In March, one of new CEs became the focus of a minor storm. I'd like to address some of the issues that arose. Much of the tempest had to do with the fact that the user base at large doesn't see 80% or more of the work that site admins do, including this person. Only controversial actions get noticed and discussed. Nonetheless, we needed to clear the air. We had a long discussion in the admin debate area, and some worthwhile changes were made as a result.
One concern raised had to do with users who get special treatment: cliques, sacred cows, and the like. My initial response was "there are none" but of course that's not strictly true. There can be, and are, sacred cows on e2. That's fine, but they should be the cows sacred to the e2 community, not just to the admins. As one example, donfreenut's Butterfinger McFlurry, is accorded special status. Despite my personal incomprehension of the phenomenon, I would never support its removal from e2. Similarly we have moments in time, both global (September 11, 2001) and personal (Adam Purcell) that should always stay. They're part of e2's history and culture.
So I do think we have 'Sacred Content'. Senior admins have a 'publish' function to protect such content. It lets us say "Do not delete or edit this content without talking to me first."
Are there Sacred Users? Yeah, but only a few, basically the site founders: nate and CmdrTaco specifically. Those first e1 writeups are weak, but we let them stand. History and heritage again. Other than nate and Taco, nobody's exempt from an audit or a pruning. At one time I would have held all sensei's work inviolate. But time moves on and sensei's now not known to most of the noderbase. (I'd always want to keep A message from sensei though.)
Much of the March caffuffle had to do with content removal ('nuking' writeups). One of my goals when I took the "Editor in Chief" role was to make content removal seem less punitive. During that part of March, we failed in that. This made me sad -- and it filled my inbox with lots of traffic!
We discussed ways in which we could be more supportive of the user base and encourage improved content before writeups get deleted. A deletion is like a slap, and it doesn't encourage our users. My personal opinion is that very little new content needs to be deleted "right away". There are exceptions: commercial ads, stolen content, hate speech, badly-written porn, and personal attacks on users are inappropriate items that can't be readily salvaged. Usually there's an e2god around who can insta-nuke such stuff. Otherwise I'd rather see poor writeup hidden from the New Writeups list, and have the author msg'd with advice and suggestions for improvement.
We determined that we had a tooling problem. Our Content Editors wanted to get new writeups with quality issues off the New Writeups lists, and to limit the number of downvotes they got. The only tool they had was to mark them for deletion. The senior admins could toggle the hidden status of a writeup, but CEs could not. We made a code change to enable all editors to hide writeups while they were reviewed and reworked. I think that this has been successful and has led to a marked reduction in controversy.
One of the CEs raised an interesting concern. Some noders have a "fan base" who will upvote and Ching! almost anything that their heroes and/or heroines post. An argument advanced was "I should delete their crap immediately before it gets Ching!ed and upvoted, so the deletion is less contentious." We debated it, but in the end I felt this argument to be specious, and most of the staff concurred. If the user base says "we like this content" we need to hear and respond to that voice.
I think it's valuable for us to have "site celebrities" . They're our star columnists, folks that people visit e2 to read. It does afford them special status. That special status should be a tolerance for them to push on boundaries and try new content. It's not "dispensation to suck" - it's acknowledgement that they have a following, their contributions are valued by the community. I find that users with a "fan base" are very receptive to admin input. They don't want to disappoint e2's readers any more than we do.
Fiction and poetry are particularly contentious. I myself have little idea how to judge poetry. As with most fiction, I prefer to let the community tell us how they feel about artistic contributions to e2. It is very subjective, but crap does get called out pretty quickly. We still didn't settle this issue, and I suspect that we never will fully do so.
Chattin' in the catbox was also a discussion point. Do I want to police the catbox? Heck no. Do I want to bring in concrete rules of behaviour? No way. Personally, I feel that politeness is always in order. That's what works for me, and on the rare occasions when I have to snarl, it usually gets results. But common sense should prevail. Racial epithets and hurtful behaviour are not welcome here. Users who are abusive to others will be banned. Personal attacks are a no-no in public chat. And so on. We want current users to be comfortable here, and new users to get a positive impression of our community. Don't embarrass e2 and don't embarrass yourself. Please help us to make our users feel welcome and wanted.
Sorry this one is so late. To paraphrase Hans Gruber: "I could talk about monkeys, lesbians, and soy all day, but I'm afraid work must intrude...."