E2contact (e2c) and chanops

What is e2c?

e2contact is a subset of everything2's editorial staff dedicated to user relations, for both new and existing users.

Why is e2c necessary?

e2 is a diverse and complicated community, which presents challenges for both new and established users. In addition to the technical learning curve that new users are expected to climb, they must also tackle the social and cultural element of the site, which can present as hostile or overwhelming initially. As with any community, there exist tensions and relationship issues between established users. By creating a team of staff dedicated to user relations, to help new users navigate their paths through their first weeks and to help established users get the most out of the site, it is hoped to improve e2's user experience, thereby allowing for a more creative and productive site.

Who operates e2c?

e2c is currently led by The Debutante, everything2's Director of User Relations, who reports into alex as everything2’s Director of Operations.

They are supported by:

The chanops group, which acts similarly to IRC channel operators, falls under e2c's umbrella. Following the devolution of catbox powers in May 2009, some gods opted to retain their catbox operational facilities, and joined chanops, too. More on their work can be found under 'Catbox drama' in this document.

The present members of chanops are:

All members of e2c and chanops have the ability to flush the chatterbox and drag users into other rooms as necessary.

What are e2c's fields of operation?

e2c has four primary spheres of operation:

  1. New user interaction
  2. Existing user relations
  3. Catbox drama
  4. The mentoring system

New user interaction
Until recently, new users to the site were greeted by an array of automated or rehearsed messages, directing them to the FAQs. e2c has adopted a more simplified approach to greeting new users, sending messages only when a new user has begun to interact with the site in some way – for example by speaking in the catbox – and then only to say hello and ask if she or he would like any help. We would rather that new users have the opportunity to explore, than us bombard and overwhelm their first experiences here. For users who weren't welcomed or greeted by a member of staff, you'll remember that part if the wonder was being able to wander.

Members of e2c will be available to offer both technical assistance and help of a more abstract nature, for example helping new users to understand e2’s culture. In particular, e2c intends to help new users learn what it is that e2 looks for in a writeup. However, the aim is to be personal and personable, rather than just directing someone to the FAQs.

If a new user submits a writeup that is questionable, borderline or otherwise isn't to the standards and expectations of the site, she or he will be asked to use the scratchpad facility and have her or his draft proofed by an editor prior to submission. New users should also be urged towards the mentoring programme. Any persistently difficult or troublesome users should be referred directly to either TheDeadGuy or The Debutante.

Troublesome users are a fact of the site; they are always going to be there. Those users whose actions are clearly detrimental to the site and show no willingness or ability to contribute in a positive way should be encouraged to move along. However, it is also important to try to see through the bravura, the bluster, and the general ignorance of some of these people. Never forget that new users have no real vested interest in the site in the way established users do and have no real reason to submit their ‘good material’ unless they are given a reason to. Users need to be encouraged, respected, and listened to by staff. For example, just because a user submits a series of ridiculous, stupid, or silly writeups does not mean they are incapable of more. She or he may very well be incapable of more than that, but many may just land on the site thinking: ‘What fun! I can submit random shit!’ That's what TheDeadGuy did when he first came to e2.

Existing user relations
e2 is a community. All communities have dynamics, points of inertia, tensions, conflicts, tragedies, and celebrations. e2 is no different from any other community in this respect. Relationships between users, and between users and site management, can therefore on occasion become strained or difficult. For example, it is possible that two users can come into conflict with each other, or an existing user can feel unhappy about a change to site policy. Without wanting to be seen as some form of marriage guidance counselling service, e2c can be made available to help bring some calm and some dialogue in these situations.

There has been a recent suggestion by some older users that the site is not as respectful towards them and their concerns as it should be. Quite specifically, there have been accusations that their contributions are not valued as much as those of newer and more prolific writers. e2c is aimed at user relations, and these concerns are just as valid as the learning experiences of a new user; therefore, e2c should be prepared to listen to these points and to act on them as appropriate.

Catbox drama
From time-to-time, users choose to play out their personal dramas in the public forum of the catbox. This can and does distress and arouse alarm in other users. Whilst e2c or chanops can have no formal powers of intervention in such situations, there are protocols laid down for dealing with situations where users are threatening suicide, and guidance for young users is in development. Remaining calm and minimising the situation is key in these instances and members of e2c and chanops are expected to act appropriately as such occasions arise.

In addition to site administrators, members of e2c and chanops also have the ability to drag users who are behaving inappropriately or offensively in the catbox from the main room to the debriefing room. Once dragged to the debriefing room, users are held there for 30 minutes. It is not expected for these users to be left alone there, but for she or he to be accompanied by a member of staff and the rationale for expulsion explicated. This feature has proved effective so far and it is expected for e2c and chanops operators to use it at their discretion.

The mentoring system
Also falling in e2c’s remit will be the mentoring system, which is planned for a revamp. Members of e2c may be asked to volunteer their time and effort into that programme. In the past, the mentoring system was an effective mechanism for guiding new users through the site, which has fallen into relative disuse recently. There is no reason why it can’t operate successfully again. New users who indicate a desire or show a need for one-on-one guidance will be encouraged towards the mentoring programme.

The mentoring programme is designed to offer longer-term attention to newer users; whereas e2c is intended to provide them with more immediate and short-term support.

And finally…

Throughout everything that we do, it is worth remembering that e2 is people. If we take care of the people, the content will take care of itself. That comes from alex, but it has never seemed more apt.