Tag Archives: community

A request, with a little help from my friends

Dear people, can I ask you a couple of favors?

For background, let me tell you about a couple of my friends.

E just got out of the hospital. She had a stroke on Tuesday night. Her scans and her doctor confirm that she sustained no lasting damage from the experience.

S had a stroke, too, a year and some ago. He spent a good deal of time in the hospital, and now he’s got language and mobility problems.

The significant difference between these two people is that E got medical help quickly. She was with someone who recognized the symptoms of a stroke as they occurred†, and called for help immediately. S, for reasons that seemed good at the time*, delayed calling the ambulance.

So. First favor. Read this good, approachable post on strokes. The whole thing is worth your time, but the key information is this list of symptoms:

  • Sudden onset weakness, numbness, or tingling, particularly one-sided.
  • Facial droop, particularly one-sided.
  • Slurred speech, or aphasia, or suddenly using inappropriate words.
  • Unexplained blurred vision, particularly one-sided.
  • “The worst headache of my life.” (Thunderclap headache.)

Not every stroke will have all of these symptoms, but if you see this tendency, think “stroke” and get dialing.

The second favor also comes with yet another friend story. B went to the doctor the other day, and has since been sent to the cardiologist. It’s everyone’s fervent hope that she won’t ever call an ambulance—on time or late—because preventative care reduces the chance of having a stroke in the first place.**

So if you don’t know your blood pressure, dear readers, nor your stroke risks, can you go get yourself checked out? I know it seems like a stinking nuisance so soon after the stinking nuisance of the holidays, but going to the emergency room is even more of a pain.

In short, be B. Failing that, be E. Otherwise, S will be most vexed with you.

As will I.

† Partly because of S’s experience
* Uninsured in America**
** Anyone wonder why I get worked up about health insurance and health care reform?

Making Light: Holed up in the mall

The official story is that Making Light is down because its server is down. Patrick is SpeakerToHostingProviders in this context. All will be well, and updates will appear here in a calm and controlled manner:

But, dear reader, I can reveal to you that this is all a cover-up, because the officials don’t want you to know the truth: the Zombie Apocalypse has come, and our beloved Making Light is trapped inside a mall.

For the latest updates, check out the Making Light Twitter feed. I’ll repost them in the comments as well, and any suggestions for what our beloved website can do are most welcome.

3:25 pm EST: Per Patrick, the server crashed. Hosting Matters is doing a disk check and will bring it back “soon”.

4:14 pm EST: And we’re back. It was all a dream. Honest.

On the birthday of Will Shakespeare

The happiest of birthdays to thee, Will!
(As happy as they are that come around
When once the honoree is underground!)
The wormy company has had its fill,
The water in the crypt has washed your bones
And bleached your gravecloth napkin snowy white.
The silver of your buttons, polished bright
Lie scattered in the casket ‘neath the stones.
But like a crowd of guests that will not leave
The half-cleared dining table, talking on
Until the night wears thin before the dawn,
Your readership remains, for we believe
Our dreadful sonnets might just raise your ghost
To raise a glass and join us in a toast.

Originally posted on Making Light, where it spawned a substantial number of sonnets. So I wrote another one praising the people who joined in:

The ghostly Bard reloads the thread again
He knows he should be working on a script
But no one sees he’s surfing in his crypt
And he deserves distraction now and then.
The iPad gets a signal even there
(Will Shakespeare ever was Teh Shiny’s slave
From words to gadgets, even in the grave.)
Then from the crypt, a cry of deep despair.
“I thought she said the sonnets would be bad,
So I could take a break, and have fun haunting
All who defiled my art! I’d hover, daunting
The versifiers! Drive them mute and mad!
But I can’t punish these instead of work.
I wish they’d write some trash so I can shirk!”

Semi-Occluded Light

That collection of abstractions bound together by a mental model* that we usually refer to as “Making Light” has got back-end troubles. Although it does not reflect the underlying reality, feel free to think of it as the result of an enormous office party by the comment approval gnomes. That’s much more entertaining than “too many connections”.

The upshot is that you must treat what already sits on the site as a perfect jewel. Feel free to admire it, but you may not at this point add to it. Commenting is broken.

A support ticket has been raised with the host, but until we get this fixed, feel free to chat here.

Further bulletins as events warrant. The final update will mention a murnival.

Further Bulletin One:
The error message all the cool kids are getting has moved from “too many connections” to “Can’t call method "created_on" on an undefined value.”

* Or rather, a coalescence of multiple mental models which mostly† manage to intersect into a single consensus reality‡. I would never expect that anyone else’s mental model is any more than functionally equivalent to mine.
†in this context, possessing an outlying model is symptomatic of trolldom.
‡ I can’t believe I just used “reality” as a synonym for the internet.

Biking at Making Light

I’ve been trying to write about my life as a bicycle commuter for a couple of years now. I’ve touched on specific aspects, both here and on Making Light.

But a lot of the ways that biking to work matters to me really are not verbal, so I’ve struggled to phrase things in any useful or meaningful way. I knew what I wanted to say in the middle of the post (what routes, how far, how long it took) and at the end (thinking as I ride). But how to begin?

My sordid history as a Rush fan came to the rescue. The immediacy of the lyrics of Red Barchetta was exactly the tone I was looking for to pull the reader into the experience.

The result: My own personal Rota Fortunae.

Not dead, nor yet a zombie

[insert typical “sorry I don’t blog here more often” paragraph]

The fact of the matter is that I am still writing, rather a lot, over at Making Light, a blog owned by my friends Patrick and Teresa Nielsen Hayden1.

This is kind of unfair to everyone who keeps looking here for news of me. I know this. I’m going to start doing pointers to Making Light when I’ve posted something there that people here might be interested in, and hanging out here for people who want to talk about those things with me rather than a large crowd of strangers2.

My most recent post is about the quilt that I made this spring: Works and Days of Hands. It’s also about the process of making something like that, and how process and design mirrored each other for me.

Fibonacci spiral quilt: front Fibonacci spiral quilt: back

Another post I really enjoyed writing was Op anger tale, which is an exploration of the relationship between a particular Dutch dialect and Wikipedia.

One thing I’ve been talking about over there, rather a lot, has been the US health care situation. The conversation can get quite heated from time to time, of course, but that heat has certainly caused me to clarify and reaffirm my own beliefs in this matter.

  1. That phrasing makes it sound like we were friends, and then I pitched up on their blog. Really, it was the other way round.
  2. Though many of my friends here are also friends on Making Light, it’s a smaller group.

How to sour a community, in one easy lesson

Simple. Tell them that they’re not one.

It won’t destroy it, of course. Wherever a group of people collaborate for a common endeavor, there we find community.

But communities come in different flavors. My favorite kind includes a substantial amount of trust among the community members, and between them and their leaders/moderators. They are often powerfully goal-oriented, whether the goal is to build something or simply to have good conversation. These ones are electrifying to be a member of. Shared endeavors and a sense of shared ownership seem to actually create energy.

Other communities, however, just depress everyone. A group of rules lawyers, whose shared energy is absorbed in the feeling that bad behavior is punished but good actions go unrewarded, is still a community. It’s just not a very pleasant one. One doesn’t go out and evangelize for such a community or for what it does. One doesn’t hope that others will come join it.

(There is a third kind of community to be mindful of, of course. A mob, like a depressive community, is a common failure mode of an energized community.)

The breakdown of trust is of course the most common reason that the first kind of community turns into the second. It’s easy, particularly as a leader or moderator, to feel betrayed by everyone when the crowd goes in a direction that you don’t want it to. And the fear of the mob is a powerful motivator. The temptation is to lock everything down, pretend that there is no community ethos but the one you provide.

But people don’t work that way. Clamp down on a community, and it turns sour; the community spirit becomes one of grumbling and nit-picking conformance to the stated rules. Spontaneous action for the common good, being unrewarded, goes away.

I’ve seen online communities go completely sour at this point, as the members in their turn feel betrayed by the moderators. Subsequent events just confirm the mutual hostility. Eventually many of these things break up completely.

This isn’t universal; sometimes the shared endeavor of the community is motivating enough to overcome the mutual mistrust. Gradually, a new balance is found; member behavior builds moderator trust and moderator trust reduces member resentment.

Communities may recover in time, but it’s not a pleasant process.

This rather discouraged rant has been brought to you by the letter M and the number 2.

Run down the Jolly Roger, Run up the Union Jack

Making Light is back up, substantially populated with the lost data. Our saintly datameisters are still filling in the cracks, but we have active threads again.

So thank you, everyone, for behaving so nicely here, but let’s move the Making Light discussions back to their natural home. I’ll sweep up and fold up the guest beds, and restore normal evilrooster-type behavior here over the next few days.

Rebuilding the threads

Here’s what I’ve got for Making Light since March 1: original post date, abbreviated name of the post, and the number of comments I have actual copies of.

3/1 Who’s surprised? 66
3/3 All come singing 69
3/3 Can you read this 53
3/4 Greyhawk 253
3/11 Collect underpants 265
3/13 Open thread 103 936
3/16 Just do it 38
3/16 Literary divination 106
3/18 Arthur C. Clarke 177
3/20 Bigger laser 174
3/28 Divided by errors 34
3/28 Open thread 104 931
3/30 London photograph 204
3/31 Deep value 434
4/1 Amsterdam 70
4/2 Pity the Times 167
4/4 Forty years gone 70
4/6 Heads they win 320
4/6 Employ the scythe 126
4/9 SFWA deadline 25
4/11 Future of publishing 32
4/12 Book by its cover 37
4/13 Bury my acorns 87
4/13 Goose-stepping (actually 469) 468
4/14 Open thread 105 906
4/16 Housekeeping 7
4/16 Newsweek 245
4/17 Little Brother 180
4/22 Penn for Hillary 124
4/23 Font game 125
4/23 TNH in San Francisco 18
4/25 Indistinguishable from parody 186
4/26 Clapton 107
4/26 Feeling the heat 31
4/26 SFWA election 45
4/26 TNH in the Observer 105
4/27 Open thread 106 288

In addition, I have a 131-comment version of the Clay Shirky post, but in fact I know there were at least 254 comments; if anyone has a 254-comment version, please do send it on. (Apologies if you did already. I may have lost it. Processing all this stuff on the fly has been a challenge.)

I also have the recently-posted comments to old threads “Worldcongoing,” “New Magics,” and “Abi on catz.” I do not to have the recently-posted comments to “Darwin fish found”; the same apologies apply as in the previous paragraph.

Who’s been saved

Teresa here. I’ve figured out how to make a Google doc universally readable. Please understand that vast amounts of what we’ve been sent is still being logged. This just means you get to see it happening.

There are now two spreadsheets. One is the general spreadsheet Abi built yesterday. I can’t make it visible because Abi owns it, and I didn’t ask her about it before she left for the day. The other is a new one I just put together. It lists individual users known to have posted on or later than 01 March 2008, and notes whether their comments have been saved, and by whom. (If you’re working on that project and want to be able to enter data, write and ask. Our addresses are in their usual spot.)

Here’s the link:

Individual commenters: saved or unsaved.

It’s too bad Mike Ford isn’t here to write “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry Google.”