Ladies and gentlemen, we are at a crossroads.

Yes, we are at a crossroads, our destination not yet known, our journey far from over. We are weary travelers, but also soldiers, pilgrims, wise beings in search of a distant star.

We are at a crossroads, and not lightly must we tread onwards. We must step forcefully, and with resolve never to look back from whence we came. These are the times that try noders' souls, and we must aim to step right.

And this is the crossroads we have come upon: to link or not to link.

I know that a few of you are sitting out there today, wondering if this is an exaggeration, a sermon of misplaced proportion, better suited for kitchen table conversations and mild-mannered msgs among friends. To that I say you are wrong, and this decision that is facing us is not so small, and not so misplaced.

Recently, a writeup was submitted. It was promptly cooled! And upvoted! And all the lavish words of affection and praise that could be mustered were thrust upon it. It was, in short, a wonderful success by almost any E2 standard. And yet ...

It had no links.

Yes, not a hardlink to be found among its eloquent passages, its silver-tongued content! Devoid of the connective tissue upon which this site was founded! Deprived of the bonds that define the nodegel, that define the very soul of Everything!

When asked about it, the author merely replied that they had, much to this editor's chagrine, done it intentionally and, though without malice, with pride, that most noble of sins, that one's radical ideas had not occurred to others. And yet I say to you now, noderbase, there are many flaws with not linking, the least of which are these:

It weakens the nodegel, violating the ability to traverse nodes in a fluid and meaningful pattern!

It offers nothing to the nodegel save its own, isolated self, perpetuating the individual at the expense of the community!

It denies the reader the chance to educate themselves on the more rudimentary aspects of the article through simple clicking!

It conveys the arrogance that linking somehow diminishes a piece's value, rather than increases it!

It not only goes against the core tenets of this site, but also against the core tenet of the medium it is placed upon, the Internet! I say to you, simply say the first part of the word INTERNET and ask yourself if linking is merely a passing fancy, to be not done as easily as it is done!

Yes, my brethren, we are at a crossroads, and we must choose our path..


And we will not hold ourselves slaves to the stagnant modes and methods of yesteryear! We the noderbase are a living creature on this site, and we must evolve in order to thrive. We can no longer simply say, "This is so because it is so," and be satisfied. The ways of old are being questioned, and must be validated anew.

And so we shall have a vote! A vote in which all users are welcome to speak their mind. The question is simple:

Should writeups be required to have links?

This question will appear as a Current User Poll in the near future, and we will tally the votes there (NB: This vote will not be definitive policy. All polls are tools which help us administrators evaluate E2 policies.) In the meantime, another editor will be posting a dissent against my position for your evaluation shortly. Please send all msgs regarding this topic to me, and I will include them at the bottom of this log. Thank you, and good day.


wertperch says, "I'm 100% on this. If something doesn't have links, it might as well be on a piece of paper. And in this household, paper is chewed up and used in spitballs to tease the unfortunate neighbours. We have spoken."

mauler says, "Links are *not* optional. Never have been, never will be. I've had this talk with a number of users over the years and I've yet to hear an even vaguely plausible jusfication for why a writeup would be better without links."

Wiccanpiper says, "I had this “links” discussion with another noder who eventually saw the light. IMHO, links are an integral part of an E2 WU and a requirement, last time I looked."

panamaus says, "Bottom line: Unlinked writeups are not acceptable on E2. Period. It's at the core of what the Everything Engine was created for!"

borgo says, "I don't care how "brilliant" a w/u is, it needs to have links."

Heisenberg says, "Hardlinks are one of the few discerning features of e2. Without Hardlinks, this would be just another site, without me being able to ponder over my fellow noders wild associative powers. E2 without links is nothing."

dem bones says (re: Link and link), "Links are extremely important and give E2 its uniqueness among the plethora of publicly written and collaboratively filtered databases out there."

Accipiter says (re: Link and link), "Picture the site as a smoothly flowing river, with thousands upon thousands of different branches in which the river flows. The river is flowing seamlessly, quickly moving the current to thousands of other areas. Now toss a boulder into one of the currents. That right there is your linkless writeup."

Saige says (re: Link and link) "If you're not going to link, you might as well not even be here."

pseudo_intellectual says (re: Link and link), "Learn how to link, motherfuckers."

wharfinger says (re: Everything Style Guide), "Whatever you're doing, hard link. These rules are mostly just common sense ... Not one of them is arbitrary ..."

E2 Quick Start, on hardlinks: "Your words mesh with the words of others, your things take on color and depth, your ideas expand to join or contend with others, your places and persons find their context in the world at large. Our internal links are a distinctive part of the charm and culture of E2."

knifegirl says, "Linking is the reason that this is something more than a literary magazine. If you want to publish here, you must include links."

NinjaPenguin says, "Links are what made e2 interesting to me at first, and are still what make it interesting to me now. I can't believe its even under contention."

E2 FAQ: Integrating your writeups, on linking: "Deliberately integrating your writeups into the database is a necessary process upon which this entire web site is based."

Myrkabah says, "Writeups aren't required to have links NOW?"

mkb says, "Require links or nuke that shit."

golFur says, "To link or not to link is this site's big crisis right now? Is anyone even trying anymore?"

GrouchyOldMan says, "Sad that we even need to have this discussion about something so patently obvious. Links are the secret sauce of E2."

allseeingeye says, "No links today, no words tomorrow. It is a slippery slope."

Roninspoon says, "Frankly, I'm stunned that this is even an issue. Hardlinking is at the core of E2. Before a node can be judged by the audience as being acceptable it has to reach a minimum level of editorial acceptability."

iamkaym says, "Many a hard link I click on seems to have been put there solely to give a writeup the proper amount of blue text to satisfy an editor. A clever pipe link is a delight. But the subject-related soft link and source references are what give a factual work its validity and depth."

Transitional Man says, "There shalt link thy writeups, for writeups without links are cursed in the eyes of the Gods."

DejaMorgana says, "OK, i'll be the voice of dissent yet again (seems to be my specialty...) Links are not what E2 is made of. Words are. Links are a frill. I'd rather read a w/u with good words and no links than the reverse. I do think links can add a lot to a piece of writing, but what most of the people in your lineup there seem to be saying is that if you took away the links there would be nothing special about Everything2. Which is bullshit in my opinion."

izubachi says, "Hardlinking is, as far as I know, the *only* hard and fast rule editors have to go by."

N-Wing says, "I don't see how a "great writeup" would not have anything relevant to link."

Simluacron3 says, "I love the linking and support the concept; it does contribute hugely to E2. I just detest hard-ass-ism."

Serjeant's Muse says, "I violently disagree with one small premise of your editor log: what if an excellent writeup, with no hardlinks, still had softlinks? That is how the "neural net" works anyhow, more people follow those than the hardlinks i believe."

olmanrvr says, "When in Rome .... or get the Hell outta town!"

Big Bad Jet-Poop says, "No, hardlinks are important to E2, but if the writing is good, I really don't give a rat's ass if it's linked or not."

ariels says, "It is my position that E2 needs more links, but radically so. We have *too few* nodes, *too long*, and with *too high* reputations. This is not what I want from hypertext. I want to have many *short* *linked* writeups. (Here "short" means "no longer than it should be", not "<2.34K"). It is also my position that current editorial standards are *opposed* to the "many interlinked nodes" concept."

Last Month

Busy busy. Let's get to it.

Misadventures in Other Users

One January morning, I asked in the catbox (as I sometimes do) whether I could do anything for the folks logged in. doyle responded "Please Mr. Brawl I want to be King and have a "!" next to my name--where do I apply?" About a year prior to this TheBooBooKitty has asked for an "M". On a whim, I gave TBBK one, and left this 'vanity hack' for about a week without it attracting much notice. So this time I repurposed the same code and gave doyle his ! which seemed to make him happy.

Fine and dandy, but this time (perhaps because of the relative visibility of doyle, or perhaps because of his sudden propensity to say "!" in the catbox) things were different. The rogue ! bothered a number of admins and users, who felt it showed favouritism. Perhaps it did, a little - mayhap I was quicker to give it to doyle, an ex-admin, that I might have been had someone unknown to me asked for one. In any case there were complaints, and I rescinded it. As 'Editor in Chief' it is inappropriate for me to use my powers for such things, even when they're meant only in levity. Apologies extended, lesson learned.

It got me thinking though. We have %, $, and @. If we did have an ! as well, what would it be? I thought of merit and the Honor Roll. Some time back I tweaked Everything's Best Users to have a merit ranking. What if the top 20 (say) users by merit were marked by a !? (doyle would get his ! back, for one thing.) However, at the time that I did the EBU change Professor Pi said "I've never cared much for "Best User" lists. Actually, I think it is not a good idea. They become a self-fulfilling prophecy. The ones on that list get more traffic, and therefore more (up)votes ... The fair way to rank them is by (merit)*(#writeups). I believe we called that devotion." The Prof also suggested "...a list with "new" users (25-50 wus?) ranked by merit. That way we can spot the talents." How do people feel about this?

Of course, this requires coding. I could code it myself directly into Other Users, but the lag/drag of calculating this on every page load could be too much. If a super coder could set it up to run once a day, so we can use a stashed list to identify the ! users, we might try it out. Just an idea for now. In the meantime all due respect to 'King' doyle, and apologies to those who were bothered by my bit of foolishness.

Content issues

To link, or not to link, that is the Question of the Month. At least for Auduster, who has posted the epic work Thelonious Monk Quartet with John Coltrane at Carnegie Hall without a single hard link. The question before the court of public opinion: Are hard links truly a requirement of an E2 writeup? Does this have meaning for "today's E2"?

Typically when novice users post their first writeup, it gets shot down for any of three reasons: No formatting, no hard links, or plain old lousy content. TMQw/JC@CH was lovingly crafted both in format and content. No issues there. It just hadn't been hard linked, by the deliberate choice of the author.

What does that mean? How much of E2 is the "neural net" formed by the interaction of hard and soft links? By withholding hard links, was the author spurning 'the rest' of E2's content? Or is the hard link a convention of an earlier E2, no longer needed?

We've certainly evolved from the old days where hard links were often used for emphasis in a sentence, or found on practically every word. A smaller number of links placed judiciously where a reader might wish to drill is now preferred. But no links?

People would be less likely to copy text into the search window than to click a hard link. soft links would form more slowly, and thus key links might not be created. The soft links form a great resource, and surprising connections appear that the writeup author did not consider or even know about. Much of the joy of E2 comes from finding a startling soft link that leads to a subnet of amazing content.

In another way, hard links may be even more useful in modern browsers. I find that tabbed browsing makes the hard link work - I click one and read on in the writeup, then I later flip between tabs to see the drill downs. But admittedly the hard links I'm given may not be for terms I want to follow, or may pipe link elsewhere.

Basically, the question became: are hard links a defining E2 feature? E2 FAQ: Integrate your writeups says yes, and the consensus among the admin team was to agree. After much debate, the policy as defined in that FAQ entry stands. No "rebuttal" to kthejoker need now appear - but I thank Auduster for stimulating a useful debate.

Incidentally, my old writing partner dannye and some others have suggested a more 'Wiki like' link display format without the underline, to make writeups more readable. Some folks find our link format jarring. Yet hard links that were just a different colour would present Section 508 issues. It'd have to be user configurable if we ever do it. But that's for dann and the code crew to consider, not me!. I have enough worries. And chief among them:

Bringing the hate

At the same time as the link debate was going on, HateQuest 2006 appeared. I had challenged my new thorn amnesiac to create a Quest. It's the sort of thing I'd like to talk to Dr. Frankenstein about over a beverage. Little did I know that I'd created a monstah!

There has been, ironically, a lot of bad feeling about the very idea. Some good folks have been offended, for which I am truly sorry. But some great writeups (and, admittedly, some dross) have resulted. I thought the idea had some merit, even though I disagreed with some of its central tenets, and so I 'published' the writeup. (The admin equivalent of a "don't delete" sign.) This by no means makes it an admin-sponsored quest. Its very nature precludes that, though we can and will certainly reward outstanding entries just as we would any great content.

Just so we're CRYSTAL clear, though: Personal attacks on, or flagrant abuse of, fellow noders WILL NOT be tolerated. Personal attacks and derogatory behaviour toward other users is an account suspension offense. demeaning other members of the community has never been acceptable here.

Similarly hard-core hate speech will not be permitted. Recently Britain's Racial and Religious Hatred Bill was in the news. According to the articles I read, it was originally fairly sweeping, but currently limits the "offence of inciting (religious) hatred to intentionally threatening words and behaviour". A good guideline for us, too. Threatening writeups will be removed and threatening users will have their accounts locked down.

This also leads me to consider the current global political crisis over depictions of the Prophet Mohammed. Sooner or later some bright bulb is going to decide to "stand up" for something and post one of these on their home node. Again, let me be CRYSTAL clear. If you do this, or post anything else which is clearly provocative and creates a danger to the site, I will delete the image and suspend your image posting privileges. Regardless of who is right or wrong, it is apparent that the images incite hatred and cause violence. We don't need that here, and furthermore we owe it to the nice folks who provide our bandwidth not to place their facilities at risk of attack because we allowed it.

Yet (to return to HQ) amnesiac brought us a Quest. There's been a lot of gnashing of teeth over it, but amnesiac didn't do anything that any other user could not do. He created a writeup and proposed a Quest. I'd like nothing better than to see some other Quests, ones that we could all embrace, and that would give us something else (maybe even less contentious!) to talk about.

Admin staff changes

e2gods

As some have noticed, JohnnyGoodyear has taken a sabbatical from E2, and has left the admin team. I will leave it to the principals to comment on the reasons for this. JG was a positive and creative force within the admin team and we'll miss his contributions. We'll also have to find another sucker to foist our novice poets on....

Content Editors

As promised, we have some new CEs this month. I was thrilled with the many solid applications, and regret that I don't have room for everyone on this intake. Note that some folks sent me direct applications. There were some excellent ones, but as I said this process would be public, I have selected only those who posted to the site in accordance with my original intent.

I think we have a good mix of talents, skills, and ideas in the new Content Editors. Please welcome izubachi, grundoon, allseeingeye, DejaMorgana, XWiz, and Excalibre to the admin team. We also welcome back Wuukiee for a second term as a CE.

Update Feb 15: NinjaPenguin has stepped down from the CE group. And so the Great Circle of Life continues. Thanks, NinjaPenguin, for all of your work on the site!

Next Month

Imagine my surprise when I discovered I hadn’t posted February’s Ed Log. Well, as you get older, it’s said the memory is the first to go … that assumes you had a memory to begin with!


Fixin’

    • Heim Quantum Theory by Kybernator – messaged noder about the number of typos in the first three paragraphs. Noder very responsive.
    • Eerie Indiana by myrigth – some minor fixes and comma tweaking. Noder not seen in over a year.
    • Feminist Horror Film Theory by mittens – multiple typos in an otherwise excellent writeup. Noder extremely cooperative.
    • Stella Adler by SophiesCat – required typo and grammar/syntax fixes. Noder not seen in over a year.
    • O-lan by DarkStrider – typo fixes, yet another fled noder.
    • Merry Christmas vs. Happy Holidays by Stanton – a minor punctuation fix by a very cooperative noder.
    • Kleppur by Jabbi – suggested a few capitalization and typo fixes.
    • This Side of Paradise by Latara – nice writeup, advised noder to add more hardlinks, and cite sources. Fixed a few minor errors.

    Nukin’

      • Fernando de la Rúa by WalrusJuice – full of typos and poor punctuation; noder apparently fled.
      • Lethe by Eris99 – one line that added very little to the node.
      • For White Girls Who Have Considered Afro Hair Products/When the Conditioner is Enuf by betsyscamp – response writeup
      • A revolution in schooling by Jaggy – rambling, points badly made, poor culture references, multiple typos.
      • Irritable Bowel Syndrome by thison – not a writeup by anyone’s standards. Noder directed (again, but gently) to the FAQ.

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