A Breath of Fresh Air by Poxodd
A long time ago, in an internet far far away, EBSQ used to be a 100% open community. Anyone could post on our forums. And often did. Much bitterness ensued. And we built a wall around our city to keep our residents feeling safe.
Six years have passed since our forums went, for the most part, private. We’ve weathered a lot of ups and downs. I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to keep a community healthy since then. Our community is harmonious, no question. Folks are generally happy, and quite comfortable. Real friendships have grown out of conversations started on our forums. But I also fear that walls are keeping as much out as they’re keeping in, and we’re becoming stagnant. I’ve been slowly trying to nudge folks toward opening a window or two in our wall, and letting a little fresh air in. One existing section that I’d love to see go public is our media-specific forum. I think EBSQ as a community could really benefit if the wider artistic community had reading / posting access. I have to say, I have been surprised at the resistence I’ve been getting.
Open Community vs Walled Gardens
Now, there have been some good arguments for why members don’t want to open this subdivision of our online neighbourhood to the general public. One artist is learning a new technique in her media and has a lot of questions. She’s concerned that she’ll appear unprofessional to people who might have otherwise bought her work. Others feel this section should remain strickly a perk for paid membership and that folks have to pay to play. Some folks just want the privacy to say whatever without having to worry about whether the section is public or not. One artist came right out and said she doesn’t like change. Period.
Here’s my problem with the above arguments. I think our forums would become even more valuable if this small but important section was open to the public. It would allow us to tap into a pool of knowledge we don’t currently possess while also letting our members add their collective wisdom to the general search engines for anyone to find. Regarding the previously mentioned artst who is learning a new skill–wouldn’t it be great if she actually had the courage to ask her questions publicly and someone who might not have been familiar with out community otherwise stumbled upon her questions and was able to give an answer that wasn’t available within our existing community? Or what about the non-member that was thinking about learning scratchboard art and found that we have in our community what I consider to be an expert in the field? Why can’t artists just talk shop?
Now, we’re not talking about throwing our doors wide open. We’re simply talking about metaphorically cracking a window and letting in some fresh air. As it is, I feel our lack of diversity, our lack of openess is killing our community. Slowly perhaps, but killing us all the same.
And so we put it to you, who ARE our community. How do YOU feel about this issue? If you’re a paid member of our site, we strongly encourage you to come vote on the poll we created to debate this issue internally. And if you’re a registered user, but not a paid member of EBSQ, or even just an artist who’s been considering EBSQ membership, we’d love to hear from you as well via the comments section of this post. Do we keep the walls up? Or may we crack a window?