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
", and leaves in a huff.
3.) Newbie becomes afraid
of writing, spends a lot of time in the catbox
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.