Juniper, I tried to send you a PM, but your mailbox is full and my message exceeded the word limit (what a surprise). So I decided to post my message here, if the mods don't mind. I don't use PMs very much anyway, and I'd like for everyone else to see what I have to say.
Please pardon me if I don't want to get into a philosophical discussion of the meaning of "freedom" or other worthy topics. I'd rather focus on a few specific things. I don't fully understand what happened here recently, and I consider myself neutral in the matter. I suspect that the vast majority of members feel the same way. We haven't been posting much lately because we want to stay clear of the trainwreck. But I'm sure that all of us have some sort of opinion about what we have seen, ranging from "I don't see what all the fuss is about" to "This doesn't seem like a friendly place anymore." I'm more in the former category.
I'm sure our perceptions are affected by what we think Gamebanshee is. In some respects, it's a "community". But the strange thing about it is that it is a virtual reality community. It's a "place" that exists in our own minds. People who get really caught up in the excitement feel like this is an actual "place" where they can go to be with other people. We've had discussions about this subject before. I think people like that are the ones who have been most affected by what has happened recently and they're the ones who have felt like they have been personally affected. Something happened to "their little world". I don't criticize anyone for feeling that way; it's a product of their own personal experience.
But I for one don't feel that way, because I see Gamebanshee as "just" a message board. It sounds rather odd to me that you might think I "despise" you or have some sort of personal grudge against you. I post my messages here and you post your messages, and there really isn't that much personal interaction between us, from my perspective. You might be sensitive about your posts and feel that any reaction they receive should be taken personally, but they never seem to hit so close to home for me. If I'm wrong about something or someone disagrees with me, that's okay, because I don't need to prove anything to anyone and I don't feel like I'm a bad person if I don't know everything. To me, this is just a place to amuse myself and exchange ideas. As far as I'm concerned, other people can write whatever they want, whether it's spam or anything else. If you think of yourself as a "spammer", that's great, but I don't lump people together in categories.
If there really is a "community" here, it's a limited one. I'd like to draw an analogy. This isn't a city where the citizens elect their government and should expect their government to be subservient to them. This is a message board, and it's more like a private home. The site owner, Buck, is like a person who has invited people into his own house. For the most part, he gives people a free rein to do whatever they want as long as they follow a few basic rules. There might be a big party going on, but it would be a mistake to think that the party has "a life of its own" or that Buck is subservient to it in some way. Buck does not exist to serve the message board. And there's no reason why it's supposed to be a "democracy". I make the rules in my own house, and I don't let my guests tell me what to do no matter how many of them there are and no matter what sort of parties are going on in my living room. "It's our party" or "you should think about what the community wants" just doesn't carry any weight in my house. If it's my house, I can stop the party or throw people out if I feel like it. I don't serve the will of the people, and I don't take votes to decide what I should do. I don't want to be a bitch in my own house, and hopefully Buck will be convivial and considerate of his guests. But I think people are out of line if they try to tell Buck what to do here.
I don't know any of the facts, but I think Buck has the right to select and demote his own moderators for any reason. My guess is that he got rid of the ones who didn't fully support his policies, and that seems perfectly logical to me. I'm not saying I would have handled things the same way he did. Buck practically never participates in the discussions on his own message board, so people feel like they don't know him. I just assume that he respects us and likes having us around (the message board itself is proof of that). I figure he just has other things to do. But when controversy rears its ugly head, his brief explanations might not go over very well with the "community". It's understandable that people might have felt like, "That's all you have to say to us?" But I don't think he did anything unreasonable. It's his message board and he can do whatever he wants, so there's no use complaining. That's life.
I think it's sad that people got banned. I'll miss some of them. I don't understand what their infractions were in most cases, but from what I gather, they were being a pain in the ass and they were deliberately trying to harm their own "community". In your case, Juniper, I don't think anything they did reflects on you.
In the case of Damuna_Nova, who repeatedly flamed CE, I think a temporary ban was justified. He just wouldn't shut up and the moderators had no choice. That brings up a related point. Regardless of the main complaint that people had (something about Buck making a technical change without taking a community vote or something like that), people brought up all sorts of unrelated crap and old grudges. When people got angry about the recent policy change, they targeted the mods whom they felt were complicit in the decision and started bringing up a bunch of crap like, "Why do the mods get away with so much?" What did that have to do with the policy change? Absolutely nothing. People need to focus on one issue at a time if they want to be constructive. I think it's clear that a small controversy turned into a huge grudge match and it got out of control. It was so incoherent, I couldn't even tell what was going on. If you're concerned about appearance, that did indeed make a lot of people look bad. It's embarrassing to see other people demonstrate immaturity and poor judgment. I tried to stay clear of it and not let it bother me. And right now, I don't want to be dragged into any personal crap where people accuse me of "despising" them or something like that. Let's put these things in perspective and stay out of the flame wars.
I don't write many private messages here. (I've written about 60 in the last five and a half years, which averages out to less than one a month.) You can read everything I have to say in the forums. I try to help people with game issues because I obviously love Infinity Engine games, and I enjoy discussing interesting things in SYM. I don't "play politics" or talk about people behind their backs or act like I'm a member of a clique here (because I'm not). I figure most of the people here are like me (they're less visible than the ones who tend to be at the center of controversies). So if you can get along with people like me, I don't see why you can't enjoy reading and writing messages at Gamebanshee. Just my two cents.