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  I originally intended to entitle this "REPENT! FOR THE END OF THE ARCHIVE IS NIGH!" or "MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN" -- the Handwriting on the Wall (Daniel 5:25)-- as half-joking allusions to the moribund state of the BEA. Only half-joking, mind you. For the Archive is very sick. I mean sick not in the sense that Jerry Farwell would call us sick in our worship of enormous breasts -- that kind of sick (sic) we're all proud of -- but ill, ailing, diseased, one foot in the grave. But then I re-read Owner's "extended announcement" on the front page and remembered that this is only a temporary hospital stay [Fig. 1].




Be that as it may, we all know that the Archive is ailing. I'm not just offering my humble opinion, I am also summarizing various gripes made in the Forums over the past few weeks. Several members pointed out that they were thinking of leaving, one moderator said he only logged in out of duty, not interest, and there were numerous and sundry other complaints. There were the usual appeals for civility and restraint -- usual, but of little use, for though I agree with the spirit of such appeals (and have made some myself), those who need them don't heed them.

In any case, the crux of the matter lies not in the Forums, but in the Users' Gallery, and I think that some -- possibly including Owner -- don't completely appreciate this. In his extended announcement Owner refers to the UG as the "big bandwidth hog": that's a regrettably offhand way of saying that it's the most popular item of the Archive. For the UG is the heart of the Archive. It's what most people, members or non-members, come for. And...give me a moment to spray myself with flame retardant...I'm convinced that the many other attractions of the Archive -- such as the forums, the private galleries, the writers' sections and, yes, BEhavior -- wonderful as they are, are peripheral. They may be the ears, the eyes, the arms, the nose (try applying those respectively), but the BEA could still get along without them. The UG is the heart. Weaken it too much and the site will die.

And the Users' Gallery is in very poor health indeed. It may contain just half a dozen pics, with a minuscule life span (I timed it recently at 26 minutes). And don't think this is a bummer only for non-members. We're all dismayed at the present state of the UG. I used to post fairly frequently, but I hardly do any more; firstly, because it's not worth it for 26 minutes or so of glory, and secondly, because I hesitate to push out other worthy posts. I have heard or noticed the same reluctance to post on the part of many participants.

Well, there's no point in just griping (we have plenty of other experts in that discipline): how about something constructive? After all, hope springs eternal in the human etc. For one thing, as I mentioned at the outset, Owner has promised a resurrection in August, so with a little patience we hope to see the Phoenix (or is it Tucson?) rise again. And I also hope that Owner and his technicians will consider some of the reform proposals that we the participants have put forth. Three come to mind immediately, and I apologize if I have overlooked other worthy suggestions, or if I credit the wrong person as originator.

1. JustMeMike proposed a registration scheme for the UG, similar to that applied in the Forums. This should of course be coupled with a set of guidelines, limits and/or rules for posts. It might even make it possible to ban unrelenting or egregious abusers, should that unfortunate need ever arise.

2. I suggested a means for posters to delete their own posts; this self-nuking capacity would enable posters to conserve valuable bandwidth, in that they could nuke their own mistaken or duplicate posts, or if they simply changed their minds. A further possibility to explore would be a moderator with nuking capacity, though this is far more controversial (it would be outright censorship, and might have ramifications as to the legal responsibility for the posts).

3. The Other MacMan proposed a separate gallery for "morph-me" requests. This was in his notorious article "The More Things Change..." in BEhavior v2n7 of late April (still online).

Fig. 2: NADA



The furor following The Other MacMan's article somewhat obscured his main point, namely that when someone makes a suggestion or proposal for the BE Archive, he would appreciate a response -- at the very least an acknowledgment -- which is usually lacking. I had prepared an article emphasizing this, destined for BEhavior v2n8, but canceled it when the ISP disaster struck. Now I find it timely to make the point: when we make a serious proposal, Répondez, s¹il vous plaît. In Owner's reply to TOMM he said he welcomed and often acted on our suggestions -- and gave examples to prove it. But he has often ignored them -- or at least seemed to ignore them, since he gives no sign of having read them. I must have made my proposal half a dozen times, and JMM and TOMM (hey, are they related?) repeated theirs, too. Response from Owner? Zilch, nada[Fig. 2], nichevo, sweet F.A.

I think we all realize that Owner may have weightier things on his mind than our suggestions, even weightier (shudder) than the Archive (e.g. Real Life rearing its ugly head), so we can't always expect a well-written and documented argument rejecting our proposals. But how about a sentence or two: "Thanks for your suggestion, but I'm afraid it would be technically impractical / too expensive / counterproductive..."; and sometimes maybe even: "Good idea! I'll work on it / I'm too busy now, but I'll try it later." Then at least we know where we stand, and whether it's worth following up. So how about it, Owner? Répondez, s¹il vous plaît.

So, finally, that's what I meant by the title of this article: "More light!", Goethe's dying words. He just wanted the windows opened as his sight faded, but the words are interpreted as a call for more intellectual transparency. As the Good Book has it, fiat lux.



Owner, we really would appreciate some response, be it positive or negative [fig. 3a/b] to our well-meant suggestions, some more transparency as to your reactions and intentions. How about it: could you please give us mehr Licht?