This writeup is my perspective on the new e2 as it appears to stand on this day. Please, if you have thoughts or comments on this writeup, let me know. Those in power really do respect what we think and value it greatly, as I have seen repeatedly, and the role that we can play as end users is to maturely discuss the issues we have with the changes without resorting to petty comments and backbiting; instead, we should strive to clearly formulate what the problems are along with what the good points are.
Again, please let me know your thoughts on what I've written below.
A Discussion of Issues Concerning The New E2
Due to some recent discussions with a few people involved with the development of the new e2, and the ongoing questioning and backbiting about changes to the site that so many of us are feeling right now, I spent some time carefully evaluating many of the proposed changes and talking about them with people involved in the process. I found that, in general, I agreed with many of the changes - I feel that they were presented rather badly, however, and I'll discuss that below. However, there is one area of all of this that really concerns me, and a few more that bother me.
I started writing a great deal of my thoughts down in a haphazard fashion and I quickly realized that it was becoming a big mess of ideas. Thus, I have split these ideas and comments into three general sections, with a naming convention inspired by Clint Eastwood.
The vast majority of the changes discussed in the new e2 are quite good. As a whole, they seem to greatly value new noders and their contributions to the database: new noders are handled with much greater care than they currently are so that situations like this are much less likely to happen.
I think the idea of a "stamp of approval" is key here, and it's something that most critics of the idea have missed. Once you have a "stamp of approval," your writeup submission process is no different than it is now. The idea of a publishing queue for those noders who aren't "approved" simply serves to take those writeups out of the obvious "New Writeups" queue, which is a Good Thing. Too many new noders have had their first few submissions hit "New Writeups" and then seen them downvoted into oblivion because of the usual newbie mistakes; this leaves a terrible taste in the mouth of a new user. All that the publishing concept seems to do is take away this figurative slapping-down of new noders.
The vast majority of the changes really are minor ones and don't merit much comment one way or another, except to say that improving the HTML and giving daylogs some special treatment are good things. I think that the daylogs prior to a certain date should be left open for voting, though, and a special new "daylog" writeup type should be created and enforced starting on a certain day. Also, they should not be represented on a user's homenode as part of their writeup count; it should be represented as something like 33/4/5059, where the middle number is the daylog count. A similar concept would be good for the "personal" type as well if they don't count towards the total, either.
Although I am overall in support of the new e2, there are still some problems that come into my mind. Let's address these one by one.
The radical alteration of the leveling system. Under the new e2, the leveling system will apparently undergo a radical shift. According to this new idea, there will essentially be only five levels: the first three are primarily for new noders, equivalent to levels 1-3 now, the fourth for getting C! power and a homenode pic (roughly equal to level 5 or so now), and the fifth for "high level noders."
There were some aspects of this that were bothering me, so I was discussing this with Two Sheds recently, and here's what he had to say on the topic: I do think that the publisher system will be a bit of encouragement for those under 4th level because it's likely to lead to more comments, but once you can self-publish that stops. I think we have a similar problem now above 6th level, but I think it's something that people have intended to fix all along and haven't got to.
That's when I realized what the real problem with this new leveling scheme is, and it ties into the concept of fled noders and so forth. The problem is that once you reach a certain point or goal, there is nothing to strive for other than "an imaginary number granted to you by an anonymous stranger." It's similar to the motivation problem that some noders have when they reach level 6 now: once you've got a homenode pic, can C! a couple of writeups a day, and have plenty of votes, why invest the huge effort in going from a high level to the next high level?
Let's look at the current level "powers" from the Voting/Experience System superdoc:
Powers: (More to come, mostly level 7 and higher)
Note that once you reach level six, there's nothing there except for the far off cloaking offered at level ten.
I myself find motivation in continuing to contribute from the idea that I'll get more votes each day, more C!s, and a longer notelet (which I use a lot), but I also get a great deal of joy out of the act of contributing and interacting with other users. I can easily understand how someone could begin to feel as though there's no point in putting in any effort once they reach level six, and the new leveling system makes this worse.
Beyond this, the current leveling system has a fair amount of psychological weight for the current users. Seeing that someone is a level 9 or 10 or higher user gives that person a lot of respect for the time and effort that they've contributed to the database, at least from my perspective. The new leveling system would cause this to really go away.
If 18thCandidate were running the show... I would maintain the original level system as it is, and give the so-called "seal of approval" to everyone that's level 4 or higher automatically, and on a case-by-case basis to those lower, and maintain everything else. After this, I would begin to add new features for higher level noders. The first thing I'd do is give the new "personal" writeup type to those at level 7 and above. At level 8, I would give people the opportunity to create a special type of node that they themselves completely control and can post to multiple times; essentially, make it possible for very high level noders to have their own equivalent of a simple LiveJournal inside of e2. Level 9 and above users should get their names bolded or highlighted in the "Other Users" nodelet, perhaps, or maybe with a special symbol after their name of their own choosing similar to what editors get. These are all great carrots to continue participating and noding beyond the regular increase in votes and C!s.
In essence, I think that the revised leveling system fails the user in a psychological fashion, giving them nothing to work for. I would highly recommend a look at http://www.nickyee.com/eqt/skinner.html, which is a detailed document describing some of the psychology of leveling and individual goal-setting in an organized system.
EDB will be extinct. I really fail to see what this accomplishes. EDB is a part of the flavor of this site, and his complete elimination is a bad thing. I agree that often his ability to "swallow" people in the catbox is overused, but I also think he serves a real role. A requirement of some explication before EDB devours someone would be a good improvement, so that new users aren't gobbled up willy nilly.
Once I understood the idea of the publishing system, I only found these two issues as being questionable ones in the new e2. However, I haven't touched on my biggest bone I have to pick with this...
The truly ugly aspect of the new e2 is how it is being presented to the noding community. There are a lot of good ideas in there and most of them will be a great benefit to the community, but this is missed by the average noder.
Take the new e2 as it stands now. If you read the section entitled Publishing System Changes, the first bullet point you read is this: No more directly-posted public writeups, except for day/dreamlogs.
When I first read that, I was pissed off. At first glance, this is a disembowelment of the entire idea behind Everything2 as I understood it. I feel as though I've worked hard to reach a relatively high level, and I also think I've built up a reputation as a good noder. For the powers that be to suddenly say that they must approve everything that I write is ridiculous.
The idea that this first impression isn't accurate is hidden in a parenthetical remark later on in the statement, but by that time the average noder is going to have a very bad taste in their mouth. Given that the rest of that section simply expands on this publishing system, rather than reassuring an established noder who thinks that his noding freedom is being restricted, this section is going to do little but infuriate a good number of noders.
Another problem is that those who are behind the changes are seemingly being quite forceful in pushing them onto the community. Check out this catbox archive from August 8, 2005 (thanks, ascorbic!):
<kthejoker> What is so different that scares you? There'll be a nonvotable section, there'll be a submissions process for *NEWBIES* to acclimate them better, and there'll be some new Web doodads like RSS feeds and better ekw theme support.
<256> Oh come on, if you don't actually explain the changes to us, you can hardly be suprised that we're confused about them
<IWhoSawTheFace> He's getting married in a month. We don't want him to blow an aorta before the big day.
<Myrkabah> kthejoker: I'll take "The Rapists" for 500, Kyle.
<256> That damned The New E2 doc is all presto chango, what do you expect
<Cletus the Foetus> I tried to respond to that concern with my digest version, 256.
<Auduster> Kyle: I think many peoples biggest concern is that there will be a major change of tone... and that any work done before hand represents building castles on sand...
<kthejoker> I have just explained 95% of the changes being made at the new e2. There will be no changes to the voting procedures, XP procedures or submission procedures for basically Level 2 and up.
<Auduster> tone is a loose, undefinable thing.... Allowing different fonts could be all it needs...
<Halspal> Are you people thick? I don't care if The New E2 involves ritualistic self-flaggelation and random unrinalysis, Jennifer Aniston is here fer chrissake.
<golFUR> Pick a stance Hal. This morning you weren't impressed by celebrity.
<kthejoker> There's no change in tone - people will be allowed to vote just like always, post just like always, do everything they do like always. Newbies will get a slightly more restrictive (but also much more hands-on) e2 atmosphere.
It's obvious here that K feels pretty strongly in favor of the new e2, but most of the people responding to him are negative. But rather than digging into why they're negative, he responds by effectively saying "You idiots! Let me repeat why this is great!" without evaluating the negative response. (I have nothing against kthejoker; I am merely attempting to point out a problem with the presentation of the new e2).
What should have happened is this. First, the entire discussion should have been led with a stress on the idea that most changes only affect low-level noders. The histronics are coming from people who feel that "their" e2 is going away. Second, when people are negative about it, time should be invested in figuring out why. 256 is clearly responding to k with concerns, but is getting blown off, from what I can tell. This just serves to reinforce an already-negative feeling towards the new e2, both for those two and for anyone else who might just be watching the conversation roll by. I can certainly comment that this was my impression.
I think the biggest problem with the new e2 is a terrible public presentation of the ideas behind it. There are still some issues that need to be worked out (I am rather upset at the proposed changes to the leveling system), but overall it will serve to continue to raise the bar for e2.
Of course, some are opposed to the raise the bar concept, but that's a whole different ball of worms.
kthejoker says If anyone, at any level, has a question, concern, or fear regarding the changes listed at the new e2, please contact me and I will be more than happy to discuss things with you until you are satisfied.
drownzsurf says Excellent discussion, and wonderful how you've allowed folks to comment. I was somewhat concerned with some aspects of the changes, especially the no more direct posts, but the flipside is it will keep out a lot of what I see is nonsense. Now, I confess I slowed down after level 6, but it was also mainly due to trying to write hard worked-upon quality nodes. They take time, and I wasn't trying to be as prolific as before with the beloved h/n pic carrot before me. Nobody likes too much change, but I trust the good people that are above, even though I've been slapped when thinking some newbies were abused. But, I stand behind them a hundred percent.
artman2003 says if you've done your homework and everything you discussed is accurate, then I am in agreement with everything you said. your idea of what is good, bad, and ugly about it seems perfectly reasonable. I don't like the new leveling system, either. I think it stinks. I hope this doesn't happen.
Two Sheds says Regarding the EDB and a few other things, read Halspal's Editor Log: August 2004. It's one of the most interesting bits of noding about noding I've seen. and I think, particularly from ceylon's comment, that a lot of people haven't read Editor Log: July 2005. This is unsurprising; a lot of people think ed logs are boring and sometimes they are. I really think that's central to this, though.
wordnerd says The main reason the hierarchical response to critique has been generally negative is that they have been consistently attacked for changes. Even those that are very nice changes are praised by half and hated by 3/4. On the whole, E2 membership is becoming more and more distrustful of hierarchy , and it becomes more and more difficult to respond without just a miniscule amount of annoyance, even though the comments are heard, remembered, and appreciated.
XWiz says I like your ideas about the levels system; part of the enjoyment of e2 is achieving the next level. Similarly, I use other users' levels as an indication of how much notice I should take of them. There's an implicit earned respect with the higher levels.
ceylonbreakfast says Whoa, I guess I never really registered what the new e2 was about. I guess my biggest concern is who counts as a "newbie." I usually still feel like a newbie, and I'm only level 2, although I've been here over two years. And my very first node was chinged twice and remains among my highest rep writeups. I don't know. It all seems very iffy to me.
Auduster says I agree with you completely.. Especially about the level system.. I honestly think its a terrible idea.. E2 is a very organic entity, I discussed this in a daylog and I have a strong suspicion that the new e2 will kill this element.. However, I have long thought that the level system was pretty badly designed.. So heres a suggestion: An annually indexed merit system. Anyone whose noding productivity dropped significantly, would rapidly find themselves dropping levels.... Merit is flawed because as you accrette more writeups, it becomes static... Annual indexing is the solution.
jessicapierce says I think anybody who doesn't realize the borg is now just a joke might be the kind of person who wouldn't know a joke if it bit them in the face... it's pretty clear (to me at least) that it's done nowadays for humorous intent. There's never anyone all riled up over having been silenced, because that's not done anymore - and anyone who asked an editor about it would be told straight-off that that's no longer done. I really don't think an archaic remnant of old-e2 stuff, used as a joke, is going to trick anyone for long. All that being said, I think it's pretty dumb and I could easily live without it.
unperson says I'm really not clear on whether the level system actually motivates people. I imagine it does in the beginning when they're new, there are many powers to be had, and it doesn't take that many WUs to do it. I always assumed, however, that what drove people to get to level 10 was addiction, not the persuit of rewards. :-) I'm not sure if it's possible to figure out the answer. I suppose you could look at noding rate per level and see if there's a steep drop off after people hit certain levels.
Anark says Hmm.... there's an important facet that you've missed: voting will become a charade. We'll only be able to see the writeups that have been pre-approved by the editors, and we'll be penalized for downvoting rather than upvoting them. Any electoral system is meaningless (think of Communism) if it intrinsically favors a "yea" over a "nay." At least be consistent one way or another - either allow writeups to be judged without bias by the E2 community as a whole, or restrict it to the editors and eliminate the interactive component entirely.
Mitzi says Let me first say how much I appreciate your thoughtful look at changes that are rather bewildering to most of us lower-level, non-editor types. Having said that, I feel it very, very necessary to voice my strong objection to ghettoizing daylogs anymore than they are already ghettoized. I am a firm believer that Daylogs are brilliant and marvelous, and overall, completely priceless . Many of us here at E2 have come to the conclusion that Wikipedia and some of our greatest factual noders have a very nice lock on All Things Concrete and Real. That is wonderful; more power to them. I've been known to pop off with the occasionally factual myself, and I certainly enjoy reading a well-crafted "non-fiction" node. But I have also come to the conclusion that, with very few exceptions, my personal life is best kept out of the deep end of the nodegel and quarantined to the daylog ghetto where such personal accounts truly do belong. I am fine with that. I *like* my ghetto, and I especially like the people who frequent it with their stories. Those stories, not the factual nodes, are why I am an active member of E2 and have been for nearly five years. Were daylogs changed to unvoteble, sad little personal notes, people like myself who have determined *not* to litter the site with personal TMI would be left with no way to advance in level. If that happens, we may as well just GAFB and be done with E2 altogether. Problem is, I don't want a blog. I want to share what I write here with the people who have become my friends and my online community over the years. So yuck to making daylogs summarily obsolete. Many of us don't have fiction to write or facts to collect. All we have are our own stories. For those, we need the daylogs. Thanks for listening.
jclast says 1) You didn't address it, but it irks me that neg votes will be more expensive than pos votes. If I feel something is poorly written why should I be penalized for it? 2) I may only be level 3, but I don't think I'm a newb anymore. I've had a handful of things nuked, but I don't need my hand held. If I want or need help, I'll ask for it. 3.) If somebody puts forth the effort to write a really good daylog, I'd like to be able to vote it up. It's a form of praise. All making daylogs non-votable will do is dissuade people from writing them. And that makes me sad. I really like the daylogs. It's like LiveJournal, except more intelligent.