Thursday, April 26, 2012

Atlas Discontinues its Model Railroad Forums

If you are a member of the Atlas Model Railroad forums, you already know this—Atlas will be discontinuing its model railroad forums as of May 1.

The reason given was “the ever-increasing amount of time and other valuable resources expended to monitor and administer the forums,” according to Atlas CEO, Tom Haedrich. “Besides the monthly costs of bandwidth, software and service providers, Atlas dedicates a significant amount of precious R&D staff time responding both on and offline to forum based issues and problems. It’s time that Atlas reestablished these limited resources, in particular valued R&D employee time, toward increased efforts at developing new and innovative model railroad products.”

Atlas began its forum pages about 15 years ago; the archive section of the forums will remain available to users for the near future. 

Personally, I will miss the forums. I was semi-active on the HO forum, and enjoyed reading the N and O scale forums now and then. I picked up some good tips, saw photos of some great layouts and modeling, and mostly enjoyed the discussion. The forums were also a good source of traffic for this blog.

On the other hand, there were times when the forums could drive you crazy—some people simply didn’t understand the meaning of the word “civility,” or know when it was time to stop typing. In this regard, I sympathize with Atlas; I’m sure it took far too much of their time and attention dealing with those few individuals who abused their privilege of using the forums. 

(I sit on the board of small community newspaper; one of the issues we struggle with constantly is how to deal with the few people who insist on being rude and uncivil, or who simply don’t know when a topic has run its course.)

So, sorry to see you go, Atlas forums. You provided a great service to the hobby. 


  1. Shocking to hear this news. But to give another perspective on this, not really. Let me explain. I was always amazed and impressed that Atlas offered the forums and let the company be directly open to the customers. There is good and bad in that from the company perspective. They opened themselves up to direct criticism of their products while providing an open forum to an entire community. Risky, but brave. I was (am?) a member of the forums for many years. Learned a lot of things from the postings of other members. But I have not visited them in well over 2 years. I got really tired of two things.
    1) there was an ever increasing tone of what I can only describe as elitist snobbishness from the so-called protoype experts... those that were not happy with any product or anybody else's work unless it was absolutely 100% accurate to the tiniest detail. Often it seemed those doing the loudest complaining did not even make models.
    2) Partly related to my point (1) there seemed to be less and less "fun" from the forum members. Less pictures of people's work, and more negative critique of that work when it was posted), less of an acceptance of model trains as a hobby, and not a full time profession for most people. There was a lot more real anger at times from many of the forum regulars.
    I got so discouraged by those two things that I stopped visiting the forums. And although I have moved houses in the last year which necessitated a slow-down on the trains for me, the increased negativity on Atlas' forum also contributed to my own attitude about model trains and the slow down for me. The good aspect of the forum for me dsiappeared, so I walked away.

    Still it will be sad to not have Atlas forums there.

  2. Agree completely with #1, I'm a member of several fly fishing and model railway forums and there's always people who think freedom of speech literally means just that.