May

May was a busy month, for coders and editors alike. Revoting became operational, direct linking to specific writeups was enabled, e2 became part of a university assessment process, and our party for poets is drawing close to the last dance. All this activity has left me with some things that I want to say.

On upvotes, downvotes, and changing your mind

Daddy DEB has taught me some very valuable things over the years, from how to saddle a horse to how to drive a car, but he also taught me that you cannot please all of the people, all of the time. So perhaps I shouldn't have been so bemused by some of the fervent reactions to revoting, especially the complaints that only allowing downvotes to be flipped to upvotes didn't go far enough.

Allowing only upwards vote flipping was a compromise; it was the fifth of six options, with the sixth being don't allow revoting at all. It balanced the concerns of some people regarding the reinstatement of the 'Ack! You lost XP!' message with the desires of others to be able to change their minds; it provides users with a tool to encourage revision and improvement of writeups without allowing them to remove XP from other users. It was my attempt to at least please most of the people, most of the time.

I was ambivalent about the notion of revoting initially, and to be truthful I still am. But I thought I was able to offer a relatively sound solution because in my head kept swirling the thought: 'Why does anyone need to be able to change an upvote to a downvote?' If votes are an editorial tool, then I saw this as a way of helping readers to help writers to improve. Of course, the best method of aiding improvement is to send constructive feedback. Kind words beat C!s and upvotes and well-crafted criticism helps people to develop. Perhaps we all need to think about offering our words more readily and more thoughtfully.

None of our voting policy is set in stone, and if Westminster can reconsider its voting system, then so can we.

Chair of Everything Studies?

Around the middle of May, we rather suddenly found ourselves inundated by new users who were all students at the University of Sydney and had been set the task of contributing to the e2 community as part of a course assignment. Unfortunately, this managed to create consternation for both existing users and the students: the course tutors hadn't quite picked up on how e2 works, meaning that there was a discrepancy in expectations. The students felt that they had been set unrealistic assessment criteria and existing users were unimpressed by what they felt was e2 being exploited. The assessment criteria were revised, which I think did go some way to relieving the tension.

I emailed the course tutor, offering to provide some feedback on how his students had performed, but also asking if they might be able to let us know how they found their experiences here. Although I did receive an initial response, I've not heard anything since. To be honest, I'm not sure that I will; however, if I do, I'll be sure to let you know.

There were a lot of confused babynoders stumbling around the site over that period, but thanks in no small part to the patience and dedication of the editorial team, they were able to contribute some valuable content. Hopefully, some of them might be keepers, too. So even out of confusion can come profit.

Wordmongers' Masque: Poets' Ball

Writing poetry is hard; and e2 judges poetry harshly. I can understand why many users feel apprehensive about attempting poetry here. But unless you try something, or at least have the opportunity to try something, you'll never know if you are good at it, or even have the potential to be good at it. The masque has allowed users who might otherwise be shy about posting their verse a degree of anonymity to test the poetic waters. I accept that poetry doesn't appeal to everyone, but then neither does science fiction or horror. Other genres are supported by quests, so I'm pleased that Rapscallion threw a party for the poets.

Keys to the Debriefing Room

I mentioned in May that part of the catbox devolution process would involve gods relinquishing their default catbox operational powers in favour of the dedicated chanops team. ascorbic, Oolong, riverrun, and rootbeer277 stepped forward to say that they would prefer to retain these powers and were, therefore, added to chanops.

The code that was needed for this transition and for various other chanoperatives' supergizmos, like the groovy + identifier that all chanops members have following their names, is due to rootbeer277 and Swap. How they cope with my utter cluelessness when it comes to code I'll never know.

June

Along with my usual babynoder nurturing and finding something interesting to write about, my attention might also be held by Wimbledon and Royal Ascot. If I were a betting lady I'd be on Federer for the Men's Singles and Johnny Murtagh for top jockey. But I'm not, so you might be best to ignore my tips.




Mix a third of a champagne flute of freshly squeezed orange juice with a third of a champagne flute of champagne, and add a shot of Cointreau.
Be prepared for a shocking hangover.

Some thoughts on being an Editor

It occurs to me that I am both the newest and the youngest user among the Content Editors. I never was around for E1, I never was around for all the wackiness during the frontier days of the internet, I never was a part of this community before the bar was raised. My writing is not the best on the site by far and, I would hazard, perhaps not even in the median of quality. What I can bring to the table, however, is a unique perspective because of these things.

I have always been uncomfortable with the idea of imposing my philosophy on others and yet that is what my duty as an editor is. It is a way for me to act on what my vision of E2 is and should be, a vision which is mostly in conjunction with the visions of my fellow editors.

Welcome to Everything

Of late it seems to have come back in style to question the future of Everything2 and do a little bit of community wide soul-searching. This is not anything new. For oversimplification but from my standpoint we're faced with one of two options. We can either continue with the small changes and all that decision entails or we can make significant changes to the dynamic of the site, hopefully for the better.

I think that it's time we take a serious look at Everything3 as more than just a pipe dream. Stop adding functionality to E2--if it ain't broke, don't fix it--and let the coders devote more time to other projects. Listen to what the noders want, what features they like in other sites. It is possible to take a leaf out of another website's book and still maintain what makes us unique. Give edev free reign, turn Suggestions for E2 into Suggestions for E3, lay the foundation for something new and yet familiar. It is not a viable alternative to continue as we are indefinitely. How old before the site is too old? Eleven years? Twelve? How small can the userbase get before it collapses? At some point we're going to have to face the fact that the internet has changed around us and that people are not looking for the same things that they once did. We can choose to either adapt to those changes and make them our own or we can resist them like a sandcastle in the face of an oncoming tide.

I have great faith in the power of E2 as a community. I adamantly believe that E2 can maintain the quality of output with 100, 1000, or 10000 noders and can survive traveling to a new website. Yes, it may mean more work for the editors. Yes, it may mean that we get more bad writeups but it will also mean that we get more good ones as well.

Trust the noders; trust each other. We are all here because we love the community, not because we love the website. The website is not E2, we are E2.


"We cannot wait for the final proof—the smoking gun—that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud."

Recently I've gotten more than a few messages voicing concerns about my nuking practices. I actually welcome requests for explanations as it helps me both re-evaluate my own priorities and reminds me that communication is a two-way process, something which I have forgotten on occasion. Thus, I think a layout of my (very) general criteria is warranted.

The reputation of a writeup is the first thing that draws my attention: how many total votes does it have, the general ratio of upvotes to downvotes, any C!s, etc. Next, I read through the entire writeup; multiple times if I don't understand a part. I check for clever pipe links (those are my favorite) and other indications that real thought went into the writeup. I take into account the type of writeup (e.g. daylog, poetry, fiction) and how long the noder who submitted it has been around. I then make my decision as to whether I believe it should stand as a representative of E2's content or not.

Above all it should be remembered that I make subjective judgements: I am an editor, not a robot. It would be easy for there to be a line of code which deletes any writeup with a reputation below -5 and yet it doesn't exist. That's because I understand that public opinion can be wrong for writeups rated both high and low. In general, I always give a writeup that I don't understand or even that I don't like the benefit of the doubt.

I've been a lazy bum and left this ed log until the middle of the month while DEB and RO covered for me. I make no apologies, though. Half of you were probably hoping that I'd completely forgotten about it.

Revoting

Revoting was brought live early last month after a lot of debate. Among the options presented, I went with the most conservative choice (short of doing nothing) in permitting flips from down to up only. Some people have been rather vocal in their disagreement with that approach. They have valid points. So do I.

After testing the partial implementation of revoting, I figure there are two options: Kill the trial, or expand it to permit revoting in any direction. The former is what I wanted to do before--I really had to be talked into going ahead with revoting in the first place. The latter appears to be the more popular option. The former is also the easy choice. Remove the feature and there will be complaints only about its absence, not about its presence and functions.

Revoting will be kept and will be expanded. My reasoning is primarily that a) it's here now and we're not big on removing capabilities, and b) with the default of Quickvoting enabled, mis-votes in need of reversal are much more likely than before because it takes a single (mis-)click to cast a vote. While it could be argued that this is a problem with people fat-fingering their buttons, the end result is that we do have more votes in need of rapid and outright reversal.

The remaining questions are questions of implementation. There are several ways of doing it as well as some potential restrictions (time and frequency of revotes, for example) that have not entirely been resolved. There's no official timeframe for expanding revoting but I'd expect it to happen within the next six weeks, or whenever edev returns from its drunken orgy on the new dev box.

On staff and non-staff matters

No slight intended to people who are no longer on the staff but I would like to state that I presently have the finest bunch of staffers that E2 has ever had. I can't take more than a small part of the credit for that as I have made only twelve appointments, and three of those had already served in bones's time. While the user interface and infrastructure are works in progress and still have far to go before E2 can challenge the mainstream for mindshare, the staff are pretty darn close to ready for prime time.

Despite there still being so much work to be done, what's been especially remarkable is the involvement and work put in by the coders. Part of this relates to infrastructure improvement. Swap makes a very valid point about us having been on the wrong side of ESR's old Cathedral and Bazaar dichotomy for the longest time. In this spirit I am very pleased to see so many new faces contributing as part of the revival of edev as a power behind E2's progress.

Having said edev, which involves a lot of people with no formal staff role, we have a similarly devoted contingent of people who work behind the scenes in building the community and supporting new users. Some things, like Segnbora-t's annual postcards, the Secret Santa tradition, or golFUR's little subversions and challenges, are the more visible ways in which noders take the initiative in engaging others. But it's also the little things that are done by the mentors group as well as the help and advice that comes from people outside the formal continuum. There are noders out there who do some of the least glamorous and recognised work. I know that many of them like to be quiet about it (possibly the same people who keep rejecting any suggestions that they join the staff) so I won't be mentioning names, but I will note that their work is as valuable as anything that I do. You know who you are.

Say hello to...

...call, one of very few ecore savants. We're needing his wisdoms bad.
...OldMiner. I'm not sure I understand what he does but Oolong and Swap assure me that it's cool shit.
...prole, someone with more javascript sensibilities and a stronger UI design record than we've had before.

Now that we distinguish between "ats" (@) and "splats" (*), these three are all "splats" and part of Oolong's crew so they're not expected to perform any editorial tasks.


     GEMINI (May 21 - June 20)
        You are a quick and intelligent thinker.  People like you because
        you are bisexual.  However, you are inclined to expect too much
        for too little.  This means you are cheap.  Geminis are known for
        committing incest.

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