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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.