Brad Wardell's views about technology, politics, religion, world affairs, and all sorts of politically incorrect topics.
The careful balance
Published on November 12, 2004 By Draginol In Blogging is unique in the sense that it is a blog community. We all have our own individual blogs that then make up a greater blog (so to speak).

During the political season, it was really a challenge to keep the overall community from becoming radicalized. Anyone who has ever run a community knows there are very specific dyanmics that tend to work towards making a community radicalized.

The primary dynamic is critical mass. Critical mass in this sense being where enough vocal supporters of a particular thing are able, by force of will, to drive off supporters of alterantives.  On during the political season there were various points where both liberals and conservatives came close to reaching critical mass.  What we didn't want to have happen is where the site became so liberal or so conservative that their opponents would vacate the site in frustration. 

In customization, it's letting a particular program take over.  One of my favorite customization sites this Summer became radicalized over a particular customization program to the point that the program's fans essentially drove off supporters of other programs.  At WinCustomize the Stardock-oriented apps have radicalized it to a degree so that users of competing technologies don't feel as welcome as they should (sometimes you can lose the battle).

Right now we have relative equialibrium.  I have complaints from conservatives and liberals in my inbox about the site being too much against them. But radicalization also occurs on a personal level.  I've watched many users become more radical in their political beliefs.  Don't. Take a breath. Step back. Just because some loud mouth who opposes your political beliefs got you mad is no reason to assume that all your opponents are that way.

Not every liberal is Michael Moore and not every conservative is Ann Coulter.  Most people are in between.  It's just that the more active people get on-line in debating a particular issue, the more aggressive they tend to get.  That's why I take regular breaks. You'll probably notice that I'll go a week sometimes without responding or posting on a particular topic. It's not that I'm sick of it but rather I'm pacing myself. 

People who stay intense for months or years at a time burn out. They burn out on their own passions and frustrations. They usually end up flaming out. I've come close many times. 

So if you're mad at your opponents and want to just flame them all or think that "the enemy" has taken over. Stop. Take a breath. And remember, it's about having fun. Write about what you want to write about.  Don't let the "community" control you.

on Nov 12, 2004
Insightful advice! You are a true moderator.
on Nov 13, 2004
Bravo Brad Well said indeed.
on Nov 13, 2004

I know I'll catch hell for this...

One of the main reasons I stopped going to the WC board was because of how certain viewpoints became entrenched. A thread would mention a seemingly innocent topic, and someone would make the usual snide comment. Something like "Well that's what you get when you let the NRA run your country", or "Bush isn't satisfied to just wreck his own country..." or something along those lines. If you dared respond, a feeding frenzy of almost scripted monotony would result.

Once the conversation had occured more than a couple of times, you don't want to go through it again. The baiting doesn't stop though. As a matter of fact, it gets worse, like kids who talk louder and louder when they know you are trying to act like you don't hear them.

After weeks or months of biting your tongue, you just wander off and don't come back. Or worse, you lose your temper and get banned, like a couple of people did at WC ( and eventually here, too), after years of dealing civilly with the same people.

There's a couple of people in particular here that are churning out bait articles with absolutely no intention of really discussing them. I think an objective reader can scan down the list and look at the language of the titles and know what I mean. Whether it is to annoy, provoke, or to just get points, I don't know.

I opt not to respond to many of the articles I once would have. I don't want to go through it for the hundreth time with people who'll just do it again next week. As the titles of the articles become more snide and baited, I opt to read less and less of the articles themselves. I find my "vacations" are becoming more frequent, and the time I spend here when I do visit is less and less.

So, to make a long story slightly less long, what radicalizes a community is futility. The futility of dealing with bomb throwers who delight in NOT being challenged, and become more and more monotonous and antagonistic thematically as their opposition tires. After a while you just realize that the people aren't here to discuss, or even mix-it-up... they are here to stroke one another, garner points, and make themselves feel morally or intellectually superior.

on Nov 13, 2004
We get rankings here?! *just kidding*

I don't know why people choose to leave when they have the ability to blog happily in their own pocket dimension here at JU. That isn't the point though, is it? It is all about the attention. The baiting is just there to start a frenzy that will ultimately let you let loose the hounds of hell..(i.e. your opinion)..and just hit as hard as possible. Even dirty shots below the belt.
Attention, the mother of all evils lol
on Nov 13, 2004
"I don't know why people choose to leave when they have the ability to blog happily in their own pocket dimension here at JU."

It is like an intolerable pain, a tootheache. Nag, nag, nag, like a dog yanking at your pants leg. EIther you kick it or ignore it. I suppose it is a character flaw that I can only ignore it so long. Instead of going loopy and joining the ranks of the banned, I wander off to Norrath take my angst out on mobs much to big for me to be messing with.

on Nov 13, 2004
Good advice. It is the very reason I have made every effort to avoid certain bloggers and topics here. As BakerStreet said, so many of these articles are the same people spouting the same tired, memorized articles. I think that, in the wake of the election, things are stabilizing somewhat. There are still the nutters, but many have worn themselves out.
on Nov 13, 2004
The protocol I employ when meeting people from different Countries - cultures- is to emphasize what I find to be positive about that particular County and/or culture. This generally results in a gratifying experience. Likewise, my grandmother often reminds me that there is a reason God gave us two ears and only one mouth. Nonetheless, I find the left to be generally less tolerant than the right. w\Whatever happened to the concept of the loyal opposition?
on Nov 14, 2004
Insightfull thinking and hopefull too, the truth is no matter what party or religion we are we all have one thing in common, "we live in the greatest country on planet earth"and discourse and disagreement are part of this great country, we can and shouild exchange views and ideas and be able to agree to disagree without tearing us apart.
on Nov 14, 2004
Just my two cents: The "radicalization" that was happening is what encouraged me to go from lurker and rarly commenter to blogger. The bait worked. I couldn't let some of the things I was reading go unchallanged. But once when I responded to a forum from over in, I got blasted - not for what I was saying, but that I was saying anything at all! So, I figured if you can't beat them, join them. Now I have a blog (Muh ha ha ha ha!)
on Nov 14, 2004
I have problems with myself and I own it. The biggest problem I have is that it reaks of elitism to me. I don't like elitism.

Hopefully with WC2K5 we'll be able to weed it out but it's going to be a challenge because I think the elitism culture is firmly enrooted.

What we need here at JU is a way for people to be able to simply ignore certain people's articles. If user X bugs you, be abl to snuff out everything they write so that you don't see it when you go to the various forums and such. It's doable. Just will take some work.
on Nov 14, 2004
I don't like the elitism and the kookiness on the WC messageboard as well. I avoid the board and only use the site to download skins.