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a forum admin's letter about agora

handoferis

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Anyone who says "be kind" is almost invariably the opposite of kind. This guy clearly just wants a hugbox. "We don't want an open square". In other words you don't want the old internet back. What you actually want is the Tumblr era back when social media wasn't so automated as to destroy any attempt at actual communication. Of course this completely ignores the fact that Tumblr and its' culture played a huge role in the formation of the modern net as people increasing wanted "positive vibes only" social media which inevitably creates auto generated social media as the only means to achieve that is to replace all the humans with robots. The social justice crowd is more than catered to. It doesn't want to interact with real people because real people prevent them from escaping into their delusional fantasy world.
I'm actually shocked that other people on the yesterweb consider us toxic and contrary to the values of the old net. Especially seeing as the oldnet was an incredibly toxic place. Lurkers, predators, harassers, scammers, etc etc. The oldnet was far less safe than this site is. We don't even do raids like the oldnet, let alone irl raids.

You're either misremembering the oldnet or just conflating it with SA/4chan. The vast majority of forums I was on back in the day were moderated so strictly it'd make your eyes water. Off the top of my head, I can remember rules such as "no religious discussion" which went as far as banning you from even putting religious iconography in your signature (in a lego forum no less), countless wordfilters, serious minutiae. Mods regularly and actively keeping topics on track, posts being deleted if they broke the rules, all sorts.

Just cause the moderation wasn't about The Current Thing doesn't mean it didn't exist. I'd argue old web communities apart from the real obvious standouts were moderated more strictly than modern standards.

Ultimately what the old web was about wasn't "no rulezz!!! fuck da police!!!" it was there being enough variety that you could find a community that you liked and could tolerate the rules of and join it. If you wanted fully free speech, there were places catering to that, there were also other places catering to the crowds they wanted to attract.

Do also remember that loads of old web forums had problems with other sites on a regular basis and would sometimes ban people for just giving off a whiff of coming from somewhere they didn't like.
 
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Jessica3cho

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You're either misremembering the oldnet or just conflating it with SA/4chan. The vast majority of forums I was on back in the day were moderated so strictly it'd make your eyes water. Off the top of my head, I can remember rules such as "no religious discussion" which went as far as banning you from even putting religious iconography in your signature (in a lego forum no less), countless wordfilters, serious minutiae. Mods regularly and actively keeping topics on track, posts being deleted if they broke the rules, all sorts.

Just cause the moderation wasn't about The Current Thing doesn't mean it didn't exist. I'd argue old web communities apart from the real obvious standouts were moderated more strictly than modern standards.

Ultimately what the old web was about wasn't "no rulezz!!! fuck da police!!!" it was there being enough variety that you could find a community that you liked and could tolerate the rules of and join it. If you wanted fully free speech, there were places catering to that, there were also other places catering to the crowds they wanted to attract.

Do also remember that loads of old web forums had problems with other sites on a regular basis and would sometimes ban people for just giving off a whiff of coming from somewhere they didn't like.
Heavily Moderated =/= Not Toxic
Y'know what I found in those heavily moderator, strict and tight, spick and span, follow the rules or die sites? Extremely toxic organizers and long-timers. Favoritism and nepotism were rampant and oldies could break rules left and right while you could get banned for having an opinion people didn't like, even if you kept it within their strict rules. I'd be booted from communities with 0 warning only to have people put warnings over their boards about me. The gatekeeping was so extreme in many instances that I'd say the only equivalent these days are sites that you can't even find without being in the know.
SA/Chans weren't even considered the same thing as many boards and forums because their operation was so dissimilar. People spamming porn and racial slurs on a chan was nowhere near the levels of toxicity that you could be presented with by people who claimed to be interested in the same topics and hobbies as yourself. Then don't get me started on the rampant elitism that cascaded through every board and forum like a torrent of shit-sniffing flies. People would gang up on you and harass you if you said one thing about some well known personality on the site that wasn't the most lauded compliment they'd ever received.
 
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handoferis

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Heavily Moderated =/= Not Toxic
Y'know what I found in those heavily moderator, strict and tight, spick and span, follow the rules or die sites? Extremely toxic organizers and long-timers. Favoritism and nepotism were rampant and oldies could break rules left and right while you could get banned for having an opinion people didn't like, even if you kept it within their strict rules. I'd be booted from communities with 0 warning only to have people put warnings over their boards about me. The gatekeeping was so extreme in many instances that I'd say the only equivalent these days are sites that you can't even find without being in the know.
SA/Chans weren't even considered the same thing as many boards and forums because their operation was so dissimilar. People spamming porn and racial slurs on a chan was nowhere near the levels of toxicity that you could be presented with by people who claimed to be interested in the same topics and hobbies as yourself. Then don't get me started on the rampant elitism that cascaded through every board and forum like a torrent of shit-sniffing flies. People would gang up on you and harass you if you said one thing about some well known personality on the site that wasn't the most lauded compliment they'd ever received.
sry i quoted your post by accident lol, i was gonna reply to both and then forgot
 
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UCD

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its pretty easy to see from the website what melon is going for, and he doesn't want people being edgy on his site. I think kameraad's post here is a perfect example of what melon does not want on his forums, and I think its fine to respect that.
 
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Weird to see Something Awful treated like it wasn't moderated. Something Awful was a lot more strict about moderation than most other forums in my experience. Banning people routinely was part of the business model. Some of the forums had some really silly rules too. People were routinely banned on the Let's Play forum merely because Slowbeef thought they weren't funny or took things more seriously than he approved of. In one instance he "probated" (i.e., banned in a way where the user couldn't just pay $10 to get back in) a user for like 100 years.
 
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manpaint

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This thread just reminds me how much it would suck to actually go back in time and experience the old web lol. I know we all like to complain about the mainstream web, but there is reasons why it is. As always it's always better to make a remake of the past than directly go back.

I think we can all agree that we all missed the framework of the old web rather than the toxicity.
 

handoferis

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Weird to see Something Awful treated like it wasn't moderated. Something Awful was a lot more strict about moderation than most other forums in my experience. Banning people routinely was part of the business model. Some of the forums had some really silly rules too. People were routinely banned on the Let's Play forum merely because Slowbeef thought they weren't funny or took things more seriously than he approved of. In one instance he "probated" (i.e., banned in a way where the user couldn't just pay $10 to get back in) a user for like 100 years.
tbf it was mostly FYAD and GBS that might as well have been unmoderated, agree that SA as a whole was and still is pretty moderated
 
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SomaSpice

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This thread just reminds me how much it would suck to actually go back in time and experience the old web lol. I know we all like to complain about the mainstream web, but there is reasons why it is. As always it's always better to make a remake of the past than directly go back.

I think we can all agree that we all missed the framework of the old web rather than the toxicity.
I actually agree a lot with you here. Its wrong to think the old way of the web was perfect or is something that needs to be revived. I feel that the yesterweb's game is more about taking what was good, but largely forgotten, in order to contrast against the negative aspects of the modern framework.
 
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IlluminatiPirate

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I've talked to people that run the yesterweb community they were cool people and I understand what they are trying to go for. We both just have different communities, as I was disappointed that they kicked us off of their webring, I understood that they didn't want drama to go over there.

The people i talked to actually liked agora road but didn't want to be associated with their brand, but I've never talked to Melon though so I dont know if he even visited this place.
 
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Where can a zoomer like me resd about how the oldweb was like? I've always heard that the old web was a sort of wild west where anything went, so it's surprising to hear that it was also heavily moderated. I want to learn how it really used to be
 
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punishedgnome

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Weird to see Something Awful treated like it wasn't moderated. Something Awful was a lot more strict about moderation than most other forums in my experience. Banning people routinely was part of the business model. Some of the forums had some really silly rules too. People were routinely banned on the Let's Play forum merely because Slowbeef thought they weren't funny or took things more seriously than he approved of. In one instance he "probated" (i.e., banned in a way where the user couldn't just pay $10 to get back in) a user for like 100 years.
The things that were heavily moderated were different though. You'd get banned for having posts riddled with typos, posting outright porn, being a furry, being a religious nut or being a general retard. You got banned a lot less for saying no on words or having controversial opinions. It was less moral hand-wringing and more don't come off as a babbling idiot.

Politics was taken a lot less seriously on sites like SA until the 2008 election too. It was mostly Ron Paul memes.

I think if you watch a South Park from around that era or read the archives of a really popular webcomic like Penny Arcade, you'll have a decent idea of the prevalent humor/Internet culture of the early 2000s. Even something like Maddox or SA articles from 2000-2005ish. There was a lot of gate keeping, but it was more around keeping those who everyone perceived as stupid out as opposed to any kind of moral purity test. It was more, "You aren't allowed in our clubhouse because you aren't cool enough" as opposed to the "You are an immoral individual" like it is today.

Now that's not to say there weren't communities online based around morals and hand wringing, I just don't think it was the prevalent culture online in SA's heyday.

I think a lot of that is because the Internet of today is largely corporate controlled and those corporations don't want you to run off their customers whereas back then it was less about making money and selling shit and more about filtering out people you didn't particularly want to interact with. The "private house thats having an open party for neighbours" is actually a pretty good analogy for what a forum was in the web 1.0 days.
 
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Orlando Smooth

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My grandparents were always insistent on manners and politeness and whatnot, and because of that, it seems like Gen-X and Millenials decided they were going to counter that culture via rude apathetic assholery. Now, my parents and other adults surrounding me are amoral pricks, and so I, being the anti-society people-hater that I am, have to be polite and kind overall to counter the shitty scornful social attitude that's been built, otherwise I am literally acting the same as the people who want it to be this way.
While I think there's some merit to your overall hypothesis here, you're displaying some very significant blindspots:
  • Boomers were the definition of American rebellion in their youth, and arguably every generation that has come since has aspired to rage against the machine like they did back then
  • All the carebear, sensitivity training, HR newspeak, etc., that is being criticized here is inarguably a product of the millennial generation
  • You're mistaking having low/no standards for manners. Both are performative, but they're not the same thing.
With that said, I think this is a pretty interesting idea and since you've outed yourself as a zoomer I'd be interested in a post where you expand on your views of other living generations.
 
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Collision

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It was less moral hand-wringing and more don't come off as a babbling idiot.
I have to respectfully disagree. The hand-wringing was about different things and I certainly was part of the in-group but it was still there. Imagine trying to post on Something Awful as a Conservative Christian who was really interested Japanese animation. Sure the justification for your ban would have been that you were retarded but is that really very different from being called transphobic?
 
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Regal

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I'm actually shocked that other people on the yesterweb consider us toxic and contrary to the values of the old net. Especially seeing as the oldnet was an incredibly toxic place. Lurkers, predators, harassers, scammers, etc etc. The oldnet was far less safe than this site is. We don't even do raids like the oldnet, let alone irl raids.

I think older folks who can't handle the harshness of reality slink back into this comfy, rose-tinted, pillow dream of a remembrance of the oldweb to escape their daily lives. Young people seem to see some sort of intrinsic goodness associated with the oldnet as well, which was never really there.

"I personally believe in providing a forum experience thats safe, inclusive and kind, to people of all backgrounds"
While I agree that we should provide a space 'to people of all backgrounds', nothing is safe. Even these flimsy, hugcircles aren't "safe". Its a pipedream unbefitting of reality. So, I see it as my duty to curate a place where people of one kind don't overshadow those in smaller groups, to allow the growth of all. Its the same idea behind why you don't plant plants too close to each other. You can't remove people who you disagree with and then claim your space is "for people of all backgrounds". (I know that they were not removed, just the link to our site, but its the same concept.)

Spent a long time on YW [Discord]. I don't think most people know about Agora (thankfully). If they did they probably would think this would be the "bad" side of the old web - aka 4chan.

The problem with YW [Discord] is:

1) the average YW-er is 12 years old and fetishizes the old web aesthetic and is ignorant of the culture
2) it is a trans circlejerk
3) it is an obsolete tech circlejerk. you're not cool unless you're running Win95, amirite?
4) the weirdest parts of the internet they see is Tumblr and Neocities (aka Tumblr on Hardmode) and they think that is what old web internet culture is

Yesterweb is more than the Discord. I believe there is some real progress being made with the "movement" of Yesterweb, but the Discord is a trash heap that has taken it completely over.
 

PizzaW0lf

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While I agree that we should provide a space 'to people of all backgrounds', nothing is safe.
The internet is like Stalker SoC. If you find a campfire full of frens, you struck gold but it's never guaranteed and it could change out of nowhere. You could go an extremely long stretch without ever finding a campfire or you might just never find one. And sometimes, you encounter a hostile section of the internet. That's where you either try to fight or escape to someplace else.



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power gem

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what happened to something awful was really a microcosm of what happened to the internet at large. as a couple people have mentioned, early 00s SA was heavily moderated - you'd get banned for low effort posting, not using your shift key, spamming memes (they were called catchphrases and image macros back then) and so on. however the climate was basically apolitical aside from that mix of Jon Stewart-esque nerdy snark and "logical" atheist libertarianism that was the house ideology of every internet community at the time.

as the story goes, sometime in the late 00s the forum was taken over by so-called "catlady mods" who probated people for saying bitch and whore, banned the "post your favorite tits and ass" threads and changed the atmosphere of the forum from locker room shit talk to a boring feminist lecture. or if you talked to someone else, they might say that the community matured and disavowed its problematic past, and the backlash against "catlady mods" was nothing more than misogyny. if this sounds familiar it's because the same story happened 5 years later with gamergate and a lot more people cared.

D_ZXHKbWsAAmmLJ.jpg

this image would get you banned in 2004
within the same timeframe as the supposed catlady invasion, the helldump subforum opened. helldump was a place to mock and flame other forum members. in the beginning most of the posts were making fun of pedos, furries, general sex freaks and massive sperglords. posters were encouraged to find people's accounts on other sites and share their gross selfies and bad fanfiction. it was very much like kiwifarms, the main difference was that helldump didn't allow actual doxing. as time went on they ran out of loli addicts and yoshifuckers and started to turn their sights on posters with the wrong opinions and subcultural signifiers (the same thing happened to KF 10 years later). it's important to realize that the "SJW vs. Nazi" narrative hadn't fully solidified yet, so what helldump posters were railing against wasn't exactly bigotry. it was gooniness.

"goon" is slang for a something awful poster. the stereotypical goon, much like the stereotypical 4channer, redditor, or agora road traveller, is an overweight, unattractive white male who is a little too old to be spending all of his time on internet forums. he is socially awkward and probably has aspergers. he has an inflated sense of his own intelligence and often boasts about his IQ score even though he has achieved nothing of note in his life. his hobbies include gaming, programming, consuming internet pornography, and maybe guns. he might call himself a libertarian or not mention politics at all. he frequently engages in casual racism or sexism, but this is a reflection of his shelteredness and poor luck in dating rather than the inevitable result of being born a straight white male. above all, the goon is sincere. he discloses his autistic obsessions and the humiliating events of his life in detail. by mocking this image of the Ur-Goon with detached ironic humor, the helldump poster positions himself as its opposite: a charming, attractive, cultured man with a diverse and fulfilling life.

EjqZwUHXYAIW_wa.jpg
image search result for "goons.jpg"
helldump got closed after a couple years for becoming a toxic pit of infighting, but its legacy lived on. the early 2010s movement of Extremely Online feminism and social justice, propagated by sites like jezebel, xojane and wehuntedthemammoth, was deeply intertwined with this sort of mockery of "gooniness" (later, "inceldom"). many former helldump superstars became buzzfeed writers and twitter bluechecks. this of course paved the way for gamergate and the great SJW vs. Nazi wars.

if the CIA wrote a manual on how to disrupt internet communities, i don't think they could have done it better than this. the narrative makes every post a political act, every forum a political space. you don't post in the Tits and Ass Megathread but you don't really care if it exists? don't you realize that you're promoting misogyny, objectification and rape? what are you, a MRA PUA nazi incel sperg? fuck you, you're not invited to our offsite. you're kinda disappointed that they deleted the tits and ass thread? well come to our offsite for complaining about the mods, yes we say the gamer word every 5 minutes and have heated debates about the jewish question, but everyone on the forum already thinks you're a nazi so what's the difference? every website is like this now.

i looked at the forum mentioned in the op and it seems ok if a little bland. if they think agora is toxic and don't want to link to it, that's fine and it's their right. i wouldn't tell everyone i know that i post here because i think many people would have the same reaction. but what i enjoy about this forum is that for the most part people can share differing opinions without being total dipshits about it. i am not compelled to censor myself or to be overly edgy to scare off the morality police. i can be sincere. there is nowhere to be sincere anymore.
 
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punishedgnome

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I have to respectfully disagree. The hand-wringing was about different things and I certainly was part of the in-group but it was still there. Imagine trying to post on Something Awful as a Conservative Christian who was really interested Japanese animation. Sure the justification for your ban would have been that you were retarded but is that really very different from being called transphobic?
Obviously recall of things 18-20 years ago isn't perfect, but IIRC there were conservatives who would defend their positions Debate & Discussion and they were otherwise left alone as long as they didn't sperg out about it or shit up unrelated threads. Like sure, if you went in a thread for Will & Grace and sperged about how homosexuality is a sin, you'd probably get banned. I think that's pretty clearly being retarded though.

Here's an archived thread from 2011, well after SA jumped the shark, where people are discussing the Republican primaries and non-Republicans are being asked to be respectful and not shit up the thread. Again, this is after the forum was already caught in the downward spiral that turned it into what it is now.

I'm not going to argue it was openly welcoming Christian Republicans or anything, but your recollection is far different from mine and I was posting there for close to a decade up until 2013ish.

I think it's also important to point out that SA posters back before 2008ish were not actively campaigning for conservative christian spaces not to exist on the Internet. People today actively campaign to get people they disagree with totally unpersoned and bleached from the Internet. The issue is not being called a tranphobic. The issue is getting accused of being tranphobic and having it used as an excuse to try and erase you from the Internet.
 
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