The early June freeze
June 4, 2023
I’m imposing a content freeze this week. New activities will be able to be posted again on June 7, and comments will return on June 12.
If you’re wondering why this has happened, it’s because there’s been another fracas regarding a new activity similar to the one last month. This time it included content that a lot of people found upsetting. I do want to discuss this at some point, but there hasn't been time to do that yet.
What’s different this time is the sheer viciousness of the response I’ve gotten once the activity went up and people saw it. I guard users’ privacy to a greater extent than most web sites like this do – there’s no private message function or any other way to directly contact a user, and I’ll never provide anyone’s email address to any third party. So all the bile directed at that activity and its uploader came directly at me through a variety of means. If you’re thinking that it wasn’t as bad as I’m making out, please bear in mind that you don’t see what I see.
I was especially taken aback at how snarky and disrespectful the reaction was on the ALTopedia Discord. A lot of new people joined the server on Friday and despite them having never interacted with me before or supplied a single penny to support the site, they made it clear that they had more of a right to determine what happens on this web site than I do. Maybe they thought that if they were aggressive enough, I would just follow their orders.
I don’t think anyone wants to live life by the rule “if you get mad enough at me, I’ll do whatever you want.” There may have been some good points or thoughtful comments buried in all the abuse, but they got completely drowned out, so I’m locking everything down until I can begin to gather feedback from people who can make their points rationally.
A lot of good things have happened on this site, and there are a lot of kind, professional, and helpful users, but I’m seeing a lot more people being really rude and hostile to each other in the unmoderated comments that I see on the site and on Discord.
I’ve gone back and forth over the weekend about whether I want to just discontinue the site, change it to a read-only archive, sell it to someone, or do a significant restructuring with more of a community-managed model. I suspect the latter option is what most people would want me to do, but it’s not something that can happen overnight. I have to find moderators, coordinate with them, debate and develop a lot of rules, and then code a bunch of new systems in to make the process as transparent as possible.
The site is finally on the cusp of breaking even with the Patreon and Ko-fi, but it’s been operating in the red for years, and as much as demand as I’ve seen for some sort of corporate-style oversight for the site, I haven’t heard from anyone offering the money to actually do that. If you’re going to suggest something like that, then bear in mind that I do this in my limited free time and nobody’s making a full-time living off of this site.
One aspect of the site design that I plan on changing is the speed and visibility of comments and other feedback. One thing that’s caused these latest incidents to escalate is that similar to other social networking sites, people make immediate comments in the heat of the moment and then other people see that something’s getting a lot of attention and then join in. This is great if you’re trying to get everyone to look at ads, but that’s certainly not my goal.
I’ve locked down the Discord and I’m probably going to discontinue it, since it’s vulnerable to brigading and instant flame wars. I’m going to slowly reopen the site’s systems, but what happens after that is going to depend on how civil people can be.