shattering china

Hello everyone.

This post is somewhat special. Why ? Because i once promised myself i would not carry things out here, but instead try to resolve things with the people involved in private, and thus spare myself, and them, the public dissection of things done, said, not done and not said.

But in this case, the incident™ carries implications which range further than i can currently foresee, and discussing them in private is something which for various reasons does not seem to work. So, instead of just mulling it over in my brain, i decided to put it out here for everyone to read. (Everyone who cares to, that is).

So, everyone who does not care for this sort of blog post, feel free to go here, here or here for some less troublesome and more WoW related content.

There – that is out of the way. There is one more little disclaimer, which i need in order to protect the little sanity i have left (or perhaps not that little). In the remainder of the post, i will refrain from naming people. I will refrain from describing the incident™ in any more detail than needed. Because, in the end the incident itself does not matter. What matters is how people dealt with it, and what the end result was. (And no, i am far from happy with the result)

Right – now that that is out of the way, let me lay out the facts.

  • SomethingBad™ happened.
  • RandomBloogerOne™ decided to blog about it.
  • Some people involved in SomethingBad™ read it. Some commented, some did not. (actually, most did not)
  • RandomBloogerOne™ decided to blog about it some  more.
  • Some more people involved noticed it, together with APossiblyGuiltyParty™, who was rather irritated at the posts, and at what they said about them.
  • There is some discussion about the incident™ in the guild forums. And it is more a discussion than a flame war, because despite what many people may assume (considering we are talking about an online game here), most of the people involved were actually rather mature and sensible human beings. (disclaimer – perhaps some are not, but in that case, they all did very well at trying to appear sensible)
  • Things seem to have resolved themselves. At least as far as the incident™ is concerned. What is left is to see what is needed to repair whatever was broken during the discussion. Fortunately, the number of inexcusable outbursts and the amount of foolish name-calling was kept to a minimum, so for people viewing this from the outside (me), things seem mendable.

So far, so good. Now enter stage 2.

  • RandomBloogerOne™ decides that something like this should not be, and should not happen. They in turn follow that decision up with leaving the people involved.
  • The Rest™ is standing around, wondering what the hell is going on. Some say friendly good-bye’s, some ask RandomBloogerOne™ to get back, as things are resolved, and some simply stare at all the shattered things on the ground, wondering.
  • A bit later, an explanation appears as to some of the reasoning behind the decision. It also exposes just how far RandomBloogerOne™ has taken it, and how difficult taking those steps has been.
  • Again, many read the explanation. Again, few comment. And no, i did not comment myself. Instead, i sat down pondering what to do, and what you now read is the result.

And that is where things lie now. Considering that i am writing this post, it should be obvious that i am anything but happy with the situation. But the reasoning may not be. And in the end, this post has very little to do with any attempt to change anyones mind – i know i do not have the words (or whatever else is needed) to do that. It has to do with a few basic assumptions which lie underneath the decision, and which i consider dangerously flawed.

Dangerously flawed, because they make a decision seem sensible which really does not at all address the core issue behind the problem, and which in the end causes a lot more unhappiness than several other options.

But i get ahead of myself.

If i understand the reasoning correctly, one basic assumption is that

  • If you blog, you step on peoples toes (sooner or later you will). And if you blog with a certain tone, and in a certain way, you step on more peoples toes.

I would say that this assumption is true. And anyone blogging should be aware of that. It is all but impossible to write good blog posts without being at least a little judgemental in what you write. And that always carries the risk of stepping on peoples toes.

There is another assumption related to that.

  • If you blog about people around you, those people may not like it. Their friends may not like it, and thus may not like you since you wrote those ugly blog posts.

This, also, is a rather sensible assumption. It means that people will judge you based on your blog posts. And sometimes, you may not like how they read your posts, and have to deal with the echo which comes from that.

Now, based on those two assumptions, it would seem reasonable to say

  • Anonymity is your friend. If none know who you are, then there is little risk of stepping on people’s toes, or writing ugly blog posts which can be traced back to you.

At first glance, this indeed does seem reasonable. At second glance, this unfortunately reminds (at least me) of John Gabriel’s Greater Internet Fuckward Theory

Before anyone jumps onto this – no, I do NOT think that the idea behind the decision is to be allowed to become a “total fuckward”.  Still, what is the anonymity needed for, if not for the saying (or writing) something which you perhaps would not write if you were not anonymous ?

So, how about another deduction from the assumptions above ?

  • Being a blogger who is also part of a group requires that all posts are checked against who from that group will be offended. The result of this check can (but does not have to) require modification of a post

This also seems to make sense. And it is actually part of my own blogging routine. I try to blog in a way that does not needlessly step on peoples toes. The keyword there, though, is needlessly. I am sure i have stepped on several toes already, and most likely will again.

Actually, this post had a hard time getting past the deduction above. But in the end, i decided that the need to write the post outweighed the risk of antagonizing people with it. And i decided that i rather deal with angry comments than keep all this bottled up. But back to the actual post.

Looking through blog posts, and blog post comments, there is a huge number of fanboy/fangirl posts, which contain sentences like “i would love to be part of that” or “wouldnt an all blogger guild be fun” and the like. This is not limited to specific blogs, or specific persons. No, most reputable blogs had a number of like comments from a number of readers. So, based on that, i would conclude that

  • Blog readers like (or think they do) to know who is doing the blogging, and are willing to go through some length to actually become “available” to a blogger.

Oddly enough, this contradicts the deduction of anonymity above. Also, again reading through various blogs – it seems that the more successful ones are ones where people can relate to the person blogging. It would be the absolute opposite of anonymity. (Ok, Snottydin may be seen as a counterpoint to this theory, but in this case, i claim that snottidyn is more satire than blog, and hence the rules do not fully apply)

Also, many blogs have a number of followers who read it simply because they can relate to the stories, and know what is written about, not just for the witty comments and funny jokes.

And there is where, in my eyes, the dangers lie, and why i consider the reasoning dangerously flawed.

Yes, it is difficult to be a blogger and be part of a group. Yes, it does require quite a lot of care to not accidentally damage the group with a badly written blog post. And even with the good posts, there is a certain risk for group drama to occur once the posts are made. But in most cases, this drama can easily averted without resorting to censorship on the blog posts. Sometimes, all it requires is to first speak with people, and then write a post.

Yes, it may lead to a few posts not being written, or rather, being written in a different manner. And it may lead to a few dryer posts, because many people just love to read about drama, as long as they are not personally involved. And it may lead to a different way of dealing with problems. But all that does not make for less good a blogger, or less good a person. I would even go as far as to say it leads to the opposite.

I apologize if this sounds spiteful, but to me, moving into anonymity is like running away. Yes, it will help in the short run, but in the long run, you still need to face whatever you ran from, or you will run into its relatives again. Alternatively, charting a course which allows you to stay clear of any like situations will ultimately force you to limit yourself, and in turn take more from you than what it would have cost to stay and try to mend the situation.

So.. what is the bottom line ?

Being a blogger means that sometimes you shatter things. Shattering illusions seems like fun. Shattering china seems like a waste. Both will happen. Being a blogger means that you have the responsibility of dealing with that. And dealing with it is definately not always easy. But dealing with it by running away, leaving others to stare at the spot you just vacated, wondering what he hell just happened is

  1. taking the easy way out.
  2. unfair.
  3. just plain wrong.

15 Responses to “shattering china”

  1. 1 Tam
    March 1, 2010 at 16:35

    I’m really am terribly sorry.

  2. March 1, 2010 at 18:59

    Not going into the case in point (since I read it as just a case in point about something larger, so for the other part: this (song) is not about you)

    I think that is a very beautifully written post about some of the concerns and thought bloggers should be aware of before they decide to start blogging. Can you live with the fact that people closest to you will at first be only ones reading and secondly will not always like what you have to say.
    Be it friends, family, co-workers or -in this case- guildies.

    I know for my part, that the most readers I had when I started was only guildies. I used it to my advantage, to write long-whinded posts about what I thought we as a guild did wrong. But I had those readers in mind.And I think this is the lesson bloggers should take from all of this

  3. 4 Jb
    March 2, 2010 at 11:24

    Go go Tamarin. Next best ragequit Iv seen in my 5 years of playing wow. Best was our main tank in Vanilla. After a night in MC he wrote a long rant on guildforum insulting all officers rally bad ending with the epic punchline in uppercase THOSE RETARDS CAN`T EVEN GET 2 40 MAN RAIDS TOGETHER 4 TIMES A WEEK. Then he ofc gquit, deleted hes character and uninstalled wow. What happend to “its just a game” ? Someone drowned it in a pool of pixels ?

    • March 2, 2010 at 12:08

      Well.. it seems it IS obvious which incident i wrote about. Still, this comment is a little out of place here – different blog and all ? Thank you for sharing the punch-line, though.

  4. 6 Nymesis
    March 3, 2010 at 16:49

    Sometimes anonimity is a luxury that we dont know that we have until it is gone. I am a fan of Tams blog and although I have never met him and probably never will, I will continue to read and support his decision. Where as I understand that the guild will suffer because of the loss, I feel that Tams ability to enjoy the game is paramount. If Tam feels as though he needs to become invisible again, than so be it. Don’t we all have that one toon that no one know about? I do.

    • March 3, 2010 at 18:39

      Yes.. i would say everyone has a character nobody knows about. (ok, perhaps almost everyone). But that is even more a reason that running off is neither needed not sensible.
      And just to make it clear – Leaving a guild to not cause further chaos is one thing, and may well be the right thing to do. Running into complete anonymity is another thing alltogether, and i still think it is the wrong thing to do.

  5. 8 Ari
    March 3, 2010 at 18:10

    I agree it’s a sad thing what Tamarin went through. However, they did what they thought they had to do. I read their original post, and while I do feel they could have informed The Rest ™ of what was happening, I think I partly understand why they did what they did. Telling other people, after all, would have involved them in it, and would have created more drama.

    I still understand your point of view too, though. It must have been hard for everyone. I hope things will look better soon, for all of you.

  6. 9 Nymesis
    March 3, 2010 at 19:27

    I can understand why he felt he needed to run into obscurity again. Think about how it would be, constantly running into those people. Having to defend yourself. Doesn’t sound like much fun to me, and really, isn’t that why we play the game.

  7. 10 Miso
    March 4, 2010 at 04:48

    The game and the blog are, after all, meant to be a source of fun and relaxation.

    You say it blew over.

    Can you deny that people would still have–stealthily or not–gone back to his blog after the incident? Not to read for enjoyment or friendship, but to see if he said anything more about them. Checking up on him.

    And suppose he had. Would people have let it pass, or would they have said something?

    That situation is just no good. I can see why he felt he had to leave.

  8. March 4, 2010 at 08:34

    Thank you for all the comments.

    I think i failed to make one important point in the post (several, actually, but one i wanted to make).

    I wrote it in a comment above – leaving the guild is one thing. I can fully understand if anyone does not want to be in a situation where they log on and get yelled at. So, that is fine.

    Leaving the guild allows for using /ignore or other means to block out people who make the game experience into a less fun one, while still keeping contact with friends – from that guild or not. Running off cuts them off too. And while that for a short moment seem like a decent price to pay, leaving them behind also makes the game into a less fun experience.

    The main (the only real ?) responsibility for people in the game is to find a way to have fun with it. And in my eyes, playing (or just talking/virtually hanging out) with friends in game is a large part of the equation. Anonymity removes that part.

  9. March 5, 2010 at 12:43

    Well Tam isn’t exactly anonymous anymore. Why don’t you come over and hang out with him and a bunch of other bloggers and blog readers at the new guild at Argent Dawn?

    Don’t shatter china. You said it. Come over, talk over what needs to be talked about, share a drink and put what’s been behind you. It’s an awesome peacful little enclave he has created. At least come and say “hi”!

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