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.


JWPlatt said...

A cynic might suggest that Cate knows exactly what she's doing. She just landed one of her missile strikes right into the offices of the Liaisons.

But keep in mind the drama is localized among the old guard, the core group who kept the exploration alive. The DRC website is somewhat insular and external effects will be minimal.

You need to be part of the hierarchy in the governance and development of the Cavern. Until then, you have no basis; no authority to decide what is right or wrong. And you will get thrashed aginst the rocky shores of the DRC by the fickle winds of explorer opinion.

Vortmax said...

I agree JW, which is part of why I'm giving up on waiting for others to decide what they want. I'm going to start pushing the DRC to do certain things, and if they won't, then I'm out. I'm going to start to ignore those explorers who don't want to be helpful, because they're not doing anything to make things better. I'm tired of being caught between the two, and if neither one wants to improve things, then let them argue between themselves and leave me out of it.