This was supposed to come about two weeks ago but for much of that time I've been dealing with a bit of an ongoing (but temporary) health problem that has me on-and-off on drugs of the sort that don't let you legally drive after taking them. The Debutante and wertperch are pitching in as chief admins on days when I'm in a state of reduced intellectual capacity. Some might argue that that is my natural state of being. Bite me.
Feature 1: New Writeups cut-offs
Writeups that take the fast track to node heaven are automatically hidden in the New Writeups list once they reach a rep of -8. We believe that this number is a pretty solid indicator of a writeup's failure to capture the public's imagination or earn its approval. Many writeups have recovered from -5 or -6 to reach a degree of almost-respectability but I can't say that I can name many that did so from a lower rep than that. We picked a number that's neither too low to be useful nor too high to be an obstacle to recovery. To-do for this feature: 1. Add a percentage cut-off so things that are, say, +10/-18 can be spared while +0/-8 gets buried; 2. Factor in C!s.
You can set your personal magic numbers in Writeup Settings. You may object to setting this on by default for everyone but it was considered and makes sense. Usually things are manually hidden before they get near -8 and become invisible to everyone except the staff so you'd generally not see those writeups anyway. This feature places more control in the hands of the reader, not less. Editors will continue to dispose of content as before but may give unpopular items more leeway before intervening. Nobody needs to be concerned about being subjected to -12 dross because no editor has taken a writeup in hand--unless they choose to. Users can also set their cut-off higher in line with whatever their standards are and see even fewer low-rep writeups.
Feature 2: The Registries
We (and this really means Oolong) have finally managed to put enough work into this feature to pronounce it at least ready for a public alpha. This has been talked about since it was one of the greater innovations on C2 back in 2003. The idea is simple: let people add some GTKY stuff that can appear in a central repository and on their homenodes. Registries, and this is the big practical plus to them, will eventually do away with the need for hand- or staff-maintained lists like EMAR, EIMR, and the People Registry. This is about as many years overdue as the idea has been around.
There will be very few restrictions on the content of registries so content like that of some of the short writeups that fell afoul of the GTKY pogrom that took place in nodespace (many years ago, I know) or was never welcome in the first place will have a place here. If someone wants to create a registry about when you smoked your first bowl, which Teletubby is the gayest, or why I should be banned from writing ed logs, it will most likely be there. You'll have 512 characters to make your case since that's the extent of the comment space. Any more wit than that and you've lost touch with the great spirit called brevity.
Users can freely add to existing registries but creating new registries is currently restricted to admins while the system is being tested. More subjects will be added while it's still a work in progress. We expect to make registry creation a level power when it goes live-live.
I do not approve of removing users from the site. With the obvious exceptions of spammers and serial trolls, I believe that we have a very tolerant and understanding community that has an excellent track record when it comes to isolating those elements that fail to conform to its rather minimal expectations. It's not the administration's business to regulate the community but occasionally there is the general expectation that extraordinary action be taken by the powers that be. This month, as most of you have probably heard by now, two users took the walk of shame. I could say a lot--indeed, I typed a lot. Then I hit the cut button. Then I typed some more. It's really hard to be gracious and aloof when your personal aggravation and time have earned you the right to a cheap shot or two.
As the site admin I'm as conscious as anyone of the conflict between principles that I've espoused, which include the least possible restrictions on freedom of expression, and the reality of having personalities who fail to integrate into the community as anything other than a troublemaking fringe or show a marked and active disrespect for the site, its users, and its staff. "Disrespect" may be a subject for debate but I think that our definition is about as lax as it has ever been anywhere. I'll phrase it as failing to accept that there are behaviours that will meet with near-universal disapproval and that there are Lines that are Not To Be Crossed. Which is no different from any other society. What follows is not a manifesto saying "don't" (though some articles are thus marked because they really are "don't-evers") but a non-specific, non-exhaustive summary of poor behaviours that were engaged in as well as conventional wisdom that was ignored by these (former) users:
- Posting personal information about other users is inexcusable, even more so after the target has clearly demanded that it cease (DON'T)
- Users entrusted with access to privileged data are expected to honour the site's trust even after they've given up this access (DON'T)
- E2 is publicly accessible but private property; its owners and operators have the right by custom and by law to show someone the door
- This is the 21st century. The great revolution of the early years of this century is that everyone can have his own printing press. E2 does not have a monopoly on posting text on teh intarwebz and is not depriving anyone of the right to post stuff in public by not permitting them to post it here
- This is as old as the social use of computers: Power structure users (chanops, sysops, admins, etc.) have the ability to make someone STFU for five minutes, for an hour, or for good. Usually a time-out is beneficial for all parties involved. Circumventing bans and restrictions is as old as Original Sin and has been treated as such since well before my time (DON'T)
- Kicking people when they're down, no matter what your personal history is with them, is about as cool as the surface of Venus. Perhaps not a capital offence but acting like the numero uno insensitive asshole on planet Earth does count as a hit against you
- Promises to reform are meaningless after the fifth time you've let down someone who stood up for you
- If your presence is making members of a community want to leave, the value of your presence will end up being weighed against theirs
- BO, stinky feet, or just being an ugly mutha don't count against you on the internet. If you have one friend for every ten people who would just as soon see your back, it may have something to do with your attitude
- When your vision for a community clashes so strongly with its established custom and reality that your solution would involve tearing down its institutions, the community is probably not the problem but rather you're in the wrong place
- Private messages sent by other users are not to be publicly re-posted without their consent. This has already been made formal site policy (DON'T)
- Threats of legal action against E2 or any staff member are not just tacky and baseless. They are taken so seriously that you don't even joke about it. We have banned people, including at least one lawyer, from the site for wagging legal fingers at us. [Added Dec 2011 because it came up and there is precedent dating back to 2003].
I'll note that points 1, 2, and 11 are also (and not by coincidence) the only cases in which instant deletion of content by the nearest staff member is expected.
The nodeshare of one user has been blanked and deleted as a sign that a) I mean business and b) E2 lays no claim to and is retaining no copies of his intellectual property. Frankly, and here my intent is to be candid and not cynical, I wish to leave him no excuse to return and nothing to come back to. The nodeshare of the second user has been placed in the public domain by his own choice. While it has not been customary to subject the accounts of banished users to the scorched earth treatment, I'm not into the sort of half-assery that would send people packing but ask to keep their stuff.
While we are a site with our fair share (and then some) of troubled souls and the community has provided comfort and sanctuary to many, E2 is not a haven for those with personality disorders and behavioural issues who make no effort or simply lack the ability to improve or restrain themselves sufficiently to attain the minimum of social functionality that consistent interaction with real people requires.
For the record, it not being a secret and all (and because people are bound to bug me about it), one user concerned is ushdfgakjasgh, who was asked to leave by me but who will probably return in many disguises for years to come (and probably in order to make excuses for himself in light of this piece). User Swap, after speaking with other admins, apologised and left while I was signing the warrant for his removal. Six of one, half a dozen of the other. My personal feelings toward these users aren't really relevant but it does disappoint me, especially in the case of someone whose contributions were important, that it had to come to this.
Augustine has been stolen from us by Real Life (there it is again). I appreciate his stellar attitude and commitment during the time that he worked with the staff and hope that we still get to see him at least as a guest writer on occasion. We had high hopes for you, mister.
Swap unjoined the staff before taking the long walk.
Rai Tai has become the latest recruit to the chanops crew. Can has plus sign.
Code Z—Income under section 409A on a nonqualified deferred compensation plan.
Enter all amounts deferred (including earnings on amounts deferred) that are includible in income under section 409A because the NQDC plan fails to satisfy the requirements of section 409A. Do not include amounts properly reported on a Form 1099-MISC, corrected Form 1099-MISC, Form W-2, or Form W-2c for a prior year. Also, do not include amounts that are considered to be subject to a substantial risk of forfeiture for purposes of section 409A. For more information, see Regulations sections 1.409A-1 through 1.409A-6, Notice 2008-113, and Notice 2008-115.
The amount reported in box 12 using code Z is also reported in box 1, and is subject to an additional tax reported on the employee's Form 1040. See Nonqualified deferred compensation plans on page 6.