Announcement Let's Talk About Clones

Biowarejak

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Yikes. I stepped outta here for a bit to focus on life, and we're back to the goading and witchhunting and surely-well-intentioned-but-maybe-a-bridge-too-far IP defending like we had with @amitoza. Let's never do that again. As a forum, as a community, we are better than that. I love you all, and it's disheartening to see the most notable members here struggle with the degradation of others' ideas (as well as their own!).

In my opinion, SFF Forum doesn't bear any responsibility to remove or censor creators (except if required by law, in the case of actual IP theft or something). Doing so at a whim only harms our community. Posts that don't reflect our tone and values however, can and should be moderated.

Therefore, if concerns are had, raise them respectfully. Just because a case looks similar doesn't mean it doesn't have its own elements of novelty. It's the thoughts and reasons and needs-meeting and all these other minutiae that really make a great case. A clone is souless, characterless. A bottom-of-the-barrel BOM. And even sometimes that's enough to make a difference.
 

loader963

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Jan 21, 2017
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@whatanoob

Ebay is most definitely a marketplace. The usual telltale signs Ebay has are: payment information, shopping cart, handles refunds, advert fees and final sale percentages,sets up buyer and seller profiles and requirements, has a checkout page, etc. And ther Paypal point doesn't hold any weight either. Paypal is just a commonly used currency used in ebay (and many other online) transactions. Make no mistake, it is an Ebay transaction thru and thru. There isn't a single thing there I can see here.

If someone at gamefaqs asks me where I got a rug under my fireplace and I post a link to carpetworld.com, that does not make gamefaqs a marketplace. Not even close, no matter how hard someone can twist facts and try to change that. To name an example trying to use it:

If that same case was in a newspaper classified, would you force a newspaper to enforce the accuracy of the listing?
Does a newspaper having a classified section make it a marketplace? Or is it an advertising place?

Edit: upon further research i admit I am wrong in the terminology referring to sfflab. I was confusing the terms marketplace and commerce sites. I still believe the argument stands though when changing the term I mistakenly was using to a commerce site.
 
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jØrd

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ok, after some sleep Im ready to dive back into this. Firstly I'd like to address this whole "mods official position" stuff. This was a situation that overtook us, it grew much faster than we were able to build a response to it. Our first responses were just that, a first response. In many ways the statement @PlayfulPhoenix has dropped is representative of SFFn's official response but even that can, and likely will, evolve over time. As the forum grows new problems arise, new ways to deal w/ them become clear & new ideas can be tested. All of us do this because its our passion and in the time SFFn has existed how we approach and deal w/ the needs of the sight and the community has evolved.

Secondly I would like to broker an idea thats gone somewhat unmentioned. The rules protect us all. Just because this time there is a group who feel justified, what about next time, what about when its one troll w/ 4 accounts trolling in your thread (and yes, i am well aware that there are people running multiple accounts as a ban evasion tactic), calling your work a clone, shitposting all over you. What about when you come to us because you feel wronged that time. By their nature site wide policy will always aim to be fair, for better and worse this means that by default there will be times when the guilty are protected as well. At the end of the day the core of the policy boils down to "put it in its own thread and keep it civil". Really this isnt a big ask of anyone here and is general forum etiquette across huge swaths of the internet.

Lastly I would like to address comments made by @Bangle. Firstly John's response, whilst perhaps not ideal, was very much reflective of Bangle's attitude on the forum both past and present. I Do have access to what went down and whilst I will do Bangle the courtesy of not quoting them here out of context and shitting all over them I will would like to point out that @confusis didnt wake up one day and decide he was going to just take all the worlds problems out on @Bangle.
 

Choidebu

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Aug 16, 2017
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Yikes. I stepped outta here for a bit to focus on life,

.....

As a forum, as a community, we are better than that. I love you all, and it's disheartening to see the most notable members here struggle with the degradation of others' ideas (as well as their own!).
Tell you what, this thread has put me off of the forum - I think I need to step out a bit too!

I second all your points @Biowarejak . I am not a creator and I won't pretend to understand their feelings and needs, hope for acknowledgement and such. I'm only a happy customer who was trying to be part of the community by being helpful wherever I can. It is disheartening to see their struggle over this sort of issue.

Makes me think they might actually like being backed by social justice vigilantes.
 
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Biowarejak

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Tell you what, this thread has put me off of the forum - I think I need to step out a bit too!

I second all your points @Biowarejak . I am not a creator and I won't pretend to understand their feelings and needs, hope for acknowledgement and such. I'm only a happy customer who was trying to be part of the community by being helpful wherever I can. It is disheartening to see their struggle over this sort of issue.

Makes me think they might actually like being backed by social justice vigilantes.
Certainly. I mean as a creator, insofar as I can call myself one - here, I can attest that it feels good to have my originality defended and constructive feedback lent. In worser moods though, being trolled and called derivative, a cloner, would put me off entirely.

All I'm really saying is that even when something looks like something else, we as a community should be open minded enough to see what's being brought to the table. Just my thoughts though, peace everyone.
 

loader963

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It would be hard to balance protecting an existing ip from those who would steal it for their own profit vs someone taking an idea they have seen and trying to use that as a base to make something better. And trying to make a transparent, fair for all approach to decide that may be possible, but has not been articulated or posted yet in my opinion.

I really hate when a “creator” feels cheated of their hard work. Especially reading some of the opinions of the modern founders, not of this forum, but of the actual community this place serves. When there is a injustice that they feel powerless to stop, I can imagine the turmoil, both personally and financially. And I don’t deny that would dampen their passion, which is detrimental to everyone here.

But I also despise when someone just calls project (y) a dirty copycat of case (x), providing that I feel it really brings something new and special to the table. I don’t know how far a case has to go to be considered new and fresh, but I know if I asked 5 random people, I would get 5 random answers.

I still think the right call was made, at least until a set plan could be integrated, should the day ever come. And if tomorrow the staff turned a 180 on their current stance, I would probably disagree with them. That said, I would still fully back them and trust in their judgement. Id also be hoping that they were judicious and transparent on the process they used to come to their decisions.
 

el01

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Jun 4, 2018
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I need to lower my blood pressure after this thread...

But from my point of view, as a very small "creator" (I take pride in my work, but I can understand that it has shortfalls and that not many people would be interested in it), I do want to make my opinion heard. There are only so many ways that one can make a case. I can understand what Josh from NFC said about ideas, but even with ideas, there are limited locations in which to place locations to make a design that makes sense (e.g. Why the hell is this power supply indented 30 mm in???)

So, my stance is that if you use a commonly-used layout (e.g. ITX with right-angle riser to GPU) and customize everything else, it's OK. If you copy some parts of an original case, I would put you into a gray area. If you directly copy a case with minor aesthetic changes and minimal structural changes, it's NOT OK.

Finally, I would like to spread a message about my own work. Hopefully this isn't a thread takeover or a massive tangent, but bear with me. I'll put it in a spoiler in case you don't want to waste your time.

Everything I do will have free files. I will even provide instructions for how you can make one yourself. Why? I can't scrounge up the time or money to make things myself. Things may change in the future, but for now, this is the reality. Please do not copy the files and sell them or use them for your own benefit. I'm fine with mods, changes with permission, etc. but just don't be a dick and you'll be fine.

If you ask me beforehand, I will most likely give permission with a few clauses, but if you don't ask and I find out, good luck then. (this is specifically open-ended but don't worry it doesn't cover life or anything too important).

That's it for today... If my blood pressure decreases enough by tomorrow, I'll come back.
 

bledha

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Feb 22, 2017
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As far as deferring to the legal system for judgment, for most small scale creators this simply isn't realistic. Filing design patents, and then defending them, in multiple jurisdictions isn't something the average person has the resources for.
This is absolutely true. A sobering reflection on the reality of access, this. It must be still more frustrating for those with the great innovative ideas to not be able to defend themselves while the rest of us sit in our armchairs (or office, or gaming chairs) and pontificate.

So allow me to do exactly that…only a little…and in my train seat...I believe the mindset of the forum staff, although no decision they make will be perfect to everyone here, is near its best iteration. They simply cannot watchdog intellectual property violations. You are either open to all or you are a selective institution, an elitist, selective market – although the selectivity may not be that intention – it is how it will turn out.

The fact the staff wants to curb their regulatory power here I think is respectable. Although clearly as passionate enthusiasts, it must be hard for them to do that. Especially because, since they control this site, they can really decide to do whatever the heck they want with respect to regulation and policing of what they consider to be clones. The metrics to decide what is too close to another design are truly subjective, and even if they design a standard, that will begin to stagnate the community and stifle possible innovation.

As consumers, and as forum members, we can publicly discuss those designs we think may be standing on the shoulders of giants for the wrong reasons (profit, in this context). We are doing so in a thread created for such a purpose. Then, we can buy what we believe is deserving. I am not suggesting the invisible hand of the market is all-knowing, it is just for the context, our forum staffers really shouldn’t become the market police.

By the way, I consider @Necere and @Josh | NFC to be two of those giants I refer to above. Although it may be disheartening to stick around and share sometimes because of any number of reasons, at least continue to kick it and hang with us. Your designs and insights into how to work with them have laid a large part of this community's foundation.
 

Thehack

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Note that for these Boutique designs, small runs, hardly makes any money for the designer, even after doing most of the work himself. There is money in volume runs, but very little in our custom work.

Most of it is born out of passion to create and share the creation. Most of the designers here can make much more devoting their time to industrial design work rather than making the equivalent to minimum wage.

There is a real cost to not protecting designs that should be considered in the conversation.
 

bledha

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Feb 22, 2017
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Note that for these Boutique designs, small runs, hardly makes any money for the designer, even after doing most of the work himself. There is money in volume runs, but very little in our custom work.

Most of it is born out of passion to create and share the creation. Most of the designers here can make much more devoting their time to industrial design work rather than making the equivalent to minimum wage.

There is a real cost to not protecting designs that should be considered in the conversation.
This is all very true stuff. We all benefit so much from having innovative designs that people put blood, sweat and tears into. I tip my hat to all of you who fit this category.

There is a real cost to not protecting designs that should be considered in the conversation.
This is also true, however in the context of the conversation, it certainly is not the forum moderators job to protect (what they would consider to be) the original or pioneering designs.

I think of it like this, which is like something I have seen before. Picture a farmer’s market, which was firstly an agricultural forum for farmers and trades-folk to gather and dsicuss and for produce and artisanal product sales. There was a man, he designed and made by hand beautiful and unique wooden pens. Lovely stuff, I own several. Some other guy, years later, came in selling wooden pens of similar design and material choice, with a lesser quality to be sure, however also with a cheaper price tag. It was clear he took, um, inspiration, from the first guy – but what was the staff of the farmers market to do? Tell him he cannot sell his products in the farmers forum because his product was similar and likely taking a little too much inspiration from the pen pioneer? It wasn’t their place to do so. So, they didn’t. Their job was to give space to those who wanted to access, either for selling or for networking, to the market of similarly minded individuals. Besides, there were many vendors selling the exact or near exact same thing (carrots, pies, hand-made furniture of various designs and wood choice). So, they were open to all, just like this forum. If, however, someone was to stand in front of the second pen makers stand, and without profanity but insistence point at them and say “clone, clone, rip off, stealing ideas, clone,” they would most certainly ask this person to leave as they are purposefully interfering with the workings of the market, being obstructionist. They wouldn’t however stop someone who walked up to the stand and said, “I believe your design is a bit too like this one, and I think that it isn’t OK, personally I would have approached it like this…” and walked away - then all would be fine. Civil. Calm. Fair. Especially given the context of the open forum of the social market they were in.

In the end both pen guys did well because all the economies of agglomeration stuff, but everyone who went to the market knew who made the best quality, and knew who to give their respect for design and innovation.
 

Thehack

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This is all very true stuff. We all benefit so much from having innovative designs that people put blood, sweat and tears into. I tip my hat to all of you who fit this category.


This is also true, however in the context of the conversation, it certainly is not the forum moderators job to protect (what they would consider to be) the original or pioneering designs.

I think of it like this, which is like something I have seen before. Picture a farmer’s market, which was firstly an agricultural forum for farmers and trades-folk to gather and dsicuss and for produce and artisanal product sales. There was a man, he designed and made by hand beautiful and unique wooden pens. Lovely stuff, I own several. Some other guy, years later, came in selling wooden pens of similar design and material choice, with a lesser quality to be sure, however also with a cheaper price tag. It was clear he took, um, inspiration, from the first guy – but what was the staff of the farmers market to do? Tell him he cannot sell his products in the farmers forum because his product was similar and likely taking a little too much inspiration from the pen pioneer? It wasn’t their place to do so. So, they didn’t. Their job was to give space to those who wanted to access, either for selling or for networking, to the market of similarly minded individuals. Besides, there were many vendors selling the exact or near exact same thing (carrots, pies, hand-made furniture of various designs and wood choice). So, they were open to all, just like this forum. If, however, someone was to stand in front of the second pen makers stand, and without profanity but insistence point at them and say “clone, clone, rip off, stealing ideas, clone,” they would most certainly ask this person to leave as they are purposefully interfering with the workings of the market, being obstructionist. They wouldn’t however stop someone who walked up to the stand and said, “I believe your design is a bit too like this one, and I think that it isn’t OK, personally I would have approached it like this…” and walked away - then all would be fine. Civil. Calm. Fair.

In the end both pen guys did well because all the economies of agglomeration stuff, but everyone who went to the market knew who made the best quality, and knew who to give their respect for design and innovation.
There's a difference between allowing the flagrant violation of IP, and the allowing the *sale* of.

The sale is made off site. You should re-frame the argument is that we're in an "SFF guild." An association of sorts, where we come and discuss SFF related things, and develop products that benefit our guild and sell it at the marketplace downtown. Everything is dandy. Bob developed his new super SFF case, but he's having trouble meeting the demand and getting his logistics set up straight.

Dave comes in and says, look at my super-new-SFF case. It is totally *not* like that other super-SFF case. Everyone says, no Dave, it looks like you copied Bob's design. Dave says, "no way, my design is different, I use screws here, instead of screws there." Yet most guild members have the consesus that he definitely copied Bob's design. Dave acts indifferent, and uses the resources and knowledge pool of the guild while having no regard for being respectful other's design and ideas and only cares about the bottom line. He's here to make money off of the people at the downtown market. He is definitely playing off of Bob's misfortune, and undercutting him in pricing, though a slightly lower quality product.

The question is, should the guild masters do:

A) Ignore the issue at hand
B) Tell people to stop giving Dave a hard time about his case
C) Tell Dave he is unwelcome unless he changes his act

This is what we're debating on. So far we're on B right now. Dave can freely sell his case at the downtown marketplace, but should he be allowed to act this way in our guild with disregard for other's member's work?

If you're in an artist's guild, and you rip off someone's painting with the same composition but slightly different placements, and then try to sell it at the gallery... no will care that you sold it at the gallery, but the guild will definitely kick you out for plagiarism. The question is that we are somewhere in between the two, a marketplace, and a guild of sorts, but closer to a guild. Which rules do we view is important to the values of the community.
 
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bledha

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Feb 22, 2017
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There's a difference between allowing the flagrant violation of IP, and the allowing the *sale* of.

The sale is made off site. You should re-frame the argument is that we're in an "SFF guild." An association of sorts, where we come and discuss SFF related things, and develop products that benefit our guild and sell it at the marketplace downtown. Everything is dandy. Bob developed his new super SFF case, but he's having trouble meeting the demand and getting his logistics set up straight.

Dave comes in and says, look at my super-new-SFF case. It is totally *not* like that other super-SFF case. Everyone says, no Dave, it looks like you copied Bob's design. Dave says, "no way, my design is different, I use screws here, instead of screws there." Yet most guild members have the consesus that he definitely copied Bob's design. Dave acts indifferent, and uses the resources and knowledge pool of the guild while having no regard for being respectful other's design and ideas and only cares about the bottom line. He's here to make money off of the people at the downtown market. He is definitely playing off of Bob's misfortune, and undercutting him in pricing, though a slightly lower quality product.

The question is, should the guild masters do:

A) Ignore the issue at hand
B) Tell people to stop giving Dave a hard time about his case
C) Tell Dave he is unwelcome unless he changes his act

This is what we're debating on. So far we're on B right now. Dave can freely sell his case at the downtown marketplace, but should he be allowed to act this way in our guild with disregard for other's member's work?

If you're in an artist's guild, and you rip off someone's painting with the same composition but slightly different placements, and then try to sell it at the gallery... no will care that you sold it at the gallery, but the guild will definitely kick you out for plagiarism. The question is that we are somewhere in between the two, a marketplace, and a guild of sorts, but closer to a guild. Which rules do we view is important to the values of the community.
This is all very agreeable - however I suppose I don't see this forum (or its mods) as a guild, as we are not (nor are they) entered into any association or formality whatsoever, and thusly do not oversee the industry or trade.

Maybe over on SFF Lab that rings true, but certainly not here on the forum. So basically, your issue, and justifiably, is that some people are just plain horrible. No argument there. This then circles us back to whether or not it is the responsibility, in the context of this un-associated, free, forum – to regulate horrible people. Personally, I don’t see it as even possible without strong segregatory measures. We may agree to disagree on this, but I must clarify again that I fully understand and respect your point and indeed the reality of the situation is not perfect.
 
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Thehack

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This is all very agreeable - however I suppose I don't see this forum (or its mods) as a guild, as we are not (nor are they) entered into any association or formality whatsoever, and thusly do not oversee the industry or trade.

Maybe over on SFF Lab that rings true, but certainly not here on the forum. So basically, your issue, and justifiably, is that some people are just plain horrible. No argument there. This then circles us back to whether or not it is the responsibility, in the context of this un-associated, free, forum – to regulate horrible people. Personally, I don’t see it as even possible without strong segregatory measures. We may agree to disagree on this, but I must clarify again that I fully understand and respect your point and indeed the reality of the situation is not perfect.
My stance on the matter is the Steck forum post is fine, but moderators need to allow criticism to occur provided they are civil and there are no personal attacks.

When we become members of this forum, we agree to abide certain rules that moderate our actions and conduct within the forum. There is nothing that says those rules can't change. It can be a simple: designers must respect the designs of others. Now people say then SFF.NET will then become a court... well it's always been that way. Mods decide what is good conduct and bad conduct and can impose banishment from the use of the forums. I'd think most cases are pretty clear cut. There are designers who are passionate, and then there are businessmen.

It is loosely associated, but this forum is incredibly technical and industrial, especially with the integration of systems. In a way, forums have replaced guilds have been replaced by modern day forums, with the amount of information sharing, technical knowledge, and feedback between the members. It is a much more informal version of the guilds of years past.
 
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Thehack

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I think that has been their approach, and personally I have not seen them stop anyone unless they are being purposely obstructionist or antagonistic. Still, always room for improvement. @Thehack, I wish you an excellent day. :)
Disagree there. I've been told to stop "derailing" the design thread because I was criticizing how closely it resembled the Ghost. Moderators remarked that "flame wars" are not tolerated, yet there was no flaming, unless one's definition of flaming is having a serious discourse.

I didn't bother me much, but if someone was very passionate about the issue, they can easily mistake the mod's action as welcoming of clonings, especially with statement akin to saying one cannot criticize the design in the main thread and only the IP holder can do so privately.
 

bledha

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Feb 22, 2017
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Disagree there. I've been told to stop "derailing" the design thread because I was criticizing how closely it resembled the Ghost. Moderators remarked that "flame wars" are not tolerated, yet there was no flaming, unless one's definition of flaming is having a serious discourse.
This is why I said personally, I am unaware of all the situations. You mentioned your criticism and the first thing they did was scold you? Or were you being incessant about it? (NOTE: I am really not trying to be confrontational, I am just curious, because we all need to look at ourselves as well as those who may have done something wrong, this is the nature of this whole discussion.)
 
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Thehack

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This is why I said personally, I am unaware of all the situations. You mentioned your criticism and the first thing they did was scold you? Or were you being incessant about it? (NOTE: I am really not trying to be confrontational, I am just curious, because we all need to look at ourselves as well as those who may have done something wrong, this is the nature of this whole discussion.)
I was provided a general warning:

All,

As our moderator j0rd noted, starting a flame war based on calling out a product as a "clone" is not productive. Everyone's concerns are noted, however it is up to the designers of the "original" product to deal with it, not an army of keyboard warriors.

Numerous reports of poor behaviour in this thread have been reported and, whilst the users may think they are validated (be it for or against), all it does is to show outsiders that SFFn is a home to bitching and in-fighting. This has been an ongoing challenge over the years we have existed.

Let buyers decide with their wallets, not with angry words hidden behind a screen name.

If you think a product is a "clone", report it to the owner of the original design and let them deal with it in the proper way.
Most of my comments were made on this page:

https://smallformfactor.net/forum/threads/update-2018-09-08-nouvolo-steck-sff-itx-pc-case.7099/page-11

You can see that the discussion was serious but civil.

One of my comments:

Now that it's painted, the look and feel of the chassis is way too similar to the Louqe Ghost S1. There are no issues with using your logistics know-how and funding to bring such a case to market, even using the same layout and concept. But there are too many look/feel similarities with the Ghost S1. The ventilation pattern, the power button, the light for the power button, the exaggerated curves on the corner, the inset and flush top panel.

You mentioned that you made improvements to the internal layouts, and the mechanism are different, so this constitutes something different. But really that is an engineering solution, which doesn't really matter to the end consumer. The look, the design, and the features are what the end consumer sees, and how products compared. The construction and mechanical design are invisible to them. And to be honest, the look and design of the case is a much tougher design aspect, than the internal construction. One is a creativity problem, the other is an engineering problem. The engineering problem has a known solution, but the creativity problem requires one to be... creative.

But I believe this is a missed opportunity to create your own brand with your own look and feel, instead of being known as a look-alike. If Louqe Ghost S1 has a design patent, this would definitely violate it. Case manufacturers, though they use the same layout, same features, same factories, they try really hard to create their own brand design even with such stiff competition.
 

bledha

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Feb 22, 2017
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I was provided a general warning:



Most of my comments were made on this page:

https://smallformfactor.net/forum/threads/update-2018-09-08-nouvolo-steck-sff-itx-pc-case.7099/page-11

You can see that the discussion was serious but civil.
Yes, the focus of the thread was objectively derailed for a short time due to multiple reasons. You were civil indeed, but yes, quite incessantly stated it was a clone, or simply a copy. You know, when things get my ire up, I tend to do the same. So I understand.

All things considered, it seems that as users and the moderators could be suffering from the same frustration about this clone stuff. It irritates some users and so they speak up, and the moderators feel they have no choice but to have to deal with that, also likely lamenting the reasons why.

Maybe it is time we all just move toward each other. The mods can allow us a little room to lament (in a civil way of course, kind of like we are doing here), and we can tone it down when we do. If we all keep that in mind, maybe we can reach an amicable equilibrium :)

Group therapy is now in session.
 

Choidebu

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@Thehack , but your posts were not deleted. Because it is civil. Unlike the other ones. And the mods' reply doesn't sound like it is being targeted to you.

But nevermind that, just like @bledha said, we need to move forward with the issue at hand and stop discussing what happened in Steck thread.

Like you summed up most suitably, we (or rather the mods as this forum's representative) are at no.2. Now it'd have been fine if we leave at that, at least to me, but now that some more respectable members of the forum have stepped and voiced up, I think they need to rethink this.

Maybe the stance should be somewhere in between 2 and 3. A mod edited disclaimer on the top of the post or something. After a community discussion. It maybe too complicated - idk, maybe anyone have another suggestion?

Also in regards to this forum being a guild, I can't agree with. An artists' guild means that everyone in it is an artist, while not so here. Hell, that means I do not deserve to be a member in the first place.