Nodegel Weekly #0
Rumblings from a Mountain called Monkey
February 20 - 26, 2012

As mentioned in my last daylog, this column is shifting into a weekly format, and this w/u is the prototype of that. The response from last week was largely positive, but a few people expressed confusion as to what exactly I was trying to accomplish. So, let me unpack this idea a bit more.

No one asked me to write this column, but then E2 is not the sort of place where the editing staff often asks you to write something. You write whatever you want, hit "Publish", then you see whether it flies or falls. Why, then, did I decide to write a meta-textual column about E2, instead of more fiction, poetry, personal essays, or nodes about people, places, things, or ideas?

Here are 5 reasons:

1. Give readers a starting point

The adage in comicbooks (attributed to the great Stan Lee) is that "every comic is somebody's first comic". Likewise, every day on E2 is somebody's first day.

If this was your first day on E2, what are the compelling things about the site-- as a reader-- that would make you come back again tomorrow to read more? For me, it'd be 3 things: #1 New nodes from the site's roster of interesting regular contributors. #2 Surprising nodes from newcomers and other irregulars. #3 Wonderful nodes from the site's massive, 13-year collection of creative text.

Notice how none of those are links? Unfortunately, the site doesn't currently do a particularly good job of telling me who the regular contributors are. Nor does it particularly highlight cool nodes from newcomers. Nor does it currently attempt to curate and present its back catalog in anything other than the most haphazard way possible. I feel like those are all areas where a weekly column could help.

How do I plan to do that? It's not complicated, folks. Along with a block of exposition-- like the one you're reading now!-- I intend to assemble a series of weekly lists, to give new and infrequent readers some kind of jumping on point. Like this here:

Week's Best
10 Highest Rep writeups from last week (Feb 20-26, 2012)

  1. February 22, 2012 (log) by RedOmega at +29 3C!s
  2. Modelland (review) by Hazelnut at +28 5C!s
  3. February 20, 2012 (log) by iceowl at +27 1C!
  4. fuckbunny (thing) by lizardinlaw at +27
  5. tetrahydrogestrinone (thing) by BranRainey at +26 1C!
  6. How to be a human in love and other impossible things (person) by l0rca at +25 5C!s
  7. A Brief Survey of Songs and Song Titles Relating Eye Color (thing) by Pandeism Fish at +23 4C!s
  8. Writing Characters (how-to) by RossBondReturns at +23 3C!s
  9. Hand, foot and mouth disease (thing) by Croakery at +23 1C!
  10. I am a teacher, and I don't know what your pancreas does (personal) by Glowing Fish at +22 2C!s

(note: to avoid creating a causal loop that would eradicate all time and space, I'm not including my nodes on these lists. But if you're curious, February 21, 2012 by Nodeslam, at +24, would have also made the cut)

2. Encourage writers by shining another spotlight on new nodes.

Though it's invisible to guest users, E2's main mechanism for providing feedback to its writers is a Reputation system of upvotes and downvotes. Votes can be cast by anyone level 1 and above. By looking at the Rep of a node-- for example: "Rep 12 (+17/-5)"-- you can get a rough idea of the number of (logged-in) noders who've read it, and whether they liked it or not.

In my experience, most of the votes on a new writeup come within the first couple of days. Getting a C! (pronounced "ching") puts it back on the main page for awhile and will generally net a few more votes, as readers who missed it the first time afford it a second look. It's my hope that this column, if it becomes popular, will be another way to give notable nodes a bump in readership.

Especially ones from relative newcomers:

The Strange Folk
Top 5 w/us by noders under 1000 XP
from last week (Feb 20-26, 2012)

  1. How to be a human in love and other impossible things (person) by l0rca +25 5C!s
  2. Writing Characters (how-to) by RossBondReturns +23 3C!s
  3. Lent (idea) by saintlotus +19 2C!s
  4. HMO (thing) by blipvert +16
  5. These streets are too straight for your video game heart (dream) by rosetinted +10 2C!s

And serialized fiction, which often gets far fewer votes than one-off writeups but is some of my favorite stuff on the site:

Helio Sequence
New chapters in an ongoing series
from the last 2 weeks

3. Create a historical record

If you're counting back to everything.slashdot.com, the Everything database began its life in 1998. That's several epochs of Internet time, and piecing together a sense of history from fossilized fragments found that deep in the nodegel can be a challenge.

I won't be going out of my way, I don't think, to report every little thing that happens on E2, but just a week-by-week journal of the easy stuff-- staff changes, new features being launched, content quests, nodermeets, births, deaths, marriages, so on-- might be useful to noders of the future.

From the beginning, "Node for the Ages" has been E2's maxim, because (to quote an old node zero masthead) "we'll be here forever". Over the past few years-- when E2 was living generously but precariously on the spare bandwidth from clampe's department at MSU-- that sentiment to me started to take on a tone of hollow, Ozymandian bravado. The recent acquisition of the site by jaybonci and Everything2 Media LLC was one of the inspirations for this column. I think chances are now far better that there could be noders 5, 10, or 100 years from now who may be curious about this stuff.

I didn't expect to have to start on a sad note, though: On February 23, 2012, tentative reported that the noder Scout has died. He drowned while swimming in the River Torrens near Adelaide University in Australia.

Scout's last log-in was in Jan 2011, a couple weeks after he posted a daylog which, for eerie effect, implied that he'd died and been replaced by an AI of his own making. (I assume this is what tentative is referencing when she wrote "For real this time.")

He'd been a noder since October 2009 and had posted 117 nodes. The node sc0ut is about him. I'm not personally acquainted with any of E2's Australian contingent, and there's obviously some personal history and possible bad blood that I'm missing here, but no matter what I feel that any noder deserves our tribe's traditional send-off. So I'll say it:

/me misses Scout

(And entropy, fuck off. These are my people.)

Aside from that, it was kind of a quiet week on E2 actually, but this is normally the part in the column where I'd list the week's additions to the Page of Cool and other E2 community what-have-you. Just to establish a baseline, here's the current E2 staff:

e2gods: alex, ascorbic, avalyn, call, clampe, Demeter, DonJaime, grundoon, iceowl, in10se, jaybonci, mauler, N-Wing, OldMiner, Oolong, riverrun, The Debutante, Two Sheds, wertperch

CEs: Aerobe, borgo, Dimview, JD, karma debt, Noung, Tem42, The Custodian, Transitional Man, vandewal

Most recent Editor Cool: How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?, cooled by borgo

Most recent News for Noders: Everything2 Media LLC - E2 under new management
Most recent Editor Log: February 2012 by Aerobe and alex
Most recent Root Log: February 2012 by jaybonci

4. Spur on a sense of friendly competition

Nerd fight! Nerd fight!

Everything2 has an underlying system of XP, GP, and Levels, because E2 was built by dorks. The XP system was never to be taken seriously, and it's become less and less prominent on the modern E2, but there was a time in the early days when getting points and gaining levels was a big motivator for some noders. Gaining a homenode photo at level 6 was a big deal. Attaining M-Noder status was a big deal. Getting your name on EBU was a giant goddamned deal.

Not everyone enjoyed it, and yeah it fueled some acrimony, but I think that friendly competition for sick-brags and geek cred is the kind of thing that separates E2 from other sites and can motivate noders to keep logging-in day after day.

So (if you care about that sort of thing), check this action. Ladies & gents, your champions:

E2 Leaderboard
Top 20 noders who have posted a w/u in the last 4 weeks
(Jan 30 - Feb 26)
Sorted by xp

  1. Jet-Poop (124,195)
  2. The Custodian (120,114)
  3. dannye (90,032)
  4. Tem42 (73,955)
  5. iceowl (71,005)
  6. Glowing Fish (59,787)
  7. swankivy* (59,255)
  8. mauler* (57,555)
  9. wertperch (54,229)
  10. riverrun* (49,111)
  11. etouffee (48,428)
  12. kthejoker* (44,870)
  13. borgo (39,298)
  14. JD (34,812)
  15. sam512* (32,875)
  16. alex (31,012)
  17. doyle (29,929)
  18. artman2003 (28,050)
  19. Transitional Man (27,700)
  20. IWhoSawTheFace (24,932)

(* = Posted a node 3 weeks ago, and are thus on the brink. Must post a new node by March 4 or get bumped off of next week's list.)

5. My own amusement

Perhaps most importantly, I just enjoy making lists. If I didn't enjoy doing this, I wouldn't've volunteered to do it every week.

I originally planned to post these on Mondays, but I'm thinking maybe "Thursday-ish or sooner" is a more realistic time table for now. I'll try to dial that in towards a single day of the week once I fall into more of a routine.

In the meantime, please remember that you can follow @Nodeslam on Twitter or have new updates arrive directly in your RSS reader by following this account's E2 RSS feed: http://everything2.com/node/ticker/New+Writeups+Atom+Feed?foruser=Nodeslam

See you next week, noders. Be well.

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