It's spring (still), unless you're south of the tropic of Cancer, in which case you've missed out on some seriously impressive redbuds and dogwoods. The sun is shining between rain showers, the birds and the bees are doing whatever it is that the birds and bees do, and you're sitting in front of a computer reading the incoherent ravings of a petty web tyrant. What's wrong with you people? By the way, you have not seen what the birds and bees do until you've been divebombed by a pair of giant carpenter bees flying erratically in the throes of passion.

Other Users revisited

As I said after we set it up two months ago, the recently established Other Users order is not set in stone anymore than the last one was. We had three finalists in the quest to find an improved system (one submitted by wertperch, one worked out between The Custodian and myself, one contributed by BaronWR). We will soon be trying the latter, which is as simple as ordering Other Users by last time noded, descending. We may exclude level 0 and brand new users in order to encourage them to contribute a measurable presence and body of work and so that new users', ahh, "experimental" writeups don't instantly catapult them to the top of the list. For everyone else, all you have to do to assure yourself of the top spot, however briefly, is node.

Catbox devolution

Several new people have been hired in order to boost our coverage of the catbox with people who have buttons for it as we hope to devolve more of its operations to the people who use it. Details will be posted by The Debutante, who handled those appointments, in a separate ed log. As usual, the persons appointed enjoy the full confidence and support of Teh Management. Questions about and problems with their actions should be taken up with them first. Should that not help resolve the problem, please submit it to The Debutante or TheDeadGuy.

The chanops group, thus having been expanded, is expected to assume a new role and take over some of the responsibilities associated with god-level users. The idea, as stated above, is to turn over more of the catbox's management to the people who use it. In brief, the plan is that being a member of the gods group will no longer equal being a chatterbox manager. This is the first attempt (ever) to devolve a god-level power to another group of users so it will be done progressively and on a trial basis.

Letters to the Editor(s)

Something that I'd like to start this month is a monthly node similar to the ed log and root log but exclusively for the use of the noding, non-staff public. This is based on an idea that borgo posted in the staff groups three years ago and which I decided to revisit. Actually, I opened a new debate and discovered that there was one with the exact same title. So much for having an original thought.

The idea is that we might benefit from having a designated space for noding about noding. This way commentaries on life on E2 can escape the ephemeral existence of the day logs and be placed in one spot where they are bound to be read by the staff and management. Or at least read by the decision-makers, who will find it easier to notice them and will commit to reading them.

The form that this new series of nodes will take will depend on the people contributing to it. Entries will be one per user, per month. Ideally they will not be debates and will avoid confusing back-and-forths between two or more writers in the same set of writeups. I hope to see entries that are eloquent, thought-out, and useful insights and that they will leave an accessible record of the way its users see E2 at a certain point in time. We may even find it useful to open nodes like this for older dates and move writeups into them.

The title may change but for now we shall start with Letters to the Editors: May 2009. I shouldn't be the only one with a soapbox so enjoy it. It's as good as mine.

On poetry

I'll be honest. Like many noders, I read very little poetry on E2. I read very little poetry, period. That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it. This is probably not the way it should be. Part of my desire to have some people with fresh ideas on the staff is the continued issue of poetry on E2 getting a poorer reception than other content of similar quality. We think that we can objectively judge a factual (for example) writeup and live with it being of strictly average quality. We have no objective criteria for judging literary contributions yet anything that falls short of excellence is viewed, at best, with suspicion. More recently even some of our better poets have been seen hiding their work as graffiti in the day log ghetto, where the mores are lax, the judgement more favourable, and the editors don't get involved.

This month there will be a quest titled Wordmongers' Masque: Poets' Ball, which is modelled on the one conducted for prose writers by DejaMorgana 2-3 years ago. I think this initiative by Rapscallion (with the divine sponsorship of joer) is very timely and welcome. We expect to see poetry without the name recognition that comes from being an etouffee or an Aerobe. I'm not telling anyone how to vote or whether to vote. All I'm saying is, sit back, ignore that itchy insta-downvote finger, and give these writers their fair chance.

Staff departures

The following persons left the staff during the past month: Two Sheds returned his coder-admin badge but we'll still bug him about stuff that he's good at. Jack will be taking his singular commitment to the site back to regular noding endeavours, we hope. Scribe has a real kid now and no time to mother this here ungrateful lot. Er, no, that's not what she said but she does have her hands full these days. TenMinJoe, Andrew Aguecheek, and Junkill were also caught in the act of letting Real Life get in the way of noding and have been suitably disciplined. All the above asked to be relieved of their duties after serving well and have been granted the honourable discharge that means that they might be back one day.

On hiring new staff

Part of my job description is head of HR. Good staffing is the art of putting the right people in the right place at the right time. In this spirit we recently hired a number of people for various positions. You may or may not approve of these appointments. Perhaps some other individuals might have been a better match for the staff in the past. I think the new hires are who we need, here, today, and for the future.

We've done our hiring in several different ways over time. I do things more like dem bones used to in that I prefer to observe people and identify potential candidates, and then contact them individually while consulting a revolving pool of other admins and taking suggestions from the staff.

The main criterion is rather subjective and is based on our perception of a prospective staffer's personality. While we have some basic requirements such as a certain level of noding activity in the present or very recent past and a demonstrated ability to get along with people, the key to being asked to interview is whether the candidate "sits right" with us. This doesn't mean that he or she has to agree with our practices or policy--I don't want a complement of yes men as my staff. Rather it means that we see them as committed to the site's well-being and willing to work with us. Depending on the needs of the site, we may shop for certain types of role-players or specialists. This time, for instance, we were keen on strengthening that component of the staff that's able to relate to and support the younger contributors and those with literary tendencies.

The question is sometimes raised: what do we need all these staffers for? For one, there are far fewer than there used to be. We used to operate with a staff of 70-75 and have let attrition take care of that number. The size of the staff should remain in the 40-45 member range for the foreseeable future. This includes people who are exclusively active in the coding department and people who work more on policy than they do editing so our total of active, hands-on editors is closer to 30. After this round of retirements, we kept the number of editorial staff steady by replacing the vacancies in the Content Editor group with appointments at the same level. Two new god-level vacancies will not be filled with administrative or editorial staff. These positions have been turned over to the code department for Oolong to fill (or not) as he sees fit with new committers.

Say hello to...

Ancientsnow, who will be mainly an e2c person. She's destined for a fate worse than position mainly tasked with aiding the birth of new noders, poets or not. She's also our first South American staffer.
RedOmega, another representative of a newer generation of noders, who will specialise in supporting newer noders, particularly those of a literary bent.
Noung, who needs no introduction. Aside from his acknowledged writing skills and the long experience that gives him an unusually thorough understanding of what makes a noder a noder, I think we shall also find it useful to boost the representation on the staff of the politically conservative mindset.
Aerobe, who is already getting on my n subverting the manag fitting right in and finding plenty of malevolent windmills to engage in battle. She, too, will have a focus on the quality of literature and the people posting it.

From the code department

Coding is once again in full swing. There will, no doubt, be a root log detailing what is being done. Developments may be rapid and features may be popping up without warning. DON'T PANIC. Some major things that may (or may not) go live this month are revoting and changes to linking methods. New features, should they pop up, should be considered experimental and not necessarily permanent. We write only one set of logs a month so more details may have to wait until June.

NOTICE: E2 will be installing thermal scanners at all entrances (and server ports) in order to prevent the spread of the swine flu. You may already have it but there is only one way to find out for sure.

I seem to have been making a bit of a name for myself in alex's editor logs: he's mentioned me two months in succession now. Maybe it's time I said something for myself. It's only taken me two-and-half years to make use of an editor log.

E2 is a community; we have our own culture, our memes, and our history. For a new user making her or his first foray into the world of writeup types, C!s, voting, and the catbox's obsession with boobies, our multi-national weird headless death cult of writer apostles can be an overwhelming and confusing experience. I sincerely hope that e2 is not unfriendly to new noders, but I do know that the learning curve is steep. For existing users there can be relationship issues, political confrontation, and social fractures. In short, we're every bit as complicated as any other large group of people that is brought together and interacts.

We don't want new users to feel quite so lost; we don't want existing users to feel as if their opinions are inconsequential and that with so many other pressures on their time, they would rather spend it elsewhere; we want a creative group of people to be creative. To this end, e2contact has been established as e2's user relations department. You can read about the original vision for e2c in TheDeadGuy's August editor log. Since then, however, we've learned what it is that we're good at doing, and how best we can help e2. In a nutshell, we want to help users get the most out of e2.

To expand on that a little more, we're there to help new users treading their first steps into our strange and wonderful world; we're there to help existing users who feel they have something to say about e2, but aren't sure how to address it, or who will listen; we're there to help with the mentoring programme; and we're also there to help out when the catbox gets a bit more than colourful. There is a great deal more to e2c's machinations, though, more than needs to be said here, when there is a detailed explication of the remit here. Please do go take a look. It's by no means a document that is set in stone — as e2 evolves as a community, so too will the role of e2c — but it does lay the foundations for what we do and what we intend to achieve.

In December 2008 the chanops group was established to fulfil a role similar to IRC channel ops. Initially, Ancientsnow and GhettoAardvark were recruited to this team, who are there to help with users who feel the urge to rant or rave or scream or shout publicly. At the end of April, BookReader, lucychili, and moosemanmoo were also added to chanops, whilst Ancientsnow joined Content Editors and e2c. They were selected on account of their catbox presence, sense of humour, and sensible heads. To date they have handled any situations that have arisen admirably and I have no doubts that they'll continue to do so.

In his most recent editor log, alex mentioned briefly that chanops is going to enjoy a more prominent role henceforth. After some discussion amongst the immortals, we've decided that we are going to devolve general control of catbox operations away from the gods group and towards the users who frequent that facility. This fits with alex's more specific approach to staffing, and allows people who have the best understanding of the catbox to administer it. For those gods who would like to retain catbox operational powers, it is still available, and all members of e2c have drag, borg, and silence capabilities. For now, overall responsibility for chanops rests with me and TheDeadGuy, but it is possible that this could change in time.

My inbox is always there for people who would like to ask questions, make suggestions, or need to talk about something. If you feel that our messaging system is too constraining, I've a groovy staff email address: my user name, as all one word (arroba) staff (dot) everything2 (dot) com. You know how it works.

This place is more than just the words on the screen that you see. Behind all these words are people with feelings. Take care of the people and the content will take care of itself.

Pour one measure of elderflower cordial and one of chilled vodka into a tall glass. Add ice. Top up with sparkling water. Garnish with mint leaves.
Enjoy in the sunshine.

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