One of my long-term favourite blogs is Teresa & Patrick Nielsen Hayden's Making Light - a mostly-fannish, mostly-liberal watering-hole, around which the most amazingly various, erudite, and just plain convivial community of guests and commenters has grown up. This has not occurred, or been maintained, by accident.
As a libertarian, no less than as somebody who lives in the world among men and women, I'm deeply interested in the nature, care, and feeding of voluntary communities. Making Light, in its long and mostly distinguished avoidance of the classical failure modes of online society, has often given me much nourishing food for thought on these matters. Also, it is a good deal of fun.
The fun and the community mechanics of this fluorosphericity are now combined in a highly recommended virtuoso thread, begun by ML moderator Abi Sutherland when she reposted an exchange between her and Chris Clarke for the public benefit. The topic was web social dynamics. The medium was pastiche of classic poetry. The result was absolutely bloody hilarious, especially when the regular commenters began responding to this soft and unmistakable sound of a gauntlet landing on the dusty ground. Read! Read! Read it all!
Unlike Abi, and several of the other Regular Light Cavalry, I'm not capable of improvising poetry at a conversational pace, even online. In the course of the festivities, though, I did manage eventually to scrape together my own thoughts on these things into a suitable form. I'm quite proud of the result, which I repost herebelow. My point of departure is an old favourite of mine, Rudyard Kipling's now legendary If -.
If Only -
If you can keep your shit when all about you
Are losing theirs like senna-scarfing fools,
If when goodwill and patience have run out, you
Can plainly keep, nor lawyer, common rules;
If you can pause before the fatal posting,
Or lacking context, won't give way to rage,
Or having beef, take counsel before roasting,
And yet don't come it like the Web's Great Sage:
If you can draw - and not draw just for eyeballs;
If you can link - and not make links your aim;
If you can comment justly till the sky falls,
And, heaven-scarred, rise up, nor rise in flame;
If you can dare admit your heart's truth spoken
Slipped in your hand to slice a harmless face,
And neither double down, nor slink off broken,
But make amends with gallantry and grace;
If you can take your hard-won reputation
And chance it on a very devil's choice,
And weather patiently all indignation
Before you'll channel someone else's voice;
If you can drive off dolt and bore and spammer
With gnome or weeding-hoe or witty verse;
If you can make like Thor with your ban-hammer
With those who only speak to make sound worse;
If you can take young trolls and show them reason,
Or shine with stars - nor grow too high and proud,
Or ride your hobby-horse, but in good season;
If passion moves your posts, BUT NONE TOO LOUD;
If you can fill the Infinite September
With thirty days of making song and light,
Yours is a gaff its guests shall long remember,
And - which is more - pls lnk t my cl st.
Many thanks to Mr Kipling, and to Abi and the whole Fluorospherical crew, for supplying the inspiration and the occasion between them!