Some thoughts on being back in harness
2001.10.24 at 01:46 wharfinger says WHACK! Yer an editor.
I have been on E2 for over eleven years, and involved in the editorial side for almost that whole time. I've seen people come and go. I have seen change. I have seen argument and polemic, squabbles and quibbles galore, and been involved in many. Despite everything, E2 has moved along, and whilst we currently have a fraction of the number of users and new writeups we were accustomed to, we remain a thriving community of writers.
On a personal note, many of you will be aware of events that have sometimes held me back from full contribution over the past few years, and especially the last months. I would like to thank you, all of you for the support and understanding you have given to myself and grundoon during that time.
For now, at least, I am back in the thick of things, both as a writing contributor and one of the site's admin team, and I thought it appropriate to share with you some of my thoughts and my vision of E2 as it stands at this point.
Firstly, I am delighted to see that overall, the quality of writing has improved over the years. The "raising of the bar" many years ago paid dividends, and many of the tools now available to us, both writers and editors, means that it is easier to give and receive feedback, create draft articles, control one's own content.
Secondly, I have noticed that there has been a shift in editorial policy. At one time, it was said that the site was a playground for the "gods", the elite. Many felt that E2 was run for the benefit of those in power. That may or may not have been true, and many users may still believe that it is still the case. Nonetheless, on reflection, I feel that the emphasis has changed from the somewhat abrupt and heavy-handed approach common when I joined, to a more caring and supportive, even nurturing environment.
You may or may not agree with this. After all, I am but one soul, subject to all the usual human failings. But this I can tell you - these days I'm betting that no new user has a first writeup deleted without comment. No user is tossed unceremoniously from the chatterbox without knowing why, or being warned off first.
Something that still occasionally irritates users, both new and established, are the "unwritten rules" that persist on E2. One example will serve: recently one noder posted a couple of haiku. They were "reverted to draft" (by me) on the grounds that unadorned haiku (like bare quotations) are not up to scratch; another editor had pointed out that haiku are too easy to write, and too difficult to write well. It was apparent that the reading, voting audience tended to agree. The author wrote to me with his objections, and we had quite a conversation about it. This, and other "unwritten rules" should be documented. Unless I am mistaken, there is nothing in our wide-ranging help files about this. I welcome any input.
Come to that, there is a mass of documentation, both "official" and not. "Of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh"¹ - it must be hard for a newcomer to absorb that sometimes. I wonder what we can do.
I also note a reduced tendency to create softlinks on new writeups. Me, I like them. They create interest, future readers and some dimensionality. Make moar softlinks. Minor, I know.
There still persists some "earn your bullshit" mentality amongst the noders and staff - in other words, what would be unacceptable from a newcomer in New Writeups is tolerated in older works by established users. You noders still fucking suck, but your needing my wisdoms bad is just one example. It's bullshit. Clever, risible bullshit, and I wonder at the reaction were that to be posted today. Tough one to call, I know, but the line between genius and madness is a hard thing to see. I think of The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, one of the few films I walked out of, but many hailed as genius. De gustibus non est disputandum.
Then there's behaviour in the chatterbox. It seems that there will always be people who treat any public forum as a place to troll, and this has been known to happen in the catbox. Now we have a group dedicated to ensuring reasonable behaviour, but it's not always been made clear what "reasonable behaviour" actually means. Well, we have free speech, but it does not include the freedom to use racist or sexist slurs, personal attacks or barbs. One user suggested that we need to grow thicker skins. That may be true. Some feel that any attack is inappropriate, and that "political correctness" should reign. Myself, I sit in the middle. Yes, we need thicker skins, but no, we should not have a list of banned words or phrases.
There's a fine line here, and I know that whatever happens, whatever decision is made, there will be unhappy people. To those who feel that way, I say "grow a thicker skin" and "let's just be respectful of others". If you are unhappy with someone's catbox ramblings, don't bleat, just use baleet. Anyone can set such things in Preferences, and check their ignore list, too. M'kay?
Help Me Out
In conclusion, I now ask for your help, your feedback. I have clearly not covered everything here, and also I cannot guarantee that action will always be taken, nor that it will be quite what you expect. Your opinions do matter, but others have their opinions, too. I am not the decider of what is "right" or "wrong"; that said, I do want to know what's going on in the collective mind, both praise and critique. Feel free to /msg me, or email me. Post Suggestions for E2. Just don't suffer in silence.
¹ Someone recently asked me what I was doing quoting the Bible so much, as I am clearly not a Christian. Well, I have been reading the bugger for over 40 years, on and off. It's a good book, has some great and quotable lines, but like E2 (and the whole internet), not always to be believed.