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I know this thing has died down, but I just discovered it last night and it made me love E2 again and I want to node something real soon but need to contribute this now. A little more fuel on the fire. I wrote the following during the summer of 2003, while the Cleveland un-nodermeet was going on and the copyright rules were changing. I may have asked a few noders to read it at the time; I'm not sure. It was on my homenode at one point too. In any case, I think I may have been on to something, so here it is in its permanent resting place.

I've just reread Everything is a community, Everything is a family, and Raising the bar, the three noding about noding nodes that utterly transcend noding about noding, and reading them I feel like we've gotten lost. I came to E2 long after Hermetic left (and even longer after Sensei left; it took me a year to figure out why everyone thought he was so great) but this doesn't mean I can't read old nodes and see patterns, and see where patterns stop. Have a look at Hermetic's daylog from September 6, 2001. See that list of pipelinked names? Many of those people are now in the power structure of Everything2. At the same time, many of them haven't written any nodes in months. Only one has written a non-daylog, non-administrative writeup in the last month. And yet most of them are not “fled noders.” They keep coming back. These people aren't here to have a writing website. If they cared about that they'd be writing. My only guess is that they're still here only because E2 is a community and it contains people that they like and care about.

dem bones wrote that Raising the bar was removed because "it was subjective, noding about noding and not something that would stand the test of time." What about history? Do we not care? Do we need to hide knowledge of our past in an obscure superdoc?

There's a growing antagonism between those who want the bar raised and those who want to be able to write whatever the hell they want. This is a false dichotomy. E2 can be a community. E2 can be an encyclopedia. E2 can be a place for fiction. E2 can be a place for opinion. E2 can even be a place for poetry and lyrics, original and by others. We can manage to be all of these things. There is a middle path between raising the bar so high that only the greatest can jump over it and lowering it to the point that a one sentence writeup on a complex subject is okay. Read Raising the bar again. Half of the things dannye expresses approval for are community-oriented. There is a middle path. If we don't find it, someone else will.

E2 FAQ: Raising the bar, to which I refer repeatedly above, hasn't existed in quite a while, as E2 continues to erase its history. I don't think I really thought that Community2 would succeed in bringing together community and writing, and I certainly don't think they did now, but I'm also pretty sure E2 hasn't, at least in a way that included me, in a long time. I don't think someone else will anymore, either. As kthejoker says, 90% of everything is crap. We're not doing a very good job, but no one else is either.

That's my pessimism. Here's my optimism, part social and part technical. There are many ways to think about Sturgeon's Law and E2. E2 is more than the sum of its parts. We don't just have nodes. We don't even just have users. We have (sometimes, in some ways, especially when it matters most) community. Even if 90% of the database were crap with no innate value, it could still be crap that brings us together, and that's something.

Another perspective on Sturgeon's Law. We have softlinks. They're awesome. Some nodes get softlinked more than others and tied deeply into the nodegel. These are often good nodes. We have C!s. We have votes. We have plenty of democratic mechanisms, not for getting rid of crap, but for spotlighting notcrap. And 10% of everything is gold.

At the moment, the UK is involved in a slight problem with Iran. Currently, it's reported the 15 Royal Navy personnel held captive by Iran could face trial for 'entering Iranian waters'. The argument, as I understand it, hinges around the fact that while Iran claims the personnel were in Iranian waters, the UK claims they were in Iraq waters. The BBC news story has far more detail, but that's not what I wish to discuss.

I wish to discuss this crewman. Nathan Thomas Summers, who has appeared on Iranian television, publicly apologising for trespassing on Iranian waters. I read this article, I looked at the photographs, and I despaired.

To me, Mr Nathan Thomas Summers, pictured in the top right-hand corner of the website, is a beautiful and handsome man. I feel nothing but jealousy and desire for his beauty; it shines out of him, even in this situation and even under this strain. And so, this feeling is replaced with one of utter confusion. How can someone so beautiful be allowed to risk death? How can the world stand by while one man, so handsome, is placed in danger. Worse still, how can I, as a rational, logical human being, dare to think of this man only in terms of his beauty? He may, for all I know, be so beautiful on the outside, and yet so ugly on the inside.

And yet, regardless, look at him - look beyond the beautiful exterior and go within. Whatever his mind is like, whatever the person behind that eminently snoggable exterior, this is a man machine, a perfect ticking cog and sprocket, pump and flow and swoosh and go. This is a man far from home and afraid, this is sadness and despair. This is wondering will-they-swap-me-for-Iranian-prisoners versus will-they-let-me-die. Will war begin because of me? Will I ever have sex again?

Sometimes, just sometimes, I cannot believe how humanity is so filled with nothing. I am shallow and empty, I know, and this feeling of fear for Mr Nathan Thomas Summers' life is meaningless. If I met him in a bar tommorow I wouldn't speak to him; I'd be too afraid. But right now I feel such sorrow and despair that such beauty can be allowed to be harmed. I don't understand these feelings, but I recognise them.

Such a difficult emotion. So unfair. So pointless. He's a mother's son, grown up now and I hope she's proud. He's daddy's little boy, twenty years or so ago. He has a hundred thousand tiny defining moments of humanity, and they could kill him tomorrow. And I just don't understand.

When was the last day that there was no war?

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