I actually never thought I would write this post. Better said, I never hoped.
Disbelief and major disappointment were probably the main emotions when I was reading the recent posts on Saabsunited in the past week. What a journey this site has gone through. From primarily being an individual fan site in an underdog position (Trollhattansaab.net) to the leading news source globally for everything SAAB-related to its current state of decay.
Saabsunited (“SU”) was started by Steven Wade, a very gifted SAAB enthusiast who managed to run the community very successfully for several years. I always greatly enjoyed his very effective mix of timely, relevant and detailed contributions that made it not only educational but also great fun to read. More importantly, SU brought the whole SAAB community together in a way that I don’t believe was shown anywhere in the world before and has –according to the books “Kampen om SAAB” and “SAABs sista strid” (“The fight around SAAB” and “SAAB’s last fight” written by Jonas Fröberg respectively Jens B. Nordström)- been one of the major influencing factors for GM to sell SAAB to Spyker in 2010 and later for the Vänersborg district court to approve the reorganisation request in 2011.
When “Swade” (Steven’s online alias) got hired by SAAB Automobile AB and started “Inside Saab” in early 2011, he sold off Saabsunited. The site was now run by a small core group, supported by a few guest writers from around the world. So far, so good.
SU continued to cover SAAB-related news for the years to follow. There were some distinct differences though, in particular as to what types of articles were published and how disparate views were handled.
One of Swade’s strengths with SU was that he always seemed to have access to relevant and unique inside information that he then communicated in a very balanced way. SU in my view has been struggling with both since 2011. Their position as main news source faded with a decreasing number of inside stories, but also a lack of coverage of specific topics (e.g. anything controversial about Victor Muller), with local newspaper TTELA, Swedish daily SVD, Swedish Radio 4 and several international blogs slowly bridging the gap. The other key challenge I observed was how opposing views were handled by SU’s core team. As an example, one of my own remarks a while back was countered by: “I don’t believe I’ve seen you making comments on SU before, so I can’t really take you seriously”. I was then later blocked from SU. This also happened under various circumstances to several other SU readers.
Some months ago, members of the SU core team started to write about other car brands. This by itself doesn’t pose an issue in my view, but when it’s either completely unrelated to SAAB or it’s actually against SAAB, I really wonder what it has to do with SU.
The fact that people like and buy other brands is totally fine but when it is starting to become so blatantly obvious that the authors have lost the faith in SAAB and are no longer willing and able to serve as ambassadors for both the brand and the community, I think it’s time to make a change.
I was already very surprised and disappointed with the earlier coverage of this Munich-based car manufacturer, but last week’s article and the responses in the corresponding comments section really crossed the line from my perspective.
SU is neither SAAB nor United anymore.