On Respect, Courtesy, and Two Rants in a Row!

I don’t rant all that often, so two in two days (It would have been two rants in one day, but even I am not up to that) seems a little excessive. However, 50 views yesterday on my rant tempts me to rant more!

I’ve been involved with forums for about 3 1/2 years now. First at Speculative Vision and then at Fifthwind Forums where I have been a moderator and now admin. After a while, you start to recognize the warning signs of people who just don’t have what it takes to play with others.

We’ve had an assortment of members at Fifthwind who couldn’t fit in. In the last year, we’ve had four major incidents, which is a pretty good average. One of them went up in smoke literally in the time I was at work. Fine when I left, former member when I got home. Unfortunately, the proverbial s*** wasn’t done hitting the fan, and it got dragged over to SV as well, and continued far longer than it should have. Another time, I was placed in a unique position when someone decided to play my white knight, except he didn’t have all the facts, and read a little too much between the lines. That one ended up being mostly my game, which took far too much time out of my week.

Last night we had one of our ‘little incidents’ show back up and become a bigger incident. Our RP sub-forum is one of the prides of our forum. Between Wastelands, Altaea, Dark Messiah, Sheol and 1542, we’ve got the framework in place for some pretty awesome RPs. It’s open, inviting, and doesn’t discriminate and our mods don’t turn into nazis on their threads.

Then we have a thread, out of the blue, talking about ‘allowing’ members to join if ‘they could fit’.

NO. Not on my forum you don’t bud. Keep in mind, there was no introductory thread, no participation elsewhere, no discussion with the mods. We’ve had members start up and GM their own games before, we encourage and love it. But not when it’s a pet project from someone who just bombs into the middle of everything and wants this. I honestly don’t even know what ‘this’ is. Rude, condescending, and arrogant is what comes to mind. So I nicely asked this new member to play nice and go talk to the rest of the board.

The answer was that ‘he did not come here for friends’, and ‘I WAS involved on the old forum’. Well, yes you were. In a situation remarkably like this one. I might even have posted a warning. I don’t recall.

Forums are about community. They are about discussion. Yes, there are plenty that get cliquish. We’ve strayed near that border before too. But part of why I remember SV so fondly is the relationships that I was able to build. I couldn’t count on both hands the number of friends I made there, ones that I still talk to. Fifthwind is, if anything, closer-knit because we’re newer and smaller. If you don’t want friends, don’t come here. We’re not the podium for your personal project. Now, as I expressed in the reply, if he had talked to Havoc, Loxely or Mr. D about this, gotten some input and maybe pitched the idea to the rest of the forum, I’d have cheered him on. THAT’S the sort of thing that can actually turn out to be awesome and long-running.

Oh, and he lumped me into the term ‘gentlemen’. Since there were only the two admins replying, I can be pretty sure I was included as a ‘gentleman’. Which is rapidly getting to be a sore point for me! I am a woman dammit! Get your facts straight. Argh.

The point is this. I’ve come to have a great deal of respect and love for the writing community, in particular, the fact that such a widely-flung group of people can not only work together, but become friends merely through correspondence. I’ve seen plenty of times where people support someone they don’t know in any way except through their fiction. That’s the sort of stuff that makes me proud to be part of a community.

Forums are little microcosms. Fifthwind has several writers who, having only dabbled in writing before, are now on their way towards finishing (and in some cases, already have finished) novel-length manuscripts. We have a solid little group of people who respect each other and provide support and encouragement. It’s closer to family than what I was born into. After my rant yesterday, I had half a dozen people step up and volunteer to be my family instead. That’s the sort of stuff that builds loyalty and keeps me out of the blues when writing gets hard.

If I were to join a new forum, it would be wise of me to spend a week or two lurking. Get my bearings, see what the forum is like, and base my participation around that. If it was a serious gaming forum, I wouldn’t be in there talking about how much I like blueberries. If it was a writer’s critique group, I wouldn’t walk around bashing all these ‘pathetic manuscripts from wannabes’. It’s simple courtesy, respect and common sense, the same thing you would need in real life. If it’s a black-tie event, wear black tie. Beach party, wear shorts.

The internet is a priceless tool. But it seems like more and more people are regarding this as their personal platform for an egogasm, or find that without a face, they don’t need to be polite and responsible.

I wish there wasn’t a need for admins to discipline, censure or delete members. I don’t like the way it makes me feel, the time it takes, or the negativity it can spread amazingly far out of its path. Fortunately, 99% of the people I’ve had the pleasure of being with on the forums were just plain awesome.

The internet is no excuse for being rude. The speed with which information spreads… It would be wise to consider every word, because I’ve come to believe the writing community is like a small town. It’s not going to be long until everyone knows that Mr. X slept with the preacher’s daughter.

Be smart. But if in doubt, dig out that relic of courtesy we’ve all got buried somewhere deep in us. It’s amazing how far that takes a person.


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