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languishing in our walled garden - EBSQ: Art Meets Blog
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languishing in our walled garden

A Breath of Fresh Air by Poxodd

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?

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18 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
joygibat From: joygibat Date: July 19th, 2007 12:01 am (UTC) (Link)

Open

I think EBSQ should be more open. In fact I think the public should be able to access most the forum topics. The critique might be kept private, and only allow reading of pimping one's art and shows.
wickedgillie From: wickedgillie Date: July 19th, 2007 02:54 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Open

There's an issue with just making everything public after the fact. People posted with the knowledge that their posts were just seen by paid members of the site. That's a lot of permission we have to get if our doors were to be that wide. And frankly, I don't think a lot of folks feel comfortable about being that open. Yet. We selected the media-specific forums as a starting point because there tend not to be personal conversations going on here, but rather just artists talking shop. And of course, there's also a ton of good content here I'd like us to share with the world ;)
joygibat From: joygibat Date: July 20th, 2007 03:00 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Open

I do hope that you can get the media-specific forums open. Best wishes.
From: jenneubauer Date: July 20th, 2007 04:02 am (UTC) (Link)
go for it :)
wickedgillie From: wickedgillie Date: July 30th, 2007 02:20 pm (UTC) (Link)
thanks for the vote of confidence!
From: dawnt Date: July 20th, 2007 01:12 pm (UTC) (Link)
This would be a VERY good thing. Moderation would need to be consistent, but it is bound to bring in fresh perspective and potential new members, thwarting the stagnation that is bound to happen in a closed community.

The media specific topics are very under-utilized and could be thriving. IMO, that is the perfect section to test the waters.


Dawn
wickedgillie From: wickedgillie Date: July 30th, 2007 02:19 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yup, totally agree!

Right now, we're also working internally to breathe some life into the media/genre forums in particular, and talking about combining some logical forums into bigger "bites" so there's a larger audience for each forum. We're probably going to go live with topics in art history and art supplies 101 first while we work on the media/genre categories, and then hopefully go public with them perhaps as early as September for EBSQ's 7th Anniversary.
From: (Anonymous) Date: July 20th, 2007 11:29 pm (UTC) (Link)

A breath of Fresh Air

Crack a window for pete's sake!

:)

Sharon
wickedgillie From: wickedgillie Date: July 30th, 2007 02:15 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: A breath of Fresh Air

'Tis the plan!
From: paulhelm Date: July 26th, 2007 02:56 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yes certainly it should be a lot more open.
Media specific topics for starters but hopefully extended to other topics such as marketing.

Paul Helm (fanfares)
wickedgillie From: wickedgillie Date: July 30th, 2007 02:14 pm (UTC) (Link)
I know a lot of our forum regulars consider the marketing forums to be proprietary and a perk of paid membership, so if they ever do go public, it won't be anytime soon. That being said, we do try to provide a lot of open marketing coverage in our zine, this blog, and occassionally as part of EBSQ Live.
erikasfriends From: erikasfriends Date: July 29th, 2007 06:12 pm (UTC) (Link)
I will vote officially but wanted to chime in here too. One of the things that I personally enjoy about EBSQ has been the long and beautifully aging friendships I've developed in the group. Much of it might have easily been lost when the organization grew (fast) and people felt too overwhelmed to keep up with each other, but with the help of blogs we've still managed to give quality attention to particular relationships.

Anyway, it's not necessarily bad. EBSQ became a website that is rich in contents like an art library. I love the very high tech and user friendly tools in my profile and how popular you are in the search engines. But as far as the forums go, one of the things I've heard mentioned among fellow artists was they wish the login was as simple as logging into our profile. So that even though you have been absent for a while, you don't forget how to find your way back in? I think people are hankering for simplicity and ease as we are seeing happening in the Ebay groups. Sure, the moaning and whining will subside but it's because many of the people who frequented left. I don't know how you can have a big group and have ease of navigating through the topics either so I'm really not much help. With my grandmother being ill I've been an absent minded professor and lost my way logging into the forum. Perhaps my thoughts on this are dated. +++ My grandma passed on last night. +++

As for open or close or cracked. I vote for maintaining certain exclusivity with membership but cracking is ok as it would mean not having to log in all the time. There will be trouble makers with nothing better to do so it would mean Johnny-on-the-spot moderation. You can perhaps assign a handful or moderators and have at least 2 or 3 mods agree before deleting posts or locking it. Have a private mod reporting group. If you go this direction I can help if you need me though not heavily because I'm preparing for a one-woman-show in November. xox
wickedgillie From: wickedgillie Date: July 30th, 2007 12:10 pm (UTC) (Link)
First, I am really sorry to hear about your gram! (((hugs)))

Secondly, I wasn't aware folks had issues logging into our forums. Could you point me to where you've seen folks upset so we can help address their login issues?

And regarding any of our currently private forums going public, we'll make sure that our current moderators are trained and prepared for dealing with trolls, spam, etc. We'd certainly love to see more of you, as well, so thanks for the offer! Not to mention, congrats on your upcoming show!

xoxox,
-a
erikasfriends From: erikasfriends Date: August 6th, 2007 05:18 pm (UTC) (Link)
Sorry so late. I think it's confusion about the profile account and the forum account have different logins. I imagine folks who used previous forum are kind of stuck in the process where it was same login?
wickedgillie From: wickedgillie Date: August 6th, 2007 05:22 pm (UTC) (Link)
We never had a single login for the whole site. It's always been two different pieces of software, regardless of which forum format we used. Moreover, for the previous forum, you had to register for it seperately from the main site. Now, you're automatically registered for the forums when you register for our site, so it's actually less work than it was previously.
erikasfriends From: erikasfriends Date: July 29th, 2007 06:22 pm (UTC) (Link)

I was able to log in VERY EASILY!

YAY!!!!
wickedgillie From: wickedgillie Date: July 30th, 2007 02:09 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: I was able to log in VERY EASILY!

glad to hear it!
jnlldxn From: jnlldxn Date: August 25th, 2007 03:36 am (UTC) (Link)
I kinda like as it is. Don't fix whats not broken?

BTW there seems to be some technical issues with uploading artwork to the art case files tonight again. :( Was working fine earlier.
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