Friday, August 20, 2010


Man did I make a mistake.

I received a question, via my graffiti supply site, about spray paint caps. For those of you who aren't involved in this particular subculture, there are several dozens of different types of spray caps- all with different properties and that work better or worse on different brands of paint. One thing most of them have in common is a little stylized triangular logo stamped into the top, and someone asked me who the manufacturer is with this logo. This is something I've sometimes wondered about, but not very seriously- I am much less concerned about who makes caps rather than whether I have them and what they actually do. But, trying to be helpful and ending up being naive, I tried to find out. Google couldn't help, at least not in the time I allotted for the project, and since it wasn't worth spending hours trying to figure it out, I went to the 'experts' at an online forum associated with a graffiti goods supplier that I am quite fond of called Art Primo. The result of my exchange on the forum has left me less fond of the company, although it's not really their fault.

In the process of building my graffiti site I have been extremely relieved and grateful by the level of support that people are willing to provide for a product such as an open-source shopping cart like the one I use as the foundation of the site. The selfless assistance of total strangers has helped me fix busted parts of the site and the like, it's been great.

I built this same graffiti site using an open-source shopping cart called Open Cart, which is a wonderful thing. I love open source. Not only can you get software for free (let it be known that I do make donations for the open source software that I use) but on an active project there is a whole community building add-ons, writing translations, and generally helping out people who get stuck trying to get things to work properly. I have participated in a couple forums related to this cart, one in English and the other in Portuguese, and have received all kinds of friendly assistance from total strangers, and as a result my site works. I am extremely grateful.

Turns out that same selflessness does not extend to the world of graffiti paraphernalia. I made the grave mistake of not only asking the question posed by my potential customer, but actually starting a new thread on the subject when I couldn't find the answer (easily) by searching the forum. I got flamed. Ridiculed. Humiliated! Well, not that badly- they didn't make any personal attacks on my family or my receding hairline. But I have been informed that I am a lazy slob and my laziness in not pursuing the answer on my own is unacceptable- apparently I don't deserve an answer. You can read the thread here if you are curious.

Now maybe I really am stupid and lazy but I was under the impression that the internet was initially created to facilitate the exchange of information. Of course, it didn't take long for cynics to invade the works and realize it was the ideal platform for insulting and belittling total strangers. What the hell? One of the moderators of the forum writes that he's 'kinda tired of watching kids coming to the internet for answers from other people' - dude, that's what the internet is for. And when I pointed out that at 41 I'm not exactly a kid anymore, that statement for some reason 'sickens' the same moderator. Sickens! Moderator, you have a weak stomach. And correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought the role of a moderator was to keep the discussion civil. Silly, old-fashioned me.

This is absurd. I never did get the answer I was after, and I'm not willing to waste any more time on trying to figure it out. As I mentioned previously, it's just not that important to me. But a bunch of inane fools that I don't even know have annoyed me so thoroughly that I have now wasted even more time writing this post. I wrote back to my potential customer and informed her that I couldn't get an answer; for my trouble, I only got insults.

I suppose that if I continue selling graffiti goods for ten years I may look back on this post and sagely shake my head at my naivete for not knowing the name of the manufacturer of spray paint caps, as the name rolls effortlessly off my tongue. I find this scenario unlikely. And I must say I'm a bit surprised to discover this guild-like quality of the inner graffiti circle, where information is selfishly guarded so as not to be exploited by others. Or maybe it's just that none of these fools actually knows the answer. Experts my ass! Inane dolts is more like it. I'm glad they aren't running the Open Cart forums.

I'm the kind of guy that when treated poorly by a business establishment, I cease to be a customer. Forever. So now I have to decide whether this stupid forum is going to end my business relationship with Art Primo, a company that has been nothing but helpful and friendly in my relations with them. I cannot believe that if I called them up and asked the same question I posted on the forum, that they would tell me that they are 'kinda tired' of people calling up and asking about stuff, and that I should 'stop being lazy' and figure it out for myself. If they did tell me that, I'd hang up the phone and never buy jack shit from them again. I'm actually tempted to call them up and do just that, and then ask them just how closely the forums are related to the online store- I suspect not very closely at all. I doubt that any of these boneheaded moderators are employed by Art Primo, but if they are...

In all likelihood I won't make that phone call, unless they start insulting my family or my receding hairline. I really don't want to seem like a whiny thin-skinned loser who can't take having virtual rotten eggs thrown at him. As I now know: 'the sooner you realize you are more likely to receive bullsh*t answers on a toilet seat before anything helpful, the better off you'll be.' Thanks, I'll bear that in mind. I may ultimately prove to be too whiny and thin-skinned to participate in the global graffiti community, but I've survived nearly ten years in Salvador, which is no mean feat.

When the snide comments started, I jumped ship. It's tempting to continue to respond to these fools, but it would only get worse and uglier so I'm not going to do that. My second, distinctly annoyed post already fanned the flames. One of these charming participants told me to 'tell my friends' about my experience, so that's what I'm doing, friends. I found a wonderfully appropriate quote in Moby Dick last night (which I'm still reading, only 10% to go!!) where Ahab states "The greater idiot ever scolds the lesser." I think this would be a marvelous coda for the thread, if I could only be sure it was in fact the coda. In reality it would only unleash a fresh stream of juvenile invective, so I've posted it here instead.

I wish I'd never asked the question in the first place.

And that I'd ignored the email from the curious potential customer.

Probably the most astute post on the thread is this one: 'I guess lecturing a first-time poster about being lazy is easier that naming a f*cking company.' Thanks man, I appreciate that. Honestly. I may not have gotten my answer, but I did learn something, even if it wasn't what those dudes were trying to teach me.


Fabio Bossard said...

What the heck, man! I read the thread. What a bunch of rude assholes!! Now I am wondering what a forum is made for? I've read forums before (about literature) and didn't like it either. They never stick to the topic.

markuza said...

Thanks Fabio- assholes indeed. Dipshits, in fact. Forums in theory allow for discussions of a given topic, but as you observed, they tend to degenerate into worthless drivel in short order. I'm sure there are some top-quality forums out there, I'm just not part of any of them, except for the tech forums I mentioned in the post.

markuza said...

Okay, I have to admit something here: I lied. I wasn't entirely honest that I didn't care who makes spray paint caps. Actually, I wasn't particularly concerned about it when I wrote the post, but became increasingly more so the more I thought about it, so after a considerable amount of time searching the web I finally found them: - what a relief!