Fort Lauderdale Yakfishing Club

KFS: Commercial Cult Central?

I read it - so that you won't have to!


The next Superyak?

The Back Story

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.

I mean really, who else? Asked me to start and moderate their "Florida Section", and do what I do best - stir up interest and activity. My only requirement: to be left to speak out honestly and without commercial consideration.

So I did and the section became a rousing success. Until the day I got into it with the chief jerk over at Malibu. I found his Extreme exactly that - extremely long, extremely heavy, extremely hard to turn and extremely loud. I also pointed out Malibu's legal history with Ocean Kayak (which they lost) and their "borrowing" of OK's product names. It all came to a head when I learned that Gonna-Be-Biggest-In-The-Universe KFS, yup, none other than Jon 'n Joey were gonna. Gonna what? They were, were gonna work with Malibu to create and build their very own KFS Super Fantastic Intergalactic Fishing Yak!

The KFS Special.

Only problem? I was makin their prospective business partner look pretty bad. He'd gone off the deep end, engaged in personal attacks, acted very un-corporate like. He'd attack, I'd respond and my typically clever, reasoned and sarcastic responses made him look ever worse. Finally he brought out the big guns and ran home to Mama Jon and Daddy Joey (or is it the reverse?) and complained about how that nasty Capn Jimbo wouldn't leave him alone.

This put J 'n J in a tough position. They liked me, and appreciated my major contribution to their forum. So I received a respectful and honest call from them and we talked. Business is business they said, and this is puttin us in a tough position. I agreed, adding that it was not possible for me to speak in any way other than openly and honestly, and without commercial consideration.

Rock and a hard place time. In an atmosphere of respect and inevitability I resigned as moderator. Interestingly enought, the KFS Special never came to be. Ask me if I'm not surprised.

But that's almost ancient history. Since then I created an originally crappy website and cheapo forum on borrowed web space, then later developed the new and far improved current site and forum. Created the first "Yak Chat". Did numerous reviews. Created the Yakfishin Hall of Fame, interviewing the amazing Kayak Willie and Dennis Spike. Coined the term "Superyak" and promoted high performance kayakfishing. Yak Design 101. You get the idea...

So what's this about cults?

As it happened, KFS grew and grew, seeking their intergalactic status. And so did my smaller but focused Forum in Paradise designed to serve but lil ole SE Florida and the Keys. But there was one other important difference. My forum was tightly moderated and KFS' is not. Let's face it. KFS is a humongous commercially based forum with literally hundreds of thousands (you read it right) posts - way too many for management to monitor.

Forums reflect management. On mine intelligence, humor, rationality and open debate are valued. While disagreements are welcomed, argumentativeness and poor taste are not.

KFS is very different.

Too large and unwieldy to be effectively moderated (with the exception of the do-it-yourself section), most sections at KFS have been taken over and dominated by small cliques and self-appointed "experts". Question asking newbies are attended to, however dubiously. Not to mention a certain few products who've managed to develop a cult-like following.

It didn't take much time for me to identify, address and finally, to name these cults: the Hobieholics, the Onnoheads and the Bargeamaniacs. All in good fun of course. Keep in mind that these monikers applied only to the few roving gangs of alpha-posters who purported to speak for these products, and not the great masses of innocent owners.

Please refer to my "Cult of Monkeys" section (link below) for more specifics. But I digress...

Of course I felt these mobs deserved counterpoint - especially in the interest of newbies - so counter I did. With great relish, fun and my usual creative and biting sarcasm that the masses of KFS found both entertaining and endearing. But not my target cults who resorted to infantile namecalling and frustrated blathering.

To KFS credit (but mostly due to their lack of effective moderating) both my posts and the cults' namecalling were left largely intact. I saw no need to complain, but the cultists sure did. Still, this might well have gone on forever save...

KFS' Commercial Interests

Specifically Hobie.

Yup, Hobie. It all started to gel when a couple guys were discussing not Hobie, but prop drives. Now those of you who know KFS surely know that Hobie has a great presence there, mostly due to the amazing number of defects, breakdowns, immature designs and flaws. So much so, that KFS actually has a resident Hobie "technical rep" who is apparently tasked with keeping the natives quiet by jumping into the boiling pot from time to time.

Truth is he is really a PR flack (aka "Matt the Flack" [MTF], patent pending). And this he does very well. The natives are effectively redirected into praising the Big Kahuna (pp) and Matt's fawning subservience and prompt replacement of broken parts, rather than the fact that the darn things seemingly just keep breaking. Well done.

In this case, Mattie decided to jump in, both flappers flipping, to (re)publish Hobie's stock list of wild anti-prop claims. It is well to note that up til now I really had little interest in penguin power, other than a certain respect for Hobie's out-of-the-box thinking. But MTF's blatant intrusion into this innocent thread smacked of corporate condescension of the worst kind:

Smug and unsubstantiated.

To make a long story short I got into it with Mattie, and challenged him to provide data for his anti-prop claims. Mattie first resorted to diversion, eg. "People buy Hobies and love em, that's data enough" and the like. When pressed, he claimed there simply wasn't any data. Meanwhile I published several competent studies, including data, both for human powered prop driven craft and also comparing Hobie's standard and "turbo" flappers. And accused Mattie and Hobie of hiding the (unfavorable) data that you just know they have.

Bottom line: it became a case of either (a) not having the data (in which case MTF had no business criticising prop drives), or (b) not publishing it (which is entirely suspect). A no-win situation for the Hobester.

Pretty tough. I'd backed Matt the Flack into a corner and he looked bad. Otherwise intimidated posters began to emerge and speculate whether prop drives might actually be more efficient (they are). These emerging souls also began to question the differences between the standard, ST and Turbo faux flippers. But most importantly the Big Kahuna and their resident wet nurse Mattie, were looking pretty, pretty bad - evasive and foolish.

Finally, and after a couple years of unmolested posting by all, KFS now hadda jump in and I found that my posts were now being "moderated"! At last! Of course I tested this, tried posting a couple of completely inoffensive vanilla, "me too" type posts. To no avail. As an experiment I flagged ten or fifteen Hobieholic cheepshots (eg "Socrates Stinks"), even some by Matt the Flack hisself. And what happened?

Nada. KFS chose to leave the offensive comments, cheepshots and namecalling entirely intact. Spoken clearly and as an unmistakable object lesson to dissenters.

I'm telling ya, I musta really done my job. Mattie had apparently run to Mommie Jon, sniveling and sobbing. The Big Kahuna had been exposed. But it's surely all about sales and keepin a commercial site, well, commercial.

Let me first say that this awakening of the sleeping elephant was not entirely unexpected. I knew that I was playing with fire, but I also found that getting into it with the Hobie "technical rep" was just too delicious, too tempting, way too much fun - especially since he was dead wrong.

The Perfect Storm

What an opportunity! To bust a Major Myth, expose corporate condescension, confront the Hobieholics on their own turf but most importantly - to educate and inspire newbies to question, speculate, think and speak out. And which provided my perfect exit strategy from a website I have found increasingly irrelevant, and which has taken valuable time and attention from the Forum in Paradise.

And so for now, I have left KFS. Yes, I still have my original posting rights. Yes, I could easily create an alter-ego or stealth identities. Yes, I could still pursue my mission of non-commercial education of newbies. Yes, I could still have fun with the Hobieholics, et al. But reaching out to what has become a cult-dominated, unmoderated commercial site is not the way.

In closing, I did my very best for KFS. I was happy to successfully start and promote their Florida forum. Contributed much knowledge and cutting edge news and reviews. Created significant traffic and readership. Exposed and confronted the cults. Put up with more than my share of unmoderated slings and arrows. And I was glad to have done so. It was fun and it was educational. But in the end the minority of cult monkeys drowned the rest of us in their uncontrolled droppings.

And now run the asylum.

Havabanana! And here's to the new monkey hunters - I wish them well and a good pair of hip boots...

For further details, check:
1) Kayaking For Simians, 2) Kult of MonKeYs!! and 3) Meet the Fokkers!

Hope ya enjoyed this page! For more incredibly satisfying info...

Ft Lauderdale Yakfishing Club
Capn Jimbo's Forum in Paradise
Contact Capn Jimbo, Chief Yakker