I still get PMs with gear-related questions, even with the line in my signature that's been there for over a year (though I don't remember exactly when I first put it there). I get about 1 PM about every other week on average, asking questions without bothering to put any pleasantries in it. Not that I'd answer anyway, but without the pleasantries it gives me absolutely zero motivation to respond.
I'm compelled to explain why I have the line in my sig, some of which is related to the subject of the thread:
- A lot of the people asking gear-related questions are merely looking for validation. Or in other words, they've already made up their mind what they want to buy, and regardless of how I respond, they're probably going to buy it anyway, so why would I bother responding?
- Back when I first started out in Head-Fi and was a lot more active (2005-2007) and when I got a lot more PMs than I do today (before I had the line in my sig), I used to spend quite a bit of time on responses to PMs. Back then I was more interested in trying to help out people, so I often wrote out long detailed responses. However, this ended up creating a "burned bridge" for me because the vast majority of people who sent PMs never said thanks for those responses, never followed up, sometimes ended up buying something against my advice or just ignored my advice completely, etc. Very rarely did anyone ever buy or do something that I recommended. It's 90% because of those collective Head-Fi members that I now just completely ignore gear-related questions via PM today. Of course, I know that what I'm doing (punishing the current generation of Head-Fiers for the actions of the past generation) is wrong in a sense, but I just can't shake that attitude. I feel like it would just be exactly the same result today if I invested time into it, if not worse.
- Over time I've also realized that my opinion matters less and less to other people, given the subjectivity of audio perception. Which is why the only thing I spend time writing are the relatively infrequent comparative reviews that I still do. I've long believed that comparison is the best sort of way to write about audio gear. You can't just write about one thing on its own without another frame of reference. So I invest time & effort into the reviews that will hopefully reach more people than just one, which leads to my next point.
- Trying to help just 1 person with their questions is futile when there are so many people on Head-Fi. A response to one individual PM, assuming that the recipient even follows what I suggest, will help only one person. Why do that when writing a comparative review, or any other kind of public forum post, will reach potentially everyone?
- The lack of pleasantries also kills my motivation anyway. Why would I bother to respond to someone who's asking rudely? The collective ignorance of Head-Fiers who lack common courtesy in asking questions to a complete stranger is mind-boggling.
- There's also the factor that I'm just one person with some very large biases that not all people share. I'm a self-professed treble-head, clarity-seeker, & speedfreak. There probably are very few people on Head-Fi who share my sonic preferences, and there are many who disagree with my posts in one way or another. I'm not a fan of the HD800, or any of the current planar magnetics (I've heard most of them). The only headphones I actually like tend to be either dynamic or electrostatic. I don't like anything that uses vacuum tubes or isn't aesthetically sleek. I prefer buying equipment made by first-world countries (preferably the USA, as I'm a proud American). My sonic preferences are also colored in the light of the fact that I'm also a musician (violinist since the age of 7). I did not like classical music growing up because I heard it everyday as part of that violin training but have since re-discovered it in recent years. With all that in mind (plus more that I haven't mentioned), how can I hope to help anyone? I've since determined that it's futile to try to help Head-Fiers in that way, and that everyone needs to hear gear for themselves. It's a journey of self-discovery, not a journey of asking other people questions. That doesn't lead anywhere.
That covers just about the entirety of why I have the line in my sig. Then there are PMs like this, which I was honestly shocked to receive in reference to an FS ad that I created earlier this year, from a Head-Fier with a trader feedback rating of +6:
Do you mind editing your post to remove the price? I'm trying to sell a pair soon.
I was half inclined to tell this Head-Fier why I should care about his sale, or any other number of potentially snarky or mean responses that I could've come up with, but I never responded because it wasn't worth it. If this Head-Fier would've taken the time to notice, in 7 years of selling items on Head-Fi I've never removed a price from an ad. And just because there are other Head-Fiers who remove prices doesn't mean I do it as well. I purposely don't do it for a few reasons. No one has ever complained to me about that until now with that PM. Plus his rude attitude was completely the wrong way to go about it. If he'd asked nicely I might have considered removing the price in question.
I won't name the Head-Fier but it's attitudes like his that continue to build up the negative impression that I have of Head-Fiers in general and the continuing mentality of a refusal to respond to most PMs. (I do make the odd exception for PMs every now and then that don't fall in the scope of why I ignore PMs, but those are few and far between. One of those exceptions recently was a meet invitation, which I had to turn down due to a conflict.)