I started this as a comment to BlueLine's post about his moving to Facebook and the death of Redline Derby, but, as usual, my comment became a lot of words so here it is so we can all discuss. It's long overdue anyway.
I'll be the first to say that the forum has been withering over the past couple years. And I'll admit I haven't done very much to help prevent that, but at the same time, this site has always been one supported by the community. I mean, it's a forum, so it's only as good as what people share.
If a topic or subject isn't here, it's because people have stopped sharing it here. Why is that? I have my hunches but this site is something we've always done together and if people don't want to do that any more, then that is what it is.
Redline Derby is still a huge resource with info on track building, car modding, tips, tools, and all the things that go into the racing. There's more than a decade of racing knowledge here. That's not going anywhere and there's value in that. But at the same time, that only serves folks for so long. People coming into the hobby really need that info...veterans, not so much. I'm very proud that RLD has been a launching point for many, many people in this hobby.
This isn't Facebook
This website isn't going to be Facebook. If people want to use FB as their outlet, fine. It's a huge audience and a lot of folks are doing really well with it...and I'm glad it's working for them. The more racing the better, even if it isn't talked about here.
But Redline Derby is a platform and tool just like Facebook - it's not just one or the other. I hope folks can find value in using RLD for promoting and sharing their stories but if it doesn't serve their needs then yeah, it's not a good fit and that's okay. It depends on what you're chasing. But if RLD hasn't provided the tools to get things done, I'm not always sure what those are because folks aren't very candid with me about problems or expectations. I just have to guess and work within my means.
The trend over the past 15 years is that people start with RLD as they start to understand the hobby and get involved. They build up their brand/channel and then move on to create their own websites, channels, etc...they become content creators and need to focus there, as they should. 3DBM, Chaos Canyon, LoS, BlueLine, Monster Motors, Indiana Diecast...they were all here early in their respective timelines and I'm happy that RLD was a part of their journey. But after a while you have to water your own garden if you want it to grow. So they went and did just that with a friendly nod to RLD on the way out - and I appreciate that.
So then you might being saying, "well, Brian, like you just said, water you own damn garden and bring RLD back from dead!" Easier said than done, right? You need seeds to grow.
This is a community garden
Redline Derby is a community garden. It always has been. It's not just for me to start topics, write articles, post pictures, and so on. I only know and can do so much in the first place. I'm not in the trenches like so many of you are and thus the whole point was to be a place where others can share their stories, questions, and fun. If nobody wants to do that here at RLD then the only stuff left is what a few folks do share - which is a lot of YouTube links and event threads.
But don't get me wrong, I'm very thankful those people still see value in RLD. I'm glad it can continue serve as a spot to get people involved in racing.
Look, the last thing I want to see is "RLD used to be a great place." That honestly makes me sad and bummed out. I've tried to turn that feedback into motivation but it's been difficult to find a path that works when much of it is dependent on the public.
Truth is, the site has always relied on other people to be standouts and take charge. Mattman, League of Speed, JDC, G4, Smitty, Chaos Canyon, Monster, Austin Diecast, and a long list of others...they came here and said, "this is a good place, I want to help it grow" and they fed the site with topics, discussion, photos, events, whatever. I then supported those efforts by highlighting it, adding features, and making it more accessible. It was a team effort whether we recognized it or not. This isn't a Bugs Bunny playing baseball type of operation:
But over the past several years it seems most people are thinking, "why should I create something for RLD when I can create it for myself?" And that's a fair question...even though I'd argue you're not creating content for RLD, you're using RLD to shine a light on your own work. But that's a hard sell these days. We're DIY people and there's an inherent need to want to be in control. Hell, that's why I built RLD myself!
My hopes were if you wanted to learn something - anything - you'd pass through RLD, not that it would be the end destination. If you don't remember where you saw it or wondered about it, Redline Derby was a great place to find it (and hopefully a lot more!). I wanted to take what people were creating and show others how cool it was...to provide a curated look at diecast racing. But I don't know what's out there unless people share it. If a tree falls in the forest...
Look, Redline Derby has a single focus: diecast racing. It's not surrounded by other news feeds, or advertisements, or subscriptions, or anything really. It's just toy cars and real racing. I believe strongly that there's value in that experience but at the same time I know that Facebooks, Reddits, and Discords can offer a lot more bells & whistles. I can't compete with that so if that's where people go, that's where people go. I've always liked to think that folks enjoy the mom & pop feeling that RLD provides and the experience that provides, but that's clearly not the case.
And for what it's worth, I'm sorry if certain topics aren't showing up here any more. If you want new discussions about drag racing...or custom axles, or finish lines, or restorations, or wheel types, or whatever...I don't know what to do to make that happen. I can't force people to create and share. I'm dependent on the community's goodwill.
But also, the hobby has evolved and so have the people. Technology and media have made creating content far more available and interesting than it was 5, 10, 15 years ago. Redline Derby has always been just a website and its failure to evolve is all my fault. I've not done a good job of keeping up with the Joneses, but even if I had made an RLD app for your phone years ago that wouldn't have motivated people to start sharing more stories. RLD would likely be in the same situation regardless. The rise of fat track racing and decline of straight drag racing would have happened regardless...but there's no reason RLD can't be a good home for drag racing if people want it to be.
Please, if anyone reading this has any insight as to why people have stopped sharing, I'd like to hear it - publicly or privately. If this site didn't have or offer something and made people say "I give up," I'd like to hear what that is. And I don't mean feedback like, "I wish there was more drag racing discussions," - I'm looking for experience/mechanical reasons people no longer want to share here.
We're not quite dead yet
Is Redline Derby Racing dead? I'll say No but even Stevie Wonder can see that this joint isn't as hoppin' as it once was. But it's still a great resource for all things racing, from tracks to cars to everything in between.
As always, for those that continue to frequent Redline Derby, I thank you. I'll keep the lights on for you. For everyone that has traveled through RLD on their way to bigger and better things, I thank you. We couldn't have grown without you.
Wow. That was long. But very theraputic. I hope no one takes offense to anything mentioned in there, I just tried laying everything out as I see it. There's no ill will here. I want to see RLD succeed but am struggling to find a path towards revitalization.
Please share your thoughts on what you've seen and what you'd like to see around here that might make your experience better. And again, thank you all.
Feel free to comment here publicly, message me privately, or even shoot an email to firstname.lastname@example.org - I'm all ears and welcome any and all conversation.