Are we seeing a return of the forum celebrities? I certainly hope not. I remember joining the site and seeing people like Hub and Furb with at least a dozen people always quoting them just to show they love them. It got annoying for them and for others and it really didn't contribute to discussion at all. When they got banned, the era seemed to end.
The 2010 period to mid 2011 period was a nice time in terms of egos. Most egos were contained mostly to user groups or specific threads but inflated egos in Off Topic were frequently flattened. It was nice seeing discussions proceed without caring about who posted it. Then Ryan joined and in April of 2011 Miracle of Sound got his own series.
While Ryan made a usergroup for "special members" (and invited EVERYONE) Miracle reaffirmed his social position in the Escapist "Elite". He had a high post count, which is obviously very important, and he was very clear in his opinions. He also made amazing music so I made his user group ;)
However, with the rise of the MLP tide that went across the internet the Escapist once again felt the need to uphold the most "important" members. Ryan, despite being privately a very egotistical and harsh person, made controversial posts to garner attention. He was always apologetic and praising those he felt had a higher social position or position of power than him such as mods. He became generally known throughout the site as he added everyone to his friends list.
While I've been estranged from him for my own reasons for some time now (he didn't even notice) this post isn't about him. It's the idea that in order to have an opinion that matters, you have to have x number of posts, these badges, these friends, etc. I don't like it. When I jumped into the Escapist these attitudes were dying off and I was able to join the community based on my own merits. I had some rather successful threads back in my pre-neo or "elite" days. I could go through my own posts to find which ones but.... That might take awhile.
In anycase, my primary complaint against the site redesign is still in effect. The deletion of the community tab. You see, it was nice having the site recognize members without badges voted on or having the community organize it. The spotlight for members and usergroups were submitted privately to the community manager and he/she would take these votes and produce a winner who was interviewed. There were no badges, no need for pomp and circumstance. Just "here is someone we've received numerous PM's about and we're going to feature him/her for the month". There was much less egotism about it in my opinion.
So these Community Awards being set up by Toastiest Zombie (but more likely Ryan from behind the scenes in my opinion) is setting an ugly precedent. It used to be that if the staff really noticed your contributions they would give you a Thanks badge. That was enough. Now we're going to possibly have these contests annually and, we can assume, these "winner" badges too.
The Escapist has always had some elitism in it, this is true, but this is just encouraging it to blossom. Moreover I can expect we'll see threads designed just to glorify the OP or possibly another poster to boost their rep for the next round. This is something I don't want to see progress. Does this finally make me an old user or, to use 4Chan terms, an "oldfag"? Possibly. I'm not proposing we go back to the old layout, I know that will never happen. I just want OUR tab back. The tab where the Escapist Staff took the time to be involved with the community more directly despite their busy schedule.
Look, I really don't want to be that kind of person who is against change for the sake of being against change. I just think the prior system was more honestly driven. If I recall correctly, Kuliani was against making the "spotlights" a public vote for similar reasons.
However, if the trend is irreversible and there is going to be a second rise of Forum Celebrities I'm not intending on leaving. Far from it. I'm going to continue to act the way I have always acted on the Escapist. I want to be kind, honest, truthful to myself without being afraid to post my opinion. I want to be open enough to be swayed to another side of an argument if I choose to be, I want to remain positive and not let any amount of "support" get to my head. I want friends who talk to me because they enjoy my company, not because they think by becoming my friend they too can attain the imaginary "elite" status.
I don't know where the Escapist is going but I'm going along with it in my own way. Now if only they'd fix the [h1] and [h2] forum codes >.<
P.S. I don't care who reads this. This wasn't made in an attempt to convert anyone. This is how I feel and that's all there is to it.