I'm sure this opening paragraph will turn off many people that will click on this poast and attempt to read my ramblings, but I think it is a necessary evil to framing what I want to say to the people that are active in this community. I am very much so a self-proclaimed troll who has been on the internet for far too long. I started posting on a pokemon forum when I was about 12 (blush...), but my interest in the internet as spot for genuine community interaction was already zapped from me by the ripe old age of 14. Simply put, I became disenfranchised with the whole process of join a forum, kiss ass carefully while putting in a few bits of input here and there, and hoping that older users will become inactive so you can step up and become a truly "accepted" user. It's the same process of cliques all throughout highschool and college, and I was already tired of that scene, so seeing the parallels in online communities really didn't help. After that, I became a troll and just used what I knew about internet communities to cause as much mayhem as I could. I've been banned from a ridiculous amount of forums... as in nearly every one I've ever joined besides this one. IRC channels, Vent/TeamSpeak servers... all kinds of stupid things. I once had a site administrator call my ISP because of me in an attempt to get my internet shut off. I'm not trying to sound arrogant, but usually within a day or two of joining a forum, I can get a firm grasp on the community and the moderating team and know how far I can push it without getting the ban hammer. The things I'll be writing about in this topic are some of the things I've noticed about internet communities in general and the differences that make BTSC greater than the sum of its parts.
In my experience, people draw confidence from familiar people and familiar situations, familiar places, or in rare cases, themselves. So when you're typing on the internet to a group of people who you have never seen in person, where is the confidence drawn from? It's not my personal opinion that it's drawn from returning to the same forum or community, as that's much too finicky to draw something as important as confidence from. The topics that are being discussed, while staying within a region of related topics, changes so often that the actual forum itself is rarely familiar apart from it's format. And many new members join as many old members fade away, so the members, or the people themselves are not the source either, I don't believe. I think that the confidence most active community users have is achieved through similar situations, particularly responding to the same people in the same ways regularly. This kind of behavior creates two cliques most frequently... the main circle of active users, and an outer ring of people kind of "looking" in. It's not usually done consciously in an effort to put down the outer ring of people, and in fact, if the outer ring of people were a little more active and fit in a little more personality-wise with the inner ring, they'd probably end up with the inner ring. The outer ring people, whether it's known or not by them, is usually treated like ranks of second class citizens. They will not usually get inside jokes that are almost instantly spawned and endless in number the moment the inner ring clique is established, in fact it's usually a joke that helps bring the clique together in internet communities.
This is where the cardinal difference in BTSC comes. BTSC does in fact have it's cliques, like it or not. You can see the different cliques on BTSC because of the very different types of posts that come through this community. You have joking, off topic, personnel (whether it be player depth, or coaching/scouting) nfl posts, statistical analysis, plain nfl musings, x and o's nfl posts... it really goes on, and each of them has subtle differences that bring different people to be passionate about them. Each type of post really spawns a clique. you'll notice the same people commenting on the same topics, sometimes with guest appearances. you always see NYSF4, johnny, arn and etc playing the role of the peanut gallery and giving the off topic posts a real life of their own. You see big jay and english debating draft... I know you get the picture by now. Not only is BTSC different in that it has many many cliques and subcliques, but these cliques do more than simply coexist... they work together, they comment on each other's topics, and joke with each other. Some might say that this suggests that there are in fact no cliques at all, just based on how well our cliques get along... but I say that you can still see the framework for different groups of people. Each and every single one of the BTSC cliques are also usually very receptive to new members and their opinions. This is true in almost every case, except for the once in a while scrub showing up with terrible grammar and points that may be somewhat value. Usually whatever value this user's points had is ruined by the format and the tendency of this particular type of user to talk as if they know everything, with not a chance of being wrong today... check the five day forecast for the rest of the week. I think it's a fairly common argument to claim that this user should be taken for what they are and when we read, we should only think about how valid the point is, not the delivery or other such finer things.
But, my point is, who can really blame us in doing as we do? Yes, the heart of their point may be valid, but in real life situations, don't we avoid people that are rude and try to make you think like they do, no matter how intelligent they may be? Add in 20-25 beers for them and we really don't want to be around them. So then, my next question is, are we creating an atmosphere that has some elements of the outer ring/inner ring forum hierarchy? Or are we simply doing as humans do and filtering out what we really don't feel like dealing with?
One thing about BTSC that helps keep overbearing cliques at bay is the fact that Blitz does not announce who new moderators are and applaud them, make them feel like anything more than a good Samaritan, which is what moderating should be viewed as. A moderator is not any better or above the average user, they simply exist to use their abilities to make the experience better for the average user, as well as the veteran user. By not throwing parades for every new moderator, Blitz has created a community where moderators are helpers, not superiors. Most people would not even realize there is any moderation going on, as most of it is done with great class behind the scenes. In this aspect, this community truly is the best I've ever seen at this. Usually moderators get big flashy names and banhammers to wave at any person who challenges them or bumps into them in the club. I bet Santonio thought he was a moderator of the VIP room. When moderators are treated like this, they have flocks of average users kissing their ass, following them in threads and responding to every one of their comments like they are long lost brothers. Subconsciously I think these people are looking for future favors, or maybe just the feeling of thinking that you are "in" with some of the brass. I don't think these people are consciously flattering and ruining the mods, because if the parades weren't bad enough on some forums, the flocks of brown-nosers often makes the mod's sense of self in their "position" even more over-inflated. Here at BTSC, we avoid this completely.
I've been typing for way too long, and this haze has me feeling lazy, so I'm going to end it here and simply say that BTSC is the only internet community I have no intent of being banned from, for what it's worth.