Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Moving On

I resigned today, along with the remaining DRC Liaisons. You can read our group statement, as well as Eleri's and Gadren's individual statements, here. But I wanted to post mine here as well.

This is going to be a long one, so please forgive me for that, but I ask that you read this through completely.

I am resigning my position for many reasons. The abuse from a vocal minority of the community has not helped things. The endless frustration from all sides has not helped things. But, primarily, I think we as a community are just not ready for this yet. I must take some responsibility for this, because I was someone who wanted to move things quickly back when this all started. I, like many others, was under the impression that the DRC had a grand plan for this position, but were merely hammering out the details. This made me think that a full job description would be forthcoming, and we were safe in moving forward with an election. It turns out that this was entirely the wrong move, but more on that later.

We have been trapped between two sides here, and neither side has been very helpful. The DRC never came through with a job description, and asked us to come up with one. We asked the community for input, and got very little. So we wrote up something that basically covered what we had been doing, and the DRC approved. But it never felt like we were doing enough for the community. We tried to get things from the DRC -- more meetings, more information, space on their website. "We're too busy", we were told. "Ask again later." "We'll let you know." In essense, we got nothing. So we turned again to the community. Over and over, we asked, "What do you want?" We got some good ideas (which we couldn't implement without the DRC), but mostly, we got more nothing. So then, we tried to come up with some ideas on our own. There was moderate success, especially with the IC/OOC Standards statement, but mostly there was apathy. We tried to do some big things, make some changes, and there was anger in response. Sometimes things went well, but more often we were ignored or abused. This has been the entireity of our job. After nine months, it becomes obvious that the experiment has failed.

Last week, we finally came to a realization. The DRC never had a grand plan. They had only started the ball rolling because we, the community, had not. One of the major things The Great Tree had pushed for, back in the old days, was Explorer representation among the DRC. They wanted the Explorers to have a voice in how things would go. We, the Liaisons, were the realization of that dream. But we had been handicapped by the very community who had asked for us in the first place. So we immediately began posting here, saying the DRC did not want to give us a job description, it was for the community to decide! (It's worth noting here that we had been pleading for the community to tell us what they wanted since the second election, but now, we knew the end was nearing.) And yet, the community kept handing it back to the DRC. And yelling at us for screwing up in trying to do what we thought was the right thing. It became too much for one. And at that point, it was over.

Really, that was the end of the Liaisons. Oh sure, we've been discussing what to do. We tried to get Professor Askew involved, and what a major screw-up that was. Admittely, it was our mistake entirely, but at that point it really didn't matter. Even then, we talked about what to do. We talked about making demands of both the DRC and the Explorers. We talked about ignoring those who simply griped and doing what we thought best anyway. We talked about waiting and seeing what happened before deciding anything. And in the end, we decided we just weren't having fun anymore.

Even now, I really don't want to quit. I feel like I'm giving up. You see, I've got this stupid dream. And it only got worse after that realization last week. I wanted to make a difference, to do something the community had wanted for years. I wanted to get the DRC to listen to us, for once, and give us some of the things we've wanted for years. I just knew that if we could get together, as a community, and come up with some good ideas, we could make a difference. And so I waited. And I prodded. And I poked. And I asked. And I begged. "Do something" was my refrain for months. Even at the end, the DRC seemed to be interested in the job again, and I thought we had a chance. But to tell the truth, it was too little, too late on their end. And the community was still the same. The Liaisons can only make a difference if the community is willing to make use of them, and it seems we are not. And so, I'm going to try and make myself useful elsewhere. (Probably several elsewheres, as usual...)

I think the chance is not gone, though. We can still make a difference. But we must be ready this time. First, we must decide what we want. It is not enough to say, "We want new Ages, new areas, and the whereabouts of Phil and Dr. Watson." Face it, the DRC already knows we want that. We will get it when it is ready. What else, though, do we want? And we must get everyone involved, as many as are interested. The word must be spread far and wide, in the Cavern and on the Surface. Every Explorer must have the opportunity to have a say. If they do not want to, that is their choice, but they must have the chance. And then, when we know what we want, we must decide how to get it. The greater idea of the Liaisons is not a bad one. Above all, we want a voice with the DRC, a way to influence how things are done. Do not get bogged down in rules and regulations and paranoid about power. Give structure to the position, whatever you call it, but leave flexibility. These people will need to make quick decisions at times, and will require the freedom to make those decisions in what they think is the best interest of the community. That's why it's so important to pick people you can trust to decide for you, when necessary. Once we know how to pick the right people, do it, and let them do their job. Support them when they do what you want - if all they hear is the negative, they'll listen to that. When they do things you don't like, tell them why, and how to fix it -- don't just complain, be constructive! Ask them to explain their reasons at any time, if you are confused. And above all, tell them what you want from the DRC. If enough people together ask for something, they cannot be ignored. Do you really think the DRC wants thousands of angry explorers on their hands, if they can help it? If they know what you want, they can try and make it better. But when it's thousands of voices asking a thousand different things each, they don't know how to help.

I am really sad to leave this job, but it's just not fun anymore. I will not leave this Cavern until I'm dragged out kicking and screaming, but I just can't do this job the way I think it should be done. One last time, as a DRC Liaison, I implore all of you: Do not lose this opportunity. Do something.

Friday, January 12, 2007

The Community Problem

Some days, it seems I only come here to complain. Once again, there is Liaison drama. Once again, I'm not sure what to do. Once again, it's the same old problems, just with new faces.

To put it in the simplest terms possible, we got tired of waiting. We've been waiting for nine months now. Waiting for someone to come up with what we should do. Waiting for someone to make use of our position. Waiting for people to get back to us on ideas and plans. Waiting, waiting, waiting...

So we started pushing. And we started getting responses. Some good, some bad. The DRC, it seems, may have use for us yet. But of course on the first new try, things went straight to hell. Cate didn't give us much advanced notice (none at all really) about her meeting on Wednesday. I was lucky(?) enough to show up to meet with her, when going to the Cavern for Spoken Word Night. I couldn't get ahold of the other Liaisons, so it was just me. Cate asked that I not record a chatlog, and I agreed. I thought it would be an unpopular move, but at the time I didn't know it would be the shitstorm it has become. And I thought it was worth a try, giving out information differently, and seeing how it went. I probably have brought more crap down on the other Liaisons than anyone thanks to this, and I must apologize to all of them for it. Guys, I'm really sorry. I thought I was doing good, helping to get information out quickly instead of making everyone wait for it. It seems I was sorely mistaken.

This led to a huge argument about keeping information private and releasing chatlogs. We said, as we all said when running the first time, that if asked to keep something private, we would weigh that request and decide for ourselves. If asked not to release a chatlog, we would do the same. This was all clear before the election, and yet now we get garbage over it. Admittedly, some people have agreed. Those who don't simply demand that we provide all information we get. This is not realistic, and I'll explain why. First, everyone has the right to privacy in discussions -- if the community can request privacy with us, so can the DRC. Second, should we refuse such requests, it's likely that the flow of information (weak as it is) would end. I feel it's much more important to keep that information flowing and occasionally have to keep things private. And as said before, many times, should I come across something that I think is vital for the Explorers to hear, and the DRC wants me to keep it private, I would still release it. It's a very serious decision to make, with very serious consequences. If we break that trust, it's likely we won't ever regain it, and the job itself may disappear.

Then, thanks to all the new drama, GrayWolf quit. I hate that. I hate that he felt he had to leave. He was one of the key players in this group, giving up so much of his time to help keep people informed. And he got practically nothing but complaints for his work. I knew he was stressed, but I didn't realize just how miserable he was until he quit. I hope he'll stay around the Cavern, now that he's not having to deal with this anymore, because he is a great person and a great friend. I already miss working with him, and I don't want to see him go completely.

So, under the mistaken impression that the #6 person from the last election stepped up to take over a retiring Liaison, we asked Professor Askew to join us. It turns out we were wrong -- the rules state that an election must be held to replace a Liaison. In this case, I have to admit we made a mistake. However, I think the Prof will be a valuable asset to the group, and until the community gets together and holds an election, I want him serving with us. But, of course, the new shitstorm from this (which just started tonight) is causing even more friction. It was our mistake, and we must live with the consequences. But it's the same people complaining yet again, and not really offering a solution.

As I'm sure you recall from before, I've asked repeatedly for the Explorers to tell us what they want us to do. And we've received a lot of good suggestions, and we've been putting them to use as we can. Even in this drama-bomb, there have been good plans, which I'd also like to see implemented. The DRC seems to be again interested in working with us, but I've heard that before. I'm willing to give them another chance, though. To tell the truth, at this point, the community is the biggest problem. And I think that's just a symptom of a larger problem.

Several times across various forums and in the Cavern I have seen it discussed that the community is very divisive, and can be harsh to new Explorers. Seriously, take a look at any of the major forums. See how many threads are full of arguments, and over the stupidest shit! Some people start arguments just to argue! But it's inevitable, opinions clash, and the claws come out. There are many of us who try to diffuse these situations, call for rational discussion and reasonable debate, but we are ignored. And even we will lose our patience after enough time. How many have left the DRC forum for that very reason? More than I care to think about.

It said time and again, at this crucial time in the Restoration, we must not drive people out. We can't afford it. Nobody wants to see a repeat of last time, but remember it is not unavoidable. We few faithful can't keep this place open by ourselves, not as it could be. It would go back to being the stagnant, unchanging Cavern it was before. And if that happens again, many of us will never return. It's almost certain the DRC would never return. And our good friends at Cyan would be putting up that lovely building for sale. The ending would be written, and it would not be happy.

So, the question is, how do we handle the community? I have a plan. Those who do nothing but complain will be ignored. Their angry posts are not with my time to respond. Those who offer ideas and suggestions that are actually constructive will be heard, even if I disagree with them. Those who ask questions sincerely will hear explanations. But if all you're going to do is complain, why should I listen to you anymore? Come back with some good ideas, and I'll be glad to hear you.

I'm going to do what I think is best as a Liaison. It's what I've done from the beginning, and I'm not going to stop now. I'm tired of waiting for others to decide how to do the job. I'm going to do it in the way that I think will be of greatest benefit to the entire Cavern, and I'll still try to make as many happy as I can. But you can't please everyone, and I'm tired of trying.

You don't know how close you are to losing this resource. You really, really don't. I strongly suggest that if you want to keep this conduit open, you speak up now, and you make a damned good argument. The window is closing as I write this, and this opportunity may be long in coming again, if at all.

Monday, January 01, 2007

A Toast for the New Year

To the bad and the good, to the old and the new, to the past and the future.
To the DRC, to Yeesha, and to the Bahro.
To Cyan and Game Tap.
To the Cavern and all her Explorers.
But most of all, to the New Tree! Uru again!
May the ending never be written.


It's hard to believe how far we've come in just a year. May our next year be even better!

Welcome to 2007 .