Friday, June 29, 2007

The front sight offer controversy

Welcome visitors from Ace of spades( and minx, and any other non-blocked alias),, THR, Gunnutz, ArmedPoliteSociety, WarRifles, and everyone else who has been making up the majority of my traffic the last three days.

It seems that as the Front Sight training offer gets close to expiration (it expires tomorrow by the way), more folks are hitting my page. It also seems like I'm the main source of information on the web for the offer.

Which is kinda funny 'cuz it went out to everyone who gets the Front Sight newsletter; which is a lot of folks. Funny enough, I'm not one of them, but a friend of mine who was forwarded it to me.

Ok, well, some people have raised some questions, and some objections to the post and or its related content.

First thing, yes it is a tremendous amount of linkwhoring; and I'm usually against linkwhoring. I don't trade links with people for publicity or more traffic etc... I only link to those things that I like, and to those sites that I read or recommend.

This one is a bit iffy for me; because it is a LOT of links (40 of them in fact), and not all are strictly relevant to stuff I would read or recommend. I do like, and recommend Front Sight however, so it's not like I'm linkwhoring strictly for profit. That said, I wouldn't have put that many inks to that much stuff if I weren't getting the certificate for it.

The second thing is; it seems like I was the first major gunblog to go for it; and not a lot of other major gun blogs (a few, but not many) have followed up.

From comments on other sites, it looks like a lot of people seem to think it's a scam. It isn't. I got my certificate last week. My wife (who is also a gunblogger) should be getting hers shortly, several of my friends have already received theirs.

SO, how can it NOT be a scam?

Easy: Publicity and promotion.

What this offer does is get people in the gun world thinking and talking about Front Sight; essentially for the cost of a few instructor hours, which are a sunk cost anyway. Not only that but they get to write off the cost of every certificate they send out (whether it's redeemed or not) as a promotional expense against potential realized revenue.

Then, when the bloggers all take their free courses, they are going to write about their experiences, and give the place more publicity.

More importantly though; in the hard core gun world the gun blogs and gun forums are the opinion shapers now; and have been for the past few years.

The glossy gun mags have largely lost influence over those serious about the pursuit of arms, because they write the same crap over and over; and because it seems they are unwiling to say a bad thing about a sponsor (more on that in a minute).

Finally, every time the link list gets posted, or linked to by someone else, Front Sights google ranking goes up; without having to pay google for ad-words.

Dr. Iggy is not a dumb man, nor one to waste money.

Some folks have a concerned that you wont get the same quality of training from the free course as you would from paying for it.

When you redeem your certificate, you will get the same course that other people have paid $2000 for; and from all indications, it's a good course that's worth the money.

The only thing that some may find objectionable, is that while you are there, they are going to try and sell you more courses, and a lifetime membership. They do this to every attendee, not just to the free ones; and if you don't want to listen to the sales pitch, you don't have to.

Another point, a lot of folks don't like the founder and owner.

Dr. Ignatius Piazza... well he's a bit of a character. A lot of folks have a problem with Dr. Iggy. A lot of folks have sued Dr. Iggy in fact. Some have even won. There may be a valid principled objection to taking a course a a facility this guy owns. From what I know, and it's a fair bit though certainly not everything; I don't think so.

I've been to the Front Sight facility (which is not in Vegas BTW, which some folks seem to object to for some reason; they're in Pahrump, a fair ways a way) and it's excellent. Their instructors and course work are also excellent. I've never taken one of their courses, and I'm not going to turn down good, free, firearms instruction; even if their founder is not well liked.

As I said before, Jeff Cooper and Gabe Suarez are disliked intensely by a lot of people. I'm a Gunsite grad and I certainly have no problem with taking training from Gabe either.

Some folks just have a problem with bloggers "selling out", or in any way receiving compensation for what they are writing.

Well, what exactly is a sellout? To my mind the glossy gun rags have for the most part sold out, in that they seem to exist mostly as a vehicle for press releases and friendly product reviews for their sponsors. I've canceled all my subscriptions except to Small Arms Review; which I consider the best magazine for following developments in military small arms and the Class II world (I also recommend Gun Tests, Concealed Carry Magazine, and Shotgun News).

Bloggers linking to stuff they actually like and believe in, and receiving benefit from it... I don't think that's selling out at all.

Now, if you have a moral objection to the concept of linking for stuff; fine and dandy, that is your prerogative; but I don't think it's a problem. So long as it doesn't change the way I blog, and the subjects I blog about; and so long as I disclose what I'm getting for it; I'm good.

I was a professional writer at one point (about technology, and security; during the .bomb); and I never wrote what I was told because of sponsors then, when I was getting actual cash. I don't intend to start now.

Any other questions?