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(Or Typenoding)

Caveat: The following is entirely theoretical as applied to E2. Research may or may not support the hypothesis; this should in no way be taken as reflecting negatively on the site or its users.

The phenomenon of typecasting is most often associated with actors, who are continually sought after to play roles of great similarity. Robin Williams has his funny-sensitive combo; Alan Rickman does well as the intelligent villain, Arnold Schwarzenegger plays Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Complaints about it stem from the possible limitation of an actor's range or opportunity to explore different roles, largely based on perceived marketability. The actor and the role become indistinct; play it well, you will be asked to--and expected--to play it again, precisely because the performance becomes a known quantity. Eventually, the public will anticipate the part. 'If 'X' is in it, 'X' will be this character, which 'X' does well, so I will go to see it.'

This will make the movie money, and the casting will be viewed as part of the formula for success, which is both desirable and repeatable. Hence, typecasting.

But the trend extends to fields other than acting.

Surely, you don't mean US?

Any art, craft, industry, etc. that has an audience (customers, users, etc.) and a system of feedback--monetary or otherwise--is susceptible. E2 is no exception.

E2 means, among countless other things, authorship. The writeups posted, of whatever kind--fact, fiction, or any combination of the two--are representative of the particular style of the writer, who becomes known by the tenor and/or content of what he/she writes. On E2, unless you frequent enough gatherings, you are almost exclusively what you write.

And what you write receives feedback, a significant amount of which is in the form of votes. Some of your writings are more popular than others.

All this is fairly self-evident.

Your Point?

A noder who sticks primarily to one genre, and distinguishes him or herself within that genre, may face nodecasting.

For example: John Smith writes excellent fiction. His work is total fiction, and he enjoys a positive following, resulting in high reps for his work.

One day, John Smith decides to jump genres, and writes a pure factual. The body of readers, having always enjoyed, and by this time perhaps having come to expect fiction, is (unconsciously) disappointed, and does not respond as warmly.

He did not give them what they want, as the saying goes. 'It wasn't as good as his fiction,' the sentiment may be, even though it is an apples and oranges comparison. A higher degree of downvoting or abstention may result.

Just as an effort in romance by Tom Clancy is not likely to sell as well as the usual bill of fare. As a romance alone, it may be good; but placed beside the stories of espionage his reader base loves, it will seem worse.

The Result

Here's where it comes back to John Smith and what E2 means to him. The goal structure is clearly in place; we have levels, a hierarchy based on seniority and complicated by the possible addition of the honor roll, which will increase the importance of nodes' reputation by speeding the climb up the ladder--as it should. 'Higher quality' nodes will earn higher reps, and up you go.

John Smith now faces the following decision (which he faced regardless of the honor roll). Does he:

  1. Write for the Public. Embrace--and perpetuate--the nodecasting by sticking to fiction. That's what people like, and what earns the most positive feedback. As Dr. Johnson said, 'No man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money.'
  2. Write for Himself. Take the hit, if it comes, because you found this such-and-such interesting, and dammit, wanted to write it, even if no one else cares, or wish you'd just keep to what they think you do best.

Nodecasting asks the question of 'why do you write.' The answer is likely some combination of both these things. Naturally, you want to be upvoted. But do let that desire influence what you write, or how you write it?

Maybe, maybe not. This is entirely up to the noder. Your own talent in a specific medium may be--through no fault of your own, or really anyone else's--adversely affecting your ability to develop in other areas. You get discouraged. People aren't buying it. You end up starring in buddy-cop, action films the rest of your life, because no one could stand to see your Hamlet.

What to Do

First of all, this isn't about not having to earn your bullshit, which you must. And you can only be nodecast after establishing a body of work; two or three nodes doesn't qualify. And we must allow the possibility that the writing we do in 'other' categories is genuinely weaker. A person may simply have a certain forte, and outside of it, is legitimately rubbish. Ok.

If you still want to try your hand--and you probably should--there's still nothing you can do about it. At first. If you've been around for a while, been doing the same sort of thing, and want to spread your noding wings, you'll probably just have to start building up a new reputation. Get people to love all your dabblings equally. This may take a long time. May take none at all. Let me know.

If you're just starting out here--you must earn your bullshit, regardless. After that, try building evenly. If you don't want to be nodecast as a factual writer, don't let that be all you do for your first fifty writeups. Throw in some fiction, experiment with style.

And of course, just writing excellently in any genre goes a very long way.

At the end of the day, some say, the voting system, XP and all that, really don't mean a whole lot. But then, they sort of do, don't they?

Right-o

Nodecasting probably exists; it seems fairly inherent in human nature, as it is a form of the phenomenon that affects many other endeavours, artists, entrepreneurs. It's part of the package. It can't be proved, as it all comes down to opinion, and if you find it (or think you find it), it'll most likely just aggravate you.

It's just one more part of the undeniable truth that E2 is a society.

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