I don't pretend to be an authority around Neowin. I like to think that I follow the rules and help others when they seem to slip. With that said, I've noticed something that seems to have grown in the community since I first signed up back in 2004; complainers. Now I'm not saying that there hasn't always been a part of the community that hasn't felt at one time or another that the Neowin that they once signed up to is not what we have today. But in recent years more people seem to be a lot more vocal about it.
This confuses me. For one, I like the community that we have today. It can range from being laid back about a subject that has no substance (Exhibit A) to getting to points of genuine aggression when presented with a topic that has a lot of room for serious debate (Exhibit B).
Secondly, this confuses me because when someone complains, they don't seem to do so in a constructive manner. A majority of the time I read a comment from someone in the news section that just says, "Neowin has lost its way since when I first came here." I can understand some people and their frustration, but their post has nothing constructive to offer with regards to how Neowin could improve itself.
I'm going to take a moment and present some simple points about Neowin which hopefully won't need much explanation for people to agree:
- Neowin is a free website. You are not obligated to pay money to view the content here (although obviously the website appreciates the donations )
- The staff members are not paid for their work. (Well, not in every case. My understanding is that their job is more volunteer work than a full-time job).
- Neowin is the community.
This means that if you have a problem with the way things are going, say something! But make it constructive criticism, and have a level of respect when you're doing so.
As an example, someone making posts that just says, "this article is pointless" aren't doing anything to guide the other members (i.e. the writers) of this community. Instead, why not use the functions that we've been provided with - I'm referring to the "Report a problem" button that is on every article - where you can voice your objection and also suggest how the article could be improved? The best thing about this option is that when it comes to the comment being reviewed, it's only the people that have the power to make the edit that can see it.
I'll tell you why that's important for our community, and it comes back to what I mentioned earlier - respect. If you want Neowin and its community to be respected, that can only start if you show respect for one another first. Don't try and drag the writer's name through the dirt just because you noticed a spelling mistake that got past moderation. Let them know privately and watch as the changes happen.
Here is a second idea for you: Write your own article. If you think that you can do a better job at something, why not give it a go rather than ridiculing someone for their attempt? I'm sure there is the potential for your article to be published on Neowin. Indeed, I know that to be fact thanks to seeing reviews of things that have appeared on the front page and yet been written by a member of the forum.
A third - and I think final - idea to consider relates to another set of comments that seem to constantly make the rounds. "Neowin is only just reporting on this? I read about this X days ago on WebsiteY."
Honestly, how are you being a benefit to the community if you read something that the community doesn't know about, and then don't let the community know? That might seem like an attack at various people who have voiced these thoughts in their comments in the past, but I'm genuine in my question. How can you expect a community to be ahead of the news if no one in the community takes the time to spread the news? You don't even need to write the article for this to take affect. Instead, there is a big button at the top of every single page of Neowin that says, "Contact us." You could use that and link to the article that you read. If you're not sure whether the news is front-page worthy or not, why not head to the Back Page News section of the site? Follow the rules in there (don't quote the whole article, link to the source) and post the thread. If the staff consider it to be news-worthy then they'll take the appropriate steps and give you credit for the tip off.
I would really appreciate some feedback on this issue. It seems to me that a small part of the community are complaining about the direction of Neowin, and yet there appears to be no acting from the same section of the community that complain about the issues. If anyone has any suggestions as to how Neowin can change for the better then I'd be happy to hear them, as I'm sure the staff will.
EDIT: Whoops, I mistyped a link. Let the complainers rain fire down upon me.