Saturday, November 04, 2006

Don't like the system? Don't just complain, tell me how to fix it.

So, I've been neglecting my poor blog, even ignoring the beauty of SWN 25 and the recent DRC Liaison elections. But I was going to post something on the DRC forums, and thought perhaps it would be more appropriate here.

A bit of backstory first: We recently held the second round of DRCL elections. It was rushed, admittedly, and there was very little discussion of changes to the system (which, at the time, told me that there was little interest in making changes). The word was spread to every known active community forum, trying to let all the explorers know about it, and Vid even held a couple of meetings in the Cavern to talk about it! Not to mention it was brought up fairly regularly when I had the chance to get underground. The vote was delayed when the webmaster for our original site vanished, and when asked, we first-term DRCLs suggested someone who could help, then jumped out of the whole thing again. (We purposely took a hands-off approach to the election, only asking Zardoz and Trickster if they would be interested in running the show again, and suggesting Amon-Re for the new site when asked. Some may see this as a vast conspiracy, but there was none. At the point we asked Trickster and Zardoz, none of us were sure we'd even run again.)

Anyway, the second election went forth. Voter turnout was low, despite the posts on dozens of explorer forums, and while disappointing, nobody can say the effort wasn't made to make everyone aware of both in the pre-election process and of the voting itself. The five incumbent Liaisons (myself included) were re-elected, a surprise to all five us of currently in the job. Now the process has actively started to make changes for the next election, ask what exactly the people want from us, and see how to get voter involvement up. And, of course, the complaints have started again.

During the first term, we've been given a LOT of crap over our jobs. And no, I'm not talking constructive criticism, which is actually helpful, but just stuff like "You suck! We don't like you! Get the hell out! You're only after power/fame/privilege/Dr. Sutherland's body!" And really, that kind of stuff does get old. Admittedly, people don't know what all we do, and that's something we will try to remedy with a blog (thanks for that suggestion from lots of people), but really there IS very little power or privilege. (Running the question queue and setting up THs really isn't much power.) There may be some fame, but I'd say it's balanced out by the infamy.

Yes, all five of us very seriously considered staying out of this election, for those very reasons. In the end, we all ran again, for whatever reasons. For me, it was mostly a desire to help shape the job as we move into Live, and get things pinned down from the DRC as to what exactly we're supposed to do. (Despite our repetitive prodding, they've remained largely silent on what exactly this job is about, even though it's their idea in the first place! That's something we plan to remedy.) We're also going to push hard for more official webspace for our site, preferably something on the DRC's server, so there are fewer cries of bias for where we may have our site and forum set up. These things are largely designed to help out the future Liaisons as well as ourselves -- when things are more concrete, it will be easier for others (and ourselves) to do the job, and for people to figure out whether they even want to do it. Not to mention the ambiguity is contributing to may of the complaints as it is; hopefully a better description will end some of that as well.

But here's my biggest problem (and a solution!): The complaints that offer no suggestions on how to fix things. People are bitching and moaning, and I can understand that entirely. (I do it myself quite frequently to my friends here on the Surface.) But when we're actively asking for ideas on how to FIX those complaints, very few people are offering them! It's just arguing back and forth over this garbage, with people getting all offended at each other because they can't seem to keep things civil. Even when I personally come in and ask for suggestion on how to resolve those complaints, saying they're free to PM me or e-mail me if they don't want to share on the board for whatever reason (fear of getting attacked/belittled/debated/whatever), they don't tell me a damned thing. I WANT THIS INPUT. I want to make things better, and do what I can to make people happy with this system! BUT I CAN'T DO THAT IF I DON'T KNOW WHAT YOU WANT. If you're just complaining, then I only know you're not happy. If you tell me how to fix your complaint, then I have a good idea of where to look to fix your unhappiness. It will at least give me ideas on what to ask, to help me understand better what you want.

People are even now still saying "We just don't want Liaisons at all." I understand that as well. But here's my reasoning on the matter: The DRC wants Liaisons. The DRC will have them, whether we pick them or not. (It was suggested during the first round that should we choose to refuse picking five explorers, the DRC would simply take the first five to volunteer.) Therefore, it is better for us that we choose the five. It gives us a chance to put people in the job whom we believe to be trustworthy, impartial, and good to work with. Think of it this way: The explorers are a huge board, in charge of hiring for the position of DRC Liaison, and you look at all the applicants and pick the best for the job. Our best move, then, is to make the system of picking applicants as fair and easy as possible for all the board members (the explorers) and all the applicants (the candidates).

I'm quite honestly sick of the bitching, the infighting, the personal attacks, and all this crap on the forums. I'm not even talking about those directed at the Liaisons, but at the explorers! We say so often how this is a better group than your random grouping of humanity, and while that's true for the most part, we're clearly still flawed humans when it comes to debate. We need more cool-headed, reasonable discussion, and less flamewarring and personal attacks.

PS: If you think we need term limits, I doubt we will. I doubt I'll stick around past this term, unless things improve vastly.


Cubkyle said...

So sorry that so many people don't like the job you are doing, but take heart in the fact that so many people liked the job you did! You and the rest of the old liaisons were re-elected, and that shows that while there were complaints most people liked you.

I think you did your job very well. You were helpful. You answered all questions were asked quickly and cheerfully. You did a superb job organizing the events and handling questions. You and the liaisons did your duties faithfully, and I for one can’t complain.

Keep up the good work!

Vortmax said...

Heh, yes, most people were good, and happy with the job, and thanked us for it. But it's amazing how much strife a few people can cause, isn't it?

Really, this came out of frustration, not just with the people complaining, but with the DRC too. We've been pestering them about several things since starting this job, and still haven't been given what we wanted. It's quickly getting to the point that if they don't tell us what they want us doing, we're going to make it up for ourselves, and they may not like what we decide to do.

And the numerous complaints on the DRC forum following the election really got to me too, because I kept asking for suggestions, and all I got was bitching. That gets annoying quickly, but it seems the venting is ending, and suggestions are starting, which pleases me (for now at least).

Lee said...

Hi Vort,

I've told you so but I'll say it have done a great job and that's why you were re-elected! Don't let the comments of a few or lack there of, get to you. We do appreciate you!