Dear VA Community,
I am writing this post not in the role of the admin of this forum, or the Co-President of this organization. I will stand by what I write here, but I am not representing either entity. I am writing from the perspective of someone who has been working with VA since early 2009 in various roles, and has witnessed first-hand the work that countless members of VA have put into running this organization - the things that people who casually surf this forum might not know or notice, but nevertheless, are real and make a difference of many of our lives here.
It has come to my attention that some members have reacted very negatively to our team of mods and admins. I understand that you might not agree with our decisions, but calling people "who the **** you are" and labeling them "irresponsible" shouldn't be part of your vocabulary when you talk to the folks who have voluntarily sacrificed their time and effort to contribute to this forum. In response to those inconsiderate comments, I would like to ask: Who are you, and what have you done to this forum such that you give yourself the right to use insulting language to the people who have done more than you? What do you mean by "responsible"?
If you might recall, our forum a few months ago was a literal mess. There was no mod or admin team in place. People have abused their right to free speech to say hurtful things to others, or simply have posted spam, irrelevant content on the forum, rendering it useless to others who have serious intention of searching for information. Many people complained, but when I held the recruitment campaign for the mod and admin team, suddenly the complainers disappeared from sight. I was not surprised: After all, few people want to actually do the dirty work of cleaning up the forum, it costs to work, but it's free to complain.
Some stepped forward to claim this job. I cannot thank them enough for clearing up the spams, reorganizing the forum into a more logical structure, moving topics to relevant sites, and working on adding more content to this forum. For your information, VAPedia team and VA forum team have worked in compiling a comprehensive, updated FAQ list for newbies, including questions and relevant topics to look up information so that they will not spam the forum. Other projects that VA forum team has done include the weekly talk show with college students, and the Writing contest over New Year. We are planning for another contest which will come soon, and compiling the list of schools with scholarships that not many people are aware of.
When VAPedia and VA forum have changed for the better, did anyone post a thank you note or contact the teams to thank them for their effort? As far as I know, such responses are few, or non-existent. Well, that's fine. I understand that when the fruits of labor are enjoyed by many, people feel entitled to it. Of course VA forum has to be good. Of course VApedia has to be useful.
But then when we are making difficult reasons in grey areas, such as when to close a thread, when to moderate a post and how, some members are not at least hesitant in calling names and commenting negatively. I don't think we make right decisions all the times. In fact, I am aware that my action might limit freedom for some, but I did it because I considered the impact of me not getting involved as more harmful than if I chose to intervene.
Take the thread of Class 2015 for example (yes, I was the one behind the decision to close the thread): I was considering the fact that the thread was spinning off from its original agenda, and while the conversation was still relatively civilized, there is some tension there that might lead to some unnecessary arguments. I apologize that I did not consider the people on the waitlist, but there is no need to resort to calling the mod team "irresponsible." It is not that we are not willing to resolve conflicts that may arise (if we are not, why did we take up our positions in the first place?).
To put things in the right perspective, I am not upset by all this name-calling and negativity. I have worked with VA long enough to know that if I place my motivation and self-esteem on external sources like some random members of the VA community, I will not last in this position through an admission cycle. I am writing not to whine, but to remind some folks out there that VA has not always been there. You are not entitled to VA's existence. VA is the work of many people, and we need people who are dedicated to VA to continue sustaining it. If you cannot bring yourself to be grateful, the least you can do is to be considerate and constructive in your feedback. If you can't do anything for VA, at least don't discourage others from doing so.
To end this, I just want to say: We are the faceless people who do the thankless behind-the-scene jobs, but we too, are human beings. And as human beings, we don't just work for the sake of working. We want to do meaningful work to benefit the people who deserve it. Will you, VA community, be that compelling reason to keep the teams go on?