The Outright Stupidity of Montblanc

By now, you’ve probably heard that I decided to pick a fight with the Fountain Pen Network (FPN) by calling them out for their rather weak submission to Montblanc’s request that they censor posts on the site, an act that turns out to be standard practice for their admins. In today’s post, I continue in that fine tradition and pick a fight with Montblanc for being stupid enough to make that request in the first place.

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FPN Followup

Since last week's post, I’ve had a few comments/emails asking if I’m still planning to publish a post on Montblanc’s role in FPN’s censorship. The answer is an unequivocal yes. I had wanted to get it out in the same week as the FPN post but events took over: I got quite sick, Omas died, and now I’m days away from moving back to Australia. The good news is that MB has reached out in the meantime and offered to answer some questions. I’m hoping that they can get back to me in time for the the post to be written and published next Friday. 

I’ve also had quite a lot of messages suggesting that FPN’s chief admin, Wim, benefits personally from running the site. The claims boil down to saying the advertising money and subscription fees pay for the site infrastructure and Wim keeps whatever is left over. Some have suggested this is why some brands had certain privileges (e.g. a marketing person from Conway-Stewart moderated the CS forum, others are said to have critical posts removed), in that there was a financial arrangement which directly benefitted FPN and Wim. I’m taking these claims seriously because they do offer an explanation for things which are otherwise a bit baffling — such as the republication of some blogs (including this one) at FPN with advertising, and their initial refusal to stop doing so. But right now, I don’t have any evidence either for or against this. 

It’s possible that he does get some benefit, some small compensation for putting hours into their hobby. I don’t think anyone would find that unreasonable. But when I asked Wim, he emailed back within minutes refusing to comment and has not replied to any emails since. It was after this question, not after the initial post on FPN, that I found my account was not functional. This has made me a whole lot more curious about whether there is a benefit and, if so, whether it is substantial. I’ve not been able to find any information on the site sharing their accounts (though it may not be available publicly) so right now, there's no proof one way or the other. But I'm sure some people, particularly those paying subscriptions, would be interested to know if they're supporting a site which is for-profit and whether they are contributing to FPN. If anyone out there has real information that they'd like to share, either for or against the proposition, I encourage you to get in touch.  

Anyway, there will be a new post available this weekend, one which I’ve been wanting to publish since late last year. It's a little less controversial than everything else going up here lately, I hope you enjoy it!

The Craven Submission of the Fountain Pen Network

Sometime last week, Montblanc had Fountain Pen Network censor dozens of posts, perhaps more than a hundred in total. These posts broke no laws and violated no copyright, but they did not suit Montblanc’s purposes and so Fountain Pen Network simply erased them all. In today’s post, I’m going to look at this from FPN’s point of view and why I think it’s probably the dumbest thing they’ve done, at least so far this year.

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The Role of Social Media

Given the extent to which the FP market has shifted online, it’s somewhat surprising that so few brands have developed strategies for the digital environment. It’s obvious that the online market will only grow in importance in the future but it appears most brands are only mildly interested in developing their presence. In today’s post, we’ll talk about the role that social media plays and look at the brands that are doing well – and not so well – at harnessing it.

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An Objectionable Practice

I was disappointed to learn last week that Fountain Pen Network (FPN) has a forum that basically republishes every post of this blog in full, along with many others, alongside that site’s advertising. This blog is not the only one affected: the bloggers at Gentleman StationerGourmet PensMy Pen Needs InkThe Pen Addict, and Write To Me Often may be surprised to learn that FPN is also sharing their posts in full. 

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