Y'know...

Friday, May 12th, 2017 07:52 am
lizvogel: A jar of almonds that warns that it contains almonds. (Stupid Planet)
If your cause encourages you to be horrible to people in the advancement of it, maybe it's time you got yourself a new cause.

lizvogel: text: I have more userpics on Dreamwidth (more userpics on Dreamwidth)
I sat down to do some story-submitting today, with a brief detour into reading Dreamwidth. (Bad habit, I know, but there it is.) One of the first things on my reading list was the latest news post. Now, I'll admit, I braced a little (conditioned response from many other sites, where every "improvement" is an annoyance at best), but the truth is, with Dreamwidth's changes I usually click through and go, "Well, that can be worked with." Sometimes I'm even pleasantly surprised.

So I look at the new stuff, and what do I get? Outright broken functionality, and an aesthetic road accident. (Two, in fact.) Senior staff, who are usually reasonably responsive to complaints and try to make things work for everyone as best as possible, are giving a general gist of "Well, people wanted it like that, and you just don't like change," along with occasionally blaming the user's browser settings. Users are pleading for a custom CSS option and suggesting script tricks to turn some of the new stuff off; some of it, there's just no way around it.

Which all sounds unpleasantly familiar. It sounds like LiveJournal, and the reason why I abandoned LiveJournal as my primary platform (and rarely make it over there at all any more, unless I have a comment). As a fellow ex-pat put it, we were spending all our time finding ways around the latest "upgrades" instead of enjoying the content, and that's not supposed to be the point of the exercise.

And here I am: I've lost two hours to writing feedback comments and bug reports, and I'm shaking with unchanneled adrenaline. This is not what I come to Dreamwidth for, folks! I come here for relaxing reading and the occasional stimulating conversation, not to flush my afternoon testing broken things and protesting ghastly design decisions, and having those protests fall on largely deaf ears.

I really hope this is a temporary aberration, and not a sign of things to come. C'mon, Dreamwidth. You're better than this.
lizvogel: Run and find out, with cute kitten. (Run and Find Out)
(Well, as much as I can hate anything with the kitten being home, which isn't very much. :-) )


I bought a cell phone to help deal with the kitten emergency. Yes, me, a cell phone. Those who know me will appreciate just how desperate that means things were. ;-) I went with Tracfone because they seemed to have the best coverage map for our area, and because the phone I liked best anyway happened to be with Tracfone. (The fact that said phone was on sale for a whopping five bucks wasn't the deciding factor, but it didn't hurt any.)

I managed to activate the phone, add minutes, and do all the other basic set-up reasonably gracefully, given that I was dealing with, to me, hostile alien technology, and given that I had not one single nerve to spare. The difficulty came in accessing my voice-mail. I'd set it up easily enough; I just couldn't get into it to retrieve any messages I might have.

Since I'd given the number out to the few people most likely to be calling us with a live Mallory sighting, this added a measure of stress to a situation that really already had all the stress it could support and then some. I mean, I'd have kept the device chained to my side regardless, but it would have been nice to be able to go to sleep or take a shower without worrying that I'd miss THE call and never even be able to get the message to know about it.

So after a few days (because all Tracfone procedures include "wait 10 minutes" and "wait 24-48 hours" if it doesn't work right away), I called tech support.

I was on the phone for two mortal hours the first time -- on our land line, which needed to be clear to receive kitten calls -- talking to techs who did not speak English as a first language, on a connection that I'm sure Tracfone wouldn't use to advertise their wares to anybody who hadn't already given them money. ("Joshua" and "Roger", my ass.) The vast majority of that time was listening to their scripted versions of "my computer's fucking slow, please keep waiting", but they did run me through the set-up repeatedly, walking me through trying (and failing) to access my voice-mail, wash rinse repeat. It's a good thing I didn't have any vitally important messages, since one of their favorite things to try was to wipe everything and have me start over from scratch (without even the courtesy of warning me first). This finally ended with yet another wipe-and-re-set-up, and a "wait 24-48 hours". Yeah, right.

Shockingly, that still didn't work, so two days later there was another call to tech support. On a friend's cell phone, so I could keep the land line free. This involved a slightly better ESL-speaker on an even shittier connection, and much shouting of "I can barely hear you, can you repeat that?" He tried a variety of things including the entering of arcane codes in obscure places and pulling the battery (an experience in itself), and, of course, wiping everything and having me set it all up again. (Though at least he warned me.) And then, you guessed it, "wait 24-48 hours", in hopes that it would all magically start working, I guess.

At this point I'd pretty much given up on having voice-mail for the duration. Surprised I was to get a call from Tracfone customer service, pursuing the matter on their own initiative. (On the land line, of course, which was wildly inconvenient.) So as with every other technician (at least this one had a much-less-impenetrable accent), we went through the whole problem again, wiped everything back to factory, did all the set-up again, tried and failed to get into my voice-mail, and tried again, at which point this conversation ensued:

Me: "Okay, it's asking for my password. I'm entering my password... and I'm hitting OK."

Her: "No, don't hit OK."

Me: "...all right, what do I hit, then? Send?"

Her: "No, just type your password."

Me: "Then how do I tell it I'm done?" (For Tracfone passwords aren't a fixed length.)

Her (paraphrased): "Don't press anything, just put in your password."

Yes, folks, apparently the problem was that for Tracfone passwords, you just type the digits and wait for the phone to realize you're not going to give it anything else. By hitting OK (and on what the hell system do you not hit Enter or OK or some special key to indicate you're done with your input, especially on a non-fixed-length field but usually even on most fixed-length ones?!?) I was messing up the process, and the poor little system was dumping to "your call cannot be completed as dialed" because it didn't know how to cope with this exotic input.

Now, I used to work tech support. I am very good about telling a support tech everything that I am doing, even the obvious stuff. Which means I had told every tech every time I'd hit OK, and what with one thing and another that was about forty times.

If I had just had one single technician who (a) spoke English (b) on a decently clear line, and (c) knew their own system (and how to do their fucking job), the whole problem could have been resolved in five minutes. If there'd been decent instructions, there never would have been a problem in the first place.


I've since been told that Tracfone has a reputation for this; their equipment and coverage are good, but their tech support is awful. I have to agree. I'd originally bought the phone with the understanding (a.k.a. sop to my pride) that it was a "burn phone", and I could just let it expire after the emergency if I wanted to. However, I think I'll be keeping it active, in large part because otherwise I might have to go through the set-up process again! I suspect this, in fact, of being Tracfone's evil plan.
lizvogel: A jar of almonds that warns that it contains almonds. (Stupid Planet)
Stopped in at a branch of my favorite local bookstore today; not my favorite branch, but I was in the area and needed a card. I noticed something I'd never seen there before: a sign in the window, tucked in amongst all the other window displays, declaring it a "Weapon Free Zone".

Let's take a moment and look at everything that's wrong with that, shall we?

- Note that it doesn't say "Illegal-use-of-weapon Free Zone" or even "Dangerous-Stupid-or-Inappropriate-use-of-weapon Free Zone". (Which things are illegal anyway.) Nope, this isn't about keeping anyone safe; it's about an individual exercising their Constitutional rights in a safe and sensible manner nonetheless being placed under an additional restriction.

- Any even remotely accurate interpretation of that sign means that I can't enter the store at all. I have enough training that compliance would require me to leave my hands, feet, elbows, knees, skull, and teeth outside. And that's just for starters.

- Also, I have some training in improvised weapons... and it's a bookstore. With tchotchke. If you think that's a weapon-free environment, you lack imagination.

- The kind of person who causes mass violence and public mayhem isn't going to be deterred by a small, discreet sign. The only people who that sign will put off are those who are rule-following and observant -- in short, the very people you want around if something bad does happen. Neither the punk looking for trouble nor the whack-job looking for headlines is even going to slow down in the face of that sign. There is, however, room on the sign for a sticker explaining its actual function: Victims please form an orderly line.

I walked in, but it felt distasteful enough that I soon turned around and walked out, and went and spent my little bit of money somewhere else. Ironically, this bookstore has been very outspoken against the Patriot Act and similar shenanigans. They're very keen on the First Amendment, and creatively contentious against anything that has a chilling or diminishing effect upon it. (I guess only select parts of the Constitution are relevant to their interests.)

I'll have to check my preferred branch for a similar sign next time I'm there. If there is one, a tart letter to the management may be called for.

An Automatic No

Tuesday, July 29th, 2014 08:40 pm
lizvogel: Good / Bad (Good Bad)
Oh, Timothy Hallinan. You were so, so close to an outstanding book. I was really regretting that Crashed was released as a $15 trade paperback, because I was thinking this series was something I wanted my very own copies of and that's more than I'll generally pay for a book. Engaging characters, interesting plot, and a really compelling writing style. And then you blew it.

Because no, your character doesn't have a 9mm automatic that he keeps in a tackle box, as you described. He certainly didn't fire one, as in single, as in a lone solitary bullet, shot into the bad guy's shoulder from an automatic in the manner you related. And he sure as bloody hell definitely did not acquire an automatic by staking out a gun store until somebody bought a new firearm and then following the guy home and stealing it from him.

Shame on you. And shame on your editor, who you kindly credit with making the book what it is but who clearly didn't pick up the basic fact-checking that you dropped the ball on. Because that word "automatic" isn't just a cool-sounding word to throw around about a gun; it means something -- and it's not what you evidently think it means.


I may still read the rest of the series, courtesy of my local library, because the writing style really is compelling. But I'm relieved of my dilemma over the price, because a book with a screw-up like that in it is not a book to devote shelf space to so I can have it handy to pull out and re-read.
lizvogel: A jar of almonds that warns that it contains almonds. (Stupid Planet)
I've been wanting to say something about the Hugo-host kerfuffle, but haven't been able to come up with something that encapsulates it without frothing at the mouth. To my surprise, my housemate nailed it. I'd told her about the kerfuffle, and she was pretty upset by it, not least because an author she really liked and respected displayed extreme asshattery. So I sent her a quick link round-up, on the principle of primary sources. Her response:

"I found it helpful to see just how cruel some people can be & how nice others are. Big pluses to Paul Cornell & Neil Gaiman, big minuses to lots of others who didn't do their homework."

Which says all that needs to be said about that, really.

Oh, the humanity

Tuesday, January 28th, 2014 02:33 pm
lizvogel: A jar of almonds that warns that it contains almonds. (Stupid Planet)
The last time we had our propane filled, the delivery guy took the time to come up to the house to tell us we're terrific. This is a lovely thing to hear, of course, and quite made my day. But the reason for it also made me want to weep for the human race, because what had we done that was so impressive? We'd called for a fill when the tank was at about 35% (20% is the normal heads-up point, but with this weather we figured the propane company would be getting hammered and might appreciate a little advance notice), and we'd troubled to shovel the path to the propane tank. The poor guy had been working 12-hour days and clambering over head-high snowbanks to deliver to people who hadn't called until they were at zero.

A little simple foresight and some basic courtesy was all it took to make us stand out from the pack. It's nice to be appreciated and I'm glad we made his job easier, but really, what the hell is wrong with people that that was exceptional enough to be noteworthy?

I thought about this again today while I was out shoveling (again!). Of course, now I feel like we have a standard to maintain, which is why the path to the propane tank was the first thing I cleared. And why I was out there at all; the bit of driveway in front of the tank is the one bit I didn't get yesterday and in fact had temporarily shoved other snow into, because we're not really using it right now and I just wasn't up to bulling through it all. But when the housemate left a message that she'd called for another fill (a bit early, again), there was no question that it had to be done.

Happily, it's much nicer out today than was predicted. It's beautiful and sunny, and when I checked it was a balmy 26 degrees. (Fahrenheit. Yes, that's our idea of warm these days. Welcome to winter in the Midwest.) I've even been able to let the cats out, albeit only for 10-15 minutes at a time. This is a godsend, because they've been cooped up for days and are going seriously stir-crazy -- and when the cats go crazy, the human is sure to be taken along for the ride. ;-)
lizvogel: Good / Bad (Good Bad)
Meant to post this a while ago. Oh well, it'll likely be relevant again, more's the pity.

A little while ago, Chuck Wendig posted one of his lists, this one about How To Be Outraged On The Internet. And it's Wendig, so it's a pretty good list, and I even agree with parts of it (though only parts), but he did miss one thing.

Here, I fixed that for him.


ARE YOU ABOUT TO SOUND LIKE A MONTY PYTHON SKIT

Because seriously? Most internet kerfluffles are like watching highlights from The Holy Grail. "Help, help, I'm being oppressed! Did you see him there, oppressin' me?" Yes, once in a great while, there's actually an offence being committed, but most of the time? There's no "there" there. It's a lot of sound and fury, but it signifies a great deal more about the person being FURIOUS ON THE INTERNET!!!1!! than it does about whatever it is they're sounding off about. The only difference is, the Pythons were being over-the-top and ridiculous on purpose -- and they were funny about it.

So the next time you're about to be outraged about something on the internet, stop and think a moment: Are you about to sound like a Monty Python skit? And then stop and think a moment more: Do you really want to?
lizvogel: A jar of almonds that warns that it contains almonds. (Stupid Planet)
Honestly, people, the only appropriate response to an article that asserts that things "that only women would find attractive" are "right out of Alexander Dumas" is to laugh derisively and move on to something actually worthy of your time and attention.
lizvogel: A jar of almonds that warns that it contains almonds. (Stupid Planet)
So I was at the store today, as one occasionally is. The total came to $80.10, and having just been to the bank, I handed the cashier a hundred dollar bill and a dime. She typed it into the cash register wrong, so she had to figure out the change herself.

Except she couldn't do it.

No, really. She had to call over her supervisor to help her do the math. And to make it better, the supervisor studied the situation for a moment and then pulled out her cell phone to use the calculator feature. Granted, I think they were both a bit thrown off by trying to work backwards from whatever the cashier had accidentally typed in, but still. The second time I told them that the correct change was a twenty, the supervisor assured the cashier that I was right and we all got to move on.

Any society in which two supposedly-functional adults cannot subtract $80.10 from $100.10 and get $20 does not deserve to survive. The aliens can invade any time now.

Free the Books!

Wednesday, March 20th, 2013 02:57 pm
lizvogel: Good / Bad (Good Bad)
We stopped for a bite last night at the local branch of Claddagh Irish Pubs, which I suspect is about as Irish as green beer, but we like the food and for once they weren't having live music. This is one of those places that has shelves all around the eating areas, and the shelves are filled with a mishmash of decorative objects, including a lot of old books. Being, well, us, the housemate & I both started browsing.

They had an omnibus of the first two Quintain books! And an atlas-history of the Second Great War published in 1942!

You're darned right we asked if they'd sell them. Imagine our disappointment to be told that they used to, but then Corporate came around once and there were almost no books on display, so they forbid the practice. Those books have to stay there doing nothing but being Things To Dust, unread, even though there are people who want to read them.

That's right; Claddagh Corporate thinks it's more important for them to have arbitrary 3-dimensional book-binding wallpaper than that these (obviously desirable to somebody, since they got cleaned out) books be read.

A midnight raid to liberate All The Books is probably impractical, though don't think I didn't consider it. A tart letter to Claddagh Corporate is doubtless more sensible, though I don't imagine there's much chance of getting through to the sort of people who think that books should be dead decorations at the cost of the stories within them being unable to interact with anyone -- even with the additional carrot of pointing out that they could charge $1 a book, replace them at $0.50 from any overstuffed used bookstore, and donate the remaining $0.50 per to charity for a corporate PR win.

Taking along a couple of Reader's Digest Condensed Books (an abomination upon the face of literature anyway) and surreptitiously swapping them for the desirable books the next time we go there is an approach that keeps sitting in the back of my brain saying, "You could, y'know." Claddagh Corporate would still have just as much occupied shelf space, and since one book's the same as any other to people who don't realize there's something between the covers, there'd be no harm to them, a benefit to me, and a great wrong righted....

Yeah, figured.

Friday, March 15th, 2013 03:42 pm
lizvogel: Good / Bad (Good Bad)
We have cable. We insisted on getting cable rather than satellite when we bought this house (lo, these many moons ago) for one very simple reason: It meant we could program multiple shows on multiple VCRs without having to plead for our signal through a separate tuner box, or be limited to whatever single channel a tuner box might be set to at any given time. Contrary to the belief of many people including a lot of those in the cable industry, it was not necessary to have a cable box if one's VCR(s) had a built-in tuner, which at that time all VCRs did. This was a deal-breaker issue for us, and is the sole reason we have stuck with our pathetic little local cable company for all this time despite mediocre service, poor channel selection, and skyrocketing prices.

Yes, this means we had analog cable. Shockingly, this was fine by us.

Well, the p-l-l-c-c is "upgrading" their network, and going all-digital. They provide a "digital adapter" for free, so we got one. I've been blowing off hooking it up because I strongly suspected it would work like a cable box and I didn't want to deal, but I was in a bad mood anyway today, so I buckled down and hooked it up.

Not only does it work just like a cable box, it actually is a cable box. "Digital adapter" my ass; when you burrow through the p-l-l-c-c's propaganda-laced documentation and get to the manufacturer's, the item is clearly identified as a "set-top box". If you're old enough to have any idea what I'm talking about in the first paragraph, you recognize that phrase; it means, yes, "cable box". Good-bye, multiple programing per time-slot; good-bye, programming one and watching another; don't even get me started on what this does to taping while we're out of town.

Good-bye, the only advantage our crappy, overpriced cable had over the other options available. (Other than inertia, that is, but since we're being forced to change anyway....)

So now we get the entirely unwelcome hassle of switching to Dish or Direct, including finding out if they even offer service in our area, the challenges of sticking a dish on the roof, hoping it won't interfere with the p2p internet antenna that's also stuck to the roof, arguing with whichever company about the viability of our not-cutting-edge video equipment, arguing about the rights of consumers to archive material for personal use, plus set-up fees, switchover gaps, etc., etc., etc. Do not fscking need this right now. Even the carrot of getting more channels (I understand there's this thing called BBC America?) is not worth the hassle of dealing with this right now. Not that there's ever a good time for more stress, but I'd like to at least finish dealing with the last load before the next one dumps on.

lizvogel: Good / Bad (Good Bad)
LiveJournal's new Update page is so broken in my browser of choice that I literally can't use it. I could maybe get around the userpic lookup, the mood lookup, and the tag lookup not working, but those geniuses have pushed an Update page on which even the Post button doesn't work.

So, from now on (or at least until LJ breaks that, too), I'll be using the automatic cross-poster from Dreamwidth. For years now, I've been cross-posting manually (because I like the additional control), but no more.

I'm leaving comments open on LJ for now, but I strongly urge readers to comment on Dreamwidth if they can. (There should be a link to the source Dreamwidth post at the bottom of every cross-posted entry; all you need to do is click it.)

If we chat on LJ and you also have an active Dreamwidth presence, please let me know. And if you don't have a Dreamwidth account but would like one, now's a good time. I don't recall if they're still doing invite codes, but if they are, just ask me; I have plenty.

Connecticut

Saturday, December 15th, 2012 02:03 pm
lizvogel: Good / Bad (Good Bad)
I've been sitting on this post, but I'm going to have to put it up to get it out of my head. Because I'm angry. Not at the knee-jerk hysteria or the media circus, though those are certainly aggravating; no, I'm angry at one man.

You want to blame someone? Look no farther than the man with his finger on the trigger.

We've become a society in which holding a person responsible for their own actions is virtually unthinkable. Blame the tool, blame social problems, blame the people who didn't stop him. But blame the person who actually did the act? Oh, no; that would be mean. We can't do that.

And I really do think that's part of the problem. Maybe most of the problem. Take the attitude that it's always somebody else's fault, that no one is ever responsible for their own circumstances, add in some bad choices or bad luck and a little mental instability, and suddenly it seems perversely reasonable to lash out. And then who you lash out at has more to do with who you can get away with lashing out at, rather than any logical analysis of who's actually responsible. Because all that really matters is that there's someone else to blame.

And as for the cries of "there ought to be a law"? Killing people outside of self-defense is already fucking illegal. And killing a bunch of kindergartners is about as reprehensible as it gets.

And I'm really, really angry at the guy who did it.

lizvogel: Good / Bad (Good Bad)
So I've been thinking about query-writing advice, as one does when trying to write a query. There's a heck of a lot of it out there, and yet, I feel like I'm flailing in a vacuum. I've decided there are two problems with the way most people give query advice.

They give very basic, beginner-level advice, because that's easiest. Okay, you've got to start somewhere; might as well be at the beginning, yes? So everybody does a few basic don'ts, then a quickie example of how to do it right. The example is almost always an simple action story -- because action stories are the easiest to summarize query-style. But what if your story is non-standard, if the A-plot is philosophical rather than action-based, if the motivations are more complex than "MC meets bad guy, bad guy does something bad, MC stops it"? The standard action-story example isn't going to give you a lot of guidance.

What's worse, every query-feedback forum on the internet is going to push you to cram your story into the standard-action-story style of query, because most of the members on those forums don't know anything other than what they've seen on the same basic advice sites. So when you go for feedback, which really is vital to writing a decent query, you're likely to find yourself distorting your understated character drama or knife-edge ethical dilemma into sounding like a straightforward action story. That's damned discouraging, because that's not the story you fell in love with enough to write a whole novel about; it's also going to sabotage your chances, because any agent who bites based on your action-sounding query isn't going to appreciate the bait-and-switch effect when they read the story you actually wrote.

They give very basic, beginner-level advice, because that's where they think the problem is. And granted, sometimes it is. There do seem to be an awful lot of people out there producing query letters without the faintest idea of what should be in one. But honestly, if someone's managed to figure out they need a query without reading Query Shark, or Janet Reid's blog, or Nathan Bransford's extensive series on the subject, or Pat Wrede's excellent example, or any of the other very good sources you can find in just a few quality minutes with Google, is one more run-down of the basics going to help them?

Because sometimes the problem isn't that the prospective querier doesn't know those things; sometimes it's that they're not applying them right, and they don't even realize it. It doesn't do any good to say, "You have to talk about what happens in the story," if the prospective querier blinks and says, "I thought I did." When you're stripping out massive amounts of detail -- and you have to, if you're condensing an entire novel down to a couple of paragraphs -- it's far too easy to overshoot and strip out too much detail. But the querier knows those details; they've got a whole book's worth of details in their head. So they don't necessarily realize that to the query-reader, "an old heartbreak" doesn't have the same connotations as "the man who claimed to love her so he could cheat off her exam and steal her place in a prestigious apprenticeship, thus ruining her career." Or that "crossing a line she never wanted to approach" doesn't immediately conjure up "doing the same thing she's been trying to stop the bad guy from doing, by sending her daughter into the enemy's camp where she'll be subjected to destructive brainwashing, in hopes that the kid can hold it together long enough to ferret out the enemy's weakness from the inside, and oh yeah, also lying to the man she loves and using him against his friends." Or whatever your complex and hard-to-explain fictional situation might be.

It's somewhat the same problem that a writer faces when setting a scene or revealing a character's backstory. The difference is that in a novel, you can just use more words (hopefully interesting ones) if you need to make something clearer. In a query, you're working under an artificial and extremely tight word limit, and every extra-word-for-clarification you give to one thing will have to be taken away from something else.

This type of querier doesn't need the same beginner-level advice all over again; what they need is enough perspective, enough separation from their own work, to realize that what to them is a very significant statement is next to meaningless for someone who hasn't been living eyebrow-deep in this story for years. That's hard. It's even harder than getting enough perspective to be able to critique your own story, and we all know how hard that is.

If anyone's got any tips on how to achieve that perspective, I'd love to hear 'em.
lizvogel: Good / Bad (Good Bad)
For the love of god, somebody, please, link me to a place where I can have an intelligent ongoing multi-person discussion about writing with people who (a) know what they're talking about and (b) have basic reading-comprehension skills.
lizvogel: Good / Bad (Good Bad)
Note: Although this was inspired by the recent AO3 fallout, it's really an open comment on fandom in general, past, present, and future. I'm not a member of the OTW, I only use AO3 if that's where a story I want to read happens to be, and I don't know any of the people involved. But I've seen this kind of crap many times in many places, and I've been on the receiving end enough that I now do a lot less for fandom than I otherwise would. I see the damage that it causes.


It's an unfortunate truism that Fandom Eats Its Own. Anyone who has ever produced something for fandom at large (and the larger the something, the worse it gets) knows this. You work your heart out on making this shiny fun thing, be it a website or a fanzine or a convention or whatever, and you do your best to make it work as well as possible for the wide variety of people who are going to use it. You generally do it for free, and you do it in whatever spare time you can steal away from all the other demands in your life. You do it because you think the thing, whatever it is, is cool, and because you want to give something back to the fandom that you've gotten so much out of.

Most people who use it, whatever it is, will just use it and never say anything, and that's okay. Their use is your reward. But of the people who do say anything, the ones who say "Thanks!" will be overwhelmed by the whiny, self-absorbed, entitled jerks who will verbally eviscerate you because the thing you made isn't perfect. For them, that is. You didn't place their personal preferences above all other considerations, or you aren't telepathic enough to know what they want when they couldn't be bothered to tell you, or you didn't alter the laws of physics to prevent them being temporarily inconvenienced in pursuit of their hobby. (Ghu help you if you made an actual mistake, which being human you might have done. Although actually, the response is pretty similar whether you objectively goofed or not. You're still a horrible person who has Ruined Their Life as far as most of the people you'll hear from are concerned.) And worst of all, you haven't fixed it all Right Now.

And the more you do, the bigger and better and shinier a thing you try to make, the more abuse you will get for it. Succeed, by whatever standard, aim as high as you can envision, and that thankfully-small but loud and persistent section of fandom will do everything in their power to tear you down. They will eat you alive and then complain that there's nobody left to make things for them, and never see the connection.

It's a rare person who can work their heart out on something, take that kind of crap in return, and come back and work their heart out some more. Most people go through a round of this, maybe two if they're stubborn, and stop volunteering. They may stop in a public, showy way, or they may simply go away and not come back. And whatever else they would have made for fandom... doesn't get made. The convention they would have run, or the website they would have created, or maybe something as small as the minor bug fix or how-to document they would have written. And yes, maybe someone else will step up and fill in those holes, but that's time and energy the someone else is then not spending on whatever they might have made, if those holes had already been filled. The end result is still a net loss for fandom as a whole.

I have tremendous respect for the people who can keep coming back, year after year, making new things for fandom or keeping old things going, despite the crap. They're an impressive breed. But that doesn't mean that the people who go away, whether crying or shouting back or just silently, didn't make a valuable contribution and wouldn't have continued to do so if some of the people they made it for didn't make it so thoroughly unpleasant.

This isn't an exhortation to thank the people who make what you use, although that's certainly a good idea. Nor I am urging fans on the receiving end not to point out problems; I used to work in IT, and I know the value of a good bug report. But there's a difference between saying, "Hey, this is broken or could be better" and ripping someone a new one because they dared to be not perfect. And there's a world of difference between suggesting a personal-preference tweak to something that works pretty well most of the time for most fans involved, and howling and flinging crap because everything is not perfect for the unique and special snowflake that is you.

What I want is to take all those whiny, entitled jerks, the ones who write diatribes trashing the volunteers who make things for them, to an alternate universe where people like them don't exist. And I want to show them the fandom there, where hard work is appreciated and where mistakes or opportunities to do better are pointed out with courtesy and understanding. I want them to see all that fandom could be, all the beautiful shiny toys and the long-lived fannish institutions -- for five minutes. And then I want to bring them back here, where fandom staggers along, doing pretty good most of the time in spite of people like them flinging crap at it, but constantly having to compensate for the people whose willingness to pitch in has been eaten. I want them to see what they could have, if only it weren't for, well, them.

I can't think of a better punishment.

Daria on DVD!

Friday, May 7th, 2010 11:45 am
lizvogel: lizvogel's fandoms.  The short list. (Fandom Epilepsy)
As people who aren't me may already have heard, Daria: The Complete Series is coming out May 11!

Not surprisingly, they've replaced some (much?) of the music. (http://www.tvshowsondvd.com/news/Daria-DVD-Plans/13010, http://www.the-wildone.com/dvdaria/#bignews -- oh hey, the official release sheet about it) Which, frustratingly, means I couldn't get rid of my original tapes, although from the sounds of the "extras" list, I could at least dump the several Daria Day marathons that I'm only keeping for the Daria & Jane intros.

To buy the musically-compromised DVDs, or to take comfort in a scratchy and disorganized set of original-broadcast VHS... that is the question....

I do wonder, what is it about owning rights to music that impairs higher brain functions, like basic math? "This music is so valuable, I will set the price for its use higher than you can afford!" "Well, we'll just replace it with something cheaper then, and you'll get nothing, thanks anyway." Wouldn't it be better for the profit margin as well as the art (if I can dare mention such a thing in the context of music rights) to set the price at something people will, you know, actually pay?

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