Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. I confess I have been shirking my duties for the last six months and, in violation of Rule 7, failed to deliver ed logs. You probably didn't notice. At any rate, as the site bigwigs, myself included, seem to have had a busy spring and summer, much fewer things got done at a much slower pace than we wanted or anticipated. There really has been little news to post. On the other hand, quite a few topics of the more musing, chatty variety have been occupying me and I'll bore you with them well into autumn. By the way--everyone is grounded for violating my no-drama rule. For this and other transgressions you can redeem yourselves by showing up at CotC6.
The two priorities in terms of features remain the same: Get the Registries polished and make them available to the masses. That's the easy part. And continue work on what is referred to as the "drafts" project, which involves turning E2 into a haunted castle theme park in Edinburgh. Or was that give everyone control over their node heaven plus create a seamless continuum from scratch pad to public writeup to ex-writeup and back again? I'm afraid I cannot condone that sort of cradle-to-grave egalitarian socialism. Or can I?
Our developers are still capable of coding up a storm when inspiration strikes so, out of the blue, call bestowed upon us a mobile interface that has tested well in some of the more popular themes. His mobile presentation actually resembles ideas that have been tossed around for the main interface so we're looking at it closely. Read all about it in his own words.
In their dealings and personal expression, all I ask of the staff is minimal decorum. That really means no more than that staff remain free to wallow in the gutter, pick fights, and generally be twits among friends. I just ask that they try to keep the conduct rating at least as high as a "2" on a scale of 0 to 10 and avoid major asshattery because they do stand for something better than that.
Direct interactions are one thing if they're just talk. Very rarely do I (or should I) consider them to be any of my beeswax. Using staff buttons is another thing. I recently had some chats that I did not expect to have after some imaginative use of aforementioned buttons caught me off-guard. The result of this episode is the following fatwa: Practical jokes are fine. Practical jokes involving staff buttons are not. Yeah, some of us do sometimes have delicious ideas for mischief but we sigh and contain ourselves, at least until April 1. The way I see it, a practical joke works a lot better if you and your victim start on an equal footing. Your victory is that you thought of a prank and executed it first where your victim could have done the same to you.
While there will be no firings, any staffers inclined to transcend minor tomfoolery and end up in WTF-land should know that I will be having a chat with them while karma debt holds them down. I'm sure that any fantasies that may have involved being held down by karma debt did not include me.
I will also state that, my desire for transparency notwithstanding, staff members may still choose to execute quite a few tasks anonymously. We have many jobs that are not and never were recorded or monitored, nor do I feel the need to monitor them--in fact, I intend to discontinue keeping some of the records that are kept. That's not a licence but a token of trust and confidence. The incident in question fell under a category that is not monitored anyway and was trivial to undo. Edit: Since people tend to be curious and ask questions, this is what actually happened: someone, who I can only presume was suddenly possessed by gremlins, took a title edit request a bit too far and switched the node title to LeEtCaPs instead of performing the requested edit.
I do not feel obliged to provide details on who did what to anyone, on or off the staff. If there's a grand ol' fuck-up, it will be dealt with as a management question, not as a public spectacle. I am quite aware of the fact that this means that I may wake up with egg on my face and owing an apology or two and maybe a couple of hours of fixing things on some days. Comes with the job. This is not a new idea. I'm affirming and continuing the policy of my predecessors as regards accountability. Which means, in fewer words, that staff members are accountable to me and I may be held accountable for staff actions.
All that said, I do wish to submit a public apology for some inexplicably poor choices on the button-wielding end of things to a member of the site with a grievance directly related to the above exposition. (Name will be included upon request only).
Some minor drama apparently occurred around the 12th of this month concerning E2 and its relationship with MSU, and I'm only noting this because someone cited it as a reason for taking his toys and (I presume) leaving (again). (Edit: The related homenode commentary has since been removed so I edited out the user's name) Which I, frankly, consider a rationalisation for the inevitable exit of a writer who had already been talked out of wholesale exits in the past and not an action related to the substance of the matter. I shall address it nonetheless to the extent that I am able to. I also don't understand why someone who ought to know better saw fit to instigate a round of drama by putting old, shit-stirring news in the catbox topic. Children, I am disappoint.
An NSF grant issued to Dr Lampe of the MSU department that is currently home to E2 is a matter of public record on the MSU site, though nobody was ever interested enough to make it an issue on E2 until now. The grant was in the region of USD 450000, was announced in September 2008--old news, yeah--and one of the sites mentioned as being involved in the research (this is the same research that has been mentioned in passing over the past year or so) is E2. While a little money has gone towards development on E2 in order to accommodate the needs of a study (which I'll tell you targets Guest User before the next conspiracy theorist starts seeing black helicopters), I don't see how obtaining such a grant obliges or even permits Dr Lampe to subsidise the operations of any of the sites involved. I think he's already pushing the envelope by arranging room and board for our equipment.
450K might sound like a lot by this site's penurious standards but is a less than mythical amount, particularly considering how much of it is already spoken for and eaten up by the institutional Bureaucracy before a grant-writer sees a dime and before a shred of research is done. This is all I know, this is all I can tell you without starting to talk out my ass. If Cliff, whose department is being questioned here, has something to say about this, he will say so himself.
Believe me, nobody would be more pleased to enhance the site's performance by getting his grubby hands on some server-side government cheese than yours truly. This despite the fact that one thing that I like about this gig is that I am not asked to touch Other People's Money. Even if the department of Communication Arts and Sciences at MSU were rolling in it, which I doubt is the case, E2 as E2 gets no grants. Implicitly or expressly accusing E2, its owners, or its operators of acting in bad faith by deriving professional gain from the site and treating them as though they were caught with their fingers in the till is just ridiculous. Anyone sticking their finger in E2's till is more likely to come out with a spider bite than with a wad of cash. E2 is rarely able to offer anything in terms of real-life rewards except for intangibles like the benefits of publishing a paper about it.
Final thought: So what if someone can advance their career by way of E2? There is nothing cynical, sinister, or ethically suspect about getting a return on ten years of unpaid work in the form of professional or academic recognition. If Dr Lampe or Lord Brawl or Lucy-S or Oolong (these are just worthy names, I'm not saying that they've actually done it) can turn their association with the site into a personal gain, by Jove, they've earned it. If you turn around and sell your writing based on what you published on E2 then, by Belenos, we should toast your success. E2 is not a cloister of gift-culture purists. We volunteer our time. We share our work freely. We should be allowed to reap our worldly rewards without acrimony or envy if we have any coming to us.
OK, I'm starting to sound pissy. You may have figured out by now that bandying around suggestions or allegations of bad faith does that to me. Enough.
OUTBOX: creases left the staff after many years of loyal service. To quell the rumours (by confirming them), we did have a falling out over matters concerning policy and the future direction of the site. I don't want to think of it as inevitable but, knowing that our views always have differed on many subjects, there always was a possibility that at some point they may become hard to reconcile despite our best efforts to reach an understanding.
INBOX: When I'm out shopping for staff, I don't often get them ready-made, with built-in tech and site management experience. So I special ordered me a cassparadox. I'm still not sure why they made me sign all those papers about not feeding her after midnight and stuff.
Whoever goes into an artist's room
And nothing knows of painting
And yet will speak with much display
Will yet be mocked by everyone.
And he who enters artist's orders
Who hath not been selected
And begins to paint with much display
Will yet be mocked by everyone.
And who will to a wedding come
And hath not bidden been,
And yet doth come with much display
Will yet be mocked by everyone.
And who will climb upon these scales
And find he weigheth not,
But is shot up with mighty crash
Will yet be mocked by everyone
--The Chymical Wedding of Christian Rosenkreutz, Day 3