We're a mess. Things are slow and some people are just being dicks to each other. It's not new, people are always dicks to each other, but it's usually sandwiched between Green Day news and new members coming in to water down the shitty attitudes.
I'm going to write today about two things that have always frustrated me the most since I've been in charge of GDC: cliques and people saying "it's just the internet" or some variation of that.
"a small group of people, with shared interests or other features in common, who spend time together and do not readily allow others to join them."
This is something GDC has always had. Some are better than others. Some are more interesting, some aren't based on exclusion, some aren't negative toward other members. Unfortunately the ones that most people remember are the negative ones. I remember talking about cliques with Amanda back when she was helping me run this place nearly a decade ago. When people group up and start using their friendships as a circlejerk to bash other members, it gets really tiring very fast. What I find most tiring is when people use them to not only bash other member, but then come after the mod team like a pack of hyenas who have somehow managed to learn how to write while using only half their brain. We're the authority here, it's fun to mock the people in charge. But it goes too far sometimes and ends up actually hurting people. That's not cool, no matter what position they have. Team members volunteer here because they like this place and want to have input on how to make it better. Having to deal with shitty people making shitty comments shouldn't be something that we just accept as part of the job and let it all slide. I find that this happens a whole lot more when people get all cliquey and find it amusing to push people's buttons, then go back to their private chats and giggle about it. Whether it's toward mods or just a member they don't like, it's destructive. It fuels negativity and it's basically the same mentality as high school bullies. How adults can act this way and feel justified in their behavior is beyond me.
Another negative side of cliques is when people disagree with someone's beliefs they get their friends to come in and own them. It's a popularity contest where winning is absolutely pointless and in the long run actually adds to the problem. Everything is just one misunderstanding away from someone being absolutely obliterated by someone else's friends. That's a fucked up community.
So how do we fix this? Either the mod team grows and we babysit everyone,telling people to stop saying mean things to each other. Or people act a little mature about differences and realize it's perfectly fine to disagree with someone about something while understanding that doesn't make them the fucking devil. You don't have to like the chat room to respect the people who go there. You definitely don't need to go there just to shit on the people who actually like chatting with their friends in there. You don't have visit the feminists club just to see how many people can riled up with your shitty point of view. You don't have find opportunities to shit on someone else just because you think it'll be funny.
"It's just the internet"
The internet isn't detached from reality. The things you say to someone don't magically get stored away in a special internet part of your brain. Fucked up things that upset you don't magically feel better just because it was said online. Everyone you talk to here is another person in the same situation you are, reading the same community from their home/phone/work/school/wherever. I think the internet just gives people a sense of selfishness and it's easy to detach feeling from the things you're saying to someone else like they're an actual human being. It's all just words thrown into the ether and random shit gets thrown back by faceless droids. There's no reason for people to think it's ok to say something fucked up to someone online and pretend like that's totally normal.
Everything doesn't need to be a fight or a battle. Disagreements don't all have to devolve into naming calling and seeing who gets hurt the most. GDC - or forums in general - are not like other online communities such as Reddit or Tumblr, because people actually start to know each other more easily. We're not all just another username. People become familiar with how individuals act, they become friends and couples, we learn about each others lives and struggles and it's not all in a passing way through the tubes. So the way people act toward each other actually starts to set a tone of how this place is perceived both by newcomers and oldies. That tone naturally changes from time to time, but when the tone changes in such a way that I no longer find this place enjoyable, the solution shouldn't be more me to leave or step back. Much to the chagrin of some, the solution is to delve in and make sure this is the community that I want it to be. That starts with getting rid of members who find it funny to push buttons so they can have a laugh about it with their friends.
I'm not interested in babysitting, nor am I interested in suspending or banning users. I am interested in making this community better for the people who actually appreciate it. That will be the guiding principle I use going forward this year.