EDIT: please note, I will respond to all feedback publicly or privately per your preferred method, but please note that these are general musings I have made public about the community in general. This is *NOT* about the site or functionality, but if that is a discussion you would like to have, please lemme know.
I know I haven't been around much on site outside of RTRadio shows, I won't apologize, I've been busy moving and adjusting to a new life down in Austin.
As some of you may know I am the founder and head admin of RTW. If you didn't now you know, and knowledge is power.
The reason I mention this is because tonight I have a meeting with my fellow admins and leaders of RTW, and I've been trying to put into words some of the things I've been seeing and feeling.
So, what started as a note method for some topics for tonight ended up being more, much more. I'm putting this out publicly because if I'm feeling this, chances are others are too. And I'm a staunch believer in that the only way we can accomplish anything is by communicating what we feel, what we need and then working in concert with each other to make it a reality.
All that being said, and as I'm doing this from mobile, and some of this is written to be directed to the goals of RTW as a community resource for all communities under RT some of this may not be applicable for all, please forgive weird formatting, so without further ado:
So, one of the things that has been frustrating me, and I know a lot of you share this sentiment, is our relationship as a community and as community members with RT.
However, I've come to realize that I'm frustrated for likely very different reasons than some of you.
This being, that while we are a part of RT's community, and while we may help them occasionally by providing insight into the global community among other things, we are not beholden to them. And of course this also means they are not beholden to us.
Without looking into all the ways this can have negative interpretations, I find it comforting to remind myself that RT is a business.
Which means, at the end of the day, they will act according to what is best for the business. Occasionally, or more than just occasionally, this means that communication with a community group, even a well organized umbrella group, is not their top priority.
We as RTW have been around for almost 3 years, others longer, some shorter.
Rt has been around for 15.
This means that for 12/13 years, they never had anything like us to deal with. The entirety of their community interests and interactions are limited to the exposure they had and the habits that they have formed over the previous decade plus.
Does this excuse their shortcomings or failures? No.
Are we entitled to anything? No.
We are not.
We never will be.
And that's ok. I feel as though we have become enamored with the newer relationship developed with the RT staff, especially with the CMs and too often assume that because we have these lines of connection becuase of social media and the assumption of access we now have the power that we felt we were lacking as individual community members or groups.
We don't have any special powers now.
Nothing has changed.
Making ourselves reliant on RT to guide us and lead us and our community is a poorly executed plan that will only lead us to become increasingly hostile and disappointed. We have to make our community better ourselves.
I have been subject to these feelings myself, I know how common it is.
And when negative thoughts happen, it's really easy to pile on.
Everyone loves to voice their opinion but when it ends up being about something negative, after a specific complaint has been aired, unless someone believes they have a fix, us adding our own frustrations to the matter is just creating a more hostile environment, and our communities suffer for it.
Avoid bikeshedding, if you don't know what that is, wiki is a handy tool.
Admins get frustrated and quit. Community members get disillusioned and cynical because they feel our frustrations and they internalize it. Groups fall apart because of lack of input, drive or passion. When our frustrations gets combined with theirs it starts to become a problem.
Again, I'm not saying I'm immune to this. I know I've done it myself plenty.
However, nothing is to be gained by just piling on the bad until no one can feel good anymore.
We're not helping ourselves at that point and were actively detracting from what we set out to do.
In case anyone forgot what we set out to do, we set out to join communities together. To create something better than the sum of all of our parts. To make us independent and in control of our communities, not because of wanting to be considered cool enough to receive a visit from staff or have an event in our city but because we are and were passionate about the people who made up this community.
The people that you see and interact with on a daily basis, and I feel like we often forget this.
We do what we do not for power, or social gains or for a position at the company but because we are passionate about the people who are passionate about the same things as us.
That is what RT does for us.
They have given us the foundation of millions of people who have come together because we are all into the same thing. From friendships to relationships and so much more have been born from it. Hell, I know babies that were born from this community. This is their gift to us at the end of the day as a community. The ability to be part of something, to raise up, to raise money for sick kids, to encourage our artists, our cosplayers, our community members to grow and learn and to become more than they were when they first arrived. Just like RT has.
So, what do I propose? I propose that we change our outlook. I say we forget all the shiny grapes we can't have all the time and stop complaining that because you don't get to eat it all the time that they are sour.
Let me give you a scenario, you see two groups of people. Both are sitting outside of a building with the doors locked, inside you hear the most amazing event of your life, people are happy and coming together to do great things inside, and two groups are sat outside.
Group one complains that all the doors are locked and that they have been robbed of an opportunity. They paid for their tickets, so they should be entitled to participate. They sit sullen and frustrated and eventually leave.
Group two looks at the situation and at their counterparts and realizes that yes, they've bought a ticket to this event. But just because they dont get all of the access doesn't mean that they can't still enjoy the company around them. So they chat and laugh and make the best of what they have available to them. They stick around.
The doors eventually open.
But only one of those groups is now present to attend.
Only one gets to add new experiences on to their present experiences.
Hopefully group two recognizes that the next time the door is shut on them, instead of asking why and blaming, they make their own party instead. And when the party gets bigger, well, the more the merrier.
Who you choose to align yourself with, what tools you employ for good or ill, well, that's up to you.
You can be part of the solution by working on what you decide are issues in your community and showing the results or you can complain that this is just how it is and be upset when nothing changes.
Only one of these are you empowering yourself and others to better your own experiences.
This community is over 2 million strong and yet we expect a crew of less than 500 people to fix our every need.
That's like expecting to go to a restaurant and ordering a meal and then being upset that they didn't make it the way you would at home. It's silly, no one in any industry will be able to please everyone's minute desires and needs. Assuming that they can or will will only lead to frustration on both parts.
Now, there are two things I'd like to note here:
One, frustration is ok. It's healthy on occasion too. But frustration or anger about a situation that you do have some control over and choose not to change? That's just silly.
Two, no one (to my knowledge) has experienced a negative emotion and then said to themselves "Goodness, I just love being upset all the time, let's do that more," (for the minor percentage of you that wants to play devils advocate on this, just stop and read *this: I have to link it presently because mobile isn't really friendly to making a hypertext link ;https://xkcd.com/1432/ ).
Why do you think that is? No one really wants to be angry, upset or frustrated on a continuous basis; and when given the choice to surround ourselves with people who will choose to do nothing to better their situation, versus people who will keep trying to better their situation (even if they fail), I guarantee that all of you will agree that it's exhausting to constantly surround yourself with people who don't try.
While I don't have all the answers or suggestions on to the things we should all be trying to do to make our community better, I do think that we should do better.
You want your community to be more active? Be active in it.
You want more events, promotions, cool meetups etc? Supply your own, make it happen and dont stop trying until people take notice and pitch in.
You want RT to fix things? Stop shooting first and asking questions later. We need to lead with understanding first.
That being said here are a few things I'd like you all to give some consideration.
Play the ball, not the person: I recently read a really fucking good article and I'm going to do my best to sum up what it was about because I think you all may benefit from this:
It's surprisingly how easy it is to attack someone personally without realizing you're doing it until it's too late. The best way to avoid inadvertently insulting or offending people is to "Seek first to understand".
Most of the time those who feel attacked in a community like this tend to be cases where that person assumes bad faith or incompetence with the person they're disagreeing with; not because they believe the person to be a shitty human being or is incompetent, but because it's a lot less effort than finding out the real reasons behind the thing.
Often people don't even realize they're doing it.
To note some examples:
Every decision is made for a reason.
Everyone is performing how they interact and working under constraints you're likely not aware of.
Everyone is ALWAYS learning.
Someone disagreeing with your reasonable position doesn't mean that they don't understand. Assume they *do* understand but they just disagree, can't see how it's possible? Then there is your gap in understanding.
Additionally, never say the same thing three times.
A core principle of being in an argument is that if you're in an argument, you should never need to say the same things more than twice: once to state your case and once to clear any misunderstandings.
If the discussion, and this is key, is healthy, you won't need to say the same thing a third time. Because the conversation will have moved on to incorporate the points you have made or you will have moved on to incorporate the points of the people who disagreed with you.
If you feel the need to state the same thing a third time you're no longer in a healthy discussion and youre not going to make it better by shouting louder.
Piling on: don't do it. The same rule applies when you're repeating someone else's negative statement.
This applies even if:
You think the other person didn't quite phrase it as well as you might have
You think they missed a few points.
An emoji is an easily communicated way to express agreement with a position without adding noise to the discussion at hand.
I think if people start incorporating this into their lives more and how they go about handling situations or how they deal with others in the community or at RT a lot of it would be able to be handled in a much healthier way to actually move forward instead of wallowing in an issue that may already be working to be resolved.
Now all of this being said: if you need help, ask for it.
Very rarely are people able to accomplish something greater than themselves alone (I state this because while I still have yet to find an example of someone who has done this, it doesn't mean it hasn't occurred), so if you need help, ask for it. I think you'll find that more often than not someone will hear your call and want to pitch in, or know someone who would want to help.
You have to be willing to start and you have to be willing to try.
I can go on and on but I think for now, I've pretty well exhausted my voice if not your attention span.
So, as my final note/reminder to you all. Disappointment occurs but disappointment and dissent without acting to improve your surroundings is just detrimental to us all.
You are part of what makes this community great, focus on that and make it better. I know you can.
As always, I love you.