User:Karlos/Why I left
I wrote this on September 22nd, 2007 in anticipation of ArbComm's decision. It is an attempt to sit down and reflect on the reasons behind my departure. Some will think it's one last swing from a desperate man flailing in the dark, others will think it's a delusional attempt by a user with an overgrown sense of self-worth to make propaganda for his views, others will think it's a stunt to gain sympathy and finally some will see it as it really is, just an attempt to explain why I left. These are the people I am addressing.
First Reason: Myself
There is no question that I am more easily agitated now than I was when I started this whole wiki business 2.5 years ago on GuildWiki. A part of this has to do with issues I am having in real life and problems I am dealing with. I've recently had to take a break from GW and from my guild because I noticed that I was not very happy there too.
Another issue is that I felt I was no longer doing the issues I was fighting for (and that's exactly how desperate I felt) any service any more. I am, by nature, impatient and I am, by nature, very blunt in my way of addressing problems. Dirigible can probably cite some examples from his experience with me, but if I am in a DoA run, and the Spell Breaker Monk does not give the tank Spell Breaker in time, I will tell him: "You did not give him SB on time." Some people tend to get all defensive because of this and start lying and making up excuses (thinking I am going to never play with them again or boot them from the team or simply because their pride got hurt and they do not want to admit the mistake or they worry others will perceive them as “noobs”) and this excuse making sometimes triggers my third flaw, which is stubbornness. I will set out to explain to them why their excuse does not make sense or why their lie cannot be true instead of just letting it fly.
Culturally, there are also certain hurdles that hinder communication between me and some users at times. I come from a culture where telling someone off to their face is a ‘’’big’’’ offense. This makes me more sensitive to personal attacks, direct or indirect, than an average person brought up in the west. Whereas the average person in the west when told to "F*** off" will either tell the person insulting them to go "F*** off" themselves or simply ignore them and just write the guy off as a rude person, people from Arab/Muslim cultures will tend to take it more personally and read it as an indicator of personal hate than simply that the guy is rude.
My personality is also that I am sarcastic. I tend to like to joke about everything, even when I am frustrated or upset. I make as much jokes about myself as others and it's by no means meant as a disregard of others but as a way to lighten the mood. However, when I am in a frustrated/confrontational tone, my sarcasm does little to help the situation. Some people think that I am making fun of them when I actually try and use sarcasm to lighten the mood and make my big blocks of text less boring to read. However, it is not lost to me that in a heated debate, sarcasm does not help.
One note I want to make here is the issue of "my enemies" that was propagated in recent days by Auron and Pepe, to name a few. I have no enemies on this wiki or the other. I personally do not despise, disdain or wish ill upon anyone even those I vehemently disagree with or those I believe are harming the wiki. I may be vocal in my displeasure of how certain people act and so forth, but I hold no enmity towards anyone. I know some people do not like me and I am genuinely honest when I say I do not hold any personal grudge against any of them. For several months now, I have been shown some of the things that Auron, for example, has been saying about me in Guru's IRC channel (no, I haven't been "lurking," I know two people who frequent there and they e-mailed me some screen shots). I knew of his disdain for how I behave/think for some time now (and Ensign's and the others'), even when I tried to help him get on DoA runs, even when I helped his friend do Dasha Vestibule and even when I went to help him and Bexor figure something out in the Hall of Monuments. I did those things knowing fully how he feels about me. I understand that sometimes personalities can clash and that the odds of that happening increase for someone who debates and argues as much as I do.
Finally, I use the same standards in life as I do in the game and on the wiki. I do not let things go simply because I am in a game or on a virtual community editing about a game. Nor do I believe the anonymity of being on the net grants on the right to live by lower standards than face to face dealings. While I think my choice is correct, my style tends to rub certain people off, especialy those who believe that while in an online virtual world, you do not have to adhere to the same rules as real life or not as strictly.
For my flaws and transgressions, I apologize to anyone I offended. This is my primary reason for leaving, by the way... I feel I am not helping the causes I want to champion on the wiki with the way I am debating things and with having bad relations with some people.
Second Reason: PvP culture slipping in
The culture among the "elite" players in the game is actually very poisoned and corrupt, in my opinion. I have been in the circles of elite PvPers for some time now and their culture is something I cannot possibly fathom or stand. The culture can be broken down like this:
- 20% elite players who are good and ‘’’very’’’ arrogant. They all talk with almost the ‘’’exact’’’ tone even (very laid back, very smooth, it is extremely unhip to show emotion over voice comm). They are very capable of carrying out very intelligent conversations and making compelling arguments and so on. However, their number one pass-time, is making fun of "noobs" and lower players on the food chain. Constant disparaging of PvE players, dumb players, noobs... Bragging about taking advantage of less skilled/intelligent/experienced players... Most importantly, a genuine disdain and disregard for anyone they deem "stupid."
- 70% wanna-be elite players who simply follow the cue from the elite players and never dare question the overall sad culture these people are caught in.
- About 5-10% are genuinely decent people who, regardless of their skill, will avoid the condescending attitude of most of their peers.
This constant mocking culture is never ending too and almost no one is exempt from being a prey. I would be in groups with these very talented PvPers and one of them would PM me making fun of another’s mistake, or his accent or his style of play. Shortly after another would PM about the first and so on. If we’re on Voice comm and some party members aren’t, you can expect constant mockery of everyone not on voice comm. Gradually, if you want to be accepted, you’ll have to either do the same or at least pretend to laugh about their jokes. Just a very troubling culture.
This culture is also very dominant on the forums. Especially in the "high end" forums about challenging areas or PvP discussions and so forth.
I fought this culture long and hard on GuildWiki. I stood up to Skuld and Auron and people like them when they started to spread this "forum culture," as I call it, into the wiki. The builds section was the common battleground for this fight as the "leet" PvPers constantly made fun of and ridiculed the "lesser" players submitting articles and so forth.
This has constantly been the blocking issue for Auron from becoming an admin. However, I feel this will change with time.
The major shift, in my opinion, is when admins and bureaucrats started hanging out with the "leet" PvPers in IRC channels and chat programs (reason 3 below). What this does is that even if the sysop or bureaucrat does not engage in the belittlement of the "weaker races" they become desensitized to the insults and the clever word play. It's a big bundle of joy in those circles to make a belittling remark to someone and then have them ‘’’not’’’ notice the insult and then snicker about it privately in PMs. I think it was a great disservice to the community for the admins to hang around that channel as I feel it has blinded them to some of the obvious damages that the "leet speak" culture brings to the wiki.
Here are some recent examples of the "despising stupidity" culture spreading in the wiki:
- Guild Wars Wiki:Block anybody the IRC channel suggests: Read the overall discussion and how Auron and Readem are responding, especially later on. If Tanaric had persisted in his fight, he would have kept that hideous article in the main policy space. If it was proposed by a more determined leet speaker, it would have prevailed. Note the section "Deletion based on NPA" and Readem's response that people are complaining because it insults the "dumb children."
- Guild_Wars_Wiki_talk:Blocking_policy#"Idiocy": Disruptive and inappropriate behavior: This is a policy where they are trying to outlaw "stupidity" basically. That you would be blocked for making an innocent mistake that was just too dumb. In this case, a random user asking for gold in a talk page, something that does not deserve more than a “Hi, we don’t allow this kind of thing here. Thanks.”
- Guild Wars Wiki talk:Community portal#Protection of templates: This request was made on GuildWiki eons ago (September of 06) and shot down. Instead, it prospers here and will probably get accepted. This is a request that is rooted in a culture against the culture we developed in GuildWiki. This request assumes a 10% user base that edits, contributes meaningfully and is technically able enough to handle templates and request changes on talk pages of protected articles and a 90% user base that is not and should have no business touching it. It is of great importance to keep all pages open to all users to edit and experiment and find out for themselves what happens here or there. Reverting the consequences of a bad edit is such an easy task that only the laziest of admins can claim it's a chore. This is not Wikipedia, the possibility of malice is much smaller and the consequences of the mistakes are not as big. Even today, the BeastInfo template on GuildWiki is unprotected (the most used template on the enitre site). Sure, changing it would mess up a ton of pages and there is only a 1% that the change will be useful, but it's the principle. Here however, the principle of "people who get it, and people who don't" is what's settling in. There is also the principle of the elite "protecting" their nice work from the dirty hands of the fumbling idiots that the internet lets in. There is also this false illusion that because this is the official wiki and linked to from the game that it has to look perfect and no embellishment of it should be allowed under the guise of allowing users more freedom to trial and error.
Needless to say, neither of these policy discussions would have even gone past the third response in GuildWiki. Not because I would have stopped them with my super powers, but because the culture there is set, and it's different than this.
The spread of this culture (I have been watching the propositions, and the support they get from day one) is something very troubling to me. Even though someone can point at a "consensus" or a "majority" of users wanting these things, the truth is that, for any wiki, those on policy talk pages are no more than 5% of the active wiki users and no more than 20% of the active editors (my estimates). Allowing them to set such important policies without anyone advocating for the 95% who are left out of the loop will produce policies that make those 5% very happy, but not necessarily the remaining 95%.
Oppose the leet speakers, keep the wiki noob-friendly and welcoming of all edits, not just the leet ones.
Third Reason: The In-Group
This is obviously related to the IRC channel issue mentioned in reason two. Regardless of whether PvP "leet speak" is dominant or consequential in the IRC channel, the forming of the channel (and other ties outside the wiki where wiki business was discussed) was a very bad thing. I cannot forget how gullible I was when Rezyk took himself off the private mailing list of admins and ANet and I said that makes him a bad bureaucrat. I still kick myself over that one.
Rezyk was right and you can see examples of this all over the place. The first sign to me was my reconfirmation election. The thing that shocked me the most was all those people whom I knew from GuildWiki and who were suddenly displaying different attitudes towards me and for reasons I could not comprehend. When did this happen? What did I ever do to them? And I could not understand how such a major shift in the evaluation of what I bring to the wiki and what the role of admins on the wiki is can happen undetected. I knew I was not on the wiki as often as I used to be, but it caught me off guard. Just the rewriting of the legacy from "someone who brought valuable insight and advocated important things" (though not always in the best of ways) to "headcase and trouble maker" blew me away. I admit I reacted to it too emotionally and perhaps cared too much about what others think. However, when I calmed down, I started to see the influence of the in-group; of people sitting there with the "leet speakers" chatting all day (a passionate person like me is a prime target of leet speakers because they value dispassionate cool, calm and collected appearance above all).
I am not "blaming them" for my failure to get reconfirmed, my own lack of activity, my passionate style and only participating in debates (mostly on the losing side) as opposed to editing and so forth, these things cost me more. But it was the rewriting of the legacy and value of my work that completely surprised me. That I would actually have to go and dig up links on GuildWiki to prove that I was not an insane angry dude but actually brought something useful to the table. That was beyond me completely.
That loss, however, opened my eyes to the influence of the In-Group. Allow me to show a small example of the influence of the "In Group" here:
- User_talk:Tanaric/Guild_Wars_Wiki:Block_anybody_the_IRC_channel_suggests: Read all the way down and then read the "What just happened" section. Note how Tanaric (who is in the In Group) is panicking that some of the members of the In Group are not on board anymore. Note how he immediately deleted it (not even kept it in his user space) once he noticed the internal divide between In-Group members. Contrast that to how vehemently and staunchly he was arguing for it to be in the main Guild Wars Wiki namespace only two sections earlier. Note also Xeeron’s very good point about the difference being right and doing what’s right. What I was arguing for in my own reconfirmation process with regards to removing the notice on the main page (something he argued against at the time).
The formation of camaraderie between wiki members is not what is being disputed or opposed here. I have played with wiki membrs (this wiki or the old one) many times. I had good runs with Xasxas, Rainith and of course Dirigble whom I played with the most. I also PMed and chatted with Fyren quite a lot. The issue is when those in position of power allow themselves to be surrounded by those who will lobby for certain views and positions. I agree with Rezyk that all wiki speak should be done on the wiki on record. The situation of the IRC channel is much like US politics where the most powerful Republicans and Democrats are constantly having dinner, breakfast and lunch with powerful lobby groups. They hardly ever act out of the interest of the general public anymore. All those politicians will tell you that they are not being governed or told what to do by those lobby groups and that even their campaign donations are not the driving force behind their policies, however, what they do not tell you is that simply by being constantly surrounded by certain views, they become blind to the opposition and often lose their grip on what benefits the average citizen.
Likewise, having all three bureacrats (as of this writing), Biro, Xeeron and Dirigible sitting there in an IRC room (which has limited access even if a link is placed in a prominent place on the wiki) is giving too much power to those who frequent the IRC channel. It does not seem like a big problem now, but it will only get worse. The signs of "home cooking" are all over the wiki for those who want to find them. I would give recent examples but I don't want to violate the recent ArbComm decision.
I believe the Bureaucrats (and preferably the Admins) should take themselves off any IRC/chat communication scheme where they lounge about and allow a limited number of wiki users to limit their views and insulate their awareness of the needs of the regular wiki user. I believe that should be mandated in the GWW:ADMIN policy page and I believe in the interim, they should hold themselves to a higher standard and cease to hang out with the In-Group in that place. No safe guard can enforce this, as they can always form their own little place on the net, jut their own personal integrity. I think Biro is beyond redemption, but I hope I have shown sufficient reason for Dirigble and Xeeron to pause and reconsider.
Fourth Reason: The Glorified Janitors
This is a matter of principle, rather than corruption. However, combined with the above, it can be corrupted.
So, at some point, the community here decided that admins who exercise less discretion are a good thing. So, basically admins are stripped of all discretionary power. If they cannot apply a policy to the letter on a situation, they cannot take administrative action. This gets ugly in the borderline cases where an admin knows that a user is making a snide remark to upset someone but it does not fall under any classification of GWW:NPA. All the admin can do is give friendly advice which can be rejected. This user, if clever and crafty, can keep doing that till he gets the other user to violate NPA and at that point, the admin, who knows that the other user was being set up can ‘’’only’’’ enforce the law (by definition of his/her job description) and ban the guy who reacted, not the guy who incited and acted. In order for the admin (or the community) to stop this first user, they would have to compile enough evidence and present a case to ArbComm which might or might not see the subtle insults/provocations or fault them.
Additionally, ArbComm members might actually be taking the case of someone they hang out with a lot on IRC or someone they have heard being trashed a lot on IRC and might not be impartial. As is the case with Skuld (who hangs out on IRC) and myself (having been trashed a few times).
This is a very inefficient way of doing things, especially in a small size community as this one. If the admin had had the discretionary power to tell the malicious user to "slow down" or let him know that he is "keeping an eye on this situation" then the whole drama would not unfold. However, the job description of admins right now is that they cannot do anything administratively, until it violates policy and then only if it's a clear interpretation of the rules.
See these relevant discussions:
- Guild Wars Wiki talk:No profanity#In the end...
- Guild Wars Wiki:Admin noticeboard#Request to discipline Auron
- Guild Wars Wiki:Admin noticeboard#Requesting further action against Auron
The combination of incapacitated admins, bureaucrats sleeping in bed with an In-Group on the IRC Channel and that In-Group being highly influenced by arrogant PvP leet speakers guarantees, in my opinion, a great shift of power in the wiki to the hands of a few, more so than on GuildWiki. As much as people like to say that GuildWiki's admin powers are too great, the fact that there are many of them, and that they are not all in bed together and that they come from different walks of life (programmers, people who don't know what a keyboard is, Australians, Arabs, Germans, Asians, Americans) and in-game cultures (Tanaric is a noob, myself, Ranith and Gares are PvEers almost exclusively, Xeeron a PvPers and so forth) guarantees that we would not collectively settle in with any one sub-culture in the game. The reality is, power is more concentrated here than in GuildWiki, despite the facade of the opposite.
The arbitration I brought before ArbComm showed all these things in play though not by design, I really felt persecuted. No admin acted to stop the harassment early, one of the arbitrators presiding over my case was cussing and cursing at me on IRC and there was a general bias against me on IRC, yet those same people on IRC are the ones sitting as judges on my arbitration request. The same ones who sat there and watched one user make a sick joke about my race and religion and said nothing, somehow had the moral authority to tell me whether or not my own behavior was commendable or not. I did not plan for things to be carried out in that way, and I was genuinely shocked by what the bureaucrats were being witnesses to. However, I was not surprised that there was bias against me on IRC and that the bureaucrats would take the case despite the bias of their In-Group against me and then fail to find justice, in my opinion, as a result.
These are my reasons for leaving. Paramount among them is that I feel I can no longer contribute positively to the betterment of this wiki and, on the flip side, the regular editorial work is going just fine and thus I don't see a "need" for my presence anymore versus the grief I am causing and that is being caused to me.
I am also very pessimistic at this time. I am having flashbacks to another fight I fought and lost, long ago and turned out to be right, too right. I don’t want to be right in this case and I don’t want to be here if I turn out to be right.
I would like this article to remain as a final attempt to educate people on the problems in the system right now in hopes that someone might come around later and champion changes and rectifications. I do not believe I violated any policies or regulations, however, if someone is upset over anything I said or the article is deemed to violate GWW:NPA or some such thing. E-mail me through my user page and I'll try to address whatever objectionable content there is. Please don't just delete or censor the article. Thanks