Tuesday, August 08, 2006

A few final words about the tracker

When I originally started this BFL journey I searched long and hard for a support group that would not only help me but had members that actually responded to my questions and actually supported me. I found that in the bodyforlife-tracker and for a time I was very happy. I supplemented my support by started a blog and eventually met more and more people as a result. Using the powers of that challenge tracker and the open mike feel of the blogging community I succeeded beyond my wildest dreams and had everyone from that site to thank for it. Then things started getting silly, petty and eventually ugly around December.

You began to see a number of trolls, angry posts and frankly a lot of negativity. There was a debate about a seperate off topic forum (which I didn't necessarily have a problem with) as well as a discussion of moderation that needed to be adhered to. At that time the webmaster was nowhere to be found. All emails to him for assistance, suggestions and frankly financial help if it was needed fell on deaf ears. In short the inmates seemed to be running the asylum. Frankly I don't care what people talk about, do or say necessarily as long as it's not directly attacking someone on a forum. Dick and fart jokes, nude pictures and risque topics are and always will be topics that are discussed in everyday life. Fine I honestly have no problem with that.

My problem still came down to simple and effective moderation of the site. So what did the webmaster do? Instead of getting rid of the worst offenders he decided to build an R-Rated forum to contain them instead of giving them a harsh warning, temporary or permanent bans from the forum. Well that lasted about a month and then eventually he posted "rules" and thus he now had let everyone know, in bold print, what was acceptable and what wasn't. Well folks rules and laws are only effective if you enforce them! So they calamity ensued and to some degree I found that he was able to get rid of some offenders and in other cases he seemed to give a long rope to many who had ridden that edge for a long time. At that point I found that the tracker was no longer a safe place to live and I kept my profile active for PM's with people that I would keep in touch with there but essentially moved on.

Then came the implosion of this past weekend which is still hemorraging over there to this very moment. The webmaster had let things go too far and for too long without effective moderation and some of the key members of the trackers began to leave. People like Lori and Jennifer for God's sake. People whom I felt were fixtures in the community. Consistent Top 20 members who had been there for countless others. Then the webmaster accused Casey of trolling in a public thread. Now he claims there were smilies attached to that accusation but frankly the webmaster should have used better judgement than to do it publicly. He should have followed his own rules and PM'd Casey directly with his concerns. At that point I felt the need, perhaps foolishly in hindsight, to call the webmaster out publicly in that thread. Needless to say it was soon locked and removed.

Yesterday DreamCatcher aka Jennifer asked me to post an open letter for her to share her greivances about what the site had become and to address challenges to some of the members that felt everyone else should have thicker skin. I agree with the content of that letter wholeheartedly yesteday as much as I do today and felt it was a fair and well written op ed piece so to speak. Unfortuntely the webmaster PM'd me about 2 hours after it was written and instead of a well structured and calm email to explain that he felt the letter was not helping matters he essentially tore into me in a manner that was simliar to his behavior surrounding Casey and to be honest probably in line with my rant, in public, towards him. I wrote a firm, angry but I felt professional response back to him at which point he essentially claimed that everyone that had left were all trolls, that I had no idea what is was like to run a website and that he was a victim.

Fine. I decided that I just didn't want to pursue it anymore. I didn't want to be part of a website in which the webmaster refused to be professional, refused to seek help in moderating the board when he was clearly in over his head and furthermore someone who was blindly shooting in the dark about who the trolls were and who they weren't. So I left and I can't say any reason I would come back. You see I am a network engineer with over 10 years of experience and I've worked on not one but NUMEROUS networks with customers with billions of dollars on the line. I have to make judgements everyday and I'm constantly scrutinized for every decisions I make. However, I follow the rules and make fair calls everytime. If I don't I get fired, my company loses money and legal action is very emminent at that time. For him to tell me that because I didn't understand his position and to assume that I didn't have any experience juggling a website, network or any number of items at the same time didn't hurt me, it simply revealed that he had lost control of the situation and was grasping at straws. So like a customer who is summarily dismissed after numerous attempts over the months to assist in making the website better I decided to move to another vendor. I don't suggest you take my story as a reason to leave the tracker. You should make that decision on your own. I am simply stating my reasons, away from the tracker as requested by the webmaster, and that I have decided to find a new home in what he referred to in a public thread that was posted today...and I quote "your cloistered web community where no one else you don't like can get in or post anything you don't want to see."

I find that comment amusing.

He seems to come right out and claim that his website is indeed the anti-thesis of a support website. If you're wanting to go to a website to learn about cooking you don't go to a claymaking site. If you're wanting to see hardcore pornography don't go to a feminist book reading forum. From that statement I would gather from the webmaster that he has clearly defined a support website as one for people that should have thick skin and just deal with those who would bash on them.

I purposely took that quote somewhat out of the original context only prove a point that the webmaster is consistently unclear and doesn't seem to want to get involved in issues between members except the ones that would directly attack his site and his ability to be seen a competent webmaster. I understand and have always respected that he has been running the website on his dime, his own time and his technical accomplishments have been more than impressive. His failure, however, was allowing things to get out of control and letting his emotions dictate the flow of the website. That's bad business for everyone involved and from the looks of things he's on his way out or at least will have a long road back.

As for me I've chosen this "cloistered web community where no one else you don't like can get in or post anything you don't want to see." Why? Well damn Sherlock should a support site be about support? Should you make it a little sheltered that the morons don't get in? Shouldn't you get support instead of being bashed or shown a bunch of things you don't want to see? Sheesh out blogs are for T and A and topics on shaving the pubic hair :) The forum is for support of a commitment for fitness and we all show up to it in different shapes and sizes and have so many different needs and deeply ingrained insecurities about improving ourselves. My new forum is exactly what I need it to be and if I'm cloistured and not living in the real world then so be it. And on a final note...if he considers a silly forum on the internet the real world he's further gone that I thought :)


Blogger Thisisit! said...

where's webmaster's comment? i can't find it.

2:36 PM  
Blogger FV Tom said...

Carol, pull up the webmaster's profile and look for a post in the "my apologize" thread.

J, probably the most reasoned argument I've read on this topic. Well done.

3:41 PM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

J - You know how I feel on this matter and the sad thing is that it's the other people on the site that got caught in the middle, or have no idea what's going on that are suffering right now. If I'd known my post would stir up more BS..I wouldn't have done it. I do feel that I made many friends there and so many people were like ???? happened, that I wanted to put it out there. No, it wasn't pretty, and maybe I was blunt in some spots. But the last time I tried to help back in Dec...it went on deaf ears, which is why I didn't feel that I could say anything while I was still there.

But with the response that he left, it's clear that I'm not welcome back in the future either. Honestly, if that's the feelings of the place...I don't want to go there again.

I suppose you needed to get this off your chest, as much as I did with that letter. All we can do now is hope that there is some good that comes out of this, that everyone else there will pull together the way they should, and everyone learns from it.

Now's the perfect time to move on, and just send warm wishes to everyone.

1:32 PM  
Blogger Jess said...

Our cloistered community welcomes you. :)

2:35 PM  

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