Communities are fascinating. Wherever people exist you'll find them gathered together, grouped by cooperation, mutual interests, or simple survival.
These days, you can have communities without the people involved even needing to be present. The internet is a tool that lets people from all over the world interact through forums, email, and social media. And like anywhere else, really, these interactions will sometimes be unpleasant.
It's all over and done with now, but for the last year or so there's been a lot of online drama about science fiction and fantasy. Specifically, about an annual award convention award called the Hugo. I won't go into the full details of it all, but Wired has what I feel is a pretty decent summary up here, and even better, author Eric Flint has been keeping notes of the whole affair here. The basic jist, is that two online groups (calling themselves the Sad Puppies and the Rabid Puppies) felt that Worldcon's Hugo awards were only being awarded to people of a more liberal attitude by a conspiracy that didn't actually exist. That Worldcon had evolved into an elitist event running on cronyism and exclusivity.
So, I attended this year's convention. Just under a month ago. Partially because the con was being held in my own backyard, and partially because of the chance for delicious schadenfreude.
And when I arrived in Spokane, Washington this last august, I noticed something interesting. One; everything seemed to be on fire. Literally. Two; that the elitist Worldcon that everyone was worried about didn't seem to exist. I had many pleasant interactions out of the blue with con-goers both new and old.
Worldcon is a community. Without a permanent home or even permanent members, it still attracts a group of people solely united by a shared love of science fiction and fantasy and all manner of geekery. They get together once a year, drink and attend panels, celebrate what they believe are the most important efforts over the last year, and then disperse.
At the end of the day, it struck me that the Sad Puppes had spent so much time looking for a community which didn't even exist, that they missed the one right in front of them, one that anyone can join, and that's been going strong since 1939.
(Note: I thought about not posting this, but well, I was there, the event happened, and a large number of people were involved. Everything's over and done with now, and I've already moved on.)