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For Cryin’ Out Loud: You’ve Had Your Say

Friday - April 2, 2010

For Cryin' Out Loud - Jack ("Window of Opportunity")For Cryin’ Out Loud is GateWorld’s weekly editor’s column! If you have questions or suggestions about what you’d like us to talk about, e-mail the editors now.

Ch-ch-changes are in store for GateWorld.  Before I tell you what they are, let me give you a little personal bio that I hope gives you insight into why I’m doing this.

I started GateWorld when I was 23 years old, just married and living in a new city.  It was 1999, and I wanted to combine my love of Stargate SG-1 with my newest hobby and creative outlet, Web development.  And so a fan site was born that was truly a labor of love, occupying 10, 20, sometimes 30 or more hours per week.  It grew. I met people from all over the world. The site earned recognition from the production studio, and I even made some friends among the cast, the crew, and at MGM.  They let us maintain complete independence, recognizing that you can’t pay people to maintain a site like this.  It has to be a labor of love, and when it stops being fun … well, we wouldn’t really want to do it any more, no matter what we would lose.

It’s been ten and a half years now, and we’ve had some good times (and some great times) and some bad times.  We’ve witnessed feuding and bashing, splinters in fandom, and one or two near meltdowns.  But I made it through every time, because I still loved what I was doing.  Working on the site and creating new content was fun, and other fans seemed to appreciate that work.

Over the past couple of years, though, the hatred and factions that have crept up in Stargate fandom have started to take their toll on my love of this project.  I’m also a father of two and a full-time student now, and my “little” Stargate fan site has a different priority in life.  In January, something very private happened that nearly made me walk away.  Those days and weeks this winter when we went with no site updates?  Some of that wasn’t because it was a slow news week as much as because I didn’t want to do it any more.  But I still love Stargate, and I still have fun working on the site, and the friends that I’ve made here are still here.  So I didn’t pull the plug.

Now, I have a choice:  Give it up and try to regain my sanity in the real world, or make some serious changes to the way GateWorld does things.  Refocus on doing what I love doing on the site, and get rid of those elements that take away my joy.

So starting today, the seemingly endless cycle of Stargate Universe hatred posted by viewers at GateWorld comes to an end.  I think we’ve been way, way more than “fair” in giving those who despise the new incarnation of Stargate a place to have their say. GateWorld is first a fan site, and if you don’t like SGU, you shouldn’t post about it here.

As I wrote about a couple of months ago, my desire for GateWorld has always been to strike a balance between keeping it a fun place for fans of the show and also a place where everyone could have their voice heard.  That has not changed. Let’s put that right up front: No one is being asked to go away or told they can’t post here.  Instead, I’m asking you to post with this Community Vision statement in mind, and I’m giving fair warning that we’ll be much stricter in how it is applied.

GateWorld exists as a place for fans all over the world to enhance their enjoyment of the Stargate franchise by sharing it with others. Our vision for this forum is that it will be an open and welcoming place for the enjoyment of Stargate and science fiction, a place free of hostility where we communicate and build friendships, and a home that is open to challenging discussions. While we affirm everyone’s right to critique things they do not like, we ask that such comments be made with tact and respect for others. Our site may be large, but it is our home, and we want to focus our time talking about the things we enjoy about our favorite shows.

This has always been present on the comment rules page.  It’s just been ignored by those who have, in many cases, deliberately targeted our site and pushed the envelope as far as possible … to see what they could get away with.  They took advantage of my commitment to free speech, in other words, in an attempt to make our site a living hell for those of us who love SGU.  No more.

We rolled out the Community Vision statement at GateWorld and GateWorld Forum last year, after Stargate Atlantis‘s final episode had aired and angry fans had been given time to vent and to mourn the loss of a great series.  We applied it with a light touch at first, then with increasing firmness at the forum.  Here on the news threads, it’s been much easier to get away with bashing SGU because I wanted to let everyone actually see the new show and have their say on it.  Watch the pilot.  Watch the first half of the season.  Spend the mid-season break reflecting on it.

That time has now passed, and those who have made up their mind to hate the show and all it stands for have had their say.  It’s time to move on.

What does this mean, practically?

  • Not every news story will have a comment thread. In those cases we encourage you to post your thoughts at GateWorld Forum instead.
  • The forum has been restructured a bit, making the Universe, Atlantis, and SG-1 sections larger and more self-contained sub-forums.  Fans who love SGU should have a place to go where the discussion is utterly free of hatred of the show.  Not critique, mind you — hatred.  Fans who love the other shows, meanwhile, will have a self-contained place to enjoy what they love about Stargate, without feeling compelled to trash something another fan likes.
  • If you want to critique the show here on the news threads, you may do so with tact and respect for the cast, crew, and fans who are enjoying it.   If there is a whiff of disrespect, that you are pushing my patience and our community standards to see how far I’ll bend in the name of free expression, our moderators will be quicker on the Delete button.
  • When a discussion thread shows vigorous and profitable give-and-take debate, within our posting guidelines, we’ll encourage it.  When it devolves into bickering between the same old members, the thread will be closed.
  • If the moderators are convinced you are just trying to cause trouble, your posting rights will be suspended or, in extreme cases only, you will be banned from commenting.  (In some cases we’ll try to communicate with you by e-mail, so don’t use a dummy account you never read and then be surprised that you wind up banned.) There are plenty of places on the Internet to sow relentless hatred for a television series.  This is not one of them.
  • If our community standards are too strict to let you say what you want to say (and what you want to say over, and over, and over again), our site is not the best place for you.  There are other sites where you can find like-minded people and enjoy yourself without dragging us down.

Let me add that I’ve read a lot of very measured, thoughtful, and respectful criticisms of Stargate Universe here in recent months.  Those members have my personal thanks for expressing their concerns in the right way.  That’s also what I’ve tried to do on the podcast, because as much as I love the show I don’t think every episode is the pure gold standard.  I hope those thoughtful critiques, which measure up to our community standards, continue to be posted.  There is a noticable difference between a fan who has a critique to voice and a “hater,” one who has firmly made up his mind about the series and posts primarily to disrupt and to spread that hatred.  This change targets only the latter.

I’m aware that this won’t be a popular decision, that for some it will only fuel the fires of their hatred.  But it’s in the best interests of this site and my sanity.  Right now, it’s the only way GateWorld can continue to exist.  If it’s not fun for the people doing the work and keeping it online, it will be gone.

Respect, or free expression? Stargate fandom has become so fractured and vitriolic over the past two years (even before SGU!) that, unfortunately, the reality of the situation is that I’ve been forced to choose between them.  We try to maintain both, but the balance of the scale inevitably tips one way.  We either let the haters run roughshod over our site and continue to trash our reputation and despoil our community, all while laughing over what they got away with, or we have to start restricting people’s ability to say absolutely anything they want, as often as they want.

We reached a point where I didn’t like coming to my own site, and I didn’t like that feeling.  GateWorld is about opening the doors to all Stargate fans, no matter their opinion — but even more than that, it’s about enjoying Stargate.  I, for one, want to enjoy it again.

Darren created GateWorld in 1999, and today is the owner and managing editor. He lives in the Seattle area with his wife and three children. (More)

COMMENTS (169):Rules | Report Comment | Trackback

  • Thank you! I agree 100%. Lets get back to watching and enjoying Stargate. I love SG1 while my son can not stand it. He loves SGU with a passion while I am still waiting for… But we still behave like family and respect each other’s opinion.
    Gateworld is not a democracy. It is your creation and those of us who visit the site and listen to your podcast will be happy to follow where your heart and head lead you.

  • I think this is a great move, if people dislike SGU we’ve heard what they have to say 100’s of times over by now, the negativity keeps some fans away (myself included, seldom if ever visit the forums) so i think these steps are positive ones

  • Hey Darren, 1st let me say Thankyou for this awesome site, I visit it all the time, it’s the only site i use for all my Stargate news.
    2nd I don’t understand why the haters are even here, have they got nothing better to do. I never visit the forums anymore because i am sick of the complaining.
    I love all of the Stargate shows.
    Thanks again : )

  • Thanks for doing this. People too often feel a sense of anominity when on the internet.

    I hope people respect this decision.

    The part I don’t understand is, if you hate SGU that much why would you watch it, continue to comment on it, why……….

    Thanks again, we don’t want to lose you or the site.

  • And I think you need to step back and ask yourself is it the fans or the product that TPTB all but ordered us to watch that is causing the problem.

  • You changed me Darren, i will now post only good things about SGU.

    The first thing I like about SGU and this site is that its Stargate. Stargate is a great franchise, its so good to have more Stargate.
    SGU is a great show because it has great actors playing characters and nobody can say anything bad about that. I also like the FTL.

    This site has finally taken a step forward to unite The Fandom. Darren shows us tough love by splitting the fandom, but in the end it will save his site and by that it will save his fandom.

    I encourage you, Darren, to further expand your policies, it will make this site a better place.

  • Oh and btw, for anyone else that still wants to talk openly about SGU, theres still SGU°S, you know where to find us.

  • Fantastic move and exactly what I have wanted to happen: to have critiques not haters. Seriously strikes a blow to those trolls who are sad enough to do whatever they can to get SGU cancelled.

  • I also agree 100%. If you don’t like SGU then don’t watch, find another show to watch and hassle them Not GateWorld. Keep up the great work.

  • After reading that I must confess that I have truly repented and will try my best to be constructive in my comments in future about the show. The error of my ways has been shown to me and I feel suitably chastised.

  • Like not watching stargate universe Is going to help when

    A. IT is the only new stargate on TV.

    B there is not much else like stargate on TV that is new or like stargate.

    c. The other shows that might be like stargate are not as good and do not last that long.

    You are stuck with stargate universe it is the only thing in town.

    It’s not like I can watch star trek on Tv anymore or something it is all reruns so that don’t watch only helps give stargate universe bad ratings not pleasure people who want to watch new stargate that do not like universe./

  • I understand your feelings 100%. But you shouldn’t take this too heavily, simply make a rule that hating posts which can harass those who love are not allowed.

    I’m one of the haters, and I apologize. The reason many people comes to these forums boasting in flames is that this is the largest community in stargate world and they want scifi to hear their cry for redemption. Understand that stargate is so long brand that it has not only fans.. but also cults of fans.

    It is like they were protecting their “children” from harm such as the changes in SGU are taking place (in their opinion) and so they come here with all their flamethrowers ready to burn the unbelievers.

    I hope you understand, keep the good work up!

  • David,

    I can only guess on the emotional toll it took on you to post this. I have always felt thankful that this site was here. Thank you David. Not all fandoms have a source like this and people seem to forget that this is (or should be) a labor of love. For my family this is the first place we go to for info, whether it is for news, analysis of episodes and characters, screen caps, or have a place to mingle with like-minded people. I have a family of five and we all have a different focus for our love (and dislike) for Stargate. We are a passionate bunch that loves to discuss and debate everything but debate doesn’t mean bash. We all have different character we love and hate and have different way we explore the fandom. For example, I go to as many Cons as I can, my hubby doesn’t go to Cons at all. But we all get along. As for negative people on this site, I have never understood why they expend all the time. There are shows (yes, there is a world outside of Stargate) that I hate to watch, so I don’t and I don’t waste the time to post about it.

    There is plenty of room here for the SG-1’ers and the Atlantis’ers. Welcome SGU’ers. Come and play. If you do not like SGU, go play somewhere else, stay in the other areas for SG-1 or Atlantis.

    I am not a writer, so I hope that this is conveying what I mean. Simply put, thank you David, I appreciate all you have done here and hope you continue and the it give you pleasure.


  • I don’t have any problem with what you’re doing here. The haters are really a drag. It’s not just on GateWorld. I frequent and the haters also post their vile ridden commentary on SGU related posts over there. Most recently this week. It’s such a turn off. No other show seems to garner such hatred. It ruins it for the those of us that are fans of the show and I’m sure it taints the waters for prospective fans. To some extent I do blame the producers of the show for how they handled things in the initial stages. They managed to alienate a large portion of the fan base. Be that as it may it has gone on far too long, so I’m in complete agreement with your decision.

  • Darren, you and David have given us, the fans, a great gift in this wonderful sight. When I turn on my computer it’s the first place I go. In fact, it is the only place I obtain my daily Stargate “fix.

    (EryasDax, nodding and applauding in a group standing ovation.)

  • There are haters and also PPL like me that dont like what happens to good SciFi Shows/Movies. (Or brought SyFy anything good out accept Tin Man in the last Years?

    Look why JMS will no longer make any B5 Storys and so on.

    Some just hate and some want just a damm good SPACE OPERA and sadly to Say at the Moment there is no GOOD SciFi show.

    Goodby that was my last posting here.

  • Darren, thanks for all your hard and great work. We certainly want to keep you sane. I wouldn’t know what to do without Gateworld. I also love well-written (typo-free) articles and well-structured and thought out comments from fans. I also love the podcasts – they are very interesting and well produced, and when they are a minute late I get a bit anxious :)

    Hope comments on article will still be possible – I find it much easier to read those than going to the forum, where I don’t find my way around at all.

  • Darren,

    This..was a mistake. As someone whom works in your hobby professionally, I can say with some certainty that you’ll end up regretting this. Not the action, but the posting of it. Change like this is best made quietly. Those whom were reprimanded in some way for speaking out against SGU already believed they were being chastised unfairly for speaking their mind. This will just add fuel to their fire. And now, anyone whom feels slighted for not praising SGU will preach of the ‘evil censorship of gateworld’. This isn’t a pro or con message, just a prediction from someone whom has been there.

    That aside, I also think that this message is very vague on what is acceptable. Criticism is negative. There’s not really any such thing as positive criticism. There is constructive criticism but it’s still negative. By not clarifying what exactly is allowed, you leave it open.

    In the end, you can’t run a totalitarian system and then claim you believe in free speech. You may believe in the idea of free speech, but you don’t practice it here by what you’ve said above. It doesn’t exist in a totalitarian system. And saying you believe in it doesn’t change that. Most whom haven’t lived in a totalitarian system don’t truly understand the value of free speech. If you had ever had someone you knew executed for simply saying what they thought, you’d have a different view on things. Promoting more use of the delete button isn’t the key to fixing things. If you want to make things better, don’t delete messages. Tell people why their message is bad and not to do it again publicly. If a criminal justice system only told the person who committed a crime that it was a crime and never let anyone else know, the crime would just be committed over and over again. And if the mods are worried about defending their actions, then perhaps you need new mods as if they can’t defend their actions then perhaps they should rethink them. I’ve been there, I’ve done that and I’ve never had a problem with defending myself. People will respond much better if they can see why something said was bad. Sure, there will be some who will fight against it, but at least then they’ll know they crossed the line and others will have seen where the line is. Eventually, people will learn where the boundaries are and adapt. Sometimes why a post is bad is obvious, but if people don’t see the original message, they’re much more inclined to think that it probably wasn’t. Repression is a tactic that always ultimately fails because people will only stand for it for so long. Granted, it may work up until a time when there is no Stargate left (hopefully a long time off) but if it doesn’t, what you’ve seen on Gateworld pales in comparison to other sites that I’ve seen torn to shreds in virtual holy wars. The problem with running a fan site is that fans are often very devoted. And in reality, the resources aren’t available to stop even one overzealous fan from taking down a whole site. I’ve never seen indication of such extent on here yet, but that doesn’t mean the potential’s not there.

    I won’t deny that I am an SGU hater. So far, I’ve hated it. Why do I still watch it? It’s only half a season in and there’s promise of changes coming. I can always hope they’ve realized the error of their ways and will change it in a positive way. Maybe they’ll even find a way to make both camps happy. It’s not impossible. Does any of this devalue my opinion? I would say not. I don’t ‘troll’. I respond to posts and keep to the topic at hand. I always try to defend my positions and always try to respond to anyone who responds to what I say. I am a believer that if I can’t defend my position, then my position is likely wrong. Obviously, others may not always agree. But I won’t just say something and then not try to defend it. So because I haven’t really liked SGU at all and would even go as far as to say that I’ve hated it so far, does that mean I should leave Gateworld? Here’s a chance to directly set a boundary. Ask me to leave because I hate SGU, and I will and you’ll have set a precedence for others to follow. I’m relatively sure you won’t ask me to leave over this, but I’m also trying to prove the point of how public knowledge of such things can help lead the site to more peaceful times.

    So if you’ve actually taken the time to read all of this (or at least skimmed to the bottom), I will say that Gateworld has been mostly a great site over the years and I hope it can continue to be and that Stargate does continue to live on (just because I don’t like it’s current incarnation and do hope that enough bad happens to where they realize what I view as a mistake on their part, it doesn’t mean that I want it to end, just that I want it to be better).

  • I can’t believe that I typed David not Darren in my comment. (I need more sleep.) I am such a bonehead.

    Darren, thank you.

    David, thank you also.

    *Slinking back to my lurking place.*


  • I don’t see how anyone could have a problem with this. IMO a post that isn’t respectful, logical and well reasoned in it’s opinions isn’t worth reading anyway. I’d much rather hear the reasoning and ideas behind someone’s opinions than just “omg SGU suxx” or whatever.

    I don’t know if anyone noticed, but the first half of SG-1’s first season wasn’t that good. Well, no, I take that back, I actually enjoyed every single one of those episodes, what I mean is that, they don’t really fit in with what SG-1 became. Shape-shifting crystal people? Goa’uld nanites? Off-world Mongols? Would any of this really have fit in in say, Season 5?

    I guess what I’m getting at is, just because the first 10 episodes of SGU might not have been super-special-awesome, doesn’t mean it isn’t worth watching. They’re finding their footing. Would you prefer that, or a show like Heroes, which IMO had a fantastic first season then gasped and wheezed on life support for three years afterwards? I’d rather have cautious optimism for SGU’s future, having gotten to know the characters some, than be wowed by a fantastic first year and then be continually let down for years after. Not that a fantastic first year would automatically guarantee that, but still. There’s been no waterskiing or shark tanks in sight. People need to give it time, and if they can’t, then I don’t see why they’d still be bothering with it at all.

  • Wow. In all my years on the internet, this is the first time I’ve ever seen a fan site owner pushed to this point. And I’ve never seen the level of hatred and bitterness among (some) fans that we’re seeing now (and I’ve seen a LOT of that before, so that is saying something).

    I can totally understand where Darren is coming from, though. Because I feel pretty much the same way. I used to be one of the top posters on the GW forums back in the day. The last couple of years, that’s been reduced to occasional lurking (and very rarely posting) because every time I did all I saw was the hate and the bitterness. That REALLY ruined my enjoyment of interacting with other fans to the point where I considered burning all bridges and leaving for good.

    So I see Darren’s decision here as an unfortunate necessity. Maybe now GateWorld will be fun again.

  • You have not seen wars until you get the video game console wars.

    Or worse console vs PC. The stuff on this web site is tame compared to that, So i do not see what the big deal is.

    Of course the people running the video game websites get paid for it.

  • Darren

    mythos, thanks for this response. In terms of fueling the fire and giving people grounds to complain of censorship, that ship sailed long ago. It’s nothing new. We’ve been the target of such attacks for years, and my public commitment to free speech didn’t seem to help one bit. Many were grateful that they could post the criticisms they did; but most were downright entertained by seeing what they could get away with. The free speech they were granted in this forum, in other words, was being spat upon for laughs.

    Public boundary-drawing is helpful to a point — which is why we have rules that are articulated more elaborately than some sites, and why the mods frequently explain privately to posters why certain actions are being taken. Leaving violations public and condemned wouldn’t do it, though, since it fails to do what moderation is really about: removing offensive content from the site. And I’m sure some of our “problem posters” would get a big kick out of it. We also don’t talk publicly about mod actions because it can have the effect of shaming that member.

    Of course I have no desire for you or any other self-proclaimed SGU-hater to go away. You’re quite measured and engaging in your comment. The people are welcome insofar as they can conform to the standard by which we measure comments. Those who have made up their mind against SGU are welcome to post with tact and respect, but I really encourage them to avoid SGU items and post about things they do like, instead.

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