The last word

Trax in Space
As a note, I wrote this 5 months ago and forgot about it. I dug it up today and edited it a bit after I decided I was going to post something similar on the subject, and realized this said everything I wanted to say and more. So, without further ado.

Firstly, this will be my final post on the TiS beta. I have no intention of returning to the site in any social or administrative capacity.

Two major things have contributed to this decision. Firstly is simply Saurin's lack of interest in the site. Whatever happened to him between the site's release and now surely hurt any potential the site could have reached. He had a grand idea on how things were going to work in principle, but in practice they just didn't work out at all. That's not anyone's fault, that's just the way it played out. However, had he stuck around and maintained interest in the site, the problems with his system could have had a chance to have been fixed, or resolved in a way reasonably acceptable to the community. Instead, he chose to focus on easy things, mostly related to forum improvements, instead of confronting the problems head on. When I put together the Trac site complete with SVN source access, he had no ambition to contribute or even try to get involved with it. It's a shame, because I had worked up what I believed to be a decent-sized team of people who wanted to actually work on this stuff. Can I blame him for this? No, because his life is his own. If he doesn't believe that Trax in Space is an important part of his life anymore, I have no right to say that he needs to be responsible for it.

The second, and really the more insignificant factor, was the community itself. I say "insignificant" not because the community is insignificant, but because if the first issue hadn't existed, I probably would have been able to better put up with people criticizing the way I handled the site. No doubt Saurin would have taken some time to actually help out with the issues had he shown some interest in his own site.

There were a few factors that contributed to this:
- My abrasive, tell-it-like-it-is style of moderation
- Lack of respect for the spirit of the site
- Lack of respect for others in the community

I admit I took an over-the-top approach to moderation at Trax in Space. At first, I tried to come across as a no-nonsense personality that wasn't going to take shit from anyone. The problem was that this personality was extremely simple to channel anger through, and let me leave no doubt that a few situations on Trax in Space got me angry enough to do so unchecked, starting with the Ashwood situation. Sure, I had some infamous "flame wars" with Spectra and Simeon before that, but I always found those fun.

Once Saurin imparted some responsibility on me, though, I tried to carry out his wishes to the best of my ability. One of those responsibilities was to cut down on the amount of copyright material posted. Now, what Trax in Space should have been doing with copyrighted material was long a subject of controversy. I took my stance from the many name-and-shame schemes that other sites used in the past. I think, looking back, I took that too far. But at the same time, the reaction I was getting was confusing. From the removals of no-name artists I got praise, but from the removals of artists with some reputation on the site I often got a lot of negative feedback. It seemed like it was one of those things where I was expected to apply the standard to everyone except people's friends. This perspective didn't help any in tempering my responses.

Up to this point, I had already been upset with people breaking the spirit of the site. The main purpose and underlying goal of the site was to share your music with your friends. Everything else was just a bonus. Yet there would come along people who would make anonymous accounts with the seeming intention of provoking people.

This just made Trax in Space seem like a circus to me. I enjoyed Trax in Space for what it was for, and that was sharing music. These "artists" were merely interruptions that made TiS less enjoyable for me, and I'm almost certain that other people who decided to try the site to listen to some music were wondering what the hell they were listening to and just never came back. Things like this never help, but when someone's objective is to lift themselves or their friends up at the expense of others you can't really expect much in the way of morality.

TiS was also plagued with people who not only failed to respect the spirit of the site, but they also refused to respect other individuals, especially in cases where their opinion was in opposition to them. Too many threads would erupt in anger because people just couldn't get through their head that someone's ideas could possibly be different than theirs. I guess this is normal.

As for my administrative role, I stand by my removal of all music I removed. When proven wrong I put it back. It wasn't a big deal when that happened, and it's what I thought Saurin wanted for the better of the site. Without him around to guide the process, I took it over. Until he made the decision to keep things up until the copyright owners complained about it, my actions were consistent with what was necessary. I feel I went over the top, though, when it involved people that I considered to have a certain status in the community. Perhaps my intention was to make examples of big names, or to show people that no one's exempt from the rules. Whatever it was, it backfired due to my fiery presentation and resolve of the community to protect one of their own. Okay, so the response I got was more than acceptable.

However, it must be noted that this point by itself, my handling of my administrative duties, was never that big a deal to me, and still isn't. It alienated me from a few people, but really, I can handle the heat and own up to what I did whether right or wrong. So really, the above paragraph isn't as major of a contributing factor to my demeanor towards the community as one who was familiar with the situations in question may think.

The truth is, Trax in Space is going nowhere. Saurin's not going to suddenly come back and fix everything. The community's not going to suddenly gain respect for what TiS2 is trying to do. Nothing I could have said or done could have changed this. I tried, because I really believed in what Saurin wanted to accomplish, but when I realized that the community was more interested at entertaining themselves than help in furthering the site, my interest was gone.

Perhaps us music website operators expect too much of our users.


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