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Advice on dealing with old users and what I should post

Started by The Magus, April 22, 2010, 06:12:06 PM

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The Magus

Hi there

First of all I'd like to apologize now for the thread heading.  It is slightly sarcastic but I also feel some clarity for new users might be in order.

I read the Advice on dealing with new users and ill-fitting threads and was initially very shocked at Ron's comments about Luminous, particularly:

QuoteEven mentioning Luminous' thread here, Eero, caused 100 times more problems than your question and my answer can solve, at least regarding his case. "So sorry," in internet speak, means "Fuck you all." He's already obviously so pissed off at being "singled out" or "picked on" that I'm throwing up my hands - there goes another one, with whatever Forge-compatible willingness that led him to sign on in the first place, diminished to the point of probably being lost. He's totally not able to see that you chose his post because you wanted to bring him into the Forge-type discussions. All he sees is a slap in the face and social ostracism, as if you'd put him in the stocks.

I then went off and read Luminous' posts and in your defence, Ron I agree that his posts just seemed rather out of place here and in one or two cases potentially offensive.  I was wondering whether a Homebrewing forum might be of some use.  I am a bit dismayed that people post things about D&D 4e here but anyone who wants to tinker with their system to generate more character-driven play needs encouraging.  I appreciate that I may now be straying into the whole incompatibility argument with Simulationism and Narrativism.  Hopefully this will encourage people to try other systems to see their merits or have a go at designing themselves.  However, going back to Luminous I didn't read anything to welcome him overtly into the fray.  I'll happily stand corrected if you did try and do this.  I appreciate that you did try to make it clear to him what the forums were to be used for and his idea about it was a tad confused.  Perhaps giving him links to other forums where people can discuss what's going on in their D&D campaign might be of help.

I have been a member of the Forge for about 18 months and still consider myself a new user.  Frankly I am a bit lost when some of the older users get into discussing the finer elements of theory using terminology that I am not all that familiar with.  I also find it rather frustrating to find topics have been discussed that would clarify my queries and it is hard to track them down.  Having said that old users are very helpful posting links to other useful threads.  As a new user this helps with game play questions immeasurably.

I have read a number of the essays and have found them both enlightening and cryptic.  I then thought I'd just come up with my own terminology based on my play experiences and also my experiences with group dynamics (something I do know a lot about - I've worked in that field for over 8 years now).  I found that 'Process generates Content' to be a more useful phrase that 'System Matters' and I would hope that it applies to the Forge.  My worry is that someone like Luminous will be put off Indie/Story/Character-driven games for a long time.  I also think that it might be of use to send new users an e-mail with some guidance on using the forums e.g. "You're welcome to post about your D&D campaign as long as you talk about your play experiences and what does or doesn't work."

This is the great problem of the internet - we can post and troll away to our hearts' content without considering who is on the other end of it.  True, as Eero said it might be some lonely guy just wanting some affirmation but there are ways of letting him know that his posts don't fit that well.  I'd like to share a tale to illustrate this.  I used to go to a games club where they would run D&D minis tournaments on occasion.  I was present at a final where Player A defeated Player B.  Player A was very proud of winning and gloated and crowed a bit.  Player B and I spoke later with Player B saying lots of derogatory things about Player A.  At this point I had to point out to Player B that he was in his late 40s and Player A was 11.  Kids will do that.  I'm sure you will on occasion get rather precocious adolescents and pre-adolescents posting here so that might need to be borne in mind.

Having said all that I generally like the way in which things are modded.  It's much more transparent than Board Game Geek.  While it might be frustrating for older users to reiterate themselves it is helpful to newer users and I think this strand of the hobby needs constant infusions of new blood.


PS - Kudos to you Ron for leaving this one in - The Forge is literally the most pretentious place ever
My name is Piers

Eero Tuovinen

Personally I'm pretty convinced that the only way to make do with the varying social contacts that the Internet has to offer to us is to be very scrupulous about treating everybody as humanely as possible. To wrangle Immanuel Kant, I try to treat other people in the Internet as subjects of a common experience instead of objects of my rhetoric. Posturing for advantage in the eyes of a hypothetical audience is not useful, and even thinking of the interaction in that manner seems to lead to very high-strung and negative interactions, or highly ritualized ways of interacting "correctly" to avoid any offense. Because the latter will only work within a discrete social group and fail horribly with outsiders, it's not a lasting solution; better to treat others humanely and not get mad at any imagined slight. This is tricky in that both sides of the communication need to practice it for it to work well; even if I don't get mad at others that's not too much help if they take offense from what I say despite my best efforts to essentially guess at the appropriate wording to use in avoiding offense.

Applying the above to the Forge is somewhat circular for me due to how I've learned much of my Internet attitudes from this place to begin with. Still, I attribute my ability to interact here to the above principle: withstanding Ron's acerbic-seeming moderation, trying to understand misconstrued theory terminology, not getting mad when your thinking is criticized... they're all common Forge experiences that become much easier if you approach the interaction with less ego-awareness and more positive humility, remembering that everybody on the forums is merely human, just like yourself. I believe that this is the same anywhere in the Internet, except perhaps the the interaction is more understated here due to the humanity-affirming moderation principles and the business-like focus of the place. ("Humanity-affirming" in the sense that Ron moderates the spirit of interactions instead of their form when he's being consistent with himself. "Business-like" in the sense that we're here to work, more often than not.)

Age-issues and similar social identity elements are totally an issue in Internet discourse. I haven't met any teenagers who'd be attracted to interact at the Forge (I know a dozen teenagers who are fans of these games - at least a dozen - but insofar as I know nobody is close to inspired to participate here themselves), but I can totally imagine how some of the more awkward communication situations here have arisen out of adult-teenager interaction where neither party even realizes the age difference. Age, nationality, schooling and other such issues would be much easier to handle in face-to-face communication in ways that we don't even need to think about normally. In the Internet the 17-year old guy might well appear as a serious challenge to your credibility as a hobbyist in a way that would never occur to you face to face, for example.

I'd say that the single best advice for new people coming to the Forge is to not take everything so very seriously. Be charitable and assume that others are human as well. Being moderated does not mean that your name's going to a blacklist you have to defend yourself vigorously against, for instance, and I can assure any new user here that I've been moderated by Ron more times than you have.
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