eplaya and you

All things outside of Burning Man.

Postby Bob » Tue Oct 14, 2003 3:18 pm

Agree w/everyone, I guess, sort of, and don't take any of this personally.

I haven't ever logged on to the eplaya or the newbieplaya with any expectation other than that Burning Man's Black Rock City LLC owns the board and desires a forum, call it "official" if you want, for current participants and new people to interact by sharing information and personal experiences.

That's always been my starting point on this BBS, as well as in other online communication (the Web, email, mailing lists, etc.). My primary aim is to further what I consider to be good and beneficial for the event and the people who participate in it. While I've consciously tried to keep my own ego not-an-issue, I've certainly not avoided having a faceless personality. My goal here is basic sharing of information, but I also want to see Burning Man continue as an event open to all who want to experience and participate, without having any overly narrow cultural, social or political agenda. Hence my first-principle slogan, "It's just a fucking, camping, trip".

That said, the new format and the process by which it came about shocked me plenty. We have developed a certain culture here, even in the practice of rejecting narrow definitions -- at the same time, the process has satisfied Irony, another first-principle concept I attach to my experience of Burning Man. Irony is always a moving target.

So, the new thing was... like having a bunch of shop students try to make a new engine and a prefab aftermarket art-car body fit onto an old Detriot iron chassis, albeit with distinctive Burning Man touches. In the end, if it runs, it's just fucking transportation, even if it looks for the time being like a bar-car full of Baja party doods.

I came to Burning Man in '96 via word-of-mouth, via a college friend who also found out via word-of-mouth and had been going for a few years. Within a year I plunged into volunteering and was hooked into a few official and unofficial email lists, albeit that some were only peripherally involved with the actual event. In the same time frame I made the putting together of not-unuseless web content one of my goals. My first project was a web page for Recycle Camp, then on to a Desert Structures web page to support my work with the theme camp crew in providing answers to basic questions, inspiration, and starting points for people building whatever on the playa. Then on to DPW matters, burn scar prevention issues, etc. With all of this, of course Burning Man was a touchpoint, but I also do desert camping and share information with people outside the context of the event, who may or may not be your stereotypical "participants". So, my online experience has ranged from casual and seasonal encounters, to the extremely inside aspects of this elephant-by-committee. I've also been on Usenet for years, which is another world altogether, but undeniably has some amount of crossover in the context of mostly-online worldwide communities that occasionally meet face-to-face locally.

One thing I've learn from Usenet is that "October" is not just a month, it's a phenomenon. Younger people and student types, like "burners", coming home from a carefree summer to the cares and woes of school and work obligations, start up new computers and online accounts, log on wherever, and naturally want to express themselves, as fecklessly as young people are accustomed. Not a lot of civilized models are out there, so you have to expect some tension between the old and new hats in longtime online forums.

Here on the eplaya, a volunteer team was tasked with grafting a new software like an ill-fitting costume complete with body-mods onto an old community. I see a similar "October"-like tension among that largely faceless, anonymous group of toilers, the regular old-hat codgers, and the newbies who appear every single year between events wanting to feel things out.

On the plus side, for me -- the basic stuff of the interface still generates legible text on the topic pages in a sufficiently bearable and attractive manner, with enough flow to follow people's serial contributions. If I get sick of the colors or other layout aspects, I know I can always switch to my own style sheet or default settings to change things (running MSIE 6).

However -- I can see how it could have appeared that "smileys" might make a certain class of newbies feel more comfortable, but they're utter crap -- the equivalent of having a tee-shirt and glo-stick booth on the Gate road to the event. No artistic involvement either in their creation or use. Having this default feature in our faces at the posting front-end is like putting a first-year acid casualty in charge of a Greeter shift.

Usenet-style "true" threading would be a big plus, if the software people could find something to adapt for the purpose. This would help further clarity and prevent some of the misunderstandings I've seen develop.

I think what upsets me and some of the regulars comes down to lack of trust. We aren't going to rake anyone, not the newbies or the tech people, over real or virtual coals. Well, maybe the completely clueless, and only if their actions seem to have the potential to completely drag things down, to the point of harm to others or the board in general. We (and any interested participants) could have more explicitly been offered the opportunity to try a new interface and hammer on it for a while, but that's water under the dam at this point. We're all inventing this as we go along.

As I recently wrote here on the new board, I authored the only thing resembling a TOS (Terms of Service) statement for the old board:

"We reserve the right to maintain this board for the benefit of all. Please behave."

Feel free to use and amend it.
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Postby stuart » Tue Oct 14, 2003 3:25 pm

IheartBob
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Postby hoodreau » Tue Oct 14, 2003 4:00 pm

Can I say, hot damn, this is a cool thread?

I agree with lots that has been said. I've been around a bunch of online communities, and am pretty new here. It's always interesting to make the shift from newbie looking around to someone with 800 posts. Somewhere in there you become a part of whats going on.

As someone still finding my space, my big early reaction echoes precipitate: too many threads in too many places. Since very few people stay on topic for any length of time, creating lots of categories seems to create more chaos -- all the threads seem to read the same, but they're in different places. It might be easier if there were fewer, more generalized folders.

Like everywhere, the eplaya can be very friendly and kinda cruel. That's the nature of being online. Its soooo hard to express minor subtleties that are the difference between humor and being mean. That said, a really good way of creating goodwill is to create a goodwill thread as a reaction, just as the fuck thread is the reaction to censorship. A bit of a catharsis, where people can get it out and feel OK. Somewhere in the middle the middle ground can then eventually be felt out.
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Postby PJ » Tue Oct 14, 2003 5:21 pm

IMO there's nothing good about a post counter. Anybody that cares about having lots of posts probably isn't a concise or thoughtful writer.

It's not about quantity, never will be, never should be. So why keep a tally?
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Postby hoodreau » Tue Oct 14, 2003 6:16 pm

I agree. I didn't mean someone that can click a send button 800 times is a useful member of the community. In general, though, the more you've been around and participated, the more you've left your imprint on the place and become a part of it.
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Postby Badger » Tue Oct 14, 2003 6:50 pm

I do think the tone is pretty negative. Just look at the affirmations thread.



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Postby foamin' at the mouth » Tue Oct 14, 2003 7:23 pm

< I see a similar "October"-like tension among that largely faceless, anonymous group of toilers, the regular old-hat codgers, and the newbies who appear every single year between events wanting to feel things out.>

Reading the exchange about the functionality of this bbs, and perhaps by unsaid extension, the evolution /devolution of Burningman has been a very instructive. This is because in my "default" life I work for an organization that has some resonance and dissonance with the Burningman community. It is an interesting mirror you hold up in my face.

For the sake of comparison lets say I work for a community dedicated to awareness -- I perceive the BRC and its virtual community to be dedicated to this concept as well. Painting with a very broad brush I could say were founded by a scientist who liked artists. Using that same brush Burningman was founded by an artist that likes scientists and engineers. We were created on the premise that people can know and understand things for themselves . Our founding was a direct reaction to what our founder perceived of as things that were fundamentally wrong with our society and his treatment by that society. Burningman was founded on the premise of "radical self reliance" and a direct reaction to what its founder perceived as things wrong with society. On the pragmatic end of things, our community has some serious space issues. And we also have trouble with some of our neighbors. We have been considering moving.


When I arrived about 15 years ago there were about 80 people on staff (already too big in some of the early folks opinion) and it was possible to know every single individual. Back then most of our communication was by word of mouth and we got things done by shooting the shit and then just going and making it happen. But as our popularity grew we needed to accommodate even more staff and more "participants" and we needed to pay for ourselves.

Some of us are considered "old timers" and pains in the ass and there are those who see our org as a just a job albeit a fun one (For us a newbie is about 5 years or under in the org). In a gradual process of education and attrition newbies become old timers and depending on who is saying it, it can be meant as an insult or a compliment. As we have evolved we have been able to include and inspire more and more people but this has been at a cost for we grew too quickly and almost exponentially, particularly in last last 10 years --and we have become so very bureaucratic . Used to be that if your idea was good enough it didn't matter who you were you just did it. That's because we were a big empty space that needed filling. as we built our environment we were able to accomodate more but hell if it didnt fill up faster. As we have evolved it has become a bitch to keep up with things. Our one org has internally become three and we are sprouting them all over the world while our mother ship struggles to keep itself financed. Now there are processes that are sometimes serpentine to go through. Of course if you have been around for awhile you know how to get around this. So there are two ways. A formal process for new people -a way to insure they know their shit, and an informal one that you learn with time or are invited into when you have shown that you can contribute something and do it responsibly. If you are new you might resent this but too bad when you have figured out how things work you will be able to use a more informal and sometimes more efficient way of doing things because you have been paying attention.


We argue always---often passionately and bitterly -- about the nature and decay of our culture and our Disneyfication and how fucked up our systems are. Those of us who have been around for awhile are perceived by some to be a population of people a. lacking professionalism .b bitter old crabs who talk too much about the old days or c. cult members; and by others to be a. people with valuable insight into to how to accomplish things, b. people with experience having and implementing good ideas c.perpetuators of a good idea and keepers of the flame -teachers and passers on of a certain set of core beliefs /mission. All are true and false at different times.

We can argue incessantly about seemingly the most inane things like whether a button or a lever should be used; and very important ones like whether we have dumbed ourselves down "beyond belief" versus making ourselves accessible to more who can benefit from what we have to offer. We are perceived by outsiders and newbies (to our community) to be nuts-"it's just a fucking museum." They are right and wrong. It is of course and also more than that. Our curmudgeonly ways are simply because we feel ownership and we have invested much, often at the cost of other more personal materialist gains,our marriages, our lives. We will bitch about whether that thing works and whether we should or shouldn't do things by theme rather than phenomenon.We tell new people to shut up because we did that already tried that already (and we did and we just don't want to explain it one more fucking time) But we are teachers and sharers in the end and so we do and gradually new people become old timers and are infused with our philosophy and become even more rabid than we about some things. And if we ignore them too much they may change the place into something it should not be. Eventually the ones who stick around get it or maybe we just get used to them. This is nice because we can then sit back and have a beer for awhile and talk about sex toys--shoot the shit with people who know us . When people fuck up We slap em around but usually because we know there is someone else who will put their arm around these people and whisper in their ear.

During my visit to the playa everything we have ever done here in the world we made up-indeed everything I have ever done here existed as part of the Burningman experience in some form usually five times better-which gave me joy and filled me with gratitude. I imagine that it is also true that it can be five times worse. on this eplaya many conversations are both familiar and not-this is a working prototype-meaning its being refined. I need to take some time figuring it out.

I looked at your old eplaya before I went to BRC and knew to bring socks and ice cold drinks to the people at the gate for one thing. Lots of useful info there and here. This bbs is pretty easy to use. The smileys send me into a diabetic coma but thats my taste. I mostly care about the information and connecting with you and I get the feeling that most of you who are tight knit hang out with each other on "Harriets board" and its okay to be here commenting on this one. If not one of you might slap me around a bit. Another of you might quietly whisper in my ear like you have one hundred times before. Teaching, learning and refining are a time consuming bitch but you can have an ecstatic experience doing both.

Maybe your epalya is not a mirror after all but rather a lens that magnifies or burns depending. The quality of the lens seems pretty good a little higher magnification then I expected but occasionally one can have an ecstatic experience looking through it.
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Postby III » Tue Oct 14, 2003 7:31 pm

>one of you might slap me around a bit

unlikely.

that's one of the best first posts i've seen.

welcome, and good job, newbie.
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Postby Badger » Tue Oct 14, 2003 10:09 pm

Most excellent. Thanks for that.
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Postby Isotopia » Tue Oct 14, 2003 10:19 pm

Quote Badger

Wha..wha...what are you saying?


Yeah! Wha..what are you sayin'?
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Postby Booker » Wed Oct 15, 2003 7:28 am

>>We tell new people to shut up because we did that already tried that already (and we did and we just don't want to explain it one more fucking time) <<

YES! This happens SO much! And you can see exactly how it's destructive to the relationship a newbie is developing as s/he approaches the community. And yet it's been said nicely too damn many times to say it again without at least some sarcasm.

So, what's the solution? How can new people get that background enough without asking those who are sick of answering? They can read from bm.com. An faq could be developed specifically for the board. That's not going to be enough. I don't see any solution other than to lurk for a while to get the tone, then step in with a sense of caution that matches your own sensitivity to criticism.
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Postby blyslv » Wed Oct 15, 2003 8:05 am

Badger wrote:
I do think the tone is pretty negative. Just look at the affirmations thread.



Wha..wha...what are you saying?


I think he's affirming you!
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Postby Patience » Wed Oct 15, 2003 9:45 am

TestesInSac wrote:Finally, there seems to be some disagreement about whether it was the format change that created the problems here, or whether it was the "cranky oldsters" that were the problem. <b>If the "cranky oldsters" are gone, and you still have serious content and membership management issues, how can that be the "cranky oldsters" fault? How could you then ignore the impact of the format change and the influx of inexperienced posters on the problems the board management appears to acknowledge?</b>


I have not been around here for long, but this is how the lay of the land looks to me:

The format change sparked quite a bit of negativity with those "cranky oldsters" (henceforth C.O.) for various reasons, all of which have been enumerated here and elsewhere. Some of the criticisms were quite apt; others were mainly due to a resistance to change and the pleasure some take in complaining.

At the same time this was happening, an influx of newbies (such as myself) hit the eplaya, of course, because of BM. The C.O.s, already feeling a bit put off by the format change and the loss of continuity of their old "home," responded to the usual stupid newbie shit with undue spite and venom. (Note that I am not talking about every vet on the board, but generalizing to keep this from getting personal)

Newbies had little clue as to any overriding positive culture on the board. It seemed like a place to dump on from the get-go. Nobody seemed to actually care about the board. Even the C.O.'s just bitched about it. It didn't belong to anybody, so why treat it with respect? Since the C.O.s had become too bitter to really teach the past culture of the board, and then largely disappeared, the problems just got worse. No experience to guide and inspire decent discussion, no examples of the positive aspects of the former culture to prevail. People just perpetuated what they had in front of them--flaming, stupid posting and smileys.

It reminds me of living in Detroit. As my parents tell it, after the race riots in the 60's, there was a mass exodus from the city. Everyone that could afford to move (read: all the white folks) got the hell out of the city. Sprawling rings of suburban areas sprung up around Detroit, leaving the city center empty save for those who couldn't afford to leave. The city was abandoned. Detroit came to be known as "The Doughnut." Nobody wanted to invest anything in the city or its communities. Not even the car companies would put anything into the city itself, so long as they still had factory workers to run their plants. Detroit used to be a vibrant, viable metropolitan city. Then it died, and not because of the riot. It died because the people who had the means to rebuild it instead left it behind to rot and headed for greener pastures. 30-odd years later, Detroit is rebuilding itself from within. The communities are finally reinvigorating, primarily through grassroots organizing and community initiatives. (And yes, I'm a hypocrite because I live in S.F. now. But it's cold in Michigan.)

So here's the e-playa. The C.O's are headed for Harriet's board, leaving this one to the trolls. I don't suggest that all the problems on this board are their fault--I think that the format change was ill-timed, possibly unnecessary and certainly flawed. I think that there are some inexperienced and obnoxious newbie posters on here, and that the overall culture is neither particularly positive nor conducive to intelligent discourse, both of which I'd expect the B.M. board to be.

My goal here is not to blame. It is to encourage the people most connected to this board, those most capable of shaping and participating in a productive, engaging and enjoyable bbs, to work on what's already here rather than self-segregate. Want a better board? Don't allow yourselves to slip into elitism and apathy. Be teachers. Be leaders.
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Postby blyslv » Wed Oct 15, 2003 10:23 am

Patience wrote:>>responded to the usual stupid newbie shit with undue spite and venom.

I haven't read all the posts, but truthfully I haven't seen that much spite and venom. On the old board IO don't think there was that much either, but maybe I have thicker skin.

>> after the race riots in the 60's, there was a mass exodus from the city.

I lived at 14th and U in Washington DC. 30~ years after the riots there, there were still entire blocks of boarded up and burnt out buildings. Then they opened a new metro stop and things started picking up again. The endless cycle...


>The C.O's are headed for Harriet's board, leaving this one to the trolls.

Not everybody. A lot of people participate in both. I do not think Harriet's board will become as vibrant as this place can be. This is part of a larger whole, and eplayans.net is kind of an echo chamber. One of the things that keeps this play juicy is the influx of energy and enthusiasm, much of which comes from serendipity. People come to the BM main site, check oput the eplaya and realize 6 months later that they have seriously neglected their duties.


>> I think that there are some inexperienced and obnoxious newbie posters on here,

Thus will it ever be!


>> Want a better board? Don't allow yourselves to slip into elitism and apathy. Be teachers. Be leaders

Excellent suggestions and thank you for your major contributions. I've been to two burns and have participated on this and the old eplaya for less then a year. I'm not a newbie, so I guess I'm at the awkward in-between stage. I like this place and don't plan to leave.
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Postby PJ » Wed Oct 15, 2003 11:29 am

Patience wrote:...Some of the criticisms...were mainly due to a resistance to change and the pleasure some take in complaining...


I don't think so. The resistance was (and continues to be) very specifically directed toward defined shortcomings. (Listed in assorted commentary threads.) If mere resistance to change were the problem, Harriet's home-brew BBS wouldn't have drawn an audience as it doesn't resemble the former E-Playa in any way except for its community conversational style.
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Postby stuart » Wed Oct 15, 2003 11:35 am

although the most popular thread there is the bitching about the newbieplaya thread. Perhaps this is an indicator of the pleasure derived, perhaps not.
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Postby herself » Wed Oct 15, 2003 12:27 pm

stuart wrote:although the most popular thread there is the bitching about the newbieplaya thread.


hi stuart,

The most popular thread over there is 'alt.eplaya status' with 357 messages at this writing. Behind it is 'Bitching about the newbieplaya' with 210 posts, the last several of which talk about how great foamin's and patience's recent posts here have been, including a link to this very thread. Third is the 'Who are you' thread w 210 posts and fourth is the ever popular FUCK thread with 149.

Just if you're going to talk about that board, be aware that I'm going to correct any miscommunications I see.

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Postby Bob » Wed Oct 15, 2003 12:42 pm

"Cranky oldster"?

ITYM "old hat", as you might say we're frequently felt.

> My goal here is not to blame. It is to encourage the people most connected to this board, those most capable of shaping and participating in a productive, engaging and enjoyable bbs, to work on what's already here rather than self-segregate. Want a better board? Don't allow yourselves to slip into elitism and apathy. Be teachers. Be leaders.

Please recognize that part of the apathy or antipathy might stem from not having been afforded the opportunity as experienced users to vet this new tool while in beta, pound on it for a couple of months, and provide feedback to the tech people in order to make this a more usable forum in the first place. I won't deny disgruntlement, but if there's a tone of elitism, you might not have sourced it properly.

On a relative scale, the eplaya has never been what I'd consider a tough crowd. I've seen much worse on Burning Man's staff list(s), and on the diox list, an independent BM-related board which actually spawned a "flamewar" list for the benefit of the resident junkyard dogs and the amusement of the people who like to poke at them. The eplaya is like Oprah's book club compared to all that.

I do appreciate the efforts of those who ported and maintain the board, and the bulk of the product. Really. It certainly has the look of being better organized and more navigable, at least from the index page. However we've arrived at the current state of things, there's no absolute deal-breaker for me. I'll still contribute.

My long-term issue would have to be accessibility. I'm on dial-up, mostly, and it's damned slow. With many more users coming on the board in the Spring, more phpBB add-ons, and more moderator-access possibly adding significant hits, I'd hope as much attention is going toward improving the servers, the software setup, and the pipes, as toward the coddling of newbies or the political correction of a few snarky posters.
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Postby stuart » Wed Oct 15, 2003 1:27 pm

hi stuart,

The most popular thread over there is 'alt.eplaya status' with 357 messages at this writing. Behind it is 'Bitching about the newbieplaya' with 210 posts, the last several of which talk about how great foamin's and patience's recent posts here have been, including a link to this very thread. Third is the 'Who are you' thread w 210 posts and fourth is the ever popular FUCK thread with 149.

Just if you're going to talk about that board, be aware that I'm going to correct any miscommunications I see.

herself



it's who are you with 202

just being snarky. You did bust me after all.
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Postby aforceforgood » Wed Oct 15, 2003 2:35 pm

Just because some complaints are more valid than others doesn't mean we're doing it because we enjoy complaining- i.e., a nonfunctional search feature is an important thing to be fixed, even before the fugly color.

Someone mentioned there's a way to change the color and other things for myself by changing stylesheet settings (which I didn't know, and likely wouldn't ever have found out about if I hadn't bitched about it), I'll be looking into that when I have a little more time, or if anyone wants to post up some clues of how to do that or a link that would be cool too.
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Postby Patience » Wed Oct 15, 2003 2:54 pm

Bob wrote:"Cranky oldster"?


I was just reiterating the term Testes used. No offense.

Please recognize that part of the apathy or antipathy might stem from not having been afforded the opportunity as experienced users to vet this new tool while in beta, pound on it for a couple of months, and provide feedback to the tech people in order to make this a more usable forum in the first place. I won't deny disgruntlement, but if there's a tone of elitism, you might not have sourced it properly.


Fair enough. But I don't think taking a tone of elitism over new users follows from disgruntlement over the implementation of the new format. I think the complaint is absolutely valid. The reaction, however, seems misplaced.

I'd hope as much attention is going toward improving the servers, the software setup, and the pipes, as toward the coddling of newbies or the political correction of a few snarky posters.


I hope the technical and format concerns are addressed as well. I think you and other "old hats" have brought up real concerns that ought to be corrected.

And I'm not talking about coddling or political correction. I'm talking about maintaining a forum that is inclusive and accepting. And as is, I don't think it is that. If I were a little less stubborn I wouldn't have stuck around because the vets on the board, at least at first glance, seemed like a bunch of pricks. It took me a while to figure out that most of them were just pissed off about other things. A lot of valuable people might write this board off before they catch on to that.
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Postby herself » Wed Oct 15, 2003 3:33 pm

> the vets on the board, at least at first glance, seemed like a bunch of pricks.

A lot of us had left already, rather than get too negative. We established an email list that became a topica board that ultimately became the alt.eplaya. A lot of us didn't want to stick around in such a negative mindset so we split.

Also would like to stop the use of the term "harriet's board". It's great for my ego but the domain name belongs to Tiara. I think most of its users call it the alt.eplaya. Bob calls it the altplaya but that hasn't caught on yet. I wrote the software and pay $30 monthly to an ISP for hosting (the $30 covers other, non-eplaya applications as well). Beyond the domain name, software, and ISP service, the board belongs to the people who have written on it. I know that sounds kind of peace-love-hippie-ish but that's the way I see it.

It's not fair to attribute to the old eplaya the ill will of those lingering around the newbieplaya after things had gone bad.
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Postby TestesInSac » Wed Oct 15, 2003 3:47 pm

Patience wrote:Some of the criticisms ... were mainly due to a resistance to change and the pleasure some take in complaining.


In my view, the vast majority of the complaints were legitimate and well expressed. Even bothering to mention the "resistance to change" thing risks betraying a dismissiveness of the complaints and those that voiced them.

Patience wrote:At the same time this was happening, an influx of newbies (such as myself) hit the eplaya, of course, because of BM. The C.O.s, already feeling a bit put off by the format change and the loss of continuity of their old "home," responded to the usual stupid newbie shit with undue spite and venom. (Note that I am not talking about every vet on the board, but generalizing to keep this from getting personal)


The influx of newbies was a major point of the change. The board is easier to use, with lotsa flashy cruft common to Yahoo! Chat and other such venues. The loss of continuity was more due, I think, to the influx than to the change in format. That did lead to some meanness, particularly from me, but 'undue' is quite arguable. Now that I've said that, there's no further need to generalize, you may refer to me specifically.

Patience wrote:Newbies had little clue as to any overriding positive culture on the board.


And precious few even bothered to look. And a few of the "old hats" got the impression that the board admins didn't appreciate the positives that the "old hats" brought, hence the suspicions that the changes were specifically designed to dis-entrench the O.H.'s.

Patience wrote:Nobody seemed to actually care about the board.


Nobody should. The board is meaningless if it doesn't provide a medium for community. Many of the complaints about the new format were that it fosters trolls, flames and clueless drivel, rather than community.

Patience wrote: Even the C.O.'s just bitched about it. It didn't belong to anybody, so why treat it with respect?


All we could do was voice our complaints, repeatedly, and as it still appears to little avail, bitching is all it amounts to. We have no ownership, and little or no apparent influence.

Patience wrote:Since the C.O.s had become too bitter to really teach the past culture of the board, and then largely disappeared, the problems just got worse. No experience to guide and inspire decent discussion, no examples of the positive aspects of the former culture to prevail. People just perpetuated what they had in front of them--flaming, stupid posting and smileys.


We said, again, repeatedly, that there was a problem. Nobody seemed to listen. How did that become our fault? And if the suspicions of some were correct, in that the O.H.'s were being dis-entrenched purposefully, what's left of the board is of a design other than our own.

[insert Detroit story here]

People vote with their presence and with their dollars. If order in any environment has deteriorated into violence, then the individual has a right and responsibility to themselves to remove themselves from it. Yet moreso if there are children involved.

Patience wrote:My goal here is not to blame. It is to encourage the people most connected to this board, those most capable of shaping and participating in a productive, engaging and enjoyable bbs, to work on what's already here rather than self-segregate. Want a better board? Don't allow yourselves to slip into elitism and apathy. Be teachers. Be leaders.


Speaking for myself, <b>I owe Burning Man nothing!</b> Forgive me if that comes across as <b>blasphemy</b> of some sort, but it's the truth. Moreover, it also applies to this forum and all its newbies. I was here for the community, the exchange of well-formed and expressed thoughts. Now, there's another venue, with practically all the same voices, where I can get that fix.

<b>Elitism?</b> An epithet powered by guilt to manipulate folks into accepting the lowest common denominator.
<b>Apathy?</b> That's what we'd have demonstrated by accepting the lowest common denominator.
<b>Leadership?</b> You know where we went, and could follow our lead just as easily as criticising our decision to be radically self-reliant.
I am my own sock puppet.
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Postby precipitate » Wed Oct 15, 2003 3:59 pm

Booker wrote:
> I don't see any solution other than to lurk for a while to get the tone,
> then step in with a sense of caution that matches your own sensitivity to
> criticism.

Ding ding ding. Netiquette 101.
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Postby Booker » Wed Oct 15, 2003 4:12 pm

Somewhere up there, technopatra (I think) derided as "silly" the notion that the board's design affects content that's contributed. This is nonsense.

The format definitely and powerfully affects content by hiding the new material behind all the little partitions that have been created, so it's damn near impossible to follow a discussion. Therefore people don't. Therefore nothing like a discussion materializes. The posts become one-off blurts, sorta like tagging a bus before it pulls away from the curb, never to be seen again. A further problem is that that sort of thing appeals to some people, so the design selects for their input. Those aren't the sort of people whose input I want.

Someone has expressed surprise at the strength of the reactions to the change. Speaking only for me, the strength of my reaction is due to my fondness for the exchanges that develop over time, serious, silly, and otherwise. That loss did in fact thoroughly piss me off, especially considering the quality of so much troll fodder that replaced it and the total absence of any meaningful opportunity to give design input.

The Org wants a more inclusive, general-purpose medium, and the newbieplaya does seem to fulfill that spec. It gives many, many places for people to toss whatever they want into the pot. So good on 'em, they have what they want. But it's not what I want, except for a precious few threads. So I'm gone, for now anyway. *shrug* Mebbe when the September effect dies down, as Bob reminds us, a little persistence will allow a person to track what's being said despite the obstacles inherent in the design.
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Postby III » Wed Oct 15, 2003 5:48 pm

>The format definitely and powerfully affects content

i've noted this on the altplaya, where the look and feel change as new features are added. the new paging format there (only recently implemented, and feature poor) currently mimics this one, and seems to have contributed to a marked decrease in both quantity and continuity of discussions. i expect that as the bugs get ironed out and previous features get integrated, things will return to their former state. what surprised me is how noticeable the effect was, considering how few other variables changed.
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Postby aforceforgood » Wed Oct 15, 2003 11:59 pm

TestesInSac wrote:The board is easier to use, ...


In what respect? That hasn't been my experience- see that little red x to the left there? Took me an hour to do that before I gave up.

Seriously, I'm trying to think of even one thing about this bbs that's easier than the old one was.

The search function doesn't take you to posts, but just dumps a bunch of threads in your lap for you to sort through, it's slow, brown, full of walls, the unread post deal doesn't work right- so what is it that you're referring to that is easier to do on this one? Post smilies?
Last edited by aforceforgood on Thu Oct 16, 2003 12:35 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Postby Bob » Thu Oct 16, 2003 12:16 am

Newfieplaya Truism

Not all present or former AOLers shows evidence of it, and not all Newfieplayans who have smileys staring them in the face while they're trying to compose a post consider "LOL" is a proper form of speech, eh?
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Postby Ivy » Thu Oct 16, 2003 7:27 am

For all the people having problems with the search function:

There is an option at the bottom of that big search options table. The default choice is "display results as threads." Change it to "display results by posts" and you'll find you have much more success.
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Postby Patience » Thu Oct 16, 2003 10:14 am

TestesInSac wrote:In my view, the vast majority of the complaints were legitimate and well expressed. Even bothering to mention the "resistance to change" thing risks betraying a dismissiveness of the complaints and those that voiced them.


I am dismissive of repeated complaints that the board has become too easy to use, thus making the eplaya too accessible to the lowest common denominator, as you put it. I am dismissive of the suggestions that the addition of smiley faces somehow compromises the integrity of discussion. I am dismissive of the notion, expressed repeatedly on the altplaya, that knowledge of HTML should serve as an IQ test to keep out the uninitiated.

As I said before, and as both you and PJ managed to remove from your quotes, many of the concerns of the "old hats" are totally valid. Bob's point about accessibility and loading speed is a real concern. The fact that you can't choose to view only unread posts and have to click multiple times to figure out where a thread left off is annoying as hell. You should be able to ignore entire threads if you want. These are real concerns that affect the usability of the site and ability to facilitate enjoyable discussion. The presence or absence of a frigging smiley face is not.

The board is meaningless if it doesn't provide a medium for community. Many of the complaints about the new format were that it fosters trolls, flames and clueless drivel, rather than community.


It's not the format. It's very simple. A lot of new people came to Burning Man this year. Hence, a lot more people are on the eplaya. The community, both at BM and here, has grown, and that involves a certain dilution of the culture that the old stalwarts don't like. But if you want to maintain a culture in an open, growing community, you have to teach it. If you attack newbies for screwing up without first trying to teach the culture and the standards of the community, they of course will flame back, lash out as trolls and generally act like assholes. And yes, I consider poison pen sarcasm and posts of the like to be an attack. It puts out the message, "Fuck you, newbie, we don't want you here."

Speaking for myself, <b>I owe Burning Man nothing!</b> Forgive me if that comes across as <b>blasphemy</b> of some sort, but it's the truth. Moreover, it also applies to this forum and all its newbies. I was here for the community, the exchange of well-formed and expressed thoughts. Now, there's another venue, with practically all the same voices, where I can get that fix.


Agreed entirely. You don't owe Burning Man, nor this forum, a thing. It is not your responsibility unless you make it so. The question I pose to the old hats is whether or not you want to fix the problems. That is why I don't want to degenerate this into blame. This community has big problems, and everyone involved plays some part in that. The format, the negative tone, the overall lack of inspiring discussion and fun, which, on a BBS are supposed to be the very soul of the community in the first place. They are all our problems. You can choose to pick up and move on, and have every right to do so. Personally, I believe that if you care about something it's worth putting forth the effort to sustain it, to help it heal and see it grow--especially when that thing involves people, relationships and history. Giving up on those things, to me, is a shame.

My intention is not to blame you, but to point out that cycle of blame into which so many have been playing. It's the format's fault, it's the newbies fault, it's the smiley face's fault. If you care, drop it and start working toward making it better. If you don't, move on. I, for one, enjoy reading the posts of many of those who have left or nearly left, and hope that you stay and try to make it work.
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