Did you ever hear the tragedy of Dem Bones the Wise? No? I thought not. It's not a story the daylogs would tell you....

Before getting on with business, let me join in thanking Ryan for his tireless and sometimes underappreciated efforts to keep Everything2 on an even keel and a straight course for the past not-quite-six years. Through crises great and small, through upswells and downturns in membership and in contribution rates, his has been the steady hand on the tiller.

I particularly admire Ryan's ability to put together a diverse and effective team of volunteers who administer this web site. He has an excellent eye for talent. Most times that he named new admins, I found myself in immediate agreement. Sometimes he chose folks I didn't yet know, but quickly came to appreciate. Several appointments that confused or even disturbed me at first also turned out to be nothing short of brilliant. (A few times someone has disappointed him and us, but such problems were rare and quickly settled.) The admin teams that Ryan leaves as part of his legacy are strong, diverse, and fully committed to the site and its user base.

With da boss's decision to step back, it falls to us to take up the torch. dann has the bridge as a sort of amalgam of nate and bones, and dann has in turn asked me to help him out as 'Editor in Chief' of E2. Urged on by the kind words of my colleagues on the admin teams, I have accepted with both pride and trepidation.

'Editor in Chief' eh? What's that about?

Basically it is someone who leads the admin teams, while dann concentrates on the technical aspects of the operation. In most regards, I expect that it will amount to the same thing I've been doing at Everything2 for years. Making a call on issues of namespacing or titles, where a choice has to be made between legitimate alternatives. Acting as arbiter of disagreements between editors, or between editors and users. Working to keep the nodegel flowing briskly. Without Ryan as 'safety net' to back me up if my judgment fails, I'll rely on the admin teams and the user base to keep me on track.

Why me?

A bunch of folks said some nice things about me, I guess. I've been on E2 since it started, and E1 before that, and am on the site at least briefly almost every day. I've been involved in many of the improvements and changes. Should this turn out badly, I don't have a clone army poised to keep me in power, and we'll simply give someone else a chance. I've updated my bio to be a bit more forthcoming, for those who like to know such stuff about those in charge.

What's going to change?

I don't feel the need to make many changes, certainly not before we see some of the code changes that will enable improvements. I will adjust the admin teams a bit, pushing out a few somnolent names to make way for some new blood. This sort of incremental change in the admin groups happens roughly every 3 months anyway. I want to write one of these logs each and every month, talking a bit about what issues and decisions were made by the admin teams, and responding to current concerns from the user base. I want to review and clarify some of the admin guides, and make some of that material more accessible to the user base at large. If we still face some pockets of admin distrust, I hope most of it can be cleared up with improved communication.

So, without further ado:

September admin stuff

This should get smoother as I get into the habit, and hopefully make notes as things happen. (Yeah, right.)

  • Dem Bones' decision to step down as E2 leader was a bit of a stunner. dann took over smoothly, and added a few folks to the admin pool.
  • Some previously unprintable nodes (the 'document' types) were made printable, or more precisely, code was tweaked to expose printability as a link, rather than having to manually append display attributes to the URL.

A serious discussion took place (and is still ongoing) after a young noder mentioned suicide in an impassioned daylog. Our concern is strong and immediate when we see these, because we have lost E2 noders to suicide. Some of our admins work in jobs where specific responses to suicide threats are mandated by law.

How does that translate to a web site with a worldwide user base, where the accounts are free and the membership largely anonymous? We talked about what our response as admins should be, what it could be, and the implications of trying to intervene. We have concluded that we're both unable and unsuited to intervene directly. We could, in some cases, guess about a noder's location, but we have neither the power nor the right to track users to their homes, schools, or places of business. We have the email address the noder used to create the account, and we can gather some raw connection information, but that's it. Unless a noder has given us permission to directly contact them and the means to do so, our users have anonymity -- we can't find them even if we should want to. Not only that, but some users have pointed out that the potential for harm to the individual's life and reputation may outweigh our potential to help. So what can we do as admins? The same things that any member of the E2 community can do -- offer to listen, suggest help resources, be supportive. But crisis intervention is not something E2 is well suited for, and our admins and users are neither expected nor required to intervene.

Advice from folks who understand the legal implications of such things would be much appreciated!

On the topic of helpful resources, this LiveJournal article http://www.livejournal.com/talkread.bml?itemid=3351314 has been cited as an example of how you can go about helping someone in crisis. It in turn links to an About.com article. "What to Do When a Friend Is Feeling Suicidal" at http://depression.about.com/cs/suicideprevent/a/suicidal.htm.

What struck me anew in this discussion was how many caring and committed folks we have in our user community. We have good people here, and they want to help. It's one of the many things that makes E2 such a great place.

If you're reading this and you are a person in difficulty, you're not alone. Some online resources listed on my home node, where you can find hotline numbers that may help. I have not used any of them myself, but some have been recommended to me by users who have. If you know a good resource that's not listed, please msg me and I'll add it. These ought to be somewhere other than my home node ... I'm looking for one or more volunteers to own and maintain such a document.

Admin logs

I heartily endorse the practise of admins logging their monthly activities here. I haven't done it myself lately because I mostly do title edits, leaving deletions to the Content team. Those deletions I make are usually discussed with the users beforehand, unless they've fled the site. You can find an excellent summary of issues discussed in these logs, maintained by gnarl, at Everything Editor Logs.

Coming in October

That's partly up to you -- msg me with site-related concerns and I'll try to address them. You'll also want to check out E2SS2K5 and the 2005 Halloween Horrorquest this month.

Next Month

It's been an interesting month thus far. I've purchased a new motorcycle (Yamaha V-Star Classic 650, for those interested) to replace the bicycle that was, according to various doctor-type people, causing extreme trouble with my joints (specifically my elbows and hips). I've worked the Bingo hall for my church twice, given away over $15,000 to old women with tiny squares of paper covered in multicoloured dots. And I've apparently been the go-to guy to take care of house cleaning in the nodegel.

Through it all, I've kept my job at 40 hours a week, kept my schooling and homework under 20 hours a week, and kept my writing at a... well, a bare minimum, unfortunately. I'm hoping to get out a few writeups sometime soon. Let's not hold our collective breath just yet.

In the meantime, my goal is to continue listing my nukes here, to remain accountable. Very few have been chosen by me. The vast majority were chosen by the writers themselves. So, if you have a problem with one of them, chances are good that you should contact the author, not me. I'm just the messenger.

Let’s talk about feedback for a moment. No, not the type used to sweeten vacuum tube audio amplifiers, but rather those votes, cools, and comments we sometimes give and receive. There's been plenty said regarding votes; this little essay will concern itself with the use of the blab box, and cools.

Based on my conversations with noders, I’ve no doubt that we could be giving each other a bit more feedback on our writeups than we do. Life is not to be lived in a vacuum, and neither is E2. The cools are nice, but sometimes much more can be said with a comment or question. I've lost track of the number of times I've used the blab box to comment upon a writeup. Even in my pre-editor days, I often messaged noders how much I enjoyed the writeup, or how well it was written, or with perhaps a bit of constructive criticism. It's a practice I continue to this day, and you should, too.

What if that feedback is little more than a correction, or a typo alert? Accept it gracefully – it is, or should be, almost always given in the spirit of trying to help you improve. Take it as a learning experience, and know that it's part of the process of helping you become a better writer!

And if you receive feedback you judge abusive? It happens, unfortunately. Contact a god or editor. We're equipped to deal with it, and deal with it we will.

Now, a word or two about cools. I’ve been asked now and then whether one should thank the giver of a C!. Opinions rage back and forth – here’s a sampling:

1. yes, because it's the polite thing to do.
2. yes, because I want to thank the noder for judging my work worthy of appearing on the front page.
3. no, I don’t require an acknowledgement that I read your writeup and thought it deserving of a C!.
4. no, I think it's superfluous to thank someone for thanking you.

Speaking only for myself, unless the noder has specifically stated on their homenode that they do not wish to be thanked for a cool, they'll receive thanks from me (unless I forget, which happens all too often). See opinions #1 and #2 above.

Let's use the communicative power we have here, and make more of an effort to chat with each other about our writeups.


Here’s my feedback for the month:

Recycled nodegel

  • Hugh Jackman by Missmarple – superseded by subsequent writeup.
  • node by BioTech – superfluous writeup, same information as a longer writeup in the node.
  • Camp X-Ray by cretog8 – at noder’s request.
  • liquid nitrogen by 3.1415 – superseded by subsequent writeups.
  • hurriedly by Legendary Heat – advised noder that a definition is not a writeup.

Reconstituted nodegel

  • VHS by smileloki – a few minor edits and spelling fixes.
  • Planner by madmrmox – advised noder that principle is not the word to use when you mean principal.
  • zoning by madmrmox – advised noder of typos.
  • Holy Roman Empire by Noung – fixed a few minor typos, notified noder.
  • The Holy Mountain by Tlachtga – fixed a few minor typos, notified noder.

Examined Operators

  • No one this month.

And yes, I invite feedback on this writeup, too!

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