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Fan-Addicts Hooked On Format War

16 Nov, 2007 By: Chris Tribbey

When it comes to HD DVD vs. Blu-ray Disc, you're bound to hear passionate arguments, angry words, and even outright threats. But it's not coming from Sony, Toshiba, or even studio spokesmen with a vested, financial interest.

It's the fans who have been most vocal — and controversial — about the new millennium's format war.

“Status symbol, bragging rights or just the fact that people want to show off their tech knowledge, what they are doing is presenting their opinions on forums and blogs and then defending these opinions — and their ‘tech' — with fanaticism,” said Xiao Fang, webmaster of Digital-Digest.com, one of the many Web sites where HD DVD and Blu-ray fanboys express their thoughts. “It is unique in that I don't think something like this has happened before on such a scale.”

A check of any U.S. technology Web site will find forums filled with fans who have latched on to Blu-ray or HD DVD with unfaltering loyalty:

“All's fair in the war at this point. Payback is a bitch,” wrote one HD DVD fan on HighDefDigest.com.

“I take anything and everything that Microsoft says with a grain of salt the size of the Paramount Pictures mountain,” wrote a Blu-ray backer on HomeTheaterForum.com.

“You're either a troll or just an ignorant fool” and “BD fanboys are friggin' idiots” were just two of the gems from HD DVD fans to show up on Engadget.com forums in early November.

It got so bad this month on AVSForum.com that site owners shut down the high-def software forum for nearly a week.

“We have seen members attacking other members not only in debate, which is the right way, but with physical threats that have involved police and possible legal action,” read an AVS letter to its members. “This type of behavior is just not welcome here, period. To the extent that some of you have gone to support either format is just, well, disgusting and has no place on this site.

“The amount of misinformation posted here and other places online helps no one.”

Misinformation is an understantement for many high-def fan postings.

“We certainly see members on both sides of the aisle spinning the day's news in a way that favors their chosen format, but then we see the same thing from the studios and manufacturers themselves,” said Jed Rosenzweig, publisher of HighDefDigest.com. “I do think that it's worth emphasizing that the vast majority of early adopters who visit forums like ours are there to engage in an honest discussion with like-minded fans.”

The main reason behind the vitriol for both fans and financial backers of HD DVD and Blu-ray seems obvious to Geoff Kleinman, editor and founder of DVDTalk.com: “Money. Plain and simple.”

“Consumers in this war are voting with their dollars, and they don't want to see that investment be for a format that dies, making their investment ‘worthless,’ he said. “People can be extremely dogmatic when it comes to this format war.”

And when people go too far in their posts regarding the format war, every site seems to have a policy to regulate the worst offenders.

“When someone chooses a technology, they are usually convinced that it is the best, and when others don't agree, they take it personally,” said Ben Drawbaugh, an Engadget.com HD reporter. “We're fortunate, and we don't see threatening comments. But we do see some that are insulting. Sometimes we delete them, other times we let them go. It depends on how bad they are — and if they are witty.”

Yet, with representatives of both Blu-ray and HD DVD responding directly to fan posts on the various forums, it's becoming obvious that the fans are being heard; every post — insulting or not, true or false — gets attention.

“With such a high concentration of the existing consumer base for these two formats visiting sites like ours, their comments actually end up bearing a lot more weight with studios and manufacturers on both sides of the battle,” HighDefDigest's Rosenzweig said.

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