Oh, my word, what a to-do! Young minds everywhere scarred beyond repair, mature and hitherto healthy egos seemingly deflated once and for all, penises shrinking all over the place. And all for something the like of which used to happen every day, and which complaining about in the catbox would earn a summary Borging. God, those were the good old days.
Aha! Gotcha! I bet you've just downvoted me, then went and and checked my homenode for my user age, then come back in a righteous rage to see if you could donvote me again, this time not for being an annoying bitch, but for being an insufferable old dinosaur who thinks she has special ownership of the database and probably name-drops sensei in conversation.
Like pretty much everyone else on the database, I've been having a lot of conversations with all sorts of people over the last few days, and participated in some more in the chatterbox. I have expressed my views pretty openly about what I think is better than it used to be, and what I think has maybe been lost along the long and winding road to improving E2 for the ages. There's all kinds of things there, but I'm not going to repeat my bleatings here for everyone to be stuck with forever.
The one thing that did keep coming up though, and that I feel motivated to comment on for y'all to tell me that I'm wrong about, centers around the interaction between (for want of a better word) the different generations of users. Quite a few people feel that the longer standing users get an unfair share of respect, more lenience from the Content Editor community, a latitude in behaving pretty much however they like and getting away with it; and that furthermore they form an elite club that intimidates and - to me, more importantly - offends newer users.
These revelations not only disturbed me but also came as something of a shock. I have never - never, I tell you - considered myself part of some priviledged hard-core group of highly respected users. I have had, and continue to have, bitter run-ins with editors, and my Node Heaven list is getting to be as long as my Writeups list. Not only am I not a great writer, I'm not a writer at all - I'm an opinionated polemicist who is addicted to having a sort of Daily Mail Letters page to rampage across; if anything, I feel myself to be on sufferance in the new, post Raising the bar, E2.
Which begins to finally bring me round to my actual point.
I get that it's annoying to be a new user surrounded by people you see as being more established and superior. I've been a new user in online communities before - including this one! - and have rebelled against what I saw as superior, clique-ish, overbearing behaviour of older users. In fact, I still feel like that sometimes, when I think that someone who's been around since before the flood is looking at me funny. It's natural. I'm not trying to do away with that. In fact, it's probably good for a community to have new blood come in and stir people out of their inertia and complacency. Hooray for new users! I don't hate you guys, and I don't think I'm better than anyone just because I was lucky enough to have E2 recommended to me by a friend a few years before you found it under your own, independent and well informed, steam.
Commensurately, I think that I can get most people's agreement in theory that a committed and established group of people who all know each other (at least superficially) is absolutely at the heart of any kind of community. If everyone is new all the time, or if the forum is so anonymous or so large that no long-standing relationships and dynamics can develop, then it is just that - a forum. Not a community.
I say in theory, because in practice I have encountered a degree of resentment towards that idea from people in the last couple of weeks. A lot of people have gone on record decrying E2 as a community hostile to new users, but a few people have also privately told me about an underlying sense of "us and them" between the "old" and "not old" users. As far as I can tell, "old" users are considered to be those who were already high-level and established before the bar was raised. Those users are then seen - I should rather say assumed - to be harking back to a lawless age of free spirited high jinks, when E2 was the private playground owned by them and their mates, and as reluctant to admit new people into this comfy little enclave.
For the record, I don't think that this mythical E2 ever existed. I wasn't a member of the pre-1999 Everything, so I couldn't tell you about that, but E2, or anywhere on the internet, has ever really been a consequence free environment. In fact, before editorial policies and summary deletions, when you stuck your neck out on here you could expect a much more effective method of punishment - the disapproval and vitriol of your fellow noders. Personal vendettas, bitter arguments, rivalries and systematic downvoting were much more common than they ever are these days (if you don't think the userbase has become less tolerant of intolerance, if you'd allow me to define it in that way, then just check out the fallout from last year's HateQuest).
So it's all good, and what am I even rabbitting on about? Well, I'm a little put out at the double standard. Neither I nor pretty much anywhere else would dream in this day and age of calling someone a stupid noob and telling them to RTFM and not come back till they've "earned their bullshit". If it's good, it's good - you don't have to "earn" anything. But it's still OK to turn around and accuse someone - well, OK, me - of elitism, superiority, fuddy-duddyness and all sorts of other pretty nasty things just because my "user since" signature has a lot of zeroes in it.
So I propose a compromise. I know, I know, I'm actually being constructive rather than just complaining about the good old days being over all the time. Get your smelling salts, then listen up. So yes. I would like to ask that, editors or just humble users, we all go and look at a user's homenode before shooting off an angry message about their latest cretinous contribution. And let's all agree that if someone has been a user since yesterday, we're not going to tell them that they should know better than to post such unformatted drivel on E2, because they should have memorised all the FAQs before ever hitting the "Idea" button. On the other hand, if you see that someone has been a user since forever, please don't ask them if they'd considered running their writeups through a spellchecker before posting, and don't point them to E2 HTML Tags if they've got one that's broken.
Cause I really fucking hate it when people do that to me.
I'm basically saying that we should all respect each other for what we are and not based on some extraneous characteristic. But I'm not comfortable saying that, because it's quite a wanky New Age kind of thing to say, and I'm afraid that fondue will never speak to me again and that amnesiac will stop sending me the footage from his shower cubicle's webcam. But yeah. Let's all try the whole checking the homenode thing for, like, a week. I get the feeling it will reduce the number of angry messages sent and hurt feelings incurred - reduce them from the already very low levels they are currently at, I might add.
And if you'll do this thing for me, I will promise not to node about noding for like, another 5 years. At least.