I've never been a beta-tester of anything before.
I figured it was a good sign. The big changes that came to io9 and the rest of the Gawker network since I started commenting here were....inelegant in their execution, to say the least. Since the promotion-to-star comment system was abandoned, I stopped commenting and reading Gawker itself, because the posts weren't interesting to me without the commentary, and the commentary went downhill fast. I had stopped reading Jezebel much earlier, because of one particular post that completely destroyed my impression that Jez was even slightly more interested in real feminism than it was about sensationalism and page-hits. And of course, the burners waging an "aborted fetus pictures" war on their open forum made me fear for the relative safety of the ODeck. I'll take soup over anti-choice harassment any day. (On the plus side, we were able to welcome some refugees from Jez that are a valuable addition to the io9 commentariat.)
So I stuck to io9, and was pleased with how well we (the writers, editors, and commentors) were able to preserve this site's status as the quiet, bookish nerd of the Gawker family, sitting in the corner beneath everyone's notice, but nevertheless having a great deal of fun. It wasn't exactly the same, of course, and not everything was perfect (it never is) - but we muddled along.
The major difference, for me, was changing the way I visited io9. Instead of going to the front page and reading articles based on the headlines, I went straight to the ODeck and kept an eye on the sidebar, clicking on articles only if they seemed interesting to me. In other words, the ODeck became my io9 homepage.
Because I spent a lot of time on the ODeck, I noticed how often tips and posts there morph into article-form on io9 proper. It's a lot. The ODeckers come from a variety of places, backgrounds and professions, so all kinds of interesting stuff pops up there. I think the writers and editors of io9 would agree with me.
And of course there's a lot of editorial and opinion-based content, which is usually just as interesting to read. I've had very long and very cool conversations on the ODeck. There's a lot of sharing, and usually a lot of support. It's a community. It's a lounge. I wish it were also a bar, because I can't think of many more groups of people I'd rather have a drink with.
Which is why the format of the NeODeck is so worrying to me. I understand having a small group of beta-testers. Like Telepod said over at the ODeck, I was mainly just futzing around, trying things out and attempting to provide feedback to the Gawker techs. I like the blog features here, although I still don't know what the hell to do with Private View. The increased posting versatility is actually really fun, and the idea of a group blog is also fun.
But now that content is suddenly Serious Business, and the format of NeODeck is NOT what I had thought it was going to be, I am troubled. One or two off-topic threads a day is not the same as the ODeck, and it is not as good as the ODeck.
Here are the main problems (according to my own estimation - others will probably disagree with me):
1. The stated concern about being over-taken by off-topic drivel and spam can be greatly reduced, if not outright eliminated, by restricting the burner account posting ability to the articles on the main page. Don't let the burners post anywhere else.
2. Not allowing long-time commentors and people who care enough to log in with a social media account to start threads on the NeODeck is dividing the community. I didn't ask to be divided. I honestly thought I was helping make yet another change work in the best possible way. I don't see how Gawker comes out on top if they want to capitalize on commenter content (say that five times fast) but do it in a way that valuable commenters aren't allowed to post, and end up leaving.
3. One of the reasons I made the ODeck my io9 homepage instead of the front page is because it still retained a logical thread format. Look, I'm not lazy. It's not as if I don't have the strength to CLICK ON ALL THE THINGS. But the horizontal stuff just doesn't make sense to me, and it's just not easy to read or follow.
I would have posted this in Eridani's thread, but it ended up being too long. And since it ended up being its own post, I thought I'd add pictures just for the hell of it.
All I want to do is post information about cats on Caturday, and information on National Parks on Tuesday, and I've been toying around with the idea of a Chiroptera Thursday, although there was too much going on for me yesterday so it might be today instead.
Driving the content of a group blog in this kind of exclusionary way is not something I signed up for. I comment because I enjoy it, and I like to talk to the other io9ers. I DON'T like the idea that I'm providing a free service to Denton and Gawker by attempting to have interesting conversations. So I've got something specially for them (not for any other io9 writers, editors, mods or commenters):
Thanks for your time.