Ask The Editor, 11/02/2004

As an editor, does the sheer amount of anonymous retardation the internet affords people ever frustrate you?

Happy election day, Americanos! If you are eligible to vote and have not done so yet, you cannot read this article. It’s like the little sticker and orange juice you get for donating blood or something – no vote, no reward. I don’t care who you vote for, and nothing I have to say at this point would make a whit of difference if I did, but if you haven’t moseyed off and done some civic doodying yet, close your browser and come back when you have.

Okay fine, those of you reading this before the polls are open get a free pass.

To the rest of you…

Hey look, I’m back. You folks wouldn’t necessarily know this, but it’s actually been some time between when I wrote yesterday’s article and now. During that time, I attended a Pro Tour, watched a rookie win the whole thing, saw Osyp Lebedowicz fall through a chair he was dancing on, barely missed getting flashed full-on “old man package” by a roommate (whew!), and received about fifty states reports. You’d think I might be kidding about one of these, but I’m definitely not. Anyhoo, I’m sure you’ll see or hear more about all of those items in the near future, but now it’s time to do the question thang.

Today’s question:

As an editor, does the sheer amount of anonymous retardation the internet affords people ever frustrate you? It’s a borderline thankless job (except the pay, I’d assume), so how do you ignore the crap and live the love? I know bad article submissions and forum posts are better than none at all, but sometimes it is maddening – does the game override this frustration for you?

-Rob Conklin

I’m so happy you asked this question. The degree of anonymous stupids that I have to deal with on a daily/weekly basis is staggering. Picture this: Every day, you work eight hours at your job, generally doing the best you can at something that isn’t exceedingly hard, but is very technical. You have good days and bad days, but in the end, you really like your job. Except… there are thousands of people looking over your shoulder, savaging you for every mistake you make like it’s their God-given right to do so, even though 98% of them are completely unqualified to do your job.

In addition to that, you basically run this place where both kids and adults with really strong opinions hang out, and several times a day somebody hurts somebody else’s feelings and they come running to you to complain about it. Then at least a couple of times a week, a full-fledged fight breaks out where you have to kick somebody out and tell them not to come back. Except you’ve never met any of these people in your life, and while none of these people would be nearly as big of idiots in real life, they again feel like it’s their God-given right to do so.

Of course, anyone who runs a busy content website that also contains community forums probably has to deal with this type of thing. And it could always be worse… take our audience, multiply it by ten or fifty, and make everybody a little bit dumber. Back when he was running MagicTheGathering.com, Aaron Forsythe eventually got to the point where he simply couldn’t read the forums anymore. I don’t say that to make fun of Aaron or anything, I say it to illustrate what an incredible beating this job can be. Aaron’s f***ing brilliant – he’s succeeded at the top levels of Magic, he’s an excellent writer, and he was plenty good at his job. But over time, your resistance to the beats eventually wears down and every new foray into the forums gets harder and harder to make until it’s just not worth it anymore. The signal-to-noise ratio gets so bad that it’s no longer worth the time and energy to deal with it.

I’m not at that point these days, but I’ve been close.

How do I ignore the crap and live the love? Well for starters, I’m a cathartic complainer. I vent to various friends on a consistent basis and that makes it a little better. In short, I bitch a lot. It’s nothing personal, it just keeps me sane. Over time, I’ve also built up mechanisms to screen out the chaff and try to pay attention to criticisms and praise that actually matter – sometimes they fail, but most of the time it seems to work pretty well.

Another thing that keeps me going is that unlike Wizards, I think the community generally has a positive feeling towards our website and what we do. We never have to listen to angry rants about broken cards, or crap rares, or omigodican’tbelieveyouchangedthecardfaceyouaresostoopidrandybuehlerandmarkrosewatermustdie. That’s kinda nice.

The other things that really keep me sane are the fact that I have a great work environment and I love my job. Pete Hoefling is a very easy man to work for, and coming from a job where I was getting paid a ton but my boss was psychotic, I’ll take happier with less money every time. My average wake up time is 10am. I also get to meet new people on a consistent basis, talk to Magic players, make friends with folks you’ve read about on the Pro Tour, barn Magic legends (and sometimes have Magic legends barn me), travel for free, and I even get to work with the people who make the game on a regular basis – something I never thought I would be able to do when I started.

For me, it’s the people that override the frustration.

Two weekends ago I ate dinner with Aaron Forsythe.

This past weekend I hung out with Randy Buehler, Mike Flores, BDM, Jon Becker, and J. Gary Wisenheimer. I chatted with my homeboy David Rood (the “shady” French Canadian), watched Gab Nassif (he’s so suited, yo)* and Kai Budde play Type One, pretended to be angry at life in order to fit in with Tim Aten, John Pelcak, and Gadiel Szleifer, and ate dinner with gracious newlyweds Kate and Patrick Sullivan. Plus, I got to go dancing at a Halloween party with the whole TOGIT crew and awesome Dutchies (I’m so hoping Osyp writes about this one), broke bread with great folks at Wizards you’ve probably never heard of like John Grant, Scott Larabee, Renee Roub, Witney Williams, Laura Kilgore, Greg Collins… the list goes on and on – and they paid me for it. I’d attend these events for free, just to get to hang out with the cool people, but for some reason they think I should be compensated.

So when things seem to be going really bad, I just step back and ask, “Self, how did I get here?” I Mr. Magoo’d my way into not one, but two of the best jobs around, and I’m still not sure how it all happened.

Oh, and next week I get to travel Australia and then Japan and write about Magic.

How could I not live the love?

Teddy Cardgame (BDM came up with that one at Worlds)

Mail us at https://sales.starcitygames.com/contactus/contactform.php?emailid=2

P.S. Today’s pre-made forum complaint: blah blah, namedropping, blah barn blah blah.

* Yeah, I know you hate inside jokes… but I have no time to explain.