Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Forum Teams

Yesterday I was approached by the staff of Team Shiny Zapdos, a prestigious clique on the Super Cheats forums, with an inquiry on my reasons for closing it; I had done that in response to flaming brought on by SS5 Vageto, who appears to be a leader on the team. After I closed it the first time directly after he started his insults, Nintendo_Dude, another authority figure on the team, re-opened the thread on the grounds that I was 'harsh and unforgiving'. The real reason why they wanted to keep the thread open was to get to their goal of 200 pages (resulting in distortion of the index table), which I personally found absurd. After being bombarded with insults from the team staff, I decided to visit Shiny Zapdos over MSN and explain my motive; after enduring the ensuing round of rage and beration, I decided to broker a deal with her: The thread would be allowed to go to 200 pages, at which point I required that it be closed, and a new thread could be created; I also informed her that the team would come under the administration if she, Jamarie, and SS5 Vageto were inactive without excuse for more than 72 hours. These terms were agreed to, and now the team is a ward of the Super Cheats administration.

In most cases like this, I would not have brokered such a deal. The one detail that prevented me from doing default justice to the thread was, absurd as it may seem, a love affair gone awry. Shiny Zapdos (I will not give her real name) had been known for her promiscuity on the forums, and this resulted in three 'boyfriends'. We — that is to say, the boyfriends — were morbidly fearful of her, as she could hang on either end of the emotional continuum, either murderous or euphoric. It was my fear of her, resulting in the difficulties behind separating myself from her, that forced me to broker this deal, yet this has helped me understand the difficulty that I imagine many administrators have faced in keeping their forums. One is Jeroen (yes, him again): I cannot imagine the stress he must have endured trying to dissociate himself with the popular masses to deal damage to them, but I am different from him in that I feel obligated to admit all this.

When I was made a moderator on the Super Cheats forums, in coincidence with my separation from PKMN.NET to go work for the PokéLab, I took my observations of the PKMN.NET administration and pressed myself to do better than them, making the forums a better place free of corruption and bigotry. In time, however, power caught up with me, as it inevitably does with people in my position, and I had to use force occasionally to set things straight. When Team Shiny Zapdos started to break down as a result of arguments and rivalries in the same fashion as Team KA and Team Untouchable (the former was briefly rekindled), I was prepared to make my move and stop the madness, only to receive cackles and anger.

This property is the ultimate flaw with forum teams and clubs. When the opportunity arises, people that have confided in each other as a group will eventually designate themselves as a separate party. In order to facilitate such transitions and soften the blow to the forum, many forums, such as and the Pokémon Community, have created areas for such cliques to brood. When separate cliques are put next to each other, however, competition for members arises and views are exposed, and the fights begin. These rivalries have become so integral that PKMN.NET's policy against team flaming has virtually wiped out clubs and teams on their forums.

What makes this hard to write at the moment is the fact that I had lobbied Rich for this forum back in the early days, as the first cliques were starting to form. The idea actually came from my experiences on PKMN.NET, at a time when team regulations were enforced so leniently that Firestarter's exclusion from the practice equalled a complete referendum for the team environment, and as former members of Firestarter's old Team Inferno gathered again without him, fingers were pointed at Red Deoxys and Inferno Ryan (now Revolution) was also excluded from team practices. Just one more ban (excluding Inferno Ryan's alias Volcano Knight XL) was enacted against the teams before the fad largely waned, and now teams there are pretty much nonexistent, with the possible exception of Rex's Muuma Army (which I haven't heard of for a while), having given way to the RPG threads. (One of the RPGs resulting from the fall of teams was Silver Moon Boarding School, which, after a glitched thread and a November injunction by Jeroen after I reported it, finally moved onto a separate forum, the Crow's Nest. Since then, it has spawned Silverwich University and has survived several hacking attempts by Settra.)

Teams, in essence, are just cliques. Cliques, which you'll find throughout schools, are groups of people that gather because of things that they have in common and eventually become exclusive, prohibiting its members from communicating with people outside the clique. This damages a member's chances for meeting someone whom they may have the best chemistry with. PKMN.NET's anti-flame policy may have been just a factor leading to the demise of teams there, but the culprit seems to be maturity, when society will require people to work with others regardless of what they have in common, and when the need to be part of the group should diminish. Even at my high school, groups are loosely formed among the upper grades, while underclassmen are usually tightly knit. That's testamental to how much we mature during these years.

I had tried twice to create a team on PKMN.NET — Team Cold and the Walrein Army — but they never became popular due in part to waning interest. Today, I avoid them, although there have been people that have tried to convince me to join their team. Shiny Zapdos was one of them.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Articuno's point system

Due to the number of people registering and not doing anything productive (a plague passed through PKMN.NET to curse those that have officially left), the Sky Temple of Lugia and Articuno (Visimar Colwa Gerantul won a competition to rename the site) have decided to enact a point system. Blegh. As of now, many sections are now closed to people on the lower hierarchy of the viewer demographic, now called leechers.

I will tell you now that I am not happy at all with this decision. I realise that the administration thinks it a good way to encourage participation, but I beg to differ; in my honest opinion, the point system will be counterproductive. Viewers come onto the site to get fast content, and the amount of content afforded members that have just registered is laughable (I still have zero despite regular attendance) enough to have the site rejected. The amount of people that have attained the level at which they can access most of the content at this time, also, is very small and the site's not exactly in the inner circle of a famous Internet society (we've been shunned by PKMN.NET, which would have been a respectable benefactor had I not stood off with them), which means that it will be hard for the site to gain members — people will come, be turned away by content barriers, and discommend the site to others.

I will say this for the site, however: They're beginning quite an industry since they've decided to scrap the conventional 'walkthrough' format of most videogame websites, and ever since people have from before the point system have been spreading the Sky Temple's message about, a small number of wholly fanatic sites have sprung up. For example,, a site by member Toto, is dedicated to Toto's infatuation with the Pokémon animé's protagonist, and it's been getting rave reviews. (I doubt if the site was directly influenced by Articuno and Lugia, but the word has certainly gone about.) All tainted, though, by something Novell BorderManager would consider an idol.

Just my thoughts for today.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Back at school

It's that time again. People are pulling off the computer, cramming their required books to college or carrying an empty satchel to school, and people aren't staying up as late as they used to. It's school time — which, according to a refrain from one of my old toddler toys, 'is fun time!'

The beginning of school coincides with most of my county enacting sex offender restrictions — anyone convicted of child molestation or rape is not permitted to live within a 2,500-foot (800-metre) radius of schools, parks, and bus stops. Because of solely the bus route tending to be erratic, sex offenders are effectively banished from Brigantine, but it's not like there has been a rash of molestation cases here due to the demographic.

Anyway, I managed to get Spanish III después de convencerles a los administradores. After that, I'm in the computer course — animation and server scripting this year, as well as binding together with the undesirable half of the class — which has progressed so rapidly that we've started a full-scale marketing project, this time likely to be about a Michael Jackson doll (and if it is, I'm walking out). Then we have the English course, in which we've suspended Shakespeare and Charles Dickens in favour of American literature. Then it's the lunch period, which affords everyone flirting and playing Dance Dance Revolution on the library computers. After that, it's American history, which I've been reminded constantly is not Mike's best subject.

A ray of hope is that the girls that have just arrived don't seem to be as promiscuous as the previous two generations, so I'm starting to feel a tad safer in school. I miss the seniors that I sat with at the front table, but at least I'm free of the romps that occurred there regularly. But my social life has yet to open up completely — I expect to have a girlfriend (it's not exactly a good prospect) by the end of the year.

Friday, September 02, 2005

PUK to crack?

...Nah. But judging by what I've seen on a recent topic, things have fixed my mouth in an unusually vindictive smile. On a topic about unusual MSN conversations, Jeroen decided to post a log on his conversation with James, and the latter immediately responded and ordered the log destroyed. The conversation goes on thus (none of this has been edited, check the topic itself):

James: You CANNOT go posting CONFIDENTIAL logs on PUK FORUMS, Jeroen. I'm going to trust you enough to remove this log yourself. Any more of this and we'll have to seriously consider your position. I am NOT happy.

Jeroen: Oh come on! It's just a small log. It's not as if people wouldn't have found out anyway after we made this definite. We're just giving some advance warning!

Besides, it really wouldn't hurt to be a bit more open to people. We're hiding all the stuff we're working on in the end, and don't release half of it. Or have you forgotten that ix banner we had up for half a year?

And besides, it's not as if you do that much anymore these days. I moderate the forums with Mike, Mike posts content, I fix the code, and you just sit back and try to seem important. When was the last time you had an idea for yourself.

And if you're going to remove my admin for this.. Bah, petty. It's just petty. And don't forget who also has FTP and database access here. I can have this whole place in ruins whenever I want to...

James: I can have YOU in ruins! I know where you live! Believe me, I've got enough time on my hands to come over there and kick your ass. Everything is backed up and you know that. I can photoshop you on to Goatse, remember.

Jeroen: And what would you do? Throw your future army at me after you have conquered the world?

Besides, I'll be ready. I'm sure I can get some support for when you get even extremely close. With your fat, it shouldn't be too difficult anyway. And besides, my brother can always beat you up too!!

And if you can photoshop me.. Well, I can always report that. And I can always send fake email in your name to everyone saying what a stupid person you really are!

I'm afraid to say that Jeroen is right — as long as I was a member, James orchestrated moves but never actually performed them, leaving it to Matt and Steffan (who have not spoken at time of writing) to work out the coding, Jeroen to develop the currently defunct Pokégame programme and to lord over the forums, and Mike to gather news and walkthroughs. I realise that James can't do it himself, but if you're the webmaster you need to get in, at the very least, the majority of the action, and I don't mean financing the forum.

On the next page of the topic, Mike pops up and starts his rant on how he feels undermined by James, Jeroen, and even Steffan:

So rather than being treated like a fellow Admin, like you'd expect someone of equal power to be treated, I'm just here to rubberstamp your ideas and let you take credit am I? Telling you what "great" people you are?

I AM SICK TO DEATH of taking a back seat to you two idiots. It's always "James is an admin, he created the site" and "Jeroen is an admin because he runs the forums", even "Iceduck [Steffan] is an admin because we remember him". THIS IS WHY PEOPLE DON'T REMEMBER ME. THIS IS WHY I'M ALWAYS JUST THOUGHT OF AS A MOD AND SHUNTED TO THE BACK. BECAUSE YOU TWO MORONS ALWAYS COOK UP THE IDEAS WITHOUT CONSULTING ME PROPERLY.

We've spent the past year telling worthwhile people we don't need more Admins, and now you want to turn HIM of all people into one?!? It makes no sense! I hated the idea when you made him a Global Mod for April Fools Day, so WHY THE HELL have you already decided to make him an Admin without listening to my thoughts, especially when you already knew I was likely to hate the idea? How the hell is he supposed to remain secret identity if you're going to make him an Admin?!?

Next time you need someone to write a page at a few minutes notice, you can freaking well do it yourself. Neither of you should have a problem with that - more publicity to fill both of your fat egos, well I take a back seat and try to remind people I have the right to a little bit of authority round this smelly little site.

If Mike's morale really was this low, we would have detected a steady decrease in the number of times he's used his wry sense of humour long before this spasm. But I hardly believe that he's going to stand by this word — this topic is merely a disagreement that escalated out of control, just like the post count discussion that I had helped turn into a debate on the role of their Forum Politics forum (which was eventually merged with PKMN.NET). But there have been no strikes that I've heard of before now, so either Mike has done a good job of holding his anger in or James is just cracking a leather whip backstage.

Personally, I like Mike and respect him as an administrator. I testify that he's not merely taking a backseat to the rest of the group — he is the most sociogenic and efficient administrator on the forum and could probably endure the workload allotted to all the other working administrators (notice the venom). If he is able to maintain a post score of over 5000 (which is probably moot to him), write a majority of the videogame content on the site, and get a point across, he's an invaluable asset to PKMN.NET.

Even with his versatility, however, I still think James is pushing his executives too hard. Maybe that's the cause of stress among them. Maybe that explains away the attitude people hate jeroen for. Maybe James is leaning back in the recliner, sipping a martini and pointing that magisterial finger of his toward whomever he wants to do his dirty work. That's my honest opinion, and this is based on what I know from personal dealings with these people.

If you're reading this segment, you lot, and you find it offensive, feel free to click the Flag button on the Blogger bar; I'll be yelled at and forced to remove this article. If not, I'll probably remove it when everyone has calmed down.

EDIT: Turns out the whole thing was predetermined. There had been no fight; the morale was steady; there really was no conflict between them. And there was me thinking they had finally cracked. This is one of their worst jokes yet.