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A Few Thoughts on Lockpicking Forums

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MBI

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Post Sat Nov 03, 2012 6:24 pm

A Few Thoughts on Lockpicking Forums

There has been a lot of discussion lately about lockpicking forums, politics, rivalries, ethics and backstabbing. Yet in recent months I've also seen more generosity amongst forum members than I'd ever thought possible. It's gotten me thinking about my own time spent on the forums, so I wrote down a few of my thoughts. This isn't directed at anyone in particular, so I'm starting a new thread with this instead of posting it as a reply elsewhere.

The history of internet lockpicking forums and discussion groups is filled with some successes, a lot of failures, and a surprising amount of anger and strife. And spam.

I first discovered them as an independent locksmith while using a search engine to help find the solution to a problem I had with a lock. I was both surprised and relieved to find such handy resources already established where I could get much of the information I needed. It was more than I hoped to find and I was instantly hooked. I registered on a couple forums but never really participated much, merely lurking for the first few years whenever I needed answers.

Then I got called back to previous line of work to do some consulting and that pulled me away from locksmithing for a while. Then around five years ago I got back into locksmithing and decided to become more of an active participant on the forums. I discovered that a couple of the forums/discussion groups where I'd been a member no longer existed, and I'd long since lost my original forum login information to the ones that still did. I didn't even have access to the email accounts I'd used when i first set those up, so I started all over again and had to set up new accounts.

I quickly discovered some new forums that had popped up in the meantime and registered on those too. It didn't take me long to discover a fair amount of rivalry existed between some of the forums. It reminded me of the rivalry between high school sports teams. Some of it downright hostile. For the most part, I tried to stay out of the arguments. I just didn't get it. For me, these forums were work resources, not clubhouses.

For a few years there, there were a plethora of different lock forums popping up, almost monthly it seemed. Often started by various members of any of the bigger forums who had either been banned or felt offended and alienated by something and left voluntarily to start their own forum. Most of these never had many users and died off fairly quickly.

I won't bother to name names, there were too many of them, and I'd probably forget half anyways. I participated in all the ones I could find, but it seemed like every time I turned around, there was another one that had popped up. I was asked by a couple of these owners to help start and run their forums. I accepted one of those requests and helped start one of them, but it's gone now too. Then EZpicking got hacked and it wasn't long after that when I dropped off the map for a couple years once again.

When I got back, I saw more changes still. Lp101 had continued to grow, and Keypicking was hardly recognizable from what it had been when it first started; the teenage demographic had been replaced by a more mature crowd, including a large number of professional locksmiths. Most of the smaller forums seemed to have dropped off the map entirely.

I got more involved in the forums than I had been before, and happened to be in the right place at the right time when this forum nearly closed its doors about a year ago. Hallis had done a great job keeping things running but was ready to step down, so elbowmacaroni, myself and jruther2 agreed to split the costs of running the forum three ways so we could keep it operating. I was surprised at how high the bills were, and that HC had shouldered most of that burden himself as there were hardly ever any donations coming in.

Which brings us to today. Squelchtone is the new LP101 admin. While not everyone is a fan, I think he's making an honest effort to run the site well. At the very least, he's PRESENT to take care of matters as they come up. He's reviewing site rules and organization to see where things could be improved, or need to be clarified. He puts in a lot of hours over there, and he doesn't make a dime doing it. Things are changing, and I think for the better. But that sort of thing doesn't happen overnight. Especially not when the people involved have full time jobs and lives to lead.

Applications to the LP101 advanced forums no longer take six months or more. Squelchtone makes a list every month of all the new applicants and pushes the mods to get their votes in within a week. The voting basically entails each moderator reading over the applicants post history to make sure that he's made at least 40 useful posts (not 40 comments that just say "gee, cool"), and doesn't appear to have obvious criminal intent.

I'm a moderator over there too now, and I believe a lot of the elitism, if it was present before, is coming to an end. In the three months where I've voted on the list of new applicants to the advanced forum, if I'm not mistaken I think the only names who weren't approved were a couple of brand new members who applied despite the rule of needing 40 useful posts and 60 days on the site. They included notes as to why they felt they deserved immediate access, for whatever reason, but were denied for not having met those basic requirements. But every person that I can recall, who has met the minimum criteria, has been approved in the time since I've been there. Even a few members who have rubbed a lot of people (including mods) the wrong way, were approved. As one of the moderators put it, when the subject came up: "this is the advanced forum, not a popularity contest". And with that, every single member who had met the minimum requirements were approved.

If there was a schism between the forums before, I think that gap is slowly closing. Which frankly, is for the best. There are plenty of folks would like to see all the lockpicking sites shut down. We shouldn't be fighting amongst ourselves. No, we're not all going to get along all the time. I just hope that if deep disagreements arise, that those can be resolved in a mature fashion between adults, and not air dirty laundry in public if at all possible. Inevitably, there will also be folks who turn out to be less than honest in their dealings with other members, and we'll just need to weed those out as situations arise.

These forums used to be just professional resources to me, but now I have more of a stake in it. I've invested money in it and more time than I'd care to add up. In addition to a resource, this has become a social hangout for me too. As sad as it may seem to some, these days I get probably 3/4 of my human interaction off these two lockpicking sites and their chat rooms. I don't want to see things get torn apart. I'm pretty sure there are people I've banned who hold some animosity towards me. But I do my best to try to keep things moving along smoothly.
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Pickingpaul

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Post Sat Nov 03, 2012 6:59 pm

Re: A Few Thoughts on Lockpicking Forums

interesting, forums are a good way to bring ideas and people together but also a great way of destroying friendships.
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mdc5150

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Post Sat Nov 03, 2012 7:16 pm

Re: A Few Thoughts on Lockpicking Forums

I might jump around here a little but stay with me. First, I knew there were costs involved with having the website but I don't know the degree involved. As for how smoothly this forum runs, the transition from Hallis to you three was seamless.
The only changes I've noticed is how certain people have different levels of participation than they used to.

"We shouldn't be fighting amongst ourselves. No, we're not all going to get along all the time. I just hope that if deep disagreements arise, that those can be resolved in a mature fashion between adults, and not air dirty laundry in public if at all possible."

Agreed, I've just recently started looking at lp101 again out of curiosity. I got turned off from that place in the beginning because of the elitism. I figured it's a different group of people who like things a different way and better they have their own place to go that it close and they all come here. It's the people who make the forum. And you are right, we are much better off to cooperate than to fight.


From my point of view as a member here though I don't know anything about politics and backstabbing and that honestly seems absurd that any of that would be happening. I came here hoping to learn and I have. There are a lot of members here that I respect for their skills. There are some members here that I would kill to have 1/4 of their skills and it almost seems unnatural what they can do with a pick. I know that they have not only a mountain of talent but they've put in hundreds of hours picking. For the most part I don't see any arrogance from those same people, they all seem like decent men who are pretty free with advice and help.

Thank you to you MBI, and Jruther2 and Elbowmacaroni for taking the reigns and keeping this place afloat.
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rai

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Post Sat Nov 03, 2012 9:46 pm

Re: A Few Thoughts on Lockpicking Forums

thanks for that all of you especially MBI
we can leave that thread where the discussion started up I would hope and consider that it was an interesting conversation that simply turned a few times, first to a well know villain who haunts these sites then to the freshman course. It will be a bit of internet lore that a few people will stumble onto. We should not forget our own history but not everyone is interested. I just visited the yahoolocksports site to see whats still there, and looking for the large page of lever lock key templates that once were there. I can see that there might be a reason that southord refers to "those who developed bogota picks", the tutorial only mentions me at the bottom by my email address, and was posted by a member there who later changed his handle on the site before disappearing altogether but he posted photos of picks I had sent him so anyone who wanted to believe that I did not originate the designs could have used that confuse themselve. they were Jan van djiks fotos,(birdpicker) of picks I made and sent to him. another photo on the site was of picks I had sent to another member expecting that he would try them out and tell people that they were good, but he straightened out the the tensor end of the undercut halfdiamond and made a review that said that my picks made good tensors, he was unable to use the bogota rake as a pick because he simply thought it had no handle so it became his tensor and he reviewed it as a tensor he placed this photo on the site as "anon" though I still can remember his name some times,(not now) he also changed his yahoogroup handle when he signed up at the freshman site years later and pm'd me to identify himself under his new handle. I remembered him for his retarded review of my picks before they were well know at all. He considered himself an expert and couldn't figure out what he had in his hand so he dissed it. That photo of the butchered pair of bogotas under the "anon" name could have encouraged someone at southord to believe that more than one person developed the bogota designs.
In the thread that turned into a different conversation someone mentioned the villain who ripped off so many people without saying why he was banned in so many places, and I decided that he was avoiding something that could be aired, so the thread turned when I saw a large sampling of my picks on that villains post, and had to make it plain that those were not his designs. This again could have convinced someone who tries to obscure the origins of my designs for the advantage of southord and the discussion of the villain turned again to policies of the freshman site. When the very interesting (to me) thread went that way, I finally was drawn into mentioning why I am no longer posting there.
Again, this is our history. It should not be completely ripped up, but I like that it is in an unexpected place where it went in a completely understandable way. the conversation just led to it.
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GWiens2001

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Post Sat Nov 03, 2012 10:16 pm

Re: A Few Thoughts on Lockpicking Forums

To all, especially MBI and Rai,

I fully agree that it is best not to have nasty or unpleasant rivalries between web forums. Especially in this nature of forum, which as has been stated, some people would love to have censured to nonexistance.

I use both this forum and LP101, both of which I enjoy learning from and contributing to. A number of people use both, but each also has its own following, making each have unique properties. This should not be used as a basis for rivalry, but rather as a way of differentiating the sites. Use the differences to your benefit, users! Also, if the users contribute either fiscally and /or intellectually, then the site(s) you use can stay online, help you, and help others. In short, they become better places.

Find what you like. If you don't like a site, just stop using it. No need to stoke animosity by flaming that which you do not care for. There is enough of that in this world without our adding to it.

Best wishes for all,

Gordon
Just when you think you've learned it all, that is when you find you haven't learned anything yet.
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Aedalas

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Post Sat Nov 03, 2012 10:36 pm

Re: A Few Thoughts on Lockpicking Forums

Since I've been somewhat vocal about my thoughts on this, I'd just like to say for the record that I have nothing against the people on LP101 (well maybe a couple but I don't think of them as a whole), my only problem is the advanced section thing. I simply have no desire to pretend I don't know anything that I know just to hit an arbitrary post count on the kids gloves stuff so I can eventually see the material that actually interests me.

Something that would be nice to see though would be posting history from here taken into account when deciding to allow access there. If the purpose truly is to weed out the bad apples then there should be more than enough in our history to prove who is or is not up to nefarious deeds. I do understand it is also a participation thing, but I for one would be much more inclined to participate were I not sealed off from the good bits.
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KentM

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Post Sat Nov 03, 2012 11:14 pm

Re: A Few Thoughts on Lockpicking Forums

Aedalas wrote: my only problem is the advanced section thing. I simply have no desire to pretend I don't know anything that I know just to hit an arbitrary post count on the kids gloves stuff so I can eventually see the material that actually interests me.

.


The minimum number of posts with problems and solutions you have to post before you are allowed to have access to the Advanced Section of LP101 looks ridiculous to me. I do not understand what is the philosophy behind these conditions.

As all of the post to the response have said, the forums are for gaining and sharing knowledge. I have not been good in sharing knowledge but I am very happy with the learning part as I have gained a lot from this wonderful forum.

As has been said, chime on the forum you feel comfortable with, if you do not like just disappear and find a place where you feel more comfortable.

This a knowledge sharing platform, the difference of opinion are bound to exit because every one have different knowledge and experience of doing the same particular thing.

I personally do not like discussing religion, politics etc. on these public forums. My philosophy of be on the forums is to Keep within the limits of scope of the forum and enjoy it and I do enjoy a couple of forums I am in.

People on this forum and some other forums I chime are wonderful who cares for the other members and jump in with solutions of the problems posted in no time. What else on wants.

Carry on...

Kent
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piotr

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Post Sun Nov 04, 2012 7:03 am

Re: A Few Thoughts on Lockpicking Forums

I don't want internecine conflict within the broader lockpicking community either but sometimes criticism is not only justified it is needed, and sometimes it is a moral imperative. I would contend that shafting longstanding members or providing a platform from which shysters can execute their graft pushes the matter into the "moral imperative" category. Since no criticism of the management of lp101 is allowed on lp101 it will naturally find its expression on keypicking.com and the few other lockpicking forums that don't function like a far eastern potentate. Dirty laundry is being aired here because it can't be aired elsewhere. It is easy to misread the terrain. Criticism of lp101 here is not symptomatic of a problem here, rather it is symptomatic of a problem there, at lp101. I can't see how criticism of lp101 here can be construed as any sort of internecine rivalry. Critcism of a debased community culture does not entail rivalry.

If the exalted Emperor Nekrep and his class of mandarins don't want their bad and/or unethical decision making criticised then they should (a) ideally not make bad and/or unethical decisions; or failing that (b) should tolerate criticism within their own forum.

But if you look closely you will see that lp101 policy is actually predicated on management pissing its membership off -- not just piss them off, but piss them off to such an extent that they may wish to harm the forum that they were once contributing members. The reason why lp101 members aren't allowed to edit their own posts is because management expects to disenfranchise, alienate and otherwise disappoint its contributing members. It seems to be not an issue of if but rather of when. Disabling the edit function is Emperor Nekrep's ham-fisted contingency plan for dealing with the eventuality of making enemies of his contributing members. That is the modus operandi of lp101. So rather than attempt to foster a culture in which members don't become hostile, the aim has become to limit the capacity of members to harm the forum (by withdrawing their content). The relationship between members and management commences in bad faith and by denying disgruntled members their one and only source of bargaining power. From its very inception your relationship with lp101 has a subtext of hostility and cynicism.
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piotr

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Post Sun Nov 04, 2012 7:16 am

Re: A Few Thoughts on Lockpicking Forums

GWiens2001 wrote:Find what you like. If you don't like a site, just stop using it. No need to stoke animosity by flaming that which you do not care for. There is enough of that in this world without our adding to it.


I beg to differ. It is possible and legitimate to stop using a site and to shit on it from a great height. Mean-spririted, unfair, immoral or evil conduct shouldn't be allowed to exist uncriticised and unmolested. What there is enough of in the world is silent people that permit shit heads to be the shit heads that they are. You are expressing a type of bystander apathy. By your perverse logic if you see someone being victimised just ignore it because it doesn't concern you, move along. And that is your recipe for a better world? No thanks.
Last edited by piotr on Sun Nov 04, 2012 12:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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MBI

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Post Sun Nov 04, 2012 8:45 am

Re: A Few Thoughts on Lockpicking Forums

I was sent a PM today that some folks have expressed dissatisfaction that we also have something comparable to the LP101 Advanced Forum.

Here is the scoop on that:
As I understand it, the Keypicking BPDE (Bypass and Destructive Entry) section was originally created at the request of some users who wished to discuss some bypass and destructive entry topics that aren't really related to the hobby of lockpicking, and they didn't want the "bored 13 year-old crowd" getting any ideas from it. By setting it up as a restricted section, it prevents search engines and the general public who have not registered for the site from being able to access that area.

We do not restrict you from discussing those topics in the general forum, if you wish to.
The BPDE forum is simply there for those who would be more comfortable sharing their knowledge in that area, behind closed doors, and not have it indexable by search engines.
All we ask is that if you do have access, that you have the decency to respect the wishes of the forum users who chose to post their information in that particular area, and don't go around reposting that information publicly.

For better or for worse, we don't have any specific criteria for approving members for access to it.
However, these are guidelines we tend to use and give access if it's requested:
-If you already have access to the LP101 Advanced Forum. Basically because those people have already been screened in some way.
-You are professional locksmith, and can provide documentation to prove it.
-You are a law enforcement officer, and can provide documentation to prove it.
-You've been here long enough for me (or any of the mods or owners) to get to know you well enough to be fairly confident you aren't a dirtbag.

I hope you get the idea. We just want to weed out the shady element.

That being said, if I think you're a colossal asshole, I reserve the right not to let you in there. Yes, it's arbitrary. Yes, it's dictatorial. Oh well. Thankfully, that hasn't happened yet. ;)

If you have any questions or gripes on this topic, feel free to post them here or send me a PM. I'll be a bit busy this week though, so I might not be as speedy as usual in replying.
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MBI

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Post Sun Nov 04, 2012 9:29 am

Re: A Few Thoughts on Lockpicking Forums

I feel perhaps I should expand on my comment about not airing dirty laundry in public. And bear in mind, this is just my personal opinion; the thoughts going through my head right now. This isn't something I've discussed with with the other forum owners. It is not intended as forum policy, set in stone.

I didn't mean to imply that we can't discuss disagreements in the forum.
But no one likes to see it degenerate into shouting matches and name-calling in the chat room.

As with most things in life, I think more can be accomplished by discussing it rationally, and hopefully only bringing it into public light after private discourse has failed.
I've seen too many times when someone perceives that their package is a day or two later than anticipated, so the first thing they do is make a new forum post: "HEY, has anyone been having a problem with So-and-So? He's stiffing me on a deal!!!!"
Yes, I think it is appropriate to warn others if an unethical seller/trader is in our midst, but only after it's been clearly established that something is amiss.

As for something like the Romstar situation, yeah, it appears he ripped off a lot of folks on lp101, then EZPicking, then on this site in it's early days. And who knows where else. I see no problem in warning others about repeated behavior like that.

Schuyler's Kickstarter situation, and other things like that? Well, that impacts all of us involved in Locksport. It's something of a black eye on the community. I'm glad to see that efforts are being made to rectify the situation, but as it affects the entire group as a whole, I think it's a topic that shouldn't be given a gag order. That only contributes to conspiracy theories.

Above all though, this is a discussion forum.
By all means, discuss things!
By posting my opinions in this thread I don't want to give the impression I want to micro-manage every single conversation that takes place here.
Yes, we might intercede if we see things are getting out of hand, but for the most part, I just want this site to be a useful and fun place for people to hang out, interact and share information.

Hopefully this makes sense and I haven't stuck my foot in my mouth here. I'm writing this with one eye open in the middle of the night before going to bed, and I'm very tired.
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rai

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Post Sun Nov 04, 2012 3:53 pm

Re: A Few Thoughts on Lockpicking Forums

My experiences with scott rendell of storm lockpicks are a lot of promises and no delivery at all, with negociations interupted by the hacking of my yahoo email changeing the password. and viruses on my computer that long delayed communications,

However Scott Rendell has now promised and promised and deliverd nothing. I recently told him that if he cannot show good faith I would put this on the websites.
here it is.
he seems to act like romstar, with some extra tricks.
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GWiens2001

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Post Sun Nov 04, 2012 5:00 pm

Re: A Few Thoughts on Lockpicking Forums

I agree with your premise. I also see a drastic difference between legitimate complaint and flaming. Stated in a civil manner (as your disagreement with my above comment properly exemplifies), it is good for all. Random hate speech (which you do NOT display) is not.

I do not believe in taking it in the shorts, or allowing others to be treated poorly. If I see it, I do speak up, and expect others to do so as well. I merely think that there are proper ways of addressing a situation.

In short, I agree with all of your comment except for stating that I am "expressing a type of bystander apathy[i]". If you still feel that way, then we can still civilly agree to disagree.

My best to you, piotr.

Gordon
piotr wrote:
GWiens2001 wrote:Find what you like. If you don't like a site, just stop using it. No need to stoke animosity by flaming that which you do not care for. There is enough of that in this world without our adding to it.


I beg to differ. It is possible and legitimate to stop using a site and to shit on it from a great height. Mean-spririted, unfair, immoral or evil conduct shouldn't be allowed to exist uncriticised and unmolested. What there is enough of in the world is silent people that permit shit heads to be the shit heads that they are. You are expressing a type of [i]bystander apathy. By your perverse logic if you see someone being victimised just ignore it because it doesn't concern you, move along. And that is your recipe for a better world? No thanks.
Just when you think you've learned it all, that is when you find you haven't learned anything yet.
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gnarus8429

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Post Mon Nov 05, 2012 6:55 pm

Re: A Few Thoughts on Lockpicking Forums

The only problem with LP101 that I have is the advanced forum. To judge someones moral charter by a certain number a posts is silly. I'm willing to bet that someone who wanted access to all of those secrets (that are all on youtube) could fool the site admins by posting useful info a few times. You yourself said dang near everyone gets approved. To say that screening people like this promotes any sort of security is like saying the kwikset will protect my house from being robbed.

The only sort of real information security happens here like it does every place else : personal choices about what to share. I have had plenty of discussions about topics in a PM that were not appropriate for the public forum. This is a GREAT forum and I owe a beer to all the people that put work into it, we all do. Your doing it right please keep up the good work. This is the best resource for picking that I have ever seen. I have learned more from all the people here than anyplace else that I have been that goes for the internet and government run courses.
I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.
-Albert Einstein
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verz

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Post Mon Nov 05, 2012 7:38 pm

Re: A Few Thoughts on Lockpicking Forums

I have only been looking at the lock picking forums for a couple of weeks. I like this forum a lot so far and have found tons of helpful info along with a friendly vibe.

I looked at the LP101 forum for bit, personally the no access to the advanced section really turned me off as a beginner I don't even need stuff from that level but the whole idea of hording info to only be given out to a select few really turns me off.
1- I am sure the info is already out on the internet.
2- 40 posts says nothing about a person, Thieves are used to lying and making false appearances.

Personally I would not waste the time contributing to a forum that restricts access to info. To me internet forums are about sharing and exchanging info helping each other educate ourselves, I have nothing against private study groups but have no interest in begging, pleading and investing time to try to join one. JMOI
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