I've not been a part of this community for very long. Certainly, compared to some very famous names, my stay is quite short. So perhaps the following critical missive might be not be received with any credibility, and that my words may not carry much weight at all.
Nevertheless, please consider first and foremost not the messenger, but the message.
In my year and a half here on OCN, I have seen a rather massive deterioration in the behavior of many members. I grow distressed at the gradually rising tide of unfriendliness, cynicism, misogyny (!), and misplaced machismo replacing the most attractive aspects of OCN, those things which attracted me here in the first place: Helpfulness, friendliness, and a depth of knowledge and experience when it comes to overclocking and other aspects and expressions of PC enthusiasm.
When I first discovered OCN shortly before January 2007, I lurked and observed how the community worked. I was instantly attracted to the easy-going vibe combined with a depth and wealth of knowledge. People helped each other very easily. Anytime someone had a question, sooner or later someone will come to his aid and give an answer, or at the very least a means of finding an answer. Things were very pleasant.
Sure, there have been flareups of friction, maybe even outright hostility, during my early days. I will even admit to crossing swords with a few people, but never with the intention of creating conflict or to create "enemies." I will admit to perhaps not knowing my true "voice" on OCN, and on the road to discovery there inevitably are lots of bumps. But after observing how the very best on OCN do their thing, I'd like to think that now I have learned how to be a solid citizen here, one who contributes what he can, and one who does so happily and sincerely.
In the last few months, though, I have noticed that OCN has degenerated somewhat. It's not a mere case of the "new car smell" going away. Rather, it seems to me that OCN has become something of a gathering place for people who have little interest in contributing knowledge and the benefits of their experience; instead, they use the forum to engage in what I call "verbal gang warfare."
The battle lines are drawn quite clearly. It's AMD vs. Intel; it's AMD/ATI vs. nVidia; it's the Thermalright Ultra 120 Extreme vs. anything else; it's Vista vs. XP; it's my solution vs. your inferior one. Opinions fly left and right, and what rarely shines through is any dispensation of knowledge or experience.
Helpful techniques are not as common on the ground these days. Nowadays, it's more important to have the one right opinion, and sometimes I get the impression that people are just trying to out-yell each other. The mistaken belief seems to be that "he who is loudest is the most correct."
I've spoken to my best friend on OCN, thlnk3r, about taking a mini-vacation from the forum because of my growing dissatisfaction. It makes me sad to know that I'm even considering this voluntary sabbatical. In some ways it's a cowardly solution, in that you don't face the problem and confront it directly.
So I've decided instead to write this, in the hope that perhaps other too have noticed the same things that I have.
If I didn't care about OCN as a community, it would have been far easier to just have let things be. Deep down, though, perhaps I hope against all hope that things can be like the "good old days." Experience tells me that this is wishing for something that cannot be, but the sparks of optimism that don't ever die within me allows me to hope.
Enough of the bickering, the sarcastic put-downs, the nasty and hostile attitudes, the very disturbing misogyny some members seem to have no shame in displaying, the e-peen wagging; all these things, and other problems, need not be a permanent condition.
We all need to have a good, long, hard and honest look in the mirror. Change depends on the domino effect, and once the first one falls, all the rest ought to follow.
I'll be the first.
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