Dear denizens of my beloved forum,
You may or may not be aware of drama being caused by certain members regarding this forum. There is apparently an undercurrent in certain circles of fandom that paints the members of Abaissé as a group of elitists living in an ivory tower, and looking snootily down upon those who do not share our exact opinions, hobbies, and beliefs.
I have striven to make this forum a place for anyone in fandom to peaceably assemble and talk about whatever. My vision for Abaissé is thus: a friendly, welcoming environment for any fans capable of community participation to discuss Les Mis in all its incarnations and whatever came from it. Fans of LM as a musical, as a book, or even a movie are all equally welcome.
The board is set up as it is to include as many different preferences as possible. We have boards for Musical and Book, completely separated, and there are fans who post in one or the other exclusively and there is nothing wrong with that. We have an Introductions board where every member is (strongly) encouraged to post something that we can get to know them better. The Intro board, I hasten to add, is more or less an everything-goes place: there is just about nothing that is off topic in intro threads. We have off-topic boards where people can direct the non-Mizzy energies into fun stuff. I'm especially fond of the Good Karma, Rant, and Vanity threads -- this is how we get to know people as people, not just members of fandom.
I am going to say, however, that Abaissé is not an everything-goes board in general. If you are here solely for the off-topic content, I repeat that perhaps this isn't the place for you. If you are here to have fun, go right ahead -- but be aware that for many people, a constant barrage of silliness is offputting when there is no seriousness to temper it. The same goes for seriousness -- if you are all srs bsnz discussion all the time with no hint of a sense of humour, that might be equally off putting. We are also a more-or-less adult/mature board. More-or-less because 14-year-olds are perfectly capable of mature rational discussion and 30-year-olds are perfectly capable of being immature snot-nosed brats. Age does not matter (as long as you're over 13, but that is a legal issue, not a decision made by me as the Abaissé admin), just your words, and how you comport yourself here.
On Abaissé, the number one and most important rule is Don't be an ass. This is a far-ranging rule. Don't insult people. Don't condescend to people who know less than you, have lived few years than you, have been around fewer blocks than you, who like different things from you. Don't troll and create drama. Don't say things deliberately constructed to be provocative, inflammatory, offensive, or insulting to other people. And so on. I did not want to enumerate all the ways in which members could be breaking Rule Number One in the rules post, because I honestly believed that not being an ass in a friendly fan forum was something to be taken for granted.
In this recent spate of drama, we had a certain fan project being denigrated right here on the boards. Said project initially began here, and because it was in an on-topic thread and an off-board project I chose not to get involved in it from the beginning. It apparently snowballed while I was not looking, and recently there was an innocently-intended link to it that started a fandom uproar. It got out of hand. The wiki was full of offensive and inappropriate content that truly upset a number of people. I have actually read a comment from someone on livejournal who saw the wiki before the book and was actually afraid of seeing that same sort of misogyny in the book that was displayed on the wiki. That is the very reason that the wiki upset me, personally, as a fan. And I admit that some of the things I said were out of line, as a fan AND as a fandom forum administrator. I do apologise if any of my words ended up being truly hurtful to someone. I still do not believe that the content I personally saw was at all acceptable, but I did NOT read the entire wiki. What I did read shocked, appalled, hurt, offended, and upset me. I could not believe there were fans who actually believed what they wrote; I could not believe there were fans who found that funny. I like silliness -- the 42-page thread on whether Enjolras is a top/bottom is my most-posted thread, and that is nothing if not downright silly -- but silliness and humour does not have to and indeed should not include offensive content as its sole basis for being funny. It crossed a line, I found the bits I saw to be offensive and I utterly HATED the idea of a new fan stumbling upon that wiki and thinking it was how the whole fandom was, when it wasn't.
Vitriol should have been aimed at the content itself, period. Instead we let that anger spill out over onto the people who created the wiki and/or who wrote the articles. This was an illjudged idea. People get upset about things like this. I should know: anyone who says bad things about Abaissé inadvertently ends up saying bad things about me, or at least that's how I take it. I take personally every criticism of Abaissé, every person who says they are afraid to post or intimidated by the atmosphere, every person who left because they just didn't think it was right for them anymore. And so I can imagine that the creator felt an equal love for her project.
However, I want to mention that while we got out of hand in being upset and angry at the wiki content by (perhaps inadvertently) posting mean things about the people involved, I reiterate that claiming it as cyber bullying is too extreme and too harsh, especially since most people involved (after giving it some reasonable consideration) have apologised, retracted, or modified their statements so as not to be so outrightly insulting. I like to believe that most people in fandom are not mean at heart, and would not honestly insult other people as a matter of course.
Personally, I bear no ill will towards creators and content contributors for the wiki -- the ill will and vitriol on my part is for the appalling content that got posted. I might have let the wiki go, if not for the fact that all this spilt over onto livejournal.
I am completely bemused by some things that have been said as a result of this. I have tried very hard to be, if not outright kind, then at least civil towards all people in this fandom. It has been made clear to me that there are people who do not at least attempt the same, and that saddens me as well. If I have been unkind to you in a way you feel is unjust, please do not be afraid of letting me know. I don't bite, and even if I do bark I feel bad about it.
EVERYONE is welcome at Abaissé. EVERYONE. Even if I do not personally love you as a friend, even if I dislike you, I am not ever going to ban you or publicly call you out unless you flagrantly start breaking forum ground rules (which are reasonable to me and to most other people). If you find that Abaissé is not the place for you, and wish to stop coming, that is your decision and I am sad to see you go. My number one desire for Abaissé is, literally and truly, for every one of our 230+ members to be active here on a regular basis. I don't even know half of them, and I still wish they'd all come and post.
And if you find that one person or group of people is making you uncomfortable, PLEASE bring it up. If you don't feel comfortable addressing me, or Marianne (as admins), or the people that you're having trouble with, in private -- then please put a post on the Q&A board so we can sort it out. I hate the thought of resentment festering because anyone is too afraid to ask about it. If something offends or upsets you, please speak up. It is possible that the people involved won't know they're being offensive until it's pointed out to them.
I will not post about this on my personal livejournal or facebook accounts, and I stopped responding to livejournal comments about the same last night. If you wish to discuss it with me, either PM me here on Abaissé or send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org about it. Also, I have not locked this thread for anyone who believes that something has been left out and needs to be addressed to the group/with the group.