Noding about not noding
A thought-terminating cliche is a one-liner which, when used in an involved and detailed discussion, halts that discussion. It does this by reducing either the speaker's or his opponent's opinion to an extremely short, blunt and overused cliche, thereby establishing that the speaker either
- thinks very little of his opponent's stance, or believes it to be so simplistic as to be not worth devoting any kind of intelligent thought to, or
- is himself too lazy to devote any intelligent thought to developing his own stance and opinion beyond this cliche.
It establishes that at least one member of the discussion does not have the inclination to pay attention to it, and thereby effectively terminates the discussion.
Examples of general-purpose thought-terminating cliches are:
"This place needs more actual content. Let's begin." is a thought-terminating cliche.
It is not always referenced verbatim. The reason I'm noding this now, however, is because it does appear fairly often. Recently, I was involved in a fairly complex discussion about nodeshells, and what kind of place they have in the future of Everything2. My nodeshell proposal is currently on my homenode, and most noders disagree with it for various reasons. The nodeshell discussion itself is not relevant to what I'm trying to explain here.
After a few minutes of this discussion, which wasn't becoming heated but was fairly noisy because a lot of people were speaking simultaneously, another noder entered the conversation and remarked that E2 would be much better off if we devoted half as much time to noding as we did to discussing the nodeshell issue.
Well, that made me angry.
It was a transparent attempt to terminate a discussion on a subject which the newcomer evidently felt was inconsequential. The implication was that we were wasting our time, writing new nodes is the only way to contribute anything of value to Everything2, and anybody who is not writing right now is not contributing anything. The implication was that writing more new nodes is the solution to all of Everything2's problems, and that in-depth discussion of E2's internal workings is taboo.
Do I need to articulate how wrong each of these statements is?
Welcoming new users, mentoring, reading, voting, CSS development for the Zen Theme, HTML development, content editing, UI development, chattering, soft linking, godly admin work, patching existing code, developing new code, nodermeeting and server maintenance are all ways you can contribute to Everything2 without writing new nodes. You can do all of these things and never write a single node and still be a hugely valuable member of the community. Plenty of these activities improve our community. In particular, interface shapes usage, and a good interface encourages usage, so improving Everything-Two-Dot-Com-The-Website indirectly results in a higher profile and more users and more noding and ultimately an improved database. Most importantly, discussing all of these topics at length, in the Everything2 public forum that is the Chatterbox, is not a waste of time. It is, in fact, the Chatterbox's highest purpose.
Everything2 already has a huge mountain of great content. However much any one person contributes now, we are really just sprinkling dust on top of that mountain. Making that content easier to get to, then, is arguably an even more worthwhile endeavour.
"Write more" is not the means. It is the end. This place needs more than actual content.