E2 Is Unfriendly to New Noders has become a catchphrase, as well as a battle cry wielded by legions of dissatisfied denizens of this site. The writeups in that node express quite a bit; everyone seems to have something to say on the subject; hence the softlock. Has the subject been driven into the ground? Perhaps it has, but not by me, so I am writing this daylog to discuss a few observations I've made here.

I've been here for almost a year now...11.2 months according to the date stamp on my homenode. My beginnings here were a bit rocky, as is the case with many new noders. I had only been reading E2 for a little while when I got my account. I didn't understand the implications of the writeup creation date (that is, November 13, 1999 writeups are generally not good examples of how to node). I did not read the FAQ right away. I posted impulsive nonsense, which was promptly "eaten".

The Internet is packed with forums, message boards, and newsgroups. The degree to which these forums are moderated varies greatly, as does the overall quality of the writing on them. I've been a member of quite a few message boards in my time, and revisiting them after almost exclusively writing for E2 for several months, demonstrates to me how very different E2 is from the majority of other sites. To the new user, E2 does look something like a BBS. There is a wealth of old nodes which consist of an inflammatory writeup followed by five or six (or more!) angry rebuttals. There are older GTKY nodes that have not been softlocked due to having simply fallen off the map. Quite often, it seems that a new user will stumble upon a node that seems to be begging for replies. The newbie will add his or her two cents, (often in the form of a misspelled, non-punctuated one-liner) which will appear in New Writeups and draw attention back to the once-forgotten node. I have seen entire nodes full of old GTKY and argument nuked because a new user wrote something. In a sense, perhaps, new users who add to old sub-par nodes are something of an asset to the database, albeit an unintentional one.

There is something of a "sink or swim" mentality here that has both good and bad points. The ideal new user reads the FAQ and other writeups before posting their first node, is thick-skinned enough to take constructive criticism, and is willing to trust that the admins, for the most part, know what they are doing. Coming here is almost guaranteed to induce culture shock. On most web sites designed around the writing of the users, it is permissible to post without proofreading, and one is not necessarily expected to say anything meaningful. Message boards are rife with "Me too!" posts. New users will quickly (and sometimes painfully) learn that E2 is not like this.

Upon encountering the selective nature of E2, a new user will generally react in one of the following ways:

1.) Newbie realizes that E2 is not a message board, and sees the peer-edit system as a good opportunity to improve his or her writing.

2.) Newbie is one of those who thinks that grammar and spelling are tools of "the man", and leaves in a huff. 3.) Newbie becomes afraid of writing, spends a lot of time in the catbox, and complains about how s/he is being discriminated against for being new. 4.) Newbie creates a new account and starts over.

Unfortunately, the first response on the list above is rare. E2 is a confusing site, and some new users are able to figure out their way around fairly quickly, but for the most part it helps to have some sort of guide. E2 Mentoring Sign-Up is a wonderful way to learn the ins and outs of E2, but first the new user has to be motivated enough to get a mentor. This means that the new user has to be made to feel welcome here. Everyone makes mistakes, and it is not a good idea to judge a new user by their very first writeup. Of course there are a few exceptions to this: sometimes something is posted that is SO utterly and obviously a troll or completely random typing. (for instance, I've seen writeups sumbitted that look like "OMG MY CAT TESTICLE WOW!!!!!! WTF GO YO MAMA EAT COOKIE IN DA HOUSE.dhgheskghlehagha".) Within reason, most noders who post something questionable their first time can do much, much better. Some very smart, creative, well-spoken people can write utter crap when they don't really care about what they are writing. The key is to encourage them to care.

I'm not saying we should spoon-feed praise to everyone who signs up for an account here. I do think it is reasonable, however, to refrain from downvoting something by a new user that is most likely going to be instanuked anyway. Yes, I know that downvoting's purpose is to express what is acceptable and what is not, but XP Stoicism is not something people are born with. I am also disgusted when I see a good, factual writeup by a new noder that has been downvoted by one or two people. What is the newbie supposed to think, especially if these downvotes are not accompanied by some explanation of what is wrong with the writeup? Even if there are six upvotes, the node's author will be wondering why that one person thinks their writeup should not be part of the database. I get the feeling sometimes that there are a few bitter individuals on here that think it is their mission to prove that life sucks.

I admit to not being perfect in terms of always being nice; in particular, teen angst poetry drives me up the wall, and I've created a few insulting softlinks (though I generally try to make them somewhat funny, and avoid meaningless put-downs such as "You Stupid Asshole"). I do not downvote these poems, though. And often I will /msg the author warning them that such stuff is generally nuked; perhaps they should try re-posting it in a daylog if they feel the need to express themselves. Almost everyone is a little bit guilty of occasionally basking in the self-perceived glow of their own dubious wit, and I am no exception to this. However, this is a flaw. Perhaps I should not be having fun at the expense of someone's feelings, no matter how silly their expression of it may seem to me. If anyone has been seriously hurt by the softlinking of, (for instance) Would you like some cheese with that whine?, then I apologize and want to assure you that my intent was not to be mean; I was just being a dork and thinking I was funny. But trust me, oh teenagers, it is likely that someday you will look at your tortured verse of "darkness, blackness, neverending pain" and laugh at it. Some of the stuff I wrote in high school during my wannabe-Goth days is too hilarious for words.

To new users reading this daylog, the best advice I have for you is to avoid taking the voting/experience system too seriously. My serial downvoters have taught me that sometimes there is no rhyme or reason to how a person votes; you simply have to go with the majority opinion. If you have a writeup with a rep of +20/-2, don't worry about the two dissenters.

To those who have been here a while, remember that E2 is not a fraternity. There should not be a requirement that you must suffer in order to be accepted here. I'm not saying that everyone is mean, I'm just noting that I've observed some rather unwelcoming behavior here. Telling someone "this is crap" right off the bat is quick and easy, and sometimes true, but is it necessary? A much better approach is to explain to the noder that what they posted is not what E2 is looking for, and suggest to them some examples of what is considered quality writing on the site. New noders have told me that they have received /msgs saying, "Your writeup was shit". That seems pretty harsh to me, and is not constructive UNLESS examples of non-shit were given, and they usually weren't. Plus, often it seems that the harshest, least constructive criticisms are handed out not by editors but by level 2 or 3 users who have an axe to grind. There's no need to be mean, folks.