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I am sorry to see this.
I am not surprised.
But I am saddened.
As many here know, I have said from the beginning that I fully expect this place to go downhill. Like Screamer said, that seems to be an inevitable fate for open-ended and successful communities. I have long believed that it is because online neighbourhoods don't scale as a concept. When they become cities, they develop an underbelly through size, and that underbelly rots them from within. I have seen it happen many times over the years. I hope that PerlMonks avoids it, but the only way I have seen to avoid that fate is to not grow. And PerlMonks is certainly growing.
As jcwren says, PerlMonks has handled its problems unexpectedly well. There are many reasons for that. I would name some of the same factors (eg vroom) that he did. I might name some different ones. I hope that they continue to be effective.
But the real problems here are not solvable. They are problems with people who don't understand what community is about. People who think of a place like this as nothing more than a game. If you think of it as a game, then you want nothing more than to try to advance by the standards of the game. Votebots do that. So does XP whoring. And when you "win" the game and become a saint, what then? Do you start over again to find out how much faster you can get there again? Do you start wishing there were more levels so you could get better prizes? Do you start asking for tangible medals, certificates, etc to show people you know that you have accomplished something real?
I have seen every one of those suggested. Not one of those ideas sounded good to me. Every one of them left me thinking worse of the author. I have seen posts where people denounced XP whoring then in a comment joked about the XP they hoped to get. Posts where people shamelessly stole good posts from others hoping they would be able to get XP easily.
Folks, if you don't get pleasure from being here, learning, and passing on what you have learned, then you have missed the point. The whole point. Perhaps after you have been around the block a few times, you will understand better. Perhaps it takes losing a few communities to know better. Perhaps it takes losing a few friends you used to talk with regularly, but lose track of because you have no common places you both go.
Perhaps then you will understand that a place like this doesn't exist because of games. Perhaps then you will understand why people like jcwren and myself get so frustrated at them.