You Can't Earn Your Bullshit

The idea that, with regards to noding on Everything, regardless of what you write and what it means to you, people will measure it on their own bullshit and not yours. Even if it's cool-ass jivin' nonsense, it can get zapped. In fact odds are the stuff you think is full of bullshit which you post will get upvoted, and the stuff you actually care about will get ignored or shut down. There is no rhyme or reason to it, because it's not done on merit or style or taste or seniority. Take a close look at your contributions to Everything so far--do a user-search on yourself. Do you see a pattern? No? Are you surprised? Have you spent the past 3 weeks adding to "getting to know you" nodes? Well good for you! Did people vote them down JUST because they were GTKYs and probably didn't even read them all the way through? Of course! Does that make any sense to you? Why should it? Do you rescue nodeshells? Do you enjoy it? Did your last attempt end up a negative twelve in the reputation department? These are the signs of 1) newbies and 2) people who think the gargantuan list of rules and guidelines and preferences that are hoisted up by the Powers That Be are a bunch of bullshit. But hey. They earned their bullshit didn't they? Or did they? Or did they aquire it by playing by the rules? Coloring inside the lines? Is this how you earn, or is it that you abide by the demands of those in power, and they choose to give you levels of bullshit over a period of time?

The complaint allegedly is that some writeups become unloaded on a slower connection. Tough. That's not going to go away. When someone chooses to add to any node, they do so because they want to. Because they enjoy it. If this were the encyclopedia brittanica we were building in here that would be one thing. It is not. It is an experiment on documenting an amorphous group mind. Who is it that decides what is trash and what is treasure? The Powers That Be? Those who have earned their bullshit? Those who cater to the whims of those who play King of the Hill with the nodegel? You should always add your two cents whether you really need to or not. Where and how you wish. Do Not Pick Titles Carefully. Screw titles. Experiment. Elaborate. Play with them. Test the boundaries. Break down the walls, but most importantly Wear Sunscreen. What if you accidently add a writeup that someone else already wrote? So? "It's redundant," you say. So? There's a lot of redundancies in here already. And y'know what? They can't stop all of us. Oh, they'll stop ME perhaps, but they can't stop you. Not if the YOU gets bigger and bigger.

The best advice to any noder before they click "sumbit" is this: will your writeup be interesting to you in a year? It is interesting to you now? Even the slightest bit? A few people who happen to be online right now will perhaps glance at it and vote it up or down on the merest whim. Maybe you mention tomato soup in your node although it's about something else, and the person who glances at it doesn't like tomato soup. DOWNVOTE. Did you do something wrong? No. THEY did. But of course we can't do anything about that because you can't control how people vote. So earning your bullshit is irrelevant, because the entire voting system is irrelevant. Because the very act of noding is irrelevant to everyone but you. There's absolutely no criteria for anything, except what YOU create for yourself. What THEY tell you is criteria is relevant to them, but it's only relevant to you if you actually care about their little voting system. However their voting system is inaccurate and irrelevant, because the voting is irrelevant. That means they are irrelevant.

So why are you following any rules? Who are you trying to appease? The Powers That Be? An audience that isn't there? Write about noding if it appeals to you. Rant or whisper. It doesn't matter. Quit playing by their rules. Quit expecting other people to play by your rules. Viva Anarchy. Until there is a consistent set of criteria for why people vote, which there never will be, you can't earn your bullshit in here. So play by your own rules and the hell with the lot of them. Write about black in the white node. And then scoff at them as they downvote you.

OR you can play the game. Here's how you play. You make friends with people and then quietly agree to upvote one another's nodes irregardless of content. Network. Be very careful about this. Don't even make it obvious to one another. Cater to the whims of those in here and play the popularity game until you amass a little clique of friends. Upvote them. They'll upvote you so long as you never make waves and are careful not to upset their little vision of what E2 is supposed to be about, and of course we each have our own idea what Everything2 should be. If that's the kinda game you like to play, go right ahead. And so long as you don't talk about it, no one's gonna know. No one can control how you vote or why, so technically there's nothing wrong with it, is there? Or you can just say the hell with them, be anti-social, and post whatever the hell you want. If you wanna play that way, come over here and sit by me.

If you're adding just facts, you're writing stuff that people won't read. If you're adding opinion, like this node, you'll get deleted faster than a cheetah, because it's the spicier stuff that gets noticed. Boring rewrites of encyclopedia entries may get a couple votes one way or another, but probably won't get deleted. They also won't get read unless that person's doing a paper or something. So why are you writing? Just bored? Then it doesn't matter. Actually want to play the XP game? You're reading the wrong node. Wanna see if you can get your XP into the negative digits? Is that even possible? Wanna be caught stirring the snakes? Or maybe you just want to write stuff you can't write anywhere else. Poetry that you can't put anywhere else. Maybe just whatever comes off the top of your head and you don't even care about the title. If you play their game, you should only do it if you enjoy it. If that's what you wanna do.

Just don't think you'll ever earn your bullshit though. They will give it to you in small doses at first and watch how you handle yourself, until they can trust you with larger doses. This is how the mafia operates. This is how little high school valley girl social cliques function. You dress up as they tell you to dress. Say what they tell you to say. Think as they tell you to think. Go where they tell you to go. You don't make waves. You take direction. You adhere to their moral imperatives, and become amoral where it is convenient for them. You put your own identity aside, in favor of a mask that appeals to those around you. So you can increase your nodeshare and popularity among the E2 population.

Or you just be yourself and do what you want and if you happen to one day get accepted by them it'll be by pure chance, because they are not a conspiracy. They're not consciously aware they're a part of the machine, most of them. Perhaps a small number of them are aware and they're the dangerous ones, cuz they consciously and purposefully play the game in order to manipulate initiates and vets alike. Some of us aren't here to play those kinda games. Some of us just want to node what comes to mind. We don't care if it happens to become helpful to someone else. That's a nice side-effect if it happens. The voting system just gets in the way. The rest of the world may disagree with you, but so what? Here's a secret: Node Heaven can believe in reincarnation. What were you really trying to say in that deleted post? Approach it from a refreshing angle, and start again. Odds are, no one will even notice it's a new draft of something that was once killed.

What really makes a solid writeup? You. And you are the most important person here. Don't forget that.

Originally posted to E2 on January 21st 2001, this writeup was an idea that received a reputation of 87 before deletion.