One way or another, Tea Makers will be improved

Welcome to the nouvelle formulation Tea Makers. How does it differ from yesterday’s nouvelle formulation Tea Makers? Yesterday was a different day, that’s how.

I’ve had no luck getting this idea through some thick heads, but it’s still true: The Tea Makers you knew and loved isn’t here anymore because times have changed. If you over-romanticize Tea Makers Classic – the Tea Makers of the 2005 Guild strike – then you’re just swooning over a wartime infatuation. You’re subconsciously blocking out the bomb shelters, the casualties, the rationing, the endless sweltering pickets around Fort Dork.

I wasn’t there. Neither were a lot of you. That’s OK; we don’t enforce membership requirements here. This is Hotel California doubly in reverse: You can check in anytime you like and you can always leave.

But yesterday’s blog is not today’s blog. Last year’s isn’t this year’s. The first month’s isn’t the last month’s, whatever the last month will be. Don’t live in the past.

Another thing you tend to forget is the fact the Tea Makers gene pool has always been mixed. If you over-romanticize the 2005 Tea Makers, you overlook that era’s numerous anonymous posts, its roster of regular contributors, and most of all its comments. It wasn’t All Alphonse Ouimet All the Time.

I just want to point out some hypocrisy here. A minority of you bray like donkeys that Tea Makers has gone to seed and isn’t what it used to be and isn’t what you signed up for and how dare we? You want eternal Tea Makers constancy. What you don’t seem to want is improvement.

It’s OK if you think Tea Makers’ editorial content, its postings, hasn’t improved. You can write a guest post to remedy that problem. But one thing that really hasn’t improved is the comment section. You want Tea Makers never to change, but if you want that then you also want a dysfunctional comments section in perpetuity. That’s not gonna fly anymore. We are about to fix what’s broken. We’re also giving you a new way to vent about it and about whatever else is wrong here.

Maintaining a living organism

This is not an unfettered-free-speech zone. You aren’t Americans and you don’t have First Amendment rights that trump everything. This is an organism that cannot merely cling to life. It’s got to thrive. We write scabrous posts and permit scabrous comments. What we’re not going to permit anymore is the kind of comments that poison the pool.

You know what I’m talking about. I know what I’m talking about. Ouimet knows what I’m talking about. So does Allan. So does Kev. I am talking about personal attacks. I am of course talking about attacks against my person. But I am not acting all special. The problem affects lots of people. I am going to put a stop to this one way or another – for me and for everybody.

You know exactly what kind of comments are beyond the pale here and I’m not going to give examples. Examples are just blueprints or red flags. Examples are a dare.

I’m not going to write down a rule. The healthiest discussion forum on the entire Web, MetaFilter, learned the hard way that rules don’t work. There will always be an edge case that isn’t edge anymore and shows your rule was too strict or too lax. What one needs are guidelines, rules of thumb. They have to be applied intelligently and people have to be able to talk about what happens. The MetaFilter way of handling this is MetaTalk, a separate forum just for discussions of MetaFilter.

It works. And as of today, we’re getting the same thing.

Meta Makers

You can now discuss the Tea Makers at a separate blog, Meta Tea Makers. For the moment, comments are unmoderated and generally unrestricted, but I might later force you to register with WordPress to comment there. (If I do that, what else do you think I’m going to do? Take a wild guess.)

Borrowing MetaTalk’s structure, you’ll be able to post in these categories:

  1. Bugs [likely rarely used]
  2. Feature requests [likely rarely used]
  3. Etiquette/policy (postings)
  4. Etiquette/policy (comments)
  5. General

There aren’t a lot of us here compared to MetaFilter (with its 60,000 or so registered users). Meta Makers may not get a lot of traffic. But you are encouraged and expected to use it. Flames and complaints posted directly to Tea Makers will be deleted and you’ll be told to post at Meta Makers.

We are changing things, we are making things better, and we’re giving you a forum to talk about it.

There are going to be changes to comments

First of all, there already have been changes to comments. I now have a hair trigger about deleting comments and closing threads. First pellet of shit in the pool and the pool gets closed. It’s classic tragedy of the commons in the making and it’s not gonna happen here.

There will be no apologies. Don’t even bother trying to argue against it. It’s happening, it’s making things better, it’s not going away, and you can’t stop it. (But you can vent about it.)

There was a time, in the previous Blogger incarnation, where I would delete a comment and ask the author to rewrite it without the offending portion. I don’t bother with that anymore. You all know better. You all know exactly what you’re doing and nothing is incidental or accidental. Cyberbullies will be exterminated one at a time. This means you.

We may or may not actually disclose what our upcoming changes to comments will be. To combat cyberbullies, sometimes you keep your countermeasures secret. Other changes may be announced. But understand this: You can’t shit in the pool anymore.

You can leave if you want, but you’re better off staying

If you don’t like any or all of this; if you don’t want an actually better Tea Makers; if you just want the old Tea Makers back and the unfettered right to whine when you don’t get it; if you think my way isn’t actually going to make things better just because it’s coming from me, which is another way of saying my 18 years’ online experience isn’t going to help here, then yeah, you really and truly can get lost and we won’t miss you. (I doubt we’ll notice the difference.)

But if you want Tea Makers to get better, it starts today.

Write for us