Since all the editorial thunder seems to be going on somewhere else, I thought I'd take care of some housekeeping here.

I've promoted a few team members in the last few days to help us plug some holes - please congratulate scribe on her shiny new buttons, and momomom on her dusty but still functional ones. Both are welcome; go lean on them if you need anything.

Also, and speaking of plugging holes (quiet down, you): due to some recent deletions, we've got a few holes in the 'gel. If you fill one of the 'shells listed below and let me know, I'll send something nice your way (probably of the Blessing or C! variety, but you never know). Because this is me talking, the nodeshells listed here lean rather heavily on the lyrical. If you can shoehorn a factual into any of 'em, more power to you. I'm hoping to make this a more easily reachable feature soon than one buried in an edlog, but if you forget they're here you can find a link to this doc on my homenode for now.

(Whadda ya mean my homenode isn't your home page?)

Be easy, you'se, and holler if you need anything.

For those of you who might not have been following along, there’s been a recent hubbub over Jack’’s latest editor log and the filling of some rather arcane nodeshells. I’m not creative enough to try and fill each and every one of them but I thought I might try and take another view on it. The following story, if you can call it that, is an attempt to use the nodeshells in Jack’s post in the order that he listed them. I think I left out three or four. I told you, I'm not that creative.

Granted, at times it’s not all that cohesive and it’s subject to a fit of whimsy on my part. In the end though, for me it was kinda fun to write and maybe that’s the most important part.

So here goes nothing...
I think it was on an dismal rainy Saturday morning, the kind November brings here in Ohio that I decided to shake off the doldrums. Yes, it was time I debarked on an adventure. This being the time of year when the leaves begin to turn I decided to plot my journey by sitting under the red tree and gather my thoughts.

For some odd reason though, my past kept calling me back and I couldn’t seem to concentrate. After a few moments of consternation I came to the realization that my life with her was now over. It was then that a salted moment of memories smudged across my face, and I’ve already forgiven her. It’s all over now. About the same time, a strange song echoed through my brain that I barely recognized. It was haunting and eerie and seemed to blend in with the cold November air. I determined that it was penned by that famed Icelandic composer Jón Leifs who had died way back in 1968. I thought to myself, how strange, yet how fitting.

The day was getting on and I was getting hungry and my mouth, the whore that it is, was wet with drool and willing to accept anything in the form of nourishment. My stomach rumbled and in keeping with the Icelandic theme I longed for their rendition of that country’s version of haggis. To those people from up north it’s known as slatur. For those of you who might be uninitiated, slatur is a sheep’s innards that are encased in a sheep’s stomach. Sometimes the blood of the sheep is used but for my delicate stomach, I preferred mine to be made from the liver.

Alas, with nothing but my thoughts to sustain me, I gathered to my feet and decided to continue on with my journey. Maybe it was the chill in the air or maybe it was the blood starting to flow through my veins but I thought to myself of all of the great things the winter can bring. As I crossed over the horizon I came upon a clearing and there in the corner stood a solitary tree that seemed to beckon to me. Upon closer inspection I was amazed to discover that it was the mythical long life milk tree. Since I was famished and in dire need of sustenance I decided to tap into the tree and the milk that it brought forth. To say I was pleasantly surprised that the nectar it provided tasted slightly like harira soup would be an understatement of massive proportions.

With my belly full I began to grow weary. I decided to nap for awhile under the tree and let my dreams take me away. Visions of my long lost love appeared in my sleep. I dreamed of the way I love you and as my lover drew me closer and closer the dream began to slow down. Finally, when we were about to embrace she revealed herself. Then the devil up her sleeve appeared and the beauty I had once sought had turned into something hideous.

I awoke with a start. Cold sweat had formed all over me and it took me a moment to get my bearings. I returned myself to the tree to gather some of its milk for the rest of my journey. It would give forth none and it was just as I was about to leave unfilled when I noticed the leaves on the tree had turned thick and doughy. I thought to myself “what kind of magic is this”? The bread tree, as I would later call it had come to my rescue!

Since I had never partaken of the fruit that the tree had borne, I began to wonder if something tragically tragic might occur when I ingested it. It was bland and chewy and I thought I would trade a mountain of it for a mere spoonful of some vegetable chap-chai.

As I continued my journey across the field I came across yet another vaguely familiar face. A face from my distant past and I was forced to ask myself the question “What’s her name again?” As we grew closer and were about to cross paths she whispered to me that she would give me “all you ever dream, your eyes will taste of the flowers” and I felt my will begin to fail.

I thought this message strange and the silence that ensued caused me to take pause. My knees will bend and ease into the quiet and I’ll be surrounded by nothingness. I’ll take a trip back through time when the ocean existed outside of encyclopedias and we relied on our more primitive instincts for survival.

As I knelt there contemplating my fate, a tribe of dwarves appeared. The matriarch, somehow sensing my dismay gave me some encouragement. She raised up my chin in her little hand with the wisdom of the ages looked me straight in the eye. No words needed to be spoken; it was as if I could read her mind. Her kind eyes seem to say “It’s nice to be heard, dear” and I was grateful beyond belief.

As we sat there exchanging our thoughts, a little red dwarf began jumping up and down. Soon, other members of the tribe began to follow suit and I wondered what was going on. Sensing my confusion, they all began to chant in unison “We’re going on a bear hunt

They seemed so sure of themselves, like they’d done this thousands and thousands of time before and never been disappointed. It was the thrill of the hunt and just as the cowgirl smells of soil they would return with their quarry. I found myself longing for a camera to record their actions for the ages. The way they moved and the stealth they displayed was one of those cinematic moments that Hollywood could only dream about. For sure, at the awards ceremony, I’d be giving Oscar my eyes as I held the golden statue in my hands.

Some of you by now might be wondering if I am Carson McCullers. She was the teller of tales of misfits and outcasts. In our E2 world, she might have taken on the task of randomly linking of nodeshells to try and form a story. Some of you might think her a genius, others a lunatic. It is after all, all in your hands.

I soon lost track of the merry band of dwarves and was left to fend for myself amongst the trees. As I came to the edge of the forest, I noticed it was bordered by a black brick wall that extended as far as the eye could see. I decided to follow the wall to see where it would lead. After what I think was a mile or so, I came upon a door embedded in the brick. Above it was a sign that read The Door Opens With A Plastic Card.

I fumbled through my wallet and pulled out a credit card. I slid it through the crack and I heard the click of the lock release itself. At first, I pushed gently on the door but it would not yield. Having come this far, I would not be deterred. I lowered my shoulder and gave the door a mighty shove. It flew open with a hiss and a blast of dust and dirt burst into the air.

What was revealed on the other side was not some ogre or monster. Instead, a white light shined and formed a spotlight in the surrounding darkness. In the center of the spotlight stood the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. She held an instrument in her hands and as she sat down and slowly began to spread her legs I noticed she was a cello player.

I sat down and motioned for her to play. She closed her eyes and her face took on a sensual look that seemed to say “I want to give all our smiling-bedroom-eye photographs to strangers and for awhile we had every gentle sound of the music to ourselves.

When her performance was over I felt entranced, enthralled and empowered. I called out to her”If it be your will, do it with me, now and again and as often as humanly possible and our world will be forever held on a tilt that the rest will come to envy!”

When we had spent our energy making love she led me to another room where we would feast on a meal fit for kings. Servants appeared and bowed before us. They brought us our meals and as I savored the aroma and raised my knife and fork to my plate I noticed microscopic pieces of people in my cutlery. I glanced over at my lover but she had already begun to eat. I tried to warn her but as she swallowed the perceived delicacies her once pink skin had already started to change. Her pallor, once vibrant and alive now seemed to turn a ghostly white. As the lights flickered around the table I noticed that In every shade she’s eggs.

As her color faded further she looked over to me and I told her that all I wanted to do was “to die by your side” and I raised the fork up to my mouth and ingested the poison. Her skin had now begun to crack and in places a yellow pus oozed forth. We vomited in unison in separated universes and our deaths were moments apart.

Who knows where the reel is that will tell this story? What motion picture soundtrack could provide the accompaniment that would do this tale justice? As you viewed this story through your cellophane eyes would you play the role of the critic? I’m guessing yes for beyond the veil of nothingness there exists a sea of poets, judges all.

Well, I hope this little tale of adventure and woe was fun for everyone. I know many of the outsiders won’t “get it” but we are an incestuous Everything2. Sometimes this little place that many of us call home provides us with a venue where we are like symbiotic functions dancing in tandem and at others it seems like it’s one of those good places to hide refugee children.

In either instance, someday I hope we’ll all dance together on twilight’s wings.

My Proposal To Revamp The XP / Level System

Note: I am mostly putting this here for posterity. I think it is a good idea, and I don't want to forget it.

The sheer number of discussions, debates, back and forth, and rabblerousing that the leveling / XP / merit / Honor Roll / "site is dying" has caused could (and often does) fill a book or two. I think this topic is important enough that it should be considered more deeply, more often, by more users.

The goal of this writeup is to identify what I think are the most important components of a good XP / level system, and then analyze how the pre-Honor Roll system failed to meet those components, how the current system fails to meet those components, and how my system would meet those components.

The Components

The chief components that are vital to a good leveling system are:

  • Attainability - A new level should be attainable within a reasonable frame of time.
  • Clarity - The requirements for attaining the next level should be clear.
  • Positive Reinforcement - All contributions to the site should be a step towards attaining the next level.
  • Proportionality - All contributions should be rewarded in proportion to their quality (as ascertained by the community).

Old System

The pre-Honor Roll system succeeded very well on the Clarity component. If you wrote X number of writeups and gained Y number of XP, you leveled up.

The Positive Reinforcement aspect was fairly well defined, although nuked writeups used to contain a more injurious 5XP penalty. In general, though, writeups were created so fast (and votes flowed so freely) that on the whole, more people were moving up than down.

By keeping standards and expectations rather low, its Attainability component was not that much of a factor, but over time, as standards rose and noding material lightened up, the failure of this system became more and more imminent. Additionally, the exponential rise in the level requirements towards the end of the spectrum (Level 10 and up) was untenable from the "reasonable frame of time" aspect - even with almost no standards, writing 2,500 writeups would be a feat bordering on codependency.

The system's biggest failure, of course, was the Proportionality reward. A writeup was a writeup was a writeup. A person who submitted 10 +4/-1 writeups was doing just as well as someone who posted 2 writeups that each received a C! and +12/-0 writeups - even better, when you considered the weight that # of writeups had in determining levels.

Current System

With the introduction of the Honor Roll, we fixed the Proportionality component in a direct fashion. If you write better than the typical noder, you received more credit in your # of writeups component of leveling up. However, this was done at the sacrifice of all of the other components of a good system:

  • Clarity suffered as people could no longer simply look at their XP and number of writeups to determine where they stood. The Honor Roll is rather basic statistical math, but its application immediately added a layer of obfuscation and obscurity to what had been an extremely clear system.
  • At first glance, it appears that the Honor Roll also solved the Attainability issue, but in fact, its impact on Positive Reinforcement was so severe that the percentage of new users from any given year who have achieved Level 2 and have then gone on to achieve any other Level has decreased every year since 2004.
  • Ah, Positive Reinforcement. The horror stories of spiregrain deleting nodes to raise his merit, of mauler, passport, and golFur afraid to post something nominal yet unglamorous lest they disturb their precious Merit (a trait I haven't been guilty of, but have cursed myself frequently for lacking it) - the Honor Roll system is ripe for gaming and strategy, and worst of all, it raises the possibility that one can move backwards in levels and attainment - even by posting new material. That is simply not a good system.

Proposed System

The Honor Roll's sole purpose was to address the issue of "a writeup is a writeup is a writeup." If someone wrote an excellent writeup, we felt they should receive some sort of "writeup bonus", thereby reducing the number of writeups they needed to level up. Unfortunately, the system we created is too dependent on other noders, wasn't very clear, wasn't that attainable, and didn't involve an absolute positive reinforcement - no backsliding allowed.

My proposed system would essentially reimplement the old system, with one additional change.

Each user would have a "writeup bonus" variable stored in the database. This number would start at 0 for all users, and can only go up. This number would simply be added to your actual number of writeups, which would then determine what level you were (along with the usual XP requirements.)

Since I'm doing the writing here, I'll use me as an example.

I've written 576 writeups (not including this one.)

By our current level system, I should be level 7, and leaning close to level 8.

However, if my writeup bonus was 304, then my total writeup # for leveling purpsoes would be 880, and I would be level 9 (just like I am today.)

"Well, alright, Kyle, that sounds pretty straightfoward, but how did you come up with 304 for your writeup bonus? How does that number change?"

Well, this is my proposed formula, but I am not adverse to another formula:

  • You get one extra writeupbonus for every writeup with over 30 reputation. (For me, that's 150.)
  • You get another extra writeupbonus for every writeup over 60 reputation. (19.)
  • And you get a third writeupbonus for writeups over 90 reputation. (3.)
  • You get an extra writeupbonus for every C! on a writeup after the 3rd one, but with a limit of 3 writeupbonuses per writeup (so only C!s 4 through 6 count for your total). (132 for me.)

I don't necessarily think this is how the final system ought to be, by the way. I think it rewards outstanding writeups at the expense of perhaps just a really solid writeup, and I'm not quite sure how to reconcile that yet. But the ultimate point here is:

  • The system is very clear. If you get a lot of C!s or a good reputation (or both!), you'll move up faster.
  • The system is very attainable. I got a 60% bonus using my formula - that jumped me two levels. I'm going to build a page to test some other people later and see how they do, and probably tweak the numbers to come up with a better mousetrap.
  • The system is very proportional. Write good, get more rewards. It's that simple.
  • The system is very positively reinforced. There's no bonus for removing writeups, no punishment for only posting average stuff, and no disincentive not to throw up a bunch of stuff and see what sticks.

Anyway, just a thought. More later.


The user account for Virgil belongs to the e2docs usergroup and will soon be used for posting and editing help documentation. 

Currently, the documents which comprise Everything2 FAQ may or may not be in question-and-answer form, and the documents themselves may be various nodetypes, such as "documents" and "superdocuments" which only admins can access and edit.  There are only a few admins, and the docs are not getting edited and updated enough.  To expand the base of potential workers for this motley collection of help documents, we are transferring all the documentation to writeups by Virgil.

When we are finished, you will be able to determine whether a help document is official. If the document is a writeup by Virgil, it will be official.  If not, it will be some old legacy document we haven't yet got around to deleting.  Also, we can get rid of the namespacing ("E2 FAQ:").

Eventually, you will be able to /msg Virgil to communicate suggestions to the e2docs usergroup.  You might want to hold off on that for a few months until we are finished cleaning up the docs.

    “Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.”
    George Bernard Shaw

On November 13, 2007, clampe submitted a write up, Reactions from Clampe's students, detailing a lesson plan he had prepared for his class with the objective of determining what a new user experience is like on Everything2. He also remarked that by looking at the server numbers that, at this time we,, are “getting about 1 out of 1000 new users to stick around”. clampe acknowledged that his study group had a week to learn E2, they had to have three write ups survive and recognized that it is probably too short a time. He also asked us where do we want Everything2 to go?

We don't know how many students met the objective of having three write ups survive and he sums up his results of what their experiences were by observing that this group of new users 'interpret downvotes as worst cases, sometimes messages are helpful and sometimes they are overwhelming, new users are seeing mixed messages and that the FAQ is overwhelming.'

Finally he hoped this would start a discussion.

In the November 14, 2007 day logs I initiated a conversation through the everyone account with the noderbase. It was a response to clampe's desire to have a discussion because he does a lot to support E2 behind the scenes. My objective was to try to answer his question by looking at where we want E2 to go from several perspectives. Here is a summary of our thoughts.

Generally speaking we agreed with clampe's study group of students in that we think the overriding obstacles for new users are the messaging systems and FAQs. More specifically we think E2 should go where it has always gone and also we don't know. We want it to go Forward, we want E2 to survive and admit that new users are essential for that. We think that our standards are too high, the learning curve too steep, and the "game" portion of the website is rigged to reward inactivity. And we would like to reexamine and tinker with the XP system.

We would like E2 to go to Denny's and then The Morrigan's in the honch in Yokosuka because we are starving, and we can be loaded in two hours if Ami-chan is working. We also feel our breath is being wasted even trying to talk about it.

We don't feel read or feel part of the community. We want better feedback mechanisms. We would like to join the rest of the internet in a bigger way by putting Digg and Reddit buttons everywhere. We want to keep writing for the database, noding for the ages, but we also want to be contemporary, we want to be a place where any surfer on any day can stop in and get relevant and current information or humor.

We are tired of doing all this every six months, we want a clearinghouse for proposed changes. We think e2 is stagnating while other sites are flourishing and if we find a way to make things a bit more open it will hurt the signal to noise ratio we currently enjoy, but dammit, at least we'll have some more actual signal as well. We are like a hipster supplement to Wikipedia, rounding out research with the snarkiness and wit that this place has always had. We think that if E2 disappeared tomorrow forever, we wouldn't miss it and we want growth, but at a moderate pace.

There is an administrative discussion because we do, as noders and as a group of editors, take our role in everything2 seriously. Like the rest of the noderbase our take on the topic varies widely and is unique to each perspective.

In general the editors agree with the study group and with the noderbase response to the day log survey. We said that everyone thought it was confusing. We don't need more bodies. We need more NODERS. Our interface is nigh-impenetrable. Our FAQ is often unhelpful. We don't market our strengths, HTML formatting is an obstacle and TinyMCE is maddening to use. There is no question that E2 is an inbred little elitist club and some of us like it like this way. We throw up a block wall to the talented users and we would like to attract and keep them by hiring a coder. We are also taken aback by whiners who are too lazy to figure out the interface and simple HTML.

Here is a summary of our thoughts from the public catbox and my private inbox. We think the noderbase survey is a circle jerk, we think the questionnaire is going to misfire and we think that C!ing every response to the survey is causing us to overlook the better write ups. We are thinking about creating a tutorial and we are thinking of getting rid of Klaproth. We also wish more people would answer that questionnaire - that is, non-CE people. We want us to look at the apathy and negativity in the answers and finally that we are disenfranchised with some of the "establishment" and we are also thankful for those who care deeply and permanently about e2's new and old users.

Some ongoing actions to our reactions are Two-word poems, Two-word action movie's, a Proposal To Revamp The XP / Level System and the creation of a user account, Virgil to facilitate communication about the E2 FAQ in a couple of months.

G. K. Chesterton once said that George Bernard Shaw is like the Venus de Milo; all that there is of him is admirable.

Confessions of a New Editor   aka   What I did in my first month with buttons.

First of all, I'm very excited to be an editor. To say I didn't see it coming would be a lie, although nothing is ever a sure thing and I certainly hoped it was coming. I've been angling for this job for over a year now and eyeing it even longer. Long gone are the days when I can churn out content on a daily or even weekly basis, at least while I'm distracted by finishing up graduate school, but I still want to contribute something to the community. The duties of an editor seemed to me like the next step and so here I am.

So what have I been up to? Oddly enough I've actually noded more, but more importantly I've been working to welcome new users. In the month of November I probably contacted hundreds of new users with what I hope is a friendly welcome and a pointing to of useful information. My hope is to get to them before they make the usual mistakes of formatting or linking which lead to nuking and discouragement. I never realized how many new accounts are created on a daily basis, this has been a delightful revelation for me.

I have also done a bit of nuking and editing, though I won't list any names or nodes here. All authors are aware that I nuked their work, there's been no hiding behind a now defunct deathbot. And if i edited someone's work it was with their knowledge, by messaging them with corrections or by making spelling/grammar changes when authors have been gone for months or years.

In short, I've been doing the typical work of an editor. I have done nothing outstanding yet, and may only become a cog in a well oiled machine but I am contributing in a new way and after five years as a user it feels fresh and new again.

Of all of the messages I've received from new users while carrying out my welcoming efforts or editorial duties, the most satisfying is one that just appeared this morning and was the result of a vote and the blab! box.

Its nice to know that I'm not an invisible noder.

So, my end message for this month's report will be: Try to remember what it was like to be new and use that box to encourage each other!

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