I’ve heard it said that life is 50% facts and 50% personal perception. I won’t argue with that.


A day or so ago a post popped up on my companion forum, A user claimed to be having trouble getting in touch with a specific component supply dealer.  Nothing sinister about the post whatsoever. However, in short order the thread began filling with equal numbers of supporters and detractors of said dealer. Exactly the sort of thing I don’t like seeing on the forum. Once the correct contact information was provided, I closed the topic lest it turn ugly, as these things have a way of doing. The original topic starter emailed me shortly afterwards to let me know that all had turned out well between the dealer and himself.


Shortly after that, another user started a new thread along the same lines, about the same dealer. This one was a direct complaint accompanied by a somewhat harsh comment. I quickly caught it and clearly stated that I didn’t want that type of thing on the forum. I said that I understood his frustration but pointed out that there are two sides to every story and then closed the thread. The point was made and that topic didn’t rear its head again.


However, within minutes the private emails began pouring in. About half chastised me for “protecting the dealer and preventing the builders from learning about his bad business practices.” The other half chastised me for “allowing a good dealer to be trashed.” Both sides were adamant that their perspective was the correct one and in either case, I was the culprit.  So there you have it – completely different perspectives on the same action. Take your pick – some days you can’t win.


Tom Kirkman




  1. KenF on July 15, 2011 at 11:06 pm

    It is impossible to keep everybody happy. All things considered you do a great job of balancing the best interests of the rod builders and the dealers. Nobody is perfect but you do it as good or better than anyone else.

  2. Ed Sabatini on July 15, 2011 at 11:50 pm

    You’re in an impossible situation there Tom. We all know how fair you are and anyone that sees things far right or far left just isn’t being objective. Don’t worry about it, 99% of the guys know how much you do for all of us and really appreciate it.

  3. Richard Glabach on July 16, 2011 at 1:36 pm

    Thanks for your post, Tom.

    Controlling posts on an open forum is truly impossible.

    You’ve provided guidelines. You intercede appropriately on a timely basis. And you have set the tone for a genteel exchange of ideas and tips. I’ve been very impressed with the overall caliber of postings.

    Do those who chastise you really expect you to monitor the website on a 24/7 basis, vigilantly waiting to purge every discouraging word? I certainly do not.

    In effect, you are being criticized by providing a tool for the exchange of information AND for not preventing an exchange of information. Nonsense.

    Please keep doing what you are doing and know that you have benefited the craft immensely. It would be a tragedy if we lost

    You’ve done a great job – protect this site by barring repeat offenders from further participation as you see fit. You have already given fair warning.

  4. Mike Barkley on July 16, 2011 at 4:14 pm

    I think that you have shown remarkable restraint over the years. For some reason, some people really resent the success that they have never attained. I would have to assume that anyone who would make a PUBLIC demand to have their posts and pix removed instead of simply contacting you directly has a not so hidden agenda.

    Forums come and go (more seem to go than come)but RBO seems to get bigger all the time. While some may disagree, I think a large part of that success is due to the way it is run. It’s one that anyone can go to and not have to worry about being attacked or ridiculed by “walleye Willie” or “Wahoo Whomper” for some question or opinion they posted. It’s a family friendly place where anyone, regardless of experience, age, gender, etc., can get info and help.

    This Forum, as well as Rodmaker magazine and the ICRBE, provide INCREDIBLE resources to Rod-builders around the world. Unfortunately, this kind of success creates resentment/jealousy from small minded people who want someone to blame for their own inadequacies!!

    To the Detractors and agitators, I say, Good Riddance!!

    PLEASE DON’T CHANGE A THING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. Martin Gibson on July 16, 2011 at 4:25 pm

    It would be impossible to make everybody happy. If you figure out how to do that, please let me know LOL! Seriously, IMO you do a great job of protecting everybody but at the same time allowing enough leeway so that good discussions can still take place without being “watered down” to the point where they cease to be informative. It is a balancing act that I think you do as well as can be done. I read the forum every day.

  6. Jerrod on July 16, 2011 at 9:48 pm

    With no dog in the fight I just want to say that I among hundreds and hundreds or even thousands of west coast custom rod builders that are NOT in any way affiliated with the small handful of west coast builders who claim to represent us all and who have caused so much trouble. Please understand that there are only a few dozen of them and they do NOT, repeat do NOT represent the feelings of 99% of custom rod builders on the west coast. I just don’t want to see this portrayed as a west coast vs. east coast thing. It’s really not. They do not represent more than a small handful of builders out this way. Please remember that.

    • Tom on July 16, 2011 at 11:00 pm


      Yes, I’m well aware. I have over 1100 RodMaker subscribers in California alone. I recognize that a couple dozen people are not representative of an entire geographic region. Don’t worry about it.

  7. Steve Clark on July 19, 2011 at 3:34 pm

    Well, over the last 10 years or so, you’ve probably done more than any other single individual to unify custom rod builders, so you probably don’t lose much sleep over it any more when every once in a while, they all get Uniformly Mad at YOU, huh ?

    We’ve not met, but when such as this comes up on your forum every now and again, it’s like Jimmy Dean’s “Big John” is playing softly in the background: “He stood 6 foot 6, weighed 245. Kind of broad at the shoulders, narrow at the hip; and everybody knew you didn’t give no lip . . .” to Big Tom !

    endeavor to persevere !


  8. Tom on July 19, 2011 at 6:17 pm

    Well, the guy in the song has me by about 50 lbs. But, I don’t worry too much about stuff like this. You can’t please everybody and if we weren’t on the right track, all these various rod building ventures like the magazine, forum and Expo wouldn’t have gained such a huge audience. So not a big deal – this entry simply shows how people can have totally different perspectives on the exact action.