Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The Story of Janus...

A few things that made me happy today:
1. I found out that I got an A- and two A's in my letter-graded classes (and a Pass in the Blog DeCal), so that can only make my cumulative GPA go up from its current 3.675 standing.
2. I accidentally forgot my ATM card in an ATM, but when I found out and went back to the bank, I learned that the machine will suck it back in if its not taken, and as it turned out, they were just then checking the machines. I was able to get the card back then and there.
3. After stepping out of a card game with some residents (both my own and someone else's), I overheard one of the girls (not mine) saying to one of the guys (mine), "You're RA is so much cooler than mine." Although I'm not in competition with my co-workers, I couldn't help but smile.

Yeah, these residents are so much better than my old ones. I can say, without hyperbole, that in the last few days, I've had more residents attend things (programs, group dinners, etc.) than in the entire academic year (and that includes my suite mates, who never even went to dinner). I feel spoiled (and, truth be told, am; everyone knows this is nothing like being an academic year RA).

While at one of the group dinners, I found myself talking about one of the more...interesting chapters in my online history. I'm planning on writing one day about my various online personas, but I feel that this merits it's own post, seeing as its so...interesting.

Years ago (in 2000 or 2001, to be more specific), there was a subset of the WB network called Kids WB! I've been told that this still exists, but with its currently uninspired helping of television dribble, it may as well be dead to me. The point is, back in 2000 or 2001, the website for Kids WB! had its own forum. Now, forums back in the "ol' days" weren't as sophisticated as they are nowadays. There were no divisions and subdivisions; it was just a single page listing the hundreds of topics. And these forums had a pretty lousy moderation system. There was one character named Joe Pants or something like that. His topics looked like this:

"Oooooo, Joe Pants is sooooo sexy." -Anonymous
"I want to do Joe Pants." -Anonymous

Keep in mind, the primary demographic of this site was pre-teens. There were lots of these topics though, and it didn't seem like anyone was doing anything about them. I think stuff like this was one of the two primary reasons for the downfall of the Kids WB! forums, less than two months after its inception.

The other reason, I'm almost sure, was me.

I'll let that sink in for a second. You see, I'm pretty sure my actions on these forums helped deteriorate its quality. Ironically, my intention was exactly the opposite. Huh? Gather round, my children, and I shall tell you a tale!

Now, in addition to the semi-profane topics, and amongst the hundreds of others, I found plenty that went like this:


Yep, classic examples of flaming. If I'm not mistaken, the "Pokemon" TV show was the most popular target, but every show had at least a few topics targeting it. It was a waste of space, plus it was genuinely mean. There were kids on the site, and some seemed to actually be hurt by what was said.

Something had to be done. Someone had to act. I had to act.

I immediately formed one of my earliest online pseudonyms: Janus, after the two-headed Roman god. (Get it?, forget it!) I then went on and typed up an extremely eloquent post (at least, eloquent for a 12-or-13-year-old) saying, in a nutshell who I was, condemning the actions of hateful flaming based on show preferences, and encouraging those who agreed with me to join the (narcissistically named) "Janus Club."

And what can I say? It was a hit. Within a few days, I got dozens of emails requesting to join the Janus club, and asking what membership entailed. I gave them two objectives:
1. Stop topics that flamed people based on their TV Show preferences.
2. Encoruage others to join the club.

And people latched on. I guess they needed something to believe in during those early days of mass internet usage. I distinctly remember seeing a topic on the forums which asked "How can I join the Janus Club?" having over a dozen responses. At that point, I knew I had made it. There were a few complications, of course. Children, being utterly stupid, thought that the name "Janus" was equivalent to "Janice" and so many people thought I was a girl until I straightened them out. Overall, though, things began well.

But, in the classic totalitarian style, things changed, except the groups idealism. But, as they say, "The path to Hell is paved with good intentions."

To put it bluntly, the Janus club became incredibly corrupt. We were built to stop flaming, but it turned out that flaming became the group's primary tool. Whenever there was a topic that even remotely said anything negative (even if it was "I didn't like this week's episode of [Insert Show Here]"), it would be replied to with at least 20 all-caps messages that basically boiled down to saying "SHUT UP! YOUR STOOPID!" And ended with the ubiquitous phrase:

"All hail Janus! Join the Janus Club!"

Yes, what they were doing was wrong, but my ego was so bloated that I didn't care. I loved seeing that a good chunk of the topics on the forum were either directly or indirectly related to me. Joe Pants be damned, I owned that forum!

And then, one day, it just...disappeared.

The whole forum, gone. The link to it, gone. Any mention of it, gone. My fame, my power...gone.

At the time, I could fathom why they would take it down. The Kids WB! community was so active; it was a great part of the website. And I was such a juggernaut on there. It took me a few years to really think things through, but I soon realized that, maybe, I was the reason it was shut down (one of them, at least). As I said, a good chunk of the topics were either about me directly (on both sides of the opinion) or had my club members flaming away. It was a war zone. In trying to stop a firefight, I had begun a nuclear war. Funny when you think about it.

Kids WB! hasn't brought back a forum on their site...ever. That short experiment was over and done with, and I think they learned their lesson. I have also never used the name "Janus" for any other purpose. Originally, it was because too many people thought I was a girl, but since then, I think its more out of respect...respect for the name I had in which I essentially became a corrupt cult leader.

So, that's the story behind that. Will something like that ever happen again? Only time will tell, children. Only time will tell...


Anonymous said...

I can't say I'm suprised though, well a belated congratulations on your early internet cultdom. *snicker* I'm sorry, it's just really funny to me...

Anonymous said...

Wow...You appear to be more and more a political threat to me everyday. I must day - this is quite impressive...Assuming this is true (I take it you're going to take the Lou Dobbs line - "If we reported it, it's a fact.")

Nah, I trust that you helped bring down the Kids WB forums...Who knows, maybe you brought down the WB Network over the long run as a whole. I'm terrified what you could've unleashed during the era of usenet's dominance.

-Comrade Chavez

Anonymous said...

You ought to consider yourself lucky I wasn't in those forums, I usually became the lone dissenter against the majority in the forums I took part in, chat rooms as well.

Funny, I was once known as hephestos...