In Praise Of Offshoreonly.com

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To belabor the painfully obvious, I get paid to write two columns a week for the home page of this website. So I’m a bit biased. I have an undeniable conflict of interest.

If that puts you off, I understand. Stop reading. I won’t be offended (and even if I were, you shouldn’t care).

Now, show me a more vital and broader online community of performance-boating enthusiasts than offshoreonly.com. Show me one with more useful—and, yes, sometimes useless—information. Go ahead. I’ll wait.

For the past four years, Offshoreonly.com has partnered with Speedonthewater.com to produce an incredible party, which raises money for a local charity, in Key West, Fla.

I bring it up because a recent thread in the General Discussion section of the OSO forums struck a familiar chord. You know, the one with all the hand-wringing about the website not being what it used to be.

For the record, it isn’t. Like the industry itself, OSO has contracted.

And—so what? That’s old news.

But though the audience is smaller than it once was, it’s no less passionate or informative. The OSO database continues to grow and—unlike the social media options, most notably Facebook, that have put a big dent in forum popularity across the board—that database is searchable.

A few words on the many enthusiast-backed, go-fast boating Facebook pages that have proliferated since the massive social media website was born. As joyful and inclusive as they are, their threading structure makes them miserable for discussions. Owned by OSO parent company Internet Brands, V-bulletin software is far superior to Facebook’s comment architecture.

Also worth noting? People behave no better or worse on Facebook than they do on offshoreonly.com or any other forum. Regardless of platform, they can be as gracious and helpful and obnoxious and useless.

As an offshoreonly.com columnist, I’m obligated to at least surf General Discussion forum threads every day. Much of what I find is engaging and informative, if at times for no other reason that it provides insight into what readers are thinking about. In addition to providing useful information, many of the members who comment are funny as hell. (And I can always use a good laugh.)

To the O.G. members of this site who are mostly gone but occasionally stop by, I offer only this: You were pioneers of sorts and you set offshoreonly.com on a great path. But just because you’ve moved on, as people do, doesn’t mean everything that’s followed—despite the ownership change from a single, go-fast-boat-loving proprietor to a large and impersonal corporation—is junk. It’s worth remembering that, while OSO membership was larger then, your close-knit group was still relatively small. As always, nostalgia tends to color history.

So carry on, OSO faithful, and enjoy this community for what it is—still the best of its kind.

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