Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The Whole, Final, Miserable History.




In the beginning there was RYS (Rate Your Students), a blog started by "The Professor" on November 3, 2005. It was a slow grower. "The Professor" handed off moderating duties when it got busy. Lots of national press. From 2008-2010 Compound Cal joined as a moderator, and was the last man standing when he shut the place down on May 28th, 2010. (Famously, Cal wrote a great piece for the Chronicle that provides RYS-specific history.)

A number of RYS readers approached Cal about keeping that page alive, but he did not want the name to continue. Fab Sun (aka Fabio Sunshine, I'm not shitting you) got the nod, and College Misery started on June 24th, 2010.

What differed the most between the pages is that comments were turned on at CM, allowing us to flail madly, get off track, insult each other, and (more than occasionally) raise the roof on good ideas.

A number of conceits existed with the community, some that came from RYS, and some that were all our own.
  • The blog was always run at a "compound" somewhere. In the RYS days, it was a desert location, filled with ravenous wolves, barbed wire, tar pits, and townie redheads. CM started in a shed on the campus of Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, moved for a time to Weber State University in Ogden, Utah, where the large cache of compound guns caused less suspicion, and then after a hiatus in 2014, relocated at Northwestern College in Orange City, Iowa. In March of 2015 the community took their weed, guns, leathers, and canned meats to Oilmont, Montana. In December 2015 they relocated to a non-descript strip mall site in Orlando, Florida, their final resting spot.
  • There was always a hookah, but past RYS "personality" Compound Cash was likely to steal your weed.
  • The page was dying. It was always dying. We were always teetering on extinction, and we liked it.
  • Everything on here was written by 4 people. We were lonely. We had cats instead of families. We hit refresh all day to inflate our page counts. We made millions on the ads, when we had them, and then took that money, invested it, and now have spent it on trash.
  • The graphics sucked.
  • The moderators were always fucking things up, changing fonts, blurring images, capriciously picking and choosing who got to have a voice. Fab used to get hammered for being too big a dick swinger, and then the next day for being too much of a woman. Leslie K would occasionally generate lustful love letters and then misogynistic rants. She treated them all the same, just like she did her hubby, daughter, and son-in-law, with disdain. Terry P. had at least 2 recognized nervous breakdowns during office hours. The moniker "RGM," or Real Goddamned Moderator got used occasionally to depersonalize the position. Hiram ran the page one day, and you can guess how that went. After the 2014 hiatus Terry P. took over again and ended his tenure in mid March 2015 with the remarkable "Mediocre Reveal." Both Ben and Kimmie ran alternate pages during CM hiatuses.
  • Thirstys were questions. Thursday was the Big Thirsty. There were others. Nobody but Cal ever knew what they were or cared.
  • There was Yaro. Read this. Or this. Or this. Or this.
  • There was Katie.
  • Everyone drank.
  • We didn't invent the term, but we like to say we popularized "snowflake." 
  • Our ethos was always, "Don't care more about their education than they do." (Yet all evidence shows we didn't quite measure up.)
  • We solved all the problems of academe, and then we broke it again.
  • In the 2371 days since the page first went online, we published 6346 posts, hosted 73,780 comments, were visited almost exactly 11 million times, and really really really wanted everyone to stop making cookies for their fucking students.
  • Everything we did was out of love. 
  • There was a duck. The duck was popularized in CM lore by Terry P. It was often evoked to change the topic, defuse a tense situation, or because it was such a good looking fucking duck. The duck, as you must know, has left the building.

55 comments:

  1. All love, baby. Truly sad to see it end, but understand totally after months and months of worry among those who worked hardest on it. It far surpassed every expectation. Its legacy is secure, and I'm so grateful for all my new friends and colleagues. You can always reach me at compoundcal@gmail.com if you want to share the misery.

    Thanks to Fab, Les, Terry, Ben, Kimmie, Hiram, Cassandra, Archie - too many left out, GRETA, Suzy, Dick Tingle, etc. on and on.

    XOXO
    Compound Cal

    ReplyDelete
  2. Oh no! Thank you, moderators through the years, for keeping our virtual community going. It has sustained me through some very difficult times.

    I hate the thought of losing some of you. Please, if you want to stay in touch beyond the end of this lovely little world, email me: greatlakesgreta at gmail dot com

    We can communicate anonymously if you wish, or we could become pals IRL, as I have with another CMer (although no one knows how we met or our connection to CM).

    I will miss this place and so many of you. I cried real tears when I read this post.

    Thank you everyone who made College Misery such an extraordinary community. Love to you all.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Farewell. If I do ever win that big lottery, I'm starting a real college and hiring (most of) you.

    ReplyDelete
  4. One more thing: Great Lakes Greta will very likely have her own blog some time in the first few months of the new year. It won't be another College Misery or anything like it; it'll just be GLG doing her thing. It would be fun, though, to see some CMers in a forum (if I can figure out how to set one up) or in comments.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Please, yes! I'd love to read a GLG blog.

      Delete
    2. Greta, please post a link to your blog over at Hiram's place when you get it going. Mahvelous!

      Delete
  5. Replies
    1. D, me, too.

      Leslie K.

      Love everyone...thank you Fab for always keeping all of us in mind.

      Delete
  6. Breaking.

    ReplyDelete
  7. What, AGAIN?

    How many times can one site die and rise again.

    ReplyDelete
  8. This one is not on me...LOL.

    Love you all,
    Terry P.

    ReplyDelete
  9. SAVED MY FUCKING LIFE 100 TIMES. Thank you for everything everyone did, not just the mods, but all the wonderful "community members."

    ReplyDelete
  10. I'm sorry to all of you who wanted it to go on forever. We all tried to find a way to make it work. Know how much you all were valued.

    XOXO
    Fab

    ReplyDelete
  11. Someone will still come by and fuck up the fonts, right?

    Blessings!

    ReplyDelete
  12. And the final graphic is brilliant (and very ugly, though perhaps not quite up to standard in the blurriness department). I love the "CM" sign, the huge pile of trash outside the door (I hope nobody tries to dispose of that by burning; the fumes might have interesting effects), and, of course, the duck, striding off into the sunset (as much as one can stride off into the sunset in the middle of a decaying strip-mall parking lot. I hope there's a nice, clean pond in his future).

    Many, many thanks to all who kept the whole miserable enterprise going, for far longer than any of those of us who benefited from it had a right to expect.

    I wish I could volunteer to do something to keep something RYS/CM-like going, but it's just not realistic (I'm *still* grading -- almost done, and the work is better than I expected, but it's still not all graded. And I have taken on some IRL commitments that I hope will benefit IRL communities to which I belong, but will be time-consuming).

    I want to read Greta's blog, though (please, yes, Greta!), and would happily participate in anything Hiram, or anyone else, dreams up.

    I really, really need a hiatus from the internet, so I'll be taking my usual Christmas to New Year's (and perhaps a bit longer) break. But come the new year I'll check back here to see if anybody has left any breadcrumb trails pointing toward new meeting spots, and I'll try to remember to check Cassandra's email (contingent.cassandra@gmail.com ) as well. Otherwise, I'll just wander the academic corners of the internet, hair streaming, eyes wild, insisting that we're all doomed. Of course, unlike here, nobody will listen.

    Best wishes for a peaceful, restful, and/or productive holiday season to all (or at least all who get some time off -- are there still for-profits out there running on 365-day-a-year schedules? I hope not, but I fear so), and especially to the RGMs (God bless 'em -- and all of us -- every one).

    ReplyDelete
  13. This is the second-worst news I've had in the last six weeks.

    I've always thought of my CM posts and comments as a kind of scholarship that counts. Maybe the only kind.

    ReplyDelete
  14. This site has kept me (relatively) sane, knowing that there are so many passionate, wonderful faculty out there who really care enough to push their students in spite of the push back. And not just from the students, but the administrators in the Office of Student Appeasement.

    Thanks to Fab, Cassandra, Hiram, Greta, Ben, Walter, Frankie, Cal, Terry and all the others who I left out (profound apologies to you)!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, me too. I've followed CM from the start, coming over along with the other RYS refugees. I've never truly been faculty (academic IT mostly, teaching a couple of online courses - you know, the hired help) but I've always identified, suffering the slings and arrows of the snowflakes & adminflakes.

      This site has always been a great sanity check and reminder that, while idiocy is universal, it is survivable.

      And I like to think that the duck has moved on to a solid recurring role in _Pearls Before Swine_ as Guard Duck http://pearlsbeforeswine.wikia.com/wiki/Guard_Duck

      Delete
  15. A Canadian In ColumbusDecember 20, 2016 at 5:51 PM

    Was it me? I only just started to comment!!! WAAAAAAAAAAAH.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Thank you, everyone...I got more mentoring and support from this group than anywhere else, ever...very grateful and sad.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Okay, I just read through these comments and I'm crying again. Damn menopause. You all really do not know what you mean to me. And ditto Ovreductd's comment about mentoring and support. I never -- and I mean NEVER -- could have gotten through my probationary period at LD3C without this place.

    Damnation. And love.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo! Please, nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo! I'm about to start teaching again. CM is a reality check. I need youuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu!

    ReplyDelete
  19. Atrus the LibrarianDecember 20, 2016 at 6:41 PM

    I started reading RYS when I was a wee high-school student, and kept reading it when when I started college and it became CM. I posted a Thirsty asking if going into LIS was the right thing for me to do, and got some answers that ended up reinforcing my choices in electives. (As I think I mentioned in my follow-up post after I got my MLIS, I took Digital Humanities partially because of Cassandra's advice.) I never submitted anything else, but I've remained a faithful reader.

    I'll miss this place, to say the least.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Why am I misty over a blog?!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, and one so poorly run with such bad graphics!

      Nick

      Delete
  21. “Fare thee well!
    and if for ever, still for ever,
    fare thee well.”

    Prof Poopiehead

    ReplyDelete
  22. I know of no other place that offers solace to instructors in the way that CM has done.

    It will always mean a lot to me.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Reminds me of the end of The Muppet Movie.

    Write your own ending.
    Keep believing.
    Keep pretending.
    We’ve done just what we set out to do.
    Thanks to the lovers, the dreamers, and you.

    ReplyDelete
  24. The site is going to stay up, isn't it? I've been reading back through the archives the past few weeks, as little breaks from a couple of particularly irksome editing projects, and it's saving my sanity. Please keep it available!

    Thanks to everyone who's contributed over the years—especially to Cassandra, who reminds me of myself in some respects; to the supremely level-headed Frod; and to the ever wise and perceptive Ogre Proctor Hep, the author of my all-time favorite post, "The Purpose of the Test." You should all be writing blogs of your own.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The plan is to leave the archives online, except for the people we have grudges against.

      Delete
    2. I sure hope I'm not on your shit list. (I'm not, am I?)

      Delete
  25. Replies
    1. From Fab

      For Sigma and Mam and others, yes, we're closing again. And it won't open again. The hiatuses have always been thrown back at us as if somehow the people who run the page had capriciously let the community down. That had no small effect on this most recent decision to close and past decisions to try and remain open.

      All I can say is that we did our best. When it failed you, I mean, personally, I'm sorry.

      I can assure you that everyone who worked on this site did it with good intentions, and the continuity of the page was important to us.

      At some point we did the math of how many days we actually were open of the 6 1/2 years since we started, and even the most vocal critics of us were surprised.

      But, the mail overnight has been mostly very positive, and we have tried to answer everyone. But to the shitty mail that came in, seriously, I don't know what to say. It is, finally, not our job to run this blog. We did it for fun and for spleen-venting, and for the "virtual collegiality" it brought many of us. If it didn't work for you, and if we've fucked it all up again here, then that's just what happened. Nothing was ever done out of malice or carelessness. (Except the changing of the page's background and the blurry graphics.)

      Fab Sun

      Delete
    2. I probably was the worst moderator. I was always "better" as a community member. But there were some people who were actively ungrateful about this page, even when they were active on it. I probably typed, "Run your own then," a few times, and that probably contributed to how happy I was when I no longer worked on the page.

      Fab, I mean it, Fab put up with the shit from his mod days and from everyone else who goes to him for help. I know Cal gets a lot of well-deserved credit, but Fab has taken a shit kicking about the page ever since it started. (Why aren't you funny like RYS?)

      And no, it's not all fonts and graphics, but the complaints go wildly around the whole spectrum - pro young people, pro old people, heteronormative, clearly "fags" and "dykes." BRUTAL, I tell you. And then the pedagogical attacks, and lots of these from people who otherwise were mild-mannered on the page itself. They would spew their venom on whoever was "ruining" the page through email.

      Those Real Goddamned Mail things were NEVER fun for me.

      Yet, through it all, I stuck around, even when I killed the page - for 18 hours, mind you, and I'm still reminded - because so much good has come of it.

      I just Skyped with Crystal and then Fab to tell them how much they've meant to me personally. And to tell them to focus on the wonderful comments and the wonderful things this page has done.

      Delete
  26. You know, you can't have it both ways. You can't bitch and bitch and bitch about how there's no mail, and then say you're quitting the page because there's too much hate mail. That won't fly with any reasonable person. And what the hell did you have to do anyway? People submitted their own posts to your gold icon. You don't have to do anything. Yet the work was too much for you? This all seems like bullshit to me.

    This page long ago outlived its usefulness, and you have propped it up by filling it with reruns and navelgazing. I don't know who you think will miss you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Many of us will. Of course, there's no law that says that you have to believe the evidence in front of you.

      Delete
  27. Love to all! I'll miss everyone! Thanks to the mods for all they have done over the years!

    ReplyDelete
  28. Getting lots of terrific mail. Not going to dwell on the negative. Thank you again, thank you all.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Nothing but love from me...thank you all.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Everyone associated with running this page past or present is simply the best.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And Ben deserves equal credit among all the behind the scenes "official" workers on the page. His involvement has been selfless and unending. Just a terrific pal to all of us and this page.

      Fab Sun

      Delete
  31. Well, shit. I'll believe the non-resurrection when I see it, but for now, thanks for the decade of spleen-venting. All the best.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You'll see, Ruby, you doubting bastard! Good to see you're alive.

      Delete
  32. Thank you to the RGMs of the site(s). All of you have been so amazingly reliable and tolerant and kind, day after day, year after year. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for managing all the technical and logistical stuff whenever issues have popped up at random, inconvenient times. Thank you for graciously, peacefully, silently fretting about the legal stuff--like how to handle those damned libel and copyright-infringement questions. Thank you for sharing all the information, such as how many visitors there were to the site during this month from this country on that browser. Thank you for not just closing down the blog when this day came (because we know you could have just suddenly turned it off and not let people say their good-byes and exchange email addresses and so forth). Thank you for gracefully replying to emails. Thank you for enduring the countless nights of isolating heartache when people spontaneously sent you cruel, heartless, whiny, incredibly insensitive, mean, mean, mean, mind-fucking emails and it was too late for you to phone/skype someone to get some commiseration/sympathy. Thank you for thinking about whether to have a vision for the site or whether to let the users drive it down whatever path they were going down. Thank you for your creativity and humanity. Thank you for paying for the domain name instead of buying yourself lunch that day. Thank you for improving higher education in the world. Thank you for helping proffies. Thank you for forgiving me for not being a better poster/commenter (or at least somehow tolerating me). Thank you for providing the forum for discussion, the sandbox for play, the fertile ground whence great things will come, and the place to which proffies could return again and again to vent and experiment with ideas and challenge each other and nourish each others' "souls." Thank you for being late to class and meetings because you cared about maintaining the site. Thank you for not hurting me. Thank you for all the times you made me laugh and smile. Thank you for all the times when you were both honest and compassionate. Thank you for doing the truly hard fucking work of keeping the site up day after day, when the rest of us could just take a break or disappear or indulge in moratoria.

    Many of us remember when the U.S. Mail was delivered only once (or twice) per day. Same thing with the daily newspaper--a morning edition and maybe an evening edition. And it cost 25 cents per minute (which was a lot, really, the same as a gallon of gas) to phone someone 20 miles away, so many of us had agreements that we would just call and let the phone ring once to communicate this or maybe twice to communicate that, and then hang up before Ma Bell charged us anything. But today, so many people who take responsibility like the RGMs are "always on." There is no nighttime when they are left alone to rejuvenate. There is little or no cost or disincentive to prevent people from sending them (often anonymous) "urgent" questions or horrifically unsettling comments or attacks 24/7. It's an understatement to say that it can be so exhausting; it's easy for RGMs to get some kind of PTSD. So for the people who say, "What's the big deal?" well... they don't get it. It's not just about casually editing and/or moderating some occasional racist, sexist, other-ist stuff. It's not about lots of other little things that are obvious about a blog. It's ALL of it. It's the ongoing, never-ending nature of it and never knowing when or what it will be. And actually caring about doing it right. The RGMs did that, and they did it well.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You know... I pay my gas, water, electric, trash, etc... public utility bills.... But I've never paid the RGMs a penny. And yet what they have provided here has been so valuable. They are kind of like so many adjuncts who don't realize how much they are valued--or should be. I would pay a membership/subscription fee for CM, just like I pay the Crampicle subscription fee.

      Yes, of course, I appreciate so many other contributors here who write posts/comments. My comrades. Of course. Of course. Of course. And pardon me for rambling. And, Hiram, if you're really going to do the next incarnation of this, well, good luck. And I'll stop now because a diaper needs to be changed.

      Delete
    2. Well said! (and thanks, Bubba, for being here, and adding your inimitable voice to the mix).

      Delete
  33. Sad. So sad. Agent Orange on the threshold of the White House. And College Misery goes away again. Thanks for everything along the way. I needed it....often.

    ReplyDelete
  34. Oh my. Thanks to all who kept this place alive. It gave me a safe place (space?) to vent and avoid going crazy (or drinking too much).

    ReplyDelete
  35. Logged on today during my hiatus to see this sad news. I never participated as much as I should have, but I read regularly. The posts and comments made me feel like I wasn't the only one shouting into the void. I'll follow the new blog that Hiram's graciously started, maybe force myself to contribute more. And I would love to read Greta's blog as well.

    Thank you to all of the moderators who worked so hard for so long, the contributors who always found ways to make our collective misery funny, and the commenters who were (almost) always thoughtful and supportive. You are all very much appreciated.

    ReplyDelete

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.