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The Rise of the Nerd Reich

By Patrick 'chobopeon' Howell O'Neill
Apr 27, 2011 21:12

Imageor: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Ban. A look at the strictest site in the SC community.

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Ban

There are three topics you ought to never bring up at the dinner table: sex, religion and politics. For StarCraft fans, we can add’s controversial moderators to that list. Unless you want to risk an argument with your dinner guest, it’s best to avoid the topic all together.

Ask around. Team Liquid’s moderators are either egomaniacal fascists who get off by putting others down or they are one of the unsung reasons Team Liquid is the at the top of the heap. Team Liquid is either run by unstable elitists and Nazis or heroic titans with the world of StarCraft on their naked, muscular shoulders.

Around the StarCraft community (see: WellPlayed, /r/StarCraft, TL itself, et al.), posts regularly pop up passionately championing one side at the expense of the other.

In fact, the truth is probably somewhere in the middle but far be it from me to keep you from your fun.

The Rise of the Nerd Reich

Team Liquid rose to prominence in 2002 by providing high quality coverage of the South Korean scene when nobody else was doing it. The niche proved invaluable to the Brood War faithful. TL writers of the era such as Mensrea and WaxAngel are first ballot hall of famers thanks in large part to their contributions on this front.

At a time when older Brood War sites were fading quickly, TL’s coverage propelled it to become the single best spot for Westerners to gather around high level StarCraft.

Outside of coverage, the forum’s popularity was due in no small part to the fact that it boasted some of the best English-speaking players of the time as regular posters. Additionally, it sported the most passionate and productive population by a mile.

The relatively high level of skill, the unparalleled coverage of the Korean scene and the shuttering of other ‘serious’ sites left Team Liquid in a position of obvious primacy, the undisputed home of hardcore StarCraft outside of Korea.

In a way that no other site could rival, Team Liquid pushed forward.

A Fascist Site of Heartbreaking Genius or The Communist Manifesto7

Team Liquid has always provoked an argument in one corner of the community or another. From the moment of its creation onward, accusations of elitism came early and often. Many complaints were justified (see: TL’s dismissive treatment of the SC2GG gang or the forum’s tendency toward hero worship and pitchfork mobs).

On the other hand, we have the legion of complaints stemming from the fact that well known personalities and posters are given preferential treatment over the masses. The inequities suffered by new and unknown posters have resulted in a frighteningly large number of comparisons to the civil rights movement and 1984. In actuality, the preferential treatment is simply the site acknowledging and rewarding time and effort from its best contributors.

It’s hard to overstate that TL is run in a unique way. The fact that it takes time to adjust to the environment is made evident by the consistent stream of annoyed, banned posters who do not understand what they did to deserve a punishment. The warnings and bans are taken personally, as if they occurred in a vacuum, the reasons are often inadequately spelled out and, voila, an angry nerd is now plotting revenge against the corrupt regime.

The cardinal rule at TL, the law that is both simplest and most difficult to grasp, the crux of the entire ideal of e-sports and Team Liquid is that you must put effort into your contributions. You must be constructive.

Memes are punished. Moderators oblige martyrs. Repetition is risky at best. Veterans have earned wiggle room that you have not. One liners often carry lethal consequences.

The nuance goes on. In the end, every rule at TL comes down to the same thing: above all else, effort is rewarded.

That is something that every site can appreciate.

A Clean Well-Moderated Place

It may seem like I’m coming to the defense of the well-defended. Perhaps I’m preaching to the choir, talking to the wall or arguing loudly with the deaf.

My goal is to explain that TL’s much discussed culture has been a huge net positive to the scene. Your personal feelings aside, there is no individual or web site that can say it has done half as much to sustain and advance StarCraft gaming as Team Liquid has. It is the most important StarCraft site of all time by a wide margin and having it more properly understood would serve the greater good.

The relatively strict and demanding culture that TL has cultivated for years has produced some of the best e-sports content on the planet. There is an irrefutable connection between the considerable demands placed on posters and the high quality content the site has produced.

The e-sports scene should not be about catering to the lowest common denominator. This is still a community at least as much as it is an industry and that means the great expectations placed on e-sports are placed on us all.

Did you get banned for the millionth one liner complaining about Gretorp in a live report thread? That’s because this community is used to greatness. You’re clogging up the works. Do better.

Every new post is an example set for the next poster. What good are bad examples?

From the best StarCraft journalism bar none (see: Final Edits, exclusive Korean coverage, the amazing articles archive and countless golden contributions from regular members) to the most consistently well-executed events in a decade of foreign StarCraft, Team Liquid boasts a unique tradition of high quality work that has served as a foundation and a model for an exploding industry.

Legendary figures in the scene almost all began as nameless fans just looking for a way to express their excitement. Now they are revered.

If you take the time and put in the effort, the community will reward you. That goes beyond any one site.

The Ban and the Fury or: Chitty Chitty Ban Ban

One word that can sum up r/starcraft is fun. WellPlayed’s word is ambition. Team Liquid’s word is institution.

Each of these hubs has much to offer the community and, have no doubt, even more will pop up as the scene grows. It’s an awesome thing to see multiple web sites vibrant and thriving around our game and our community. It feels like we're on a road to something incredible.

If our goals are too lofty, if the passion is laughable to you, so be it. You’re in that camp. Stick to the one liners, sneer at the rest of us. But know that you’re the one just sitting around, passively watching people play video games.

In this camp, we’re aiming for greatness. We're not much interested in less.

Every time the automated ban list reaches a new page, an angel gets his wings. The truth is that not nearly enough angels have their wings.

A note: I’m only a regular member of the TL forums but I did write a few articles for them last year. At this point, I am about as far from officially representing TL as one can get. This is an independent opinion piece that I felt compelled to write after I read the millionth complaint thread. Don't tell me why you got banned, I don't care.

Credit to Ashwin 'des' Vaidyanathan for helping me with a few excellent puns.



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