The Fetishization of Return

Kari

Senator. Ave Imperator Hominis. Talos is not a god
#1
The Fetishization of Return

In the four thousand two hundred and sixty seven days since Europeia was founded it has had many members in its region and on its message boards, many of them Citizens that have called Europeia their home in Nationstates. Many of those citizens have had distinguished careers of service to the region, eighteen of them have had such distinguished service that they were awarded Citizenship in perpetuity via the awarding of Honoured Citizenship and the accompanying Ovation or Triumph.

But a culture has arisen in Europeia, largely through its own long lived success, of welcoming back former citizens of distinction with open arms and propelling them into positions ahead of newer or "up and coming" citizens who are active and engaging in the region, in some cases to the detriment of the region. This is largely an issue of the culture of Europeia which overly values past distinction or nostalgia compared to the hard, and often thankless, work of newer citizens via their positions as Junior Ministers or in the sub-legislature of the Citizens Assembly. The region as a whole puts undue weight into the past deeds of long absent members, deeds that are often years in the past, in a fundamentally different Europeia both culturally and in membership. While those deeds of the past are no less grand, we must ask questions about the distinguished members that return. Questions like; "They were distinguished, active and contributing X many years ago, but what do they bring to the table now? Has their knowledge stood the test of time? Are they still capable? Are they still dedicated?" If the answer to any of those questions does not meet what we expect of a new or up and coming member then the practice of propelling returning members based on their past service into positions must end.

A particularly notable example of this phenomenon in recent times was the election of Aramor as Chair of the Citizens Assembly, a returning long absent and distinguished former, multiple-term, Senator who returned for a short period of time, stood for election on a campaign which expressly noted past service and trounced two newer and upcoming members of the region before disappearing part way through the term, to the extent that he did not even make the transition to the new forum.

A consequence of this culture of fetishizing return is the idea of sending a board-wide email on the Zeta (now Tapa) forums, this was initially mentioned on the forums by Olde Delaware in the topic "HEM reform discussion" on Oct 29th, 2018. The ability to send such an email is a tool of the Administrative team which has occasionally been made available to the role-play government. While the idea itself has merit in informing past members of the change of address for the Europeia forum should they wish to return in the future, it is also being touted as a panacea to solve the region's problems with an influx of returning members. It is not the cure to the region's problems that it has been painted as, but a symptom of them as an extension of the fetishization of returning members. While I do not oppose the idea of an email being sent on the Zetaboard, it is little more than a pipe dream to think it will fix the region's problems. It may act as a band-aid on the wounds which the region has but at best that would serve to buy time before the same problems of inactivity and lack of participation come to the fore again. The return of members from such an email is like finding twenty euro on the street, it is nice to have but not something you should count on to pay the bills. The time, energy and hope that would go into it would be substantially better invested in recruiting for the region from the active player-base of Nationstates.

The Zetaboard forum had a total of six thousand eight hundred and eighty six past members. The number of members of that board that had any meaningful contact with the region (fifteen or more posts) is only around nine hundred and sixty in eleven and a half years, that is only 13.94% of the entire board membership. It is reasonable to state that those members who did not even reach an average of 1.3 posts a year over the course of the region's history did not have any substantive engagement with the Government, Legislature, or even Region of Europeia as a whole. It is therefor erroneous to state that there is, or was, a large contingent of the previous citizenry of the region which were both active and involved, there was however a substantial number of board-members as a whole. If the same 13.94% participation rate is applied again to those who participated in the region previously to work out who may see the email and return we arrive at a total of one hundred and thirty four (rounded up from 133.82) board members, though this number is most likely high as people simply lose access to email addresses over time. When the one hundred and seventeen current citizens and honoured citizens who have activated their accounts on the Xenforo forums are removed from this number we then arrive at a total of seventeen former citizens who may return. We also must have the same logic as above applied to them if they do return; Is their experience of Europeia, if they even had any substantive experience, still relevant. Again if the answer is negative we must not put their past knowledge and nostalgia above the current knowledge of others.


Europeia has seen literally thousands of people pass through it in its eleven and a half year history, but we must ask ourselves the question of if some of them return should we value their past deeds over the work of the region's current Citizens. The culture that exists of idolizing those that return after a long absence is detrimental to the region, it causes the hard work of Citizens to be discounted for little more than nostalgia and yet the region wonders why it can not get new members to become engaged, involved and advancing in the region.

Edit: small typo.
 
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#4
If the central thesis here is that we don't seriously vet returning members as hard as we should before thrusting them back into positions of influence, I think I buy that. It seems like this article /almost/ wants to go a step further and say something like, "older members should be fully expected to go through the hierarchical process again without much regard for past achievements" and I think I'd disagree with that.
 
#5
I think the second part depends on a lot of factors. If they were here for a month in 2009 then I think climbing the hierarchy should be expected but if they are combing back after a few months following years of experience in the region, it's not a reasonable stance.
 

Kari

Senator. Ave Imperator Hominis. Talos is not a god
#6
If the central thesis here is that we don't seriously vet returning members as hard as we should before thrusting them back into positions of influence, I think I buy that. It seems like this article /almost/ wants to go a step further and say something like, "older members should be fully expected to go through the hierarchical process again without much regard for past achievements" and I think I'd disagree with that.
Just to be clear this is aimed largely at the LONG absent returnees. Someone stepping away for a couple of months for RL stuff is not quite as much of a concern.
 

Sopo

Lord High Chancellor Emeritus
#7
I would also give more weight to a returning member with a long track record of success than someone who lacks that. If Swakistek decided to return, for example, his past experience would carry more weight for me than someone like Verteger without the same track record. We have to be realistic about people's past achievements.

I will say that I voted for Aramor for Chair not because he was a returning member, but because he ran the best campaign. His platform was far and away the best of the bunch. It didn't work out--but Boom wasn't exactly a stellar Chair either and he's been around for a long time now.
 
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