full of room for improvement and sometimes downright bad. The poor beginner guy that posts his model wants to be a better modeler but nobody has the guts to tell him how to improve. It’s pretty sad. Can you go write this post on some of the forums too? LSP, LSM, Flory, etc? That would be a awesome.

    • So, I’m trying to avoid posting to blogs directly as I don’t want to be accused of “pushing my agenda” or whatever. But if others want to share them, by all means feel free! I’ll even join in the conversation if warranted.

  5. Hey Doog,
    This post had a surprisingly low controversy level in it for you. Whats up with that? Just my honest critique of your post. You know I love you as a human being.

    I agree with one caveat. In all honesty sometimes I honestly just see so much more in a build that warrants compliment that 1) I want to spend my time focusing on what I like and 2) I really don’t want to nitpick trivial flaws. We’re all sinners before the modeling gods, right? If there is something big sure, call it out in a professional, non-abrasive manner but otherwise…

    I think complimenting SPECIFICS found in a well done build is fine, especially when the discussion turns into a back and forth on techniques etc. This is exactly how I learned how to produce incredibly realistic asphalt in dioramas and lots of other cool stuff. I guess when it gets down to it I’m more interested in improving my skill set, not theirs. Selfish bastard.

    I usually only frequent one modeling forum (an armor forum – you probably know which one) and I see more and more posts that are just love-fests for a certain circle of modelers. Granted, there are some (many), hell, TONS of fantastic builds to be seen but little honest critique. And then, when there IS honest critique the butt-hurt monster goes on a rampage. These modelers who get sand in their nether regions are not posting photos of their work seeking honest feedback. They are posting for self validation, warm fuzzies or a tickle under the chin. Nothing more. To hell with them.

    Keep up the good work Doog, both at the bench and the keyboard (not empty praise – promise).

    v/r,
    Pat

    • Nothing wrong with seeing more to compliment than critique! It’s also a great avenue to ask how someone did a certain thing…but while we all build apart, we’re also all kind of in this together. The more we actively think about what we’re doing and how to do it better, the better off we will all be.

  6. Without sounding like I am throwing an Attaboy in this mix, I completely agree with this post. While it is scary to put a build out there for critique, it is the only way to improve when it is asked for. Just getting a “great build” is great, but if you are looking to improve, you have to take that jump.

  7. I’m not entirely on board with this. Ideally we all want to improve and do better looking builds, but I would rather limit actual criticism to private communication and stick with praise in public posting.
    Obviously this isn’t quite an absolute; the tone of a post and your relationship with modeler in question can affect how comfortable I am with different sorts of comments. And a post like this pretty muchbegs to be a debate

    • Hit enter too soon (!)

      The criticism you offered in the body of the post seems like the sort of thing you could offer in almost any setting. But I have seen too many things derailed by nitpicking and mean spiritedness. So I really am careful about an publicly posted comment.

      • Well, the beauty of feedback is that you don’t have to take it (unless it’s clients…and then you can push back to a certain point).

        In my 20s, I wrote a novel. I was a member of a writing forum, and we’d swap samples back and forth to critique. And one person on there was just completely obsessed with horses…the close relationship with the rider and the horse, all the minutiae of preparing saddles and so on. And any time any scene involved a horse, she would pounce on it. Some of it was valuable, sure, but some of it…well who cares? The checklist you have to run through before firing up the engines on an F-14 is pretty involved. But we never see Maverick and Goose running through startup in Top Gun because…who cares?

        But…I strongly advocate having those discussions in an open forum, where everyone can learn.

  8. Oh how I yearn for feedback. Honestly, I feel like my work is suffering for lack of it. Not that it’s bad per se, but more that I feel I’m not advancing and improving as fast as I would if someone was pointing things out.

    A real problem, I think, is that people are afraid to offer criticism. I can tell you that I am afraid to offer it a lot of times. Mostly because of getting the same ridiculous response you got with your comments on the Phantom. Sadly, people just seem to take offense to everything and any critique you offer is considered an attack.

    There’s a group with a slogan along the lines of: we build for our own satisfaction, not yours…or something like that. And the attitude there to any critique is to stuff off. I mean seriously, what’s the point of sharing your work? Do people really need constant affirmation to find satisfaction in their work? And are they really happy with stagnation and never pushing themselves to get better? Yeah it’s a hobby, but hobby, career, life in general…any time someone is just content…that’s troubling.

  9. You are a shit disturber, aren’t you! Well, it just so happens that I generally agree with your stance on critiquing other people’s completed models, but I offer some reasons why not all criticism, even if it is meant to be constructive, is OK.

    1) Using the example of your criticism of the panel line wash on the F-4J, you are not necessarily correct. Yes, it is possible that you are wrong, so I guess I am now offering you a critique. I know, I know, I’ve read all about how you hate pre-shading and too much panel line detail because it’s not realistic, blah, blah, blah, etc., but many people do. This particular model is beautiful, even if it is only so artistically in your opinion, which is likely what the modeler wanted in the first place. You suggest that you offer this feedback, “because there is always room for improvement”. Well, that might be only in your eyes. This model is a sure contest winner and would be welcomed by any modeling magazine. I would even suggest that it is even more so due to all the panel line wash, which brings out so many interesting features of the jet you might not normally see. Personally, I love it.

    2) A lot of potential critiques are just plain wrong. I could give you at least a dozen critiques I have received about my models, but that would just make me look defensive. Trust me, some people have no clue about what they are talking about.

    3) I have found that some of the most critical modelers never show their own work on internet forums or model contests, so you have no idea whether or not they are offering a skilled judgment. If you criticized one of my models, for instance, I would at least know that you have attained a very high skill level of modeling, so the chances of your opinion being correct, or at least worthy of consideration, is high. I have also found that some very critical modelers are horrible modelers themselves, so I don’t value their opinion at all.

    4) Some people don’t want to know that their model has a few warts, which is why ARC has a “Display Case” forum and a “Critique Corner” forum. Perhaps LSP should add a Critique Corner of their own, where you can offer all the advice you want to people who want to hear it.

    • The beauty of feedback, though, is that you’re under no obligation to do anything with it.

      Let’s say for a completed build, only 10% of the comments contain feedback you’d actually take to heart. That’s a pretty crappy percentage, but it’s 100% more stuff to chew on than no feedback at all, or a thread full of doge-style attaboys.

  10. Easy for you to say, you’re Doogs of Medici! I think most of us ascribe to what our mothers told us, “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all”. Forum criticality is what drove a lot of us away from the old FSM forum. While I would never hesitate to accept feedback from you and I’m sure vice versa (wouldn’t that be rich. Like Velvet Elvis criticizing Mona Lisa) because we know each other, anonymous internet “feedback” often comes across as snark.

    • I dunno. The crap that drove me away from FSM was the small cadre that believed anything not kitted by Revellogram was overpriced trash, that needled well-engineered kits as “shake and bakes” and that perpetuated the bullshit real modeler vs. assembler thing. That and the constant and increasingly terrible forum redesigns.

  11. All of these comments are very interesting to say the least. I agree that feedback is valuable if offered in the proper way. There was only one Michelangelo and HE wasn’t perfect! I used to work for the most collected painter in the United States of “feel good” images,i.e., cottages, bridges,etc. You felt good about paying and displaying one of his products and the company felt good about getting your money! To offer any critique to his art was the fast track to the unemployment line. For most of us we agree that our ego is sometimes fragile and we’re guarded with it. But I agree that constructive critiquing is healthy and should not be construed in a mean spirited manner. Most of us are not getting paid for the models that we build. And if we were then only the one with the money has a right to offer any comments. But when you “put something out there” there are some assholes that chomp at the bit to tear it apart, never putting their work out there for whatever reason. One must accept and appreciate the “talent” that created the finished model first and all else is second in my most humble opinion.

  12. My stand on this is if you post a model in a public forum be prepared for what may be said. If all you want are the usual “nice build, looks great etc” then maybe keep your models to be shown to your friends only. I think we all may have had a comment to a build that at the time you think oh really….but when you sit back and think about it maybe the feedback was right. As for taking it to a personal message I think not, that to me is almost going too far, keep it to the forum as it is then an open door.

  13. I ask for feedback because I want to get better. I don’t often offer feedback because I either don’t feel “expert enough” to comment or I tend to focus on what’s wrong rather than what’s right (I think of feedback as a critique), and few people really want to hear what’s wrong.

    When I do ask for *constructive criticism* I first point out what I thought didn’t work in my build, or what I know I want to improve on. I find focused feedback more effective. I ask for comments on a specific area(s), e.g., “I think my tires suck. How can I make them better?” or “What do you think of this shade of Olive Drab? I made it myself,” or “I think my preshading is a little too controversial. What say you?”

    (That last one was supposed to be a joke.)

  14. Completely agree with this post! You know, i observed that this pat on the back at all times kind of behaviour is found primarily on english speaking forums. Dont know how or why but it is a distinct feeling i have. Prior to participating in said english language platforms i used to be very active on dutch forums. And i can assure you that if there is the slightest reason to point out a discrepancy they will! Kind of the other end of the spectrum really. Your post really reminded me of the fact that there truly is a “goldielocks zone” of providing feedback

    • I think that is because we Dutch are always very direct. So in a Dutch forum that is going to be the standard.

      As for me giving feedback on another persons model I feel I have to know them first. What are there standards, what are they trying to achieve, how much experience. Etc. This way feedback can be much more effective.

  15. A very objective article, and much needed.

    I have two friends I’ve met through modeling that hold no punches when providing feedback on my work. They don’t do it to hurt feelings or pump up their own position of authority. They are both far more skilled than I am, and because I eventually want to develop my own techniques that get me to their level of competency.

    There are of course modelers who like to bag on other’s work, to let others that they know – which is their purpose to begin with. When I have critiqued others work publicly, as a contest judge, and am questioned about it, I can always explain without feelings getting hurt and with the purpose of explaining truthfully why their model didn’t place, or place higher. I like the same thing to happen to me. It’s information that I find valuable and allows me to progress.

  16. Totally on board with this one. I came back into modeling from an arts culture (BFA in Studio Arts/MFA in Media)…I also teach undergraduate and graduate-level art courses. Critique is NECESSARY. As far as modeling goes, had someone not said to me years ago, “Get an airbrush, don’t just use a brush” I would be in a far different place. Every build I try and improve on skills. Even in competitions I’ll ask “what’s your critique?”. I entered a number of builds at Wonderfest 2014 in Louisville KY and got a ton of really great feedback, not only on the “attaboy” scale, but on the “why none of them won anything” scale. Points I’ve considered with just about every build going forward.

    If you’re a modeler who pays attention to your work, chances are YOU’LL know exactly what’s “wrong” with your build and maybe feel bad enough about it to change the habit or technique for the better on the next go. If someone chimes in with the same critique you give yourself, you know you’re on the right path to improvement, or at least on the path you *think* you should be going down.

    However, maybe I should retract my “totally” on board. I have a foot in the water… There is a time and place for criticism. When it’s invited for sure, but also in special events or perhaps a group setting. There’s a lot of value in the “critique session” format. Everyone involved ideally gets a word in and in fact is encouraged to do so AND everyone has something to GET critiqued. There’s the old fable that art school graduate crits are a nasty business, which can be true in some cases, but by and large you do that to learn.

    Unfortunately, not all of us go to “modeling school” and can’t have regular crit sessions so we’re regulated to sharing our work online. Yes, that means publicly. Yes, that means THE INTERNET (and all it’s baggage). If you can deal with that, you’re primed to accept constructive criticism and shake off the bad.

    All that being said (which I’m sure is a bit reiterative), anyone is free to comment on my builds! cosmosmodels.wordpress.com

    PS – Doog, you’re in inspiration. I started black-basing after reading your article and the results have jumped by game by a notch or two. Seriously…thank you.

    • Glad black basing has worked out well for you! That’s all I can try to do…find techniques and processes that work for me, and then share them as best I can!

      I do agree that there is a time and place (and tone) for criticism…but I also feel that the current stigma against saying anything critical is so far over the cliff that a radical correction is needed. Are we really so brittle and insecure?

  17. Like many others, I moved away from the forum culture and its bi-polar disorder years ago.
    There are numerous reasons for this:
    The usual suspects ( with their overweening AWESOME abilities that for some strange reason never seem to be visible, or SSK (superior subject knowledge) that make their sycophantic groupies go all moist in the crotch).
    The pack mentality vitriol that will be sprayed in the direction of anyone who dares point out that what we are looking at is actually not that good*.
    Then there is the inadequacies of those who really don’t have all that much to do with the hobby (as in a creative alternative to the activities of life), and everything to do with exerting their online social media alter egos upon us ‘normal’ folks.

    Now this sounds like someone who is slightly bitter about their experiences and their not ‘quite good enough’ models which might have been the subject of some unkind words in the past… Well, no, I tried and better tried in the late 90’s to bring some form of objective critique to the forums where this was needed, only to be told I was some stuck up pseudo-academic who had no place there.

    So, bitter? me? err nah. I have better things to do with my time, in fact I don’t have much free time at all and being sucked into the world of the plastic groupies once more isn’t on the jobs to do list. After saying that, I largely enjoyed my time as a reviewer for LSP with Szaso, Brad, Mark and Chris and even occasionally posted my models there, but then it all went tits up…

    I agree with you in principle Doogs, but basically you cannot influence or change these people’s views until their frame of reference is altered. (Just as you cannot dissuade someone with their belief in the supernatural from doing something nasty to people who don’t hold with their skewed sense of reality).

    Now I’m not saying that the denizens of these forums are in any way unstable or likely to ‘go postal’ at the next IPMS gig (another bag of worms), but therein lies the rub.

    They like where they are at. Its cozy, and their pals all like it too and anyway who are you or I to dare say that this is wrong?

    I’d advance the theory that the change of mindset has to be aimed at this obsession with ‘expertise’ which the hobby craves, fosters and needs to constantly validate itself to itself.

    Elevating someone with well developed craft skills to some quasi god like status. This is the real problem.

    This mutual appreciation society needs kicked into touch.

    The plain fact too, is that our own opinion on whatever it is that is being argued ( the perennial OD41, RLM84 or Sky are always good for a laugh) is no more or less valid than that of the guy who claims to have a great uncle who worked in Messerchmitts’ paint shop. Yet if you or I dare to challenge this with an alternative viewpoint, we are seen as trolls or trouble makers or outsiders who have agendas. Then there’s the dual standards of these people who will happily foist their own xenophobic views upon whoever wants to listen about far eastern kits or some other unfortunate who is trying to make a business opportunity.

    Essentially the hobby is reliant on some historical reference images of variable quality (and often veracity too) and it uses this standpoint in an attempt to add authority to itself by over emphasising this ‘authorship of authenticity’ to replicate that original in miniature.

    The second problem is that the hobby is manipulated by a coterie of ‘master modellers’, (a phrase that induces convulsions) and these self-appointed experts who have gathered a following. Perhaps they never meant to, but we all know what a bit of ego massage does and these are the people who suck up the ‘attaboy routine’, and the ripple of applause from the re-tweeters.

    The dedicated followers of fashion really should wake up and realise that its ok to say that that weathered to death monstrosity is a Frankenstein of a kit. They should not be afraid of the consequences of pointing out that the emperor really is stark bollock naked. They should also be man enough to say that the dayglo model railway** grass that the sugar frosted thing is parked on looks shite.

    Objectivity – Balanced response.
    Rationale for critique and developing skills further.

    * Good in relation to what exactly?
    Or merely impressive in its mediocrity? Mediocre, not because the model is finished to a superb level of build and paint quality, and the maker really has a skill that is undeniable; but because they follow a pattern of awesome mediocrity.

    Sameness, uniformity (as you point out), mediocre and bland in their superbness.

    For example, most models are finished from a viewpoint of having one or maybe two historical images as a reference point. The modeller cannot see behind, under or inside the real thing, so presumes the whole subject would have a similar texture or level of finish. Makes sense? But…The reference image itself is prone to atmospheric corrosion so the colour can fade/ shift across the spectrum or in the case of a mono image, be susceptible to continued development as the silver halide on the print or neg continues to slowly react to residual chemicals.
    Making all of these experts’ references subjective at best and at worst just another flawed opinion.

    Oh and those verified colour swatches that are touted as correct… The pigment chemical process to make the paint? Is that the same stuff that was used in 1943 or is it a spectrometer best guess with modern UV stable pigments, because they didn’t bother much with this in the 40’s?
    Oh and by the way… you with the monopoly on accurate references, is your vision colour defficient by any chance? Because 8% of males have some form of colour blindness…

    See where this ‘expert’ thing is going? drips under pressure?

    So returning to the mediocrity of excellence, just why is this the case now? I’d hazard a guess that this is because there are heaps of similar models that precede theirs that also follow the same reductionist mentality of presumption. That, or the expertise of the decal researcher/profile artist/amateur historian is not called into question and is taken as gospel. Of course there are exceptions to this, but because one instance proves to be accurate, doesn’t mean everything from the same source is good to go.

    Question everything, accept nothing.
    Everyones feedback is valid when based on sound objectivity.

    You can have an opinion without quantifiable expertise in the subject.

    I’ve got to apologise at this point for banging on and getting all evangelical but to conclude:
    Stop cooing over the subject and the modeller and look at its real value as a miniature replica of a historical artefact. Maybe then other parts of society will look on model making as less of a ‘sad git who still lives at home with his mom and thirteen cats’ hobby, and more of a creative progressive artistic crafts movement that has a part to play in supporting the perpetuation of historical knowledge.

    Museums use miniatures and many of these don’t reach the levels of craftsmanship seen on model web sites and books, so why is model making still derided as being naff? Because it is controlled by a small group of self serving self aggrandising individuals who love the one-upmanship and who are happy to keep it that way. Surely the quality and investment in the product and the commercial aspect point to something more than this as just a niche hobby?
    So until we can convince everyone to all stop being styrene bitches, the hobby will remain a bit naff, a bit of a grown up toy habit only there to be occasionally ridiculed and poked fun at like train spotters or cosplay weirdos.

    Doogs, you are a breath of fresh air, your ‘variance on reality’ approach to finishes and appearance is long overdue and good luck to your crusade to reform this brilliant, infuriatingly complex and absorbing past-time!

    ** IMO Nothing wrong with model railways, have a look at Chris Nevard’s beautiful scenarios. This is modelling in miniature at its best and puts even the best styrene models to shame. http://www.nevard.com

    The analog kid

  18. I wish I’d seen this article and the one on panel lines 24 hours ago. I posted a very similar comment about how I didn’t like the style of a particular build, an F-4 by Patrick Verstraeten. I thought the over emphasis on the panel lines and the panel fading made it look a mess. I also dared to call it ugly.

    This wasn’t a dig at the builder or the his model, per se, more the style that seems to have become a trend recently, one that is more intent on showcasing the builders use of techniques by over emphasising them rather than focusing on the model, itself, and making it centre stage. For this I was called a bully and a “know it all”, in my own group and named and shamed in another public one, which I have no connection to!

    To me the model bore no resemblance to the real thing and that was because of the style employed. If that’s the way the builder wanted it, fine, I just don’t like the style, much like I don’t like Death Metal music.

    I also concur with the “Attaboy” sentiment, I want feedback, not my arse kissing, how are we supposed to learn and adapt otherwise?!

  19. Hey, you might recognize my username from /r/modelmakers. (Or you might not, I dunno.)

    I agree with you about kneejerk compliments– on /r/modelmakers we get a pretty good mix of skill levels, tending toward newer builders. I try to be careful about being harsh on stuff, but I also try to offer criticism when I comment– I like to find something to compliment (even if it’s pretty minor) AND some advice to give. On the one hand, I don’t want to discourage new builders by applying the same criteria to their models that I would to, say, yours. On the other hand, I would like to help them get better. I see a lot of people post there with straight-up attaboys on some pretty minimal-effort builds, and while I appreciate what they’re trying to do, sometimes you can tell that the builder just slapped some paint on there and called it done. If somebody posts a minimal-effort build I probably won’t call them out on it– I’m more likely to just not comment at all.

  20. I’m struck by the not knowing of all that is being discussed. I agree feedback can be helpful, and it can also be unhelpful and even unwanted. I agree that feedback usefully given and heeded can help a modeller improve, but unwanted feedback (read critical review) is perhaps what keeps many from posting their work on forums? Ever noticed the small number of active posters versus the usually huge number of registered members on forums that we frequent?

    The brave souls who put up their models painted with a hairy stick or in some cases I’m sure with a trowel have my admiration, because the good modellers on forums are not just good nowadays, they’re sometimes surreal. And how many hours and years and perhaps even talent has it taken for a modeller to achieve surreal? There’s a lot of lurkers out there, and yes they do make models. I know of a few, and they’re very good at their craft. So why don’t they put their work up for public scrutiny (or feedback)? They just don’t care, nor even want it.

    Doogs’ is probably shaking his head in disbelief at this notion, (much as I do on the odd occasion) but why would they? My own experiences with feedback has sometimes not been helpful, and really all I felt like saying was feck off, but I was more polite than that. All too often feedback is baseless, lacks rigor of any kind, makes no heed of the unknown, and worse it wants to inflict an aesthetic value that is unappealing. And yes quilted pre-shaded models qualify imo. 😉

    I’ve simply come to understand some people are just wired differently to me.

    • Have to agree with Tel. I don’t think I have the qualifications to criticize others’
      work, and those with an ego large enough to think they do, probably shouldn’t.
      If someone asks for critique, then fine. Go full postal!

      The one time I’ve corrected someone on their work, I did it by e-mail, and then
      only after checking with someone else about the error.

      So, here’s a suggestion. If you wish to provide constructive feedback, do it privately.
      “But… but that doesn’t stroke my ego!”
      Exactly.

      • Sorry, going to have to disagree. I’ve been asked to provide private feedback several times, and I’m happy to do it, BUT it means that that feedback and the ensuing exchange stay hidden, where they won’t do anybody else any good. I don’t see it as an ego thing at all. I see it as a community thing. We do this at work all the time – after every project of a certain size, we host a postmortem (or, we try to) where we collectively discuss what worked, what didn’t and how we can improve on the next go-round. It’s not about blaming and shaming, it’s about understanding and learning. If those conversations were held privately, the knowledge would only go so far.

      • I did not expect you to agree after writing an entire blog post.

        Let’s just say that you’ve gotten quite a lot of “Attaboys” concerning this. Just consider this a critique.

    • Thanks for the comment – a few thoughts!

      Regarding the large # of registered users/viewers to those who actually post their work on forums, this is in no way surprising to me. I work in marketing and we pay a lot of attention to online behavior. For any given platform, there’s what our analytics team shorthands as the 1/9/90 rule. 1% of people will be actively creating and posting – models, YouTube videos, etc. 9% participate, share, comment and so on. And 90% just watch and lurk. Take this very post – approximately 1000 views or so, and around 30 comments – several of them coming from me.

      As for feedback, I will for sure agree that anyone who has the guts to post their work publicly, or take it to a contest, deserves a solid thumbs up for doing so. But I also strongly feel that feedback, discussion and yes, debate, are how we grow as modelers.

  21. Well, its about time someone just came out and said it. People are always afraid to give any criticism, and after reading your article Ive realized that I am just as guilty. Im. Definetly gonna try and give people genuine advise, and I hope others do that for me. The way I see it, without criticism you can never really achieve that next level of model-dom. Very nice article, and hopefully it will get some good criticism out there!

  22. Pingback: 2015 – The Year in Review | Jim's Models

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