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Thoughts on the MEFA Situation

The (Cyber) Bag of Weasels

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"About as much fun as a bag of weasels"...when I first saw this Irish adage, it made me think of the life of a writer: sometimes perilous, sometimes painful, certainly interesting. My paper journal has always been called "The Bag of Weasels." This is the Bag of Weasels' online home.

Thoughts on the MEFA Situation

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(It took me a few days to write this, off and on, but I do want to preserve my feelings on this whole incident.)

I've been trying to wrangle my thoughts into words for a while now. It's a situation that upsets me for a variety of reasons.

I came to the MEFAs with a lot of uncertainty about awards. I started participating in fandom right around the time MEFA results came in, and some of my friends at the time, despite having multiple pieces nominated, came away with nothing and were upset about that. It didn't seem to make sense to me to have something that would be guaranteed to make some people feel bad. (Here is where I recorded my mixed emotions at the time.)

Over time, I became a convert, though. The MEFA system was particularly brilliant because of the reviews: It felt like a story didn't even have to place in order for the MEFAs to be an enjoyable experience. I enjoyed checking in on my reviews each week more than I looked forward to the results, and I long said that the nomination was the award for me: It meant that someone liked my work enough to want it recognized and others to read it. I knew I could look forward to the reviews. Over the years, I was involved in various roles as a MEFA participant: author, nominator, voter, volunteer. I could never be as involved as I would have liked--grad school and starting my teaching career saw to that--but I tried to lend my support where and when I could.

I always admired the central MEFA volunteers for what was clearly a monumental outpouring. Hey, I know as well as anyone what that means. You sacrifice from your RL and especially from your creative life. While others are participating and having fun, you're doing very not-fun chores behind the scenes. And the pay sure ain't great. ;)

I find it hard to criticize admins for that reason, even when I don't agree with them. I've obviously been criticized during my time as the SWG owner, and it hurts. It hurts to pour so much of yourself into something and to have it thrown back in your face. It's like dreaming up what you think is a really special gift for a friend, then receiving a phone call from that friend, complaining of the hassle of taking that gift back to the store for a refund. It's easy to think uncharitable thoughts about your critics, too, at times like these.

At the same time, as an admin, you have to expect this. You don't go into running a website or a major fannish project because you want to be loved. You certainly hope people will enjoy what you're doing, but criticism will always be there, and it really is a matter of the heat and the kitchen. I was privately devastated the first time I was publicly critiqued in my role as the SWG owner. I bore up because I knew that was what was expected of me but, gods, I lost sleep and wondered what the fuck I'd gotten myself into. I've learned over time better how to bear it, mostly because I expect it now. That's not to say it's always easy, but it really is part of the job.

I suppose some would say it shouldn't have to be. I'm not sure. There are people who are asshats because they like being asshats, and there are people who speak from a place of emotion because they so love and care about what they speak of. Over the years, many people have told me (or I've overheard them say, which is even better) that they view the SWG as their online home. This always gives me such a thrill of joy. What an honor! Someone loves something that I built enough to view it as a sort of home. That implies a level of comfort and even protectiveness that I've aspired to. I've worked very hard to make it that way. In those moments, that effort is worth it.

But that emotion flows both ways. Think about it. You go to the dentist's office and the chairs are now blue instead of orange and facing the completely opposite direction. If you even notice, you almost certainly don't care. But say you went home one day and discovered that, while you were gone, someone swapped out the living room chair for something different and completely rearranged your cabinets. Hey, maybe you didn't even ever sit in that chair but this is your home! You're probably going to be pretty upset.

I try to keep that in mind when emotions directed at me or my projects run a little high. People don't expend passion on what they don't care about or have hope of making better. It's why so few of us waste our time and energy complaining about (much less to) ff.net and LiveJournal anymore. Those places made clear they wanted to be services, not homes, for their users.

Decisions were made by the MEFA admins that I did not agree with. That's fine; I'm not called upon to agree with everything that others do with the groups they run. However, since I viewed the MEFAs as a home and not a mere service, then I did publicly speak about my misgivings and did so with the hope of improving things. I felt that the administration could have handled the critiques they were receiving better but, again, I say that in the same breath as I say that it's perilously easy to Monday-morning quarterback other admins.

What has upset me is the response of some of my fellow fannish denizens who either sought to minimize the feelings of those raising concerns, to silence discussion over concerns, to conflate critique and attack, and now to heap blame for the dissolution of the MEFAs on those who brought up concerns. While I recognize that this, too, comes from a place of emotion--sadness, disappointment, protectiveness of friends and sites one loves--it still angers and saddens me.

The concerns brought by some authors about the new ratings system was not "drama." The original letter (which I did not sign because I was on vacation at the time but would have, if given the opportunity) was written in a professional tone. No, it wasn't laden with apologies and sycophancy ("We're so sorry to trouble you! We love you and so appreciate all that you do for us!") common to much of our correspondence in fandom, but that did not make it disrespectful. I ask what was the alternative? For one person, in a fit of pique, to pound out an emotion-laden rant on a public mailing list and rouse others to join the melee? A letter that is considered, commented upon, and revised by multiple signatories is the opposite of much discourse in fandom, and I didn't feel it was out-of-line at all.

Someone compared the issues raised by the signatories as making a mountain out of a grain of sand. I do realize that the admins who drafted the new guidelines believed them to be an insignificant change and one brought about with the intent of addressing a different issue that did require addressing. As I have said many times, I absolutely believe them in this. However, intent by an admin writing a policy and interpretation by participants who are bound by that policy are different balls of cheese. One hopes intent and interpretation align perfectly or nearly so; in this case, that clearly didn't happen. Many, many authors felt the new version of the guidelines constrained them in ways that the old didn't. Many, many authors felt they were being singled out or made to go to extra lengths to justify the inclusion of their higher-rated works. Whether this was the intent of the admins is not the issue; the issue is that many people felt this way. I would further point out that these people are, on a whole, intelligent, mature, and not inclined to drama and wank. Are all of them wrong, merely making a mountain out of a grain of sand? I was one of them; many of my stories that competed and placed in past seasons I would have questioned the eligibility of under the new guidelines. I am not stupid, immature, or wankish, and I do resent the implication that my concerns came from any one of these rather than a legitimate desire to make right something perceived as gone wrong.

Because, again, I would point out that the desire to fix the ratings system didn't come from a place of wanting to hurt but to help. No one would have bothered if they didn't care about the MEFAs and making them the best they could be. Many of us knew the impact of the changes were going to be big; many authors were already talking about not participating as a result of them. Maybe some people think that losing large swaths of authors is no big deal. I don't really care to participate, once that becomes the acceptable response, because now you're making a service, not a home. Sites and events worthy of the latter give a shit about the people that have made them what they are.

Anonymous personal attacks were received by several of the MEFA admins. Personal attacks are not acceptable, and many of us have condemned them publicly. However, there was a lot of conflation of the critique of the ratings policy with the personal attacks. Oh, how "personal attacks and all this drama about the ratings system" rolls off the tongue! They are different things, folks, and it is a form of personal attack to suggest that those bringing forward legitimate concerns are the same as those spouting anonymous and hate-filled vitriol. That's the ironic thing.

Now, of course, come the accusations that those bringing concerns are the reason the MEFAs ended. To me, it seemed the problems afflicting this year's MEFAs were a right clusterfuck--including tech problems--but I'm sure it's nice and convenient to blame Those People, those skeevy adult-writing authors, for bringing down a beloved award. Let's be frank, folks. If critique of a policy, no matter how heated, was what caused a fandom institution to close its doors, then it wasn't long for the world anyway. I say this as an admin and, again, with the recognition that you have to expect these kinds of problems, and you either deal or you don't. There's certainly nothing wrong with reaching the point where you can't or won't deal anymore, but pretending like an otherwise healthy and thriving fandom institution came suddenly crashing to the ground because of a critique over a ratings policy would be laughably ridiculous if I hadn't seen so much finger-pointing to this effect.

When I joined the fandom, it sometimes felt like there were more rifts than there were commonalities. There were whole groups that would not talk to other whole groups. I made it my goal to try to bring at least the Silmarillion contingents of those groups together, to make a place where we could all play, equal to each other. I felt like the MEFAs was another institution that tried to do this--it wasn't perfect, but it was getting better--which is part of the reason that I supported it as I did. At times, for me, writing my mostly mainstream stories and in my privileged place as a website owner who gets to make happen what she wants in her online home (it's not that simple since governance of the SWG is a collaborative effort with my comods and sometimes the membership base but, technically, as the site owner, I could), it's hard to believe that some people have good, valid reasons for feeling excluded, that they aren't just hanging onto old hurts. It's easy for me to advocate that we all have a group hug and sing a round of "Peace, Love, and Understanding." I have so rarely been excluded, felt minimized or silenced, or unfairly labeled in this fandom. It's hard to remember that others have had vastly different experiences.

This incident did all of the above for me and goes down as one of the most shameful in my years in this fandom.

This post was originally posted on Dreamwidth and, using my Felagundish Elf magic, crossposted to LiveJournal. You can comment here or there!

  • I was shocked to read about the demise of the MEFAs. I had no idea what was going on, having been out of the loop for a long time. But how sad.

    I feel that volunteers, especially website owners, give up a lot of personal time in what must be the most thankless of thankless jobs. Of course I am aware of all the mudslinging, drama and wanks that go on all over the 'net and I know the guilty parties would probably be too ashamed to act that way in public if their names and faces were to be known. Some of them, anyway.

    • It must have been shocking! :) I always thought of the MEFAs as one of those mainstays that would always be around. It's still hard to believe it's over!

      Yes, we both know firsthand the viciousness that can go on, especially when people are given the veil of anonymity. And the shooting off at the mouth that goes on when people don't fully understand something but act like they do. Both went on in this instance, and it's sad.
  • but I'm sure it's nice and convenient to blame Those People, those skeevy adult-writing authors, for bringing down a beloved award. Let's be frank, folks. If critique of a policy, no matter how heated, was what caused a fandom institution to close its doors, then it wasn't long for the world anyway

    I completely agree. I didn't realize that people were blaming those who spoke up against the ratings, (probably they're not on my f-list) and went to the time and trouble to draft and redraft extremely professional and reasonable letters.
    • Yes, unfortunately there's been a disturbing amount of conflation of "people sending anonymous attacks" with "people who wrote an open letter of critique," with the result that the latter are now being blamed (by some, and a minority I'm sure, but nonetheless) for "bringing down the MEFAs." Bet y'all didn't know you had so much power! ;) It's ridiculous but hurtful at the same time, as many people who were criticizing the new ratings only wanted to be heard.
  • I am not stupid, immature, or wankish, and I do resent the implication that my concerns came from any one of these rather than a legitimate desire to make right something perceived as gone wrong.

    Well said. I'm too new to fandom to have done MEFAs yet (and was really looking forward to them), and it took me quite a bit of wading through threads to finally understand what was going on; once I did, there were a few things that troubled me, including the anonymous attacks on the MEFA admins.

    But what you pointed out above troubles me a lot. It's easy for those whose stories would have been unaffected by the new ratings system to say that it's no big deal. I would strongly encourage people in that camp to reflect upon how they would have felt, had the ratings system been altered in such a way as to bar their own work. From what I've seen, the MEFAs were valued as not only an awards but a fandom-wide social event; those whose stories would have suffered under the new ratings system had more at stake than just the stories themselves.
  • Yes. Your article is very well-written, and you had me nodding my head all the way through.

    I remain in awe at the amount of work and dedication shown over the years by Marta and her valiant crew of volunteers in keeping MEFA running and in bringing this very diverse and disparate fandom together for a single common event. They deserve every ounce of praise they've ever received.

    Those of us who expressed our concerns through those letters had no intention of raising Hell and shutting things down. We spoke out to address what we felt were valid concerns in a constructive and business-like manner. Had we not felt strongly protective of MEFA and everything it meant to us as writers, we wouldn't have bothered to say anything at all.

    To me, the wank and drama came from (1) finger-pointing and attempting to figure out who did what so as to heap blame – up to and including blaming the signatories of the letter as being ungrateful, whining meanies; and (2) attacking the administration and volunteers of MEFA through PMs, which is absolutely despicable. Both are immature actions that distracted attention and energy from the true purpose of the letters: to make MEFA better.

    If there is anything shameful, it is that those who behaved like trolls are getting away with what they did with impunity. Our fandom - or indeed fandom as a whole - doesn't need that kind of behavior. It should be neither condoned nor enabled.

    I can only hope that lessons will arise from this debaucle that will hold over and influence the next iteration of the awards.

    • Well said. It was a mess, with ugliness from all sides. I think that's something that's important to keep in mind. Things like this are so rarely an issue of one person/group being to blame, and this is no exception. That the issue was so complicated--tying in to the issue with Esteliel's story--to make it hard for the average user to understand didn't help. Nor did the timing; everything felt like it was done under a rush.

      Yes, I think there are many lessons to be learned. :)
  • *nods* As one of those MEFA volunteers who was involved in the *whole* debacle, I have to say, you've nailed most of it square on the head.

    This entire thing was made of good intentions gone awry. If the deadline for beginning the MEFAs had not been so close, if those of us in the post-mortem had only seen the pitfalls for ourselves in what we had come up with, if emotions had not been running so high, if some people (and NOT those who wrote the letter-- I know too many of them too well to believe that letter was ill-intentioned) had not taken their own anger out in an inappropriate manner, if there had been time for the MEFA admin to listen (and that was a crucial factor), if, if, if! But I have no doubt that in the beginning NO ONE intended the outcome. (Although with the tech troubles that popped up at the end, we may not have had the MEFAs anyhow. That was like the straw that broke the camel's back.)

    I have said it before: this whole year was a cascade of simple bad luck and bad timing-- Murphy rained all over our parade.

    The MEFAs for a very long time were, in fact, a corner of fandom where all sorts of people could enjoy the coming together of differences. That it ended this way is still heartbreaking.

    But I really think that sort of dream is not at an end. It's why I have high hopes for something new. And if we do have something new, it will be both a tribute and a legacy to the MEFAs as they were, and not as they ended.
    • I have so appreciated your perspectives through all of this, Barb, and especially your grace and equanimity. I think that much of what's positive to come out of this will be thanks to your ability and willingness to hear and communicate the perspectives of both sides. I wanted to thank you and say publicly that I think you're awesome! :)

      It was indeed a lot of factors. Blame cannot be assigned to a single incident or person. And a lot of it was just bad timing/luck, as you've said.

      I think that the move to build on the MEFAs with a new award is something positive to come from this. We could be sitting around, crying in our miruvor, pointing our fingers, and endlessly deconstructing what happened. That so many people have already poured so much energy into making something new and positive reflects the spirit of our community, I think, moreso than do personal attacks and fingerpointing.
  • Everything you say is so kind and reasonable. And, although I think you are very good at what you do, you raise this all from a position of modesty. I am overstimulated at the moment, trying to follow the discussions of starting over from scratch to build a new award system, one that serves everyone. I am not very good at the level of micro-managing, which is why I appreciated Marta and others and that they did keep the MEFAs running for years.

    I agree that with you that something healthy and would not shudder and collapse so easily.

    I especially appreciated these two paragraphs which give a perspective of how there may be two sides to the question:

    There are people who are asshats because they like being asshats, and there are people who speak from a place of emotion because they so love and care about what they speak of. Over the years, many people have told me (or I've overheard them say, which is even better) that they view the SWG as their online home. This always gives me such a thrill of joy. What an honor! Someone loves something that I built enough to view it as a sort of home. That implies a level of comfort and even protectiveness that I've aspired to. I've worked very hard to make it that way. In those moments, that effort is worth it.

    But that emotion flows both ways. Think about it. You go to the dentist's office and the chairs are now blue instead of orange and facing the completely opposite direction. If you even notice, you almost certainly don't care. But say you went home one day and discovered that, while you were gone, someone swapped out the living room chair for something different and completely rearranged your cabinets. Hey, maybe you didn't even ever sit in that chair but this is your home! You're probably going to be pretty upset.

    I think there was not a good sense that a lot of people felt like the MEFAs were shared space. The Admin viewed them apparently as nonpaying guests. So solicitation of opinion was a giant PIA only (and it is a PIA, but necessary if one shares space). Complaining or objecting to anything was seen as acting as a rude guest.

    People put many hours in to keeping the MEFA going through nominations, reviews, volunteering and keeping it in the public eye of the fandom in their own online spaces. I did all of those things. Maybe I wasn't one the triumvirate of the MEFA Admin, but I felt a sense of connection and shared effort. I tried to promote it constantly and defended it against those who were not initially feeling welcomed by the MEFA.

    Now I feel like I am tarred with the brush of villain, along with the scary nutcases who harassed Elliska and others anonymously. Really, is that fair? Sorry, I hurt also.

    Fortunately, I do have a fandom home (thanks to Dawn), outside of my own little LJ space, and that is the SWG. I am one of those people who promote the fandom institutions they participate in. I also try to give feedback and my opinions. I try not to be rude, but I may be passionate at times. I liked reading this, because despite optimism and participation in trying to help make a new one, I feel very kicked in the teeth at the moment.
    • you raise this all from a position of modesty

      I had to smile at this. It was only last year when I managed to say out loud, "I am smart and a good writer!" :)

      there may be two sides to the question

      It was an incredibly complicated issue because the ratings mess was tied up with so many other issues and difficulties. (Dreamflower's comment above is a good summary of this!) Anyone who assigns blame unilaterally is probably not understanding.

      I think there was not a good sense that a lot of people felt like the MEFAs were shared space.

      Certainly. That was always my impression as well, which made me rather surprised to get an email with the results of the PM--I was like, "Huh? A PM happened??" In the throes of graduation and closing out the school year, then going away on vacation, I could only skim the results but was definitely nonplussed.

      It's certainly easier to run a "service" without significant member input/influence, but I also think it's doomed for the very reason that any fannish institution ultimately depends on those same people. And it's not like it's very hard to set up a website anymore. It sickened me to hear some say what amounted to "Those who don't like it shouldn't participate" or "Those who don't like it can just sit this year out" or "It's the admin's rules so like it or leave it." I know as well as anyone that it's impossible to please everyone, but the answer to that isn't that those who aren't pleased are shut out and told to shut up.

      Really, is that fair?

      Absolutely not and, ironically, it is very similar to the same underlying impulse that caused some who presumably shared our concerns to take it a step to far in assuming Elliska to be a religious fundamentalist intentionally blocking certain forms of progress on the ratings policy to, I don't know, get a better seat in Heaven? It's one thing to say, "I didn't understand or agree with the concerns raised over the ratings policy" or "I would have raised my concerns differently," and quite something different to suddenly conclude that those who raised concerns are a super-secret group conspiring to go about and harass people anonymously in hopes of tearing down a beloved institution. Both are hurtful and neither are productive.
  • Thank you for this, Dawn.

    I'm still too sore and disappointed in the whole process and outcome to comment a great deal on it, but I wanted to say thank you nonetheless. Like you, I do resent the implication of bullying, although (as one of many who experienced bullying firsthand in Real Life) I can understand how the extent of discussion and the admittedly passionate responses must have been overwhelming, even discouraging. Personally I'd have lost confidence much earlier, and so admire the admins for staying level-headed through much of the discussion. Does this, as one of the people who signed both letters, make me feel less guilty? No. To see something that was intended to help backfire so badly, and see the rank underbelly of fandom exposed by the anonymous attacks, as well as the convienient conflation of those two different things, especially after seeing the effort for professionalism and non-judgemental language in the two letters, well.

    Here's hoping that the (hopefully sarcastic?) quips of having committed fandom suicide that I saw around my flist will prove false, and that the institution of having a vote-by-review awards program hasn't outlived its welcome. As someone who isn't usually that involved behind the scenes, it's been amazing seeing the outpouring of creative energy in order to fix the flaws in the system.

    Again, thank you for your post.
    • You're welcome. I'm glad you and others have connected to what I said. I wasn't sure; I almost didn't post it. I'm glad I did. :)

      I do believe that the effort to start up the new award is the best possible response. The hurt and anger from this won't go away overnight just because we want it to. But I think it's far preferable to pour that energy into something positive rather than endless lamentation over and deconstruction of what happened.

      I don't read much on LJ anymore but fandom suicide?? *cringes* I'm hoping that was sarcastic as well. In some of the initial discussions, ithilwen provided some much-needed perspective on how this incident paled in comparison to some of the incidents in this fandom in the past.
  • I must consider myself an outsider to the MEFAs. I didn't know what they were until one of my stories was nominated (possibly by the site owner of the SWG *whistle*). I've...never really understood awards, but understand the desire to bring together authors from a lot of different sites and basically 'showcase' work that readers enjoy. The MEFAs always seemed a bit complicated to me, but I suppose if I had put a little time/effort into it, I would have figured out how to log into the site and leave reviews and such. So, despite having nothing to do with the MEFAs, I support the basic idea. But, oh Lord, I do *not* want to get involved in drama.

    I guess my attitude towards fandom is that it's better to remain a polite outsider than to get right into the midst of messy family issues...but I can understand why those who are much more invested would have strong feelings when their families go through a difficult time. So, it's unfortunate, but drama is one of those inevitable aspects of the human condition.

    So, I hope for all those who have participated in and value the MEFAs, that a phoenix will rise from the ashes and something new will be available.
    • That's my hope as well. I think an important point, too, that's not getting a lot of recognition is that there were some serious issues with this year's award that had nothing to do with the contention over the ratings policy, with the apparent hydra of tech issues probably the biggie but the obvious burnout some of the admins were feeling certainly a contributor as well.

      When I first joined fandom, I vowed never to be involved in drama. I didn't realize that that was going to be impossible to do and be an admin since, like it or not, I'd be in the middle of things sometimes! :) Instead, I try to become involved only when I feel the price of silence is too great.

      This was certainly one of those times, since I think of myself as a level-headed person and was not involved in the discussion leading up to the initial open letter and so didn't feel I was reacting from groupthink. But I certainly had a nonononono! reaction to those ratings changes.

      The complexity of the MEFAs is definitely something the new awards are trying to address as well. No one should have to study up in order to participate in an award program! :)
  • Amen. It's a pity MeFA admins couldn't put some distance (metaphorically) between themselves and the problem and listen to what sensible, mature people were saying. I had volunteered for the last two years because I felt that the amazing job the admins in general and Marta in particular were doing deserved some concrete support. It's a pity the really significant decisions were taken by a small group. Another interesting lesson should be to learn to delegate tasks: I was really in awe at seeing how many jobs Marta carried out herself!
    • That is certainly one of the central issues the new award wants to address. I personally feel that handing down decisions from on high is guaranteed to be explosive when mixed with awards. I mean, on the SWG, we make a lot of decisions just among the mods. (We do bring in member input, though, as you know, for hot-button issues like revisions to the ratings/warnings policy.) But with awards--especially when the MEFAs were really the only game in town--I think people perceive the stakes as being higher. After all, an award is a comment on the quality of a story and the skill of its writer, and when writers feel excluded from the outset from even trying for that recognition, I think that resentment will follow no matter what. The open post-mortem in the early years helped ameliorate that because, at the least, people were given the chance to be heard. Technical issues prevented it from continuing but, again, I think the admin structure prevented that from being addressed in a more productive way than "just stop making the PM public." It was really a ticking timebomb in a lot of ways, imho.
  • I was shocked to read this - as a definite lurker in Silmarillion fandom, I had no idea the MEFAs were stopped. I enjoyed them in past years, discovered most of my favorite fics through the MEFA archives, and was looking forward to this year's nominations. It's a great pity that something this good is gone.
    • I agree that it is sad, as it was an important part of my fannish life as well and, I felt, generally a positive force in the fandom.

      If you wish to delurk, there is a move afoot to set up a new award along the lines of the MEFAs: the discussion is over at tome_awards. ;)

      Also, the archives are still up at mefawards.org, so that's good for fic-finding. :)
  • I was shocked and saddened by the demise of the MEFAs.

    I think you do a great job of bringing the strands of fandom together in BTME where very diverse groups come together and creativity and friendships flourish
    • I really think we need groups like the MEFAs and B2MeM. It's so easy to retire to one's corner and forget the whole big world that's going on right behind you. While there are some differences that will probably never be reconciled, I do truly believe that most members of our fandom have more in common than they don't, and we should try to connect outside our comfort zones periodically. 8^) <--pie-eyed optimist
  • THANK you.

    Most of the people on my f-list who are or were involved with the MEFAs seem to see it similarly, but I've read one or two entries where, indeed, those who raised concerns were accused of bringing the MEFAs down (Yes! All by ourselves!), the open letter was called condescending and arrogant, etc. etc. So I've been slightly desperate to put my feelings into words in a reasonable, diplomatic and friendly manner, and so far, I've failed - at some point, I just keep drifting into... hm... very personal and undiplomatic territory. Now that you've put down your thoughts (which are pretty much mine - except you managed to keep my petty hurts and grudges out! ^^), I'm actually feeling relief because I know longer need to explain myself. I can just link to your entry.

    So, again, THANK you!
    • (Yes! All by ourselves!)

      Y'all have so much power! I never knew! Here, all along, I was friends with such powerful people and just didn't even know. If you don't mind, I'd like you all to get on my school's cell phone policy. It sucks. We could also use a raise. Oh, and there's a Presidential election that's of small interest to me this year too, if you don't mind ... ;)

      But, in all seriousness, yes, it is patently ridiculous to assign blame to an open letter of critique. Even the discussion afterward. Yes, it was scary-big and intense at times but, as an admin, there reaches a point where you have to check yourself out of reading what's being said on forums outside of those you authorize. Or you delegate someone to follow those and respond where needed and write up notes of points you need to address. Someone wrote an open letter against me once. I never even read it. I knew I could not reconcile with that person at that time (my grandmother had just died); she and I had tried already through official channels.

      I do realize that people who are upset and disappointed are speaking from a place of emotion, not reason, where they have considered the sense of what they're saying. It's still ironic, given their scorn of those who leaped to assume, for example, that Elliska was a fundie Christian trying to block adult stories from becoming eligible, to make the exact same kinds of harmful assumptions about those on the "other side." I couldn't stay silent on this one.

    You know, since this whole mess started, I have not left one comment. Anywhere. I've read and made up my own mind about the situation, but I'm generally so tired of all these regular wanks that I couldn't be bothered (surely one of the reasons is the fact that the MEFAs were never dear to my fannish heart).

    Anyway, you've said everything there is to say. If this were an open letter, I'd sign it in a heartbeat. I hear you about being an admin and I certainly hear you about being singled out for writing adult stories. This is by far the best and most balanced interpretation of the whole problem I've seen. It should be required reading material for everybody who was involved in this. Basta.
  • MEFAs - the end of an era (or some such)

    User oloriel referenced to your post from MEFAs - the end of an era (or some such) saying: [...] THIS THIS THIS. Signed a dozen times. (Her full, thoughtful and intelligent entry can be found here [...]
  • I feel the need to write another comment because I've now taken the time to read about what happened with the MEFAs. For me it's tragic to discover that so many people with good intentions had become mired in a difficult situation that was impossible to extricate themselves from.

    Ratings are a difficult thing to establish. I remember when film ratings were developed and all the problems that ensued before the modern ratings were established. Certainly there were many conflicts and inconsistencies to overcome. Perhaps looking at the history of film ratings would be useful in trying to establish a ratings policy for a new awards site.

    Anyway, this whole debate has stirred my interest in becoming a participant in the fandom again. B2MEM awakened it and this event has given me some energy to keep it alive.
    • You know I have missed you dearly and am so excited to see you involved again! :)

      Ratings are perilous. I've always approached discussions of them on the SWG as delicately as possible. I have said throughout this whole debacle that issues of ratings and warnings--particularly when tied up with eligibility--need nothing less than a soft touch and months of time set aside for people to discuss, rant, and rage themselves into contentment. All stakeholders must be involved. People just don't tend to take kindly to feeling these sorts of things are being foisted upon them.

      (Of course, I do understand that the thoughts of those who worked up the new policy was that they weren't making any significant changes, but once it became apparent that there was considerable disagreement with this conclusion, it really did need to be more widely discussed. But that's all water under the bridge now ...)
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