A Note on Bots, Admins, and Being Brave.

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[Context to this post: I’m an admin for an online community, and I had a very public blow up with someone over a bot I created after repeated instances of negativity. This is the blog post I made to the community after the incident.]

I figured this was going to be longer than an average message that I leave on this topic and I wanted to respect the fact that not everyone is going to want to read it. So in keeping that, I’m going to be leaving this in #general and #admin for those who want to know it. I would appreciate that people do take the time to read it, as the more time I take to think about it, the more I feel I have to say. So without further ado, let’s get started.

Let’s get the elephant in the room out of the way; how I went about dealing with the criticism that I’ve received from the bot was not mature or acceptable. I don’t make any qualms about it. I know I’m better than the behaviour that I rose to and I did rise to it. Not entirely, but I did give it my time and energy. More than, what some of you may think was required or acceptable owing to the nature of the complaints. Which is what they were, complaints.

Usually, and has been evident by my previous behaviour I have been fine with such criticism. But for those who believe my lashing out was due to lack of context, let me provide some that may not be a hundred percent abundant. I do not, and cannot code. Not in the “I’m a network engineer” or an “I’m a UX designer” kind of code. I do not code, it is not my day job nor my hobby. I used a tool that was designed to let non-coders like myself script something that would work within an environment like Slack. I filled a demand that was asked for by a community of technical people. I was so proud of myself for that little bot. It was something that functioned in the way I had designed it to after testing showed that DMing didn’t work. (mainly because the full details when someone creates an account doesn’t get to the bot, so it doesn’t go to @newuser) For those who still don’t understand the monumental achievement of this for me, I’m dyslexic and very dyslexic. This was a step forward for me. Personally, this was progress. I have been bashing my head off a wall of basic programming for a while and god it felt good that something I did finally work! For all those who have told me throughout my life that I have been “overselling myself” or put boundaries in my way, this was another piece of myself to encourage me that I’m always improving. That’s something I want personally for myself, to show all of these people that I’m better than that.

Don’t misunderstand me though, proud of it as I am, I know that it annoyed people. I was open to it changing, I did understand the hassle it caused, I did understand the perceived irritation it caused. However, it served a purpose, a purpose that was requested – not something I created out of my own volition. I filled a gap. I have always run by the philosophy of “If you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” So this whole thing of people complaining about it, and yet not doing anything about it…after a few months, it really begins to grate on your nerves. It doesn’t matter if you’re just “voicing your opinion” at this stage – several months down the line – if you still don’t have a solution to the problem that you’re complaining about you really need to address your priorities. For me, that goes for everything if something is bothering you that much and you have the power to change it why don’t you? I can’t answer that for the people who did the complaining. Only they can, and I hope this serves as a point of thought for the individual who has. I hope we can learn from this that just complaining about the sake of complaining gets us nowhere. We are far better than this to be a digital Joe Duffy show.

It took me blowing up at someone over their behaviour to instigate change, and I really wish it hadn’t. I wish that you had just acted on the change that you wanted to see rather than insisting that the only way to get your point across is by belittling and degrading the work of others. Some of you may not see it that way, that “providing feedback” is the only way things improve. That I agree with, but only when it’s constructive and what happened that night was not but negativity. Which is something I don’t encourage here? We all have far more potential than just our complaints, and it really disheartens me that it took this to make a change. Change, that arguably for someone as skilled as the people reading this – took a max of 5 minutes to create.

I want to provide some insight into why I admin here and what my daily admin tasks are like. I admin here because I care about you. Every single one of you reading this and everyone that isn’t. I said to Colm once, when he asked me why I try so hard around here is that I care about the potential of this place. I care about the people in it, and I care about the sanctity of this location. I haven’t come across a community quite like this one (and I’ve been moderating and Admin adult forums since I was 14), and I want to ensure that what is right for this place always is put forward. This means, occasionally, getting in the way. I always try to be as level-headed and understanding when it comes to the many complaints that I get in this places daily maintenance. Not always daily, but due to the fact I’m nearly always here and very much present makes me both the go-to person and the person who is the biggest target.

There have been plenty of instances on here, where people have been trying to publically berate me for making an example out of me. Which I find more humorous than anything else because conversations usually stem from a “don’t you know who I am?” frame of mind (In fact, someone did say that to me once!) and I have to laugh. Sure, I do. The difference is I don’t care. If you’ve broken the ToS or been open harass, I’m gonna be on you like dip on a chip. Most of my time is taken up with the #jobs channel, which I do my best to keep as safe and as diplomatic as possible. Sometimes that isn’t always possible. Recruiters have always been a big hitting point for people. For reasons, I have endeavoured earnestly to understand, and I honestly can’t say that I do. However, my stance will remain with what I said before. I will not let anyone pass through here fearing that their profession, race, gender, sexual preference, hobbies will be used against them. It infuriates me. Those who have been in #jobs will know this. That I don’t get in peoples faces, but if I need to, you will know about it when it happens.

welcome

Some of you may ask Why? What gives me the right to tell other people what to do? Or from a more empathetic side why should I care so much?

I’m gonna quote something that my mentor shared with me recently:

Make decision even if they are wrong,

Make promises.

Make promises to yourself now.

Big crazy signs.

To help others, care about things, never apologise, try new things and most importantly be the person that people can rely on in the future someone that cares.

Promise that you’ll be the person that is there to share your skills and expertise when the next group of awesome people need help.

Those promises and the time you spend on yourself and the things you care about are the only real things under your control.

So why? Why am I trying to guide? Why am I trying to protect? Because I should. Because no one else is going to. Even though its right to do these things. Protecting people is correct. It is good for them to want to feel safe and equal. It is fair for people to want to search and discover themselves. People preach so much here about being vegan/veggie/wasteful/first world problems/privilege. Yet you can’t even be civil people in your own circles. I want to show you all that there is nothing to fear by showing kindness and encouragement of others. This isn’t some SJW bullshit either, it’s humanity 101. A lot of people here have a serious problem with empathy, apathy and hope. If you look for everything that is wrong with you constantly, of course, you are going to get cynical. It is far harder to inspire and be hopeful. I deliberately choose the more difficult path, not case it puts me on some sort of moral high ground. But to show others that it can be done and it can have an impact.

There is, of course, a time and place to be cynical and pessimistic. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ohrQCzZsgIw&index=5&list=PLwxNMb28XmpckOvZZ_AZjD7WM2p9-6NBv) (there is another magnificent school of life video around the importance of being sad and how not everything can be resolved with being cheery) I’m not claiming I know everyone’s story here or what has brought them to this point. The same way you all don’t know mine. All I know is that for that negative and pessimism; it is important to listen to it unconditionally and support its origin. In that way, we’ll try and hopefully find it in ourselves to not push that onto those around us.

In saying that, I pull a lot of aggro around here. I have my own theories behind it. Like the way, I notice Colm and Oisin tend to be listened to a lot quicker around here than me. For those reasons, I’m happy to keep pulling the aggro. I’m glad to keep being vocal and keep being me, because how can I justify to the women and men to come that I didn’t do anything for them? We, as a community, have a problem with diversity here. I’m 1/3 active admin both men and I’d say that a high stat for the actual levels of conversation here. Bar one or two other women I see here on occasion, I’m the only active one. Is it representative of tech in general? Who knows, that’s a bigger conversation. But my gender was always going to be brought into this, so I’m going to take it up first. With this confirming statement.

They may fear you, but I don’t.

I don’t want to stand in the year where so much has happened in the world for everyone to sit back and remain the same. I will eventually get asked by people: Where were you? Did you fight? Was I fearful or fearsome? What did I regret not standing for? What did I do, not just for women, but for people in the year that it was time? The path I’m helping to forge, what did it cost me and did I do enough? I know the answer to most of that is no, and I’m working on changing that.

I want to be able to help change your thinking too, not just for how many dollars you have in your bank accounts or your RAID arrays. But, what did we do for each other when it really matters. Are you going to stand at the sides in silence? Or will you speak?

It’s what I’m afraid of. After all, that happened, not that voices weren’t heard cause they were and I’m glad. But on the side that was under-represented, did you feel harassed by it? For those who didn’t speak at all, more importantly, I implore you to consider why you didn’t? Did you believe people spoke for you? Did you believe what was said was enough? Cause I can assure you, from the bottom of my heart, for those who didn’t speak, I wish you had. I wish your voice were heard. I wish you spoke with truth and honesty, with all the noise you have to give because your voice is just as strong as mine or anyone else in this place. Don’t let what happened here deter you otherwise. It’s so important to speak if you disagreed with either side or didn’t think anything about it at all it’s important.

Cause this is a community full of people, and your voice matters.

I hope that you’ll use your voice to impact the individuals and communities you care about in 2017.

With love and sincerity and all that I have to offer,

Specious.

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