Thursday, April 14, 2011

I Am Not One, But Many

Mutilated Sparkle Plenty Dolls? Dinosaur Clothes? You guys make my childhood feel positively normal. This is a childhood, however, that included shopping trips to the town dump, an "archaeological dig" in the empty lot next door, a neighborhood Olympics, a pet snake, and imaginary car trips in Mom’s 1965 Opel Kadett.

(Man, I loved that car. It was like someone tried to zap a Matchbox car with an enlarging ray, and gave up about halfway between "go kart" and "family sedan.")

I have been exploring some ideas in the community-building arena, but another forum is not one of them. I simply wouldn’t have the time or resources to maintain it in a manner I would consider acceptable. Plus, I don’t necessarily think there’s a problem that needs to be "solved" when it comes to Blab (or any other forum), other than more and better participation.

Don’t like the tone a thread is taking? Say something about it! Someone being obnoxious, and not being called out on it? Do the calling out! Bored with some of the empty-headed topics started by even emptier-headed chatterboxes? Start something more substantial!

The direction a discussion goes in is dictated by the people who are participating in it. So participate, already. I try to do my best, but my work schedule is whack, and I don’t always get the best backup. (I have nothing against the Reputation System per se, but giving public "Attagirl!" Rep is more likely to change the debate.)

I am not crazy about how the structure of places like Blab give cover to some very unsavory people, but that’s another topic, for another time.

I’ve been thinking about the Ninja Pit this week. No, it wasn’t that silly t-shirt discussion from a little while back (my rant about "how everyone with a copy of Photoshop and/or Illustrator suddenly thinks they’re a designer" judiciously deleted) but some of the strategy-planning I see going on already.

In a weird way, I sort of feel responsible for the whole Ninja Pit of Death phenomenon. I was there at the some of the earliest of those "sales," talked up some rare-cool finds there (found mostly by accident), named the darn thing (also by accident), and made some attempts to organize it (see backup, lack of, above.) In that first, surreal attempt at organization, an offhand bit of gossip turned me into an entire army of Blab Ninjas.

(Out of that, came my personal motto: I am not one, but many. I don't have a theme song yet, but I'm working on it.)

I know a lot of the talk is just talk, and a lot of people talking smack now will, when the time comes, probably roll over in their beds and decide that sleep is the better option. Still, I worry. A couple of years ago I was rooming with a person in a wheelchair, and I actually thought that having her down front would, I dunno, help shame some of the line cutters and other cutthroats into behaving better.

It didn’t. All it did was make me wish I had a better memory for faces, so I could remember the bad actors better, and act accordingly.

All of this talk about the NPOD was going to lead into a discussion of one of my favorite finds there - the Weber Scientific Cow - but I seem to have run out of time and energy today. Next time, I promise.


Anonymous said...

I also did an archeaological dig in an empty lot! It was awesome. I did not have a pet snake, but I did have a pet leech that I found on my toe and then kept for several years. Good times...

Anonymous said...

I am glad to see something at least kind of positive written about Blab over here... normally when you mention Blab or the people there it's in a very negative way.

Granted, there are some annoying people that like to crap all over informative threads with their inside jokes, but those are a small majority in my opinion.

For better or worse, Blab is the biggest online gathering of hobby folk, and if you want to stay current on anything happening in the model horse world it's the place to be.

And for what it's worth, fewer than five people have ever been banned from Blab, and NONE of them were banned for "posting their opinions". I guess one person's "posting of opinions" is another person's "harassing of management".

Anonymous said...

I have absolutely no clue why I was banned. I was not told why, it was just done.

ANDREA said...

I've been trying to be even-handed when it comes to my criticism of Blab - and defended it on several occasions here, too.

Most of my aggravation right now is with a few way-too-regular posters driving debates into unproductive or overly familiar places. They'll go away eventually and be replaced with a whole new set of annoying posters in the near future, and I can only hope that they're more amenable to my demeanor.

There's also the issue that the opportunity to be internally critical is not there. When combined with the "agreement" between the forums that also shuts down talk about the forums themselves, that criticism has to go somewhere.

Sometimes it ends up here. I don't necessarily endorse the opinions expressed in the comments, but I have a tendency to let most things stand. I think I've deleted 3 or 4 comments, total, as long as I've been here, all clearly spam.

The handful of incidents I saw when banning was enforced publicly on Blab seemed justified.

I have heard reports of people having their original registrations "go missing." I have no idea if it was genuinely punitive, accidental, or something else entirely.

Anonymous said...

I think a more equitable means of doing things, instead of banning would be to give someone "infractions" --I know they have 'em on there--and maybe if a person gets a certain number within a certain period of time--then ban them for awhile.

I believe they "play favorites" and brown nosing is encouraged and rewarded.

Anonymous said...

I've seen people request to be "removed" from the users list, and I've seen people do things that resulted in being banned (as in one poster who decided to insult a group of people and then delete her comments when her bigotry was called out, another who ripped many people off and then kept creating new accounts to try to rip more off, and a user who seemed intent on creating drama that didn't need to be created).

You get what you give when it comes to Blab - sure I'm tired of one poster always having to mention her surgery that happened over 2 years ago IN EVERY DARN POST SHE MAKES, but I find if I roll my eyes and move on, the board is a happier place for it.

BeccaG said...

"...a few way-too-regular posters..."

That may or may not be me.

I appreciate that you try to be "even-handed" when talking about Blab, but it does seem like all you do is complain about it. Now, it is your blog, and of course you can say whatever you want, but I find it offensive when you write rude things about Blab members (although maybe that's just my hurt pride speaking, seeing as I was part of the NPOD t-shirt thread). Yes, some of us are annoying, some troll threads, some repeatedly derail debates, but for the most part we're just hobbyists trying to have a good time. It baffles me that you feel the need to jump in and criticize everyone in a thread when those members are really doing nothing wrong. It's great that you are expressing your opinion, but why be so negative about it? It only serves to hurt people's feelings.

Anonymous said...

I think Blab would be great if it WAS just hobbyists trying to have a good time. Unfortunately, it is poorly run and there are a lot of negative things about it. Certain individuals can say whatever they want and they do not get in trouble.
These people know they can gang up on someone they do not like and I am sure they know exactly what they are doing and what they are after.
It's sad...I wish someone would start another forum, one with fair and honest rules.
From the looks of it, it couldn't be too hard to do.

Helen said...

I'm happy to hear you had a pet snake! I got mine for my sixth birthday.

I really enjoy reading your thoughts on the overall hobby. I think you're right to encourage hobbyists to participate and try to improve what they don't like. It will only get worse if worthwhile posters withdrawl.

Anonymous said...

Why don't you BE the change you want to see?