Ok, here’s what I think. It’s long, so grab a cuppa.
Tavern denizens all have culpability in the current situation. Each and every one of us…to varying degrees. We crossed many lines. It’s been going on for years. Those who crossed are responsible. Those who encouraged and egged on are responsible. Those who banded together in complaining squads are responsible. Those who watched and said nothing are responsible. Those who saw real offenses and did nothing to right them are responsible. Those who frequented this establishment and made no attempt to meet the proprietors (mods). We shat in the sandbox. And most everybody got tossed out, even the sweet ones and the innocent.
Now, more than ever, our sandbox is in very real danger of being shut down.
What course of action we take depends on what we really want. I, for one, want to play in the sandbox again. But the real goal is to keep the community together.
We have to ask ourselves how we can get what we want? My experience is that you get what you want by 1) giving the other guy what he wants to some degree and 2) avoiding leaving them with buyers remorse.
We have no power to affect change unless it’s positive change. Boycotting will have zero effect and 1) may not even be noticed and 2) gives TBTB what they want (peace in the tavern) but does not gain the community anything. Any course of action needs to remove the feeling on the part of the mods that the effort of the tavern is a “thankless task”.
In their face just gives them permission to do what they really want to do – make the tavern go away. And let me tell ya, it’s easy – one click and the entire folder is hidden. Gone forevermore, along with all our history and all our posts. Getting revenge doesn’t reach the goal of getting my sandbox back. And while there may be satisfaction in telling them to stuff it, it’s a “cut off your nose to spite your face” thing.
What I propose is that we organize this here community and take it back. The goal is to remove the burr from under the saddle of TPTB and to never come to their attention again. Ever.
I suspect that the basic problem for Taunton is Value Proposition. The Tavern’s value is far outweighed by it’s cost: time, aggravation, risk to the Taunton brand – in their opinion. Why that is not true for Cook’s Talk, I have no idea. The only choices are 1) cost them less 2) be of more value or 3) a little bit of both. I suspect that the problem isn’t actually that tavern denizens don’t contribute enough to the taunton brand, it’s that it’s not recognized and that can be solved by familiarity and communication – two things sorely lacking in the relationship.
Don’t run to a new board, lessons don’t get learned that way. We’ll just shit in that sandbox, too. I’ve been through this cycle too many times. The new board will thrive for a little bit, fuelled by anger and “unfaired upon” but eventually it will wane and the community will fizzle out. New posters don’t come on board and eventually it becomes stale and people drop away. I’ve started two “refugee” boards from similar situations. It’s so satisfying at first, but in the final analysis, everyone misses the old sandbox, because the new one ain’t the same. The time, energy and money that it takes to support a thriving forum eventually wears ya down.
Our goal is to 1) get the sandbox back – with real usernames. Some are real baddies may not be let back in, but several were whacked unfairly and they should be reinstated.
But I want the sandbox back with rules posted and enforced. And consistent. Living with this frustrated gavel is no good. The problem is the rules shift around and then enforcement is completely absent. As we saw recently, frustration builds and then the mods go wild. Yes, that’s their fault and they did it badly. It’s not our fault that they don’t have the will or time to do this job. But barring the ability to change that (nil) the best plan I see is to share doing their job for them.
Here’s one way to go about it. My vote would be a well-executed, strategic plan:
1) Decide as a group to write one (1) single letter to Jean Paul/Robyn and post it on board. Like in the “Tavern Civility Pact” everyone shows their support by posting a single posts that says “AYE”. 2) Ask JP to “out” the current shadow mods and give them gavels. I guarandamntee you that JP isn’t sitting up 17 hours a day moving posts to the tavern, deleting posts etc. I posted a thread by accident in the wrong folder. It was moved in minutes to the Tavern. No way was Robyn and JP sitting on the board at the time (I looked at logins). Someone is modding, or several someones. Who are they? I bet they are “of us” but only have partial power. If they were fully empowered, no innocents would have been killed here. I say empower them fully. Hell, pay them if you have to. They are probably volunteers Out them and then we all respect them. No pushing, no shoving, no baiting. They are MODS. Period. Hopefully one or more of them turns out to be well-respected members of the community and can command the power and fairness needed. If not, choke it until we can lobby for more or different boards mods. 3) Realize we have no power to remove TBTB and attempts to do so will just get the board shut down. Robyn and JP aren’t going anywhere. They, or someone above them has a beef with the tavern – realize that and don’t tempt them. Why is GAY banned on BT, but not on CT. Why is CT as rough (and as political) or worse than BT, but all the attention is on BT? My suspicion is that there is backstory here that we don’t know. Therefore, recognize that it’s there (whatever it is) and deal with it. 4) Elect representatives to open up lines of communication with the MODS. These should be persuasive and effective communicators. No threats, no strident stuff – clear on mission and able to persuade. 5) Elect representatives to commit to act as “team mods”, official or unofficial, it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter what their background is or what their politics are: they need to be fair, even handed, even tempered and able to commit the time. If they don’t have the time, get more people to spread the burden. They are crew bosses and their word goes. When they say cut it out, that’s it, cut it out. If you don’t you go to the point system (see below) 6) Craft “rules to live by” and then live by them 7) Commit to self-moderation. When someone is baiting and rude and condescending and looking for a fight, we step and say so on board. 8) Craft a point system (which taunton should have already had) laying out how people should be bozoed, given time outs and permanently banned 9) Craft letters for the mods to use (which taunton should have already) along with a communication plan for sending them out to defenders. 10) Commit to never again email Robyn or JP with complaints. That what got us here in the first place. Don’t complain on board or off – only reports to the Board Mods. 11) Give up on the idea that topics of discussion are inherently bad. Complaining about “polijive” isn’t really helpful. However, agree to constrain the politics to a few threads. Don’t post every bit of political news in a new thread. That will allow people who don’t want to play to avoid the topic easier. 12) Give up on the idea that the tavern can only be frequented by people who can prove their construction background. It’s alienating and folks from all walks of life have something to add. 13) Decide whether you want transparency in mod action – do you want a thread where the mods pop in to say: just a note to let you know Larry’s been banned. Or would you rather not know on board? Either way is fine, but it needs to be consistent. 14) Commit to support the mods when they make decisions (assuming we all are on board with fair rules and a even handed system for penalties). If we do this right the official mods take big actions ONLY after discussion with the Team Mods/Crew Bosses. No controversy needed. No infighting: “ I can’t believe you banned him, he’s much wors than”…..no buts.
I bet if we step up and present as an organized community, we’ll get it back and if we show our mettle, we might even be trusted with words like “gay” and “crap” again. =)
In lieu of all of the above, I would vote for “cooling off”. I got a 10 dollar bill that says the majority will be reinstated soon anyway.
However, Cooling Off doesn’t give the TPTB comfort that we will play right and it doesn’t shift any of the power our way – which is one of the problems here is that the community as no power. Taunton isn’t going to miss our 150 or 200 subscriptions. Trust me, if we all disappear, others will take our place and the only ones hurt are us.
I value the community and want to find the best way to get us what we want, get Taunton what they want. If we do that – the community stays together.