Tuesday, April 21, 2009

11. Public service (unedited)

Yep, I'm a jackass.

There's a Facebook application that I use to work for once upon a time. For all of five months I was paid a small monthly fee to create content and handle some miscellaneous tasks. I didn't have the power and authority to do any real damage to the program, but I had some responsibility, and the creative part was fun. The monthly paydays were nice bonuses in my Paypal account.

My five-month tenure ended because of some changes that were made to the application, changes that somewhat diminished the need for people like me. There were several of us doing similar jobs, and some of us were cut a month or two after a major change. The rest were cut four or five months later. I wasn't surprised.

I don't know the first thing about how Facebook applications work. All I know is that the dudes who created a knock off of Scrabble were making $25,000 per month, if you can believe the media, before Hasbro shut them down.

My application, which yes, is remaining nameless. All I know is that if you believe stats kept by Facebook, the application had about 55,000 unique users during a 30-day period last summer. Today that amount is less than 3,500.

The application was growing weekly, in both content and users, and seemed to be loved by most who used it. The problem was that the developers made a couple of major miscalculations in the application. They worked hard to meet the demands of the few, but I think one of their decisions was a major blunder. Add to that several smaller miscalculations and you have an application that could have been one of the biggest on Facebook. Instead it is all but dead.

The developers don't comment on the state of their application, but all signs point them leaving the application as is, to die on the vine. That's fine, expect one or two morons have taken it upon themselves to patrol the various message forums in the application and delete comments. That doesn't seem like such a bad idea, but the problem is that the idiot isn't just deleting comments that have profanity or attack other users, the idiot deletes other stuff. The first time it happened was when there was disagreement about a topic of discussion and people commented in ways that were not insulting, but in a few cases were judgmental, and more importantly, wrong.

I questioned why comments were being deleted, and never got an answer. A few weeks later I helped perpetuate a day long April Fool's Day joke. A few people made themselves out to be a bit of an ass, since the joke, started by me on March 31, was rather damning of another user, who was in on the whole thing. By Wednesday evening we spilled the beans for all to see. Hours later 95 percent of the posts were deleted, although not all of them containing my (false) accusations about another user. Again, no rhyme or reason for why most of an April Fool's Day prank was deleted.

Again I asked for an explanation for the deletions, and of course didn't get a response from anyone in charge.

So that's when I took it upon myself to start providing my public service. If some rogue moderator had an insatiable appetite for deleting, I was going to give him or her something to delete. I started by posting profanity. Eventually I realized I could post thousands of characters of text in one post, and would do so, by using a simple website that would generate truckloads of words, in numerous languages, in a matter of seconds.

And people hate it!

I don't blame them, it clutters up the page and makes it inconvenient to quickly ascertain if anybody has posted anything new regarding the topic of the moment. Many people criticize me for being annoying, childish, etc., and I respond by comparing myself to Jesus Christ or telling them they should be thanking me for protecting their comments from being deleted.

A few people have commented, publicly or otherwise, that they aren't going to get irritated about it. Sometimes my thousands of characters and the half-dozen posts within which they're contained are deleted in short order. Other times they remain for hours.

What I'm doing is known as "trolling" in internet speak. And I'd have tired of it, no matter how irritating some jackasses deletions of comments are, if not for the rubes. It is often said you need to ignore a troll for the troll to go away. It certainly doesn't take long for me to post a bunch of annoying messages, but the negative feedback I get is hilaroius, and certainly energizing.

I shouldn't be surprised, there are too many idiots in this world, and most of them, at least in developed nations, have internet access. So they're hypocritical, ironic comments about me are bound to show up on the message forums.

The application I once fondly worked for is all but dead, yet it is providing me with a wildly hysterical new source of entertainment. And it's worth it, even if 10 rubes think I'm an idiot. (Yeah, it's really that small of a group.) The joke is on them, but nine of them are too stupid to know it.

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