Breaking the 20k Barrier

by Tom “20mm” Hayden



On April 4, 2001, “Fox Mulder” (in a previous forum life known as “Panzer Meyer”, and before that… hey, I don’t know!) registered as a member with SimHQ. We now approach the six year anniversary of his registration, but even more important, on March 5, 2007, Fox posted his twenty-thousandth posts (that’s also known as 20,000, or 20k, for those who prefer numbers).

But no matter your naming convention, it’s an historic and important event at SimHQ. The first member to break the 20,000 post barrier. It’s a bit like Chuck Yeager breaking the sound barrier. Sure, scientists of good and true nature had debated the pro and con positions of whether it was even possible. There was convincing physics and logic on both sides of the equation. Who knew what would happen? Would the forums shake themselves to pieces and disintegrate? It was uncharted territory. But like so many pioneers, someone had to be first, take the risk, and brave the consequences.

“Fox Mulder” was the man for the job. So over almost six years, his post history accumulated and recently it became clear to everyone that was a definite event in the offing. Typically, wagers sprang up: When would the 20,000th post occur, and what would it look like?

Having broken a rib the night previous, would he be able to climb down in the cockpit, and secure the handle? Would someone offer him a stick of Beeman’s…?

OK, enough with The Right Stuff analogies…

It was, and it is, a significant SimHQ milestone, and accordingly, we asked if Fox would be willing to spend a few minutes talking about his time at SimHQ, what he has seen over the last six years, the good memories, and the bad, the gamut.

Herein follows that conversation, held over a few rounds of adult beverages, some tasty hamburgers, and a super-sized order of fries.

20mm: First, and foremost, congratulations from the Staff and members of SimHQ. That’s quite an accomplishment.

Fox: Thanks.

20mm: You registered April 4, 2001. How did you come to be a member at SimHQ? Were you part of the Combatsim exodus?

Fox: I actually first learned about SimHQ from a close friend and fellow member by the name of “Jedi Master” and I registered and starting reading the forums mostly on his recommendation. I was never a member of Combatsim.

20mm: S! to “Jedi Master”, who I might add, is closing in on 20,000 himself. He’s been here a bit longer, registered February 15, 2000. Pretty cool.

We’ve seen a lot of changes at SimHQ over the last six years. What stands out in your memory and what was the effect?

Fox: What really stands out the most to me are the members who have come and gone for different reasons. That has had a great effect on what kinds of topics are discussed and even the general “mood” of the site.

20mm: I understand what you mean, and it’s probably a reflection of the long time we’ve both been at the site that we’re able to reflect and recall members, some of whom may not be here anymore, but they certainly were influential in many ways. I guess it’s only natural that an Internet hobby site evolves and changes with the people who make up the membership at the time.

A bit of a controversial question next. I’m sure you remember the WCE Forum and our subsequent attempts to allow a current events forum. What’s your opinion on WCE? Glad it’s gone, don’t miss it, give it another try?

Fox: My heart says to bring back the WCE Forum but my brain says “No”. I feel that SimHQ is a better place without it. After all, the main unifying interest we supposedly have is a love for PC game simulations and that should remain the focus in my opinion.

20mm: I have mixed feelings as well. Our official stance remains — and it parallels your point about why we exist — simulations. There are other sites that specialize in politics, religion, the whole WCE smorgasbord. SimHQ’s track record with WCE is not really a worthy one.

I want to ask you about Signature Lines. Some people tend to stick with one for a long time, others change them like socks. What’s your favorite one, and is there a sig someone else has that you wish you had?

Fox: As most members probably know, I tend to use movie quotes in my sigs and my favorite one comes from the movie “Amadeus” where Salieri is having a conversation with God because he is profoundly offended that Mozart is blessed with music genius while he is not. As for other members’ sigs, I have not seen any that I particularly wished I had.

20mm: “Fox Mulder” is your current forum handle. How many have you had over the years, and is Fox going to be it for quite a while?

Fox: I’ve had three forum handle’s since I joined SimHQ and I’m fairly confident that I’ll be keeping my current one for a long time but I can’t make any promises!

20mm: Quite all right, we won’t hold you to that.

20mm: Do you have any favorite threads of all time? What are they and why do they stand out?

Fox: I would have to say that there are 2 threads which really stick to my mind. The first one is “BeachAV8R’s” thread about training missions in the SU-25T. It was very well written and the accompanying screenshots were excellent. It’s the kind of thing you’d expect to see on an official PDF document for the game! The second thread was the one which broke the news about the Twin Towers in NYC getting hit by an airplane. I can’t remember who started the thread but I remember reading the initial post saying something like “Some plane just hit one of the World Trade Center buildings”. I initially thought it was some freak accident but that all changed very quickly as the morning wore on.

20mm: I have always found it interesting how much news and events I first heard about at SimHQ. We’ve got quite a diversity of members, the forums are open 24/7, but I can’t say how many times I’ve seen a thread in this forum or that, and thought “Uh-oh, first I’ve heard of this!”

Do you have a best forum moment of all time, something that surprised you, made you laugh, whatever.

Fox: I’d have to say the initial thread which spawned the “Suicide Kings” phenomena. It all started off so innocently and then it just became a hilarious riot!

20mm: (laughing), Oh yeah, do I remember that. It still crops up from time to time, and I’m sure the newer members are scratching their heads and wondering what the heck that is all about. Clearly, an inside joke, but that’s one of the cool things about being around for a while.

You do a great job of maintaining your forum composure. We all have “stuff” happen to us in the forums, some of which may hit a hot button, but you manage to keep your cool and stay above it all. How do you account for that? Just your personality, the realization that internet arguments are no-winners, or something else?

Fox: A little bit of everything you listed. It sounds obvious but the first thing to realize when you are communicating via forums is that you don’t see the other persons’ facial expressions and body language. Those things go a long way in determining how a person really feels about an issue. I’ve managed to keep my cool and stay above it all only after getting 10+ years of forum posting under my belt.

20mm: Do you have any other internet sites you hang out at you’d care to name?

Fox: Sure, a few:

  • (movie database and forums site)
  • (pc game news and patches)
  • (THE site for Dangerous Waters)
  • (scifi tv show and movie news)

20mm: Do you have a “worst SimHQ event”? Second part of that, what do you think is the worst period of time you’ve seen the site go through?

Fox: I think the worst period of time was the first few months after 9/11. The posting in Community Hall degenerated very quickly into personal attacks. Also pointless and endless political debates.

20mm: We recently did a long overdue software change out and upgrade. What’s your opinion about the new software, how it works, how it looks?

Fox: I certainly like the new layout and features. I’ve been working in I.T. now for 8 years so I was fully expecting to see some bugs and issues crop up after the new software was implemented. It’s really just inevitable!

20mm: Thanks, I appreciate that perspective. We put an enormous amount of time and energy into making it happen, hoping it would all go seamlessly, but knowing there would be some issues to work out.

If you could change one thing about SimHQ, what would it be?

Fox: Tough question! I pretty much love everything about SimHQ and after much brainstorming I can’t think of anything that I’d like to see changed.

20mm: OK, cool, what’s your favorite feature of SimHQ: Articles, opinion pieces, calendars, news, forums, etc.?

Fox: The forums and the articles for sure. The majority of articles I’ve read have been very well written and were very informative. The forums are great because the members make them great with their unique inputs on different topics. I also think its great how the forums have so many posts from international members.

20mm: Every coin has a flip side: What’s your least favorite SimHQ feature?

Fox: I guess the calendars because I just don’t have any personal use for them.

20mm: If you could offer some advice to new member, someone who is probably a “lurker”, maybe never posted or rarely posted, what would it be?

Fox: Don’t take things personally on the forums and just try to be yourself and don’t get involved in flamewars because they just lead to nowhere and the only end-result you get is a locked thread and some angry members.

20mm: Darn good advice, can I post that?

Fox: I think you just did!

20mm: Heh, point taken. Seriously, we appreciate the time it’s taken you to do this chat. Congratulations on 20,000 posts. Well done, and here’s to 30k!

Fox: You bet.

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