Any announcements about the site's new owner(s) will be made on the front page, not in this particular ed log.


Who is Ed, and why are you calling him a log?

This log was a work in progress on the 5th of December, when the news of E2's impending divestment broke. It's just as well that it wasn't ready in time since much of it has changed. That included a commentary about the then-current state of server affairs that is now moot.

So we had a server meltdown two days before Thanksgiving and a couple of us scrambled to keep the site afloat over the holidays. The MSU guys miraculously and on very short notice procured a loaner before leaving for the holidays. OldMiner did the bulk of the heavy lifting as far as configuration goes and I ended up doing much of the routine babysitting and server-kicking. We got desperate enough that for the six weeks following the meltdown one of my own machines was serving all our static content, probably the first time that E2 content was not hosted on the site's own equipment. While the normal pages were still coming straight out of Michigan, our homenode pics and theme stylesheets had escaped to Indiana like renegade lawmakers.

In the meantime we've had old hand Jay "Bugs Go To" Bonci pitching in with some innovative approaches aimed at reducing the site's footprint and hunting down some cleverly hidden bugs to improve stability. Hopefully this will let us subsist on the existing hardware until the site's sale is complete and we're on new equipment.

Speaking of equipment

While the negotiations for the takeover of the site continue, I've assembled a pile of hardware that I intend to make available to the new owners. We're currently running on a pair of quad Xeons and a reliable but venerable Pentium 4 that I think came all the way from UMich. Or Bedrock. I'm putting together something pretty close to the dream setup that was politely ignored (and maybe even snickered at) when I recommended it in the past. Some things really are turning out to be a matter of will and not resources.

More catbox drama

So someone got locked out of the catbox and there was a giant fuss early last month in the midst of all sorts of other confusion. After that incident, I feel that a few things might need to be reiterated. I'm pretty sure that I'm repeating myself. At any rate, facts:

  • There is a catbox. There is only one default room. This may be a shortcoming in site design
  • Any user above a certain level can create more rooms
  • Nobody is forced to use the catbox
  • Nobody is forced to use any particular room
  • Everyone has an ignore button
  • The catbox is managed by a group of users called chanops. These chanops may or may not be members of the editorial staff
  • Chanops are autonomous. They're not my sockpuppets. They're charged with using their own judgement
  • Appearances and rumours to the contrary, I am still the ringmaster of this circus and am perfectly capable of swinging the big stick even as I speak softly.

So there were all sorts of reactions, ranging from suggestions to banish certain people to desert islands with no internet, all the way to disbelief that anyone would even think of a desert island. Unsurprisingly, most factions thought that I was wrong, which suggests that I found some sort of middle ground that completely satisfies no one. Here's where I stand:

Before you complain about other users, please note that I will not (and should not, I shall argue) be held responsible for situations caused by site users, including staff members, refusing to use the tools available to avoid users they disapprove of. I will not allow the few institutions that we have created, the ones that were designed to bring the site out of an era of authoritarianism and unaccountability, to be nullified or ignored by users with a grudge. This, however, is not a promise of inaction and works in more than one direction. Staff accountability does not render non-staff unaccountable for their actions. If someone insists on engaging in certain disruptive or antisocial patterns of behaviour, it should surprise no one if at some point there are consequences. The fact that this administration is more inclined than past ones to let certain users' bullshit fly does not make it stink less. I'm tolerant (to a fault, some will argue, and they may have a point), not olfactorily challenged.

There is a difference between inertia and indifference. Institutions and bureaucracy inevitably carry with them a slower response time. On the upside, nobody is getting strung up at high noon because some prominent citizen accused him of horse theft. On the downside, according to some, nobody is getting strung up at high noon because some prominent citizen accused him of horse theft. Or buggery. Or jaywalking. This is not weak management. This is adherence to protocol and procedure. In the context of a polity, most consider this a sign of civilisation and progress.

Now if I fail to rein in editor X when editor X consults me about an ill-advised action because I did not examine the situation in the field, this is a personal failure to exercise due diligence. This is not a failure of institutions. This is not the fault of chanops. This is not the fault of any other group, cabal, or collective. It also does not absolve offenders any more than getting beaten up by the cops makes a robber less guilty of robbery.

I think that the problem at its most basic level is structural and not social. There will be changes to the way in which chat and messaging work in the medium term. Until then and if people insist on sharing the same cramped space, just try not to be asses to each other, mkay?

Letters

Looks like the most recent Letters were smartly used for their intended purpose. The Other Users order was an executive decision for which I took the blame and credit then and which I shall stand by now. In the end it is a philosophical argument in which, after considering all the points that were brought up, I took the side of rewarding the active, as much as my esteemed colleague borgo calls bullshit on it.

The time of the posting was just great. I'm glad that, in the middle of a server meltdown, we found the time to discuss rearranging the passenger list on the Titanic. Is it crew first? Women and children? The band members? I do not mean to sound cynical or dismissive but, regardless of the validity of the question, the timing of that debate is the sort of delightful absurdity that keeps me coming back and gives me strength for another day. $DEITY bless you guys.

Traffic bulletin

Well, when I started writing this log on the 1st of last month, I was going to say that there have been no hirings, firings, or retirements over the last two months. Unfortunately this was followed by two resignations over a question of staff procedure and principles as Auspice and haqiqat left their staff positions and the site. This ties in to the catbox discussion above, which may sound a bit esoteric to people who weren't there to see the debacle. I will dare to say that our disagreement was in the end one of form rather than substance, on which we are not really in disagreement. I insisted on seeing that procedure is followed and they felt that they could not go along with me on that and wait for a process to conclude. I don't want to say much more or anything that would suggest that they did not have the site's best interests, as they see them, in mind because they were fine staffers and are Good People and fun to drink with. This is what sometimes will happen when people with honest intentions clash.

In other news, Auspice's place in the core group has been taken by the famous grundoon. wertperch has also cycled out of the group for now and will be replaced in due time. We have added some extra wisdoms and compassion to the mix with drownzsurf's addition to the chanops group. This does not mean that he won't borg your ass to Kingdom Come if it needs borging. GrouchyOldMan has been absent for a while so we left a gold watch hanging from his doorknob and thank him for his service over the years.

We had some user departures too. I spoke with Sim3 and he very emphatically asked for no drama but I will make just this one note because it's impossible not to have some questions asked or tongues wagging when a high-profile contributor leaves the site. The way I understand it he felt that his course and the site's were no longer parallel and were only drifting apart. I've told you all I know. I don't claim to know everything. He may have been BSing me all the way for all I know. He may have just been keeping the peace. On a personal level I found his wisdoms valuable and thought that our little catbox altercations were good-natured.

Some other people seem to have become rather antsy and are looking for the door. We can't stop them of course--indeed, since the Drafts system gave authors that extra degree of control, the site has no leverage other than persuasion. The news of the sale is not a suggestion that there be a mass exodus. This may become the case if the new ownership is not palatable to the majority of users, which is next to impossible at this point. There will be business as usual for the next six months at least. After that I hope that business will be better than usual.



And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. --Matthew 24:6

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