Yesterday, I posted a link to our “FtB Customer Service Department”. This was intended as a joke — we don’t have such a thing — to mock the idea that we do have such a thing. We don’t. Unfortunately, it backfired on me: some of you saw it was in fun and sent in very complimentary messages about FtB as a whole (thank you very much), and some people sent in serious technical concerns which I’ll have to forward to the appropriate parties (note that we already have a link for that sort of thing, Technical Support), and a few people sent in wacky demands and apparently didn’t understand that we don’t have a central authority.
Here’s the full story on authorities at FtB.
There ain’t any.
There are people with some limited responsibilities, but you have to understand how this group was founded. Ed Brayton and I were on Scienceblogs.com, which was going through a transition — it was being taken over by National Geographic, and they had Standards and Practices, and were going to put some constraints on us (which they had every right to do, and I understand thoroughly why they wanted to do it). We didn’t like it. So Ed suggested we go our own way, set up our own network, and be as anarchic as we want. He put all the legwork into getting it done.
I said one goal would be to promote greater diversity — here we were, to middle-aged white guys, and we were both fully aware of the fact that we were part of a dominant majority…we recognized our own privilege. So we were determined to set up a network that consciously promoted a variety of different voices.
What all that means is that in this network, we were going to give the individual bloggers as much autonomy as we could — recruiting women and minorities and then having a pair of white guys behind the scenes monitoring and regulating them would defeat the purpose, besides violating the whole reason we wanted our own network anyway.
So once someone is in here, they are completely independent — no one tells them when to blog or what to blog or what words to use. Ed doesn’t police anyone else’s blog, I’m not telling anyone else what to write, and no one is ordering us around. We figure once someone is let in, they get a bit of space and are free to write what they want, or not write, or even leave. There aren’t any contracts. This is an Interessengemeinschaft, a community linked by common goals (you know what they are: godlessness, social justice, diversity…) but otherwise having only the loosest of ties. Which means that if you write to me and complain about Greta, or write to Ophelia and complain about Ed, or otherwise try to find some higher authority that you can call down upon one of the bloggers here, it doesn’t exist. We really are equals.
We do have some rules, but they’re very general. We have an admissions committee that screens people before we give them a blog — we learned a lesson from Thunderf00t, that the time to regulate bloggers is before they get a space and begin to shit all over the network. We also formed an executive committee to deal with network wide crises…like a deranged blogger who is shitting all over the network. But otherwise, nope, no one here meddles in anyone else’s blog.
That’s why my joke doesn’t work. You have to understand that there is no central authority here first, then you get it. But unfortunately, there are way too many people with an authoritarian mindset who can’t even imagine a simple non-hierarchical network, and my joke feeds into their delusions. So just forget it! If you want to complain bitterly about Dana’s blog, you’ll have to write to Dana, not me or anyone else on FtB.
Of course, I can’t even imagine anyone complaining about my blog. As innocent and inoffensive as a kitten, I am.