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October 17th, 2002

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05:51 pm - Home, home on the 'net
The first place on the Internet where I regarded myself as being at home is the alt.tv.game-shows newsgroup. (You do remember newsgroups...?)

One of the regular themes on alt.tv.game-shows is how the newsgroup is, in some sense, not as good as it used to be. I suspect this is mostly sweet nostalgia and rose-tinted glasses; after all, there are still well over fifty people who make consistently interesting posts to the newsgroup who are a pleasure to read. I know this because I operate an "accept rule" system which works akin to an inverse kill rule; I only get to see the posters who I want to see.

There are only a very small number of posters who used to post to the newsgroup and don't do so any more that it would be a thrill to see again. (Happily, through LiveJournal and other online blogs, we do get to find out about what most of the LA posse are up to these days from time to time. It's a thrill to hear that so many of them are doing so well.)

Unfortunately, there are many posters who aren't so good to read. The dull and worthless ones drag the interesting ones down to their level and so I end up seeing what the dull ones have to say. There are also some threads which only make sense when you take a look at the thread as a whole - looking at a thread as a whole temporarily overcomes the accept rule system, you get to see what the annoying posters have posted, you are reminded why they are so annoying, your heart rate goes up and you lose $500 per second end up wanting to rant like this.

As well as the interesting posters, we have a lot who are unimaginitive, who write poorly or write about disinteresting things. That's OK. That's inevitable, that's a newsgroup for you. (Many of them try hard and can't help it. It's hard to find a line between "wanting to cut them a break" and "not being too annoyed by them".) We also get some to deliberately write to offend and annoy. The newsgroup is not very good at ignoring them - after all, it only takes one or two responses - and so the trolls keep coming back time after time.

The trolls are annoying, but they are easy to ignore. The people flaming the trolls are probably more annoying; they think they're funny, but they aren't. (Have you ever flamed an atgs troll? Sorry, there's a 99% chance that I didn't think it was funny.) There's also a lot of flaming of non-trolls which goes on; a favourite easy target is Prof. Steve Beverley, whose journalism is frequently inaccurate and biased, but (a) he tries hard and (b) anyone who puts that much effort in deserves the privilege of putting whatever sort of spin on things he wants. It's up to us as discriminating consumers of news to see through it and interpret the news we see however we want. Steve-baiting is easy and gets very boring after a while.

The third most annoying thing about the newsgroup is that there is so much good stuff mixed in with all the bad. It remains my favourite newsgroup over the years and has such wonderful potential. When it's good, it's very, very good. I'm pleased and proud to know some wonderful people on there.

The second most annoying thing about the newsgroup are people who evidently do know very much indeed about game shows and are capable of making intelligent, useful, constructive posts - but don't, because they think it's somehow more worthwhile to post something destructive instead.

The most annoying thing is that some of the good-spirited posters like some of the mean-spirited ones. I'm mentioning no names in either category, because nobody would benefit from a flamewar on this point, but if you think you can guess who I'm referring to then you're probably right. (If you think I'm referring to you, hi! Phone me next Wednesday and tell me what you think of me!)

This isn't even the sort of issue where there is a reasoned argument to be had - there is no other issue involved here apart from "<blank1>, <blank2>(, <blank3>, <blank4>, <blank5>, <blank6>... - there's a lot of 'em out there) and <blankn> have proved themselves time and time again to be unfunny jerks who don't have a worthwhile sense of what constitutes reasonable, decent behaviour and who should be very ashamed of the way they behave". Fill in the blanks yourself. (Dum, dum, da-dumma dum-dum-dum...)

I also do recognise that it's quite a respectable alternative point of view that my sense of humour and my sense of conduct could be out of line with that of the majority - and when that happens, it's probably my hard luck rather than anyone else's. It wouldn't even be the first time this month where my standards have proved spectacularly different to the masses' accepted ones; if that's the case, it would be more than a little egotistical of me to suggest that my values are in some sense better than everyone else's. (Besides, it would be hypocritical. After all, nobody's perfect; I know I've done a lot of things on this newsgroup which wouldn't stand up to judgement.)

To an extent, this is a non-issue. It's the sort of natural personality clash that you'll get when you get any reasonably large bunch of people, many with fairly large egos (the sort of large ego that you need to maintain a LiveJournal, for instance!) interacting with each other for fun.

However, what concerns me is the fact that people aren't stopping and saying "No, that's not right - that's not a proper, respectful, even self-respectful way to go about things." Am I really that far off-base here?

It's probably not constructive to raise such issues in the forum itself; it would only drive down the quality of discussion further. However, a personal LiveJournal seems like a very appropriate venue. Hopefully the right people will get to see it.

No comments, no flamewar. (That said, you have your own LiveJournal where you can respond if you want to rant back at me.) It's probably better for the world if we try to contain the inevitable flamewar in one place and here is as good as any. Please just think about the way you behave, though. All of you, including me.

Other bit of game show news: ericklendl took Brainteaser for £1500 today in the finest of style. Yay! Whoo hoo! *applause*
Current Mood: ranted-out
Current Music: Something peaceful and calming required, I think

(12 comments | Leave a comment)


[User Picture]
Date:October 17th, 2002 12:39 pm (UTC)
Yes, I remember [when I had time to read] newsgroups. Oh the fun we had on alt.fan.james-bond when someone dared to postulate that one of the movie Bonds was better than the others...

The main reason I don't follow groups regularly any more is the lack of a decent offline reader for Mac. Google Groups is an excellent resource but does require you to be connected, and I live in a household with dialup, charges and four other telephone users.
[User Picture]
Date:October 17th, 2002 02:33 pm (UTC)

Calling London

Am rather surprised that you haven't signed up for some sort of unmetered access deal given that you are in a house with at least two fairly intense net users (and I don't know about the other three at all). Do you get as much Internet as you could ever need at work, or is this a consequence of only renting the place and not knowing how long your roots will be down in that particular building?
[User Picture]
Date:October 17th, 2002 03:08 pm (UTC)

Re: Calling London

> is this a consequence of only renting the place and not knowing how long your roots will be
> down in that particular building?

Exactly. For the same reason, I don't plant anything in the garden that takes more than a couple of months to grow.
Date:October 18th, 2002 05:21 am (UTC)

Re: Tube

[user icon]

grumble, grumble, new-fangled, bring back the escalator link, straight central line, grumble, grumble.
[User Picture]
Date:October 18th, 2002 09:50 am (UTC)


Mmm - would you prefer this? I shall certainly not point you here which would make your sensibilities explode. (While it clearly isn't as nice, I personally think I could get used to it after a while.) A tip of the hat to addedentry for <a href="http://8letters.co.uk/grey/mtarchives/2002/06/index.html#002989>this old piece of whimsy</a>, too. http://www.sitw.f2s.com/london/maps.html used to be an excellent site, but the Wayback Machine hasn't grabbed as many of the old gifs as you would like. What do you think about http://web.archive.org/web/20010623142153/www.sitw.f2s.com/othercities/maps/moscow.gif ? Phwor, I say.
Date:October 17th, 2002 12:44 pm (UTC)

My take on atgs

It really *was* better long ago, in it's glory days before GSN (ironically enough). There used to be many intelligent discussions, and practically every post started on topic. Robair, Dave Mackey, Matt Ottinger, David Hammett, Chris Clemenson, Randy Amasia, Aaron Solomon, Chri$ L!, 'Brian and yourself all showed a great love of the genre. There was no looking down your nose at people for asking a game show related question -- ANY game show related question! Email addresses could be freely posted without being spammed to death (remember that the first spam occurred via Usenet!)

Now, we have trolls, troll hunters, troll hunter hunters, spammers, "Tomarkenites", stalkers, and liars. Without that traffic, the group is decent. That's the group I read and participate in. *shrug* It is a shame that many of the "founders" of the group no longer post because of the types mentioned in the first sentence, they are now in the industry, or a combination of the two. I miss the perpective and interaction of these people, and relish the times that I get to see some of them in person.

But the world keeps spinning on its axis, so I'm happy. =)
[User Picture]
Date:October 17th, 2002 01:06 pm (UTC)
I think you may be reading wayyyy too much into ATGS.

I have, over my relatively short Usenet existence, frequented five groups. ATGS is definately the middle of the road, as two groups have been nothing but flame-fests for as long as I've read them, and two groups are more pleasant. However, I will say that the two pleasanter groups are ones with regulars from many different countries (mainly Australia, Canada, UK, USA, and Germany) whereas the most problematic one is nearly completely Amerilocal.

I'm just as guilty of poor behaviour as the next ATGSer... I do not deny that, however I'm not exactly too proud of it, either. I normally realise when I've gone down that dirt road, and it's well documented in the Groopsgle archives.

However, a LJ entry is very unlikely to change the behaviours of the lot of ATGS. Most of the problematic ATGSers wouldn't be reading this...

Anyway, I'll suggest that the next time you refresh headers, pour yourself a glass of your favourite drink (a cup of tea, a bottle of vodka, a combination of the two, whatever you enjoy, really) and try to enjoy the festivities.
[User Picture]
Date:October 17th, 2002 01:16 pm (UTC)

Hey, I've Got Two Cents! (Two Pence?)

You raise several good points, but I'll only address what interests me, because I'm in a selfish mood today.

I would argue that the newsgroup was better a few years back than it is now. Many of our best posters started many years ago. Per Google, these are the first posts (MM/DD/YY); several of the people listed below also post here:

03/02/94 -- Jay Lewis
11/10/94 -- Matt Ottinger
11/23/94 -- Chris Dickson
01/03/96 -- Randy Amasia
01/13/96 -- Curt Alliaume (he said modestly)
05/06/96 -- Chris Lambert
09/14/96 -- Mike Klauss
10/19/98 -- Justin Lollie
10/05/01 -- Dan Sadro

My thought is the quality of the newsgroup posts has decreased as the number of people with access to the Internet has increased. In the U.S. alone, the percentage of the populace with access to the Internet has nearly quadruplied since 1997. So let's say we have four times as many different people posting to the newsgroup since 1996. Unfortunately, it doesn't appear that there are four times as many intelligent, stimulating, or clever posts -- I'd suspect there are about twice as many, with the other half coming from posters who are angry, baiting, or either not well-informed or unable to express themselves as eloquently as they might like.

What can one do? Ignore, ignore, ignore. It's like being at a party where the five-year-old is trying to make himself the center of attention. Ignore the five-year-old, and eventually he'll give up. Give the five-year-old feedback, and he'll only be encouraged.

I believe the only difference between the Internet and the real world is the lack of a three-dimensional presence. This should not give people license to say anything they like about others -- when have you seen anyone call someone obscene names to their face who has asked a foolish question, is disabled and unable to express himself, or was mistaken about something? I would venture to say almost never.

Geez, this is becoming an awfully big soapbox.
Date:October 17th, 2002 01:28 pm (UTC)


I think Chri$ L! has been around longer than 1996, because I seem to recall his posting while I was still at the rental house in Ontario... Of course, Google Groups doesn't recognize me until 12/30/1994, and I *know* as fact that I posted long before then and under a different email address (cvads021@csupomona.edu to be exact).
[User Picture]
Date:October 17th, 2002 02:24 pm (UTC)

Re: L!

You're right. Move Chris' first post date back to 01/09/94. (You have one dollar -- would you care to try for two?)
[User Picture]
Date:October 17th, 2002 07:23 pm (UTC)

Re: L!

I think you were counting my first useful post. :)
[User Picture]
Date:October 19th, 2002 06:53 pm (UTC)


Some people do this in an edit, but I think it's probably better to do it as a follow-up comment. The downside is that it may be less visible to general readers than most.

I have to confess to being slightly disappointed by the response I got to this article. All the replies I got were excellent and very interesting, but, as they say, "it's not what you say that matters, it's what you don't say". Everyone who replied was firmly on the side of the angels in the first place, so I've ended up preaching to the choir here. Always fun, but not productive.

In fact, I was kind of spoiling for a bit of an argument with those who might happen to disagree with me on this subject. It's possible that what I've written makes so much sense that everyone who's read it agrees with me and that there's not much scope for productive argument against it. However, continuing evidence on the newsgroup suggests that this probably isn't the case. Perhaps it's just the case that the people who I'd like to read this article and think about the points I raise haven't read it. (Or perhaps, in general, it's just the fact that the people I'm thinking of are spending too much time drinking and not enough time thinking.)

One interesting and relevant piece of feedback I've had is that my paragraphs about Steve Beverley and his style of journalism don't stand up to analysis. Yes, on reflection, what I put is a bit far from the mark. Let me back up, think about it a bit harder myself (!!) and explain more clearly what I feel. :-) By the way, I like receiving feedback like this! It was constructive, it was useful, it was well-expressed. Challenge me!

It's a desirable fundamental that journalists who are attempting to be primary news sources should remain objective. However, I'm not convinced that there is very much objectivity to be had about a subject as entertainment-based as game shows, other than raw accuracy - not least in the standards of grammar and spelling. However, I like reading people's opinions on game shows. lambertman has a fantastic game show page site. The rules section is an amazing resource, but my favourite parts are the columns. I like it when writers I respect give their opinions on new game shows, whether they give them on their sites or on their LJs; opinions are fascinating and fun.

I treat Steve Beverley's site not as an independent, objective news source. Instead, I regard it as an opinion-based fan page, not very different from anyone else's. In that regard, I'm prepared to defend my original comments of "(a) he tries hard and (b) anyone who puts that much effort in deserves the privilege of putting whatever sort of spin on things he wants." Indeed, Prof. Steve has one of the two game show fan pages that I check most frequently, simply because I like reading his opinions, even though (possibly even because?) I usually don't agree with them. The foibles - surnames, in-jokes, running gags, his past experiences and so forth - are just good fun and add to the experience.

As a primary source of news, I agree it leaves a lot to be desired. As a fan page, though, I think it's more interesting than yours. (That is, unless you're lambertman or one of the http://www.ukgameshows.com/ team. Apologies to the large number of you who game show have fan pages which are very good indeed in their own way, but which aren't quite as interesting to me as Steve's. I do not wish to demean your considerable efforts.)

By the way, I will be forever indebted to anyone who can help me remember when I mean to use the word subjective and when to use the word objective. I need to look up the two words, and stare closely at their definitions, every time.

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