S T E P H A N
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
1: TEMPORARY HOSPITAL STAY
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
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).
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.
3A: POSITIVE RESPONSE
3B: NEGATIVE RESPONSE
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?