Good morning, ladies and germs. As it starts getting a bit nippy in the evenings, Orion is in the south-east and Jupiter is shining bright in the south-west. It appears that a short-tailed shrew has taken up residence in a pile of computer junk in my office. I figure it's eating the big, hairy spiders that like to invade at this time of year so I'll put up with it. This is a summary of things that crossed my inbox and mind during and preceding the month of September.
No big news on the coding front. What was cooking last month is still on the stove. We're still wrangling the 500/503 error gremlins but the bottom line is that we need more hardware and don't have it.
You can still sneak into the E2 Secret Santa 2010 deal. Never mind the short list of participants, it just hasn't been updated. Whether you take part in it or not, you're invited to come bitch at me in person. Yeah, not everyone gets to advertise their nodermeet in an ed log. I do. But I also feed people. It's amazing how far two loaves of bread and a few fish will stretch when everyone's eating turkey and mash instead.
We are, broadly speaking, big boys and girls and more or less capable of managing our personal lives. Still, as a site we realise that there are crises of various kinds and in recognition of this fact of life have a permanent cadre of capable staffers on standby in case intervention or mediation is needed or requested.
There is one area in which it is in the interest of the community to poke our nose in someone's affairs and start asking questions. Some actions are good neither for the community nor for the individuals involved. We cannot (and will not) stand for threats, stalking, or harassment, whether it is something that happens on-line or whether it spills over from RL. For the definition of harassment, look it up in the statutes of your jurisdiction--the legal definitions are generally similar around the world.
We can spot the line between a dispute that may be unsightly and uncomfortable but is more or less under control and one that is impacting one of the parties to the point of being a serious burden. Should you be the latter party, you can request and expect the management's assistance. By the time you do so there is a pretty good chance that our vigilant "people persons" will have noticed something or caught a whiff of trouble through the grapevine and will be prepared to act.
Again, we are not interested in managing anyone's personal relationships on the site. We do have a stake in having noders be comfortable about being on the site without feeling personally pressured or threatened by other users.
Some bitching went down about a month ago about the removal of a reposted writeup critical of the site. I had the usual "heads that should roll" requests in my inbox and a few heated discussions. I had cleared this particular deletion the first time around so heads were not going to roll, period, and quit asking for them to do so. In fact it is the norm and not the exception that editors consult each other and often also check with me before taking action that could prove controversial.
Some time in the past I stated that "bunk is bunk" for editorial purposes. This particularly includes writeups nuked with prejudice a week earlier and reposted without corrections. This particularly includes writeups by users who aim for a catbox confrontation before seeking guidance or dialogue. This includes poorly written writeups that gain 6 C!s. Sometimes C!s and votes indicate popularity of a point presented and bear no relation to the quality of a writeup as such. Bunk is bunk and crappy, unoriginal rants are crappy, unoriginal rants. I'm not big on critiquing works in public but this author decided to flout conventions and decorum and take it public and very loudly so.
The ensuing staff discussion revealed a very clear majority in favour of removing the writeup in question so I'm assured that it wasn't just the three bigwig admins arguing for it and out of touch. I was told that we should be ashamed for ignoring the "will of the people" and making poor use of power or something like that. My response was that perhaps someone made poor use of their C! power and that that was not going to sway me. Apologies to the people who complained but this time you were a smaller than usual vocal minority. As I told someone, I wish they had spent half as much time helping the user improve their writing and arguments as they did cheerleading for poorly presented noding about noding.
Writeups critical of the site or the management? Stick them in a Letter to the Editors. It's your soapbox. Inform yourself. Engage in discussions with staff members, current and former. Don't just post any old shite and expect that our fear of people crying censorship will keep us from axing it because it's shite.
Coming and goings
Oooooot: We thank Wuukiee and eien_meru for their services and will be seeing them around. Life gets busy.
Eeeeeen: Sensing a lack of geeky white American men in their thirties on the staff, we hired vandewal.
You cannot teach creativity--how to become a good writer. But you can help a young writer discover within himself what kind of writer he would like to be.
--Mario Vargas Llosa (coincidentally awarded the Nobel prize six days after I posted this piece)