Welcome, friends, to the new Rabbit Room.
Some of you may remember a post from a zillion years ago called “The Suggestion Box,” where I asked you to tell me what you were looking for in an upgrade. You answered diligently, I put the suggestions into categories, and . . . a zillion years went quietly by. Well, thanks to our friend Jonathan Forsythe at Makeshift Creative, we’ve managed to wrangle the new site into the corral.
Let me tell you about some of the changes:
Prettiness. Jonathan Forsythe is the Verner Panton of web design. Verner Panton is a famous Danish interior designer I just discovered by googling “famous interior designers.” He—Jonathan, that is—bent over backwards to make a site that would resemble the website we would like to visit in our wildest dreams.
Sharing. Let’s face it. Twitter and Facebook are here to stay. At least until they’re gone. In the meantime, we’ve entered the frenzy by making it easy for you to share your favorite Rabbit Room posts with your “friends” and “followers,” and also with “total strangers” and “people you only know through social media networks.”
Functionality. Remember those tabs? “Story,” “Art,” “Music,” and such? Well, they were a decent idea, but they never did much good. They were, in the words of Eric Peters, “just dead weight, like a big ol’ mole.” So they’re gone. You’ll also notice that you can peruse the archives. At last, you can find that one post we wrote, about that one topic that one day. We’ve been putting up a post almost every weekday since 2007, so there’s a lot of interesting stuff buried in there if I say so myself, on behalf of ourselves.
Podcasts! The podcast is finally alive again. We’re hoping to put one up every other week. Today’s features Randall Goodgame and a fun conversation about his seedy early days when he played jazzy versions of Jimmy Buffet songs for the old dudes in Polos at the yacht club brunch. (This is not a joke.) You can still get the podcast from iTunes, or you can subscribe and listen right here.
Events. We’ve added a widget to the home page that will let you know about upcoming concerts and speaking events featuring Rabbit Room contributors and members of the Square Peg Alliance. What, you didn’t think the Rabbit Room writers were just sitting around every day reading The Silmarillion, did you? No, no. We’re traversing these United States with our guitars and swords, and we like meeting you guys.
There are more little tweaks, but that’ll get you started. I’m sure there are going to be a few hiccups since this is a new baby and all, so have a look around and tell us what you think. If you run into any problems just leave a comment in this post and we’ll do our best to figure it out. When I say “we” I mean “Jonathan.” And when I say “Jonathan” I mean Jonathan Forsythe, the Verner Panton of web design.
Speaking of comments, I need to address one more issue:
Moderation. While the posts have remained more or less consistent in matters content, diverse though it is, the nature of some of the discussion has shifted. Over the years we’ve managed to navigate some pretty sticky topics with very little moderation; the conversation was civil and respectful and (for me, at least) enlightening. Lately, though, the nature of the comments has subtly shifted in a way that’s hard to articulate, and that shift has led to the moderation (read: deleting) of some comments. It’s also led to repeated complaints via emails and face-to-face conversations from long-time readers of the Rabbit Room, informing us that they’ve stopped reading the comment section altogether. Yipes! So, as the Proprietor of this establishment, I want to set some ground rules. (I also want to repeat the exclamation “Yipes!” for emphasis.)
1) Be sure your comment is gracious. Give the other commenters and/or authors the benefit of the doubt, and speak the truth in love.
2) Avoid nitpicking. If the comment doesn’t add real light to the conversation, or if it derails the conversation from the author’s subject, there’s a chance it could be deleted. (Note: I’m not talking about funny stuff, or lighthearted bandying. That’s all fine, to a point. I’m talking about critical nitpicking.)
3) Try not to overpost. I’m really glad we have such a high level of interaction, but sometimes a lot of comments from the same person can make the place feel like–well, like an Oxford pub where one person is talking louder than everyone else and dominating the conversation. Be content, from time to time, to simply sip your ale and listen.
4) Use good syntax. (Now it’s me doing the nitpicking, isn’t it?) As a general rule, don’t use exclamation points. As an absolute rule, don’t ever use two or more in a row. Check your spelling. Take your time, when at all possible, to make the sentences read well. I know it’s a pain when you’ve submitted a comment and realize too late that there’s a typo. A lot of you guys are diligent about posting a follow up comment with your correction, and whenever I see that I’m happy to sneak around back and fix it for you. This isn’t me saying that every comment has to be crafted out of immaculate, perfectly written sentences–Lord knows, our posts have plenty of errors. But here’s the thing: we’re shooting for excellence. It’s not like this has been a huge problem. I’m just throwing it out there, being the Proprietor and all.
5) Wake not the sleeping giant. What I mean is, if a topic has 98 comments and you read the first few, then scroll to the bottom and raise a bunch of questions, and then your post is moderated, it might be because the points you’re raising have already been addressed and re-addressed, hashed and re-hashed, and it’s just time to close the book. Picture a group of friends in the back room of that same Oxford pub who, having sucked the marrow out of some topic, are sick of it and ready to move on to the fish and chips–only to have some guy or gal burst into the room and loudly opine about the dead topic.
I’ve never wanted the Rabbit Room to be a place for argument and debate, but rather a haven for discussion and even a place to experience beauty. That’s why we try not to write negative reviews or critiques (the One Minute Reviews being an exception, mainly because it’s so funny to watch Thomas get riled up over a bad movie); if we don’t like a book or an album, we just keep silent. Silence can be good. Even on a glorified blog.
This list isn’t absolute. We may still delete a comment we deem inappropriate or unhelpful (or out of line with the above list in some way), and you may get mad or hurt. You may disagree with our judgment. Please know we’re not trying to be malicious. We’re doing the best we can to guard the magic of this place and follow the lead of the Holy Spirit. Hopefully no moderation will be needed, but we’re willing to if things get weird.
Okay. I’m glad that’s over. Now we can get on with the poetry and videos and essays and stories and songs this place was created to foster. Dear Readers, I’m grateful for your kindness, enthusiasm, and support of this experiment in the celebration of beauty, truth, and goodness.
Enjoy the Rabbit Room 2.0,