I've a great deal of time spent talking to people and getting their opinions on the whole "What is wrong with this website?" question that comes up so often. I've been doing this for years, really. I make it my job here to encourage newer users and talk to disenchanted noders. That is what I do here.
I'm going to make a few statements. You need to think about these statements rather than having knee-jerk or defensive reactions.
People want entertainment during their leisure hours.
People aren't paid to write for this site or to contribute to it in any way.
People generally come here during leisure time. They could be doing any number of other things during leisure time, from playing video games to watching movies, walking in the park or having sex with prostitutes.
Everything2 competes for people's leisure time.
People don't generally want to be told they need to work during leisure time. They want to enjoy their leisure time.
Many people enjoy writing during leisure time, whether it is something they are serious about or regard it as just a hobby or whim.
Everything2 generally competes for the leisure time of people who enjoy writing in one way or another.
People generally want to be in some way entertained by this website. That entertainment comes from both reading what is written by others and contributing their own writing.
One of the biggest complaints I get, as well as one of the primary explanations from "fled noders" is that this website was once entertaining but no longer is. There were more personalities here at one time who contributed writing that was both informative and entertaining. That personality seems to be missing from a lot of what is written these days.
Newer users tend to feel that near perfection is expected out of them with their contributions here and some who have stuck around have worked to hone their writeups until they are "good enough." They end up feeling like it wasn't much fun to be part of this website.
Fled users seem to feel they are/were no longer appreciated and it was no longer fun to be a part of the site.
Established users seem to feel much is expected of their writeups and contribute less because where they once would submit something quirky and strange for the heck of it, they feel it is better to hold out until they have something award winning to submit before they post.
These are, of course, not universal feelings. They are taken from random samplings of people I have talked to.
Why is the website no longer fun and entertaining? Why are many leaving to simply post blogs elsewhere or to have sex with prostitutes? I think the fault lies both with the administration and editors as well as the user base.
We tend to act like elitist snobs and crucify newer users for writeups we wouldn't crucify established users for. We're hard on ourselves, demanding near perfection (which we never get close to anyway - but convince ourselves that we do). We've moved the entertainment factor to the catbox and noder gatherings and left the core element of the website, the writeups, to all but rot.
Bells and whistles won't save the site. A new logo won't save the site. Video links won't save the site. Pictures in writeups won't save the site.
The core element is what will save the site. Writeups will save the site. Writeups are Everything2. We need more of them. We need more of them written by a more diverse group of writers. We need to go back to what this website is all about.
We need to go back to what we once did, which was attract new writers to the site because it is an entertaining and fun place to read and write during your leisure time. People need to enjoy posting here instead of living in fear of the downvotes and nukes. This website needs to be attracting a population of people who enjoy writing and would rather be involved in something other than just writing blogs, people who write stories, people who write about their favorite movies and actors, people who write weird shit, and people who write poetry. We need to make them feel welcome, not just with blanket statements like "Hi, and welcome to Everything2, go read the fucking FAQ," but by welcoming their writeups. By encouraging them to be part of this website.
Because every damned last one of us who cares about the future of this website needs to do this. Not just content editors. Not just administrators. All of you. Do you want to be a website of two dozen people who each post a writeup once a month? Or do you want to be part of a website where New Writeups moves along at a clip where you have to log in three times a day just to keep up, like we used to do?
I've seen new users crucified by the user base very often over the past two or three years. They get downvoted to hell and back. Editors delete the writeups with nuke messages that are impersonal and offer little encouragement or direction. "Not up to our standards" is a fucking piss poor nuke message, and I don't care who you are. To me it is not acceptable.
I tell this story too often, but I will tell it again. When I first came here, I was working nights in an office and didn't have a lot to do other than wait for emergency orders and handle situations that came up at night. I had a lot of free time on my hands. I found this website and I decided to post some crazy stuff I pulled out of my ass. For about a week my stuff was upvoted and cooled. I enjoyed myself. Then I was nuked with penalty (something that used to be done and thankfully isn't any longer) and told I was a troll and was not welcome here.
How many trolls like me have we driven off in the past few years?
I don't function like most people. My reaction was to say, "Fuck you, I'll own you sons of bitches in a year or two." I came up with a strategy. I submitted a lot of short, to the point, factuals (mostly on historical figures) and threw my weird shit in between. A year later I was a Content Editor. Less than a year after that I was a "god." Truth be told, I'm still a troll. I never do rewrites here. I never really spellcheck my writeups. Sometimes I go back and delete things I thought turned out to be crap, but I used to post a writeup once every day or every two days. A lot more time passes between my writeups now.
You know why? Because it just isn't as much fun any longer, and that's the problem so many other people tell me about. So I understand.
And the question to y'all is, what are you going to do about it? The future of this website is in all of our hands. You all matter here. So what are you going to do about it?
Comments and responses:
Three noders brought up the subject of not having as much time as they once did to write here. This is something I am aware of, as I am in the same boat. People's situations change all the time. This is another reason to encourage and bring on board new writers.
One noder talked about taking an oath to avoid downvoting obviously clueless newbies. Editors should not need downvotes to show them something needs to be removed, and someone who shows potential but isn't grasping the formatting and links doesn't need to be downvoted. They need us to show them the ropes and help them out.
Another noder talked about how we are in a recovery period from events that happened several years ago, and I agree that we are, but we need to move that recovery period along a lot faster.