Elitism. How's It Gonna End?

Day 2,789, 15:24 Published in USA USA by Gnilraps

How’s It Gonna End? (Mandatory listening)
Day 2789 of the New World
July 10, 2015

I am going to put my money where my pen is. (Yes, I just wrote, “pen is”.)

In my last article, I called for the citizens of eRepublik to use their newspapers to respond to the various offenses and frustrations they experience along the regular course of their gaming life here.

Nobody does this better than the Pilot of the Mothership from Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Tin Foil Hat truther Franklin Stone himself. I truly wish eRepublik had 15 more just like him.

And since I tend to read just about everything that gets published in this otherwise black hole of creativity known as eRepublik (a notable exception has recently arisen), I feel it is the right time to toss off (there I go again) with my opinions on the hottest topic flowing amid the mind beams:

Let’s first make sure we are all working with an understanding of just what our resident aliens are talking about when they complain about “the elites”.

Without being too pedantic, let’s first mention that the word elite does refer to an expert class of [whatever], in this case eRepublik gamers. I do not believe the mad hatters are adopting this particular nuance of the word. But I mention here at the outset because I expect this first meaning to impact our discussion. (I just checked. It will.)

No, when the Franklin Stoners accuse “the elites” in eRepublik, they are referring to a loosely defined group of people who play this game (mostly with eUSA citizenship, though not exclusively) by supplementing it with the additional power that comes from the broad communications environment of the eUSA Forums. At times, the “elite” label is also slapped on someone who uses his or her IRC ops to ban one of the mentalists from a particular room.

And so the general definition of the term as used in eRepublik media is something like this:

Elite: referring to a group of people who have established power in the “meta-game” and who protect this power by excluding those who would threaten it if said power were shared with them.

How am I doing so far?

First off, it would be absolutely pants on head if I attempted to deny the existence of such elitism. There is, without question, a smallish group of eCitizens who wield control over the eUSA Forums. This in itself, I would hope, should not be enough to elicit complaints about elitism.

It is the fact that this same eUSA Forum is the home of meta-congress. This is the rub. And since Congressional power is a still-relevant form of power in the (non-meta) game, the equity of a situation where the ingame powers can be altered by extra-game factors can be understood as potentially troublesome.

Or to put it more clearly, what business do a few meta players have imposing their meta powers on ingame outcomes? This is seen as a outrage.

But is it?

Is complaining about it really helping?

Is there something else that could be done about it instead?

Or will the endless futile chatter continue to besmirch the news feed with its repetitious whinery?

Question #1: Is the current elitism in eUSA an outrage?

I’ll only say this once. I have some compassion on those who are complaining about elitism. I think elitism exists. I don’t think it is the same kind of problem that others think it is, but I have room in my heart and mind for those who consistently run up against the wall.

Here’s a dirty little secret. I, Gnilraps, am not one of the elites.

*I have kissed no ass.
*I have made no friends whatsoever among the so-called elites.
*I have neither requested nor been given any uber-access.
*I might have donated a few bucks to the forum, but I only did so out of appreciation for the dedication shown by PiZ. But my 5 bucks could hardly ever be mistaken for payola.
*And truthfully, I don’t even know who would be on the list of “elites” if I had to make a list.

But I have not been shunned, mistreated, or otherwise screwed over by the elites.

Why? I’ll guess a few answers.

I have mostly censored myself. Sure, I’ve let the occasional f-bomb fly, kind of like ya do… but f-bombs are not the problem on eUSA Forums. Threats, bullying, and other forms of borderline illegal ebehavior are the problem. And if you can’t censor yourself to the extent that you start threatening someone? Well getting banned for that is not a function of elitism.

Another ebehavior that tends to go over poorly on the eUSA Forums is what I’ll call e-quackery. Quackery is a legitimate problem in RL. It is the word used to describe the practice of illegitimate medicine. eQuackery is the practice of illegitimate Forumship. Let me explain.

There are some among the non-elites who, rather than respecting the commonly accepted guidelines for Forum behavior, consistently respond in Forum threads with disruptive posts. Scratch that… eQuackish posts. I suspect they know exactly what they are doing and they regard themselves as trolls, but trolling is different than eQuackery.

When you want to troll, you start a thread. Or you respond to the OP (or a downthread post) with your trollish response which is in some way relevant to the topic at hand. While troll posts are their own kind of disruption, they are not eQuackery.

eQuacks get shunned and abused by the elites (as well as the ordinary Forum users). And for good reason. eQuackery actually destroys the environment (whereas decent trolling can be a desirable additive).

It is not an outrage when the Forum powerbrokers limit access to users who have consistently shown themselves to be threateners, bullies, and eQuacks. Let’s call these people Type Q’s.

What would be an outrage is if the elites used their Forum power to subversively limit the equal ability of their political enemies to make successful use of the Forum.

And this does not happen.

Once again, setting aside the small group of individuals who have proven themselves to be Type Q, everyone who applies for an account on the eUSA Forum is granted one. Further access to Forum threads is granted based on power that is wielded within eRepublik itself (LOL, sorry, I shouldn’t have linked that). And so a person who is elected CP has the ability to grant Executive Board access to whomever they want because they are the CP. Ditto with other Forum Boards and sub Boards.

Furthermore, among those who exercise the highest degree of power on the Forum boards, there is very little or zero political motivation. Some of the Forum admins/mods are basically former eRepbulik citizens who hang around because, like we all know, eRep is about community more than clicking. These real people (they can hardly be regarded as eCitizens anymore) deserve thanks for the time they donate.

Then others among the mod squad represent quite a diverse cross section of our community. There are former PP’s from four out of the current Top 5 ingame political parties (BSP is not represented among the mod squad, but they have been a T5 party for a relatively short time. I would definitely hope that at some point they would be represented there as well.) There are, in addition to T5 mods, others who have made their careers outside of the T5.

And how does one become a mod on the eUSA Forum? That’s where we return briefly to the aforementioned first definition of the word “elite”. For the most part, the mods and admins of the eUSA Forums are players who have proven to be quality eRepublik gamers. You may not have ever agreed with them, but you can’t argue the fact that they’ve accomplished much ingame… they are “elite” in the best sense of the word; they are experts.

So not only is the eUSA Forum welcoming to non-elites, the pathway to becoming an elite seems to be open to anyone regardless of ingame political affiliation. The only obvious blockade to becoming an elite is set squarely in front of Type Q’s.

For these reasons, I do not believe it is an outrage that there exists an elite group of eUSA Forum users. Having these types of people is a necessary circumstance to the proper functioning of a Forum. And those who are serving in this capacity are doing so with consistency, honor, and accountability.

So the next question is this: Is complaining about elitism actually helping?

In short, no. It literally does absolutely nothing to change the situation.

What it might do is turn a few people away from the eUSA Forums, thus potentially weakening the scope of the elites power base. Perhaps that is part of the strategy among those who complain.

If that is the plan, my opinion is that it is a very weak one. But I’m not going to grind that axe.

The fact is, these complaints have been appearing in eRepublik media for literally years. And if the situation remains in such a way that the complaints are still necessary, then maybe it’s time to change strategy.

Is there something else that could be done about it instead?

sorry about that one

Now I am not the eworld’s most creative person. So my suggestions here are probably not groundbreaking, probably not shatterproof, and definitely won’t be all that brilliant. I’m more of a writer than an inventor.

But before I posit a potential solution, I want to address what is definitely NOT a solution.

Creating a rival forum is a bad idea.

Yes, I know it’s been tried more than once and has failed each time. But past failure is not why I think it is a bad idea. (Dammit I wish I still had the links to these…)

There are several reasons why creating a rival forum is a bad idea.

First, if successful, it simply creates a new elitism. If elitism is a problem (remember, I don’t think it is), then shifting the power to a rival band of elites solves nothing.

Second, if successful, it cuts us off from a tremendous base of players, history, and functionality. This might not be all that important to those who despise the eUSA Forum elites, but it is obviously of value to those who are comfortable there. And this built-in value is what makes it most likely that any rival forum will fail anyway.

Third, it won’t be successful. The manpower and resources required to make the eUSA Forum do what it does is unlikely to be duplicated, especially in a shrinking game.

Anyway, we could debate the merits of the “rival forum” plan elsewhere. Perhaps you should write an article about it.

What could work, actually, is that some high-energy types could make full use of the ingame structures to create systems that render most of the Forum boards obsolete.

Here are a few wild ideas to that effect:

1 - Create a Military Unit for all members of the Executive Cabinet.
Military units are closed systems of communication. Everyone knows who’s in and who’s not, and only those who are in can see what is being posted on the wall. It seems like the perfect system to use for non-forum-based group communication.

2 - In fact, create a Military Unit for Congress too.
What the hell, why not? I know, it makes it impossible for someone to be a member of Exec and Congress simultaneously, but on second thought that’s actually a good thing, no? The SoH becomes CO, his Whips become XO’s, and you can even get all fancy with regiments based on political affiliation. Please tell me why this doesn’t sound fun?

3 - Do away with USAF.
Again, please don’t mistake this as an endorsement. But the USAF is the primary beneficiary of our tax dollars. As such it is also the primary reason we need a structured environment for controlling the flow of cash. Kill it and you’ve decentralized a large portion of government AND you’ve robbed the eUSA Forum of another reason for existance.

4 - Split the Treasury/CBO between the Presidential and Congressional MU’s.
Tax money needs to be raised for defense. The CP/D/CO (see what I did there?) ought to have some control over the cash and Congress ought to have some control over the cash. Stick it in the MU’s and it is safe from foreign looting and it is right where it is needed for the national defense. Don’t give me shit about a rogue CP/D or a rogue SoH… This is an idea, not a plan. You figure it out. Here’s a plan - Create a CBO MU. BOOM. Handled.

5 - Political Party business can easily be handled (mostly) ingame.
Group messages for sensitive information. Shout walls for general communications. Google Docs for archives. Surely some of this is being done. Where it is being done well, it is very successful. In addition to GDocs, Twitch offers an excellent forum for enabling Parties to get things done. I am not well informed of all that is available outside of eRep in terms of technology, but I’d guess a creative Party should be able to do much. And honestly, Party business isn’t really the problem. Only a few Parties use the eUSA Forums as their home, and elitism isn’t really a problem within those structures.

6 - Political Parties should be publishing an official newspaper.
Why is this such a difficult thing? We all know how easy it would be to accomplish.

7 - Abandon the eUSA Forums.
I am not advocating this, I am simply mentioning it as a necessary component of my wild idea. Face it Stone, as long as you keep posting your diatribe on the Forum, you continue to justify its existence, you and everyone else who agrees with you. Lose the url. If you’re doing the rest of what I’ve suggested, you don’t need it anyway.

So there’s a vague blueprint for ingaming the eUSA Forums. It’s not perfect, but by your argument neither is the Forum, so I’m done.

And the last question I raised WAY UP THERE (I know, long article, blah, blah, blah, Shiloh, etc.) was this one:

Or will the endless futile chatter continue to besmirch the news feed with its repetitious whinery?

Sadly, I suspect so.

Parting Shot:

Please shut up about elites. It’s nowhere near the kind of problem you’re making it out to be, there are plenty of things you can do to neuter whatever problem it might actually be, and your complaining is doing nothing whatsoever to help… it doesn’t even make for interesting reading which is a cardinal sin in my book. So for the love of pete would you please at least attempt something interesting beyond whining?

How’s it gonna end?

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