Messages Archive

There's no free lunch

Bill Houghton, Sebastopol, CA
The Internet (no big surprise) isn't free to operate. Servers and software cost money. Some places have sponsors in the background, like the forums run by some of the trade magazines; some rely on what you might call "voluntary subscription," with members donating to keep the place going (WoodCentral is supported not by Ellis' [non-existent] vast fortune from his editing years, but by your collective contributions). Some places find a required subscription model necessary.

Nor are decisions on forum rules without tradeoffs. Ellis established simple rules for behavior here, amounting to "let's be civil." I've been moderating here for some years, and, by and large, y'all are great. I've/we've* seen the occasional rude member and the occasional slanging match between members, and it's been necessary to decide when rudeness or argumentation crosses a line from gauche to unacceptable. Some people are just curmudgeons, but their intentions are good; others act from more complicated motivations. Some folks, when chastised, have re-evaluated their behavior and changed it; it's a delight to see those members now making solid contributions to our conversations. Others refuse to change and get quite defensive about it. And, sure, this is America: they have the right to be rude, and we (and I hope I speak here not just for the moderators, but for everyone) have the right to say, "but not here."

We like to think we've created a welcoming place to talk woodworking (and wander into other topics), and I am knocked out, as a moderator, by how well this community does - not just behavior, but collective maintenance of good order, by which I mean members politely calling out people who step over the line, often before Ellis or one of the moderators even know it's going on. And, many times, when a spam message shows up on one of the boards, I'll hear from a member that it's there, so I can go smite it.

It's not always easy walking that fine line - Ellis and I have had multiple conversations over the years about whether and how to clamp down on a particular thread or member. I understand the attractions of the sharp, strong line that Sawmill Creek has chosen to draw, but I would not want to moderate there.

I wish the folks at Sawmill Creek well. I probably won't sign on for a subscription; my income is fixed and only so large (see above about non-existent fortunes). But I don't envy them having had to make that decision.
*Ellis, the other moderators, and I, that is.

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