Making Conversation: 59 lively and delightful essays from Teresa Nielsen Hayden

Originally published at:
It’s been more than 20 years since the publication of Making Book, Teresa Nielsen Hayden’s collection of essays, mostly drawn from the pre-online days of fanzines and letters columns; this year, in honor of Teresa’s stint as Fan Guest of Honor at Midamericon II, the 74th World Science Fiction Convention, NESFA Press has published a second volume: Making Conversation, a collection of essays drawn from the online world on subjects as varied as moderation and trolling, cooking, hamster-rearing, fanfic, narcolepsy, the engineering marvels of the IBM Selectric, and more.


Some of the sharpest observations concern online moderation (Teresa was a long-serving Boing Boing moderator),

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Well done. The thing I remember most about her moderating was that differing viewpoints were immediately disemvowelled. Not because of lewd or racist content, but simply because somebody had a different opinion. It got old pretty quickly to see homogeneous and censored comment threads.

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It don’t recall it that way. I recall an moderator who was active in some discussions and would shut down people who couldn’t disagree without being disagreeable.


I don’t think I was personally ever disemvowelled–maybe the archives of the BoingBoing Ministry for State Security would say otherwise–so don’t take this as my x bng grd, but she certainly acquired a reputation for wading into internet arguments with rhetorical guns blazing, and then “moderating” the other side. This is one of those cases where perception and reality are necessarily pretty much the same thing. (Ditto her successor, whose handle escapes me right now.)

And hey, she’s right, online community moderation is important. But I suspect BB learned more from her mistakes than her successes.

Falcor, meanwhile, is a champ. I don’t know if he or she is eating one comment a day or a thousand, which probably means that s/he’s doing a great job. All hail the luck dragon. (Who for all I know is TNH. Wouldn’t that be a twist!)

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I miss disemvoweling. An elegant weapon… for a more civilized age.


I picked up the book at Worldcon, and probably finished half of it on the plane home, and my wife, who’s not a Making Light reader, enjoyed it immensely as well. Most of the book was from before my time, but even the 20% or so from after I started reading the blog was still worth reading again, either for the posts or the commentaries added along with them.


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