In Response to Chew's Goodbye Note (the unhealthy relation between company and community)

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In Response to Chew’s Goodbye Note (the unhealthy relation between company and community)

Author: Pieter-Jan Plaisier

In case you haven’t read Chew*‘s latest forum post regarding his decision to say goodbye to the overclocking community, do it now (source). His story is one that characterizes how the industry deals with community resources: low-cost exposure and low-cost R&D assets.

Chew*‘s situation is a bit different than usual, although it’s possible that you have the same experience on a smaller level. As many of you know, Chew*‘s pretty much regarded as one of the most knowledgeable AMD tweakers in the community. His knowledge and, more importantly, drive to figure out every detail of the system eventually led him to hardware vendors supporting him with plenty of hardware. In his case, most of it was provided by ASUS, although he also covered products of other brands like GIGABYTE and MSI. Important to note is that, although some may see it as such, this hardware cannot be qualified as free or even payment for done work.

The process works as follows. First you demonstrate your insight and knowledge on forums or overclocking rankings, then a company asks you if you’d be up for testing on of their products and provide exposure for it. Of course you agree (free gear!) and do what you’re asked. If the company thinks you did a good job, they might put you on their white-list and you might end up receiving more products in the future. In most cases, the first batch of products becomes yours when you receive them. However, over time it’s more likely that you’ll end up having to send them back for rotation (as you’re not the only one allowed to test the hardware).

In above scenario, however, the enthusiast just focuses on showing what a specific product can do. Or to put it differently: the enthusiast is providing exposure for a certain product of the company. Free exposure. As long as you can get something in return for the exposure, all is fine. But when you reach the stage where hardware has to be returned, you’re nothing more than a very cost-effective marketer. The industry justifies this by stating that in return for the free labor (providing exposure) the enthusiast has the chance to test the latest hardware. It’s true, I suppose. Or is it? When looking back at my own experience, summing up the costs and benefits, I come to the conclusion that there’s a lot more hidden costs than meets the eye. Yes, the enthusiast will be happy to test the latest products, but to do proper testing the enthusiast has to spend time getting to know the product (how to fine-tune), has to spend money and resources to test the product (e.g.: liquid nitrogen), and is, in most cases, expected to provide some feedback to the company to improve their products. Each on their own, the costs are (or seem) small, but in the long run they all add up to a cost higher than you expected.

Returning to Chew*‘s situation. It’s safe to say that his dedication was at another level than the one I described above. Not only did he provide a lot of exposure to the end-users, but also did a lot of work behind the scenes, providing various companies with much needed feedback on their products. In addition, he’s been actively supporting some of the bigger live events. Of course, he’s most known for his input on community forums. His dedication eventually almost landed him a (well-deserved) job at a company. In that case, the work he’d put into testing all the hardware would have been worth it. Sadly enough, it didn’t go through as planned.

In the long run, reality caught up with him. Just like how I described the process a few lines ago, in the long run the costs do not outweigh the pleasure of testing new hardware. And this is nothing out of the ordinary: proper testing requires a lot of time, money and (important!) various hardware samples to compare your findings against. Especially the latter turns what outsiders perceive as free hardware into a cost much rather than a benefit. A (personal) example:

In the early days of X58, at Madshrimps we discovered that some mainboards had flawed memory bandwidth when pushing the memory frequency due to an incorrectly fine-tuned B2B-timing. It was only because we had several mainboard samples on our test bed that we could come to this conclusion as the mainboards that had this option in the BIOS served as reference for those that didn’t. Through comparison, through hours and hours of testing, we figured out the memory bandwidth issues were caused by this one timing. Eventually, we provided this feedback to (in this case) MSI and they implemented the feature in a new BIOS. If we would only have had the MSI mainboard, it would have been impossible to consider the B2B timing as cause of the flawed memory bandwidth. (source)

Chew* found himself to be in this exact situation. In order to provide founded feedback to both the company as the community, he needed to keep the hardware samples as future reference. Or: he couldn’t sell the products to cover expenses.

That brings me back to the very first paragraph of this editorial: the industry regards the overclocking community as a low-cost advertisement/r&d tool. Marketing/strategy-wise, this is a solid methodology as most of the public demonstrations of the hardware appear to be written by normal end-users and not (biased) company representatives. Because of this, they seem more genuine and closer to the truth. Sadly enough, reality is much different. More than once I’ve picked up on a story about a company pushing a so-called normal end-user into a direction to overly praise the ‘free’ hardware. Perhaps that’s the best proof that exposure through enthusiasts is just a cheap way to advertise; after all, there’s very little room for public criticism when you received a product for free. Just have a look around the forums and you will find the people who can only talk good about a brand/product.

I could end the editorial with the conclusion that the community should stand up against this practice, but I’m confident that this will never happen. The companies are in a very powerful position as they have the decision-making power to ship hardware to anyone they want. As history has proven over and over again, if one end-user says ‘no’ to the testing procedure as dictated by the company, the next in line will respond ‘yes, yes’. Yes, it’s that dirty. To provide an example: last year, when several overclockers were banned after the LOC incident (source), some other overclocker(s) turned to the company representatives that used to support one of the overclockers with the message: “since he’s a cheater, can you give all your support to me now”. As the Dutch saying goes: one person’s death is another person’s bread. It’s a (sad) reality, but complaining about it doesn’t change anything.

Instead, I’m going to end the editorial with the note that things could’ve gone differently for Chew*. But, in light of recent disputes and discussions, it’s definitely not a shock that he took the decision to put overclocking to a halt. Being told your records are not important or significant by a representative of the same company that is providing you the hardware to set those records is demotivational to say the least. Perhaps I’m also happy that he chooses family over this ‘hobby'(*). But, we all know that the right ending of his story would be having a community-supporting paid job by any of the vendors that he gave so much of his time for to improve and demo products.

Hope to see you back soon, Brian!

(*): it’s not really known in the community, but many of the present and past top-level overclockers have relations broken off due to their passion for overclocking. Of course it would be not-done to put a list of names here, but the list is long and, quite frankly, shocking. Of course it’s up to the individual to make decisions, but perhaps the unhealthy structure of community support contributes to this.

PS: the way company representatives deal with the community varies from region to region and from company to company. In some regions, the pressure to only be positive about a free product is much, much higher than in other regions. There is a general trend of certain companies being much more aggressive community-wise, though.


42

Belgium Massman says:

Note that often the testers also have to spend money on other resources. Eraser, cooling, paper towel. In most cases even hardware to match the new product. Or replacing a bad overclocking CPU with your own money. Or covering a processor that died in the process of testing the new mainboard.

It all adds up to the bill.

Christian Ney says:

Brian, we miss you already

wish you the best for the future

United States BenchZowner says:

I disagree with the article at some point, like the "we can't change things part, manufacturers have the upper hand".

Yes, we can change how things work.
All we have to do is become better human beings.
Only the selfish and without ethics and shame people can bring themselves down to become a manufacturer's puppet.
Sadly, the vast majority of the community is selfish, prospect-oriented people.
What a shame.

Another reason why we should give props & thumbs up to the people who are friendly, unselfish and help eachother.

United States Mr.Scott says:

BenchZowner said: I disagree with the article at some point, like the "we can't change things part, manufacturers have the upper hand". Yes, we can change how things work. All we have to do is become better human beings. Only the selfish and without ethics and shame people can bring themselves down to become a manufacturer's puppet. Sadly, the vast majority of the community is selfish, prospect-oriented people. What a shame. Another reason why we should give props & thumbs up to the people who are friendly, unselfish and help eachother.
+1, well spoken. :)

Belgium Massman says:

The problem is that you only need one person to break the system. So, perhaps, in theoretical format you can indeed make it work better. But in reality, the chances of someone grabbing the opportunity are very, very high. Most likely due to not everyone being on the same page about what is better. What for one person might be good will be not good enough for another person.

K404 says:

Where is Chews comment? It would be good if the 1st posts in the main page news forum linked to the story its commenting on

Christian Ney says:

it is

[QUOTE=MainPage]In case you haven't read Chew*'s latest forum post regarding his decision to say goodbye to the overclocking community, do it now (link). His story is one that characterizes how the industry deals with community resources: low-cost exposure and low-cost R&D assets.[/QUOTE]

well, not in the forum like it was with rev3, but on the frontpage yes

K404 says:

Now i've read Chews post (Thanks Christian) and I can put Bills comment into context..... I agree with Bills sentiment and Chews Frustration. This came up at Campus Party madrid last year. A guy in the pub was listening to us and pointed out we were getting shit on. No union, no protection. He was right and we all knew it, but the community is the communitys problem. We're at a point now where free hardware is a real and obtainable act for a lot of us.... and a lot of us want to get to that position. Even if every single supported guy said, together, as one "we want a better deal, we want protection" the companies can laugh at us because even if we make those demands, there are so many people who want a piece of the action, they'll quite happily take our places with the same "working conditions" Have we missed the best chance to get this right- put the protection in place the moment companies started sending out hardware?

Norway knopflerbruce says:

Maybe I'm missing something, but what sort of protection do we need? We get free HW, and if that's a problem, then we say "no, thanks".

K404 says:

How about the following possible problems:

Having to pay to do another companies PR work

Very low equivalent pay per hour.... if we get to keep the hardware

Bribery & blackmail ("positive reviews or no more hardware" OR "we sent a couple things for you to keep, the review will be positive, won't it?")

Unrealistic working conditions: Motherboard company says "world record = sustained support" ..... to people with no Intel support or CPU binning capability.


I think some of us would like hardware reviews to be a way to impress companies with the view of essentially getting a job. We're held at arms length so the company doesn't have to look after us in any way. Maybe a company thinks... "so many people will do this for free... why bother employing anyone?



Would this be the standard and acceptable approach to work in any other western working environment?





Of course, all of this can be countered by "we all choose to do this" but NONE of this is good for the sector or the people involved in it.

Christian Ney says:

If only hardware records are enough :p

Why do they need World records

K404 says:

marketing

United States posershadow says:

K404 said: Unrealistic working conditions: Motherboard company says "world record = sustained support" ..... to people with no Intel support or CPU binning capability.


I think some of us would like hardware reviews to be a way to impress companies with the view of essentially getting a job. We're held at arms length so the company doesn't have to look after us in any way. Maybe a company thinks... "so many people will do this for free... why bother employing anyone?


There is a lot of truth in that statement. For all the performance gains Sandy Bridge brought, it also brought with it the necessity of being able to bin through tons of them. It don't matter how much skill or knowledge you got, you're not going to make a 53x chip do 57x. OC'ers are inherently in a tough spot in relation to the vendors. There is always a line outside their door, so there isn't any obligation to give us some more protection.

TaPaKaH says:

Product exposure is the name of the game. And vendors don't care how it's achieved - by a made up "world record" or by a thorough and honest review.
As long as the sample managers have very little knowledge in the area of their products (but a fancy advertising school diploma :cool:), can't tell a half arse job from a very informative write up and don't give preference to the hard workers - we'll stay where we are now.

Belgium Kio says:

Money rules the world

United States sin0822 says:

I agree with a lot of the things said in this thread, and the response to Chew's statement. I am so sad to see him go, and i have to admit I only knew him for a short period of time, but i learned a great deal from him.

Edit-not the place

says:

power to the people, lets riot against the manufactures and buy their products instead of accepting any OC sample, that will really put it up them!

United States dumo says:

Have to go back to the root of overclocking...a hobby.

Stay INDEPENDENT....

Poland Khalam says:

funny part is that even when you managed to get a really high score, my 3dmark 2011 on my 2x6990s is the highest score for those cards, there is a good chance you will just get ignored if your name isnt well know already:(

Canada Expat GriZ says:

dumo said: Have to go back to the root of overclocking...a hobby.

Stay INDEPENDENT....


This ↑↑↑ +1

Sweden ME4ME says:

on a positive note: thanks to marketing there is MOA, GOOC and other contest, where manufactures pay most of the expenses.

United States chew* says:

Khalam said: funny part is that even when you managed to get a really high score, my 3dmark 2011 on my 2x6990s is the highest score for those cards, there is a good chance you will just get ignored if your name isnt well know already:(


I'm quite sorry about that.

The issue is the highest overall score is usually the one that gets the most attention and to also be honest the score i did was pre beta and quite horrid to say the least. there is alot of room for improvement.

Due to lack of driver support, it can easily be beaten.......

Top scores are top scores and hardware specific scores are what they are and quite frankly don't always get alot of attention.

Also I'm assuming your referring to your sandy bridge platform scores.......where you would be competing against an intel overall platform score which is well over 23K iirc........Crack the intel platform 3d 11 score which would also be a global record and you will get some recognition i'm quite sure.

My score was for overall AMD platforms, that is where the difference lies and to be quite honest fails in comparison recognition wise compared to an overall global score which would need to be done on intel.

Brazil sgpetre says:

thats a pity
Best wishes for you chew

United States [GF]Duke says:

I can see where the companies are coming from though. When you agree to accept thousands of dollars in merchandise to do reviews for their products you are a advocate for them. Yes they want positive reviews. They're asking you to help them sell their products. Yes there are costs on your end. But you should be aware of that when you accept the offer. And, who are these reviews that are written targeted at? The benching community? A drop in the bucket for manufacturers, honestly. We are most likely less than 1% of their sales. Being a rep/reviewer for Asus , Giga, MSI is equivelent to being the janitor sweeping the floor. You make things look nice and pretty but all anyone sees is the paycheck at the end of the week.

United States [GF]Duke says:

On different note...This is definately demeaning.... "Being told your records are not important or significant by a representative of the same company that is providing you the hardware to set those records is demotivational to say the least."

I don't blame you a bit Chewman. That would set me off too. Good luck with your endeavors. I'm sure we will see you back some day.

Denmark M.Beier says:

Best wishes chew. And I am do get your frustration

Canada Vinster says:

this is a bummer, but family comes first... Sad to see you go, but I'm happy it's for the right reasons. Job's come and go... but you only have 1 true family

Brazil Rbuass says:

I know that may not be the time and place to say, but will give my opinion.
I did not agree the way the scores are divided Intel X AMD (please...is just my opinion).
You can see a overclocker beginner with one week doing overclock with sandy bridge, hitting easy for someone using an AMD close to 7 GHz.
In my point of view, that collaborates with the results and activities around the AMD have a lower value than reality and than it deserves.
I do not know if I'm right, but a great overclocker like chew, with impressive AMD results, .... if you are in a separate ranking (Intel - AMD), would have been much more visibility and support from manufacturers.
I know I can be wrong, but in my view, what was most important for the new revision (rev.4) was separated rankings Intel x AMD and NVIDIA x AMD.
For me (IMHO), it is extremely unfair to a sandy bridge to 5300 MHz have results much more meaningful than making a sub 10s SPi 1M with a Phenom or close to 10 min runnign a Spi 32M...
I knew Chew in the flesh and he is a great overclocker, and above that a person of very good character.
It is a great loss to the world community overclocker.
Wish you all the best Chew

Sorry the broken english

Norway knopflerbruce says:

rbuass said: I know that may not be the time and place to say, but will give my opinion.
I did not agree the way the scores are divided Intel X AMD (please...is just my opinion).
You can see a overclocker beginner with one week doing overclock with sandy bridge, hitting easy for someone using an AMD close to 7 GHz.
In my point of view, that collaborates with the results and activities around the AMD have a lower value than reality and than it deserves.
I do not know if I'm right, but a great overclocker like chew, with impressive AMD results, .... if you are in a separate ranking (Intel - AMD), would have been much more visibility and support from manufacturers.
I know I can be wrong, but in my view, what was most important for the new revision (rev.4) was separated rankings Intel x AMD and NVIDIA x AMD.
For me (IMHO), it is extremely unfair to a sandy bridge to 5300 MHz have results much more meaningful than making a sub 10s SPi 1M with a Phenom or close to 10 min runnign a Spi 32M...
I knew Chew in the flesh and he is a great overclocker, and above that a person of very good character.
It is a great loss to the world community overclocker.
Wish you all the best Chew

Sorry the broken english


Not trying to start an off topic discussion here, but you can use the same argument for socket 775 vs SB, 939 vs Phenom etc. In the end we'd need a spearate ranking for all sockets, and then you get awfully close to the HW rankings:)

says:

Bravo , Very nice analysis.

Eeky NoX says:

M.Beier said: Best wishes chew.
And I am do get your frustration

Rofl I was surprised to not see any post of you in here bro :D (did I heard some similar words from you or I'm nuts ? ^^)

Even if I never get free hardware yet (and maybe NEVER!) I trully understand all reviewer's frustration about recognition... bad times we're living in imho.

Talking the rude way: everybody should start to acting like Chew ! Pi** them off !!
To much marketing and nothing in return but insignificantly shining in the community...

Best wishes to you Chew, you gat balls, respect ;)

France jmax_oc says:

It's not a secret, I stopped OC one year ago. I perfectly recognize me in Chew's behaviour and frustration to be considered only for marketing purpose (very cost effective marketing banner). Tell in public that a mainboard is not perfect and you will go to grey list. Tell that a maiboard is ridiculously bad regarding its high price and low perf and you just go for black list.

Sharing feedback between manufacturers and ocers could be very very very powerful. The best advertisement possible. However, they just use us until our last breathe, until the limit between a fair review and a fake review.

Very nice article. Maybe the most important for OC community. I'm proud to see this on hwbot, especially because your partners can be hurted by this. Freedom is more important than nothing else. Be INDEPENDANT GUYS !!!

Denmark M.Beier says:

Eeky, I dont usually check this page, I just decided to reactivate my account,... I hope that people wont give me too much shit, I am not in it to compete about top10 or 100 for that matter.

jmax_oc said: It's not a secret, I stopped OC one year ago. I perfectly recognize me in Chew's behaviour and frustration to be considered only for marketing purpose (very cost effective marketing banner). Tell in public that a mainboard is not perfect and you will go to grey list. Tell that a maiboard is ridiculously bad regarding its high price and low perf and you just go for black list.

Sharing feedback between manufacturers and ocers could be very very very powerful. The best advertisement possible. However, they just use us until our last breathe, until the limit between a fair review and a fake review.

Very nice article. Maybe the most important for OC community. I'm proud to see this on hwbot, especially because your partners can be hurted by this. Freedom is more important than nothing else. Be INDEPENDANT GUYS !!!


This is not fully correct.
But you are right, if you mention downsides there is a trend that you get neglected for a while.

United States dumo says:

Black, grey or white list....bottom line is if you buy hardware with your hard earned money then noone in this world can say nothing about how you use and your opinion about that particular hardware.....not even the maker:)

Denmark M.Beier says:

dumo said: Black, grey or white list....bottom line is if you buy hardware with your hard earned money then noone in this world can say nothing about how you use and your opinion about that particular hardware.....not even the maker:)


You are right, no doubt.

United States Neur0mancer says:

*pssh.

Reviewing is a bitch. Totally not worth it.

United States Neur0mancer says:

Also like to say (back on topic) when benching AMD chips, I ALWAYS look to see where chew scored :)

MY kungfu is weak, so if I got close (thanks to better board, or ram, or whatever, I was happy).

Belgium Massman says:

Just posting this here for reference and clarity. The spirit of this article is to bring the (in my opinion) unhealthy relation between industry and community to your attention. Chew's situation is a prime example, so I used that as a step to the more general message. In no way did I intend to talk about specific situations and problems (although I mentioned this in the article as well).

Please do not close this thread because a certain MFC would like to see it closed ... It seems that some people take this article a bit too personal, whereas it was my intention to describe how things generally work. Chew's story is a prime example of how the industry isn't always aware that they're pushing community members to do things they might not want to do, but do anyways by shifting priorities (sleep, family, money). Chew's story involves specific companies, but as you can see from the responses in this and other threads, there are more people in the same situation, but with different companies. I mentioned this in the article, by the way:
PS: the way company representatives deal with the community varies from region to region and from company to company. In some regions, the pressure to only be positive about a free product is much, much higher than in other regions. There is a general trend of certain companies being much more aggressive community-wise, though.
I specifically did not point fingers to specific brands or vendors in the article, because my intention was to provide information about the situation. In my opinion, the relation between the industry and community is skewed and unhealthy and apparently I'm not the only person who sees it this way. This unhealthy relation is not only the fault of the industry, might I add, the community is just as much at fault here. I know (from experience) that it's very, very difficult to say no to free hardware. I got in way over my head a few years ago, trying to do massive round-ups in my free time. It's a pity that people are now trying to turn this editorial into an anti-ASUS manifest. It's quite simply: not. I'm not against ASUS. In fact, I've done local events with ASUS, I've been more than happy to attend/promote international events hosted by ASUS and I've praised products made by ASUS. A few weeks ago, I also posted a promo-video of the Formula X event on HWBOT. With a positive comment. As for negative MSI/GIGABYTE commentary: if you read through the editorial thoroughly, you'll see I'm refering to a couple of gigabyte-related incidents involving overly positive 'end-user' reviews. I recently even commented negatively on their SOC 'secret' software in public. It's odd, though, that I have to look up negative comments about specific brands to make clear that this editorial was not about specific brands, but a general trend. So, Brian@ASUS, I do not get where you're coming from. Especially this line is particularly odd: "or because a company will not sponsor you and for good reason I might add". This editorial is not about 'trying to win you over' or 'getting sponsorships'; if it was, it would be a very poor attempt. I'm also quite interested in that good reason you mention. I'm particularly interested in the relation between that good reason and you using the HWBOT rankings during your events (Formula X) or even pure advertising. I also wonder why we have to discuss this in public! (edit: just to be clear, I don't mind you using hwbot during your events!)
Source: http://www.xtremesystems.org/forums/showthread.php?272932-In-Response-to-Chew-s-Goodbye-Note-%28the-unhealthy-relation-between-company-and-commun&p=4899823&viewfull=1#post4899823

TiN says:

OMG. This thread is still going on? :)

Looks like evil vendors took overclocker hostages and tied them to free hardware samples to make free testing.
Don't want to review hw/have more important stuff to do/family need attention? Go for them, don't take free samples to post thread or review and resale them later.

By clear purpose vendors never wanted to give gifts everyone (someone will still be unhappy, because bob get two gifts, and john only one gift), but to earn money. Don't like reviewing - don't do, dont request stuff which can't handle. I did not wanted to review PSU's 10 pcs each month and sell 50% of samples later, because i was to busy with other things in life? Ok, no more samples please, I do another things now. Unhealthy relation problem solved.

Just a personal opinion, too much talks about too less practial issues.

United States cold.nut says:

points well stated guys! however, i think the bigger picture here is Chew*..

i want to personally thank Chew* for being a helping hand when I first started AMD on extreme! he was a big help to me! you're a great guy Chew*! best of luck to you with your family and party life ;)!

may peace be with you while you stay & joy be with you on your way!

Australia Jimba says:

good luck in your future chew. You have meant alot of the community and to me (i enjoyed reading your posts and learnt alot from them)

have fun with your family and hope all goes well.

bye!

Indonesia xqrfjr says:

good luck have fun chew . even i dont know u

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