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  1. #1
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2002
    BR mailing list
    Geez, I go away for a couple days and everybody goes nuts....

    There`ve been several contentious issues recently. As the birthright-l
    moderator I feel obliged to step in on a few of them, but rather than send
    off what would appear to be around eight or ten emails to individual
    posters--which is how I usually handle such things--I think one general
    post to all concerned would be more sensible. So here`s an open letter to
    the Birthright community addressing a four major issues/groups; the 3e BR
    conversion team, those who have criticized them, the general content for
    the Birthright list/message boards, and the recent spate of personal attacks.

    To the 3e BR design team: Guys, lighten up. I`ve forgotten exactly who
    the quote is attributed to, but it goes something like this: "Criticism is
    difficult to take, particularly from a relative, a friend, an acquaintance
    or a total stranger." Point being that criticism is rough, but at the same
    time one has to recognize that criticism is going to be levelled at any
    publicly released work. Several responses to the criticism that have been
    made so far have ranged from the petulant to the outright obnoxious--one or
    two have violated a few of WotC`s policies regarding netiquette on their
    boards/lists. Even had they not, they would be a cause for concern for
    several reasons.

    First and most obviously of all, if you can`t respond to criticism from
    someone in the Birthright community without flaming the critic it`s not
    very difficult to question whether or not you are qualified to produce a
    conversion meant for that self-same community. I understand and I think we
    can all sympathize with the fact that this is a free, fan produced
    product. As such, we don`t expect the same level of professionalism from
    its producers as we might from people actually being paid for their
    efforts. However, the reactions to posts criticizing the design team have
    reached a lowpoint. At the very least, try to remember that these are
    people you hope to make the fan base for a project that you are putting so
    much effort into. Alienating members of the Birthright community before
    even releasing your conversion is not a sound marketing strategy. Did they
    provoke you? Did they start it? Did they deserve the response? It
    doesn`t matter. If you want to stand in the spotlight of the Birthright
    community (or in any community, really) you need to develop a thicker skin.

    Secondly--and this is one I`d really like to you think about--the
    objections raised by a few folks regarding the handling of the 3e
    conversion project are not without merit. There has been a rather
    high-handed/heavy-handed approach to the process. The lack of progress
    reports or previews fosters the impression that you have little or no
    interest in hearing from the community and that you`ve created a sort of
    "inner circle" that presumes to dictate to the rest of us. I don`t
    personally feel that`s what`s happening (and in all honesty, I wouldn`t be
    very concerned if it was since I`ll pick and choose what I want to use
    anyway) but it isn`t very difficult to see how people could get that
    impression and resent it. While I understand and support the basic
    thinking behind the method being employed, I do have some serious
    reservations about how that method appears to have been interpreted by
    several of the team members. The tone of public posts from a few team
    members (and at least one email I received privately) indicate that they
    interpret their "status" as a team member to mean their contributions are
    somehow more authoritative and significant than that of many people who,
    frankly, have been involved in the Birthright community longer and over
    that time made many valuable contributions to that community. It is easy
    to resent such behavior. No one wants to be dictated to, and no one who
    participates in a community wants to be excluded from its development. The
    method being employed by the team might, arguably, be the most effective in
    the long run, but it is going to inspire some resentment. I`m not saying
    that the method itself should be changed (though there are a few lessons I
    think that could be learned from the experience.) What I`m saying is that
    you should bear in mind in your future dealings with those who have
    criticized the methods used to create the 3e conversion that it is bound to
    create such resentments.

    Now, to those who have criticized the Birthright 3e Team: First and
    foremost, I hope it`s clear from the above that I sympathize. I feel
    obligated to point out, however, that there really is a forum for you to
    influence the 3e conversion. This is it. The people working on that
    project read these posts. They`ve responded here, haven`t they? They are
    themselves participants in the Birthright community. Contribute your
    ideas. Those that the community finds interesting will be discussed and
    the more discussion the more likely they are to influence the 3e
    conversion. The more complete and articulate your ideas the more likely
    they are to be an influence. So by all means, rather than complain about
    not being a participant in the 3e conversion, contribute your ideas here
    and now. Write them up as near as possible to how you think they should be
    presented in a 3e conversion manual and post them. Maybe those ideas will
    appear in a 3e conversion, maybe they won`t, but they`ll exist out in the
    Birthright community, and when it gets right down to it... that`s all the
    official 3e Birthright conversion texts are going to be. They`re just
    stuff that exists out in the Birthright community created by various
    participants. Sure, they are "Official" but so what? Birthright has been
    out of print for so long that it seems hard to believe it would really
    concern anyone who still is involved in the campaign. Besides, does that
    label mean anything? It just means WotC has given permission to the
    folks to put that word on their fan produced materials. That`s the extent
    of the connection to the original material. It`s not that big a deal. It
    won`t buy you a cup of coffee.

    I understand that that may not be a direct enough influence for many people
    in the Birthright community and for those folks I would suggest taking it a
    step further. To wit: write your own 3e Birthright conversion. Go
    ahead. There`s nothing stopping you. You can`t put the word "Official" on
    the cover, and you can`t charge people for it, but surely that isn`t a
    barrier, is it? Write one up, put it on a web site somewhere and send the
    link to the list/boards. There`s no guarantee, of course, that it will
    receive immediate reviews or discussion, but if you pen 3e conversion
    materials then at least people will have access to it, right? Furthermore,
    such a work is much more likely to influence the folks coming up with the
    3e conversion since it will already exist out there in the Birthright
    community. In the final analysis this is a good opportunity to put up or
    shut up. If you really think the 3e BR team is dragging their heels,
    resent not being invited to participate in the process, or suspect they
    will screw up a 3e conversion then just do it yourself. If you get a
    project out before the team does than you`ll prove your point about the
    speed with which they work, and if you write a really good conversion then
    you`ll show them up. So by all means get to work. You can even give us
    samples and updates on your progress (which we can read in lieu of such
    reports from the official team) for discussion purposes.... I, for one,
    look forward to reading your contributions.

    As to various "off-topic" posts that have garnered the ire of a few
    Birthright community members. Here`s the bottom line: You don`t determine
    the content of the discussions for the Birthright community. No one
    controls the content. I don`t control that content either. I merely
    moderate the list. In fact, the reason I wound up the moderator of the
    Birthright list is because of attempts by various people to control the
    content of the list in one way or another, so one of the things that will
    get my attention is a post by someone that tries to dictate content to
    other people. The only folks who are actually in a position in which they
    must read every single post to the list or the message boards are myself
    and the folks who moderate the boards. There may be some folks using
    technology that makes it relatively more difficult than others to delete
    posts they aren`t interested in reading, but as far as I know there is no
    one strapped to a chair in a laboratory with their eyelids stapled open
    being forced to read topics they consider off-topic for the Birthright
    community. As long as there is some sort of "delete" or even "on/off"
    option available let`s not worry about content. This is an open forum for
    discussion about anything Birthright related. Sometimes the conversations
    may drift, but if those conversations are still inspired by Birthright
    related topics and bear some connection to that original topic then we`re
    OK. The Birthright campaign is a broad and inclusive subject, so just
    about any topic can fit under the "Birthright" umbrella. When it boils
    right down to it, the diverse interests and knowledge of its participants
    is a strength NOT a weakness of the Birthright community.

    Last but absolutely not least, there have been several flames
    recently. Bluntly put, folks, let`s knock this off. Off-topic posts are a
    mild problem, but flames are not. Deriding the intelligence, education,
    sanity, integrity or just about any other personal quality of another
    poster constitutes a flame and is not tolerated. The content of posts to
    the BR community can be broad and varied, but personal attacks on other
    contributors is definitely off-topic.

    Birthright-l Moderator

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  2. #2
    Birthright Developer irdeggman's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2001
    Virginia Beach, Virginia
    Thanks for the sanity check Gary. We all need it.
    Duane Eggert

  3. #3
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2002
    BR mailing list

    great mail Gary.



    ----- Original Message -----
    From: "Gary Foss" <geeman2000@EARTHLINK.NET>

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