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Tuesday, May 30, 2006

The Other Side Of The Coin 

I was going to let the story line on FORT drop, but I got this note from an ex-FORT member and transcriber. Though it has the usual self centrism of many of these diatribes, the central message is something I see over and over again - websites take it very personally when a member, especially valuable members, move themselves to another site, for whatever reason.

I can understand the emotion - even in business when an employee takes another job emotions run high - betrayal, grief, anger. And web communities are closer to family than they are businesses, so those are amplified. So websites do what normal people do, they act like nothing has happened, or they rage against the injustice, or they ostracize the prodigal. And of course the prodigal's feelings for their parent are not always the most mature in the world either.

But let's be unreal - people, and potential members, judge a site not only how it treats its members, but how it treats it former members and its guests. Many times it is best to swallow your pride and wish these people good luck in their endeavours - in the long run that will reap more and tastier fruit than the bitter fruit that comes from banning.

Now on with the show:

You haven't heard from me in a long time (assuming you are the same person I talked with when you wrote the story "Fort Loses A Warrior.") I'm Catniptoy.

I read your recent story about John from FORT kicking people off his forum for starting a game-playing site, and then turning around and posting the same sort of games himself, with interest. I agree with your first comments, in that it must be very difficult to run a site and have to deal with disgruntled former members. However, as a moderator of another site (non-reality t.v. related), I know the value of being courteous and fair to site members. Power is something that should be handled carefully, instead of brutally, or without reason. John doesn't understand that, in my opinion.

After you wrote your story called "Fort Loses a Warrior," I transcribed for Morty's as a roving reporter last year. They were really nice and appreciative there. I'm not sure what I will do this year; I haven't decided. At the beginning of the season last year (7/25/05, to be exact, because I kept the PM's sent to me--as I'm sure some people would be dismayed to know), I tried posting again at FORT. I hadn't been banned (which was sensible, as I had done nothing wrong), and I missed the people I used to talk with about Big Brother. So, my former friend, Suncat7 (Who had wanted me to come back to FORT, where we had previously had fun posting transcriptions) and I went to FORT again and posted some transcriptions in the Discussion thread. After what happened to me the year before, I didn't feel good about posting official transcriptions there, so between us Suncat7 and I decided to post them and talk about them at the same time in the Spoiler Discussions thread, which allowed us more freedom to talk and discuss. A person named Leo immediately wrote me and told me to stop writing transcriptions in that thread, as they belonged in the feed transcriptions thread. I wrote the moderator, Hepcat, and asked about this. (I later found out that Leo was a "mod assistant" at the time). Hepcat wrote me a very ugly note (which I kept, and in which she called Reality Enquirer a "juvenile Internet tabloid"--so I'm surprised John even reads it) which basically said that she was surprised I was posting, and that I had a lot of nerve to do so. She also falsely claimed that I made assertions to you that John should not have given a reward for transcription to anyone but me, which is a lie--plain and simple. She claimed that I said that John and the mods read e-mails, which is also untrue--I said I felt that John reads e-mails, as some of mine were kept open even after people had responded to them and sent me PM's in return. She did stress that I was not banned permanently, and that if I could enjoy FORT "without drama," I was welcome there.

I wrote her back (I still have the PM, of course) and told her that I felt it was only fair to set the record straight. I told her that I did want to enjoy FORT and my friends there, and that I was a human with feelings, so I had been hurt by the things that went on the year before. I told her that I had never said that a mod had read my e-mail. I also never said that I thought I should get the prize for transcription; I only felt bad about the prize because John offered it when I took a few days off due to a death in the family, and he said that "it is hard to get people interested in doing transcriptions," so he was offering the reward. I told her that it made me feel bad that he chose to do it at that time--when I had taken a few days off--because it made me feel that I wasn't doing a good job. (And although I didn't say it to her, it was easy to feel that I wasn't doing a good job, considering the fact that John had never thanked me or told me I was doing a good job. Although Hepcat did write and tell me that John told her I was "valuable" one time a couple of years ago--whatever that means.) I told her that my feelings were hurt about the way things were handled before, and yet I had never posted a post on FORT that was dramatic, or one that said goodbye in any way--I had never broken the rules. That remains true to this day, by the way.

After the PM from Hepcat, I went voluntarily to post at Morty's, where they made me feel welcome, and I again didn't post goodbye or anything at FORT. I continued to check my PM's at FORT, and I was not banned. Right after that, Suncat7 took down her "Missing Catniptoy" signature line, saying that a mod told her that it "probably drove John crazy." She told me that she was told by a mod that she should "go green" as that was a path to becoming a mod. She didn't do that, as she told me she didn't want to give John her money. Then, she was asked to write for FORT (and now she is a mod). At this point, she dropped me as a friend, after over two years of friendship. She used to tell me that my transcriptions were the reason she joined FORT anyway, so our friendship went way back, even talking about family. Just before she dropped me as a friend, she wrote me many e-mails (which I kept, of course) saying how horrible she thought John was, and she didn't want to put money in his pocket in any way, and she felt like a traitor to me, but she did feel honored to be asked to write.....And I wrote her and told her that she should be honored, and she should take the position and have fun, and I would always be her friend. But being friends with me must have been off limits for mods there, huh? Sorta makes you feel all warm inside. That's the way things were left, and I hadn't checked my PM's for around 3 months, but I was still a member of FORT.

Imagine my surprise this week, when I went to check my PM's at FORT and found that I was banned! The notice said I "broke the rules," and the time they would lift the ban would be "never." So, apparently, I broke the rules between the end of last year's Big Brother and now, when I haven't posted at all during that time? I didn't badmouth FORT, even in "private" PM's. The notice said that if I tried to sign on as another name, I would be banned from reading the forums, as well. I would never do that--I had decided to just let the banning happen, as I had no real desire to post there, after that note from Hepcat. But when I went back to read the forum to see what was going on this year on Big Brother--I was banned from reading it, anyway, without ever having tried to sign on as another person! After this, I think I can safely be placed in the "disgruntled former member" category. But you know, when it comes to FORT, there are real, honest, good reasons to be disgruntled. By the way, when John talks about his membership, I wonder how many of those people are banned? I do believe that I am still listed in the membership rolls, but if John had his way (and in this case, he doesn't), I wouldn't even be able to view the board!

I guess what really happened is that they didn't close the door on me at first because I was "valuable" for my transcriptions. Then, when they saw that I was posting transcriptions for Morty, I guess they decided it was okay to slam the door, even though I still hadn't broken rules. After I started posting at Morty's, FORT got rid of their transcription feeds thread, and they made it a rule that you should post transcriptions in the Discussions thread. Which is what I had been doing with Suncat7 last year when Leo wrote me the note telling me to stop. It almost sounds schizophrenic, doesn't it?

Keep on keeping on and
Happy hamster watching,