Even in a community as small as this, it’s not surprising that there would be some fragmentation. What’s frustrating about it, though, is seeing the same mistakes and flawed wording repeated over and over again, not to mention all the different attempts to reinvent the wheel, simply because we’re not paying enough attention to each other to know what’s already been critiqued and detangled before. If you’ve been around a while, you probably know what I’m talking about.
I don’t think this is a matter of seeing things and then ignoring them. I think a large part of it has to do with a genuine lack of exposure. Or maybe I’m wrong, but regardless, this problem has driven me up the wall just enough times that I want to figure out what I can do about it.
So, first, I want to sketch out the different discussion bubbles I’m aware of, just to map out what I’m talking about and how I’m seeing things. Note that I’m not really sure how offline/meetup circles figure into this, so this will be focusing on online bubbles for now. I also have no clue what’s going on at AVEN at any given time, so y’all will have to fill me in on that.
- The AA bubble is what I’m going to call the circle of blogging with ties to the Asexual Agenda. Most of these are WordPress bloggers, with a smaller percentage of them posting on tumblr as well. It’s a bit of a fringe group, due to most of its discussion happening on WordPress, and the only reason I’m not outright referring to this as the WordPress bubble is because there are, occasionally, some WordPress posts on asexuality by ace bloggers who have no interaction with the AA. My current impression is that the AA bubble is relatively attentive to/reactive to other bubbles.
- The tumblr-personal-blog bubble is probably the largest, and most of its ace-related discussion takes the form of brief and sporadic venting, understandably so. Ace discussions generated here tend to start from this bubble or gain momentum as reactions to other tumblr bubbles.
- Themed blogs are another tumblr bubble, this one devoted entirely to ace-related content, but not always a stage for much in the way of dialogue. Dissemination of graphics and single-response ask-and-answer messages are the order of the day. Currently, this strikes me as the bubble that is the most isolated from the others.
- Somewhat of a subset of the tumblr-ace-themed-blog bubble, the tumblr-ace-advice-blog bubble sets up shop as a place where curious anonymous people can send in their questions and quandaries, which… has been a big source of problems, as you can see from Queenie’s tag here, although it may simply be the most transparent/visible of the bubbles in that regard.
While I don’t mind the community being fragmented this way, I do mind the cycle of misinformation and faulty advice, and so what I want is to concoct a plan to achieve more cross-pollination, so to speak, between the bubbles — at least enough so that self-nominated advice-givers are being held to a standard of keeping their ears to the ground. Me waving my arms around and saying “hey, listen to us!” doesn’t seem to have worked well so far, since, on the whole, the tumblr bubbles are too insular to take much notice. With that in mind, I’ve been trying to come up with other options, and this is what I’ve got so far:
- create a tumblr blog to serve as a mini news network and report on/link to intracommunity discussions
- host a Carnival of Aces and choose a theme related to fragmentation in the community
- reinvigorate (or recreate wholesale) the ace advice network
- get everyone to leave tumblr and go literally anywhere else
Okay, you can see my frustration showing through here. I’m not particularly attached to tumblr in the first place, so it’s difficult for me to talk about this set of issues without zeroing on that platform as the problem — but I recognize that the alternatives have their downsides as well.
What I need from y’all, at the moment, are any reflections on or additions to this list of discussion bubbles, plus any suggestions you might have on how to build more dialogue between them, preferably with a minimum of telling me it’s hopeless. Or any kind of feedback, really, because I’ve been thinking about this to myself for too long.