Usque tandem, Catilina?
I am a user who, I think, has a fairly solid track record on being supportive of staff, oftentimes vocally; moreover, of sneering at those dogmatic, self-centered cretins who choose to leave us over some trifling piece-of-shit disagreement. I have read here for over a decade and been a user for nine and change; I've seen piles and piles of garbage wankery daylogs, shitstorms, petty arguments, huge arguments and leadership shakeups pass me by. I'm still here.
I mention all this for only one reason: so that, when I pop in from a rousing game of cards in the warm embrace of family to find myself seriously reconsidering my participation in the site, I hope it is understood that I do not, at least, speak in haste, or from inexperience, or as a thin-skinned newbie unused to the local climate.
Two of my favorite noders, users who will here go nameless because they have expressed a desire to leave quietly, have burned up their neckties and set themselves free, and why? Because a gigantic asshole — also here unnamed to prevent accusations of stirring the shit — is technically not breaking any site rules by being a gigantic asshole. Is that what rules are for? Just to display the loopholes through which a user can get away with harassing and disheartening his fellow noders? It's not as though these were disagreements on politics or anything — not even site policy, really. It's just unceasing, wearying bile, and occasional direct lies. The fact that certain users can apparently act however they like and not be subject to reprisal is astounding; it is worse than astounding, it is maddening.
If this site wants volunteers — and, let me remind you, it wants volunteers, because it runs on volunteers — it cannot permit occasional assholes to abrade those volunteers' interest in and dedication to the site, to the point where they leave disillusioned or really to any point at all. Disagreements within staff are fine — not just because they are inevitable, but because a staff to have a personality, an identity, cohesion, needs must exclude certain views and ideas. However, letting regular users batter staff like punching bags in a kangaroo house is, purely pragmatically, madness. That this is allowed in the name of some nebulous notion of openness merely adds a final flourish of insult to injury.
Our staff volunteers are, as it should be, the best of us. I believe this, earnestly; I believe it is one of the triumphs of E2 as a site. Many of them are at the forefront of site activity, whether writing, voting or chatting. This means that, when the volunteers are repulsed, it is the best of us recoiling. Every staff member who leaves the site is one of our finest, gone perhaps forever. It's a hard loss. And for what?
But actually, none of that even matters. What it comes down to is this: is keeping one user better than keeping two users? Three? Eight? Even without mixing in the relative productivity of these people, even without considering their value to the site: how many people is one person worth?
How much longer, Catiline, will you abuse our patience? How long, indeed, do you mean to vex us with your raging madness? How far, in the end, will your boundless audacity fling itself? Do not the Palatine nightwatch, nor the city watch, nor the horror of the people, nor the gathering of all good men, nor the assembly of the senate in this most protected place, nor the faces and gazes of them here present, move you?