Saturday, April 11, 2009

A Digression

Something has come up in the Internet world where I live, and I find it important to digress from my discussions for one post to contemplate Internet communities. I don't intend to focus on it, but a mention is in order.

Why is it that communities, the ones with good people and no agendas except for intellectual discussion, can deteriorate? What is it that brings flamewars about and makes them continue? Wordcraft, which successfully spawned OEDILF, was started because of a major flamewar elsewhere. You wouldn't have believed how that place, with lots of truly good people, quickly went downhill. I won't go into details, but here is one post I just copied from that other forum (I believe a well-run forum would delete these sorts of posts from trolls):

"So you really are a psychotic, demented, paranoid frustrated old man with no life and no personality or charisma. How sad you are. I really feel sorry for you - or maybe I don't because you are a bitter and twisted, cruel man and a bad man at that. And what happens to bad men? They get punished, and you will be punished. You think you can get away with things here that you would be severely punished for in the 'real' world but you won't. Bad men always get their come-uppance and the time is ripe for you to get yours."

This was written about a decent, intelligent person. The "poster"was a true bully. He or she was too cowardly to reveal him or herself, though the members of the community think he or she was probably a regular there. This particular "poster" has 43 posts that are still open to the public over there, and they all are similar to the above post. Frankly this person's behavior even shocked the regulars there, who themselves were ranting like crazy against this one person.

I don't know what goes wrong when things like this happen. However, in the end they usually work themselves out. In this case, a group left that forum and started our beloved Wordcraft. We developed into an active British/American forum quickly, and within 2 years another community spawned from us, though in a much more friendly manner. That community that allowed the vicious flamewar still exists, and it seems to be alive and well, though when trolls arise their administrators don't take control, so that can get irritating. I do think both Wordcraft and OEDILF do a good job in asking members to "take a break" when things get hot. Had the other place done that in the first place, I am sure the flamewar wouldn't have deteriorated so horribly. However, they would have had to have done it fairly.

So, in the end, I guess the answer is to have some loyal administrators who are fair, but will make hard decisions for the good of the community. These administrators cannot just be the board owners, though, as there must be objectivity. The community members should know the rules of the board, and they should have some say in developing them. Communities are a wonderful way to communicate. Shame on those administrators and owners who don't take control.


Cat said...

I agree. I think WC is run very well,and that you handle bullying and arguments well and fairly. :-)

Kalleh said...

Well, thank you. I think we all are really respectful, and that's what it takes.