Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Curse

Every person who had produced any sort of blog has felt it; and those who have tried to concentrate on producing anything creative while blogging has felt it more keenly than most.  The sentiment runs as follows, regarding the author's willingness to add comments to blog posts (Oct 4, 2010):
"This will never, ever happen. I have no problems with forum discussion ... I do, however, see no point to wasting time doing the equivalent of painting a picture and then allowing others to come in and urinate all over it. You may think I'm a terrible artist, but that doesn't give you the right to destroy my work.
There's a breed of internet commenter that really only cares about saying things they think make them "right." It's some kind of stupid game where the only thing you're supposed to do is win, and where that criteria for winning is likewise determined by said player. There's really no point in playing with these people. They're just idiots."
August J. Pollak


I've heard back from the techies working on our proposed D&D wiki and have been given a test model ... and being a test model its a little clunky but wonderfully straight-forward.  I have no idea if the November start date is still accurate, but that doesn't matter anyway.  This is not the same as opening a supermarket.  It's a little more like going around to everyone in the neighborhood and telling them you've just learned you're pregnant, or your partner is; all very glad and all, but the kid won't be going to college for some time.

If we can get enough on the ground in nine months to make a few people go "Awwww ... isn't that  cute," we'll be doing pretty well.

I can see that a problem hurdle in the beginning is going to be the expectation that somehow this project, like virtually every project on the net, will need to have interaction to make it a viable force in the community.  Somehow, when most people think about D&D players sitting down to talk about the hobby, they conceive profound discussions about the unified magical theory and how it will someday apply to End Game mechanics ... forgetting, always, that there are idiots out there.  And forgetting, too, that making real discussions happen through a forum is bafflingly difficult.

In more than 400 posts I've written on this blog, I would guess that there have been perhaps 10 that produced any sort of legitimate back-and-forth discussion on a given topic.  Far more often I get the sort of comment that's very nice and complimentary, but generally non-specific.  Alternately, I get the comment that runs along the lines of, "It's nice you do that.  Allow me to give you five hundred words on what I do."  And, rarely, the kind of comment that goes, "Wow, are you stupid or what."

But Socratean dialogues?  No, not often.

Obviously, I like hearing from people.  The common techno-psychology babble all around the talk shows centers on how we are all lusting after fame and how the internet guarantees a chance at it for all.  It is a tricky sort of fame, however.  I could probably increase the viewership on this blog by running it tandem with a vlog that featured a hooker or the corn-fed Iowa girl next door in her cheerleading togs (I know just the girl, but she'd giggle through the first four episodes ... not necessarily a bad thing).

Less Tables, More Willow
Somehow I think the number of my followers would go up.  But who would pay attention to the D&D?

Where it comes to this game, I don't think popularity was ever, really, a concern.  I've said it before.  I used to play the game in the school cafeteria, late into the evenings on Fridays when there was a basketball game in the gym, since the janitors didn't care if we were there or not.  And since the gym was closer to the cafeteria than my hands are to this keyboard (there was a direct door), we could pretty much listen to the roaring crowds cheering the game on while we were playing.  And as the little packs of cheerleaders walked by, in their pretty outfits, pretending that we did not exist ... since we were sitting around tables with dice and little paper screens.  It was obvious to us that we were not in the popular set.

But people will build popularity out of anything, given a chance.

My point is, while there is and will continue to be a contingent of people I'll hear from encouraging some kind of forum to be added to our D&D homespace, the only argument for actually doing so would be to garner increased popularity.  And I don't really give a crap about popularity.  It's nice to measure it and its nice to notice that you're 27 on the list, but if I had big breasts and a camera I think I could improve on that.  Well, the right kind of 'breasts.'  What I've got you don't want to see on camera.

Frankly, I have a much reduced goal.  I figure there are five people set to work on the project at the moment; if we can get the interest of fifteen people who sincerely want to improve their worlds, we've quadrupled those in the world who think like we do.  And if those people all have one table running somewhere, that's potentially 80 to 120 gamers all moving in the same general direction.  That's a whole lot better than having 120 followers, believe you me.

(I wonder how many will drop off on reading that.  Oh well, can't be helped)

I'm happy to keep the comments section on my blog, but I don't blame August of the above quote for a second; he's writing politically commentary and a substantial portion of the responses he's getting are viable death threats.  I don't know what I could say about D&D that would bring a death threat my way, but you can bet when it happens I'm going to write a whole blog post about it.

In the meantime, please continue to send any suggestions of contribution to the wiki to  I may be slow in getting back to you, but that's only because at the moment I don't want to make any promises I can't keep.  Must wait on the techies, you know.


John said...

I completely agree with you about not adding a public forum. It probably would garner popularity, but I'm sure would attract more trolls than you have fire to kill.

Might I suggest a private forum/network of some kind, for only those who are contributing parties. It would allow for commentary and interactivity, but would only make such things available to those who actually contribute. A forum of fifteen dedicated individuals is infinitely better than, well, every forum that has ever existed on the Internet.

I know I just suggested that you put a forum on your D&D wiki after you've explicitly stated that forums are a dipshit idea. But by using the simple rule of - Contribute and join, otherwise take off, you can maintain a decent level of unpopularity and attract only those with actual interest.

I look forward to seeing how things develop. I think what you're doing is an excellent idea.

Alexis said...


That's a brilliant idea. I shall see if that can be done.

Anonymous said...

Agreed on no forums. There are already forums for people that want forums and blogs for people that want some controlled discourse (however Quixotic that desire). Let's make this database about content and not a community. If you build it, they will come anyway.

On a side note... ouch. My two followers and I didn't make the cut it seems. At least when I was blogging Traveller I had the count up to ten t one point. C'est la vie.

Anonymous said...


I was intentionally counting followers after you told me not to. :)

John said...

Glad to be of service Alexis, I look forward to the project updates.

Oddbit said...

Honestly, when I read your blog I don't usually interpret the posts in a form of, "What can I debate." More of a "What can I use, or how can I learn from this." Admittedly, if I don't agree, I usually read through, consider it for a bit, then move on. I don't feel I have the game mastering experience, or maybe even the player experience to really make an educated argument either way.