Yes it really has come down to this… There really is fuck all to write about. So let us ask why that is?
I have asked a few people why they think AVEN appears to by dying on its feet and while I wait for the replies to flood in (I wish) I will post my own opinion.
In a word “Moderation”. AVEN is becoming a site where the only people who feel free to say anything any more are the moderators, and they (being behind the scenes) are the only ones who know how to interpret the rules (as they deal with them all the time). Anyone else is left in the position of not knowing what will get them a warning, or a ban, and as a result of massively overzealous moderation most people are either not willing to risk getting banned, or they have gone away because of warnings and bans. All of this means there just isn’t anyone either willing or able to voice a contrary opinion. The moderation has created an echo chamber.
I have my first reply to my question from an AVEN moderator who does not want to be named for obvious reasons, and their opinion is:
So this echos my own sentiments. I would also like to add that if they aren’t forced to leave, then they become moderators themselves, and are forced to shut up by peer pressure. It’s a sad thing, I remember this time last year “Hot Box” on AVEN was a thriving festival of opinion, and argument, and sometimes things went a bit far… But now it’s just boring, and a nonevent, and if anything to do with gender pops up, the place goes deathly quiet as everyone knows not to say a word. Maybe we should be asking “Has the fear of trans-phobia killed the asexual community”?
Another comment from someone else who wishes to remain anonymous:
An odd thing that is coming to light with this investigation is a genuine fear that the contributors to this article would be identified. This really shows the fear that people feel about speaking their minds. I’ve had two people who just didn’t want to comment at all for fear that somehow their comments would be traced. This is madness.
Of course, I got some quotes from people that didn’t want to get involved: Ms S Cone wrote:
Meh.. Tough crowd.. eh?!?!
I started a thread on AVEN’s site comments forum in an attempt to get some insight, and the results so far are quite surprising.
I really would have thought the vast majority of people would be for the status quo. Not so… I think by looking at the results and taking in to account those that actually received warnings, and thus for those who are “problematic” there appears to be a desire to slacken the rules and allow a more open environment. Take time to look at the result and there seems to be a 50/50 spread. I think a large percentage has realised something has gone wrong.
I was discussing with another moderator why so many people wanted to be anonymous on this subject and I was told something that many of us feel, but we have been told over and over to stop being paranoid. “There are several moderators that go with the idea that certain people deserve to be insulted while others don’t”. All it takes is for a few moderators to dislike you, and as the votes are private you will just get banned for the most ridicules reasons, nor can you complain if you’re insulted by another member who the moderators favour.
All of this would be fine and dandy if, and only if, this was your run of the mill forum. But it isn’t. AVEN claims to represent all those who are asexual, something it clearly doesn’t do. It only represents and gives voice to asexuals with a particular point of view. Ironically, it also seems that many (perhaps even the majority) of the most active members on AVEN are sexual people, who spend all their time on an asexuality forum trying to develop a positive self-image around their sexual identities through contrast with asexuality. This is further evidence to show that AVEN has become a social site for people with self-confidence/esteem issues, with only a tenuous connection to asexuality.
The sad thing is that those who are represented don’t seem to care much about inclusivity, or representation, and because of that there’s not much to talk about, other than answering the same old question of “Am I asexual”, with the line “You can call yourself asexual whatever you do or feel”.
Looking towards the future there is a group of people that are trying to do something about this by starting an organisation on similar lines to AVEN but with the explicit objective of being representative of the community as a whole. Keep your eyes open for that, as it may be the start of something important.