Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Communities versus CEOs (or Us versus them zIdiots)

Over the past year I had an interesting experiment in community, which yesterday culminated in a particularly enlightening twist. It all began late 2005, with that same old Jan Gullet soap opera we’re probably all familiar with, when many of us moved to new personal-ads websites that took advantage of Tribe’s shipwreck. I for one tried two new websites, but the only one I decided to tolerate for over a year was the one an opportunist named Brian Johnson opened and shamelessly advertised on Tribe.net, recruiting new unpaid employees to his company. It was really doomed to be the same soap opera we had experienced back then—Brian even publicly introduced himself as the website’s CEO, even though I have really no idea what the fuck a community website would need a CEO for to this very day—, but I stood all the glitches, boredom, inactivity, rigid vertical hierarchy, cliquey mentality, and the personality cult around the CEO for a long, long time. By the middle of 2006, nobody even commented on my blog there anymore, or hardly any of the blogs I visited, and every week I’d get two or three new friendship requests from people who would log on to the website only once in their lifetimes. In that same year, on Johnson’s website, my privacy was violated, and I was exposed to an avalanche of daily spams, selling life coaching programmes (about two-thirds of the active members on that website were spammers, the other third was Johnson’s minions). I stood it all. No idea why, though. Now, yesterday, after much ado about my Easter Bunny blog entry (i.e, nothing), they simply deleted my whole account without notice, apologies or whatsoever.

Really, Jan Gullet knew better in his sorry days. When he was the CEO here on Tribe, he was personally attacked on a daily basis by the whole community. Like Johnson, Gullet was useless, yes, but Tribe’s ex-CEO was professional. Johnson was picky and resentful. Gullet shot the bizz in the brain, Johnson shot his own foot. Now, people are leaving his website in hordes and coming back to Tribe, after having invested over a year trying in vain to have a good time in a website that is only good for spreading around life coach offers. People that, like me, provided the website with contents, vibes, inspiration and what the CEO put for sale, but couldn’t offer—community. Why didn’t Johnson learn the lesson with Gullet that a community’s value is its people?

Nonetheless, this is a happy day, because we zRefugees are back here on Tribe for good, meeting and adding each other as friends—until the next CEO comes around to screw our fun and somebody else’s bizz.