Management Challenges Facing Formula SimRacing

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by David O'Reilly, Jun 25, 2021.

  1. David O'Reilly

    David O'Reilly Registered

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    This is a long document so I have copied here just the Introduction and Exec summary, and just the first of ten key points addressed (team ownership structure), then the conclusions.
    The full document is available via dropbox here..... https://www.dropbox.com/scl/fi/2vdz...FSR.docx?dl=0&rlkey=elhs36liqcqp77t23rrfzny19

    Management Challenges facing Formula SimRacing

    Introduction
    The writer competed in Formula SimRacing from 2015-2017 as a driver. Spent two years under two presidents as the marketing manager, one and a half seasons on the Court of Appeal, was a press writer and a commentator in the World Championship series. I returned in 2021 after 3 years out during which time I raced in real life earning the right to an International C license.

    Upon my return to FSR I have been shocked at how it is being run. I have decided to shine a light on some of the issues. This document presents my observations following 4 months of racing and interaction with various administrators in FSR. There are many people I know and respect in FSR but the following needs to be said and should be of concern to drivers, teams, sponsors and commercial partners of the organisation.

    Executive Summary
    There have been harmful structural changes to the team ownership rights structure and to the Court of Appeal. These changes alone pose the risk of long term harm to the league, its function and its reputation.

    There has been a centralisation of the power to make critical decisions to a shrinking group of teams/people with voting rights.

    Teams are losing the ability to manage their own drivers’ careers through an opaque but centralised license grading system that is being run very poorly.

    There is an appearance of arrogance and lack of accountability from the administrators to the competitors. The administrators are totally unapproachable and will often not even reply to direct questions.

    Media is next to non existent with no news updates on the leagues forums or on team websites.

    There is a harmful toxic culture pervading the discussion forums.

    Grid sizes are dropping as is the YouTube Audience.

    The league is being run into the ground.

    Team Ownership
    The FSR statutes of 2007 provide that an aspiring team entrant can buy a license at an auction of such licenses. This structure provides for new and organised teams to get involved and make a long term commitment. It makes perfect sense, the project or challenge of creating a team, organising its resources, and infrastructure securing driver talent, training programs, testing and then maybe getting to the top is not the work of one season. So the commitment of ownership means it's for the long haul. Along with your team license you also get a vote in The Team Owners Association (TOA). This body is the final judicial body in any high level disputes and also makes and approves all major decisions about the direction of the league. A 75% majority can even change the statutes if a proper meeting is convened.

    Your purchased license is also a trade-able commodity. If you built up a team you could in theory sell it and recoup your investment or maybe more.

    As recently as 2015 there were 11 teams owning a license and only 2 available to rent. But a funny thing happened. In about 2017 FSR decide that renting licenses was a good source of revenue. Not everyone could afford to buy one after all. Then it decided that rented license holders should not get a vote in the TOA. These two decisions whether inadvertent or deliberate, created a two tier team situation. Then more recently a decision was made (confirmed by my enquiries) that you can't actually buy a license at all anymore. I tested this by enquiring about buying a WC team license. After being ignored in the discord "support "channel I posted in the FSR website forums. It was confirmed by the current president that the following teams own lifetime licenses and that other intending teams would have to use a “loaned” (rented) license.

    Burst (two licenses),Evolution, Netrex, Edge, Ghostspeed, Flag To Flag

    Flag to Flag is owned by the current president Cameron Rodgers but has been inactive since 2019 in WC in which season it was the 10th placed team out of 11. The FSR Team contract states that after 6 inactive races the team must surrender its license. This team has missed one and half seasons but is still listed as a lifetime license and its owner is the president! Rodgers also drivers for Burst in Div 2. Rodgers should not, based on Flag to Flags attendance even be in the TOA. Further he is in breach of the very strict inter related teams rules (rule 8.1 2015) by driving for another team.

    Furthermore Ghostspeed has pulled out of the 2021 season and 2022 plans are unknown. That leaves 5 of 7 active and the 5 licenses belong to 4 teams. That’s a big contrast to the 11 of 2015.

    FSR is now in the situation that just seven teams own what they now call a "lifetime license" and anybody else has to rent one. Furthermore one team organisation (Burst, only founded in 2018!!) actually owns two of the licenses. Evolution founded only in 2020 also owns one. So we now have a pretty unhealthy structure where with only 7 (or 5 currently?) votes available one team effectively starts out with 3 before any discussion or persuasion occurs at all. No new investors can arrive and make a long term commitment or have any say when it comes to voting and authority. Just the same seven teams own all the marbles. Any and all other teams just have to like it or lump it. This is a poor structural recipe for a sporting organisations long term health and it smells a bit like a “Coup” occurred.

    To summarise the management impact of the owned vs. leased licenses we suggest three impacts. 1) Centralised control, 2) rented license teams are not as invested (long haul) 3) Stagnant talent pool for administrators (i.e. a mates club). Bottom line: A lack of dynamism in the league. A stagnant and very comfortable management group. This may in part go towards explaining what appears to be a very authoritarian and unaccountable attitude.

    The following 3 diagrams show the fundamental structural and procedural changes that have occurred in the last 5 years. Voting rights now shared by only 7 (or 4!) instead of 11 and no COA.
    Diagram #1 is the 2009 structure.
    Diagram #2 is how it was in 2015
    Diagram #3 is how it is in 2021


    2009 Structure.jpg 2009 Structure_as at 2015.jpg 2009 Structure_AS_AT_late_2021.jpg
    Conclusions

    There has been an ongoing centralisation of power. It has been achieved by the "Lifetime License" situation of the seven teams and non-voting rights of the rest. It has been furthered by the abandonment of the Court of Appeal consequently denying drivers a route to appeal any form of grievance, and instead a tightly knit group of Race Directors charged with judging the decisions of their peers, effectively marking their own homework. It has been further centralised by rule changes that make the administrators the sole, unaccountable and un appealable judges of who gets to compete at what level in the league. All of this means that autonomy and control of their destiny is shifting away from the teams and into the hands of the small group of administrators.

    At the time of writing (22/6/2021) of the seven lifetime licenses there are (with the dormant team FTF and absent team Ghostspeed) only FOUR teams are present active and with a vote: Burst (two licenses),Evolution, Netrex, and Edge.

    When you combine the shrinking group of actual voting team owners and their apparent inter related dealings it is an unhealthy governance environment. An environment where a small core group can potentially do whatever they might like without the checks and balances of a serious voting requirement. It creates the danger that the league can become the plaything of one or two teams.

    The current structure and implementation of the current rules have moved both in spirit and functionally far away from the original statutes laid down by the founders of FSR. They are not in the writers opinion suited to the long term health of the league.

    Media on the FSR Forums is non existent with the newest post over 12 months old. It demonstrates an unhealthy myopia and complacency.

    FSR is not delivering on its side of the current team contracts and it is not requiring teams to deliver in their side. The COA is a contractual obligation and it's been scrapped. The teams are required to have a website and the few teams that do fall woefully short on any FSR presence on them.

    Teams with owned licenses are not (with the exception of Netrex) running or developing drivers in all tiers.

    The current micro management of the drivers’ license level has taken away a large part of the teams’ autonomy over its management of its drivers. It’s also being done very poorly. When combined with the lack of voting rights for teams with loaned WC licenses it amounts to a team not being able to develop and compete as it wants on a level playing field.

    There is a cultural problem whereby aggression and insults and behaviour that demeans others in the communications platforms within FSR is the accepted norm. It is just plain unhealthy. This behaviour is exhibited by senior administrators, team owners, race directors and drivers. Questioning them or demanding answers to reasonable questions can subject you to a torrent of hate and abuse.

    Bottom Line
    As stated in the voting documents: Formula SimRacing is 21 years old this year. It is arguably the premier open wheel racing competition in the world. Its governance, systems and processes should reflect that legacy and status. It is not the plaything or domain of any one person or small group of people. The management need to show that FSR has the best interests of the drivers and the league at its centre, not their convenience or ego.

    These are a serious range of structural, procedural, cultural, management, sporting and marketing issues. Formula SimRacing needs to have a fresh look at itself and significantly up its game in the above areas if it wants to attract and keep serious teams over the long term and find new drivers and in doing so maintain credibility and the interest of the sim racing public. Past fame is no guarantee of future success.
     
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2021
  2. Dennis Jordan

    Dennis Jordan Member

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  3. davehenrie

    davehenrie Registered

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    Up until this document, I have found it a fascinating history lesson. It hasn't felt like he has a beef with the league but rather documenting howFSR has become old and stale. But he's has been providing a long, yes long, review of how some of the worlds best sim racers evolved thru their league. Bravo for them.
    My history goes back even farther in another league, another sim, even earlier than GPL, when online racing meant you ran a private race offline and then emailed the results and waited for the league to post how well or poorly you did.
    ps, never have been associated with FSR but have interacted with David from time to time here in the forums.
     
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2021
  4. David O'Reilly

    David O'Reilly Registered

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    Thank you for your reply.
    I have posted in the FSR forums and messaged the administrators and the response has been detailed in this report.
    They are not private matters between myself and the league, I give my personal examples to illustrate only one out of ten issues raised. FSR is the official open wheeler league of Rfactor 2 and as such it's governance and it's management should be subject to public scrutiny. So here is the scrutiny. It is one of the oldest and most respected in the world. It should not be the play thing of one person or small group of people.

    I am not the only one with concerns. I speak regularly with many other drivers and 21 of them supported one of the key issues documented here. I am just the one who is willing to take the time and deal with the insults the hate, the bile and of course the "memes" (as above) as replies.
    If it shines a light on some areas of concern and makes certain people very uncomfortable, and others wake up it has done its job.
    If I am wrong on all ten counts people can just shrug their shoulders and move on.
     
    atomed and Remco Majoor like this.
  5. Jimmi Allison

    Jimmi Allison Administrator Staff Member

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    You should really use FSR forum for these things - what about running when they elect a new president?
    People outside a league always tends to know what they should or shouldn't do - when they don't know all the details and all the hard work it is running a league and taking decisions.
    Moving this to off topic
     
  6. David O'Reilly

    David O'Reilly Registered

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    When and if elections are called I think only team owners can run for president and nobody new can buy a team license any more. So that doesn't look like an option at this stage. (see item #1 "Team Ownership").
    I am not that far outside this league. I have seen it up close and worked as an admin.
    So sorry, but I am not writing this from a position of ignorance.
     
  7. Adam Rainey

    Adam Rainey Registered

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    David, are you smart lmao
     
  8. David O'Reilly

    David O'Reilly Registered

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    Thank you Adam for sharing with the users of this forum a small taste of the quality of respectful debate available in FSR discord.
     
  9. callum hambley

    callum hambley Registered

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    touch grass
     
  10. mermoid

    mermoid Registered

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    Why should anyone bother reading this drivel when it's an obvious hatchet job by someone with a bizarrely obsessive vendetta about an online racing league? A quick skim through and I see things like accusing Cameron of breaking a "very strict" rule while citing a rulebook from 2015 when the current 2021 rules do not prohibit this at all. I see "We are not even aware if there was even a vote for the office of president in November 2020 as required by FSR statutes" when there is literally a post on the FSR forums from October 2020 stating: "After an internal vote within the ISR Club, @Cameron Rodger has been voted to continue for a Third year as ISR Club president."

    This document (much like the endless commenting on the FSR discord that got you muted) is full of inaccuracies, deliberate misrepresentations and posturing yourself as some kind of oppressed victim just because you don't like a few admin decisions. You're acting like a spoiled teenager obsessed with wild conspiracy theories while as far as I know you're a 50-60 year old man. Grow up.
     
  11. Enzo Fazzi

    Enzo Fazzi Registered

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    Have you considered starting your own league? Could've done most (if not all) of the work in the time it took you to write this document. Hell, you can even do most of the work in the time it takes to even read the document, since you're clearly so knowledgeable and experienced in running a large league.

    I look forward to seeing your own championship and may even consider participating!
     
  12. Alistair Long

    Alistair Long Registered

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    Greetings David,

    Yet again you fail to use even the slightest amount of compassion towards your fellow human being and bully Cameron and the rest of the staff at FSR. As I've already stated some of the conduct of some iduviduals towards you on discord isn't exactly nice but, you are a grown man and I'm sure you are capable of taking it on the chin. Yes you used to help run the league, yes it's moved on in structure and the way it's run. Stop crying wolf, you got put in AMA because you are quite simply, not fast enough to compete in the higher echelons of the platform. If you were winning every AMA race by a margin, or anyone else for that matter you would be promoted, because that is common sense. Your team lost your slot in the higher divisions because you do not have drivers capable of racing at this level. If you wanted to keep that slot then get some drivers on board who can.

    This is and I cannot stress this enough, a video game community. Nothing more, Nothing less. Get a grip on yourself and reality and just enjoy the game and the community for what it is. if you don't like the way it's run then you are entitled to make a case for what should change. What you are not entitled to do is take potshots and misrepresent the truth. Your inconstant and false-hearted portrayal of a man who does everything for this league for no reward and no thanks repulses me. Cameron is a good person, he doesn't enjoy running the league, he does it because if nobody else did then it quite simply would collapse. The COA and other such structures within the league don't exist simply because nobody in the TOA can actually be arsed to vote on things. The teams supposed to have 'no rights' are in this position because their licenses are loaned from the club and this is provisioned to be so in the rules. Licenses loaned from lifetime owners of licenses ARE NOT INACTIVE.

    Ghostspeed don't race because Tom and Luca do not want to drive the current car. Tom still cares about the league and takes part in regular discussions on the development of the league. Most of the rules you are complaining about are either non complaints or the rules themselves are ridiculously out of date. This is a game, nobody actually gives enough of a shit to make a website or pay someone for one when they can just make a facebook page or whatever.

    people on discord insult you because your attitude, and the way you talk to people like they are lower than you is irritating and rude. Sure you tend to stay clear of actually using insults, but thats becuase for some misguided reason you think it's more excusable to insult people by proxy instead. The youtube views are cumulative so older races will always have more views. It is a non issue that races have views at all becuase the viewerships in 'esports' simracing are so low that they may as well not exist at all. The fact people sponsor events where the views are basically just the participants and their teamates and maybe a few hardcore sim fans is strange to me.

    If you don't like people on discord, don't go there. Enjoy your damn hobby and stop making it difficult for the admins and others to do so.
    Please start acting your age.
     
  13. David O'Reilly

    David O'Reilly Registered

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    Dear Mermoid, If you want to have a further debate about the contents of this document can you please give me the benefit of your identity. I don't feel that I should spend time debating with an anonymous person.
     
  14. David O'Reilly

    David O'Reilly Registered

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    Enzo why wouldn't it be better to improve FSR?
     
  15. Enzo Fazzi

    Enzo Fazzi Registered

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    I think you missed the point.
    I don't think a poorly structured, hard to follow, incomplete and incorrect document written by you is going to cause any change. If anything, constant nit-picking and stuff like this will only cause an organisation to dig its heels in. But watching paint dry is a valid alternative.

    My point was that your time is most likely better spent doing something useful, such as setting up your own league/championship.
     
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  16. David O'Reilly

    David O'Reilly Registered

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    Alistair, My attempts to deal with Mr Rodgers followed a very reasonable route. After being put in Division 4 on simply his whim and despite that on the evidence he misrepresented why I was put there ("Div 3 Full") I played ball and raced hoping to show I could earn the chance race in Div 3. Then a few weeks later I asked him a direct question which was (paraphrased) "how do I fight my way back up"? No answer.
    Then I did what you suggest is ok and applied myself to the very obvious problem that there was no system with a respectful and thorough post about promotion and relegation. (by this time I had raced in Div 3 as a reserve and beaten full time Div 3 drivers every time).
    Still no answer.
    Stage 3 In the hope of getting some attention/action on this pressing need I opened a poll on the subject. 21 drivers supported it. Still no answer. Just total ignorance. It felt to me like bullying in fact.
    So Alistair respect is a two way street. You need to give it to get it. So don't try to make me out to be the bad guy beating up on this saint-like figure when people have behaved unreasonably and have been given multiple opportunities to deal with it. It's been escalated due to complete ignorance and inaction that betrays an arrogance. When somebody is happy to use their position of authority to treat people in such a high-handed manner people get their back up. So yes there is a personal component that got me motivated to look into the running of this league. However, had I been asked to look into it without that, my findings would have been the same and I stand by them.

    I did make a substantial and well supported case for change (that existed within current rules and expectations) over many weeks and the reply was non-existent. You will need to elaborate on where I misrepresented the truth?
    And you offer this in defence of this league?
    (edit) and you also cheerfully refer to the apparently deleted rules about team independence as an inaccuracy on my side. In my view that is a critical and sad deletion. It's purpose was self evident; to stop a super team (related team) dominating the league with 6 or more top drivers co operating even off track (setup strategy etc). It was there for good reason and now its gone. How is that working out for everyone? (everyone else that is)
    I have many friends in FSR with whom I communicate often. Please don't try to speak "for the people", just speak for yourself.
    Maybe be careful that a loud minority of haters don't represent "people". What I do is try to stick to the facts of a debate, maybe that is too high brow for some people. I don't shy away from disagreeing with someone if I don't agree. If I make a strong argument for something and somebody doesn't agree and can't make a stronger argument then in FSR discord there is a certain minority of members who switch to "hater mode". That doesn't mean I spoke down to anybody, it just means they got pissed off. Why don't you share some examples with us?
    You will need to explain that one? I haven't asked anyone to act on my behalf.
    Throughout this whole long saga from the point I was put in Div 4 I have wanted to avoid the tiresome, intensely confronting, personal and embarassing "you are crap" vs "no I am awesome" debate. If we simply had an objective and transparent system that filtered drivers to the correct division you and everyone else would be spared the need to tell me I am too slow. EDIT: (and I would be blissfully happy wherever I ended up because that's where an objective and transparent system put me).
    However, on the evidence you are factually incorrect. I raced in Div 3 on 3 occasions and ran just fine. I scored points on debut in Div 3. I was prevented from doing more when other teams asked me to reserve for them stating that I was Div 3 standard simply because Mr Rodgers stuck to his uninformed earlier decision and said no.
    You refer to common sense. If winning every AMA (Div 4) race by a margin is, in your mind, the standard required to race in Div 3 then I would reply that there are many drivers in Div 3 who don't meet that standard. Why are they there? Sorting these two grids into the right order would be more common sense. I am somewhere around top 6-7 in AMA but will as an experiment show here what that looks like in a Div 3 race.
    I will share with you my videos from Round 1 Imola where I raced in Div 3 from back of grid as a last minute reserve. (my first multiplayer race for 2 years)
    Also from Estoril where I raced in Div 3.
    You and other people can make up their own minds if as you claim I was "not capable of racing at this level".
    So in short, you are welcome to have your views, I respect that you took the time to argue them but I don't agree with them. If the way I debate stuff offends you, or you feel I am talking down to you, sorry but I can't help that. In my mind I am just making my point clearly.
    I stand by the contents of my report.
    People can make up their own mind if I am wrong on all ten counts.


     
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2021
  17. David O'Reilly

    David O'Reilly Registered

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    Copy.
     
  18. Massimiliano Ribolli

    Massimiliano Ribolli Registered

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    You are doing it again. Why would this be relevant in the s397 forums? Let's try it once again, shall we?

    1) ACA vs AMA
    You can't compare ACA and AMA results. Apart from maybe two drivers, top AMA drivers who reserved in ACA weren't up to standards. It has already been discussed - making this point again is just ineffective.
    Yes, you finished in the points at Imola. We'd also have to say, though, that half of the grid was involved in a massive pile up at turn 1, which made you make quite a jump. With a car so difficult to drive under dirty air, avoiding being overtaken is hardly an achievement, mainly because on same top speed it was so difficult to overtake before the car got updated.
    And in the other two ACA races you took part in, you retired in one and finished P20 in the other. With people winning races in AMA and doing well in ACA as well, what is putting you in a better place to be promoted compared to your division counterparts?

    2) Being in AMA
    ACA has 30 driver spots. Even if you are ACA listed, if you are out of the seat, you can still race - but in AMA. Last year, preQ was in place. AMA was an addition this year to let people race in something more relevant than a meaningless "ACA grid 2" race. I don't see why being in AMA is a bad thing, you still get to race. If you hate AMA that much, apply for ACA again next year.

    3) For the people
    Let's be honest here. I don't know Alistair, but he only spoke sense.
    You say "Maybe be careful that a loud minority of haters don't represent "people". What I do is try to stick to the facts of a debate, maybe that is too high brow for some people.". Isn't that ironic? You are confirming what Alistair said - and I'll add one more thing, people are up for a debate, it's just that you can't take the fact people are disagreeing with you.

    4) Changes
    I think all of this needs some more context. All of this started because of you not getting promoted to ACA. From that point, it turned into a rant about how the league is managed. But there's a quite important piece of info missing right now: the admin team always said they are open for changes AFTER the season, because logically you can't change stuff midseason. Seems to me you keep forgetting this.

    To round this off, because I don't feel I need to waste any more minutes of my lunch break - you keep pointing out at Cameron as the bad guy. Maybe think about how many stuff he needs to do to run such a big league and how many messages he receives every day. I have messaged him multiple times this season to ask different things, and yes, sometimes he hasn't replied. That doesn't mean I went on a rant about that, because I know that I would have got a reply eventually. And that's the key - if you didn't start this Crusade against you being in AMA and him in general, maybe you would have got the replies you were looking for.

    That said, if you are really thinking about running for a potential presidential position, once again you are not helping yourself. How are people supposed to potentially vote you if this is what you started over being one division down compared to where you are listed in?

    Don't you think it's time to stop it?

    Just my 2 cents (maybe a little more than that).
     
  19. David O'Reilly

    David O'Reilly Registered

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    Massimiliano, you ask me to stop this debate but then pile into this debate. You need to make up your mind.

    It's in the S397 forums because people failed to act reasonably within FSR which is the official open wheeler series of RFactor2.
    So now it's in the wider S397 community. People in that community can make up their own minds if there is any weight in any of these points.
    If people have acted reasonably and appropriately they should have nothing to fear from public awareness and debate. If I am wrong on all ten issues people can just shrug and move on.

    More agreed than disagreed, need I remind you that the vote was 21/19.
    As to the operation of my mind and what I can and can't take you are not able to speak.


    Where on earth did this come from?

    The rest of your items are your opinions on matters I have dealt with already.
     
  20. Massimiliano Ribolli

    Massimiliano Ribolli Registered

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    Oh god, what have I done.

    You are just trying to throw someone who's giving up his own free time to run the main rF2 open wheel series under the bus because you can't accept the fact people can't reply to everything. From the comments in here, you can figure out that no one cares too much about this - to try to expose someone like this is just unnecessary. I probably shouldn't even bothered to reply considering I knew it would have ended up like this, but I just actually feel bad for someone who had to cope with all of this.

    You bring up the famous poll once again. Now, I'll tackle this immediately: you could say I don't know shit about polls, but it's actually part of my job to create polls for customers/users reviews and similar things, so I guess I can talk about that before having to hear that I have to make my mind up or stuff like that. Let's try to give some context once again to the millions of people in here who are interested. This was the poll.

    Should we match drivers speeds to the appropriate grid in ACA/AMA with promotion/relegation
    • Yes we should
    • No the current system is perfect
    Now, I don't know about you, but I don't see a "neutral" reply available. To have some "value", question would need to be different and of course, the answers should not be driven towards making people go with the less extreme one. This is not a balanced poll, so it's kind of meaningless - period. Once again, unnecessary.

    About the presidential thing, it was just an hypothesis.

    Basically, your response was just a way to say to me to make up my mind, to say that I don't have any business in speaking some sense, and to bring up results to a poll that was driven towards getting what you wanted. You want a debate, and you can't even take the opposition view. I'm not going to waste any more time with this, I shouldn't even have bothered - so, I'll leave with this.

    Sounds ironic (and hypocritical) now, isn't it?
     

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