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tiltjlp's Improve Article..

JonPurpleHaze

Site Nudger
Staff member
from John...

"Improving The Community
An Opinion From Afar, By tiltjlp


What I disliked most about the VP community during the two years I was active was the infighting and ego. Of course, in any group, online or otherwise, infighting and egos are unavoidable. But there are any number of ways to minimize the impact of both problems. You'll still have a few folks who'll really consider themselves hot property, but they usually can be ignored, and in time, they'll either hush up or else become truly laughable. But beyond bloated egos and all the infighting, there are ways that every member can nurture the community as a whole, so it will eventually become not only what I worked toward, along with many others, but also become as good as we all dared wish it was.

Now that I've had a few months away from the community, it's much easier to voice my opinion, not that I was even averse to speaking my thoughts. And while it probably won't earn me any points, I've considered each suggestion long and hard, as I looked at the problem spots I either caused, or at least became a part of while I was an active member. Now that there's more forums than ever, I think my observations are more important than ever. No, I don't think VP or the VP community is at death's door, although maybe it is running out of steam, or at least stagnating. And before any of you search for someone to blame, why not take a bit closer look into your own mirror, because no one is ever completely innocent. I know that I wasn't, and I can assure you I wasn't the worst of the lot, and far from the best.

The rallying cry for a while at the Free Forum was "They're Only Words", and while that's true, words can and do cut quick and deep, but they can also bruise, and those bruises are what hurt the most, and heal the slowest. Freedom of speech gives you the right to say what you will, not the requirement to say whatever's on your mind. In a global community, it's easy to blame language differences for misunderstandings, but I very seldom had any trouble figuring out what anyone meant. And the rare times that I didn't understand what someone was saying, it was so confusing I wouldn't have known if I had been insulted or not. Words are important, and can pack a wallop, so please think before you post any reply in anger. And contrary to what some vocal members have said, just because profanity and rudeness have become a part of pop culture doesn't make it right and proper. At least pretend that you're a Class Act.

What VP and the Internet as a whole needs more of is Humor, the sort of silly nonsense Bob is a master of dishing out willy nilly. Bob's funny comments are often in response to some other member's reply to a post by still another member, in an effort to defuse the start of a war of words. Bob's humor ranges far and wide, and a good place to find a concentration of Laughs By Bob is the Magic Forums, where there are countless joke threads, many started by me before I had to depart. No matter if you like limericks, puns, Tom Swifties, or just about any other kind of joke, a visit to the forums JonPurpleHaze and I founded might give you an attitude adjustment. For some weird reason, most folks take VP and table making much too seriously, and a reality check can always loosen things up. We all need to learn how to laugh more, especially at ourselves, and Bob's twisted viewpoint is a nice place to begin.

Personal attacks are another problem that occur much too often. Marv showed us the worst of extremes when he began attacking me and the other members of the Flipperless community, and voiced death wishes against a goodly number of us. Rightfully, he was shown he was no longer wanted as a part of the community, in no uncertain terms. But there have been countless other personal attacks against fellow members, even one begun by me against Ut2player. At times we're all going to be agitated by something someone does, and if it continues, we might strike back in either anger or frustration. No matter how justified we feel, the bottom line is that someone else will be hurt. No matter how noble the cause may seem, nor how much support there might be, the bottom line is that personal attacks never lead to anything positive. Often the attacks are started by newbies who simply don't have all the facts, but sometimes they are brought about by established members who only know some of the facts. Keep two things in mind the next time you think about taking up some noble and right cause . . . it's only pinball, and once you're gone, as I now am, what will it matter?

But maybe the worst problem is EGO. There are a good number of truly gifted authors who deserve the wonderful reputations that they have earned. And there are some others, not quite are gifted, who work hard and long to create the best work that they can, and they also have good reputations. Recognition is great when it's deserved, and I've never begrudged anyone the praise they receive. But there are some folks who are first off, egotists and braggarts, and who secondly, belittle nearly everyone else’s work in order to make their own work seem even better. I always tried to be supportive of everyone's efforts, and offered advice and suggestions on how they could make their tables the best they could be. That doesn't mean that I thought every single table released was a winner, because I didn't, which is why I offered my opinion and advice while they were WIPs. Once someone finally releases a table, good, bad, or ugly, I can't see the sense in bad mouthing it. Download it and enjoy it or ignore it, but don't rag the author.

In a previous Opinion Piece, I coined the term Glad Handing, which is the practice of posting empty replies to WIP posts. A Say Nothing reply at least will be harmless. Saying that a WIP looks great when you could make a few suggestions to improve upon it is what the real problem is in VP. Personally, I wanted to see every table be the best it could be, purely for selfish reasons . . . the better they are the more I enjoy playing them. Of course I'm only talking about originals now, but the same applies to recreations, the goal of every VP member needs to be to support one another, so that in the end we all improve our abilities. Very few if any authors have the skills to create a masterpiece without a little help somewhere along the line, even if that help is simply testing done by a friend or an idea borrowed from another table, or maybe a reminder how to best code an obscure feature.

Most importantly, don't ever get the idea that any one person is essential to VP, no matter who, other than Randy, since without him we wouldn't exist. Black furthered the development of many features we now have, but he's busy with other projects, and VP hasn't ended, in spite of all the forecasts of doom. IRP no longer hosts original tables, but VP is still going strong. There are folks who bemoan that there are countless forums, instead of only one, but what's wrong with a variety of forums with different personalities? Just like The Magic Of Flipperless, with its focus on Flipperless and Novelty games and tables, there is room for growth. Instead of taking an us against them attitude, shouldn't we all recognize a need for every active member to be appreciated for whatever contribution they make?. Not everyone makes tables, but there are many other ways of being involved; hosting a VP forum, chat, download, or high score site. Searching for graphics or sounds is important, and often goes unmentioned. Even simply posting regularly at one or more of the forums is worthwhile, especially since there are only a handful of truly active members left in VP It's sad that even in my absence, I'm more active than most folks in VP.

Many people considered me something of a peacemaker, but I never thought of myself that way. I simply have the ability to ignore things that might otherwise upset me. I believe I have a fairly accurate idea of who and what I am, so it isn't important if someone happens to disagree with me, or simply doesn't like me. The majority of folks seem to think I'm a decent sort of fellow, and that's about all any of us can hope for. And since I'm far from letter perfect, when I do something that upsets or hurts someone else, I always apologize, and try to make things right. Maybe it takes a while before I extend the olive branch, but eventually I always do. Of course I didn't like everyone in VP, that's impossible, but I did try to either get along with everyone, or I ignore the few that simply weren't my cup of tea. If I was able to do it, maybe you can too. If you think I don't have a right to voice these opinions, simply ignore them. But if they make sense to you, why not give them a try. A little kindness can go a long way. You don't have to agree with everyone, but you also don't have to do battle over every little disagreement, either.

tiltjlp, 10/21/03"
 
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