People join Social Sites with the idea that they are building a community. The site will often use the term specifically. When people join together on a site, often times, community is implied. It's a constant struggle in the Occult. It can be Facebook, Google+, Youtube or the many social networking sites at our disposal.
It's even more problematic in specific social circles. I'll use Satanism as a model, but the primary points apply to any given 'community'.
Meet Gino Vaglivieo. Gino and I network on social projects. It's a pretty amusing story actually. My first contact with Gino came from a youtube video he created to get my attention. He was attempting to flame bait/troll me, but ended up trolled himself.
Gino and I ended up making contact by phone, and had ourselves a good laugh and a hearty chat. By the end of it, we decided to team up and create some social content. The primary subject, What the hell makes a community? I gave Gino a research assignment, and asked him to record his findings. I polished it up and we produced the video. The video was shared on various networks and discussed among 'Satanists'. This would lead us to future videos.
You can check our our Playlist here:
Gino and I talk pretty regularly on the phone, bounce ideas off of each other, discuss social issues and started our own podcast together (separate from my own). We also have a social website called Temples of Satan: New Aeon.
We also had a wall.fm site, that we've since deleted. The Social Networking aspect of our project was an EPIC FAIL. It seemed that Gino and I were the only two people dedicated to using the tool properly, while the rest of the users were basically waiting for us to spoon feed them. The site was to be used for 'Networking', and I'm at a loss as to why people can't grasp the concept. Mature adults should be able to manage their own behavior. If discourse ensues, the admins may (or may not) step in to mediate discussions to get the activity back on track. Otherwise, the site would be filled with nothing but conflict, and it would deter users from participation. Mediation and Moderation does not mean the users will be banned if they can't work out their differences. Threads may be locked by the admins, but were not removed. A locked thread is much like a 'closed' discussion here on PS. The thread can be read, but no longer posted to.
Networking comes pretty natural to some, while others are completely clueless. Often times, the site owners are expected to hand-hold and baby sit the users. Each platform has its own terms and conditions, so provided you don't violate those (which usually covers content deemed appropriate) it's pretty difficult to get yourself banned. The only time users were removed, is when they no longer sought to participate in the group project. It happens. Some people have weird ideas of their own that don't coincide with the project or its leaders vision.
Take for instance the theme of Paganspace.net. 'The place for the Occult community', half the time I don't think people even know what Occult means, let alone use the label properly. At one time in the early stages of its development, the name 'Paganspace' was thought to imply that only pagans were welcome on the site. The site owner made it perfectly clear that it would not be limited to 'pagans', and the Occult included a wide-range of systems of belief and practice. As such, it would include a diverse member base.
I signed up when it first started, I was among the first 10 members on the site and remained for 4+ years. I deleted my account during the new 'Contributor Plan' knowing it would be a disaster. I chose to delete my content as a matter of personal principle. As far as I was concerned the users were not entitled to my content, so if I were not going to be a member of the site, my content would go with my deletion. I realize this had an impact on the site, and many users lamented over losing my threads, groups, reviews and events. I received enough messages on other outlets to hear their gripes. Still, it wasn't enough for me to rejoin the site.
There were also underlying issues going on with some Social Media campaigns I had going, and my participation on PS would have made it and the users a target. So believe me when I say, I saved you all a lot of grief. When that campaign ended in August of this year, I decided to rejoin. Not just because PS was out of harm's way, but because I had spoken to Starr by phone and thought some of the issues I was concerned with were actually resolved. A site like this really isn't that difficult to manage, I had my own NING site for years. I also didn't need an armory of admins, moderators, or staff for financial campaigns. My membership was good-sized, but wasn't unmanageable. I decided to delete it when NING starting charging owners, the site just didn't seem worth it to me. A Social Network for Satanists becomes 'old hat' after you've had it about a year. Same old discussions, users, and bullshit. So I let it go.
A site like PS, has YEARS worth of content and much of it is valuable to the users here. Another element to consider is the resource it provides in search hits. This was another complaint I received about deleting my content. People who weren't on PS as official users, were using my threads as a resource to learn about all the various beliefs, practices and perspectives that were addressed on my content. I knew that in advance as well, and still made my decision. I don't owe the world a thing. I realize this slighted a lot of people, and downright pissed them off, because 'they' contributed to those discussions as well. So I didn't just delete my content, I deleted their contributions as well. The groups survived, and some of the other content as well. So, just because you delete your profile and content, doesn't mean you are gone from the site 100%. I regained control of some of my old groups, the others I didn't... Well, frankly I don't care about them. Some other user has control, and they can do with it as they please.
Pissing people off like that carries a level of butt hurt that they tote around like some bitter little child taking a tantrum. To that? I say tough shit, deal with it. I don't owe you a thing. Lest we forget, for the first 2 years of my membership here, a volume of the users wanted me off this site because they said I didn't belong here because I was a Satanist. How ironic that some of those same users were ass-chapped when I deleted my account. They sung my praises about how truly valuable I was to the site. Pretty amusing actually. I don't negate the volume that danced a victory dance when I deleted my account, I know who you are. Those same folks are pissing and crying now, because I'm back. I've seen the content, plots and plans and plans within plots to have me banned. For what? I've not violated the ToS, and I make no apologies for my frank way of speaking on topics. I'm not here to pander to the users here. I don't think any user here should pander to anyone. Just be real. You have an opinion, great! Let's hear it! We don't always have to agree on things, nor do we have to tolerate the flame-baiting, trolling, and constant antagonizing of passive/aggressive modes of communication. Does this alone get you banned now a days? Seems to me it does. Do you know why? People get tired of the same users stirring the shit pot, and being abusive. It deters people from visiting the main board. Who the hell wants to spend time on a site that is nothing more than a bitchfest? Not many by my account. I've seen some valued members get booted for behavior, and that's a shame. The content is valued and it often disappears with the user account if they are deleted.
The new rules/regulations appear to be to 'manage' the site, not police discussions and get rid of people that are unpopular. Some people have no interest in this ideal of 'Community' because there's nothing present that justifies one's belief in it. It's just a Social Networking Site, right? Think about it: Is it a Social Networking Site, or your beloved community? YOU DECIDE.
You want 'Community'???? Perhaps you might invest, and start behaving like one. We each have our own set of morals and ethics, and I don't think its a requisite that we adhere to each others standards. What we should do, is look at the site as a whole and what it provides. Think about the resource, and the investment we all make in building a database of information (the good, bad and the ugly).
I think it's a shame that some of the most invested people are gone now. That's a lot of content, and it pisses me off that the admins don't take into consideration what they are taking from each of us when they mis-use the ban-hammer. It's been done in the past, but it's my hope that it won't be abused in the future. I got high hopes. Perhaps a little more self management is in order, eh? You don't like someone, then stop talking to them. Stop antagonizing them. Stop engaging them. If you are engaged by a person you don't like, no one is forcing you to respond. No one has a gun to your fucking head.
BE SELF GOVERNING.