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What do you get out of these forums and what keeps you around?

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What do you get out of these forums and what keeps you around?
Posted by SeeYou190 on Monday, July 09, 2018 9:01 AM

I have been a member of this forum for about 18 months now. This is the only Model Railroading forum that I participate with.


I am curious as to why the regulars are here, what made people join, and what keeps everyone coming back.


I have been active on board gaming/wargaming forums all over the web for 20+ years as the hero/general “Duke Georgal of Entralgia”. Activity on these various forums is almost required to participate in that hobby. You need to find people for opponents and events to play at, rules interpretations are discussed as a community, and we all share our fun (or funny) battle reports. Discussions of strategy or historical accuracy are also always lively.


Model Railroading is an entirely different type of hobby. You can be a lone wolf and go completely off the grid and do whatever you want. No one else’s interpretations or personality matter one bit in how we enjoy this hobby. You do not need any interpersonal interaction to be a Model Railroader, so all the Model Railroading forums meant absolutely nothing to me.


Then, about 20 months ago, I ripped my “spare bedroom” HO layout out of the house. I then went through a violent purge cycle and threw away about 75% of my model railroading stuff. Anything I thought was holding back my creativity or slowing my progress towards achieving my goals was disposed of. All incomplete projects were stripped of usable parts and tossed away.


This created a void in enthusiasm. The purge was phase one of a two year (looks like it will take 3 years) house remodel project that will finally result in me finally having a dedicated and proper train room. I could see that without a layout my Model Railroading activity would decline.


My plan was, and still is, to spend the time without a layout building a new freight car fleet of about 150-200 cars. The plan was also to collect everything needed to complete construction of the new layout.


So… why did I join this forum? Simple… to keep my enthusiasm alive. I know that without the enjoyment of a layout I will have to get encouragement and comradery among my fellow modelers.


“Weekend Photo Fun” is exactly what I needed. This little thread every week does more to keep me “on track” than anything else I could have asked for.


Then “Show Me Something” opened up a whole new world for me. Using my wargaming terrain supplies and a good camera I have a fun sub-hobby that keeps my creativity alive.


All the other discussions are great for me as well. Even though what I am doing with the STRATTON & GILLETTE has so little to do with what anyone else is doing, I have a great time bouncing ideas around. There has been a surprising amount of good input, and I have even changed plans here and there after listening to other points of view.


What keeps me coming back is honestly the moderation. Steve Otte does a magnificent job of keeping everything in order around here. The wargaming forums all become full of acid and toxicity way too frequently, and what Steve does keeps all that away from this setting. I can easily do without all the nonsense and prefer just to talk about models and hobbies. I have seen how bad a hobby forum and community can become when things are left unchecked, and it is ugly.


So, why are you in here and what keeps you around? I was a model railroader for 30+ years without these forums, but I do not know if I would have made it through the last two without them.




Happily modeling the STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD located in a world of plausible nonsense set in August, 1954.

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Posted by riogrande5761 on Monday, July 09, 2018 10:07 AM

I joined this forum 11 years ago.  I come to talk trains.  I'm generally not interested in the non-train-focused discussion that seems to pop up here fairly often but here I am. 

What keeps me coming back is interesting model train focused discussion where I can share what knowledge I have and also learn new things from others. 

This forum seems to have an awful lot of non-train focused topics, sort of like this one.  What would be ideal for this forum is to create a section for basically non-train related discussion, more suited to a "crew lounge/off-topic" area.

Many forums have crew lounge to confine the non-train focused stuff which makes it easier for members to find discussion of most interest them and avoids sifting through those that are not; the result is train discussion isn't watered with non-train stuff.  That would be a big improvement here IMO.     MR are you listening?  

Rio Grande.  The Action Road

Silly Aspie's, I have NT syndrome

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Posted by selector on Monday, July 09, 2018 10:24 AM

Receiving and giving. 

Whether it be ideas, criticism, encouragement, advice, anecdotes, humour, links to obscure materials and how-to videos....this place is a gold mine.  I just wish their search feature were worth more than a pinch of you-know-what.  It's hit 'n miss for so many of us.

I frequent at least five other sites on a daily basis.  Most are slower paced with less activity, but they still offer strong membership and all the advantages.

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Posted by peahrens on Monday, July 09, 2018 10:31 AM

Well, I have found forums extremely valuable in several areas.  My first was a pontoon boat forum, which gave me great insight into various purchase considerations and operational clues, but I did not need it ongoing.  Another was a muscle car forum, handy for particular inquiries, usually rather specific, so I did not follow it routinely.

The MR forum has been helpful in planning and education (for a couple of years) before starting the current layout but is also of ongoing interest and value.  It is inspiring, educational, and of course helpful if a question that arises for me when folks respond and/or I can search for older threads on the subject.  And I enjoy adding my thoughts on topics that arise where I can add something.  

I will agree that the Search The Community thread search feature is poor.  I have learned to google what I want, starting with ""(add subject)

Members are extremely helpful, which I value.  When getting to opinions, usually folks can offer same and constructively disagree and explain their point of view effectively.  When on occasion things begin to get tacky, the moderators do their job effectively as needed.

So, I appreciate this forum more than any I have used.  I do wish that thread titles were more often self explanatory so I could look at those subjects of interest to me, rather than the titles like "what do I do now?"

An aside, the ony other MR forum I frequent is the Yahoo User Group LokSound one, which is of value for nitty gritty issues that may or may not be better handled there than here (there is overlap).


Modeling HO with a transition era UP bent

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Posted by Silverliner266 on Monday, July 09, 2018 10:35 AM

I also spend a lot of time on the model train subreddit so I get my fill of online model trains. 


I found this forum because it kept coming up every time I asked Google how to do something like, "ballasting N scale track." The biggest reason I made an account and hang around here is that someone always knows how to do something better than you do. Even in threads where I didn't ask a question I still end up learning something about some aspect of the hobby, including things that I had not previously though about. 


I ended up making an account rather than simply lurking because I wanted to participate in the discussions, particularly the prototype discussions where I feel like I have more to offer since I'm a relative n00b at scale modeling. 

Just an N scale guy in an HO scale world.

Reading Railroad in a small space. 

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Posted by dknelson on Monday, July 09, 2018 10:45 AM

When these Forums were new - when internet based forums and chatrooms of any kind were new - it was the chance to talk trains/model trains with like minded folks, and to expand the circle and variety of opinions for such talk beyond what was available in an earlier era, that being, people that lived near you.  That is still a primary reason for me.

I also enjoy contributing.  Over the decades I have acquired many resources for rail information, as well as model railroading information, that I enjoy sharing.

I have often benefitted from the views and information provided by some exceptionally fine and experienced modelers who from time to time have appeared on these Forums.  One regret is that some really remarkable tutorial threads from years past are now less useful if not useless because the photos are no longer hosted and thus have disappeared, leaving only tantalizing captions. 

A case can be made that the writing and photography of many threads on these Forums was the equal of or superior to what is actually published in MR, and perhaps would have gained more permanence and attention had the time and resourses lavished on some Forum threads been published in MR instead.

Dave Nelson 

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Posted by NWP SWP on Monday, July 09, 2018 11:03 AM

I came here roughly a year and a half ago, mostly to gain information and insight that you can't get elsewhere, here you get a pretty varied opinion set.

I stuck around for about 3 months before leaving for personal reasons, after 3 more months and a LOT of maturing I came back and have stayed since, I just embarked on my first kit bash project, had it not been for the forums I probably would have never started it.

The idea of a "semi train related/off topic section is not bad, of course there'd still be "banned" topics.


Crooner, Imagineer, High School Graduate, living with Aspergers, President of the Republica Pacifica micronation,  President of the NWP-SWP System.

Hook'em Longhorns! 

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Posted by hon30critter on Monday, July 09, 2018 12:13 PM

When I first started to watch the forum discussions I was looking for information on just about everything model railroad related. I had great plans for a layout. Reading the forums taught me that my plans were pretty disfunctional. That was perhaps the most valuable bit of knowledge that I have gleaned in the past 12 years of modelling.

More recently, I have used the forums to design and help build a new 20'x25' permanent layout for the Barrie Allandale Railway Modellers club. The main thread in that discussion has almost 500 posts and 35,000 views! The club unfortunately suffers from a lack of experience so the insight and advice that I have received here has been of huge value. The layout functionality was recently assessed by a modeller who has been in the hobby for decades and who is heavily into operations. He is also a member of three different train modelling clubs. He deemed the design to be extremely good. A lot of the credit for that goes to the members of these forums.

I also like to help others with answers where I feel I have something to offer, and I have learned to shut up where my knowledge isn't as great as I thought it was.Smile, Wink & Grin

I have also made several good internet friends, some in far away places. People who I would never have encountered otherwise had it not been for the opportunities to interact with them on the forums.

I do agree that Steven Otte is doing a great job, even thought he has had to rein me in on a couple of occassions.Smile, Wink & Grin

Cheers all!!



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Posted by EMD.Don on Monday, July 09, 2018 12:25 PM

I am a lone wolf modeler in a rural area so I come here to read and view what other model raillroaders and railfans are doing. The expertise on this forum is astounding! If (like me) you are newer to model railroading then this is the place to come in my opinion. Most folks have the answers you are seeking and are very friendly. But I tend to be more of a lurker, the quiet shy type, then anything else (always the student who listens and tries to learn).


"Ladies and gentlemen, I have some good news and some bad news. The bad news is that both engines have failed, and we will be stuck here for some time. The good news is that you decided to take the train and not fly."

N Scale Railroader.
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Posted by Water Level Route on Monday, July 09, 2018 12:29 PM

I've been a lone wolf my whole modeling life.  Not much opportunity for other than that where I live, and honestly I'm okay with that.  Always been happy doing my own thing by myself.  The forum brings me inspiration and motivation (see the two threads you mentioned yourself).  It also brings me perspective.  Every so often, I also get reminded why I don't mind being a lone wolf.  Not everyone's input is useful or constructive.  Just part of life in or out of a forum.  The forum is a great place to turn for information, help, or a dose of humility!

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Posted by BRAKIE on Monday, July 09, 2018 12:55 PM

Two things receiving and giving. 

I will add a few chuckles from switching operation answers that would get the whole crew fired because of the numerous  operation and safety rule infractions..




“Shut one’s eyes tight or open one’s arms wide, either way, one’s a fool.” Flemeth-the witch of the Wilds.
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Posted by Lone Wolf and Santa Fe on Monday, July 09, 2018 1:01 PM

    At first I would have a question about some modeling technique and would search the web and the search results would often send me here. Sometimes I wanted to reply so I had to join.
   I come to this forum pretty much every morning while I’m eating breakfast. I guess I do it because the magazine only takes a few hours to read and no matter how hard I try I can’t make it last the whole month. So I come here for more model railroading, and once in a while I have a question to ask.
    I love all of the pictures people post and I also enjoy answering questions that others post. I enjoy seeing what other people are modeling and the progress they are making.
    I do appreciate how well this forum is moderated. I stopped going to a RV forum because the moderator himself broke the rules about being mean to other people and defended people who were bullying others. For the most part I find people here to be friendly.

Modeling a fictional version of California set in the 1990s Lone Wolf and Santa Fe Railroad
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Posted by Bayfield Transfer Railway on Monday, July 09, 2018 1:36 PM

Because useful stuff pops up here from time to time.  I've been in this silly hobby for over 50 years and I still learn stuff.


Disclaimer:  This post may contain humor, sarcasm, and/or flatulence.

Michael Mornard

Bringing the North Woods to South Dakota!

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Monday, July 09, 2018 1:46 PM

Reading the forums taught me that my plans were pretty disfunctional.


If I would have looked here for advice when I started the Spare Bedroom layout, I probably would have had some success. My plan was completely awful, and the planned expansion to make it actually operate was never going to take place.


I'll bet this place could have brought me back to reality. I guess I needed one more failure to admit to myself my dreams had to match my skill set, wallet, time, and enthusiasm.




Happily modeling the STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD located in a world of plausible nonsense set in August, 1954.

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Posted by mbinsewi on Monday, July 09, 2018 3:54 PM

I joined 8 years ago, but I lurked, off and on, for about 3 years before joining.  Since I jumped into DCC with out a clue, this forum has been a wealth of good info,  and I like to help others, when I can with what I have learned.

Since I have many outdoor projects that keep me busy, I'm not around alot during "outdoor" season.  I took an early break today to get into the A/C for a while.

I do usually skim through the threads at night before bed, and early morning.


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Posted by BATMAN on Monday, July 09, 2018 3:56 PM

I appreciate the civility of this forum. Mr. Otte keeps a close eye on things and I think that keeps out the troublemakers for the most part. 

I am a lone wolf by choice and this is a good place to get and give help if a question arises. It offers up enough social interaction for my needs and I don't get my bar fridge emptied by any of you.Laugh

I have been dipping my toes into some Canadian model railroading Facebook groups as they obviously have a more focused subject matter to them and thus offer up a little more info than I find here. Also, I joined a couple of Facebook modeling groups as some of those guys do incredible work and there is a lot to learn from them as the RR part is secondary to the modeling part. Also, like here, any troublemakers are quickly dispatched from the FB groups I have joined. For general MRR topics, this is a good place to hang out. 

People have come and gone over the years I have belonged to this forum and looking through all the PMs I have exchanged over the years, it has been an enjoyable experience. I often wonder about the members that have just up and disappeared one day. Even a PM to them goes unanswered, so one can only assume their time was up. 

There is the diner for off topic conversation, so I think that is covered. Any more than that would require too much moderation.


It's not the age honey, it's the mileage.

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Posted by tankertoad70 on Monday, July 09, 2018 6:06 PM

Amen to Receiving and Giving!Cowboy

Don in 'Orygun' City
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Posted by gregc on Monday, July 09, 2018 6:37 PM

where could you ask questions unless you knew someone in the hobby before there were these forums?


the forums not only provide a media to ask questions and get an answer from a variety of sources, but you probably see and get answers to questions you hadn't even thought about.   They make you aware of things you may not be aware of.


i think of the forums as a daily magazines.   Some threads are as good as articles and cover a wider range of topics.   They also include alternative approaches.

greg - Philadelphia & Reading / Reading

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Posted by up831 on Monday, July 09, 2018 7:08 PM

Like many, I stick around for the commeradery. I first became aware of the forum several years ago, but didn't participate much.  I suppose in many ways, I still don't.  Unfortunately, I haven't had a layout in 50 years even though I kept all of my equipment, for a myriad of reasons.  The forum just helps keep my interest alive.  I've become a semi-regular in the diner and will chime in if I feel I have something to contribute to the discussion.  

Less is more,...more or less!

Jim (with a nod to Mr. Van Der Rohe)

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Posted by cowman on Monday, July 09, 2018 8:10 PM

Primarily followed, then joined to learn, have learned, still learning, now sharing my knowledge when something comes up that I feel I can add to the information others have offered a question.

Hopefully, before too long, I will begin construction on my larger more perminant layout, that will generate more questions from me and I will gain knowledge from the answers and experience.

Have fun,


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Posted by Pantherphil on Monday, July 09, 2018 8:25 PM

So many knowledgeable people offer great insight into prototype operations and layout and modeling ideas.  Also great to hear evaluations of new products.



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Posted by IRONROOSTER on Tuesday, July 10, 2018 4:16 AM

Well, like many, I enjoy the opportunity to talk trains.  But I also learn stuff here and can also provide information for others.  One of the things I like about this forum is the mix of experience, so the topics range from very esoteric to very basic.  But even in the basics there are frequently new ideas.  Beginners have a fresh eye, which can lead in directions us old heads would not have thought of. 

After 15 years I'm still here.


If you're having fun, you're doing it the right way.
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Posted by Jimmy_Braum on Tuesday, July 10, 2018 5:26 AM

Why am I here? For the friendships I've made on the site, since it's hard for me to find friends.  Of course, the knowledge shown here is excellent and has helped me improve my modeling skills. 

(My Model Railroad, My Rules) 

These are the opinions of a 26 year old, from the east end of, and modeling, the same section of the Wheeling and Lake Erie railway.  As well as a freelanced road (Austinville and Dynamite City railroad).

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Posted by Silverliner266 on Tuesday, July 10, 2018 9:14 AM

Bayfield Transfer Railway

Because useful stuff pops up here from time to time.  I've been in this silly hobby for over 50 years and I still learn stuff.




I think this is a very important point. If you stop learning about something it's because you have stopped caring about that thing. No one on earth knows everything about anything, masters are people who acknowlege that they only know a fraction of what it is out there and they keep pursuing that information. In my field the worst attorneys are the ones that think they know everything. 


It is easy as a hobbiest to fall into a comfort zone and avoid trying to learn new skills. When that happens people get bored and ultimately leave this hobby or any other hobby. The thing you are least comfortable with should be at the top of your upcoming projects list. 


Just my $.02 but I think what Bayfield Transfer said is really important. 

Just an N scale guy in an HO scale world.

Reading Railroad in a small space. 

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Posted by Tinplate Toddler on Tuesday, July 10, 2018 9:41 AM

I joined out of curiosity, seeked advice and found friends!

Happy times!

Ulrich (aka The Tin Man)

"You´re never too old for a happy childhood!"

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Posted by Paul3 on Tuesday, July 10, 2018 12:05 PM

I have been on these discussion forums here for a long, long time.  My first ever post was to the original Model Railroader website when the "forum" was actually a guestbook.  I was in college in my 3rd year CAD class, so that's 1995-6 or so (and almost certainly on a 486 PC).  Back then, Andy Sperando would ask a monthy question and one replied via a guestbook format.  There was no real "back and forth", just a question and a bunch of answers.

Then MR went to a real forum, but it was the Wild, Wild West.  Completely unmoderated and uncensored.  It could get pretty crazy.  Four letter words, personal attacks, rants and raves...and more!  And the forum software was terrible.  You had to click on every post to read it, and it was very annoying to wait for all the ads to load on a dial-up connection only to see "Me too!".  I left after trying deal with all that nonsense, sticking with the newsgroup rec.models.railroad (also unmoderated but much easier to use at the time).

Finally, by about 2001 or so, Kalmbach contracted out their website to "" (a separate company at the time).  That's when they started the moderated forums and the "modern" forum software. 

I finally caught on to the change in May of 2002 and registered.  I've been here ever since.  Hard to believe it's been 16 years just from then, let alone the 23 years since my first visit.

Why do I stay?  I won't lie: I like giving advice and sharing my opinions.  I don't start topics too often (I think twice?), but I like to share what I've learned.  It gives me a little ego boost to guide a less experienced modeler down a better path.  I also like to debate a topic because it makes me research the opposing viewpoint.  I can pick up a thing or two just from that, and it can be fun.

And if I wasn't having fun, I wouldn't stay.

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Posted by Medina1128 on Tuesday, July 10, 2018 1:06 PM

I've been a member of the forums for a number of years, and I've found them to be a great source of information regarding modeling tips, scenery, etc.

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Posted by rrinker on Tuesday, July 10, 2018 3:02 PM

 Been here a long time. I've seen people come and go, and I've seen some go off to that great railroad in the sky. I've even met some of you reprobates, at Timonium and elsewhere.

 Sharing information is why I am here. 

 I know back when post count was easily shown on the main page, I was second, to the late great Running Bear - and I that could be because I was away for a few years. No chance to catch up though.

 I used to participate on several forums, but I more or less gave up the others and stuck with one because I just don't have enough hours in the day to actively participate in a bunch of different groups. I'm still a memeber of several Yahoo groups (most of which have migrated to now where they actually work again) but usually I just skim/read messages, I rarely post on any of them.



Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's


Visit my web site at for construction updates, DCC Info, and more.

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Posted by Billwiz on Tuesday, July 10, 2018 7:05 PM

Mostly I read the forums and rarely respond. But once in awhile I do, usually on the sentimental "why I'm a model railroader" posts.  And sometimes I ask for help.  Which is huge...most of us dont have the old time hobby shop where the guys hang out and give advise when needed.  But we have that here.  And I've benefited from others' posts, and questions I've asked.  And, often, I come to this forum to catch up with people I've never met...but care about.  


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Posted by "JaBear" on Wednesday, July 11, 2018 3:27 AM
I lurked for a while, then joined to ask a specific prototype question, for which I never got a definitive answer.LaughLaugh
I hang around, because I continue to learn things from others and hopefully my own research occasionally helps others.
When w**k severely curtails my modelling time, I get inspiration, and enjoyment from the Show Me and WPF threads, in particular.
 Most importantly though it is the camaraderie, something I wasn’t aware that existed on the Internet.
I’ll also take the opportunity to thank those contributors, whose threads I may never reply too, which enhance both my modelling and my forum experience.Bow
Cheers, the Bear.Smile

"One difference between pessimists and optimists is that while pessimists are more often right, optimists have far more fun."

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