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.
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.
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.