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October 31, 2007

what i thought the site was about

Here's a tricky one!


"Dear Ze, I think that your recent encouragement....


to send in problems and ask for help is both unoriginal and simply going to draw a large crowd of people craving anonymous self-help instead of ideas and creative musing on the world. Which is what I thought this site was about.

It's not that I lack the compassion or find talking about personal problems unbeneficial - I just wonder if this is the place to do it and whether it will take your blog in a positive direction.

Kirsten G.

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Comments (19)

With all due respect, as long as it holds Ze's interest to do the crowd-source advice, what harm does it do to you?

If you think he's jumping the shark. I'm sure your opinion was duly noted. I'd happily see what his next work is, no doubt. But consider for a moment that this is his next step?

Give it a chance.

-transiit

Posted by: transiit at October 31, 2007 7:13 AM

It may be unoriginal if we were talking about ZE answering the questions, but he is asking for a collaborative effort--it is in this collaboration that Ze-ness lives.

The only problem I can see with so many different ideas presented to a person in crisis is that most intelligent people are able to consider multiple solutions/possibilities at once and what they really need is FIRM DIRECTION or a specific course of action presented to them by a person with uber-inteliigence. I could be that person--the one that decides the solution that best fits the problem : )

Personally I think Ze has energized and excited this forum almost without effort by allowing people to post and solve problems.

Great.

Rock on Ze.

Posted by: Run OnSentence at October 31, 2007 7:56 AM

I think she is right to some extent. There's already sites out there that give relationship advice (eg. www.dearcupid.org). Doing those two (particularly the first one) was nice but I don't think it should be a regular thing (of course, it's your blog so do whatever the hell you want to!)

Posted by: Anonymous Coward at October 31, 2007 7:56 AM

Our biggest and best creative project is our lives. All art is autobiography. I think Kirsten is arguing for a distinction that doesn't exist.

Posted by: Mary Ann at October 31, 2007 8:02 AM

Here, here!

Posted by: Alex S at October 31, 2007 8:12 AM

Indeed, there seems to be a risk of becoming a "Dear Mobby" (Dear Abby Mobbified).

At the same time, there was something very lovely in past two advice articles, since if you'd asked me before, I would have snorted anticipating brutal judgment and insensitive replies.

My only question would be how maintainable Dear Mobby is... and how long it will capture people's interest. And while I would love to be surprised by the width, breadth and longevity of people's compassion, I'm a cynic at heart.

All of this to say: I don't know. But I think that something very positive came out of previous two posts. Hopefully for the two people who courageously opened themselves up to the opinion of many, and most certainly for myself, since my skepticism was challenged.

Posted by: ingrid at October 31, 2007 8:48 AM

I must agree with Kirsten. I wonder if people who truly need help should seek help from a community of people they haven't physically met. When the audience is this large, the answers will be conflicting and confusing. Not to mention the possibility of forum-style personal attacks among the responders.
Those seeking help should be encouraged to talk to someone they know and trust in real life.

Posted by: sgreimer at October 31, 2007 8:56 AM

I'm going to resort to my classic fall-back position; It's Ze's blog, and he can do whatever the hell he wants with it. If he wants to explore this particular concept for a while, then there's no harm in seeing where it goes.

One of the things that's lost in the transition from something like a forum or a social network to a more owner-centric format like a blog, is a sense of community. In a forum, you can post to ask for advice, or vent your frustrations, and the community does what communities do best; offer advice, or offer their support, or just ignore you.

In a blog, the Webmaster becomes the center of attention instead of the visitor. If you ask for advice, then you're posting off topic, and the either conversation goes haywire, or you get ignored. I've seen people do it on other blogs. It's hard to build a community like that. And not a lot of webmasters are interested in building communities like that.

But if it works, then maybe it'll become a regular feature, or a separate section of the Web page, or breathe a little bit of life into the forums, or something like that. If it doesn't work, then Ze will probably abandon the idea, and eventually move on to something else.

Either way, it's his blog, and he can do whatever the hell he wants with it. And the rest of us are just along for the ride, so we might as well just see where it goes.

Posted by: Peregrine at October 31, 2007 9:31 AM

I'm going to resort to my classic fall-back position; It's Ze's blog, and he can do whatever the hell he wants with it. If he wants to explore this particular concept for a while, then there's no harm in seeing where it goes.

One of the things that's lost in the transition from something like a forum or a social network to a more owner-centric format like a blog, is a sense of community. In a forum, you can post to ask for advice, or vent your frustrations, and the community does what communities do best; offer advice, or offer their support, or just ignore you.

In a blog, the Webmaster becomes the center of attention instead of the visitor. If you ask for advice, then you're posting off topic, and the either conversation goes haywire, or you get ignored. I've seen people do it on other blogs. It's hard to build a community like that. And not a lot of webmasters are interested in building communities like that.

But if it works, then maybe it'll become a regular feature, or a separate section of the Web page, or breathe a little bit of life into the forums, or something like that. If it doesn't work, then Ze will probably abandon the idea, and eventually move on to something else.

Either way, it's his blog, and he can do whatever the hell he wants with it. And the rest of us are just along for the ride, so we might as well just see where it goes.

Posted by: Peregrine at October 31, 2007 9:56 AM

Dear Lord! If I had to consider what "direction" I was going in anytime I did something, I'd never do ANYTHING.

Posted by: Derek at October 31, 2007 10:12 AM

I agree with Anonymous Coward. You can probably see my IP address, so... whatever.

Posted by: AC #2 at October 31, 2007 11:06 AM

First of all, just because something's unoriginal doesn't make it negative or a waste of time. Dismissing something just because it's been done before eliminates the possibility for it to be done better or at least differently.

I think it was a great idea for Ze to turn this over to the masses -- the writer no doubt contacted Ze because he enjoyed the shared experience of the show, so why not turn his question (with permission, you notice) over to the other SRs? Like he said, we might be more cut out for the job.

I don't understand what you mean by "anonymous self-help" -- it's exactly the opposite self-help if our lovelorn friend is relying on others for support. And a lot of it isn't anonymous -- of the dozens of comments left on the first story, only two were anonymous, and there weren't any anonymous commenters on the second. And even if it *were* self-help or anonymous, I don't think that either of those terms begs a negative connotation. In fact, I think that's the power of experiments like this -- to see what we -- the crowd -- can make of a situation.

"Creative musing on the world" is but one avenue Ze's taken with the website. To be frank (pardon), it doesn't really matter what you think the site is about. If there's one thing to have learned from The Show (and there are lots of things to have learned from The Show), it's that neither you or I decide -- *we* decide. If the community's excited about something, they'll pursue it with aplomb, whether it's vacuum dress-up or helping someone in need.

Of course, one of the best parts about this whole crowdsourcing movement is how it can change your mind about the relative worth of an activity -- maybe, with the breadth of perspective provided by a diverse community, you can see the value something you'd previously dismissed.

Posted by: Matt at October 31, 2007 2:23 PM

Um...correct me if I'm wrong, here, but...
isn't this Ze's blog? And may he not do with it what he wishes?

Posted by: Ke Ruthe at October 31, 2007 2:31 PM

Firstly, this is Ze's site. If he wants to add an advice forum, there will be an advice forum. If he wants to add cartoons of giant babies defecating on celebrityies' heads, there will be giant babies defecating on celebrities' heads. We all need to remember and respect that.

Secondly, while it may be true that there are other, somewhat similar advice sites out there, these forums offer something that no others can: sportsracer mentality. Seriously, look at the community that has gathered to this site. Almost everyone here is intelligent, compassionate, and optimistic. This is such a unique group of people who are willing to truly think about the questions that one is struggling with and answer them to the best of their ability. So, in that, I feel that these advice forums offer something special that may not exist anywhere else on the internet.

On a final note, I'd like to thank Ze for doing all that he has done in creating this community. Only he could bring together so many interesting, kind-hearted people by pinching a towel between his butt-cheeks.

Posted by: McPat at October 31, 2007 4:32 PM

In today's day and age, helping people to help one other instead of fear one another is about as creative and forward thinking as you can get. And, by coming to this site in the first place, especially if you come here often, you are choosing to be a part of an inherently like-minded community whether you remain anonymous or not...why not turn to others in your various chosen communities for advice if you're so inclined? You're bound to get advice more specifically suited to your needs than the commercial, mainstream pap you would get from the world at large...verily unto thee I say word up, Ze

Posted by: Peric at October 31, 2007 5:13 PM

I bought a canvass because the size was pleasing to me. I selected paints based on hunches. I got a new brush or two because they were pretty. Now I have painted a romance and a big strong tree. I hadn't known those lovely things were coming to me. Good thing I didn't plan ahead!

Jeano

Posted by: jeano at October 31, 2007 7:46 PM

Dear Sportsracers,

Thank you for your copious responses.
I do realize that this is indeed Ze Frank's blog and therefore he can do whatever he desires and I have continuously been impressed by the creations that arise from this online community (Whip Somebody's Ass, Ugly MySpace competition, Fabulouso Friday, and so on...). Nonetheless, Ze Frank has opened himself up to ciriticism on this site repeatedly and as you should be aware, Ze seems to have responded to my previous comment, thereby creating a separate forum for those who seek this communal source of advice.

I didn't mean to be harsh, and didn't mean for Ze to abandon the idea entirely-- I was responding to his post, in which he offered the idea of posting more of Sportsracers' letters. I was expressing doubt for the idea's creative course, not disagreeing with the idea itself. I wanted to offer criticism to perhaps mold it into something that would be meaningful than I thought it was at its present state.

Thank you, Ze, for creating this community.
And I mean you no harm.

Kirsten G.

Posted by: Kirsten G. at October 31, 2007 8:54 PM

I don't really have anything to add to the actual conversation going on, but I do have thoughts on the background ideas being thrown around:

Eh, it's not unoriginal if you've never done it before.

and

Experimentation, yay! (ref. noncognitivism)

Posted by: typo180 at November 1, 2007 1:07 AM

Originality is not an end in itself, and for all the years I've spent periodically sacrificing a day to laughing at ze's pages, I would think he's spent a lot more time poking fun at the whole idea of things being so terribly original and deeply significant. My cheap art T-shirt would seem to support the idea.

Hate to break it to you but as long as you're following the grand slipstream of human behaviour: ie, you weren't raised by wolves or some sort of marsupial, you aren't speaking some imaginary language or twinspeak of any kind, and you are attempting to communicate with anyone outside the imaginary gallery who stands and ovates whenever you do something significant, and you are actually using the somewhat generic yummy high-fat gray matter between your ears to do the thinking, nothing you do is actually terribly original. Which is okay in my book, so long as it is entertaining.

Since the first point was plotted to join another point, everything we draw is derivative of the line, and honestly that was derivative of things we saw in nature anyhow. Since the first word was spoken all we're doing here is variations on a theme whether we admit it or not. We don't create our world out of whole cloth, we draw it, consciously or subconsciously, from what we've known in life and what we've made of what's at hand. Our brains are very good at finding the familiar in the unfamiliar, and that's where we create the new. Placing a bunch of themes off limits just because they've been tread to death is silly... the only way to make anything new or original is to take bits of familiar and unfamiliar in new directions.

Besides, original is terribly unoriginal if you're just running around trying to avoid what's been done. Those negative spaces are defined for you, all you're doing then is tracing inside the lines.

Love the site as always, ze, thanks for destroying my morning with laughter and good cheer. :D

Posted by: Aleph at November 6, 2007 11:25 AM

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