What happened to the "club atmosphere" of Audiogon?


Hi Goners!

After 12 years as a member hear i have developed some questions based on my observations of Audiogon in the last four to five years...

When i joined it was a fledgling group of "music lovers" who now brand themselves, quite often it seems, as "audiophiles"! [ whatever that REALLY is...:-)
The boards were helpful, very helpful and almost never negative but like a brother [be it older or younger] discussing the finer points of a product,company, design etc...

It was known that you could score wonderful, WELL MAINTAINED audio and video products sold at a fair price and with confidence that the person who sold you that item would stand behind it!!

It was the CULTURE of Audiogon that made it so very special to me, in fact it has been on my radar every day since i joined!

I have been a seller, buyer, trader, cartridge seller and have noticed disturbing trends:
Seems if anything is mark "USED", even 5 minuted old, it should, at best, garner only 50%
Lowball offering has become rampant here,trying to then add insult to injury by asking the seller to pay shipping!
Nasty,curt e-mails without any simple courtesy and professionalism...Now i am painting with a broad brush BUT all of these negatives , and more i will not go into from this vein, have reduced this site to a "virtual close out Wharehouse" of close out merchandise or find your ads not even getting a question about your ad!!

I for one enjoy the banter with long time posters, some of who have earned my respect with they're
 witty yet insightful comments...

Has anyone else felt Audiogon's best days have come and gone if we follow the present template?
Thanks and keep the responses civil and helpful please!

azjake
Yup.... I agree that it’s best days are behind it based on the deteriorating current trends that the OP has highlighted.

It used to have an honor code in a gentleman’s club arena that has now been eroded significantly IMO. This includes a disturbing increasing trend of select types repeatedly stoking the useless and irritating discussion forum "cable wars" and/or dissing expensive high end gear and accessory purchases. This hobby has (had?) a range of enthusiasts from low-fi through mid-fi to hi-fi with an equal respected standing that now has frayed that puts some on the defensive at a minimum.

Interesting that the OP highlights the explosion of too many instances of buyers now aggressively lowballing to the extreme. Sure, some will dismiss this as just business so don’t gripe about it. But then they should not expect any of "that extra mile" offerings in return either that used to be graciously and cheerfully offered by sellers and highly appreciated with thanks by the buyers in a past AGON era.

Simply put, that camaraderie is gone and too many posts have evolved into an absence of elementary etiquette normally expected -- and previously enjoyed -- as we live in a polite society. These downward spirals are not limited just to Audiogon - the other audio forums have suffered the same and worse IMO. If one agrees with the OP, the 800 pound gorilla in the room question to me, is how much of this is the shortcoming of the members to maintain a prior decorum versus any shortcomings of the moderators  to maintain and promote  the same.

Really, the point here is the very promise of the internet. A place where like minded people could come together to share interests, ideas and thoughts. Unfortunately there are those who choose to exploit all that is exploitable. It's a sad and unfortunate situation. I have purchased many items on the 'gon and have been very grateful to the sellers. I have built a wonderful system because of them. It's interesting to me that no matter what is done in life, we must always cater to the least common denominator. How did that get to be so? It happens in every walk of life.

On a more positive note, I believe there are many good people still here that love music and the equipment necessary to faithfully reproduce it. Let's strive to keep this forum a respectable place! 
I see three types of beings on Audiogon...

the "I've been doing this forever, I know more than you and you should be grateful for my input."

The middle of the road, knowledgeable, extremely helpful contributor who answers questions without snark or belittlement as well as those seeking feedback, opinions on gear match, etc. 

The troll who is looking to disrupt.

Luckily I still come across many of the middle of the roads so I do not think we are without hope. 

I keep forum and business separate. Who cares if someone throws out what you may consider lowball? You may be asking more than the market is willing to pay. I see pieces all of the time sitting and sitting and sitting and being re-listed and then sitting and sitting some more....

The best advice I have received have been over the last few years and I'm grateful for it. I don't have the opportunity to audition many brands where I live. Furthermore, it's silly to discuss expensive power cords and equipment with folks not in the hobby in my experience. Very little of them care and the ones that will listen think I am crazy for the investments that I make. So thanks to all of you for for sharing that same level of crazy. 
It is a shame what happened to this site. I agree that things have changed since Audiogon has gone corporate.
Alas, there is no going back, it is the end of the innocence.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HP49136ekfc

Although the traffic is lighter, I find more hobbyists on other sites now, like Audio Asylum and US Audiomart.
Years ago...everything was better .... even the future :-)
Love it Syntax!:-)
We should keep amosphere clean out of contamination with bad particles.
Frat only in designated spaces.
Life is what you make it.

The sky is not falling....Blaming this site and/or the moderators for a perceived deterioration of the culture, or sense of community, here is IMO simply a cop-out...Audiogon has not victimized anyone.   A culture is made from the behaviors, beliefs, values and habits of the people participating in a group.  If we want a great culture here, then we each need to do our part to behave in a manner that mirrors how we would like others here to behave.  Outliers will stand out as not being a cultural fit.  I honestly don't see that things are so different than they were in 1999 when I signed on here.


I love this place and come here every day to buy and sell gear and read and post in the forums. All things change, but Audiogon seems to have survived pretty nicely all things considered.
Think of Audiogon Forum as a pub. Not quite everybody knows your name, but there's a handful of faces that you are comfortable seeing and you are happy to drop in on their conversations.

When I see Jmcgrogan2, I know some helpful knowledge is being shared. If EBM pops in, I am sure to find a laugh from his brevity and candor. If I need a technical education to go with a strong coffee, almarg and atmasphere will be sure to make sure I understand the details.

Yeah, there's often that d-bag in the corner, shouting at some girl who lost interest after his second witticism. But that's the price of entering a public house. You never know who will stop in, and some will add more to the flavor of the place than others.
Perhaps the OP is correct and I should make sure my wallet is in my front pocket, but that's a concern everywhere these days. I'd still rather hang here than most of the other joints. The music's better here. Cheers,
Spencer 
Compared to other areas in life, society, politics (!) and commerce since I joined in Oct, 2003, while Audiogon has welcomed more into the tent inclusive of diversity, curiosity and alternative views, perhaps with some rubbernecking here and there, overall, it still promotes most of what invited me in and that has kept my interest.  Things always change, sometimes not for the better or in ways that preserve the original charter.  I still learn a great deal from this site and most members are thoughtful and dedicated to promoting and supporting the interests of the group.  I too have bought and sold here and for the most part, have had nothing but great exchanges and transactions with fellow musicoaudiobuds. There used to be a couple of people that would routinely bash anything about anything, but they know who they are, are after awhile their poison lost its potency.  The good thing about this is that more listeners have been welcomed into the house, at least out of curiosity, which is what we want, at least hypothetically, right?
Great posts by akg_ca and asp307.  

This is still a great site, many of us here care enough to share their experiences and wisdom.  I learned a great deal here and been able to put together an awesome HT/2ch setup.  I couldn't have done it without our A'gon community support. 

I sell a lot here and bought some gear over the years. My motto always been, if you like something, pay the damn price and enjoy it.  Life is just too short to mull over saving few dollars. 

Being passionate about something is not always easy. But that's what elevates it from being merely a hobby.  
Been using Audiogon for about a year.

The OP made me feel like I'm at a block party in my new neighborhood and all everbody talks about is how nice it used to be. ;)

Just want to say this site is great and I'm grateful to have it as a resource. 

I just wish I had discovered Audiogon sooner. I have learned some great stuff here, not the least of which is some artists with whom I was not familiar. And I’ve "met" some people I would be very happy to be friends with in real life ;-). Thanks ya’ll!
I think it reflects what's happened at Ebay.  In the beginning it was people selling used goods with some professionals thrown into the mix.  Now it seems like it's the opposite, primarily pros dominating the site.  It's gone to a site that felt much like a glorified garage sale, to a place where people are actually making a living doing this.  
I understand what you mean. The anonymity of the internet allows people to disregard common courtesy. Audiogon is still OK, but not what it once was. Now on Sundays I go to my local Hi Fi shop (yes they still exist and should be supported) to chat  about equipment and records. Thankfully some on this site like to be courteous and helpful to others, and you just  have to ignore the various brand campaigners and others with less than helpful agendas to prosecute. Strangely enough almost none of them have responded to this thread so far.

OP-


brings up excellent points for our consideration. The net has changed, better or worse, it has changed. In the way of forums, there are many, many more in 2016, than say, 2004.  eBay in 2016, is laden with rank amateur sellers who are not professional at all. Paypal was the worst thing to happen to the 'bay. Those guys get what they deserve.

Thankfully, Amazon has steered clear of this crap and remains the best choice for net commerce- I am a weekly customer.

Audiogon still has a lot and first rate information from former years. You need some time for search but you will find information you will not get anywhere else. Other forums have financial interests - well hidden behind "being a music lover or enthusiast or...." - and are useful more or less for one person only: The owner.
Normally you will find only one rave after the next, the showing of price tags, happy owners who are glad to be a member of this or that exclusive object....in Audiogon you will find comments/influences/ideas which are not the usual main stream... but in the end you have to think to make your own decision. That is something different than the usual flavor of the month...
Audiogon is a market place but their forums with the information which is there, is still unique.

i would also keep the forum aspect separate from the commercial aspect. as for the forum, other than getting older and more cantankerous myself, i don't see much erosion--there's always been a lot of great, interesting folks and a significant minority of wankers. as for the commercial, there likely has been  a deterioration in the "honor code in a gentleman’s club arena" (well put, akg)--the professionals and bottom feeders seem more prevalent and i personally don't find it as much fun to buy and sell here as i once did. oh well--all things pass and i have enough gear for several lives.
Syntax and LJ---Having discovered Audiogon only relatively recently, I am SO grateful the Forums are still here to be read. The depth of knowledge and expertise found in them is truly amazing. I hope the Forums are kept available long enough into the future for me to make my way through them all! 
All good Goners - A friend of mine who is a partner in a cable company near by expressed his frustration on this topic to me. He's considering exiting audio due to concerns expressed above. He is one fine human being IMHO. This makes me sad... I LOVE AUDIO! And I love the person-to-person market AudiogoN has developed. Our audio culture is WHAT WE MAKE IT. My 2bits is let's all conscientiously pick up our approach here as we can. Thanks to all the people who have added their intelligence, wisdom, and experience to this fine forum!
Interesting discussion. I’ve been buying through Audiogon for many, many years. My time with the forums has always varied regarding whether I was in upgrade mode. I could go many months without logging on. In fact, during one of my hiatuses my membership was somehow lost. I’ve never been much of a poster though, more of a reader. Always found the knowledgeable posters a little intimidating to interact with – especially recently. There are some really expert members. Also have valued the music and recordings reviews. The nasty posts I’ve always just ignored.


Audiogon has really helped me assemble systems (CJ, Vandersteen, Rega, etc.) that have let me listen to my real obsessions – Coltrane, Bill Evans, Dexter Gordon, Keith Jarrett, Jerry Garcia, Stevie Ray, Clapton, Santana, Allmans, Buddy Guy, Stones, Beatles, Zepp, Bowie, The Who, etc., etc. Thank god for the wonderful knowledge-base on this site.


Seems if anything is mark "USED", even 5 minuted old, it should, at best, garner only 50%

Umm, welcome to the rest of the world.  Why should audio equipment be much different?  Some of the prices people expect for 5-10 year old "high end" electronics can be quite ridiculous.  Don't hate me, I'm an "audiophile" too, but I'm also a realist that doesn't have a double standard for my own hobby.
A few years ago, the "financial partners" in this site decided the site should be making more money.   Nothing wrong with that, as a goal;  the times were changing.  The simplest way to achieve that end would have been to raise prices, right?  Increase the price of the ads;  maybe put them on a sliding scale tied to the advertised price of the item.  And perhaps add a small annual membership charge.  Unless the increases were outrageously high, no one would have objected.  And no one would have left the site in disgust.   But that's not what happened.

The partners didn't understand the "club" culture of the site, nor had any of them interacted with the members before then.  They imagined they could be the "eBay of Audio".  And it never occurred to them that Audiogon was, in fact, a club  (or that eBay was not a club!)  So they decided to follow the eBay model:  specifically, they would make money by adding a fee to every transaction, and (in the beginning) never considered raising the ad prices or charging a membership fee.

As a result, it became necessary for the owners to micromanage the members' interactions;  to make sure they didn't communicate privately or make deals without telling Audiogon;  just like eBay does.  When the fellow who originally conceived Audiogon balked at that approach, they forced him out (like when Steve Jobs, the 'soul' of Apple, was forced out) and that was the end of the "friendly" Audiogon.

So there's no point in talking about the "different kinds of members", and how they behave.   People are people;  but the Audiogon culture is no longer genuinely warm and welcoming.  And many of the oldest members  --  those with the most knowledge, and the patience to provide the best answers over and over again  --  many of them no longer feel inclined to freely contribute their time and knowledge to what has become a purely commercial enterprise.  It's a shame, because it didn't have to go this way . . . . . .  
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When a site grows it "normalizes", whether that's for the good or bad.

I'm new to posting here myself, and only doing so because of the recaps Audiogon sends to my email, but I have bought a few things here. I probably won't be a regular contributor, not because I sense any attitude, but because it seems to be a site enamored of subjective views. And I'm not. But other than that it seems pretty normal in tone.

As for low-balling, I'm not sure why people get upset over this. I have no problem with people trying to save money and test my price. All I have to do is say no and counter. It's not personal. It's not an insult. It's just money. Recently, I made a bid (about -25%) where the seller never responded. He probably lost a sale because I was willing to come within 7% of his asking price, but just wanted to see how much I could save. The item still sits there today and I moved on and bought it elsewhere. Asking for 50% off is silly, but not trying to get the best deal you can is pretty silly too.
I think nsgarch and smittyjs pretty much nailed it.  You have to separate the forum/social side from the sales side.  Business is business, if you don't like an offer, either counter or say no.  Don't get insulted.  When someone asks you what your best price is, either say what it is and stick with it, or (as I chose to) say make an offer if you're interested, but I'm not going to negotiate against myself.  On the forum side, there has been quite a bit of "turnover" but there's still lots of good info out there. 







I still love AG!  

Only recently have I given my voice to it and yes, I am grateful for the help, insights, product knowledge and occasional wheeling and dealing, buying and selling for great items from knowledgable people… had some great conversations even when things didn't work out…   I did buy a pair speakers here recently and it was a good purchase for me, the seller seemed happy…  Love em!  Could not have purchased such quality new… I enjoy the music as much or more than the gear chase… the HiFi madness !

I have noticed more negative tones form some voices… so far as AG history and future goes… I will defer to the wisdom of Charlie Brown and Snoopy… 

Scene:   Watching the sun go down… Charlie Brown states…

"Some day we are all going to die"….
Snoopy responds " Yes!  But every other day we are not!"   ;-)
If one is offended by extremely low offers, you are probably too attached to your equipment and shouldn't be selling it (OK, only kidding! ;~)  But there are two solutions:  either ignore the offending offer (and put it out of your mind!) or don't offer to entertain offers (you'll probably get some anyway  --  and they'll be serious, not lowballs!)

While I agree the current culture seems to me somewhat less congenial than in the 'old days' I think it may be partly due to the internet culture in general, and it doesn't bother me that much.  The two main reasons I don't shop here much anymore (well three actually, but I'll get to that) are:

1.)  The overwhelming presence of commercial sellers and retailers on the present site.  Every time I do a casual tally, it comes to just about 50%.  So the likelihood that something you're looking for is for sale by a private individual is about 50/50.  Or to put it another way, half the items you searched for, and half the time you spend browsing, will be a waste of your time (unless of course you're looking to pay 'retail'.)   Although not specifically banned, commercial sellers were never encouraged to use the original site, as it was clearly meant for private classified listings.  I don't mind that the current site has both, but they should definitely be kept separate.  Especially since these commercial users enjoy privileges/features not offered to private sellers.
2.)  Due to the cost of listing and selling on Audiogon, (and on eBay too) prices run a little higher than on free sites like USAudio, AA Trader, etc.

The "third" reason (which has nothing to do with Audiogon) is that it's become unnecessary to browse individual 'audio classified' sites anymore.  I use HiFi Shark exclusively.  It's free, and it scans every audio classified site in the world (plus eBay and Yahoo) and sends me an email (with links!) the minute an item I'm looking for gets listed.  It also provides up-to-date information on all recently sold or expired listings, which is a big help if I'm planning to sell something  --  check it out
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I am so tired of reading how someone got offended by a low-ball offer. The notion of being "offended" by low-ball offers is such a crock. Why not call it what it really is? You are simply mad (like a little whining baby) that someone won't give you the amount of money you want. It has nothing to do with anyone offending anyone.(My comments are not directed at any one person in this thread as I've not read it through. Just at those who've felt "offended". Such a silly notion.)
What I really miss is how crazy people’s systems were and how active the buying/selling used to be. Prior to the economic turn down, people in this forum used to swap out gear regularly which resulted in a very active marketplace for some awesome, high end gear. To put it in perspective, I had no problem selling some pricey gear like Esoteric X-01, Esoteric P3/D5 transport and dac, B&W 805/804/802 speakers, ARC Ref preamp, MBL preamp, Ayre MX-R monoblocks, Pass Labs XA-160 monoblocks. Needless to say given our new normal in the audio world, these items would have a hard time selling now. Dont get me wrong, I fully understand and even appreciate the more "responsible" audiophile world we live in now, but I do miss when we were all spending crazy amounts of money and just pushing the envelope of our whacky hobby.
+1 tboooe, I remember those days well Tommy!

The constant rotation of gear got me dizzy sometimes. I still recall a time, probably around +/- 10 years ago, when I had (4) high end preamplifiers in my home for a shoot out. List prices ranged from around $7K to $10K each, and I had bought them all and was using my patented Audiogon "Buy N' Try" methodology. I kept one, sold the other 3 within a month. Nothing like trying gear for your own ears, in your own room.

Crazy days when I look back on it. Sometimes I do miss it, but for the most part I'm happier settling down these days. I think the higher advertising prices, as well as the economy, has slowed down the market. It was easier flipping gear around when an ad was only $2.
patented Audiogon "Buy N’ Try" methodology

HA HA HA! So I owe all of this to you! I must admit that at times back then I felt like I was single handedly supporting the audiophile industry with all my purchases.  Those were the good ol’ days for sure John! If I am honest with myself, half (if not more) the fun for me is trying out new gear. I am a total gear nerd so when my system gets a bit stable I lose interest so I am constantly trying to find ways to keep my system fresh by learning about new technologies. The phrase "just enjoy the music" does not really apply to me. LOL! Unfortunately, the scope and scale of my "upgrades" are now more in the sub $1000 range versus what it used to be where I would spend upwards to $15k without even thinking about it. This new world order for me has as much to do with my audiophile maturity as it does having growing kids and a retirement account that is nowhere near where it needs to be!

Practically speaking this method allowed me to try out lots of different gear in my home with very little downside. Many times, I was able to sell my gear for at least what I paid for it. At one point I had the MBL, ARC, and BAT preamps in my home. Whats even more nuts was that I also had the Ayre MX-R and Pass Lab XA-160 monoblocks as well. I think I had over $40K committed to gear but I was not concerned at all about being able to sell everything. I recall the person who bought my Pass XA-160 amps were actually a janitor at a local high school! No idea how he was able to afford those amps.

I am so tired of reading how someone got offended by a low-ball offer.
  +1 rockadanny

John and Tommy, I too miss the free-wheelin days of buying and selling.  Probably lost a little money overall but I had about 25 preamps through here before finding "the perfect fit."  I am in the middle of a little buy and try with amplifiers now but thank goodness I am better able to afford it because the resale is not a sure thing, even with very good gear.

As to the forums, things may be a bit different now but I sense similar changes at A-Asylum too so that may be more attributable to changing times than to changes in administration of this site.  With the advent of i-everything, folks seem to communicate a little differently.....e-communication is no longer new and fresh.  
I agree with the original poster, although it's always subjective as to how far "downward" the site has drifted. Some would say a little bit, some would say a lot.
I do know that before 2007, I had never had anyone scam me, but it has happened 3 times in the past 7 years. Is that a little or a lot? A perspective of the people who were here 14 or 15 years ago adds insight to the original question. How long have the posters been on this site? I've been here almost 14 years. I like the site, but am still not a fan of the change several years back when it was more of a "gentleman's site" but was then clearly changed to "corporate mentality" in that say, a buyer is FORCED to use Paypal for buying, and cannot send a check, which means the site has an mutually beneficial arrangement with Paypal. (Does anyone wish to dispute that?) THAT part of it feels like cattle being herded.
Manners are certainly less in evidence than 13  years ago,  but that's been evident since technology has risen. People are just more curt, period. 
I wholeheartedly agree about people's buying habits when you are the seller: they do seem to want to buy something right off the bat $100 less than you are advertising for. In that case, I use the Nancy Reagan mantra: I just say "no."

Lots of good observations in this thread.  Yes, the old sense of community at Audiogon has changed, and not for the better.  Yes, the hobbyist orientation of the Audiogon ads has changed so that today a high percentage are dealers.  Yes, there are more scammers today among the Audiogon buyers and sellers.  But then similar changes have occurred at other audio sites as well so the change in Audiogon ownership is not solely responsible.  The bottom line for me is that the Audiogon forums are still useful (even if the quality of posts is not what it once was) and the ads are still a good place for buying used equipment.  

However, for selling items, Audiogon is no longer my first place to run an ad due to the fees and restrictive policies of the new management.  For me the Audio Asylum classifieds are now the first place for trying to sell.  They don't have as many views and it may take longer to sell something, but so far I have been able to sell the items I have listed and each experience has been a positive one.  There are other alternative sites as well.  

So while things have changed, there is no benefit in complaining about how the old days were so much better.  Embrace the present.  Appreciate Audiogon for what it has to offer, but at the same time explore other options for both ads and forums.  This is not the only game in town.
Is there a union we can withdraw from because of this?   😳