History of a Character

Years ago, long before I encountered the E2 universe, I created a character. It was so long ago that I barely remember the roots of the story. Because I am a self-confessed "method writer" I have a tendency to "become" my characters. I know them so well, down to every detail of their lives and personalities. I can plug myself into them all too completely. A long time ago I created a character that grew into a monster. This character started in chat rooms in the mid-1990s and branched into letter writing and absolutely absurd sales pitches. He was, as someone later told me, my very own Laszlo Toth (oddly enough, his name is also a perversion of an historical character). This character was a man nearly impossible to hate as he blindly stumbled through life. His ideas on love and dating were the opposite of "cool." His political views were like an acid trip through the newspaper. He felt strongly about strange things and worried that he was out of touch with the world. He would assume someone was his friend just because they responded to his request for information at their website. If you told him to leave you alone he would flip out, interchangably throwing religion and abusive language at you in alternating e-mails. He is the essence of something we all have inside of us, the frail person within left without social convention.

In many ways I believe in the existence of such a character within us all. Remove your natural tendency not to "say the wrong thing" in front of other people. Shake yourself down to the Id within and say the first thing that comes to mind. Think at full speed without any quality control and write down your train of thought as it happens. Don't go back and don't edit. And then, well, please don't post the results here. You will find yourself somewhat surprised with what comes out. There are thoughts in there you never realized you were thinking.

The Truth of the Matter

Berhardt Goates is an absolute terror. He rambles, makes assumptions and becomes obsessed with everyone he talks to. He'll e-mail you daily, wondering why you haven't responded to his last e-mail, cursing you and calling you names, because he cares so much. He just cannot accept that the world isn't fair and doesn't run by his rules. Of course, he isn't real. I am Berhardt Goates. I am civilwaractionfigure. He's become a weird alternate personality I have fun with, and in the early days when I first found E2 I opened an account with his name to run the tables. You see, Behr isn't a troll. As he might say in his infamous run-on sentence nightmare of punctuation: "I want to do very good in that it is important to do well in life and please people and make certain that what you do is remembered for being good and not for being bad." There you have the Berhardt Goates philosophy of life. So, you may ask, why the hell is this an Editor Log?

Free your mind
And the rest will follow
Be colorblind
Don't be so shallow
(Before you can read me you gotta learn how to see me)


The return of Behr to E2 was a carefully considered experiment. Taking all the data I have accumulated in my mind about this place, I wanted to see if I could indeed think like a newbie. What better way than through Behr, a character I knew everything about and could play very convincingly. He fit the parameters for my experiment. He was the kind of person who tried real hard and wanted to learn, grow and get better. He also fit the parameter of not being all that skilled in writing, grammar or spelling. What would happen if Behr fell into the heart of the E2 universe?

Well, a year and a half ago, Behr first came to E2 and he was run off quickly. He was greeted with very cold, rude messages about how his offerings weren't up to par and his account would be in danger if he did not read and understand the rules of this place. He was confused and ran off, which prompted me to come here as myself and give E2 my full attention as a real person.

Free your mind
And the rest will follow
Be colorblind
Don't be so shallow
(Before you can read me you gotta learn how to see me)

The Experiment Rolls

There were several things I wanted to see from the viewpoint of a relative newbie who wasn't a skilled writer or researcher who wanted to do well.

  • Would his fumbling writing style bring massive downvotes?
  • Would he receive attention from editors wanting to help him or run him off?
  • Would anyone pay attention to him and would they care?
  • If he made minor factual errors in his writeups, would anyone point them out? If so, how would they handle it?
  • Would even Behr feel as if he was part of a community or would he be alienated due to his odd nature?

A Kinder, Gentler E2?

Look at the questions I pose above and then check out the factuals and daylogs of civilwaractionfigure. Check out the fact that at the time he retired from E2 on September 24, 2002, every single one of his factuals had at least 7 upvotes and no downvotes. That is the strangest result of the experiment and it tends to tell me that a lot of downvotes are personal. The quality of Behr's writeups are not high enough to merit zero downvotes based on the general examination of voting and degree of difficulty I ran last month. Nine very loosely written and strange factual writeups with no downvotes. Strange. (For the record, I withheld votes on any of Behr's nodes and no one who voted knew he was me - unless someone outsmarted my dumbass).

Whereas a year and a half ago, Behr was insulted and told his writing was substandard and did not belong here, a different song was sung this time. You see, an important part of the experiment was to determine if E2 has changed. The editors here have worked diligently since I joined the ranks to become kinder, gentler and more helpful to new users. This was a problem in the past I am told and I experienced hostility here myself when I first signed on for an account (as myself, as well as Behr).

Behr received a warm welcome with a few stray sarcastic comments, which he didn't understand but I laughed at. Nearly a dozen noders reached out to him. Some offered to help him with factuals and suggested other writeups he might like to do. Some were concerned about him after reading his wacko daylogs. Noders from Baltimore welcomed him to the fold warmly, appreciating that Behr is supposedly from Baltimore. Yes, he likes mackerel and cognac and yes he does buy women a full tank of gas after they meet him for dinner. However, as he said in his final daylog, he isn't really real. He is in a way but he isn't actually a person.

Are Editors Friendly?

Behr is the kind of noder I usually reach out to and try to help. Under the circumstances this was not possible. The fact that he is not truly a newbie and due to his account having been opened over a year ago he doesn't have the newbie brand on him (we know when you've been here less than a month). This may have something to do with the fact that only one member of the editing staff spoke to him. Mad props go to dannye for his work in trying to help Behr. Curse the man all you want for his lack of tolerance for bullshit, but the reason I cut the Behr project short was that dannye was investing too much time in helping him out (as well as drownzsurf and others). The others that tried helping were not Content Editors or gods. They were "ordinary" noders who had solid suggestions and helpful ideas. You can be very proud of your efforts. A new noder will find many helpful people here to light the way. Behr was not an ordinary noder, being a middle-aged man of Middle Eastern descent who grew up in post-war Germany and now resides in Baltimore. That is hardly the standard noder background story here. His run-on sentences cried for attention and every one of his writeups contained a minor factual error at the time of submission. Five of nine were caught by other users and the other four I corrected myself later. Only one of the factual errors was caught by an editor, that being dannye. The others weren't that difficult to spot but the four I corrected would have slipped through the cracks if Behr had been a real person.

Free your mind
And the rest will follow
Be colorblind
Don't be so shallow
(Before you can read me you gotta learn how to see me)

E2 is a Community

Damn straight, and after the Behr experiment if you tell me any differently I'll laugh at you. Yes, if you are hostile you will not find anyone changing your bandages for you. Yes, if you submit a whole lot of crap and scream censorship you will be laughed at. You are violating the standards of the website as well as the community. You are insulting the people who labor over their writeups for hours and days until they get them right. Is this your idea of a writeup: "I like to hit squirrels with sneakers. This is called sneakering squirrels." Damn right we'll give you the smack down.

If Behr had been real in the greater sense he speaks of in his final daylog, there might have been no limits to how he could have fit into the community. The Behr character has always been lonely and emotionally unstable. He may have attended noder meets in hopes of finding new friends to ease his loneliness and social awkwardness. Of course, that might not have gone so well. Behr's personality is evolutionary from the moment he meets you. He starts out serious and businesslike. Then he decides you are his friend. Then he depends on daily communication and love from you. If he doesn't get what he expects he flips out. Therefore, Behr could not have stayed any longer than he did without changing into a different kind of person. I'm not so sure that wouldn't have happened if Behr had been a real person. And he could have very well have been a real person.

In Conclusion

Those of you who reached out to Behr know who you are and I've gained an new respect for you. Those who spoke to Behr were mostly people I personally have never had any conversation or dealings with. That warms me. Someday there will be a real Behr that comes to E2 and I feel pretty good about the fact that he will be received warmly here.

I apologize for the deception and if I offended anyone in anyway. Many thanks to you for what you showed me. There is a heart here at E2. There are people who care. Anyone can find a home here if they are willing to play by the rules and give something worthwhile back to the community. Those who think E2 is prejudiced in favor of flowery writing and long, academic factuals have it all wrong. Behr's Node-Fu and Merit is rather impressive for a level one noder who doesn't know how to properly punctuate a sentence.

Yeah, I stole the lyrics from En Vogue
Free Your Mind is a fucking kick ass song
In 1993 I saw a hardcore band perform it.
They had a black lead singer and the band was white.
There happened to be a lot of skinheads in the crowd and they were throwing shit.
So for the band's last song they did a twenty minute version of Free Your Mind.
That's the shit.

Picture of Behrhardt Goates on my homenode for a limited time. This is the one he sends when he signs up for internet dating services.