When the Magic Cafe Freezes over...

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and it must have because now certain tuxedo clad, card shuffling arctic birds have overtaken the website.

In a recent press release Magic Cafe founder Steve Brooks has announced that the site has partnered with Penguin Magic for the next 12 months in an effort to better help cafe forum members with their outstanding questions in certain product oriented/ driven forums on the website. This change is apparently the first of many new "experiments" to come. Oh goody, I may just die of excitement, oh no wait. I'm sorry Steve, I just clung onto life.

It's not a bad idea to actually have an on board insight technical help chat window in which members could ask questions, or get answers to things that make product buying difficult over the internet, but the problem I have with Mr. Brook's system is it's Penguin. Let's face it, Penguin isn't known for quality, nor high ethics. I remember here recently they tried to rip off Theory11's Wire wholesale! Don't get me started on some of their DVD's either. I've used a few of them as coasters on more than one occasion.

The thing is, is there are plenty of great places on the internet you can go to chat with other magicians and get questions answered without having to rely on a Penguin representative to do the work for you. Frankly, call me crazy, but isn't that kind of what forums like the Cafe (and this one) is for? Second of all, how can I be assured that the advice being dolled out to me is qualified to be speaking to me on things that I am considering for my show? Am I speaking to someone with Max Mavin's depth of knowledge on the craft, or am I speaking to some teenager who needed a part time job so he can afford that latest Xbox game kids have been going nuts over? Or worse, a company man who doesn't care one bit about who I am, or what I do, only in what he sells and how much of it he hawks?

That's the one thing about the Hollywood Magic store in (duh) Hollywood, California that I absolutely hated. The guys behind the counter in there only seemed to care about sales. They very rarely ever listened to my needs as a consumer, and it always seemed to me that their recommendations were what was best for them. If you weren't willing to pay top dollar, they grew tired of you quickly, and would move on to the next wallet with a pulse that walked into the store behind you. I fear that same sales oriented focus will overtake the efforts put out by Mr. Brooks with this year long "experiment" because, lets face it, Penguin has a vested interest in this project, and why wouldn't they hawk their own crap before sending you along the way to something that may actually be of value to you. Something that anyone else who DIDN'T work for the company may have suggested (for free) with a simple inquiry to the forums.

With that in consideration I believe the true motivations behind this "helpful" alliance has been revealed like a horrible double lift. It seems only to obvious to me now that any decision Mr. Brooks makes, with regards to his website, is all about how to maximize his take home profits. Think about it. You can't sign up at the cafe with a free web email service like Yahoo, Gmail, or Hotmail you have to use a paid account. Those are harder to forge, and usually are kept up since it's you know a paid for service. When you sign up on the forums at the Magic Cafe you agree to allow Mr. Brooks to spam blast you anytime he damn well feels like it with useless advertising messages about buy X new product coming out, or sometimes x new update to the website. Here's the fun part, are you ready? You can't opt out, and god help you if you ever call him out on the spam it is! Now, we've got a built in live chat system that only affects forums where new products, selling, trading, or retailing occurs being offered by a company with obvious self motivated aspirations in mind! It's reasons like this why I love Theory11, and Ellusionist more. The support structure there at least helps you grow in the art, and isn't just interested in hitting your wallet for all it's worth.

It's not like the money he makes ever goes back into the website anyways. He's still using the same layout with horrible animated gif's every now and again that most kids learn how to make in an 8th grade computer science class. Sure you're going to pay for server maintenance, but honestly the Cafe can't be THAT poor. Steve Brooks is an active participant in producing magic DVD's and other products, he has donation banners up all over that website, sells add space like mad, pimps others products, to which I'm sure he's getting an advertising cut out of it, and now he's in bed with Penguin. This is more of a rant now, than anything else and for that I'm sorry. It really didn't start out that way, but I can't help but feel like if Mr. Brooks actually cared half a flip about his community the way it's obvious that other sites such as this one does, he'd put a little more effort back into updating, and taking better care of it. Not dressing up obvious marketing ploys in flimsy veiled attempts to make it look like it was something helpful, and not sales driven. When it's all said and done, at the end of the day the only thing Mr. Brooks cares about is money, not helping other magicians, and not the other people in his forum. I knew there was a reason why I didn't support the Cafe much. This would be one of them.
 
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Reactions: CWhite
Aug 2, 2008
496
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Cincinnati
I've found it to be helpful on numerous occasions. But those mass PMs he sends are obnoxious. If he's got a buddy that is releasing a DVD, you better believe he will let everyone and their neighbor know about it. And the moderation there borders on insanity. One tiny comment about something they don't like or agree with, and it's gone in a flash. No reason mentioned. I do go there almost daily to keep up with certain people I respect, but cannot stand a lot of things about it.
 

RickEverhart

forum moderator / t11
Elite Member
Sep 14, 2008
3,638
469
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Louisville, OH
Interesting Draven. I know that being a school teacher, there are many websites now that we use where the instant chat window for technical service and support questions is available. It is only open from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm.
It is very beneficial for our needs but I see your point about purchasing magic effects. How is the person on the other line supposed to know Every single product, how it works and if it's good for you the consumer?

In the end, there aren't many salesman who actually care if you cannot perform the effect they just hooked you into buying. Thtas one reason I actually enjoy going to brick and mortar shops because I will talk and discuss my abilities and needs prior to pulling my wallet out.
 
Dec 18, 2007
1,610
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Northampton, MA - USA
You will find that the Cafe is a huge laughing stock amongst those that actually work in the magical arts. Mostly due to the lack of freedom of expression a.k.a. it's Gestapo management system that is spansive and not balanced in any way (unless you look at from a FOX NEWS sense of "fair & balanced" thinking). They are exceptionally biased towards Bizarrists & Mentalists in that we are the one's that will most likely speak up on issues the management has opposing views on (even Banachek has been given warnings).

While the place could be a wealth of information for those willing to dig through the cow excrement, I really can't see any true value of the place outside of nobodies being able to talk with somebodies and thus, feel special. What the former don't realize is that the latter sees them only as a possible sell on the next new item they poop out. On that front the Cafe is a consumer rich environment. . . that is, if you don't care who has access to your material. Thank god there are those of us that keep things a bit under the gross commercial radar so that the "better stuff" stays a bit more secret and less well known. There's a down side to this practice; people taking your thoughts and putting out material based on them as being something new and ground breaking, but those in the know, know better.

Personally, I say avoid the place. . . then again, people have been banned for mentioning my name over there and lots of threads that endorse my material gets mysteriously censored out.
 
Jan 1, 2009
2,241
3
Back in Time
The thing that irks me about the Magic Cafe is that it is literally impossible navigate. the site looks like it was designed by a blind monkey. If you ever want to find a review on a product, you have to use google search.. Yes, I said that right. You have to use ANOTHER search engine to find a review on the cafe. Because their search engine couldn't find the broad side of a barn.


It's just sad in this day and age too because with today's technology it shouldn't be too hard to streamline the website and make it pleasant to look at. Hell, a 12 year old with 30 min of free time on his hands who wants to design a forum for Dragon Ball Z could make a better forum than the cafe.
 

RickEverhart

forum moderator / t11
Elite Member
Sep 14, 2008
3,638
469
43
Louisville, OH
Hey guys, just dropping by again to check on this thread. Let's just make sure it doesn't just turn into a huge bashing thread that doesn't serve a purpose. Try to stick to Draven's points and thoughts.
 
Apr 18, 2021
2
1
MC is usually the last place I will look for insight or advice. Unfortunately, nearly every time I read through a thread, it sounds condescending towards the initial poster. Very unfriendly bunch there.

That was my two cents on my personal experience with MC. My follow-up to this thread is, what are my alternatives to the MC?
 
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