Jan. 31st, 2012

sonneillonv: (Default)
I've posted this before, but I think it's worth watching again. This is largely in response to this bit of self-centered idiocy which Personal Failure has already sporked, but I have something to say about it too, and that is that community-sourcing WORKS.

According to these folks, Wikipedia doesn’t exist, and neither do the MILLIONS of online role-playing communities scattered across the internet. Because I want to make something very clear, as someone who has created and modded at least a dozen of those communities in the course of my life – it IS hard work and I do NOT get paid for it. Most of the time it’s an utterly thankless job. I am facilitating a creative storytelling outlet for anywhere from five to thirty people, which requires me not only to design and maintain the website, which is work in and of itself, but also to run interference between all types of personalities, maintain the rules, resolve disputes, and otherwise ensure that a whole lot of very creative, very outside-the-box people are able to work together in constructive ways. “Herding cats” doesn’t even come close to describing it.

It’s also my responsibility to come up with overarching plots, to guide the writers in following those plots, to handle every non-player character with whom interaction is necessary on top of my own characters (that’s a whole hell of a lot of writing, I’ve done less writing in college writing courses), and I have to read everything going on on the community in order to keep up with where each character is and what they are doing, and how this will affect the overall environment. I have to be available to answer questions and address issues pretty much every single hour that I’m home in order for this grand, complex machine to run smoothly. But I don’t get paid for this. I don’t particularly enjoy doing it either, as every time it happens I protest that I don’t want to moderate anymore, and will not moderate ever again, yet invariably it ends up happening again. Usually this is because people dump their communities in my lap when it gets too hard or their interests change to a different game/universe/fandom, and I don’t want to disappoint my friends, who still want to play, so I take up the flag and bravely soldier on.

I often question why I do this job without any reward, and the answer boils down to this: The job needs to get done. I have a community of people who need the behind-the-scenes work to be taken care of so they can make use of this creative outlet. This phenomenon is not unique – Absolute Write, a huge community for writers on the internet, is free and freely maintained. All the wikias ever, which have been so helpful and so on-the-ball collecting interviews, previews, little-known trivia, and screenshots, painstakingly inter-linking all relevant information so that someone like me can come into the Anita Blake fandom knowing absolutely nothing and from the Wiki learn pretty much everything, at least enough to run the community that has recently been dumped into her lap… they aren’t getting paid. Or what about the people who volunteer every day in soup kitchens, food pantries, for Habitat for Humanity, at animal shelters? They see a need and they go fill it. They’re not getting paid. Though being able to spend time with animals may be payment enough for some.

Community-sourced work is a real phenomenon. It’s really happening. It’s not a fluke. When people are supported and encouraged to do work that is fulfilling to them, work gets done. Of course very few people want to be janitors or sewage workers or road-kill collectors, but I suggest that there are plenty of people who WOULD do those jobs if the need was made clear to them, and they were given some kind of support and encouragement for doing so. I currently work at a bank. Salting our sidewalk is not my job – we have someone who plows our parking lot and lays down salt for us. But I go out and salt the sidewalk anyway, even though the salt stinks and it destroys the skin on my hands, because it’s something I can do to help keep our customers safe and because when I do it, my bosses support and encourage me just by noticing I did it and thanking me later. I contributed to a business entity in which we all have vested interest, so my work is appreciated, so I keep doing it. Simple. And the people who think it doesn't work, who propose models like the one proposed in the original article - those people are kind of repulsive to me, because this worldview indicates a breed of selfishness that I just can't really comprehend. Yes, I've worked with classmates who were lazy and checked out of things. Yes, I've resented having to carry the main burden for a group of people. But here's the thing - I resented it because I was forced to work with THAT GROUP OF PEOPLE and I was ALONE in wanting to excel. I think if, by contrast, a small group of us were able to work together to carry the class, and if together we could really work on great ideas, support each other, encourage each other, and appreciate each other's work, then I wouldn't care so much that other people were slacking as long as we were able to succeed. In other words, I don't mind doing all the work if you make the work a good, fulfilling experience.

Anyway, here's the video.


sonneillonv: (Default)

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