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Candidate Interview With Cody_Franklin

airmax1227
Posts: 13,233
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12/8/2013 4:58:23 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
Thanks for doing this interview Cody. Generally Ore_ele does these interviews (and I'd like to thank other members who have taken it upon themselves) but I have agreed to since he'll have a lack of opportunity. So do your best to ignore the weirdness of the current president doing the interview.

1) You've been elected as DDO President in the past, do you think that experience will help you if you are elected president again?

I think it will help me, if only in a negative way. When I wrote up the announcement, I made the point that I saw my term as straddling the fence between two presidential legacies differentiated by their efficacy. I've been doing a lot of thinking, particularly with respect to the way that conversations about things like banning and site development have gone, and I've really started to come around to the idea of "passive effectiveness"--as you rightly point out, the President does not by necessity have any kind of moderating authority, which relegates the office to something of an advocate, a liaison, and, perhaps most accurately, a diplomat. I had the ability to do this before--to get people not just stirred up, but "in one room", so to speak--and I think this would permit me this time to focus on trying, not so much (or at least not only) to win conflicts (e.g., advocating for the banning of "problematic" members, approaching requests to Juggle in an adversarial or demanding fashion), but, more importantly, to subvert them, whether this means trying to help members understand or cope with decisions by Juggle which seem unusual or frustrating, or defusing personal conflicts and flame wars (preferably without recourse to moderation), this kind of thing. One might say that experience has taught me the futility of hostile behavior, and that the thrust of my presidency would be to bring the community peace of mind and the capacity to deal pleasantly with adverse circumstances, whether this is the refusal to engage or flame a "troll" or remaining patient and sanguine when Juggle falters with respect to desired site changes (whether this is a delay, a refusal, an unwelcome adjustment, etc.).

2) What areas do you believe need to be improved the most on DDO?

Human relations. I want to see the emergence, not just of "politeness", but of a certain gentle compassion. Polite language can be, and often is, used to say or conceal very unpleasant things, and I think what's really at stake in assembling a community worth inhabiting is modifying the way we treat each other, the way we see each other when we log on and interact. We could have a perfect ELO system, team debates, a lovely color scheme, just the right assortment of forums and content sections, and whatever other structural features you like, but this doesn't mean much if members, particularly the prominent kind, are treating each other like garbage, whether this is outright flaming, condescension, flippant dismissiveness, veiled insults, resorting to the "report" button over a sincere dialogue about one's grievances, or whatever it happens to be. I've been accused of being something of a softie, or of living in toothless abstractions, but this seems somewhat cynical to me--that I am not just engaging in flowery idling is, I hope, evinced in the way that I try every day to treat those with whom I interact, in the example I try (not perfectly) to set and export, which I think, as a "representative", could become a more widely-circulated model. Certain Zen influences poke their way through here--there are a couple koans which do some measure of justice to what I'm suggesting:

"One evening as Shichiri Kojun was reciting sutras a thief with a sharp sword entered, demanding wither his money or his life.

Shichiri told him: 'Do not disturb me. You can find the money in that drawer.' Then he resumed his recitation.

A little while afterwards he stopped and called: "Don't take it all. I need some to pay taxes with tomorrow."

The intruder gathered up most of the money and started to leave. 'Thank a person when you receive a gift,' Shichiri added. The man thanked him and made off.

A few days afterwards the fellow was caught and confessed, among others, the offense against Shichiri. When Shichiri was called as a witness he said: 'This man is no thief, at least as far as I am concerned. I gave him the money and he thanked me for it.'

After he had finished his prison term, the man went to Shichiri and became his disciple."
---
"A soldier named Nobushige came to Hakuin, and asked: 'Is there really a paradise and a hell?'

'Who are you?' inquired Hakuin.

'I am a samurai,' the warrior replied.

'You, a soldier!' exclaimed Hakuin. "What kind of ruler would have you as his guard? Your face looks like that of a beggar."

Nobushige became so angry that he began to draw his sword, but Hakuin continued: 'So you have a sword! Your weapon is probably much too dull to cut off my head.'

As Nobushige drew his sword Hakuin remarked: 'Here open the gates of hell!'

At these words the samurai, perceiving the master's discipline, sheathed his sword and bowed.

'Here open the gates of paradise,' said Hakuin.
---
"When Bankei held his seclusion-weeks of meditation, pupils from many parts of Japan came to attend. During one of these gatherings a pupil was caught stealing. The matter was reported to Bankei with the request that the culprit be expelled. Bankei ignored the case.

Later the pupil was caught in a similar act, and again Bankei disregarded the matter. This angered the other pupils, who drew up a petition asking for the dismissal of the thief, stating that otherwise they would leave in a body.

When Bankei had read the petition he called everyone before him. 'You are wise brothers," he told them. 'You know what is right and what is not right. You may go somewhere else to study if you wish, but this poor brother does not even know right from wrong. Who will teach him if I do not? I am going to keep him here even if all the rest of you leave.'

A torrent of tears cleansed the face of the brother who had stolen. All desire to steal had vanished."

3) What do you think distinguishes you from any of your opponents?

I think TUF has more applied skills (in terms of site features) than I do--he's the developer, I'm the diplomat. My differences with imabench are evident enough in the "Updated Presidential Platform" thread, and concern almost exclusively how one might approach conflict, e.g., being harassed or trolled (not just in terms of a "banning policy", which others have already pointed out is a moderator's concern, but in terms of how we feel about these things and how we treat each other as a consequence. As a member, the DDO experience changes markedly if one chooses, rather than reporting someone, or counter-trolling, or petitioning for a "trial", or even just condemning them as [moral, intellectual] inferiors, to refuse to be bothered or act on one's frustration. This perhaps oversimplifies, but one might say it's a choice between focusing on the troll, on privileging the "harm" done, and focusing on the person being trolled, on keeping the question of permitting oneself to be harmed (or to reciprocate this aggression).
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airmax1227
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12/8/2013 5:01:02 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
4) What do you think distinguishes you from the previous president?

I see what you mean about your being the interviewer being kind of strange. In any case, as far as the big things: one, I like the effort put at being prudent and, for the most part, dispassionate in decision. I want to take this tendency and radicalize it, push it further. On the other side--nothing personal, and I apologize for the third person here--I felt sort of uneasy about the way he often dealt with dissatisfaction and questions about opacity and transparency. This is very vague--I remember only the impression, not the words (the recovery of which would require the excavation of several threads), but he often seemed to be too politically practiced, to be giving the sense of being a politician after the fashion of the negative archetype (not all the time, but, as in drafterman's "What the sh1t is this?" thread, the handling of which I think was an absolute disaster). I, in contrast, am not very good at electoral or political strategizing.

5) If you had the ability to change one specific thing about the site, what would you change?

If we're talking about concrete site structure and features, I would probably start with making the swear filter an optional feature. Frankly, I would prefer it fall into complete disuse, because it seems unusual to become so upset or irate over a word or a phrase, to think that "profanity" of whatever kind should be avoided, or, more humorously, exchanged for euphemisms. It's not to say I don't think there's something worrying about calling people "faggot" or "nigger", but my preference, as I said, is to deactivate the power of these words, both for those to whom these names are addressed and for those who imagine they have occasion to use language in such an aggressive way (I think that calling me "Cody" and "jackass" are linguistically identical, but the latter is more evidently hostile and condemnatory.

6) How do you feel about the current way the site is moderated and in what ways and to what extent would you like to assist with this process?


Frankly, I don't really know much about moderation from an official view. My experiences with it have usually been relatively closed, with public releases somewhat sparse in details relative to the "whole story". Personally, I don't like moderation, however much I might like the person(s) of the moderators. I prefer to accomplish as much as possible without having to bring in discretionary power, whether this is editing or deleting a comment, chastising or banning a member for some kind of conduct, or whatever you like--I think the moment of having to issue punishment or "correction" is always a minor moment of madness, of acceding for some interval to a need for violence. In this sense, I'm not sure about the extent to which I would want to be involved. Even if I was a moderator, I'm not sure I would ever make use of those abilities (and, if I did, I imagine it would only be with the heaviest heart). I replied to bsh1 the other day that an example of the necessity for moderation, pending certain unpredictable details, might be a genuine threat of violence against another member (which I take to mean that it is issued sincerely, with both the manifest means and desire to carry it out). Even in this case, I would not be happy about banning that person, or proud in having done the "right thing"--I would be sad that such a case could ever arise. The only solace I could take, I suppose, would be shouldering the burden of decisionary madness so that others wouldn't have to.

7) For whatever it's worth, you are behind in the recent polling, do attribute this to anything and do you believe it matters?

I'm not concerned with it, no. If I had to speculate, though, I'd probably say it's because I'm not a public figure, because I submitted my candidacy after TUF and imabench, and because I don't actively campaign or have a team of people trying to convince people to vote for me. Campaigning has a strange way of making people sound and appear at least a bit unlike themselves, and I don't like to do this. So, I'm not out campaigning, or running election ads, or writing a platform, or any of this. This lack of advertising and promotion might hurt my odds, but that doesn't bother me.


8) Have you chosen a VP, and do you believe it is necessary?


I haven't yet, and I'm not sure it's strictly necessary. I think the VP is kind of a customary or traditional position, and I'm wondering whether just having a circle of advisers and confidants might not be better. The VP might end up emerging factually as a "first among equals" or something like that, but that's not really my business. If I had to choose a person, I would want someone who can be kind of a friendly check, who shares my favored approach to problem-solving (which lets us be mutually genuine and forthright without sharing all the same conclusions). I poked at Cermank, but time constraints were a deal-breaker. It's too bad you're more or less retired, or I'd ask you. I do have one person in mind, but he's probably unwilling.
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airmax1227
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12/8/2013 5:03:35 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
9) You've been around for awhile now, can you describe the evolution of the site, whether it's been good or bad, and how this knowledge may help assist you in making it better?

This is difficult to say. There are so many small things to think about, and I don't want to pretend that the length of my stay authorizes me to determine the entire evolution of the site. In any case, I don't think my answer will really be much of an answer. I don't think it would be inaccurate to say that the site has become substantially more formalized than when I started here. We have ordained moderation, a "real" presidency, sophisticated formatting options, a more polished and "contemporary" aesthetic--it makes me kind of wistful, in a way, not because these changes are all "bad", or because I'm cloudily nostalgic, but because the site sometimes reminds me of an old city bewitched by renovations and beautifications, by what one might call a "whitewashing" which obscures or destroys the signatures which act as historical clues or traces--it's a kind of dolling-up and primping which occurs in anticipation of, say, paid tourism, which permits visitors to be admitted, shown around, tantalized with superficial "memorabilia" (which represent only the memory of having taken a tour, as if through an art exhibit) or gift shop trinkets. DDO, for whatever structural-functional improvements there might be, strikes me in a similar way--since Juggle has taken over, many of their efforts seem to tend toward a painting-over, a whitewashing, an application of makeup, a yearning to turn the site into something to be exhibited and which can attract "tourists" (which, irrespective of content, seems to me the principal aim of things like Polls, Opinions, the linking of Facebook, etc.--what is important is always bringing in traffic). How many today have any sense of site history, any apprehension of the ghostly beckoning of the etchings left on the platform we use today? Things like the CWO, the Cleaners, the AnCap exodus, askbob (back to scissorhands7), the days before requiring RFDs or addressing self-voting, of a smaller list of forums, of little interactions like the feud between Danielle and mongoose/mongeese, of TUF's tenure as philosphical (and the revelation of his multi-accounting as GhostWriter, and the inspiring developmental gap between that time and the man we now know and respect), of who Phil was, of debate.com, and so on. It's interesting nowadays that, when people aren't busy looking toward the future, they're arguing about whether the past was "better" or "worse". This lends itself to being misunderstood, so I suppose another way of putting it is to say that what worries me today is analogous to painting over graffiti or bathroom scribblings. Beautification and presentability to "traffic" come at the cost of a connection with the past, of its constantly declining legibility. Certainly, we can (and must) find our way in the new construction, but I don't think we should ever give up the ruined or the worn down (it's for this reason I always take a certain pleasure in walking around town or campus when nearly no one is out, when I can imagine briefly that it has all been abandoned, that there remain only imprints, etchings, reminders of a long departed vibrancy which finds a kind of afterlife in the time of our encounters). So many things, large and small have happened in every crevice and back alley, and I can't help but sigh longingly over the diminished consciousness which results from evolution, or really, from successive coats of paint.

10) Will we see a greater presence of bears on DDO with a Cody Presidency?

Classified.

Thank you for your time Cody and good luck on your campaign, do you have anything you would like to add before we conclude?

Now that I'm finished typing up these responses, I think I'll have a sandwich.
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rross
Posts: 2,772
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12/8/2013 5:18:20 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
Cermank would be an awesome VP and I don't see why time constraints should be a problem since there's no official duties. I hope she reconsiders.
airmax1227
Posts: 13,233
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12/8/2013 5:27:36 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 12/8/2013 5:18:20 PM, rross wrote:
Cermank would be an awesome VP and I don't see why time constraints should be a problem since there's no official duties. I hope she reconsiders.

I agree, Cermank would make a great VP. I also hope she reconsiders.
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themohawkninja
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12/8/2013 5:47:26 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
Oh jeez, if I have to get interviewed if I were to become president of some little Internet site, screw the idea of being president.

I'll stick with sending e-mails that nobody pays attention to, and writing forum posts when I want to change something on the site.
"Morals are simply a limit to man's potential."~Myself

Political correctness is like saying you can't have a steak, because a baby can't eat one ~Unknown
airmax1227
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12/8/2013 5:55:12 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 12/8/2013 5:47:26 PM, themohawkninja wrote:
Oh jeez, if I have to get interviewed if I were to become president of some little Internet site, screw the idea of being president.

I actually enjoyed being interviewed when I was running and while president. It might be something I'll miss.

As you have framed it though, it does further narrow down who is qualified and willing to put up with the commitments of being president.

I'll stick with sending e-mails that nobody pays attention to, and writing forum posts when I want to change something on the site.

I think that's how most members feel. It's easy enough to have a voice around here by expressing how we feel about certain things, it's a far different thing to have to be responsible to turn all of those voices into a coherent message and suggestion.
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TUF
Posts: 21,297
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12/8/2013 7:10:07 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
I appreciated this interview. I won't get into specifics about elections, as that is un-appropriate for this thread. But I loved an opportunity to get into Cody's head. He has a great personality, and is very intelligent. It almost felt like reading an interesting book. In regards to 9, I loved the description of your experience on how the site has changed. In fact, I think I can relate to some of your expressions in that area. While I doubt I could have worded it as greatly, most of your description was an exact interpretation of how I have felt towards such things.

Anyways, good luck in the campaign, and thanks for the intriguing interview.
"I've got to go and grab a shirt" ~ Airmax1227
Eitan_Zohar
Posts: 2,697
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12/10/2013 2:11:29 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
Cody should be a goddamned university dean.
"It is my ambition to say in ten sentences what others say in a whole book."
TUF
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12/10/2013 4:36:11 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 12/10/2013 2:11:29 AM, Eitan_Zohar wrote:
Cody should be a goddamned university dean.
"I've got to go and grab a shirt" ~ Airmax1227