So apparently there is this site called GunsAmerica… frankly, I have never heard of it, and after reading the comments and opinions of a certain Paul Helinski (who feels quite comfortable speaking for the site as a whole), I am going to go on remaining blissfully ignorant of it (hence the lack of a link). Personally, I stick to GunBroker.com for any information I need pertaining to the buying and selling of firearms.
So why does all of this matter to you? Well, SHOT Show is right around the corner (sadly, I will not be attending), and the National Shooting Sports Foundation (the folks who own the show) put up a post pertaining to the power of gunbloggers and social media, and how both will probably be a significant driving force at the show. This should be nothing new to my readership – Twitter, weblogs, Instagram, and all the rest of those have seriously shaped how the world gets and views its information, and when some coder can break the news about bin Laden taking a permanent dirt nap a quarter of a day before the major news outlets get the first inkling, the world has indeed changed.
Unsurprisingly, some people cannot grasp the nature of that change. Paul Helinski would be one of those people, as evinced by this comment he left on the above thread:
Now the question is when you are going to start qualifying internet media? We have to crawl over nobodies who can install wordpress and have nobody reading anything they write, It isn’t so hard to qualify internet media using Alexa.com and Compete.com. Why do you waste the manufacturers’ time and make the real internet media have to deal with wish I were internet journalists who are just using your stamp of approve to solicit review guns and accessories? You’ve created this giant gorilla in the room and we all have to deal with it, and you may think the industry takes your numbers seriously, but everyone sees things for what they are. If you are serious about bringing value to your exhibitors, you need to vet the press list.
Yes, he did just write “real internet media”. As someone said later on in the thread, “elitist prick” may be too kind for Paul here. Unfortunately (for him, at least), he doubled down on “stupid”:
I think your link explains your argument Tony. But if you had to deal with it from not just our perspective, but also the manufacturers’ perspectives, you would understand that between the organizations out there in the market place blatantly lying about their readership (ahum), and the hundreds of people who call the manufacturers every month to get T&E guns, I think that NSSF as the industry organization could do a lot more to qualify the media list to those who have actually built something that people read. Even the print mags have been marginalized by the "bloggers," many of whom, when you look at their stats on Compete.com, have only a few thousand people every month, if that. I have no problem with letting people *trying* to build something into SHOT, but they should not be allowed into Range Day, and they should not carry the same press credentials as those of us who have put the work and the years in to actually build something. NSSF themselves put together some of the highest quality videos for youtube in the firearms world. They have made a deal with our competitors that I’m sure has cost them a lot to broadcast those videos to hundreds of thousands of people. They know the dedication, money, and time it takes to build quality editorial and find a way to get it to the people. They should use that experience to set a standard.
Since I am a nobody of nobodies (i.e. a small-time gunblogger), I am probably way overstepping my position by saying this [/sarcasm], but maybe Mr. Helinski has not heard of these people or events before:
Jim Zumbo – we “nobodies” took his referring to AR-15s and the like as “’terrorist’ rifles” somewhat personally, and our outrage, grass-roots capabilities, and promised voting-with-our-dollars resulted in Remington Arms, Outdoor Life, Gerber Knives, Mossy Oak, and many of his other sponsors firing him. Zumbo later apologized, and was reaccepted back into the fold.
Ocean Marketing – Paul Christoforo resorts to some remarkably rude and obnoxious behavior when a customer expresses his displeasure at the pre-order process for the new N-Control game controller devices. Said customer took his case to Penny Arcade, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Operation Fast and Furious – This entire disgusting governmental disaster, including the murders of at least two Americans and countless hundreds of Mexicans, was originally exposed by the endeavors of a couple of webloggers, not the “real internet media”.
Hell, I know I alone have made quite the impact on the internet and the world that drives it thanks to my “graphics matter” series of posts, my exposé on the duplicitous business practices of Lucky Gunner, and my reviews of both the Exile Machine Hammerhead and the Mantis knives.
We “nobodies” literally scribbling weblog posts in our own basements have power these days, and we are not afraid to flex it should we feel the need arises; only a damned fool would claim otherwise. Apparently, Paul Helinski is a damned fool.
Of course, Paul’s funniest comment is yet to come:
Exactly the point. You are a wanna be internet media professional. Why don’t you go into Compete.com and compare gunsamerica.com to any other gun website, not just blogs. You’ve never heard of us, and we are the industry leader in internet readership, after 15 years of hard work and dedication. Why should I have to wait for you to finish taking a video with your phone at range day?
So, let us take this from the top. 1. GunsAmerica is not a “internet media” site; it is a retail site, and there is a difference, Paul. Attempting to compare retail sites’ traffic against media sites’ traffic is just plain stupid. GunsAmerica does maintain a weblog, but… 2. Compete.com does not allow me to compare, say, my weblog against GunsAmerica’s actual weblog. It only compares root domains against root domains, and trying to compare retail domains against weblog domains is, once again, just plain stupid. 3. The GunsAmerica weblog does not have any stat tracking system us mere peons can view. Why is that? My stats are public knowledge down at the bottom of my page. 4. Finally and most hilariously, Paul trots out that 15-year number as if it means something, but in those 15 years, he has only managed to rustle up 140 RSS subscribers. My not-really-“wish I were internet journalist” site has somewhere around 320 RSS subscribers – over twice as much. Oh, and I have only been doing this “weblogging” thing at this domain for about six years (about eight years total).
Suck it, Paul.
This post is getting a bit long in the tooth, so it is time to sum it up. GunsAmerica has officially lost my business, and I am definitely, definitely, definitely, definitely, definitely far from alone. Furthermore, I would strongly encourage my readership to take Paul’s and GunsAmerica’s view of their customer base in mind when they are considering websites from which to purchase their firearms (through FFLs as the laws require, of course) – there are countless firearm retailers who do not go out of their way to demean, insult, and marginalize folks like me who only are trying to share our firearm-related enthusiasm with the world.
If, however, Paul wants to make a formal apology (with all three parts) and retraction of his words, I will update this post accordingly, write another post highlighting that apology, and reconsider my future business transactions with his employer. I am not counting on having to do that, though.
(Oh, and as something completely hilarious yet mostly unrelated, if you want to see how “real internet media” professionals behave, check out Paul Helinski and GunsAmerica breaking an embargo from Ruger! Way to be a dick.)
(Also, Paul claims to be an “internet media professional”. Have you seen your non-existent Twitter feed, Paul? FAIL.)