Sunday, 24 May 2009

A Tedious and Unpleasant Task

I have delayed doing this post, and debated its merit with myself and others before doing so. But "doing so" I finally am.

During the duration of my brief tenure assisting Ralphus, I have noticed a disquieting trend of comments being written by a "gentleman" with the unusual surname of "Anonymous" who also fails to sign his comments as most "Anonymous" bloggers courteously do. While I both invite and accept criticism of my posts, it is hoped that said criticism will come in the form of useful new sources that contradict my own findings, will support contradictory statements or criticism's with at least some form of authority or source, and will attempt to enrich all of our collective knowledge. For whatever reason, this individual (or perhaps I have a "fan club" all using the cloak of anonymity) feels the need to use phrases like "complete rubbish, shows a superficial knowledge of the period", "How do you know that every drummer in every French infantry regiment carried his drum this way all of the time?", and questioning Ralphus' decision to ask for assistance with this blog.

As I've already stated, I actually welcome constructive criticism and debate. To put to rest any doubts that may linger, no, I am not an "expert" on all things pertaining to the late 17th century, Louis XIV or any of his various opponents. What I am is an enthusiastic individual, very long-winded at times (comes from ruining a literature and journalism background by earning a living doing technical writing and "legalistic" product advisories), who volunteered when Ralphus asked, and who is self-employed and has the time to do research and try and develop articles that you might find of interest.

I am not a Sandhurst or West Point lecturer, I am not multi-lingual, and I don't even have a decent university library with a 17th century history section convenient to me. However, I have, in my brief tenure here, made acquaintances of several people who do meet these "qualifications (including some recognized published authors), all of whom have been very gracious and offered me new sources, both online and physical, and who have assisted me in researching articles. I have tried to credit these individuals whenever and wherever possible as I am very grateful for their acceptance and assistance. I have also received far more positive comments on my efforts than negative, so I probably shouldn't really complain. I have even inspired at least one individual to follow-up one of my articles with his own research and a post on his own blog, surely an ego-boost and gratifying experience for anyone putting their efforts "out there".

And, while perhaps "dogmatic in my criticism" and having only a "superficial knowledge of the period", I am still the individual who acquired, at personal expense, not only the required sample figures but enough for 16 complete battalions so that when I did my figure reviews they would be based on the "real world" experience of having acquired an order that wasn't hand-selected for a "sock puppet" and having cleaned, primed and painted them with every intention of using them, good or bad. Just my ink-washed samples against a common reference grid have already influenced at least two buying decisions that I'm aware of.

My only aspirations in contributing to this blog are to inspire discussion and further research, possibly provide some new material that hasn't seen the "light of day" previously, and ultimately, to entertain and to assist Ralphus in diversifying the content somewhat. At the end of the day, only you, the readers and faithful "followers" of this blog, can decide if I have accomplished any of my goals. I would like for Mr. (or perhaps Ms.) Anonymous to contact me offline via my e-mail when they feel that I have strayed and participate in a two-way discussion that might just benefit both of us. I actually encourage any of our readers to contact me offline for discussion, my e-mail is available on my profile and I do answer them.

So, I will end this tedious and (once again) long-winded post with apologies for distracting from the historical, artistic and gaming discussions that is this blog's true purpose. Rest assured though, I will continue my efforts until Ralphus asks me to cease them.



Bluebear Jeff said...

I might not be correct, but it is my belief that "Anonymous" is simply what Blogger uses for those who don't have their own blogs (or at least Blogger accounts).

I think that there are a vast number of "Anonymous" commentators out there and that they are not all from one individual.

As for myself, I certainly bow to you with the assurance that you have far more knowledge and understanding of the 17th century than I do . . . and I thank you for the things I've learned from your blog.

-- Jeff

Sir William the Aged said...

You are correct Jeff, and it actually goes a bit beyond that. You can have a blogger account and simply not sign in when you comment and you will appear as "Anonymous". And you are perhaps right that the negative comments are from more than one individual, as I said, I may have a "Fan Club". However, there are only 3 or 4 comments that fall into the negative category that I have described, and at least two of them share a common "tone".

The difference, other than tone, is that many, if not most, of the casual readers who choose to comment without an account, or without signing in, still sign their posts with at least a first name. Some of them are known to me and I know why they comment in semi-anonymity. Some of these people started out as "Anonymous" and now have their own accounts. Even the ones who remain "Anonymous" but sign their comments invite two-way discussion of a constructive nature by their very willingness to at least partially identify themselves.

Jeff, you and I have known each other, via the 'net, for some time now, and you know that I have always placed my name on anything I have posted or commented on, for better or worse. Perhaps, as our acquaintance Bill Protz might say, it is simply the "gentlemanly thing to do". So, be it Dan or Theo, Jeff or Bill, or Tom, Dick and Harry together, let us at least agree to extend the courtesy of signing our posts and comments (unless our accounts do so for us) and thereby introducing ourselves to each other as "proper" Gentlemen should. Courtesy can be a "lifestyle" choice.


Anonymous said...


I'm sorry to see you have been bothered by this sort of 'comment'. I really love this blog because it brings so much of interest to me that I would otherwise not find. Please keep it up!


Sir William the Aged said...


It's actually probably not as "big" a problem as my post might indicate, I'm certainly not "upset" by the content of the comments, just the spirit and the "hit and run" nature. I suppose it's just that I was raised in a different time or environment, when there were still "rules" for Gentlemen to aspire to if not always strictly or perfectly follow.

The internet comes with it's own built-in anonymity to some degree, many of us will never actually meet face-to-face unfortunately. So I consider a simple signature or salutation to be the electronic equivalent of a polite handshake and introduction.

Anyone who signs their comments as you always do, at least IMHO, has presented themselves to the World as a Gentleman. Your comments are always most welcome and your continued support of Ralphus' blog and my humble efforts is most appreciated.