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  #51  
Old 06-19-2017, 08:41 PM
erysichthon erysichthon is offline
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Originally Posted by LSLGuy View Post
That the board continues to exist today is all but unrelated to the alternative newspaper column of the same name. Either could live, die, or be rebranded in 2017 with negligible impact on the other.
I wouldn't go that far. I'd say that the board is inspired by the Straight Dope columns, particularly their styleódispensing knowledge with wit and snark. Beyond that, I agree that the connection is tenuous at best.

I don't think the board as a whole is all about "fighting ignorance," as is occasionally claimed. Maybe GQ, but not the rest of it. I doubt that ignorance is fought by listing Monty Python quotes, oversharing about personal hygiene, complaining about The Phantom Menace, etc. I also think the notion of the Dope as A Place to Ask Questions is a bit dated. It's redolent of the early days of the Internet, when curated lists of links were viewed as superior to the junk you'd get from an AltaVista or Lycos search. If you're asking a science, math, or law question you can usually get some solid answers here, but for other fields or more esoteric questions, you're just as likely to get a lot of WAGs from the usual suspects (along with snark, puns, speculation that the OP is a troll, etc.). If I had a GQ-type question these days, I'd just Google it, or maybe ask on Reddit or a more subject-specific board.

The value of this board is in the overall quality of the discussion, and the sense of community and continuity. None of those things depend on a connection to the SD column or the silly "Cecil" mythology.
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  #52  
Old 06-20-2017, 01:00 AM
JKellyMap JKellyMap is offline
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I disagree. These admirable board traits could very well depend on that connection. Without that historical -- and continuing! -- model for (partial) purpose, etiquette, range of content, and style, we would lose much of our distinctiveness.

I'm one of those that grew up with the columns and books in the late 80s-early 90s, so I feel this more deeply than the "newbies," but I still am of the opinion that it has a real effect.
  #53  
Old 06-20-2017, 07:29 AM
LSLGuy LSLGuy is offline
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OTOH ...

I arrived at SDMB in 2003 based on a recommendation from a IRL friend who lurked here a bit. I've never in my life seen a SD column in an IRL newspaper. Nor an SD book. Yes, I did at first read the SD columns on the website. I've not done so for probably 5 years. The endless repeats actively turned me off.

This place absolutely has a personality. A distinctive one not commonly found elsewhere on the web. But that personality is formed and re-formed by each of us collectively every day.

I agree completely that the formative years were driven significantly by people playing mini-Cecil: smart + snark = entertaining. We certainly carry a bunch of that forward in our community genes/memes today.

But the reason newbies who stick around learn to conform to our community standards doesn't flow from the current column nor from Cecil. It flows from the collective posts of all of us over the last 6-12 months. Because that's what they see and react to.

The reason oldies like us stay around is that the community continues to conform, more or less, to what we expect from it from the past and what we make it today with our ongoing contributions. Because that's what we see and react to.

This process forms a self-reinforcing cycle that evolves very slowly. But evolve it does.


Look at it form the other end of the telescope: If we all lost our collective minds and all began posting nothing but stream of consciousness walls-o-text, illiterate tweets, and "Like" posts, how much could the column or Cecil restrain that change? My answer: Zero.


IMO it's just like your 20-yo kid. You had a massive influence in getting them started and forming their early path and personality. But they're on their own now; utterly beyond your control and mostly beyond your influence.

Last edited by LSLGuy; 06-20-2017 at 07:34 AM.
  #54  
Old 06-20-2017, 03:00 PM
MikeS MikeS is offline
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Originally Posted by Bosda Di'Chi of Tricor View Post
There's nothing quite as toasty as an auto da fe.
What a day, what a day!
  #55  
Old 06-20-2017, 04:05 PM
JKellyMap JKellyMap is offline
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LSLGuy's analysis sounds right to me. But I still think we'd risk losing some of that ethos, were we to sever all links to the column. I could very well be wrong.
  #56  
Old 06-20-2017, 04:31 PM
BigT BigT is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LSLGuy View Post
I'd say that a little differently than I understood you to mean.

The board was only created after the column existed as a way to cash in on that new-fangled internet thingy back in 99 or whenever.

That the board continues to exist today is all but unrelated to the alternative newspaper column of the same name. Either could live, die, or be rebranded in 2017 with negligible impact on the other.

As you s ay, Cecil is the pseudonym of the column writer and of the board's manager, if no longer owner. But both the actual and the pseudonymous manager could be replaced or retired tomorrow with no significance to the rest of us.
Nope. Because Zotti is the only one in the company fighting to keep this board alive. Since it has no connection, as you say, it only lives because Zotti keeps fighting for it. What good is a fan forum that doesn't increase views on the original work?

Furthermore, Zotti is the top administrator. If he goes, then someone else controls how the board culture works. So, if they do keep it, it would make sense to try to refocus on the main column.

Sure, there's the hope that someone is mirroring the board and can pull it back up. But, first off, there are legal issues with that unless they get permission from the owners or the writers of every post. But, even assuming that can be dealt with, moving the board and changing ownership will inherently fracture the community. I've seen it when boards get shut down. And it's even worse if there is still a board here but run under different rules, because some people will stay.

The only way we can outgrow Cecil is if we become a profitable forum of our own, and someone buys us out from under the Straight Dope brand, with Zotti's blessing.
  #57  
Old 06-20-2017, 04:34 PM
LSLGuy LSLGuy is offline
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Note I'm not advocating for abandoning Cecil or the SD connection. The status quo works fine for me.

I agree that retiring Cecil or the SD connection could be one of those small moves that means nothing at first, but much later is recognized to have been removing the straw that led to the whole house of cards collapsing.

IMO it's unlikely to be a critical change, but overall it's best to not tempt Fate.
  #58  
Old 06-20-2017, 04:41 PM
LSLGuy LSLGuy is offline
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Late add to previous post: that was @JKellyMap.

@BigT: You make a very good point that the board lives or dies at the whim of the corporate overlords. And that Zotti is the only human there with our interests aligned with his.

If he ceases to be an effective spokesman to management we'll last only as long as we're profitable enough. And we'll survive in this form only as long as some HQ "social media-savvy" whiz-kid can't come up with an idea to update it in the name of increased popularity (read as "ad impressions").

IOW, we need Zotti directly. So we indirectly need Cecil & the SD column because that's what keeps Zotti influential at Corporate. We mostly don't need him for our own cultural purposes, which is what I was focusing on. But as you rightly say, we do need him for the practical purpose of keeping the lights on and the interior not redecorated over our objections.

Last edited by LSLGuy; 06-20-2017 at 04:43 PM.
  #59  
Old 06-20-2017, 05:18 PM
steatopygia steatopygia is offline
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Does the column still appear outside of this website?
Are there still book sales? If so, that answers the question of why keep the connection.

I read an original Straight Dope book back in the '80s (I believe), that lead me to this column/ message board in the early 2000s. So yes, it still has a connection. Those books are still out there and hopefully still being read.

As LSLGuy noted, "smart+snark=entertaining." That starts at Cecil/Ed.
  #60  
Old 06-21-2017, 07:59 AM
MikeS MikeS is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by steatopygia View Post
Does the column still appear outside of this website?
Are there still book sales? If so, that answers the question of why keep the connection.

I read an original Straight Dope book back in the '80s (I believe), that lead me to this column/ message board in the early 2000s. So yes, it still has a connection. Those books are still out there and hopefully still being read.
It used to be published in the back pages of a bunch of alternative weekly newspapers, but there are fewer of those out there than there used to be. The official list on the website shows seven newspapers that publish the Dope (as of four years ago.)

As far as the books, they're still available for sale on Amazon if you want them. The most recent one (from 1999) is currently Amazon's 1,282,414th best seller.
  #61  
Old 06-22-2017, 10:03 AM
Steken Steken is offline
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Originally Posted by bobot View Post
Black Sabbath didn't think they needed Ozzy anymore.
And rightly so. The proof is called Mob Rules.
  #62  
Old 06-22-2017, 10:36 AM
watchwolf49 watchwolf49 is offline
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Dear Lord Almighty ... just how many sock-puppets does Marilyn vos Savant have on this board?

It really does take the Smartest Human on the Planet to hire the Best Copy-Editor in the World ... and for those who read nothing but The Master's columns, Lil' Ed might be the last copy-editor in the world, judging by the crap the AP has been putting out lately ...

-- Hearing his Master's voice ...
Watchwolf
  #63  
Old 06-22-2017, 11:13 AM
TreacherousCretin TreacherousCretin is offline
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The Cecil abides.
  #64  
Old 06-22-2017, 04:03 PM
Wilson Wilson is offline
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If Cecil did not exist, it would be necessary to invent Him.

Last edited by Wilson; 06-22-2017 at 04:03 PM.
  #65  
Old 06-22-2017, 08:57 PM
TreacherousCretin TreacherousCretin is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wilson View Post
If Cecil did not exist, it would be necessary to invent Him.
If Cecil did exist, it would be necessary to circumvent Him.



(apologies to Edward Abbey)
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