Bitching About the Loaner Program

Discussion in 'Rules, Payments, and Other' started by penguins, Aug 21, 2022.

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  1. rhythmdevils

    rhythmdevils MOT: rhythmdevils audio

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    I wonder if some of you even understand this. I'm talking about the first review post of loaner gear only. Not the follow up reviews. The follow up reviews can say whatever you want. But the first reviewer needs to be a bit more diplomatic, as @loadexfa said very eloquently, about their review. You are welcome to write negatives, but it should be more geared towards a wide audience. In other words, instead of "this is shit". Say what you don't like, but also say why others might like it.

    But if no one will like it, then we don't do a loaner tour.

    That's all. This is how it's always been done. All I am asking for in the original post is to share the burden so that its not just me and Dan trying to write reviews.
     
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  2. haywood

    haywood Friend

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    This actually happened here for some chifi dac (iirc the first review was just an image of a pile of shit) and then the company freaked out and withdrew the gear.

    Maybe if the first reviewer doesn’t like the gear send it on to the next person and if that’s repeated a few times just send it back. Maybe it was damaged in shipment, or literally is garbage, who knows. The goal shouldn’t be to dunk on vendors but to encourage discovery of good audio products.
     
  3. insidious meme

    insidious meme Ambivalent Kumquat

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    This is also standard behavior for the gearmasters from what I heard. If it isn't getting past them, then there's almost certainty that the tour will just be a bunch of folk dunking on the product. And why would anyone want to send it around anyway. Shipping costs aren't exactly cheap nowadays.

    I think a miscommunication here is that how the first review should be structured. The negatives should be at least read as constructive criticism of the product, because as Cha Cha said, these are real people making these things. Now I know that a lot of us are jaded to people's intentions on bringing out a product, and sometimes.. we're correct. The product should have continued to be worked on until a decent amount of critical listeners can get some pleasure out of it.

    But the companies that are giving us these loaners should be at least given a benefit of a doubt that they can improve on the loaner product after said reviews. If they don't want to improve or they never come back, then fine, SBAF shouldn't be their target market. But if they do, then all the loaner tours would be worth it.
     
  4. Elnrik

    Elnrik Super Friendly

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    I haven't participated in a loaner tour in years. You want to talk about respect, yet you levy empty threats against Friends just because they disagree with your ideas. Bravo! None of what I wrote was directed at you specifically.

    If you think what I wrote was inflammatory, perhaps it was, but that is a consequence of reading an opposing opinion. That's one of the risks of freedom of speech and not censoring forum members: You might read something you don't like.

    I know you have, and I know it's also a thankless job most of the time. I am not questioning your motivation or your good intentions.

    This hits the nail on the head.

    Yes, you did.
    Hmmm...

    I get that. My opinion differs. I think the world needs more reviews saying a piece of shit is a piece of shit. I'm so tired of people putting lipstick on a pig.

    And yes, I get it that the companies are owned by real people, and products are the result of blood, sweat and tears put into them by the people who developed it. With that said, if they're in business to produce this and make money, they need to put their big boy pants on and accept honest feedback from their customer base good or bad. Hell, it's usually the bad feedback which is the most useful.

    It's one thing to ask people to be tactful when listing why a product is bad. That's good. That's the direction I would like to see this program take. ( And in your follow-up posts it seems you've clarified that that's what you were going for. Great. Thank you.) But IMO it's a VERY bad thing to say members can't write negative reviews, or to prohibit them from even receiving and reviewing an item because a single gatekeeper thought it wasn't good enough. These companies are expecting feedback from as many people as they can get, which is why they would want it to go out on a loaner tour to begin with, and they should be expecting feedback - both positive and negative. It's a disservice to take that away from them.

    You may think my posts have been a personal attack against you directly, but I assure you they weren't. I don't like gate keeping and I don't like censorship. (Or anything that even smells like censorship like the mandated positivity of product reviews. That would just be propaganda after all.)

    Thank you for your understanding even if you disagree.
     
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  5. Armaegis

    Armaegis Friend

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    Wait wait wait... you guys read reviews before getting loaner gear? and you actually remember what other people way?

    I like to think I try to go in being untarnished and uninfluenced by other people's ramblings. Honestly though, most of the time all I remember is something vague like "I think some guy with a cat avatar said the midrange was shouty? or was it recessed from the guy with the weeb avatar? Anyway, here's Wonderwall".

    On a completely separate note, I think sbaf should have a review channel/subforum/whatever where we only say negative things. Heck it could be a curated list of things we don't like, lifted from other reviews. Redact any wording that even tries to spin a negative into a not-so-bad light so there's no context at all, just the poopstains.
     
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  6. Garns

    Garns Friend

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    It seems pretty straightforward, an introduction post is different from a review. It's more of an overview, neutral, taking a broad perspective and decoupled to some degree from your own proclivities.

    Maybe a good analogy is writing someone a reference letter. You don't want to shit all over them outright, else you wouldn't agree to write the letter, but you also don't want to pretend everything is perfect, you want to give a realistic assessment but ensuring the good and bad points are both aired with appropriate context and in a way that acknowledges that we are dealing with human beings and it's bad form to just pound them into the dirt.
     
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  7. Vtory

    Vtory Audiophile™

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    A couple of thoughts

    1. Anybody should be able to write negatives even for the products gatekeepers thought good.
    2. Gatekeepers should separate their preference from their perception of the forum taste.

    ---

    Speaking of #2 more, suppose a online shopping vendor send us some products that (a) I like much but (b) I think people would be annoyed with their sonic traits. Say, Topping's new dac (perhaps a perfect example of this scenario). Suppose I am assigned to prelim-evaluate them as a gatekeeper. Because I like them, I would leave some honorable comments in the thread. Also because I can imagine it could gain harsh assessments, I will suggest to return the product to the vendor.

    Let's think about the opposite case. These days, I completely lost my interest on R2R (at least around my budget range) and I knew how and in which context things can't work for me. But I also knew the products might satisfy the forum on average. Imagine any r2r dac you love then that's probably applicable for this scenario.. In this situation, I'll (privately) let gearmasters know green signal on my end -- possibly mentioning whether or how I don't like much. Loaner tour will be coordinated. My complaints/negatives in the intro post will be adjusted in tone and nuance to the extent I don't lie.

    Admittedly many things may just fall into in-between gray zone (even if I obviously like or hate them). Then I'd make clear I can't fully decide either way, and Rd, Chacha, or other gatekeepers can give a shot so that we have comprehensive sets of opinions. Gearmasters would make a final call.

    I'm also making clear that all these were previously done by gear-masters, Marv, or staffs under the hood. The main idea RD suggested sounds like a delegation of that job to volunteers. And one of important expected outcomes I think should not be dismissed is to reduce coordinators' burden. Not too much dramatic shift as some might be concerned -- as far as I understood.

    I might be wrong in understanding the original intention. @rhythmdevils or @ChaChaRealSmooth would correct me if any. Haha.
     
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    Last edited: Aug 21, 2022
  8. crenca

    crenca Friend

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    Ah to hell with all this. If your review does not like 6moons poetry your doing it wrong and will be re-written by the SBAF censors. As @YMO points out it's all about the tang and those guys get it all! Irish girls and everything.

    @rhythmdevils , mark me down the the $1k + ethernet cable tour, I'm feeling horny...
     
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  9. YMO

    YMO Big Pooh & Buttcracker

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    I told my gf that I wish I can pour hot sauce on her ass and lick it off like BBQ sauce, but she wasn’t having it for wasting food.

    One thing I will say this: No one is forced to sign up for anything. People take this hobby too seriously, and as @crenca said if it becomes too much like boomer writing wanking off 6mooms shit that it is too boring to read, then fuck that shit.
     
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  10. roshambo123

    roshambo123 Friend

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    Let's be honest. It sounds like the loaner program isn't working.

    I'm hearing people don't sign up for loaners but when they do they don't write reviews and when they do write reviews, they aren't respectful enough of manufacturers, and when they aren't respectful enough of manufacturers they're not honest enough and compromise the integrity of the board. Fuck all this noise.

    My advice is go full Trump / Thanos: Close the borders and start suspending loaner program rights for people ruining it.

    Hospitals are designed for the convenience of the doctors and nurses, not the patients. The loaner program should be the same: structured for the convenience of the gearmasters.
     
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  11. ChaChaRealSmooth

    ChaChaRealSmooth 2000% biased Planar Hater

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    I couldn't disagree more. (Edit: I actually misread @roshambo123's comment and thought it said suspending the loaner program itself, not the people. Needless to say, I'm keeping the rest of this post as-is)

    Part of how I even got involved with SBAF was the loaner program; believe it or not I was a rando when I asked Marv for permission to contact Matrix on SBAF's behalf for a loaner X-Sabre Pro all because I loved reading the impressions from this community, wanted a way I could actively contribute beyond donating money, and saw a passing comment from Marv where he said he'd actually like to take a listen to then-new-ish X-Sabre Pro. What was crazy to me back then was Matrix actually sent me one and Marv asked me to listen to it and tell him if I thought it was worth listening to! And I was a rando who still didn't know that I didn't like planars (yet owned an LCD-3) and who barely had any experience; I literally could only tell Marv that the X-Sabre Pro beat the pants off my SDAC + Wyrd and that I was impressed by the Matrix just like when I heard a friend's Gungnir A2.

    And you know what? The staff guided me and asked me to setup the X-Sabre Pro loaner! I had no idea what I was doing (I'm still a rando at this point) and asked probably 62526726 questions and also definitely made mistakes (did not mean to slight @porkfriedpork; I just really didn't know whether I should include contributers but ignorance DOES NOT equate to innocence). Don't believe me? The loaner thread still exists and the impressions thread still does as well where you can see my pitiful attempts at being a "somebody." And despite all that, the tour was successful and we all gained a lot of great impressions from those who heard it.

    The point of sharing this is that to me, the loaner program is integral to SBAF and is a fantastic vehicle to use to come together with the goal of providing high signal/noise to allow readers to glean actual information/impressions about a product in order to make better informed purchasing decisions, all without having to have people blind buy the product themselves. The only way this happens is if we have plenty of honest impressions (positive, negative, or meh, it really doesn't matter as long as it's honest) and even have the loaner program in the first place. I don't know how @rhythmdevils feels but I am not giving up on the loaner program just because of this. If anything, I'd be more inclined to axe it if incidents like the Ragnarok 2 loaner happened consistently.

    I'm sorry @Wilewarer for using you as an example, but I need to address the whole "censorship" idea again since it keeps being brought up for some damn reason:

    I will never endorse nor condone censorship of reviews on SBAF and nor does any staff member.

    All @rhythmdevils is asking for is for people to sign up to essentially be the first person who hears a brand-new-to-us product. From there, we can have a discussion on whether you think the product has merit and will be INTERESTING to the community (merit does not necessarily mean it fits your taste). If the answer is yes, great; we set up a loaner thread and take things from there (and you'd post a thread on it; it doesn't have to be the essays I write and can be a blurb). If the answer is no, then we don't make a loaner thread and we send it back. This idea that we're just going to turn into Head-Fi is false and I don't know where it came from.

    Let me pose these questions:
    1. Do you guys honestly think it is worth our time and effort as a community to tour a piece of shit that no one is going to like?
    2. Don't you guys think that as gearmaster, I want to tour products that will pique YOUR interest and I believe has merit?
    3. Do you guys honestly think that you'd waste your time signing up for a tour where that product is crap? Sure it might be funny once in a while to make fun of ASR and tour a shitty Topping product, but this is not sustainable in the long-run and eventually none of us will care. I mean, do you WANT to hear the Topping DAC that I compared to my penis as a joke?
    Things of sonic merit (even those that don't match your taste) are interesting; things of no merit are not. And believe me, sometimes this is really hard to separate. I felt the iFi Neo could potentially find someone who found it interesting despite me personally being lukewarm about it; other staff were disgusted by it so it never made it.

    Okay, you know what? This whole thing was just a bad idea and we should just delete the whole thread about signing up for this. I'll continue doing what I do as gearmaster and honestly I wouldn't balme @rhythmdevils if he told me he wants a break.
     
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  12. Claritas

    Claritas Friend

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    What I'm seeing is too many people signing up,, but not out of any real interest. They just want to have a little fun, like when the ice cream man comes round the park. Those guys either never bother to write a review, or they write a google-eyed review after playing with a new toy. Roshambo is absolutely right: people who aren't responsible shouldn't be allowed to participate.

    So limit the program to serious reviewers. And give the reviewer 10 days instead of 5 days.

    I wonder also if there are too many loaners. I don't expect that to be a popular opinion. But I suspect that it explains the cases of too few reviewers signing up. So before a gearmaster munificently puts in the work to get us a particular loaner, we need to have some serious reviewers lined up.
     
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  13. ChaChaRealSmooth

    ChaChaRealSmooth 2000% biased Planar Hater

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    I disagree. We've completely lost sight that this is SBAF and we're hanging out amongst friends to talk audio and other random bullshit. The dive bar analogy is overused but very appropriate. Asking everyone signing up to being a "serious reviewer" is utter bullshit.

    I'm very close to locking this thread. There's zero meaningful discussion apart from a few posts and all that this has shown me is that this is just a bad idea. That and I will need to keep a close eye on all loaners that @rhythmdevils is doing as well (I trust him and left him autonomous for the most part after helping him in the beginning). Frankly speaking I'm not seeing the issues people seem to have and part of that may be on me.
     
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  14. Lyander

    Lyander Official SBAF Equitable Empathizer

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    I think the forum would be a very different place if it were so exclusive as to adamantly refuse kindnesses towards newcomers or people who aren't extremely active.

    That said, if someone signs up to get ears on a piece of gear then they are obligated to offer some insight into how they felt it was.

    I likewise agree that longer loaner periods could benefit the program as it allows a person to really adapt to a piece of gear, but depending on how many people sign up that could well result in a very long tour.
     
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  15. dasman66

    dasman66 Self proclaimed lazy ass - friend

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    As always, I think its a gray area and it probably needs to be somewhere in between these extremes. I do think anyone on the loaner should be obligated to make their best effort at posting a meaningful review (meaningful does not have to equal long).

    But I also think that limiting the loaners to repeat/"serious reviewers" is a problem. New points of view and new blood is always a good thing and what keeps SBAF vibrant and interesting.

    Also, I have to imagine that different manufacturers have different reasons for sending gear our way. Some are looking for honest feedback to help them improve (Black Amp). Some seem to view the loaner program as an extended trial program to help drive business from repeat customers (ZMF). And then some are probably larger operations that have marketing departments looking for the quotes they can put on their website. What does this have to do with anything in this thread? I don't know... can't exactly remember the point I had hoped to make... but my guess is that extended loaners (more time) vs longer tours (more ears) might be appropriate for some manfs and not others.
     
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  16. Claritas

    Claritas Friend

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    I chose my words poorly. I should have written:

    So limit loaners to people who take loaners seriously = responsibly. And give people 7–10 days instead of 5–7 days, so they can do it right.

    This thread, or a thread, should be called, "Let's fix the loaner program." It would start with the gearmasters explaining what problems they're encountering. And then members can try to figure out what could improve the situation, and how they can be of service.
     
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  17. Friday

    Friday Friend

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    I think some of the context for RD's comments were lost when this thread was split?

    It looks like most of the disagreement started based on this post, where it looks like RD wants to protect crappy products from being shit on if they were sent by companies. But what he also said in the original thread was that if an offered product was crap, then the first reviewer's job was to filter that out and simply not send it on for a loaner. Which in some way makes sense to me, just don't give those things any publicity, good or bad.

    That said, if this scheme were to pass, I think it would be nice to have just a list of gear that didn't make it past the first review, perhaps in some private section of the forum. The downside is that the first reviewer may then be peppered with DMs about their opinions about the piece of gear.
     
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  18. Slade01

    Slade01 Facebook Friend

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    Part of what I find unique to SBAF is the Loaner Program. It's nice to have tenured people who have listened to a variety of gear through this program and give their honest opinions about said product. It actually gives a nice baseline, especially when I am learning, and have the awareness, that many of you come from varied backgrounds and tastes in music and gear. The loaner program is a vital tool to cut through the noise of one-sided reviews, and is enough for me to want to contribute money to the cause, this coming from a rando and long time lurker. I love the honesty and feedback you guys give when it comes to products. The most important thing that the loaner program provides is a shared experience and ability to give the proper context when framing your impressions. I hope you guys continue to endeavor to be honest and open.

    I think @rhythmdevils just wanted out of this is when the thread is created for the product from the loaner program, that the first post is just an introductory post that tells a bit about the company, some information about the product on loan, perhaps why SBAF choose it to be in the loaner program, and what are some of its merits that perhaps the company is highlighting and / or maybe the hype/buzz circulating about the product. I think in part someone previously mentioned it is part marketing, and indeed it is. But it is a nice way at least to be able to thank the company donating their products for free, and probably fair, in a way that the first post simply sets up the framework and a neutral tone for the discussions that are about to ensue whether they turn out to be positive or negative - but that is what the thread and debate on impressions is all about.

    @ChaChaRealSmooth would it be fair as the gearmasters, once you have a list of people signed up to do the loaner, to simply designate someone on the tour to write up an introduction post, and include this aspect as part of the responsibility of taking part of the tour, that every once in a while, someone will be asked to write this up and start that particular impressions thread?

    Then after that, it's really business as usual, and everyone can write and speak their mind to their hearts content, be it positive or negative.
     
  19. Merrick

    Merrick A lidless ear

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    Some people here really need to learn about diplomacy and how to utilize it.

    The only way we could have a system where people are free to shit on review gear all the live long day is if we bought everything out of pocket, and baby we don’t got that kind of money.

    Being kind to vendors by sending back products we don’t think will land well with the community is fine! We aren’t going to waste time trying to set up a loaner for garbage no one wants to really hear. And if that vendor’s next product is great, then we’ll be able to get it for the loaner because we weren’t needlessly assholes to them the last time around.

    If you’re curious about a product, and it’s not available as a loaner, buy it, then try it, then feel free to start a thread ripping them a new one. @SoupRKnowva did this for a Topping DAC IIRC and it was a great thread. Don’t expect that we should have to absolutely trash something just because the vendor sent it and one of us has heard it.

    Additionally, if a particular piece of gear isn’t to your taste but you know the community well enough to determine others here would like it, be fair and write about it from that broader perspective instead of just your own personal preference.

    Some of y’all are acting like a spoonful of sugar is the same as getting bamboozled by shitty vendors. Come on, we’re not stupid, and you shouldn’t be either. Learn how to play the game for everyone’s benefit.
     
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  20. rhythmdevils

    rhythmdevils MOT: rhythmdevils audio

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    This thread is disgusting and makes me sick.

    I officially quit the position of gearmaster as of now. Dan will have to take care of all current loaner tours and take over upcoming tours. Good job SBAF.

    This thread lacks any kind of understanding or even attempt at understanding the reality of the situation, or what me or Dan have been saying. You have all just jumped at a few words that scare you and run with it. This thread is full of almost nothing but idiotic absolutism and dumbass hot takes.

    No, SBAF isn't working. It’s not a coincidence that Marv posted about being burnt out because his workload to keep the site going is not sustainable and then I post a thread asking for help because the workload for gearmaster is not sustainable for me either. And you all turned a thread about me asking for help into…this deplorable pile of dog shit internet garbage (none of you would say any of this to my face).

    You all have a lot of very specific demands and ideals about SBAF but aren’t willing to do any actual work to make them a reality or even think about how they could be a reality. People like @Elnrik just make demands and expect them to be met by people like me or Marv or Dan or the rest of the staff, while he does nothing. You all could at least try to understand instead of just making demands that are not possible.

    You all want a site that has no sponsors. Yes, that is a nice idea. But forums cost money. What is the answer to that? We have to donate to the site or it ceases to exist. Honestly, I think Marv probably dumps his own money into this site to keep the lights on and just doesn’t say anything.

    You all want a loaner program full of the hottest, most interesting, newest gear, and you want to be able to shit all over it in the very first review post. That’s only possible if we buy all of our loaner gear. Which, once again, costs money.

    What I and Dan have tried to describe is a middle way that has been working this whole time. I haven’t seen any complaints about “censorship”. Because there has not EVER been any. But in exchange for the courtesy of sending us free gear to check out, we give vendors and companies the courtesy of sending it back if its’ just going to get shit on. I’m talking bad stuff that you really don’t want to waste your time hearing.

    All I’ve been talking about is the very first post about gear that is a loaner that was given to us for free. The very first post. It needs to be an introduction and more about the preferences of SBAF and not just yours. “You migh like this if…” for example instead of just saying “this is shit”. That goes a long way, and is all I’m asking for in the first post. Like I said, I TELL COMPANIES THAT WE PRIDE OURSELVES ON OUR HONEST REVIEWS AND THEY CAN EXPECT EVERY MEMBER TO BE HONEST. Every review after the first one can be whatever you want to say, there is NO CENSORSHIP.

    Did that get through your heads? Not once have I told anyone to change a review, not post something, etc. I don’t even monitor the review threads I only read them if I am interested in reading the impressions.

    I really have wanted to make SBAF a better place and I have put a lot of energy into that. With reviews, with a music blog, with tons of loaner gear so we get to hear cool stuff and so that there is more content on the site. I have really tried.

    Here’s what goes into making a loaner happen.

    Someone mentions some new gear. I see it and look it up, and find their contact info and write them an email full of information about the loaner program and why it’s a good idea and safe for their gear, etc. If they write back, I often spend hours communicating with them about what will happen with their gear and how it works. Either through email or long text conversations. I then continue coordinating with them until they ship the gear to me. Then I listen to it for a time. Then I spend hours writing a review to introduce it to the forum. It takes a long time to write an informative review. And I always take pictures. Then I create a loaner thread and make it pretty with credit to the vendors/companies. And organize a list that makes geographic sense. Then I monitor every one of those threads and change the order or remove people as requested. I am very kind to people and often go out of my way to re-arrange the order so someone can hear a piece of gear when it works for them instead of just dropping out because they are busy when they are up on the list. Then I have to coordinate getting the gear back to the vendors. Keeping track of all of that is a lot of work. And takes a lot of time. But I’ve done it because of my love for music, fidelity, and SBAF. I really love the sound of incredible headphones, it’s so beautiful. And I really want SBAF to be a solid community where we can share that experience together.

    But it is very clear to me with this thread how thankless that work is, what a bottomless pit this site it, how little gratitude there is here for any of it. How little impact it has on anything. How no matter what I do, you will all find some reason to complain without actually giving back or trying to make it better yourselves.

    In the work I do outside of SBAF my time and energy have a profound affect on people and I am actually quite well known and surrounded by gratitude and love. This thread among other recent comments makes it very clear to me that I need to focus on that work, which not only affects people in a way that they appreciate, but saves hundreds of lives.
     
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