Fountain Pen Groups – what ails them? What medicine do you prescribe?
The caveat up front. I am only trying to raise an issue that afflicts all of us. There is no intention of pointing fingers at any one Fountain Pen Group or person in particular, leave alone a desire to hurt. If, inadvertently I cause any hard feelings, my unqualified apologies. Hope all of you will read the piece and the ones that will follow with an open mind and the same love that you have for your collection.
I am inundated with complaints from fountain pen lovers who, seeking knowledge and fraternal bonding join Fountain Pen groups in various social media platforms, only to be waylaid – sometimes ridiculed by old hands who hunt in packs, at other times getting short-charged as the so-called experts lead them to purchase pens that are, shall we say, not exactly what they are palmed off as.
Some people have also pointed out a predictable trend – one so-called expert posts a certain picture with his / her cahoots flooding it with clapping / raging fire / beating heart emogies to build up the tempo which leads the vulnerable to walk into the well-laid “trap”. What is equally deplorable is the practice of some established pen makers / sellers, who take potential buyers off the grid and quote prices only on Whats App, which leads many to feel that not all is above board and transparent. Why pray? Why can’t we have open pricing – it is a fraternity, after all?
Here is what Sudhir Kalyanikar, lover of all pens, collector, pen tuner and aficionado has to say on the matter:
Fountain pen groups – have they lost their purpose of bringing FP lovers together?
To a certain extent, yes. But this cannot be attributed only to sellers.
A lot of blame has to also be shared by the seniors on the groups who lead discussions in different directions and also forming groups within groups within groups.
I would not call myself a senior, but I have been accused of this as well.
So, one thing I have actively done and would like all responsible people in the hobby to do is to stick to posts only relating to fountain pens and avoid discussing other stuff on the open groups.
In fact, we should actively encourage people to stick to discussions on Fountain pens only.
However, I have not yet lost hope completely, that’s why I have re-joined a number of groups that I had quit in disgust.
Are Fountain Pen Groups mere platforms where sellers donning the garb of lovers of FP lurk to pull fast ones on unsuspecting new comers – hunting in packs?
Yes, this is an increasingly alarming trend.
Far too many fountain pen groups have just become captive audiences and buyers and the sheer number of sales posts far outnumbers any worthwhile discussion on fountain pens and related stuff.
People have to wade through tons of nonsensical posts to find any worthwhile information relating to the hobby.
That’s why on the Mumbai specific group, we have a policy of not adding any sellers, even if we know they are enthusiasts.
This also gives us a platform to openly and vociferously criticise any seller for any reason without fear of any kind of retribution.
Are we not forcing the real FP lovers to quit in disgust?
Yes, people are quitting groups, but too many sales posts is just one reason.
Fatigue with the hobby is also another reason some people have mentioned to me.
Actually, more than the hobby itself, we spend more time talking and discussing and arguing about stuff.
The groups have become forums to talk about pens, sometimes from people who I have never seen using a single pen – no pictures or personal experience of a particular pen or ink, which would be really funny if it was not so sad.
That can get stressful for some people who are in the groups just for the knowledge.
We have nothing against people selling pens – but sellers calling themselves pen lovers with ulterior motives and hidden agendas is deplorable – do you agree?
Agree, but with a caveat because this is a bit of a grey area.
Sellers can be enthusiasts too.
In fact I know sellers who are also pen enthusiasts with a tremendous amount of knowledge to share.
So keeping them out of groups might be a loss of their knowledge, especially for newbies.
However, sellers should stick to pen-related discussions on open groups and restrict sales posts to sales forums ONLY.
And by sales posts, I mean ANY posts that talk about their products, like new introductions, upcoming products, etc.
That should be allowed only on Sales forums.
If they can have that discipline, people will automatically respect them.
Else, we will keep having discussions like this… ?