Your Admin is hurt and frustrated and requests your help...

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MmeJavert
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Your Admin is hurt and frustrated and requests your help...

Postby MmeJavert » Sat Dec 18, 2010 4:01 am

Seriously? What do I have to do?

There is some sort of deeper problem here, and I don't know if I caused it, if someone else caused it, if it's a combination of factors, but Abaissé is not as happy and friendly as it always used to be, and this upsets me deeply.

Everyone is entitled to have their say, lurker, newbie, oldbie, or otherwise, so have your say.


If you don't have anything to say, I will assume you have exactly no problems with Abaissé, its members, and the way things are here.
and to this day, she's glided on
always home but so far away
like a word misplaced
nothing said, what a waste

~pearl jam, "dissident"

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Starlene
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Re: Your Admin is hurt and frustrated and requests your help...

Postby Starlene » Sat Dec 18, 2010 4:34 pm

Okay, a newbie giving her two cents here.
I'm not wishing to offend anyone or make everybody hate me or whatever. Also, I of course haven't been here for long, so I have nothing to compare the current mood of the board to. But I'd still like to say what I have in mind.

Sometimes - rarely, but still sometimes -, when reading discussions here, I get the feeling some people treat the book and its characters almost like holy text, very seriously and with a little tolerance for "radical" ideas.
Like the Enjolras = autistic? topic: I can't see why people get so, well, upset about it. He's just a made-up character, after all. At least to me, it feels a little odd that people should get so emotional about someone speculating the condition of a character in a book...

So, if you have a different opinion, or if you've just not that familiar with the fandom yet, it might be frightening to write about your thoughts (especially when so many people here seem to know really much about Les Mis, but that's hardly anyone's fault!).
It also sometimes feels certain opinions are like carved into stone. It feels like you mustn't like any of the movies, for example. If you happen to like one it might not feel very easy to say it, because it may seem like no one else thinks like you.

But don't think I'm saying everything is horrible here, because that's not true. It's clear there are lots of really nice people with a wonderful sense of humor here, and when I joined this board I was welcomed very warmly. So this is not all bad, of course not!
I just think maybe everybody should loosen up a little, give a bit more space to other's opinions and remember that when discussing about art like we do here, there can't - and shouldn't! - be only one definitive opinion.
It's a magical world... Let's go exploring!

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Re: Your Admin is hurt and frustrated and requests your help...

Postby Ulkis » Sat Dec 18, 2010 5:28 pm

It also sometimes feels certain opinions are like carved into stone. It feels like you mustn't like any of the movies, for example. If you happen to like one it might not feel very easy to say it, because it may seem like no one else thinks like you.


I've said I like the 1998 movie (with Liam Neeson and Claire Danes) lots of times! If anyone dislikes me I don't think it's because of that. :) So no need to be afraid there. :)

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MmeJavert
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Re: Your Admin is hurt and frustrated and requests your help...

Postby MmeJavert » Sat Dec 18, 2010 5:49 pm

Nooooo, Starlene, no offense will be taken here! I asked for your opinions, after all! :)

It's hard to address and change things without knowing what is the biggest problem and how to change it. Hearing from all of the members, and not just the ones who've been here 3+ years, gives me a better sense of what I can do better, or what can be done in general to make things even better here.
and to this day, she's glided on
always home but so far away
like a word misplaced
nothing said, what a waste

~pearl jam, "dissident"

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Knitterlywitch
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Re: Your Admin is hurt and frustrated and requests your help...

Postby Knitterlywitch » Sat Dec 18, 2010 6:01 pm

Perhaps the 'If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all rule?' Not trying to be snarky, just thinking.

I'd also like to appologize, because I feel like some of this is my fault. Well, a lot of this.

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Re: Your Admin is hurt and frustrated and requests your help...

Postby MmeJavert » Sat Dec 18, 2010 6:04 pm

Generally speaking, that fits into the "Don't be an ass" rule, too. But you're right, it is a good thing to keep in mind here.


And no, it's not entirely your fault -- I think part of the problem comes from some people (and I'm not excluding myself completely either) overreacting to certain things.
and to this day, she's glided on
always home but so far away
like a word misplaced
nothing said, what a waste

~pearl jam, "dissident"

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Knitterlywitch
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Re: Your Admin is hurt and frustrated and requests your help...

Postby Knitterlywitch » Sat Dec 18, 2010 6:06 pm

MmeJavert wrote:And no, it's not entirely your fault -- I think part of the problem comes from some people (and I'm not excluding myself completely either) overreacting to certain things.


Okay, I'm just paranoid a lot and worried like everything is my fault.

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Re: Your Admin is hurt and frustrated and requests your help...

Postby MmeJavert » Sat Dec 18, 2010 6:16 pm

I know how you feel! It's okay. That's why I have posts like this one: I can't let people turn sadly away from Abaissé without letting them have their say. It is bad enough that multiple people have now felt driven away from this board in part due to actions and words of mine and of other people here. I absolutely do not want to make that a trend, so if I can keep open discussion going and keep things on the up and up, I will.

It goes for everyone, but unless someone specifically tells you that you are at fault and need to re-examine or change your behaviour, you are, generally speaking, not in the wrong. I think I've been slightly lax in telling members off when needed, though -- because of my inability to articulate what needs to be said without making it personal, in some cases.

But there have been people who outright said that they can not come to Abaissé, now or even ever again, because of people here, attitudes here, etc. I can't think of anything that upsets me more than that, and I don't want to encourage it to keep happening. :(
and to this day, she's glided on
always home but so far away
like a word misplaced
nothing said, what a waste

~pearl jam, "dissident"

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Knitterlywitch
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Re: Your Admin is hurt and frustrated and requests your help...

Postby Knitterlywitch » Sat Dec 18, 2010 6:18 pm

Who said that? That's too bad.

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Frédérique
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Re: Your Admin is hurt and frustrated and requests your help...

Postby Frédérique » Sat Dec 18, 2010 8:48 pm

Well, I'm neither an old-timer nor a currently very active member, but one thing I love about Abaissé and especially the amount of text-orientated discussion going on is the variety it invites. The book and its characters has/have such a lot of nuances and/or gaps that there is room for a wide number of interpretations to exist side by side. If there was less picking at the text, citing examples etc., it would be much harder for new opinions to be brought up, because all discussion would be 'I think ...' - 'Well, I don't!' and who ever got more people on their side would 'win'. As it is everybody has passages they cling to, which nobody can take from them, because they're there! Sometimes people cling to the same passages (or to the same characters) for entirely different reasons. And until recently I hadn't been under the impression that this was a problem for anybody, or that anyone was telling anyone else 'no, this is my passage, it means the following, and it cannot mean X to you' (which does bring up the problem of distinguishing between 'things one believes are actually in the book' and 'things one believes could apply to the reality of the book if viewed as reality, populated by real humans/if transferred into modern-day circumstances/if if if' or/and 'things I like to read into the book because that is how it gains meaning for me personally'; on the former level one intepretation can be more solid than another, on the second it's more difficult, but on the last it can't, and it's the latter kind of interpretation that means the most to people, so ... yes, as long as those two are kept apart and it's clear that because someone disagrees with you on the first level they don't want to take away your second-level interpretation, things should be okay?). Actually, I still suspect it isn't, really, just that there's been a chain of misunderstandings wherein everybody has come to think that everybody else thinks they think their ideas aren't acceptable to be stated any more. (Give and take a few 'thinks they think they think' in that sentence.)

I think the problem with the Enjolras=autistic? thread, to pick up Starlene's example (which is also the obvious one) is that there was a sort of ... clash between two schools of interpretation, so to speak, to levels of argumentation (see above), the text- and (historical-cultural-etc.) context-based one, and one deliberately setting those aside/further back to find another meaning in the text that was not intended by the author but can still give them something to explore. This happens now and then because Abaissé is neither all scholarly nor all squee (which personally is why I love it). It'd be nice if both could coexist without those arguing on either side feeling they are being told to shut up because a)their approach is less scientific hence less valid or b)their approach is too serious hence pretentious, arrogant, offensive.

(Sidenote: I'm continously dumbfounded at the accusations of self-congratulatory up-oneselfness because the impression I gathered over the summer is that there's no-one around who doesn't have a crippling fear of accidentally revealing what they truly are, i.e. the most stupid and uninformed member on board, the only one just barely managing to fake it. Lots of people know lots, but lots assume that all the others know lots more.)

Perhaps all it needs is for people to more clearly distinguish which approach they are taking at a given moment (because most switch between the two, I imagine - and then, we're all human; we all get bits and pieces of our personal interpretations mixed up in our more 'okay let's look at what we have in canon' hours). And to make it clear that just because one user tries to stick with one approach at a given time, that does not mean they disapprove of the other's existence.

(It does seem to me that the board has a tendency to grant slashy discussion and the like a lot more suspension-of-'but Hugo cannot actually have meant that' than it granted the Enjolras-autism thread, but, yeah. Essentially it all comes down to clarifying whether or not you are proposing something as potentially canon or as a possibility to explore in fanfiction/some other more or less removed context.)

Lately I've been getting a sense (not from your remark re: holy text etc., Starlene! but from some of the commentary floating around LJ) (aha, now I'm being just as weasely as the weasels that irritate me) that the people who like raiding books for factual information/entertaining trivia and who like to provide background are being told (never directly, of course, because It's A General Trend, Not Anyone Specifically) to tone it down because it's condescending to assume that anyone wants to know/could not get the same information on their own if they did want to know, and it makes me very sad, because Abaissé is one of about ... yeah, the one place in the universe where I'd hitherto felt that gratuitous information or speculation about subject X related to LM/Hugo/1830s France/etc. was enjoyed and welcome. (Wasn't it?) I'd hate to think that anyone felt less welcome because historical/literary footnotes are not their line of business, but right now it's getting dangerously close to feeling the other way around - like nerding it up is no longer okay because it's considered self-congratulation and forced 'education' of people who don't need it. (Which, really-- I don't understand. It's all so full of squee and humour and cartoons and horrible puns and ... debauched lobsters! What could be done to make it any less Srs Bsns, short of, well, actively trying to restrict the prominence of attempts at factual accuracy [which is a thought that makes my head scream]?)

Okay, in short, I've no suggestions other than 'try to be clear about whether you are putting a thesis up for discussion in or out of 19c. context/as potentially canon or as an interesting AU spin/seriously or humorously, so as to avoid being hurt and hurting others who might get the wrong impression and therefore argue with you on a different level', but I love the Abaissé I've observed (sometimes more closely, sometimes less) over the past year-and-a-third and I'd hate for it to fall apart just because everybody thinks they are a bother to everybody else ;_;

*raises cup* Don't let's let the wine of fanship run dry.

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Marianne
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Re: Your Admin is hurt and frustrated and requests your help...

Postby Marianne » Sat Dec 18, 2010 10:11 pm

Knitterlywitch wrote:Perhaps the 'If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all rule?' Not trying to be snarky, just thinking.

I'd also like to appologize, because I feel like some of this is my fault. Well, a lot of this.


I don't think it's at all your fault. Whatever the tensions on the board are, they've been brewing for at least six months, and your thread just happened to be one of the places where they exploded. You've done nothing wrong and you had no way to predict the way the thread went--in fact, I think you would've been pretty justified if you got annoyed with us for causing drama in your thread.

(Edit: Also, happy birthday! *just saw the chatter thread*)

As for the tensions on the board... I'm listening. MmeJavert is listening. If you have problems with the current climate of the board, if you think some of the members--or we ourselves--are being clique-y or condescending or judgmental, please tell us, and give us details if you can. The more vague you are, the more people will think they're included in the complaint, have no idea what they're doing wrong, and maybe feel like they're being unjustly attacked for something innocuous that wasn't your original intention, thus fueling the tension even more. If you aren't comfortable giving details publicly, PM me or MmeJavert. Suggestions--as in specific suggestions for what we can do and how we can change our modding style to make the board feel more inclusive--are the most helpful, but specific complaints go a long way toward helping us understand what's making people uncomfortable.

We're already trying to be more proactive about telling people it's okay when they express concerns about, say, whether they'll be jumped on for unpopular opinions or even minor forum-etiquette issues like thread necromancy. (Which, BTW, is fine as long as it serves a purpose--dragging up a thread just to say "me too" to something someone said two years ago is a little obnoxious, but if you have something to add to the conversation or just feel like the thread is interesting enough to be revived, go for it!) Please tell us what else we can do. I can't promise we'll implement everything everyone wants, but we're pretty anxious to deal with this tension and we'll weigh any suggestions to see if they fit with the purpose of the board and the climate we'd like to encourage here.
[Dieu] entend ta voix, ô fille des hommes! aussi bien que celle des constellations; car rien n'est petit pour celui devant lequel rien n'est grand.
- George Sand, Les sept cordes de la lyre

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Re: Your Admin is hurt and frustrated and requests your help...

Postby MmeJavert » Sun Dec 19, 2010 2:33 am

I'm going to add something that collectingbees posted for me over on lj, because she's right.

people are generally hurt over this, and saying that they or some might be "over-reacting" isn't helpful, and doesn't make people feel like they can approach you as a mod


I almost have to play two different roles on the board. Before Abaissé was anything like the community it was today, I barely had to think about modding except for the part where I cleaned out the spam registrations. Now there's 250+ people and lots of topics and posts to read, and suddenly being a mod has to outweigh being a contributing member of fandom -- and I have very little fandom interaction outside of here. When I post on discussion threads, and get involved in discussion threads, I don't do so as a mod. I do so as a 'regular' fan. So when I say that it seems to me there's some overreaction, it's me speaking from a personal perspective. I don't have the other point of view ready at hand to examine as easily as my own.

Regardless of whether I think you're overreacting or getting overemotional, I do my utmost to put aside all personal feelings when it comes to modding/admining. Because the thing is-- we all love LM here, and we all are insanely attached to some part of this fandom, the novel or its derivatives. Thus we all tend towards overreaction sometimes? Whether protesting too much, defending too strongly, getting too hot in a debate... it happens. I will always think it's a good idea to step back and look at what you're saying, and yeah, sometimes that gets forgotten and no one's immune to it. But even if I DO think you're overreacting, it helps me a lot if you can explain your position, especially if you can do so without insulting me or making offensive assumptions about me/my opinions in the process. (I'm not saying that anyone has done so, but being condescending or rude about your opinions has a way of making me not want to listen at all.) To take the autism thread up again, just for a specific example: if you really think I'm being insensitive for not wanting people to make Enjolras=autistic a valid CANONICAL approach, tell me why. Constructive and rational discourse is always useful. Bashing on me because I'm so insensitive and can't possibly understand how wrong I was, without actually expanding on what/why, will merely make me think you're overreacting because there's nothing to back you up. It's easier for me to understand your point of view without assuming overreaction if you can back up your point of view, rather than just attacking mine for being different from yours.

If I'm wrong, point it out nicely. It's possible; it's been done. If you don't like my opinion, go ahead and say so without being condescending or derogatory or attacking. Bashing and flaming and bursts of anger by themselves will just lead me to the conclusion that it's an overreaction. I can't help that.

However. Speaking as a mod, if things have got you so riled up in general about attitudes, that you finally see one more thing and snap -- please god speak up. I don't always see anything wrong with the tone of posts; I also sometimes see unpleasant tones in posts that didn't intend them. So goes the internet without verbal/visual cues.

Even if you have said something that has upset or infuriated me, even if I think you are wrong about everything you have ever said (exaggeration!), I will still push all those emotions and personal feelings aside as a mod. It might not be RIGHT AWAY, but I'll listen.

And I feel bad that there has been some PMs sent my way that I have not been able to respond to, but I have read and appreciated them all the same.


And what Frédérique has said about being too afraid to speak up for fear of being accused of ignorance? too afraid to post nerdy stuff for fear of being accused of elitism? This is the thing I most want to avoid, and honestly it looks like I just don't know how, because anything I try to do or say or change doesn't result in any palpable difference. I mean, even if I try to approach things from different angles, try to continue keeping my mind as open and flexible as possible, I cannot change other people's attitudes. I can attempt to influence them by changing or adjusting my own, but I dunno, I feel kind of helpless to change anything.


God, I sound so very inarticulate, and I hate it. :( I've been thinking about this stuff practically non stop, and it still doesn't seem to come out very well. :(
and to this day, she's glided on
always home but so far away
like a word misplaced
nothing said, what a waste

~pearl jam, "dissident"

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Marianne
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Re: Your Admin is hurt and frustrated and requests your help...

Postby Marianne » Mon Dec 20, 2010 1:12 am

Okay. Since there have been some pretty heated posts on LiveJournal in the past day or two, I just thought I'd make it clear that neither I nor MmeJavert is angry at anyone who wasn't directly involved in the LJ portion of that round of drama, and that we're still taking suggestions from anyone who's willing to work with us constructively. I don't know whether most of the discontent was coming from the people involved in the LJ drama or whether there's a more general sense of dissatisfaction and exclusion.

I am getting the impression that some people think they might get dogpiled for expressing a minority opinion. As much as I want to say "No, go ahead and post, it's okay!" I realize we have a fairly tight-knit group of regular posters, many of whom will go on at great length to explain their opinions, and that if a lot of them share an opinion contrary to yours it can be unpleasant to have a bunch of regulars all disagreeing with you at the same time and in giant blocks of text. Unfortunately there's no way to eliminate the possibility of this happening without stripping the forum of a lot of what makes it great, but since I get the impression that this is an ongoing problem, I have a couple of favors to ask:

1. If you feel like you're getting dogpiled, you don't have to suffer in silence! Even if you don't have the energy to argue back against half a dozen very verbose people, either ask on the thread for people to back off a bit or PM a mod to break up the party. Nobody means to gang up on you, but sometimes we get so excited about Our Thoughts On The Infamous Top-Bottom Discussion (or whatever else the topic is) that we don't stop to think about the overall group dynamics at work.

2. If you're a regular poster, please pay more attention to make sure you're not contributing to a dogpile, and listen to requests to back off. I know y'all are well-meaning. The nature of these things is that no one person's individual behavior is wrong or mean, but the combined weight of lots of people posting similar opinions can be exhausting for anyone who disagrees. Don't be afraid to explain yourself in depth or express your opinions, just ask whether you really need to toss your two hundred cents in when five other people have already replied and there's one lone poster on the other end going "O_O I get the point already!" And if you see that happening and don't entirely agree with where the dogpile is heading, step in to offer a dissenting opinion.

Am I completely off base in my impression that this is part of what's bothering people? Is this a good solution to this part of the problem?
[Dieu] entend ta voix, ô fille des hommes! aussi bien que celle des constellations; car rien n'est petit pour celui devant lequel rien n'est grand.

- George Sand, Les sept cordes de la lyre

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Knitterlywitch
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Re: Your Admin is hurt and frustrated and requests your help...

Postby Knitterlywitch » Mon Dec 20, 2010 1:19 am

Your thoughts seem right, Marianne.

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Re: Your Admin is hurt and frustrated and requests your help...

Postby Usefulbeauty » Mon Dec 20, 2010 1:41 am

I agree with Knitterlywitch.
I'd also like to say that while I'm still just bewildered by the whole situation and how fast it all blew up, you guys are handling it really well, so thanks so much for that.
Let us read and let us dance--two amusements that will never do any harm to the world.
- Voltaire


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