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The ‘Right’ Way To Do Ink Reviews To Serve One's Curiosity And Interests?



A Smug Dill

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I've never been in any situation where water affected ink on paper.

I'm not quite sure whether you meant that the inks you use(d) are waterproof, or just that you've never exposed paper on which you've written in ink to moisture unduly.

 

Anything from a juicy sneeze, or the first drops of a light shower while sitting outdoors at a café, to inadvertently allowing water to spill from a glass or some other container while at one's desk (which has happened to me several times), or getting a shopping list damp while at the supermarket after handling goods in the frozen section, could make an ink diffuse, smear or run on the page if it isn't waterproof. Even highly water-resistant inks can run, and the staining from ink escaping into a drop of water sitting on the paper surface, then allowed to settle and/or dry on the page again to stain the entire area beneath the drop, can adversely affect legibility of what one has written.

I endeavour to be frank and truthful in what I write, show or otherwise present, when I relate my first-hand experiences that are not independently verifiable; and link to third-party content where I can, when I make a claim or refute a statement of fact in a thread. If there is something you can verify for yourself, I entreat you to do so, and judge for yourself what is right, correct for valid. I may be wrong, and my position or say-so is no more authoritative and carries no more weight than anyone else's here.

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I'm not quite sure whether you meant that the inks you use(d) are waterproof, or just that you've never exposed paper on which you've written in ink to moisture unduly.

 

Anything from a juicy sneeze, or the first drops of a light shower while sitting outdoors at a café, to inadvertently allowing water to spill from a glass or some other container while at one's desk (which has happened to me several times), or getting a shopping list damp while at the supermarket after handling goods in the frozen section, could make an ink diffuse, smear or run on the page if it isn't waterproof. Even highly water-resistant inks can run, and the staining from ink escaping into a drop of water sitting on the paper surface, then allowed to settle and/or dry on the page again to stain the entire area beneath the drop, can adversely affect legibility of what one has written.

 

~ A Smug Dill:

 

Thank you for taking time to reply.

Almost all of the fountain pen writing I've done has been at desks in laboratories, classrooms, or at my home writing desk.

There aren't liquids on or near those desks.

As my profession has taken me into remote areas of East Africa and southern Africa a number of times, I've written outdoors there with fountain pens, yet invariably in arid conditions.

What you've kindly explained is reasonable. As it happens nothing like that has ever occurred in my admittedly limited fountain pen use experience.

If the inks I've used were to any degree waterproof, I was never conscious of that. It never came up as a consideration, although very possibly It should have.

All of this thread has been of considerable interest to me, revealing how little I know about inks and what's essential to understand about them.

Fountain Pen Network has been and remains a valuable educational resource for someone like me, with a rather rudimentary grasp of basic concepts.

Tom K.

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Like Tom K. ...waterproof was never a consideration for me in more than three score usin'....{high humidity/temperature ya know the Boonies..pencil works best}

Off to have a sandwich with a side of prideful pickles preserved in vinegar......

Fred..

life reminds us continually of the temporal nature of our reality.....all that come together

also come apart and in the end are just memory...............................................

Edited by Freddy
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Waterproof is important to me, because I can be clumsy. The people around me can be clumsy. I guess I am not as careful as I've tended to believe I am.

 

On the other hand... this light sepia stain that affects more than a handful of pages (luckily at the top margin, the only area of the page I tend not to cover with scribblings and ramblings) calls to mind a specific table with a specific clutter and coffee. And it's nothing compared to the mess of a notebook -- a Tomoe River notebook I gave to a friend -- that she filled up despite contact with coffee, the insides of her messy backpack, a poor smashed banana.... Her notebook definitely looks much more interesting than any of mine.

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etherX in To Miasto

Fleekair <--French accent.

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Waterproof is important to me, because I can be clumsy. The people around me can be clumsy. I guess I am not as careful as I've tended to believe I am.

 

On the other hand... this light sepia stain that affects more than a handful of pages (luckily at the top margin, the only area of the page I tend not to cover with scribblings and ramblings) calls to mind a specific table with a specific clutter and coffee.

 

 

~ ethernautrix:

 

What you've expressed above concerning how a light sepia stain evokes the scene on a specific table is so vivid.

Thank you for that.

I'm uncertain as to whether or not I'm clumsy. The plain reality is that there aren't any liquids on or near my writing desk.

Inks are on separate shelves where they'd never spill onto the writing desk.

Since the late 1960s assorted journals, notes, manuscripts, sketches and drafts have been written in ink.

No special care was ever taken to keep them clean or in pristine condition.

As my working habits since the early teenage years has been to sketch or write without any liquid around, ink waterproofing never entered into my mind.

Reading ink reviews, my limited interest is in shades of the color, how it behaves and whether or not the color changes much after drying.

After reading this entire thread a second time it's self-evident that my fountain pen ink awareness is substandard.

Much of the ink available to me is used for sketching, rather than writing. In such cases, were water to fall on it and smear, it wouldn't be worthy of remorse.

Reading how others use, evaluate and care for ink opens my understanding. The accumulated wisdom from multiple experienced ink users is a precious resource.

The sepia ink stain you've mentioned stays in my thoughts.

Tom K.

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ethernautrix

Thank you, Tom K., for your kind words.

 

I remember now that I wasn't always concerned about water-resistance. That coincided with my quest for the least troublesome black ink (I dislike feathering and bleed-through and ghosting), which coincided with my joining FPN (whoa...eleven years ago) and learning about Noodler's (Bulletproof) Black. I've enjoyed many black inks and not-black inks, but Noodler's Black has been the least feathering/bleeding-through/ghosting ink on the most kinds of papers. That it was waterproof (after bonding with the cellulose) was a bonus. And then it saved some pages now and again, so I've stuck with it.

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etherX in To Miasto

Fleekair <--French accent.

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Much like Tom Kellie, I too have never been overly concerned about water resistance, except in the case when I am signing legal documents. But for my notes, journals, manuscripts, document edits, etc. I haven’t found the need to worry about it. And like Tom Kellie, liquids are not on my writing surfaces, nor are they near my computer work area. If I have a cup of coffee with me or glass of water, it sits on a shelf away from my writing surface. In addition, all of my archived writing materials (I.e. journals, notes, etc) are stored in watertight plastic boxes. I live in an arid climate and don’t have to worry about mold, etc.

"Today will be gone in less than 24 hours. When it is gone, it is gone. Be wise, but enjoy! - anonymous today

 

 

 

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ethernautrix

I guess I live on the edge! Glasses of water and wine and cups of coffee and tea and bowls of ramen and udon (splashy soups), plus even more careless family members and friends -- all factors, including my own clumsiness (how many times have I accidentally pointed the syringe with a tiny bit of ink in one of the many wrong directions? At least a few. Haha.)

 

This illustrates that I have learned to accept that since I'm apparently incapable of being more careful, I need other solutions. It seems that when I try to be especially careful, I'll jinx myself at the last moment. (Ink mist from the syringe aimed skyward.)

 

Hahaha.

 

And so I've learned, out of necessity, to embrace Kerouac's suggestion: "Accept loss forever."

 

 

 

(Not to imply that I've mastered it. Just it's what I think when I've been careless and can't climb into a time machine to go back to 15 seconds before the "disaster.")

 

 

 

 

Addendum: Also, the realization that much of what I've written wouldn't be a great loss, anyway. For the past few years, I've been paying attention to what I remember, without even coaxing memories, and how those memories coincide with what I believe I want to remember. And thus the Notebook Lobotomy project, which includes a busy shredder.

Edited by ethernautrix

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etherX in To Miasto

Fleekair <--French accent.

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Much like Tom Kellie, I too have never been overly concerned about water resistance, except in the case when I am signing legal documents. But for my notes, journals, manuscripts, document edits, etc. I haven’t found the need to worry about it. And like Tom Kellie, liquids are not on my writing surfaces, nor are they near my computer work area. If I have a cup of coffee with me or glass of water, it sits on a shelf away from my writing surface. In addition, all of my archived writing materials (I.e. journals, notes, etc) are stored in watertight plastic boxes. I live in an arid climate and don’t have to worry about mold, etc.

 

~ 5Cavaliers:

 

Our approach is more or less the same.

In my case, it wasn't as a result of any well-thought-out plan, but rather just my way of life.

I once lived in Scottsdale and later in Carefree, Arizona, which are somewhat arid. Maybe living there reduced my concern about liquids and inks.

I'll admit that when I read the well-wrought ink reviews in FPN, any concerns about ink drying or smear tests slip past me.

Even the ink blot on paper features I admire, but somehow they don't touch me.

That's why I'd never dare to post any ink reviews in FPN, where experts and connoisseurs go to such lengths to deconstruct the appeal of each ink.

I'm primarily interested in how an ink looks in ordinary writing or sketching on better quality paper.

There are a number of inks on my writing desk, including Montblanc inks yet to be reviewed here, but I'd best leave that daunting task to those prepared to do all of the tests.

I hope that fortune favors me with dry conditions for my writing and sketching, so that waterproof inks will maintain their secret without my knowing about it.

 

(I wonder if I ought to change my screen name to “1Pekingese”? I share my life with a lovebug!)

Tom K.

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I guess I live on the edge! Glasses of water and wine and cups of coffee and tea and bowls of ramen and udon (splashy soups), plus even more careless family members and friends -- all factors, including my own clumsiness (how many times have I accidentally pointed the syringe with a tiny bit of ink in one of the many wrong directions? At least a few. Haha.)

 

This illustrates that I have learned to accept that since I'm apparently incapable of being more careful, I need other solutions. It seems that when I try to be especially careful, I'll jinx myself at the last moment. (Ink mist from the syringe aimed skyward.)

 

Hahaha.

 

And so I've learned, out of necessity, to embrace Kerouac's suggestion: "Accept loss forever."

 

(Not to imply that I've mastered it. Just it's what I think when I've been careless and can't climb into a time machine to go back to 15 seconds before the "disaster.")

 

Addendum: Also, the realization that much of what I've written wouldn't be a great loss, anyway. For the past few years, I've been paying attention to what I remember, without even coaxing memories, and how those memories coincide with what I believe I want to remember. And thus the Notebook Lobotomy project, which includes a busy shredder.

 

~ ethernautrix:

 

Thank you for “Accept loss forever”.

As is so often the case, Kerouac distills life's lessons into a koan.

Ramen and udon (I'm from Hawai’i and have worked for decades in East Asia) aren't ever anywhere near my writing desk.

Somehow it never arises the liquids are present when fountain pens are uncapped.

There's nothing premeditated about that, but more a reflection of a quiet, almost meditative step-by-step quality of each waking hour.

My carelessness manifests itself on paper, where impulsive strokes, squiggles, or jots are laid down without due consideration...often with less-than-felicitous results.

So be it!

Like you, I embrace the plain truth that most of what I sketch or write is of value only in the moment and to the angels, and I'm not so sure how they might feel.

Ink syringe use is at the kitchen sink so any mist falls where it's easily cleaned.

Maybe it's time to become a bit more reckless on the writing desk. Then the waterproof quality of inks would assume a greater significance.

Tom K.

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  • 2 weeks later...

FPN is a community of FP enthusiasts. I don't think that there is a right way or a wrong way to do an ink review. Why...because everyone has different criteria for what they are looking for in a review. Personally, I appreciate Tom's pictures and writing samples. He has done nothing but treat everyone on this board with kindness and respect. I don't care about the molecular structure of an ink.

If the ink was waterproof or not...that individual probably already knows that answer based on their collection anyway. You enjoy your hobby the way you want to and let Tom enjoy the hobby the way he wants to. Again there is no right or wrong way. The important thing is treating each other with respect. Tom there is no need to explain yourself and how and why you use your collection. I look forward to continuing to hear about your adventures and all those new MB inks you recently purchased. Based how Fritz Shrimpf has been treating you I am thinking about placing an order from them and trying their paper. Thank you for all you do. I also appreciate Smug Dill's opinions...however I don't necessarliy have to agree.

 

Respectfully,

David

Edited by NeverTapOut
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I don't think that there is a right way or a wrong way to do an ink review. Why...because everyone has different criteria for what they are looking for in a review.

That's why I put 'right' inside quotes in the title. I wanted to discuss with other (either experienced or prospective) ink reviewers the 'how', or methodology of testing for what one, who has an ink in his/her possession, is interested in knowing about an ink (i.e. curiosity) before deploying it in actual applications such as writing and drawing with fountain pens (i.e. interests).

 

If an ink reviewer is interested in knowing about the drying time, I want to hear his/her ideas about how to make testing for such more time-efficient, more resource-efficient (by requiring less ink and/or less paper surface), more systematic, more repeatable and/or reproducible by others, and still achieving the correct answers that are meaningful. Same goes for the 'wetness' or 'dryness' of an ink, its water resistance, and so on. An ink review that he/she subsequently writes up contains a subset of such information that interest the reviewer, who then chooses to share with others who may benefit from another data point with regard to those questions.

 

If someone isn't interested in knowing about an ink's water resistance, I have no expectation that he/she would ever set out to perform testing for such, irrespective of whether he/she is writing an ink review. Nobody needs to justify why they aren't interested in testing, or explain how or why they've never come across a situation in which water resistance is a concern. However, Tom wrote, "Waterproof testing baffles me," and I chose to explain why it could be of concern to some enough to perform testing. After all, I started this very thread to discuss performing ink reviews; not, "I read ink reviews and this is what I'd like someone else to test and then report on the results, so that without any cost in effort and resources to me as a prospective user, I can still benefit by reducing the risk of spending money on what I don't like, or won't enjoy using, or can't deploy in my applications".

 

Aside: I don't know why the hell certain things I order on eBay or AliExpress take forever to arrive. It is happening with 0.5ml disposable plastic pipettes, as well as plastic 14-gauge blunt 'needle' attachments for syringes. I'm still waiting on those items after six weeks, but I've already received large numbers of 1ml syringes and 1.5ml centrifuge tubes I ordered. As soon as I receive them, I'll be in a position to make good my earlier undertaking of offering ink samples of the equivalent volume as an international short cartridge (so, about 0.75ml, with some 'wastage' expected due ink clinging to the lid and the walls), without limiting feasibility to only those who use pens that take international cartridges. By providing a small syringe with a plastic 'needle' attachment, the ink can be drawn from the tiny, pointy-ended tubes and transferred into converters or empty cartridges of any proprietary format, as well as 'eyedropper' pens, and any piston-fill pens on which the nib unit can be unscrewed to allow direct access to the ink reservoir. Recipients of the ink samples can then have sufficient ink with which to write several pages, and perform sufficient testing of the ink if he/she is resource-efficient in the testing approach and methodology. @mariom has over-reimbursed me earlier, so effectively he paid for postage for the first lot of samples, I'm contributing the actual resources (the inks themselves, centrifuge tubes or some other type of sample vials, either a disposable pipette with a tip small enough to fit inside the mouth of an international standard converter or syringe with a safe-to-handle plastic 'needle' attachment, a cardboard mailer and void fill material) as well as packing and mailing effort, and whoever is interested can spend minutes, hours or days doing the testing that suits them. I expect each set of samples to contain between four and ten different inks, so that should keep someone occupied for a while if they're interested to find out more about how certain inks will look coming out of their pens of choice in their style of handwriting; that is not at all what I'm interested in covering in any ink review I publish. If I see the response to such giveaways is that people are truly interested in testing and knowing about inks for their own applications, then I'll prepare more and look at who pays for postage. I should have enough ink sample containers, pipettes or syringes and all that to prepare dozens of ink sample sets by then, if I choose to extend the initiative.

 

You enjoy your hobby the way you want to and let Tom enjoy the hobby the way he wants to.

Why, did you think I was trying to stop him enjoying the hobby?

 

I also appreciate Smug Dill's opinions...however I don't necessarliy have to agree.

Thanks. I look forward to your contributions about how you disagree — in the context of this discussion thread — with how I (or anyone else) test certain attributes of an ink, and show us what is in your view a better way to conduct testing and/or record the results.

I endeavour to be frank and truthful in what I write, show or otherwise present, when I relate my first-hand experiences that are not independently verifiable; and link to third-party content where I can, when I make a claim or refute a statement of fact in a thread. If there is something you can verify for yourself, I entreat you to do so, and judge for yourself what is right, correct for valid. I may be wrong, and my position or say-so is no more authoritative and carries no more weight than anyone else's here.

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If someone isn't interested in knowing about an ink's water resistance, I have no expectation that he/she would ever set out to perform testing for such, irrespective of whether he/she is writing an ink review. Nobody needs to justify why they aren't interested in testing, or explain how or why they've never come across a situation in which water resistance is a concern. However, Tom wrote, "Waterproof testing baffles me," and I chose to explain why it could be of concern to some enough to perform testing.

 

Why, did you think I was trying to stop him enjoying the hobby?

 

 

~ A Smug Dill:

 

Thank you for your explanation. It was helpful to understand why waterproof testing might be useful.

Lacking relevant experience, such considerations as possible water damage have never occurred to me.

Until reading through this thread, I'd never understood why most of the finest FPN ink reviews have featured waterproof testing.

Writing with fountain pens and ink has been integral to my professional career. With older age, it may be shifting toward hobby status.

As much as anything, this thread has reinforced my sense that most FPN members prefer comprehensive ink reviews with visual evidence of testing of various types.

That persuades me to leave ink reviews to others, as they may be better qualified to prepare and post high quality reviews with systematic evidence of ink performance.

As my desultory consideration of ink qualities is subjective and anecdotal, it's best to encourage others, leaving my images of ink for occasional visual posts with minimal analysis.

I admire all who determine to thoughtfully examine objective aspects of ink use, with the intent of sharing their findings with the FPN community.

That's a genuine service to the fountain pen community, as is this thread. Such a topic benefits from discussion, which brings me back to read this thread.

One direct consequence of reading the comments in this thread is that when presenting images of recent ink acquisitions I included handwriting samples from an M nib, which had been recommended here.

Tom K.

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FPN is a community of FP enthusiasts. I don't think that there is a right way or a wrong way to do an ink review. Why...because everyone has different criteria for what they are looking for in a review. Personally, I appreciate Tom's pictures and writing samples. He has done nothing but treat everyone on this board with kindness and respect. I don't care about the molecular structure of an ink.

If the ink was waterproof or not...that individual probably already knows that answer based on their collection anyway. You enjoy your hobby the way you want to and let Tom enjoy the hobby the way he wants to. Again there is no right or wrong way. The important thing is treating each other with respect. Tom there is no need to explain yourself and how and why you use your collection. I look forward to continuing to hear about your adventures and all those new MB inks you recently purchased. Based how Fritz Shrimpf has been treating you I am thinking about placing an order from them and trying their paper. Thank you for all you do. I also appreciate Smug Dill's opinions...however I don't necessarliy have to agree.

 

~ David:

 

Your sincere encouragement is much appreciated.

Yes, Fritz Schimpf in Tübingen, Germany is a reliable source of high quality paper, fountain pens and ink. Their service to international customers is consistently outstanding.

My understanding proceeds at a snail's pace. After years of writing with bottled ink, it's only now that my awareness is embracing more subtle aspects of individual inks.

The systematic testing of ink varieties featured in most FPN ink reviews has finally penetrated my thick skull such that such factors as waterproofing, lubricity, ingredients, and drying rate are beginning to mean something.

Inks are a working tool in my career. Only recently did I wake up to the reality that they're something of a pastime for many others.

FPN threads discussing major considerations have been eye-opening. My limited sphere of experience sorely needs increased input from those with greater hands-on mastery of pen & ink usage.

Working and living for decades in an area where most major international Web sites are unavailable, FPN is an especially valuable resource.

This thread has raised questions in my mind as to how I might improve the presentation in FPN threads of quality inks which are on my writing desk.

That the fountain pen writing education available in Fountain Pen Network remains gratis is a continuing source of wonder. I appreciate being able to read these lively discussions.

Tom K.

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To the extent that one sees the posting of an ink "review" as a service for others, one will consider what viewers might find useful or entertaining. To the extent that one posts a review as an inward-directed activity, one will not consider what viewers may wish to see (although i have trouble understanding the logic of publicly posting with no concern for viewers, because why bother, then?) Or somewhere on an axis in between. Right?

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To the extent that one posts a review as an inward-directed activity, one will not consider what viewers may wish to see (although i have trouble understanding the logic of publicly posting with no concern for viewers, because why bother, then?)

To me, (discussion of, and/or) contributing towards the evolution and refinement of "best practice" is of service to the community — of practitioners, i.e. those with a view to achieve certain goals and/or obtain benefits from doing. For a few years I was the in-house "practice lead" for some aspects of IT service management in a relatively large corporation. Attending industry conferences, taking part in "special interest group" forums and workshops, giving presentations (of case studies, etc.) and being on discussion panels had the dual objectives of improving my company's operations in terms of efficiency and effectiveness, and helping other representatives do the same for their enterprises. That doesn't mean I (or my employer) want to just give other companies, including but not limited to competitors in the same industry, business benefits on a platter without their having to do any work, make any investments or take any risks to unlock the reward. Whether their customers get improved service or other benefits at the end of the day was also not my concern.

 

That's how I see participation in online discussion forums (not just for this hobby, but also for running, mobile telecommunications, and so on). I've learnt a lot that I didn't know before, and become aware of many more possibilities and opportunities, by reading what others have chosen to share. I'm continually refining my framework for understanding and organising information pertaining to fountain pens and inks, and evolving the way I test, record and present things — often by learning what doesn't work well after spending the effort and "wasting" resources, or even wrecking or ruining some pens and tools in the process. I'm grateful for what I've gained, and I want to give back to the community by helping other doers build on top of what I've discovered and/or learnt.

 

However, I don't ultimately care whether anyone takes what is offered and unlock some benefit with it. If I offer to send someone a set of ink samples, I'm not really concerned whether the recipient enjoys it, benefits from having it, or even uses it at all; an ink sample is just that. As described above, I try to be considerate and packing what is offered such that it is usable to the recipient for the intent of the giveaway, but I'm not going to entertain requests from strangers or accommodate suggestions that (say) at least 2ml of ink is required for them to know how it performs or satisfy some other need; if an ink sample that is roughly the equivalent of a single international short cartridge isn't enough, that's just too bad, so please reject my offer then and leave it for someone else. They — and what they want — don't matter to me one bit, and that's the honest truth of it; it isn't something I'd shy away from admitting, even if I met them face to face in a pub, and even if they've had a few drinks and are rather less inhibited about expressing how they feel.

 

I hope someone can benefit from what I give away, I certainly don't begrudge it if they do, but delivering a benefit is not the goal; it's up to them to see the opportunity to extract some benefit from an offer, and then do the work that unlocks it. That holds true even when I care enough to give my leather jacket — still in great condition but too big for me after I lost 20kg — one last thorough once-over with leather cleanser and conditioner before taking it in person to a Salvation Army op shop as a donation. The garment, the treatment, the physical effort are my voluntary contribution. However, the op shop has to sell it (i.e. do work and succeed at the task) to gain benefit of financial profit from the giveaway. The person who buys it has to wear it on the appropriate occasions to gain the benefit of weather protection and warmth from it. That's up to them, not me. If I wanted the Salvation Army to get money without having to do work or bearing the "risk" that the jacket doesn't sell, I'd just give them money in the first place (and I know they prefer that); but their financial performance isn't my concern and wouldn't be the point of the giveaway. Neither do I care whether someone would be warm enough wearing that jacket, or wanted or needed more than that (which I could also give if I was so concerned) to endure the winter.

 

I see publishing ink reviews in much the same way. I'll package what I want to give away — in this case, information, which can be used by many different recipients at once as if there are unlimited identical copies available — carefully and thoughtfully, and I'll make it accessible. That's my voluntarily contribution. Whether that gives someone any benefit at all, and whether it only satisfies 35% of what a particular individual wants to know about an ink, is not my concern. I hope many will find some benefit from the information therein, even if it only closes the information gap by an average of 10% for each of them. But neither the number of viewers who derive some benefit from it, nor the extent to which it closes the information gap for someone, are my KPIs in the endeavour. Testing the ink and discovering what I want to know about it, then recording it in an organised and well-packaged manner, already give me the bulk of the "reward" I seek from doing an ink review. Feedback on how my methodology is flawed and/or can be improved is the other possible benefit I can derive from it. But I don't care about others' goodwill or esteem of me, I have no reputation to build or protect, it's not the kind of sharing I'm "monetising" such that a larger and more receptive audience would translate to better "success" in hard numbers, and there is no benefit to me whether it helps anyone make better purchasing decisions and get more satisfaction and value out of their budgets for the hobby.

 

Of course, if fellow forum members here collectively prefer not to see my ink reviews, I'll gladly not publish any more of them. I've only published one this whole year anyway, if I recall correctly, even though I've done plenty of ink testing of my own. My organisation of the findings from such has become more haphazard and suffered from it, so instead of improving in that regard there has actually been a decline. That goes to show there is benefit in preparing and publishing ink reviews, even if there is "no concern for viewers", which I'd forgone by not making the effort.

 

But that's my problem to deal with, not yours.

Edited by A Smug Dill

I endeavour to be frank and truthful in what I write, show or otherwise present, when I relate my first-hand experiences that are not independently verifiable; and link to third-party content where I can, when I make a claim or refute a statement of fact in a thread. If there is something you can verify for yourself, I entreat you to do so, and judge for yourself what is right, correct for valid. I may be wrong, and my position or say-so is no more authoritative and carries no more weight than anyone else's here.

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To me, (discussion of, and/or) contributing towards the evolution and refinement of "best practice" is of service to the community — of practitioners, i.e. those with a view to achieve certain goals and/or obtain benefits from doing. For a few years I was the in-house "practice lead" for some aspects of IT service management in a relatively large corporation. Attending industry conferences, taking part in "special interest group" forums and workshops, giving presentations (of case studies, etc.) and being on discussion panels had the dual objectives of improving my company's operations in terms of efficiency and effectiveness, and helping other representatives do the same for their enterprises. That doesn't mean I (or my employer) want to just give other companies, including but not limited to competitors in the same industry, business benefits on a platter without their having to do any work, make any investments or take any risks to unlock the reward. Whether their customers get improved service or other benefits at the end of the day was also not my concern.

 

That's how I see participation in online discussion forums (not just for this hobby, but also for running, mobile telecommunications, and so on). I've learnt a lot that I didn't know before, and become aware of many more possibilities and opportunities, by reading what others have chosen to share. I'm continually refining my framework for understanding and organising information pertaining to fountain pens and inks, and evolving the way I test, record and present things — often by learning what doesn't work well after spending the effort and "wasting" resources, or even wrecking or ruining some pens and tools in the process. I'm grateful for what I've gained, and I want to give back to the community by helping other doers build on top of what I've discovered and/or learnt.

 

However, I don't ultimately care whether anyone takes what is offered and unlock some benefit with it. If I offer to send someone a set of ink samples, I'm not really concerned whether the recipient enjoys it, benefits from having it, or even uses it at all; an ink sample is just that. As described above, I try to be considerate and packing what is offered such that it is usable to the recipient for the intent of the giveaway, but I'm not going to entertain requests from strangers or accommodate suggestions that (say) at least 2ml of ink is required for them to know how it performs or satisfy some other need; if an ink sample that is roughly the equivalent of a single international short cartridge isn't enough, that's just too bad, so please reject my offer then and leave it for someone else. They — and what they want — don't matter to me one bit, and that's the honest truth of it; it isn't something I'd shy away from admitting, even if I met them face to face in a pub, and even if they've had a few drinks and are rather less inhibited about expressing how they feel.

 

I hope someone can benefit from what I give away, I certainly don't begrudge it if they do, but delivering a benefit is not the goal; it's up to them to see the opportunity to extract some benefit from an offer, and then do the work that unlocks it. That holds true even when I care enough to give my leather jacket — still in great condition but too big for me after I lost 20kg — one last thorough once-over with leather cleanser and conditioner before taking it in person to a Salvation Army op shop as a donation. The garment, the treatment, the physical effort are my voluntary contribution. However, the op shop has to sell it (i.e. do work and succeed at the task) to gain benefit of financial profit from the giveaway. The person who buys it has to wear it on the appropriate occasions to gain the benefit of weather protection and warmth from it. That's up to them, not me. If I wanted the Salvation Army to get money without having to do work or bearing the "risk" that the jacket doesn't sell, I'd just give them money in the first place (and I know they prefer that); but their financial performance isn't my concern and wouldn't be the point of the giveaway. Neither do I care whether someone would be warm enough wearing that jacket, or wanted or needed more than that (which I could also give if I was so concerned) to endure the winter.

 

I see publishing ink reviews in much the same way. I'll package what I want to give away — in this case, information, which can be used by many different recipients at once as if there are unlimited identical copies available — carefully and thoughtfully, and I'll make it accessible. That's my voluntarily contribution. Whether that gives someone any benefit at all, and whether it only satisfies 35% of what a particular individual wants to know about an ink, is not my concern. I hope many will find some benefit from the information therein, even if it only closes the information gap by an average of 10% for each of them. But neither the number of viewers who derive some benefit from it, nor the extent to which it closes the information gap for someone, are my KPIs in the endeavour. Testing the ink and discovering what I want to know about it, then recording it in an organised and well-packaged manner, already give me the bulk of the "reward" I seek from doing an ink review. Feedback on how my methodology is flawed and/or can be improved is the other possible benefit I can derive from it. But I don't care about others' goodwill or esteem of me, I have no reputation to build or protect, it's not the kind of sharing I'm "monetising" such that a larger and more receptive audience would translate to better "success" in hard numbers, and there is no benefit to me whether it helps anyone make better purchasing decisions and get more satisfaction and value out of their budgets for the hobby.

 

Of course, if fellow forum members here collectively prefer not to see my ink reviews, I'll gladly not publish any more of them. I've only published one this whole year anyway, if I recall correctly, even though I've done plenty of ink testing of my own. My organisation of the findings from such has become more haphazard and suffered from it, so instead of improving in that regard there has actually been a decline. That goes to show there is benefit in preparing and publishing ink reviews, even if there is "no concern for viewers", which I'd forgone by not making the effort.

 

But that's my problem to deal with, not yours.

 

I take this as a long "yes" answer to my question, and then you place yourself to the far end of the "I do it for myself" end of the "Who is this for?" axis.

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I take this as a long "yes" answer to my question, and then you place yourself to the far end of the "I do it for myself" end of the "Who is this for?" axis.

I don't agree with your dichotomy, even if you frame it as two opposite poles with a spectrum between them. Doing it for myself is inherently also doing a service for others, and the more or better I do ink reviews to serve my own interests, the better the quality that service and the more opportunity it creates for others to benefit. Caring in any way for the prospective audience's views or needs is not a requisite for service to be rendered or benefit to be offered. Neither is allowing others a say in how the service is structured or delivered, but if they're going to say it anyway as if their wants were part of the equation, then nor is taking their expressed wants and preferences into account.

I endeavour to be frank and truthful in what I write, show or otherwise present, when I relate my first-hand experiences that are not independently verifiable; and link to third-party content where I can, when I make a claim or refute a statement of fact in a thread. If there is something you can verify for yourself, I entreat you to do so, and judge for yourself what is right, correct for valid. I may be wrong, and my position or say-so is no more authoritative and carries no more weight than anyone else's here.

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That's why I put 'right' inside quotes in the title. I wanted to discuss with other (either experienced or prospective) ink reviewers the 'how', or methodology of testing for what one, who has an ink in his/her possession, is interested in knowing about an ink (i.e. curiosity) before deploying it in actual applications such as writing and drawing with fountain pens (i.e. interests).

 

If an ink reviewer is interested in knowing about the drying time, I want to hear his/her ideas about how to make testing for such more time-efficient, more resource-efficient (by requiring less ink and/or less paper surface), more systematic, more repeatable and/or reproducible by others, and still achieving the correct answers that are meaningful. Same goes for the 'wetness' or 'dryness' of an ink, its water resistance, and so on. An ink review that he/she subsequently writes up contains a subset of such information that interest the reviewer, who then chooses to share with others who may benefit from another data point with regard to those questions.

 

If someone isn't interested in knowing about an ink's water resistance, I have no expectation that he/she would ever set out to perform testing for such, irrespective of whether he/she is writing an ink review. Nobody needs to justify why they aren't interested in testing, or explain how or why they've never come across a situation in which water resistance is a concern. However, Tom wrote, "Waterproof testing baffles me," and I chose to explain why it could be of concern to some enough to perform testing. After all, I started this very thread to discuss performing ink reviews; not, "I read ink reviews and this is what I'd like someone else to test and then report on the results, so that without any cost in effort and resources to me as a prospective user, I can still benefit by reducing the risk of spending money on what I don't like, or won't enjoy using, or can't deploy in my applications".

 

Aside: I don't know why the hell certain things I order on eBay or AliExpress take forever to arrive. It is happening with 0.5ml disposable plastic pipettes, as well as plastic 14-gauge blunt 'needle' attachments for syringes. I'm still waiting on those items after six weeks, but I've already received large numbers of 1ml syringes and 1.5ml centrifuge tubes I ordered. As soon as I receive them, I'll be in a position to make good my earlier undertaking of offering ink samples of the equivalent volume as an international short cartridge (so, about 0.75ml, with some 'wastage' expected due ink clinging to the lid and the walls), without limiting feasibility to only those who use pens that take international cartridges. By providing a small syringe with a plastic 'needle' attachment, the ink can be drawn from the tiny, pointy-ended tubes and transferred into converters or empty cartridges of any proprietary format, as well as 'eyedropper' pens, and any piston-fill pens on which the nib unit can be unscrewed to allow direct access to the ink reservoir. Recipients of the ink samples can then have sufficient ink with which to write several pages, and perform sufficient testing of the ink if he/she is resource-efficient in the testing approach and methodology. @mariom has over-reimbursed me earlier, so effectively he paid for postage for the first lot of samples, I'm contributing the actual resources (the inks themselves, centrifuge tubes or some other type of sample vials, either a disposable pipette with a tip small enough to fit inside the mouth of an international standard converter or syringe with a safe-to-handle plastic 'needle' attachment, a cardboard mailer and void fill material) as well as packing and mailing effort, and whoever is interested can spend minutes, hours or days doing the testing that suits them. I expect each set of samples to contain between four and ten different inks, so that should keep someone occupied for a while if they're interested to find out more about how certain inks will look coming out of their pens of choice in their style of handwriting; that is not at all what I'm interested in covering in any ink review I publish. If I see the response to such giveaways is that people are truly interested in testing and knowing about inks for their own applications, then I'll prepare more and look at who pays for postage. I should have enough ink sample containers, pipettes or syringes and all that to prepare dozens of ink sample sets by then, if I choose to extend the initiative.

 

Why, did you think I was trying to stop him enjoying the hobby?

 

Thanks. I look forward to your contributions about how you disagree — in the context of this discussion thread — with how I (or anyone else) test certain attributes of an ink, and show us what is in your view a better way to conduct testing and/or record the results.

 

A Smug Dill...

I misread the tonality of what you wrote...probably because I was up for 48 hours...however that is not an excuse.

My apologies.

Respectfully,

David

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I don't agree with your dichotomy, even if you frame it as two opposite poles with a spectrum between them. Doing it for myself is inherently also doing a service for others, and the more or better I do ink reviews to serve my own interests, the better the quality that service and the more opportunity it creates for others to benefit. Caring in any way for the prospective audience's views or needs is not a requisite for service to be rendered or benefit to be offered. Neither is allowing others a say in how the service is structured or delivered, but if they're going to say it anyway as if their wants were part of the equation, then nor is taking their expressed wants and preferences into account.

 

ok

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