Monday, April 02, 2007

And they all lived happily ever after.

I've logged off from Harshlands for the last time, at least under the current administration.

This "shutting down" process was taking way too long. But what set me off today was not that.

The admins run the forums in a very severely "locked down" state where they delete posts quite readily. They leave no sign behind that a post was deleted, too. In fact, the person whose post got deleted doesn't usually even get told their post was deleted.

Virtually everyone who reads the forums has the sense of a lot more consensus than there really is, because opinions that counter what the admins believe are ruthlessly and silently suppressed.

Those who are well-treated by the admins invariably conclude that any unhappy people are just natural troublemakers and malcontents; after all, there's nothing real to complain about, and they get treated wonderfully. "Some people just can't be happy," they must think.

Of course how would they know? They don't see how miserably unfairly some people who've gotten on the bad side of the admins are treated. And they never will, if every complaint and every contrary viewpoint is deleted to "avoid flame wars". (People can be as inflammatory and offensive as they like, as long as they only do it on one side -- their side.)

Why is it like this now and not before? That I'm not so sure. The most obvious answer is that I used to be on their good side so I, too, was blissfully unaware of how bad things can be, and then one day I got on their bad side.

But I think there's more to it. When I started, Revus was the head admin, but he was largely inactive, and Blackhorde and Millie were the de facto admins. While this didn't have any real impact on their authority or impact, I think it might have tempered their worst abuses of power. Revus eventually retired, and handed them the keys to the castle. Nothing really changed; Revus was around just as much as ever, and Blackhorde and Millie still did the same things they did. But I wonder if they didn't gradually get more and more comfortable with their position, and check themselves less and less.

I have little hope that anything could dislodge them. Their control over the viewpoints that people can present and complaints they can raise is almost entirely complete. No one is ever going to call for them to step down anywhere that anyone else can hear.

I flirted with the idea of crusading, trying to get word out to people about what they don't realize is going on. "If I don't do it, who will?" But that didn't last very long. First, it's just infeasible. It would take a remarkably strong group outcry to get Blackhorde and Millie to really take a hard look at themselves and how they run things. They're absolutely convinced, I'm sure, that they're being reasonable and fair, and that's why it's impossible to get them to give themselves a hard appraising look and realize what they're really doing. Anything less than a rousing consensus would be brushed off, but it'd be a miracle just to get people to be willing to listen, let alone to that level of outrage, after they've been couched in cozy sameness-of-opinions and preferential treatment for so long. Even if it were possible, though, it's just a lot of stress and aggravation I don't need. Far better for me to just close the door and move on.

So Reb and Merewyn have set out on their pilgrimage. Maybe someday if the Gentle Lady blesses them with new admins that still remember how to look at their own behavior, they'll return. But I really doubt that'll happen, even by accident. I've been down this road before: a corrupt administration may be removed, or retire of their own will, but the corruption usually remains.

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