Home » The Autopian Is For Everyone, And I Made A Mistake, So Let’s Make This Right

The Autopian Is For Everyone, And I Made A Mistake, So Let’s Make This Right

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Earlier today – or, crap, now that I look at the time, yesterday – we ran a post about the design of the Rivian R3X. It was a rant, really, and while the post had plenty of interesting arguments and some very satisfyingly cathartic ranting, it also contained some actual insults and a tone that I should have realized is not in keeping with what we want the Autopian to be about. I hope you’ll let me apologize and explain how we wish to move forward.

The post was from our design expert Adrian Clarke, and I adore Adrian. He’s an absolute sweetheart and a very talented designer. He also has a sort of designer persona that is expressed in articles he writes for us, and I find it to be generally cutting and funny and insightful. And while this post absolutely had those elements, I think there were definitely places where the powerful currents of a cathartic rant pulled him too far, and as I was the one to edit this post, I should have perceived that and made appropriate changes.

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Sadly, I didn’t. Sure, I added a few editor’s notes here and there, but I made the mistake of assuming my knowledge of an author’s tone and intent would carry through, as if by magic, to every reader, and that was certainly not the case. There were parts that were frankly insulting, and there’s no excuse for that. We’re not here to insult anyone. Ever.

We can have strong opinions, unpopular takes, but we can’t just attack people because we’re caught up in the callow pleasure of a rant. We’re not here to gatekeep; while we value expert opinions – and I definitely consider Adrian a qualified expert – we don’t ever want those experts to make others feel like their opinions aren’t welcome. We can disagree, absolutely, but we will never discount anyone’s right to voice how they feel about anything automotive.

We’re all here for one reason: we love cars. That love can take many, many forms, and one of those forms is definitely spirited, vigorous debate. But it should never even appear like there’s a lack of respect from our side to yours; you readers mean everything to us. You’ve been loyal, you’ve hung out with us at meetups, and you’ve even supported us by becoming members. We owe you our very best efforts, and only our very best. And this wasn’t that.

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Everyone is welcome here at The Autopian, no matter how miserable I or any of our writers may feel your opinion on some car or whatever is. Or how miserable you feel my opinions are. It just doesn’t matter. If you’re at the Autopian, you will be treated with respect and dignity. Sure, there may be some teasing or joking or poking, but within boundaries.

And this time, those boundaries were crossed, and I don’t intend to see that repeated.

So please accept my apologies here; this is on me, I should have perceived the magnitude and intensity of the words we published and their full implications, and I didn’t. I’ll do my best to try and improve, to repaint those lines we won’t cross in a more vivid hue, so I don’t allow them to be stepped over again. I’ll likely make plenty more mistakes in the future, but I hope this will no longer be one of them.

I sincerely hope you’ll forgive my failings here, and I look forward to the chance to fuck up in bold, new, and more exciting ways in the future. All of us at the Autopian appreciate you so very much, and I deeply hope you’ll chose to continue to explore the grand, absurd, complex, and beautiful automotive world with us.

As repentance, I offer you a sketch of an alternate universe Fiat 500 where Italy achieved energy independence via the development of powerful pasto-anti-pasto reactor systems, which harnesses the incredible energy released when these two oppositely-charged foodstuffs react in a controlled environment:

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Fiat Pasto Antipasto

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David Tracy
David Tracy
1 month ago

Just to TL/DR this whole situation: When Jason and I started this site, we wrote a list of guidelines. One of them was titled “preservation of voice,” and it outlined key actions we can take to make sure we don’t contaminate that fragile something that special authors have.

We follow those guidelines (I know there are a few folks saying we should cool it on ed notes; we’ll do our best, though those notes are there for very strategic reasons); the guidelines are why you’ll see words like “colour” in pieces by Lewin and Thomas, they’re why you’ll have wacky asides that have nothing to do with cars from Stephen Walter Gossin, they’re why Huibert sometimes gets so nerdy it’s over the layperson’s head; they’re why Jason can sometimes use improper grammar (there’s + plural does drive me mad!) and we’ll let it run; they’re why we love Adrian hot takes that rip on the gorgeous E-Type Jag (an opinion that certainly not all of us agree with). Many other sites wouldn’t allow these, at least not to the degree that we do, but we know that voice is what sets us apart.

Still, while we pride ourselves with preservation of voice, here on this site we will not publish pieces that include:

  1. Personal attacks
  2. Threats of violence (or anything that can be perceived as such)
  3. Ridiculing of someone’s looks

I’ll quote a comment I made earlier to put a bow on this:

Did I overcorrect this story (which, fundamentally, was awesome; Adrian is immensely talented)? In some ways, I probably did (“shit-witted winkle ticklers” is gold). But it had to be mended in order to keep this ship of ours pointed in the direction promised by our Mission Statement.

I understand that it’s controversial, and to regular readers it might not have seemed as egregious as it did to those less familiar with AC’s style. But I have no doubt that modifying the piece, and being 100% transparent, was the right call.

Ultimately it was an editing failure, not a writing one (this is not on AC), and as EIC I’ll take responsibility for it, as I will for any editorial breakdowns here.

Now for a lighter topic: If you haven’t yet, read/watch Trade-In-Tuesdsay featuring the quirky Chevy Avalanche!

Fuzzyweis
Fuzzyweis
1 month ago

Someone can be immensely talented, but if they’re a jerk about it no one will want to(or should have to) work with them. Plenty of other talented people around, or can be taught.

I see that all too often where I work, an employee knows their job to the letter but will berate anyone who comes up to question them, and management lets it slide because they’re “too good to let go”, or we need somebody in that position. Meanwhile the moral of the entire department is lower because you gotta walk on eggshells around them.

Yes you can edit the writer’s articles, but that’s more work for you to make sure another one doesn’t slip through, instead of just having writers who actually abide by the guidelines you lay down and you can trust they won’t fly off the handle because people think a new car looks like a cool car they used to have.

67 Oldsmobile
67 Oldsmobile
1 month ago

I appreciate the editors feeling the need to not alienate anyone and keeping things in line, but I didn’t feel the original article was that harsh.
Some comments may come through as childish or coarse, but this is Adrian dammit,that is what he does best. English people are superb at telling you to go fuck yourself in a way that makes you laugh and feel insulted at the same time.

Greg
Greg
1 month ago

Soft as fuck, I don’t understand this.

Bad look to apologize to the three people who complained. Don’t ruin something good for 3 people like the rest of the world has.

Not everything is for everyone, not even this site. SOMEONE will ALWAYS have a problem, kowtowing to them is a HORRIBLE choice and you will regret the fuck out of it.

Drew Hampel
Drew Hampel
1 month ago

Adrian was right. Why did you write this?

Drew Hampel
Drew Hampel
1 month ago
Reply to  Drew Hampel

By “right”, I mean correct in the context of what he wrote. He proffered an opinion, used *informed* data to back it (is expert in field), followed a consistent logic. Why walk that back? It’s a rhetorical question. People can be displeased.

Frank Wrench
Frank Wrench
1 month ago

Carma. When you bad mouth the E-type, bad things will happen 🙂

I did read the original and thought, whoa, he’s bit feisty today. Wasn’t offended, though.

Don’t change, Uncle A. You either, Autopian. Good to see you acknowledge and address the concerns out there. This IS the best site!

Morgan van Humbeck
Morgan van Humbeck
1 month ago

I loved that someone felt safe to express themselves sub-optimally in this antiseptic time we find ourselves in. The article made me feel uncomfortable at times

Comfort kills your soul

Beached Wail
Beached Wail
1 month ago

I appreciate The Autopian’s policy against personal attacks. It’s good to remind us how the site encourages participation while minimizing pugnaciousness or outright hostility. So that’s all good.

Of course, writers having strong opinions should be encouraged, especially by those with the credentials to hold such opinions, and “shit-witted winkle ticklers” is a phonic masterpiece that I shall reserve for future non-Autopian online interactions. That’s good, too.

I also appreciate how a designer would tire of hearing often that their profession’s work is derivative or even pure duplication, without considering design parameters and limitations: “It’s like the love child of a SsangYong Rodius and an Iso Grifo.” “I’m getting clone vibes of a first-generation Plymouth Barracuda, if the Barracuda was a rear-engined Saab 99 made by American Motors.” “It’s an iPhone on wheels, if an iPhone had seats and cupholders and Apple had killed off their entire design staff sometime in 2013.” If I heard this after every job I completed, I’d question my life choices.

Stef Schrader
Stef Schrader
1 month ago

Goshdarnit, I take one day off from the comment section and y’all have A Kerfluffle. Don’t make me whip out the Puffalumps and demand that we do Malört shots until everyone is kumbaya-faced, I guess.

Anyway, I’m always here for Angry Adrian. Goodness knows, I don’t mind seeing folks who oversell their credentials a bit getting knocked down a peg, so long as that humbling lil’ call-out is based on a substantial argument and things are kept…mostly professional. (There are quite a few fart-biting pants-poopers in this industry, after all.) That being said, I’m glad y’all are transparent about this switcheroo and your reasons why.

Last edited 1 month ago by Stef Schrader
Morgan van Humbeck
Morgan van Humbeck
1 month ago
Reply to  Stef Schrader

Couldn’t agree more. I know people who literally cannot say anything meaningful for fear of upsetting someone. Fuck that shit! There was a time when we were able to tolerate discomfort

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