Posted by Rich/Mohican Press on December 10, 2000 at 08:09:15:
I guess now is as good a time as any. The subject matter of today's "Weekly Update" has been tossing & turning within me for a couple of years, every so often rearing its head in the form of a post, where I'd let out some of the emotion in hopes of containing the ill-feeling. Temporary fix only. It's been a feeling that of late has made me feel like I've got to say something, yet never pointed me in the right direction. It's no different now, I've just decided to make a wild stab and see where it goes ... I can honestly say that I have no firm grasp on where this post will lead as I begin it. My mind is a jumble on this topic. Probably, I'll say something that will offend somebody & will come back to haunt me. That's not my intent.
Let's begin with this:
The State of the Web Site: This is the Christmas season, traditionally the slowest time of year around here. This year is no different. Generally, though, visitation remains constant at about 1600 visitors to the Site each business day. We garner visits from all over the World, for a wide variety of reasons. We have finally expanded to our desired 500mb size, allowing for further additions ... we do have more ground to cover. The Web Site remains a creative outlet & serves a good purpose. It shall remain into the future.
The WWWBoard, on the other hand, is another story ...
For the benefit of the more recent participants of our Board, and as a refresher, lets peer back into history ... our history.
Why a Board??? I guess more than anything else, because we could. Back in the beginning, the Site was about 6 or 7 Internet pages ... a home page, a few pages devoted to the guide book, including an order form & DDL's letter, and a very brief links page. In an effort to encourage repeat visitation, we shortly thereafter added the Musings, and that single addition caused the Site to skyrocket in scope & popularity. As an offshoot to the Musings, and like I said, because we could (the web site thing was a brand new field for us; the board a new toy), we decided to add the Mohican WWWboard.
The Aftermath: Setting up the Mohican Board had more impact on us, on a daily basis, than any other facet of running this Web Site, probably more than all other responsibilities combined ... for it made the Web Site interactive. No longer were we the sole inhabitants of the yet-to-be-named Mohicanland ... we had opened the door to all the world ... to every loose cannon, whacko, spam artist, hacker out there ... not to mention a whole bunch of very fine people who shared their lives & Mohican thoughts not only with us, but the rest of the world, enriching the place beyond what we could ever have anticipated. To be honest, we were not prepared for the onslaught. This was a new world for us; we had no idea what we had done. What we HAD done, is open our door to all. Invited a bunch of strangers right here into our living room.
Oh, it was slow to start, as a few of you can remember, but once it took off ... it TOOK OFF! Now, don't get me wrong, there have been MANY, MANY positives to this venture. It is the negatives, though, that are the focus - if I have one - right now, for they are what is bringing this down.
Interactive. Hmmm ... we had no idea. And the Board is not the only interactive feature, of course. We have a Chat Room, a Trading Post, polls & surveys, e-mail, links, & the ultimate culmination of our interactiveness, The Great Mohican Gatherings. But back then, we had no idea ...
The door was opened, and folks filed in ... many fine people, many people involved with the movie, many people who have become friends or partners in one way or another, a few have witnessed it for 4 years. With this good, came the bad ...
Our first real encounter of any significance came real early, with an e-mail that turned ugly over our Horicon reference. We found out, very quickly, that there were a lot of know-it-alls out there, quick to jump all over you at every opportunity. So strange. We moved on. That was very minor & to be repeated over & over & over, to this day, on a wide variety of subjects, but especially in regards to "Native" issues.
Then, we put up an old Eric Schweig interview, passed our way, in which I took issue with a few of the points made ... sh_t hit the fan. In the end, I was labeled a racist. Who needs that? But, good came of that, because it caused us to seek out our own interview with Eric. That was good, and led to our marketing his masks, and that was good ... BUT, that turned bad. VERY bad. Not so much because of Eric, but because of one very sick & over-zealous "fan" who made it her life's ambition to torment us at every turn until finally it just wasn't worth our effort ... over two years of "war" later, we let loose the reigns on that particular endeavor. Bad turning to good, only to end up bad again. NOT the way we'd like things to end up. During that span, we became the targets of abuse from a small cadre of people, right up to Eric's agent, who were bent all out of shape because we had made our own fair and honest deal with the man ... so, we were slammed, publicly, by Eric's agent controlled "fan club" with a slew of lies and not-so-blunt inuendos that terribly interferred with our ability to sell Eric's art. During this time, we were labelled thieves & con-artists.
Ah, interaction at work.
Here's a quote, from the inside, from a "fan" privvy to some of these goings on ... to give you but a taste:
" ... it is easy to be caught up in a dishonest person's web and start to believe some of the things they spoon feed you. When you are manipulated to think a certain way about something, the dishonesty and pile of lies looks like the truth. It's hard to know who to believe and it's hard to recognize what is true in all of this. This is especially true where the Internet is concerned because people can say anything and be anything ... I don't think I need to tell you that several individuals from Eric's fan circle read your board and hang on every word that is posted. You know that's how most information gets passed around. I know I can change my name, but I can't change how I feel or think about issues, or disguise myself. That is one thing I try very hard to do is stay true to myself and I'm afraid someone or many people out there lurking would pick me out. They have my e-mail address, they have my website URL, they know some personal information, and I fear them.
They/them most certainly being [name removed] and her other
personalities and some of her inner circle (I do feel she has some
other's in her circle) Think about how so many people feel you have
wronged [name removed] over this mask business. Think about how many stories are floating out there about how you have treated them poorly. This has to be the work of [name removed] and whoever else she has convinced. And she does have people convinced. Like I said in a previous e-mail, once you hear several stories with the same ring to them, you start believing that is where the truth lies. I am sick to my stomach thinking about how many people I may have been contacted by or regularly corresponded with that may have been one of [name removed] personalities, or somebody in her circle. That's what I mean by, I don't know who in my circle to trust."
Pretty scary ... VERY ugly. And that but touches the surface of all that went down during that period. But, we survived.
All the while, we suffered a couple of hack attacks, the infamous "Porn Caper," a controversy with the Mohican Tribe, an assault from the BIA!!!!, and were given still another label, here on the Board ... that of practioners of CENSORSHIP! Yep, it was argued that we didn't allow freedom of speech here on OUR Board, like it was anybody else's business.
So, a dandy image of Mohican Press was being formed ... racist, Hitler-like gestapo, out to make a buck by stealing the efforts of others & cheating the rightful recipients of the proceeds. ALL because we allowed ourselves to become targets by making the Site interactive.
I'm not even mentioning all the "other" problems ... before I do, let me say this. For most of this, as mad as I'd get at times, these attacks were, for the most part, coming from the "outside." Once the stressful peak had passed, it was back to business as always here ... usually making us stronger. The place continued to grow & grow. Mohicanland was a source of strength to help get through it all. There was community.
Now, all the "other" problems have taken the forefront, and they are, in the long run, even more draining because there is no retreat. There is no safe haven, for us, other than to shut the door ... eliminate the interactive portions of the Web Site. There are constant squabbles, back biting & gossip, hurt feelings ... the killer, for us, is that whenever something occurs, there is a person left bewildered ... feeling like they need a break ... but, each time, though perhaps a different person, WE are left with those same feelings. We are affected by EVERY fight & dispute that erupts. We have watched as people we felt really added something to the Board ... though their views were not always widely held ... were "driven" off. People like Petra & Vita. Others, just got mad, or disinterested, had personal problems, or whatever ... and wandered off, never to be heard from again. That has always troubled me, because I look at it like an investment. We expend energy & time establishing relationships with folks, over & over, and then they just leave ... too busy, too bored ... It does hurt a bit. I don't mean to sound bitter or critical. I know everyone has their reasons. It's just that it happens over & over, people come, people leave, there are healthy discussions & fights, we invest ... in the end, get little return ... it does take its toll. The repetitiveness of it. We take the time - and a lot of time it is - to answer all E-mail we receive (well, not anymore, we do filter through the obvious ruses, but, by & large ...). Often times, it's between mouthfuls of cereal as I get ready for work in the early AM, or as 2 or 3 or 4 kids are rightfully demanding our attention, that these E-mail responses are composed, and so are necessarily brief ... more so than we'd prefer, for sure. But we do reply. You all know that! We're as busy as the next guy, but we've invested. Has anyone else, really?
Now, look the Board over ... it's a series of "Thoughts For The Day" (thanks, Adele ... effort duly noted!) & personal congratulations and the like. Nothing wrong with that - in fact, it's a necessary ingredient for a healthy Board - except that that's ALL it is. Where is "Mohicans"? A visitor can pop in here on any given day & find nothing at all that relates to "The Last of the Mohicans." Nothing. Why come back? Thank God for the MacWilliams boys, or there'd be almost nothing to link us with 1757. Is the topic used up? Impossible. We implemented the "6 Degrees" concept, in jest, a long time ago [See our page "Six Degrees To LOTM"], as a way of encouraging your creativity in tying in the subject to just about anything. The topic has been here since 1757, and we've expanded it. WE think of stuff to say; we add new things to the Web Site. It has deteriorated to a point where there are all followers and no leaders. I get this picture of everyone just sitting there waiting for something to happen, instead of making something happen ... as it once was. Another interesting aspect ... our E-mail is often VERY thought provoking. Much of it from POSTERS! All kinds of topics. Great DVD comments, insights from movie people. Questions. Comments. If only it was posted here ... but then, I sense it doesn't really matter. When topics are brought up that I, at least, would expect might generate discussion ... they usually just lay there these days, untouched. I feel sorry for newer folks like Jeri & Christina who really missed out on how wonderful it used to be here.
Now, more often than not, we're soothing hurt feelings or hearing of someone sulking & vowing never to post again. What is THAT all about? We've got nine kids to soothe ... We don't need that ... not over & over & over & over ... Are we children? We've tried moderating; we've tried ignoring; we've added music and tried to make a more comfortable looking setting to aid in the soothing of the savage beast ... Any OTHER ideas? And why should we be expected to do more than we have, anyway? Sure, it's our Board, granted, but what of the "Community"? No responsibilities?
I miss visits from Colonial Joe & Simon Girty. Those meaty posts on Colonial times by Goody. Where is Victoria with her wit? She Who Tracks rarely roams the forest anymore. I could go on & on ... the place has dried up ... no one dares to be on the cutting edge anymore, not publicly. The stats bear this out ... no longer are the lurkers in abundance. There is little of interest on this Board to an "outsider." Whereas many hundreds used to wander in on any given day, now maybe 200 is a lot. Yet, overall Site visitation remains high! As high as ever. What does that say?
I asked the rhetorical question some time ago, "Has this Board outlived its original purpose?" I think so. It has become a drain for us ... with no return. We spend more time deleting posts from Taiwanese merchants than anything else.
So, where do we go from here? That there are things to be said, new and of interest, is without doubt. Our E-mail proves that to us. There are people out there to be welcomed in. Our stat program proves that. But, it would seem, nobody cares to expend the energy anymore. No one else, save a few, care to invest in Mohicanland ... It would seem, to have been abandoned by most ... Perhaps it is time to close the door?
I asked that question to three trusted, long time Mohicanites several months back ... Three people who have been nothing less than supportive through thick & thin. Three people, here from nearly the beginning, who have always, without fail, been a part of the solution. We might have included a couple more, but arbitrarily chose 3. One was adamantly against it, one was straddling the fence, one said, "Maybe so." BIG help! We let it ride ... Actually, I keep saying "we" ... Elaine feels just let it be. I'm the one who has the drained feelings. See, the old problems were REAL problems ... we could fight them word for word. These things, are the eat-it-out-from the-inside type of problems ... they fester, linger, rot ... till it makes you not want to do it any longer. This week I was called, and I quote, a "... self righteous appointer of the protector of customers with insulting overtones ... when a point is well made, you get blown off and barred from the site." I really don't need that crap ...
And, I am feeling the lingering, cumulative effects of blow after blow after blow ... some big, small small ... almost all unnecessary ... When I think of all the time, all the effort, that went into SO MANY aspects of this Site ... when I think of all the free stuff just here for the taking, by anyone, friend or foe ... it bewilders me ...
So, I go to The Gathering Pages, I go to the Visitor Comments page, I remember the good, rewarding times that made me think it was WORTH the effort to have an interactive Web Site up here for all to enjoy ... but, I'm not so sure anymore ... The next couple of weeks will help me decide ... Why a Board? Is interaction a must? Who else would have successfully dealt with the problems & conflicts that I've but briefly enumerated above? And have paid cash for the privelege! It's come to be expected that I'll make a weekly update post of substance, that the site will get bigger & better, that there'll be Gatherings till the Sweetsers get old. :) That's all expected of us. What about OUR expectations? We expect a mutual investment. That's all.
So, again, I put my thoughts out here for anyone to see. I can hear it now ... "He's whining .... blah blah blah." Ahhh ... interaction ...
All things must pass away ... it's a matter of when.
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