Over the years I have heard many stories of how various Facebook Autograph Groups can be a total circus. Crazy members, fighting, bad opinions, stalking... you name it. In light of this, I have avoided them.
However, recently I broke my own rule and joined the "Out or Safe!?” baseball Facebook group because I had heard stories of what was going on in there. My curiosity was piqued and I wanted to see for myself. The premise of the group is someone posts a photo of an item, and admins weight in with "safe" or "out" in terms of authenticity.
My membership lasted about 12 hours.
Someone had posted a Mantle for an opinion, and one of the admins replied that it was "safe," meaning it was authentic. The Mantle was questionable at best, and highly likely a fake in my opinion. Roller coaster baseline... signed in a spot Mantle would not sign... letter proportion out of whack... stiff rigid signature. I responded to the post that I thought it was an "out." (Photo below)
My comment was quickly deleted and the thread locked.
I sent a note to the moderators asking why. Were differing opinions not allowed?
The response was, "If an admin is very confident on the opinion they will answer and usually turn off comments. That is to stop people from commenting incorrectly."
I sent the photo to my colleagues at JSA, who deemed it a "fail." (JSA even noted it had a machine signed appearance, which I agree.)
I shared this with the admin, "Josh", who couldn't care less. I wrote, "My concern is people are being told bad material is good and then the convo closed for any debate. This is reckless."
In any case, despite the fact that JSA failed the Mantle, their decision was final. And then I was then told I was welcome to leave the group, which I did. I won't be part of something where collectors are routinely given bad advice and no one is allowed to question it.
It was not just this Mantle. I found numerous examples of incorrect calls. Willie Mays wife signed photo, Ted Williams fake, Carl Yastrzemski fake, George Brett fake, Don Drysdake fake... all called "safe" by admins. And this was just in the last few days. How many hundreds more bad calls were there?
Here are just a few examples of bad items being called "safe" by an admin.
Campanella rubber stamp
Obvious Yaz forgery
Willie Mays wife signed
It's not even the fact that mistakes are made. Everyone makes mistakes. It's that they arrogantly shut down discussion and delete differing opinions. And if you question it, you're no longer welcome. This is not about educating collectors, it's about stoking the egos of a few so-called experts who can't handle feedback.
For what it's worth, there are a few admins in this particular group who appear to be knowledgeable, but clearly a few who are total amateur hour.
There are some great Facebook groups with knowledgeable people. RACC is an example. This site is another example with knowledgeable collectors, and debate and discussion is allowed.
However, be wary of the groups that don't tolerate discussion or debate, run by wannabe "experts." The free opinion you are getting may be worth exactly what you paid for it -- ZERO.
(I am considering doing a YouTube video on this topic. If you are in any of these groups and have a screenshot to share, please post it here!)