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Note to editors: There's a para at the end that explains why this is a WU and not a forum entry.


Apatrix says my input is needed. I heed and respond to the clarion call. As he asks, I will try to address these points:
  • Why we are not noding
  • What your vision is for the site's future
  • What the role and influence of the staff is

I. Why I am not noding

Blogs are free and easy, votes are meaningless, the Editors are mean.

I used to think of E2 as a medium to give people interesting information or put my point of view on display for discussion. Sometimes I'd create and display some light fiction. Nowadays... tell me what E2 does that Google Blogs doesnt? Oh right. Voting. Editing.

Votes are all but meaningless.

<EDIT>Apart from and often overriding the quality (depth, funniness, astuteness, style, novelty,...) of a WU, </EDIT>the number of points a node gathers is largely a function of:
  • the author's popularity;
  • the topic's popularity (does it have anything to do with sex?);
  • if a point of view was presented: the number of folks in agreement with that point of view;
  • if the WU survives the first day: the WU's age, as votes accumulate with time.

The editorial process is unduly binary.

If a node does not pass editorial muster, it is deleted. No helpful guidance on how to improve/rehabilitate it, just oblivion.

   Have you ever considered how demoralizing that is to a newcomer?

If a node is of marginal value, it is allowed to live.

   Again: No feedback, probably no improvement.

The "thumbs up / thumbs down" judgement brings back memories of the Roman Circus.

Oh wait... when your node is nuked, you usually get a 1 or 2 sentence put-down from the editor. Gee, thanks!

The message box has no soul.

Judgement is handed down in a brief one-liner. Why such a short message? Because the message box suggests it! You can't carry on a discussion in a single line. The format of that box says: Whatever you say, make it brief! You have one line. It's not obvious, certainly not to the subconscious, that this line can be packed with a paragraph of meaningful text. Even if one presumes to do so, one line is a pain to edit in. Is this intentional?

I posit that this taciturn format makes editor's comments come across as even harsher than they are meant to be.

Creation is collaborative... NOT!

E2 has some similarity to Wikipedia. But whereas Wikipedia articles improve with time as multiple authors come to a concensus about the best possible content, E2 nodes gather more WUs offering sometimes subtly different points of view on the same topic, sometimes contradictory, sometimes added anecdotes. A Wikipedia page shows the concensus of its authors; an E2 node shows the contention between its WU's authors. New information is not added to a WU, it often simply replaces it. The spirit is competitive, not cooperative. This Darwinian approach has failed Enron (sorry, I'm too lazy to offer a reference for this) and it isn't doing E2 any good either.

E2 tries to be... Everything!

E2 accepts fiction. E2 accepts opinion. E2 accepts poetry. E2 accepts biographies. E2 accepts dreams. E2 accepts shit. A positive view would be that E2 is eclectic. A neutral view, that E2 is omnivorous. A negative view, that E2 has no focus.

Nobody would look to E2 as a serious factual reference, because

  1. E2 requires no credentials, nor even references.
  2. E2 does not distinguish original research from encyclopedia paste-ups from "I heard it on TV."
  3. A large portion of the WUs on E2 are not factual, nor even try to be, yet there is not even any formal demarcation.

Nobody would look to E2 for a collection of worthwhile fiction, because that is only a small part of what is found here.

Is E2, then, interesting for the GTKY drivel people post here in the guise of useful information? Well, maybe.

Me, I come here when I want to waste some time. I think that says a lot.

E2 is so... 80s!

Visually and technically, E2 is reminiscent of the BBX age. Plain, monocolored text with a sprinkling of ASCII art. Today's crowd sees no appeal in that. Whether we want today's crowd or not is another matter. The fact is, though, that even the new styles haven't helped much. In fact, when I caved in and switched away from the old Jukka theme, my inbox nodelet disappeared. Hell, was this half-assed change ever tested?

Have I mentioned that the messagebox is an impediment to communication? Yeah, I have.

In summary:

E2 is irrelevant.

Who wants to node for a run-down collection of junk nodes that nobody reads?

EDIT: This is not only a mean thing to say (though I have no qualms about that) but it's also untrue: Many of the WUs here are of high quality: Well researched, elegantly crafted, cunningly plotted, witty, entertaining. I don't wish to do injustice to their authors. But I maintain that there's a lot of irrelevant tripe mixed in here, and that writing here is mostly an exercise in self-gratification or perhaps (pardon the crudeness) a small in-crowd's circle jerk.


II. What is my vision for the site's future?

A few diehards will keep it running and every now and then someone will pop in to node a bit, if he's not quickly driven away by the Spartan atmosphere. E2 will continue to get traffic so long as Slashdot links here. E2 will come to be a "classic" site, but not an important one.


III. What is the role and influence of the staff?

I've encountered a few friendly and helpful folks, but most text (by volume) I've received from the editors was in the nuke notifications.

My own most devastating experiences with editors are quite a ways in the past; I don't get nuked and blasted so much any more. That's partly because I've learned the ways of this place but could very well be because editors are now more considerate and helpful. I've just come to realize I'm not very qualified to judge the current status of the apparatus.

From what I can see, the staff struggle to maintain the status quo, a task that becomes simpler as WUs become fewer. Every once in a while someone futzes with something, but there is no revolution in sight.


IV. Epilogue

Believe it or not, this was meant to be constructive criticism. I have little faith in E2 and I wanted to communicate why.

I was asked to post this in a forum. As someone whose heart no longer beats for E2 and who is lazy, yet who still wants to invest the last of his care into pointing out why this should be so, I choose not to be saddled with the minor inconvenience this entails. Deal with it, downvote me, nuke the node; it doesn't matter much to me beyond having said what I felt I had to.

V. Responses

Not surprisingly for such a controversial post, I got the largest number of responses evah. Just like the votes, these are more or less split down the middle. While maintaining the respondees' anonymity, here are some excerpts, selected and slashed at my whim:

  • "There is much rage in him..."
  • "This is great. I don't agree with all of the points but a lot of them ring true. Thanks for putting this out there"
  • "I just felt the tone undermined the message a little..."
  • "You're ABSOLUTELY right about the message system."
  • "A friend of mine left over two years ago after 100+ nodes. He became physically ill every time he logged on to this place. There's nothing to this place anymore..."
  • "Slashdot hasn't linked to E2 in over five years, but otherwise this is entirely spot-on."

    Note: Slashdot now once again links to E2.

  • "I think your diagnosis is basically one hundred percent wrong."

I'm especially proud of the last one. Do you have any idea how difficult it is to be not just somewhat, but one hundred percent wrong?

I was flattered and mildly surprised by the number of C's. Thank you all, you've been a terriffic audience!

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