Friday, March 01, 2013

The Gatehouse

A long time ago I set up an account at the Kenzer and Company Discussion Forums  because it seemed like Face was having a lot of fun there. He'd come home from work every night, turn on the computer, and spend an hour or more there before even saying good night to me. It wasn't a snub, but it felt like one. Jumping into new social situations was easy for him. I felt sick at the thought of doing it. Going back as far as I could remember I believed I was unwanted. There are kids that for whatever reason have a hard time fitting in and I grew up one of them. I "knew" that if I went to the party, everyone else was going to want to leave. No one could bring down a room like I could, or so I thought. True or not, that was my reality. So I'd sit on the other side of the door listening to him type and set up a relationship with the people I wanted to game with thinking that I'd better not sign up for that and the less I spoke the better if I wanted to be allowed to stick around. It had always been good for me to keep a low profile. Be a smaller target. Joining a discussion board meant I'd have to step up and I wasn't ready to do that.

At my first Origins I heard about the Ladies of Hack section of the boards that was getting underway. It was a private girls-only section. Seemed safe enough. I set up an account and logged in only to find the entire community engaged in a now legendary flame war. It settled down, but I was already gone. Even the safe sounding Ladies of Hack were fighting. I was out before I was ever in. The downside was that I wanted to do more with the HackMaster Association and unfortunately the main requirement for doing so was being an active member of the discussion boards. Eventually, a conversation began that I wanted to participate in, I went back, found the flames had died down, and turned from "lurker" to "poster" to "moderator" of the same Ladies of Hack area that got me to sign up in the first place.

Looking back, I wonder why I was scared. I know what scared me: Strong personalities, that I might ask a dumb question, that the regulars wouldn't appreciate my presence, that I could embarrass my husband, that I'd violate an unwritten rule.Since it took me such a long time to figure out what I wanted to do there, it seems sort of appropriate that I ended up as a moderator for a new section called The Gatehouse. My collaborator, Barb Blackburn, took a similarly long route to the boards. We both spent a good amount of time watching from the sidelines before joining in.

I wish I had the Gatehouse when I signed up. I bet it would have saved me a few of the awkward things, like the time I tried to figure out how the Reputation system worked. ;) In the Gatehouse, new forum members--100 posts more or less--can hang out relatively anxiety-free. This is because Barb and I and the HackMaster moderator George and Yorkus have their backs. There are no dumb questions and there are definitely no dumb questions in the Gatehouse. The original idea belonged to Face, who a long time ago tried to tell me the discussion boards were fun.

The boards are fun...now. I can't make anyone believe that any more than Face could convince me back when I first signed up. The person "lurking" (why do we call it that it sounds scary) behind the scenes, or the shy person, or the husband/wife that thinks he/she is intruding on the other's space except they like HackMaster or Aces & Eights or Knights of the Dinner Table and want to participate. Participation is up to them. What I can do is stand at the door and let them know they are welcome. :)