I did something yesterday, and it’s still eating at me.
I came across a build. Not a good build at all. The paint job was your typical “hairy stick” special. The construction was amateur at best – unpainted vinyl tracks floating way above their return rollers.
Something that was supposed to be snow was applied to the running gear and tracks. Turns out it was “Christmas Village” snow. It looks like the vehicle had rumbled through some scrub brush covered in glitter.
Now…that’s fine. We all have to start somewhere, and god knows several of my early armor builds were equally cringeworthy.
But here’s the thing. This build was getting attaboys. “LOVING THIS!” and “I really love the snow on the running gear – it looks to be in scale…”
I can only conclude this person has never actually seen snow.
Anyway. I came across this build, and I did an asshole thing.
I moved on.
Here’s the thing. I’ve railed about this hobby’s attaboy problem before. The mindless praise doesn’t help anybody – but it actually harms novice builders.
We can’t grow, we can’t improve, without recognizing that there is room for that improvement. And with more novice builders, a lot of times it’s kinda like Rumsfeld’s famous unknown unknowns – they don’t know what they don’t know.
Before the butthurt train leaves the station – I was there once. And you were, too. And I’m not at all advocating shaming people out of the hobby…but it’s possible to encourage and praise effort without blowing sunshine all over shitty results.
And I wanted to, with this particular build. I came very close to doing so.
But this was in one of those “friendly” groups. As a fellow modeler said, “if you’re honest with him, you’re getting lynched.”
So I decided to be an asshole, and move on.
36 Comments Add yours
I couldn’t agree more with you, iv been modeling awhile and o can honestly say I’m not to bad, until it comes to weathering, making things look realistic is where I fall down.
But when I post pictures of these builds I do get a lot of people saying just that…
“This is great” “love the effect”
It’s a good thing I’m not so gullible to believe all that is said.
I would appreciate some helpfully hints and tips.
I’m ex British Army, and would like to build models of vehicles that my Regiment have for my friends and ex colleagues, but turns out a friend has beat me to it, now I wouldn’t be to bothered but his builds are below standard for selling as displays.
I just don’t undestand how people would buy these builds.
Sorry to rant, but iv been waiting for somebody to think the way j do
It’s true, I have seen many topics on several forums getting locked. The reason: a message from an (experienced) modeller who criticised the work of others. Result: a sh*tstorm of insults and foul words. As a beginner myself, I would love messages of more experienced people giving me advise on what to do and more importantly on what not to do. Sometimes I wonder why people put things on the internet, to get the oooh and aaahs or to get real feedback? I can see why you, an experienced modeller, moved on. I don’t understand why everybody reacts like every build they see is pure gold.
Hope you understand my message, English isn’t my native language.
I used to be a part of an “honest critique” group, right up until the person running the group violated at least three of his own rules of his group and berated someone for having a different opinion than his on, of all things, a subject he admitted he knows next to nothing about! Maybe it was my bad for thinking someone who never does armor modeling might defer to more than a few people who’ve been doing it for many years, instead of belittling and berating them. I’ve given-up on “constructive critique” pages on Facebook and stick to AMPS/IPMS, Mig Jiminez and forums. There, at least, I know I’ll find either no comments or constructive ones when asked for.
For what it’s worth, I rarely just give a “like” to anything. I will always add something in a comment. It also gives credence to the “dislike” button on Facebook, because, honesty…
This is in part why I don’t participate in digital forums much – the purpose and boundaries are often ambiguous; it’s too easy to read between the lines; too easy to be mis-understood; and so on. The issues are legion and even setting rules doesn’t prevent the proverbial train from going off the track. So I don’t see it as an a-hole move to move-on. One has to pick their battles.
That said, if modelers want serious feedback, they should be posting their projects as…(follow me here)…Amazon Products subject to review. In other words, build a formal review forum whereby 5-10 photos of a project are submitted by a modeler and participants rate with stars, provide quick pros, provide quick cons, and then write a full review of what they see…a la Amazon.com reviews. If a modeler doesn’t want criticism then the shouldn’t post a project for review. In this world the expectations and process would be clear. A modeler profile could also be posted (e.g. type: beginner, intermediate, as well as projects completed/reviewed in total.) to help formulate criticism appropriately.
Some folks just don’t care about what others think about their models. They build models the way THEY want to build them. Improvement really isn’t considered when they build. They have the same access to modeling resources as we do, so they know there are better techniques to convey the effects on their models.
We had a guy in our club who built just as I described. At first, he was offered advice from club members, but his models never improved. He only built the cheapest quality kits and he was happy with that. We FINALLY understood he just built for joy of it, and from that point forward we just accepted his models like everyone else’s and if anyone shamed or made fun of him or his models, they would answer to me and the club members. We led the horse to the water. You can’t help but admire someone’s purity who builds just for the joy of building in this rivet counting modeller’s world filled with advanced $200.00 model kits, photo etch, high dollar paint, and airbrushes.
IMHO, you did the right (and considerate) thing by saying nothing. Mom always said, “If you don’t have something good to say, don’t say anything”. HAVING SAID THAT, if the builder asked for comments or suggestions, then “constructive” criticism should be the rule of the day offered along with encouragement.
My two cents.
I couldn’t agree with Rusty more.
If someone posts their work and invites constructive criticism, give it to them, along with some encouraging words.
If they post their work just because they’d like a little social interaction, allow them their moment of happiness and quietly move along. Always remember that everyone one of us is fighting a battle. You don’t know what that modeler’s battle in life is. Maybe his life is slowly circling the drain and slapping some piece of shit together is the only small glint of happiness he has.
Don’t steal that from him.
But here’s the thing, most of us post our builds because we’re proud of them. If they wanted criticism they would have asked for it and if they did then you should have offered. If they didn’t then you look and move on. That’s not a dick move because you didn’t do your duty and point out flaws. Maybe that’s the best this person will ever do. It’s not your obligation nor is it your job to be the one to offer what you think is constructive criticism. Nor is it anyone’s responsibility to heap praise, even praise you personally think is unworthy. That praise may, in itself be encouraging enough to try something more if there’s a next time. Remember this; in a hobby that continually loses members, be happy for anyone creating anything. The same can be said for a lot of creative pursuits such as art in schools but for the modelling community in particular, we should be happy anyone is still discovering it.
Why didn’t PM that guy? It’s obvious that critics in those kind of groups would unveil a shit storm but you could offer your opinion in private.
As Brent has said, there should be a place on forums where novices could post a series of photos of a model and get real no-shit feedback. How else can anyone learn how to avoid glue stains or bad paint jobs. At least on one of the British forums there are people who describe their technique to brush paint, etc. Like you said – the minute you become critical you’re the bad guy. Let’s remember – it’s the internet not the real world.
I sympathise in all respects… and move on! 😉
As a newbie,I personally would like to improve,I know I’ll never reach the standard of most modelers but any help or direction to help me improve I would welcome,i feel words of encouragement are a positive.I’m by no means saying it should be glowing praise for something that’s not deserving of it but it could be along the lines of, not a bad effort,maybe if you try this or that it worked great for me.Now the flip side to this is the overly sensitive person who gets overly protective and feels that it’s a personal attack on them,I once give a statement to the police,as I give the statement the officer was writing it down word for word,mid way through he stopped me,told me he knew what I was saying but it reads completely different on paper,point being what you say out loud can be taken completely different in the written word if you can follow me,your always going to be in a no win situation unless it glowing praise
I don’t think not commenting is necessarily a bad move! But then I’m of the “if you can’t say something nice…” school of thought.
I know with teaching new air traffic controllers, or new air traffic control instructors, I always start with the idea self confidence is critical in making quality decisions. So any criticism STARTS with what they did right. I think that builds confidence, makes the listener less defensive, and re-enforces the idea the situation isn’t hopeless. A broken trainee looses the confidence and desire to even do the job, so there is nothing to gain by being too harsh (unless you actually want to get rid of the person).
For modeling much of the same applies. Keeping in mind the builder may have different goals than you do; especially in terms of how much time they’re willing to invest to finish a project (it seems almost every improved technique involves more TIME).
If you start with something positive about the build; maybe even as simple as praising the subject matter, how it is staged, or if something involving variant/setting/markings.
Then maybe offer a single pointer (like how to add some “use” to the tracks or an alternate snow effect).
If you can build a positive relationship it becomes much easier to offer meaningful advice.
Of course, as with so many things, you may decide it isn’t worth the investment of time to do this. That’s probably a good indicator that your completely unfiltered comments are inappropriate.
And be aware of how completely different the builder’s agenda may be from your own. If he was building something once, as an add on to his nine-year-old’s train set (or even if the builder IS the nine-year-old!) its different than if he is wanting to enter modeling contests.
I know, for myself, I’m much more interested in the history than I am in building. So while I want to do the best I can for a clean build, from the box; I have no interest in opening things up, scratchbuilding, after market detail sets…
You can only help the builder to do the work they want to do, not to do the build you want them to do.
I should add one more example comes to mind. Its a fairly recent thing for me to be building armor at all. I probably never would have started except for Tamiya introducing kits in “my” scale (1/48).
So my most painful deficiency is in getting tracks to line up right. Better weathering/realism pointers would be appreciated too.
But I have no interest in “opening up” those subjects. No interest in interiors or engines.
I try to be gracious about receiving criticism; but honestly, comments on getting tracks straight would be useful, comments about crew quarters are not.
I move on far more often than I comment these days. Even constructive criticism is unwelcome in many of these places. Even advice, however freely and encouragingly given, holds no sway with the “GOOD JOB!” brigade. Who shout you down. Recently I’ve been called an elitist for the sin of . . . . owning an airbrush!
Well, screw them. If aspiration is elitist, colour me elitist. And if those people want to wallow in happy mediocrity, then more power to them. I’ll seek out he people who DO want to get better, who DO aspire to be better. I’ll also seek out the people who are better than me and try to learn from them. And I’ll exchange ideas, methods, encouragement and praise or healthy criticism with them. And leave the rest be, I have no use for them, nor they for me.
Oh I know this only too well, there are so many of the “attaboy” sites out there especially within the automotive forums. I like you move on most times rather than make a comment, with some tips as per what you are saying you will get lynched.
On the money as usual Doog – you’ve got to be cruel to be kind! Hang on, why limit constructive comments/criticism to the ‘amateur’ modellers? What about he efforts of the current ‘professional’ modellers of the Spanish school with grossly exaggerated weathering efforts with models that look like caricatures like cartoons? It’s difficult not to compare your finishing/weathering techniques with say, the Corsair with some of the examples in recent Spanish origin publications. Bring out a technique book of your own!
atcDave is right on point. I’m just getting back into model building so all of my builds thus far have been learning platforms. Each one is just a little better than the one before. When I get to the point of being more skilled in my work I’ll post some pics and ask for constructive criticism. Thats the only way to learn. Enjoy the praise but don’t take the criticism personally. Most of my problems have been with paint. I’m brush painting now but plan on getting an airbrush very soon which I hope will help. Either that or open a whole new set of problems.
Exactly. Then you’ll want a different gun. What paint..thinner..detail brush/work horse brush..and now that you have an airbrush, your models should be amazing because that’s what separates average models from expert ones…until they don’t. They your more frustrated and pressured for no reason and it stops being fun
The anecdotes abound. No, I don’t think you’re an asshole for this particular move, Matt. As has been pointed out above, this builder may be a relative newbie, or may simply be building to their satisfaction and are basking in the glory of their friends’ adulation. It’s a hobby; there are those who for whatever reason need constant positive reinforcement. If this builder wants to move to a higher level of building, they will eventually seek the constructive criticism.
But…..you can only do so much. I was judging several years ago at an IPMS Region 1 contest. Armor. My two teammates seemed like competent modelers, but certainly not armor or judging experts. We came across an Axis category, and within was a German Panther with some nicely done zimmerit. It was not done in the typical fashion but rather, the grooves were cut so that the hardened paste represented a patchwork of squares. The unusual groove pattern notwithstanding, I thought the zimmerit representation and the build overall were well done. My teammates did not; in fact they completely dismissed the attempt at zimmerit as unrealistic. I didn’t bother to try to educate them, 1) because we had models to rank and other categories to do and 2) they were Judges (read: sense of self-importance) at a Regional Event (read: Important Affair). It was 2 against 1 and I thought there would be other battles more worthwhile.
We all started somewhere…and knew our place. Your an FNG, aspire to be better, meanwhile shut up. If your so oblivious to the hierarchy of life that you want to post pics of your first attempt at modeling, you deserve to be burned . I don’t post poetry, write music or pics of my travels. Why? Because not once have I ever thought that what goes on in my life, my mind, is so special that others need or could benefit from being exposed to it. Maybe fakebook and instasham are the culprit…yeah, there’s a stage. But very few are worthy of it.
Tricky right – it so depends on who the recipient/modeler is and what they actually need to grow… support and encouragement for keeping an ever shrinking hobby alive or a rough critique to force them to grow to some level of craftsman expertise.
Not all modelers are looking to be the masters of miniature realism – delving into the secrets and techniques to pull off amazing illusions of reality in miniature. Some simply want to enjoy building a kit, enjoy talking about and showing off the kit they built with whatever technique they thought was clever with whatever tools they had available to them and their situation and hopefully find some support and community in an awfully isolating hobby. More power to them. IMO there are not enough of us in this hobby for our masters to be elitists and to look at these efforts as not worthy of positive attention or praise for the effort and attempts.
Now some modelers are striving for critiques and want to be pushed and mentored to grow. God bless and help those poor stiffs because they got it bad and will more than likely find them selves happily scouring over old war pictures trying to figure out how that fender got bent and where that tread lies on that rock to bridge crossover… (ehem I digress). I agree… they need to be pushed… challenged… have the bar raised… but praise and acknowledgment is also part of that recipe without it motivation and self confidence dies along with actually building a kit that will otherwise sit forever in a closet/basement.
Lastly there are simply the dorks who slap something together to get some fast praise… insecure and needing some easy attention… nothing to say here really.
So the question then is – how do you know which type modeler you are about to deal with ahead of time in a cyber or non-competition display situation? How can you accurately judge their situation, decisions, budget, availability of materials, physical/mental capabilities… etc etc… in order to be in a place to honestly judge a piece and builder’s quality and offer the best level of support for them – or judge the support they are getting? You can’t.
For me anyone who puts glue to sprew deserves at least a little praise and support, as I mentioned before there are not enough of us in this hobby to afford to kick kids out of the club house because they do not meet some level of aesthetic I have. I probably will not like their piece (hell I don’t like allot of museum quality pro pieces for that matter) but I like and appreciate their drive and interest. For that I can throw a little “Nice job.” their way with no skin off my back or really the hobby’s back. But that’s me – I try not to let my obsessive lens of “perfection” be aimed at others work (unless asked for of course) – when I did do that I became bitter in the hobby and forgot how to simply enjoy myself in it – completely defeating the bigger goal of doing it in the first place.
There are times when critique can be over the top.
In the past cpl years I have modeled more Naval subjects than Aircraft.
My Grandson wanted to build a ship and enter his build in a local show. I encouraged him to take his time and go for better build quality as opposed to “bling bling Dazzle Dazzle” no fancy stuff just good technique that he was capable of. He built an (cheap kit) Italian Cruiser and did a great job for a 9 year old. The biggest problem was he mounted the Italian flag upside down..
At the show this one judge was nearly ballistic over that damn flag..he went on and on about “proper flag etiquette” and more historical research was needed…..and why no PE rails were installed…yadda yadda yadda..blah blah.. My Grandson was destroyed….He will not build anything now…
Yes I agree with the judge….if it were an adult category entry…and it was the “all-out build” genre…but this was a junior class OOB category…
That Guy was a D I C K!!! I also let him know that after the judging with my Grandson present as I chewed his ass and handed him back his hat…
My point is we have to be careful..yes we may know more…we may build expertly…we may be right in what we say….but there is a right time and a wrong time to open our mouths.
You were not a Dick for moving on…
As an ex IPMS/USA Head Ship Judge, I can tell you we judge an error as an error. In other words, an upside down flag is no different than an omitted radar or painting the ship pink. There are no “levels” of error. Unfortunately, when you get away from trained judges and into the world of local contests where judges are badly needed, there is always an asshole who feels he’s God’s gift to modeling. Tell your grandson not to take anything seriously. Correct the flag and enter it in another contest. This is just a hobby.
Unsolicited criticism, even the constructive kind, is almost universally refused in my experience. Even when helpful criticism is requested, most people don’t follow it. It’s as though they never heard you.
The odds of giving criticism that is accepted, let alone advice followed, are low. You did the right thing and moved on.
The issue here is relationships: What do you say when your wife asks, “Does this make me look fat?” You don’t want to alienate the modeler or destroy their pride / self-confidence. Often the best approach is to deflect the focus to something you can honestly say. Like, “Sherman tanks are my favorite subject,” “Vinyl tracks are certainly difficult to put together — I could never get them right,” or “Golly, how did you make that snow?”
Unsolicited advice is never appreciated. If a person wants advice, they’ll ask for it. …And even then not really want the truth — it’s more a “Can I still attend the modeler’s club next month?”
For me, improving skills is a self-driven task. I drool over an expert’s creations and ask them something like, “How in the world did you do weathering like that?” or “What kind of airbrush are you using?”
I feel like giving criticism to people is a touchy matter. Some people absolutely would love to hear what they could be doing better, some people are perfectly content with what they’ve made, and some people don’t want to hear anything about how bad their model is. You could end up helping someone out or making someone feel like they suck. It’s for this reason I really only give advice when someone asks for it.
There is the old adage “praise in public, correct/criticize in private” ~ something I learned in the Marine Corps of all places. Not always appropriate or possible but usually I think. Definitely not easy.
On the other hand the public nature of a “looky here at my work” post is an open invitation to criticism, and I think the builder should shoulder some responsibility and be prepared with some thick skin at least.
If not familiar with the builder perhaps a pm would suffice and let the builder post the feedback at his/her own discretion?
Thanks for the playground Doogs, love your site.
Well, how magnanimous of you. I think the only asshole thing is that you seem to think standards you set are most valid and that we are all somehow obligated to rise to them. That and heaven forbid we don’t prime!
This isn’t a team sport, but individual effort driven by personal tastes. How accurate or inaccurate a subject need or need not be shouldn’t extend beyond your own workbench. Same goes for tools to use, technique to adopt, outcomes to strive for. If it works for you and looks cool to you, great, if not, move on.
And that’s the thing, you can move on to try something else. With all the content on the web, the cliché “you get out what you put in” was never more vindicated. Plenty of examples of stellar builds, and tons of informative, well document, how to’s (like this blog when it’s not being preachy). Don’t know; ask, plenty of folks respond. Point is if you want to improve your work, the resources are there.
And, if you choose to hang with an atta’ boy culture, or ignore what’s out there, or even can’t recognize your builds have room for improvement, then I’m thinking criticism, constructive or otherwise, will be lost on you.
Now, then again, you enter a contest, you are asking to be judged. Different situation, different ROE.
There. I did a dick move. I couldn’t let it go.
Heaven save us from those who can’t tolerate a point of view. Keep up the good work, D. Nobody has to agree with anything you say, but it’s always worth considering the possibility that learning might occur.
My god you must be the most self centered asshole in the world, who the fuck asked for your permission to post images in the internet? Get over yourself you cunt.
Let me guess. It was ISM, wasn’t it?
No, what would make you think that?
ISM is a HUGE hug box and by the way you described people behavior on that site it sounded just like ISM.
Hug box – lol! To be honest I’m not all that familiar with ISM and its social mores, but attaboy culture is so prevalent online that I generally just assume it’s the default.
It all depends on how well I know the builder. If it were somebody like you, I approach that knowing you are receptive to corrective feedback so I wouldn’t have a problem doing it. OTH if I feel it is indeed good then I’ll let you know that too. If I don’t know the other party or they only want to hear “good things” or I feel they can’t handle the feedback…..I’ll usually move on. A dick move to me would be putting down somebody’s work or calling it inferior. I’ll flat out PICK a fight with somebody and create all kinds of hell over THAT shit even if it aint my build and then aint NOBODY happy.
I’ve seen a few folks who are either disabled or on the mend from being disabled and I’ve seen a few youngsters (10-12 years old) on the forums as well. Dealing with folks like that is kind of a gray area to me as it’s really hard to “correct” somebody when their abilities are limited. I’ve seen builders like this “corrected” only for them to post later that they either have a disability or they haven’t even reached puberty yet. I’m sure that crow is hard to swallow. In that light it’s usually good to get a small amount of background on the builder which is why I usually give the feedback to someone I somewhat know at least a little.
In regards to when I do comment, some are receptive and some aren’t no matter how respectful or nice I am about it. I commented respectfully on a build a guy had once about his engine being in at a weird sideways angle in an automotive build. The rest of the car looked pristine and I knew the guy so I figured he would take it ok. Man was I wrong!! My cardinal rule backfired on me and the guy called me a rivet counter. Kind of a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” call. You just never know…………..