Et tu, BITOG?
The O Pine

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© 2004 Brian F. Schreurs
Even we have a disclaimer.

Be sure to wipe down your knife with synthetic.
Just for the record, the IP address ban has been lifted, and we can again post on BITOG. While we wouldn't say that matters are resolved, per se, we'd say that we've engaged in tandem hatchet-burial. But for those who would suggest that we're just trying to get rich off our readers, we still reply:

In late January 2004, we visited our friends at the "Bob Is The Oil Guy" website, only to find that a moderator there had posted some rather unkind remarks directed not at the Synthetic Oil Life Study itself, but at the organizers of the study -- namely us. Specifically, the moderator:

  • disallowed a link to the study in the used oil analysis section on the grounds that a link to our site might go dead, and
  • alleged that the explanation for our recent absence from the site was because we had collected enough money from its membership, and that we would return once we needed more money.

Taking these two allegations together, we can only assume that the BITOG management believes we use them strictly as a means for funding our study. We had hoped to discuss this with the management in their forums, but as our IP address has been blocked from BITOG without notice or explanation, we are no longer able to login and post there.

It saddens us to see this attitude, as we counted many BITOG members among our friends. People we've met through BITOG have helped us improve the methodology of the study and interpret its results. We hope these individuals will keep in touch through e-mail. Now, however, these allegations must be addressed. It is one thing to question the methodology of the study; quite another to question the integrity and intentions of the people running it.

The Synthetic Oil Life Study began in November 2002. We started posting results to BITOG in the used oil analysis section only after receiving multiple invitations from members of the site. After about a year, we decided it was time for a vacation, and quit posting. We didn't post a farewell message of any kind; those things always seem to serve mainly to draw attention to the poster, when what we wanted was a break, not more attention. So we quietly stopped posting. Now here we are, at the receiving end of strange allegations.

On the first point, it is ridiculous to suggest that a post to the Synthetic Oil Life Study in the used oil analysis section ought to be disallowed on the grounds that our site might go dead. We had been posting links to the latest results for the better part of a year prior to our vacation without much ado. Neptune -- of which Paradise Garage and the study are a part -- has been in continuous operation since 1997 and is prepaid for the next decade. BITOG itself can't claim that sort of stability: registered only since 2001 and prepaid only through 2004, BITOG's staying power is untested compared to Neptune's. Because the study is so familiar to BITOG members and moderators, we see this only as an attempt to keep the site away from the eyes of interested readers.

On the second point, we think we need only point out that the information on this website is completely free for all visitors to read at all times; we lack even registration requirements. It's just out there. The study has its faults -- no study can be perfect -- but it remains the only one on the web where the methodology, results, and commentary are all laid out in public view in near-real time.

To continue into our assumption -- that based on these allegations, BITOG management sees us as attempting to profit from their membership -- this project has never at any time directly solicited donations from anybody, least of which the membership of other websites. We do request donations on our own website because the study is quite expensive, but this request has never at any time been repeated on a third party's website. NEVER.

We strongly believe in freedom of information. We will not charge readers for information on the internet. Not our readers or anybody else's.

As a profit center, the Synthetic Oil Life Study has been a bit of a dog. We paid for the 18 quarts of Mobil 1 synthetic oil, we pay for one-third the cost of each and every oil sample, we pay the postage, we pay for the SAE Technical Papers. We are grateful that so many readers are willing to help defray the costs of the study by buying some of the oil and picking up some of the costs of the analyses -- the study wouldn't be possible without them. But to so readily dismiss our own considerable out-of-pocket expense is uncalled for, and to suggest that the finances of the study are dependent on milking the BITOG membership is simply ludicrous.

It's not clear to us why the BITOG management is going to such great lengths to discredit us, considering that we are not in a competitive enterprise. It seems inevitable that we will be unwelcome at BITOG for the foreseeable future -- blocking our IP address is a clue that we are already in disfavor, but we're pretty sure posting this response to their allegations will lock us down as persona non grata. So be it; the study will continue anyway, as it did before we began posting on BITOG. We do hope that our friends on BITOG will keep in touch, and continue to offer thoughts and feedback. We hope Bob gets well. We wouldn't, however, bet on seeing 3MP anytime soon.