June, and July, and August
In between Wimbledon, Royal Ascot, the Tour de France, the Ashes, a wedding in Ireland, a nodermeet, moving offices, touring breweries, and doing some work, I've been hanging around this place, too. Inevitably, some things have been going on.
The privacy of private messages
In July, the CST_group and I were asked to clarify if someone sending a private message via e2 retained the copyright to those words. This arose after a series of private messages were posted in a node by the recipient, upsetting their original author who felt that the recipient did not have the right to reproduce these words for public exposition.
GrouchyOldMan did an excellent job of untangling what is a complicated and largely untested area of law. He determined that, erring on the side of caution, it should be assumed that private messages do fall within copyright and should not be reproduced without permission.
For some noders, this was seen as an over-reaction and an abuse of already convoluted and in many ways misinterpreted law. Whether or not you see this as an abuse of copyright, or as an over-reaction, I do think it is worth remembering that real people exist behind the words that you see on your screen, people with feelings and opinions and a right to privacy. We might live explicit lives here on e2, sharing our heartbreak and our happiness, our illness and our good health, but we choose which words we wish to make public. Private messages were designed to be just that: guarded and directed correspondence. Of course there are exceptions to this, rarely is anything in life black and white, but copyright laws aside, you are expected to respect your correspondents' privacy.
Knowing your audience
A great deal of the work of e2's editors revolves around helping other users — and ourselves — to write better. We might offer advice regarding style, or formatting and layout, or spelling and grammar; in some cases we might review the cogency of an argument or the continuity of a narrative. Often, our constructive criticism can be as much as a message complimenting a writer and hopefully giving her or him the confidence to continue. Sometimes it results from a request to review a scratchpad. Occasionally, and unfortunately, it arrives in someone's inbox in the form of a deletion message.
As users, what we come here to say and why we come here to say it is different for each of us. But ultimately, we are placing our work on a public stage for other people to read, probably to vote, and possibly to comment on it. The diversity of interest and preference of style amongst our userbase invariably means that someone here will find what you have to say relevant, or interesting, or entertaining, or informative.
If you are coming here to play with words and to develop your craft as a writer, you can do far worse than to listen to what other people — editor or no — have to say about your writing. If you are coming here with something to say, knowing whom it is you are addressing will enable you to say it better. Better still? Do both. E2 provides you with a discerning audience and a dedicated staff: get to know them.
Making Cocoa for Kingsley Amis
On July 21, 2009 Lometa announced that the well-travelled and somewhat errant Making Cocoa for Kingsley Amis had returned to her fold after an almost-three year hiatus, allegedly in the New York area. Unfortunately, owing to personal circumstances Lo isn't able to co-ordinate MCfKA's continued globetrotting. Probably after one too many gins I agreed to set up a spreadsheet and follow in my mother's career footsteps as a travel agent to organise the book's next stop. And the one after that. And the one after that. If you signed-up for MCfKA first time around, but never received it, or weren't around when it was on its 27,000 mile journey, and would like to share in this little bit of community-building, please let me know.
I send hundreds of messages every week. They might be comments or questions on writeups, policy discussions or queries, answers to questions, deletion messages, or private correspondence. Whomsoever I'm addressing and in whatever capacity, I hope that what I say is polite and dignified. It goes without saying that I expect other admins, editors, or chanops to be polite in their interactions, too. So it does come as a shock to me when either I or another member of staff here is insulted, either publicly or privately, for doing her or his job.
More often than not these insults follow the deletion of a writeup or a trip to the debriefing room. To a degree, we expect sore reactions. But we're just volunteers and we're just doing a job. Even if we were paid for the time we spent here, it wouldn't justify some of the things we're called. Yes, we're people, too.
Into the autumn
We seem to have enjoyed some solid noding from new users over the past few months. It's always a delight to see people taking what e2 has to offer and running with their talent here. August is often one of our quietest months for new content, what with people going on holiday, but it feels as if the trend was bucked this year. I'm hoping that September will be even better. I'm also hoping that I'll be sliding off to Italy for a week at some point, but I'll be back, maybe even having written something.
Place a hibiscus flower in the bottom of a champagne flute. Cover with cassis. Top up with chilled Prosecco.