On 1 March 2006, a referendum on teams and clams was demanded as spam increased in every thread. The question was raised as to whether the Team and Clan forums were even necessary. When protests from regular users swamped calls for the removal of the board, a member's mention of a team purpose idea made it to my mind:
Exactly SGX, many people would be gone, including myself there, I rarely go to any Video Games board to tell you the truth. Also, people need somewhere to talk about other things, not only the so called "team purpose" because if that is the whole point of a team, why don't you allow teams to go back to the Video Games Board, I mean, they are specialized in that, aren't they??
I may have misinterpreted this, but in three days it culminated in the institution of a new rule that called for mission objectives. The idea was that having a valid mission objective, such as assisting new members around the forum, assisting in moderation, organising petitions, and arranging community events would drastically improve the quality of posts in the forum. Over time, though, resentment boiled until late last week, when a group called ~La Revolution~ used the petition objective to launch a campaign for the removal of the purposes. This morning Rich announced that, although the rule was intended to reduce spam, its unpopularity was grounds for abolition.
Looking back on the rule, though, there were a lot of problems with it that made it hard to enforce and eventually completely undermined it, rendering it a superficial burden. Forstly, I vigourously concocted and promoted this rule mainly because of the hatred I had for teams from the get-go; everyone wanted something to be done about the board without it being scrapped on the spot, but I reasoned back then that it would be better to institute a policy that would, at optimum performance, eventually destroy interest in the board and render it useless. What a stupid idea that was — what ended up happening was that people lost interest due to the sanction, which I had aimed for, but there ensued a longing for the good old days (old PC, anyone? I talked to old PC members about this).
Another issue was the ability to enforce the rule. For someone who's probably the only one given the power to ensure that purposes were adhered to, whilst other mods just checked to see if there was a valid purpose in the first post, and is at work with the rest of the forum and had a full-time job and schoolwork, keeping tabs on teams to ensure that the goal was being worked for didn't just seem impossible, it was impossible. The rule ended up being ignored once the forms had been filled out; it was an empty rule. Then we had the 'member assistance' effect: The purpose that teams found the most convenient to use was — you guessed it — member assistance. The purpose was just to provide a buffer for members that were caught up in a mod situation on the forums, but it was now being used for nothing; members new to the forum would naturally join up and the identity of a team was enough to be individual identity at their stage of life, which rendered the member assistance purpose useless altogether.
Two things, therefore, leave me awestruck. The first was, as I stated above, how blind I was to the possible consequences of instituting such a policy. The other is how long it took for dissent to build up to the point where Rich felt compelled to remove it himself. Then again, there are a lot of things he's done in order to make the forum run like a democracy — such as moderator applications.*
* The old PC, as I recently learned, had the same thing. Of course, it didn't take long for that to get out of hand.