A Simple Question of DignityAug 23, 2003 Write an essay on this topic.
Popular Products in BooksThe Bottom Line Who deserves entry into an "Epinions Hall of Fame"? I can think of at least two names right off the bat.
E. B. White, Edith Goodkind Rosenwald, Lessing J. Rosenwald Collection (Library of Congress) - Charlotte's Web: Student Packet Grades 3-4
In any discussion of potential nominees for a any sort of Hall of Fame, "The Question" eventually comes up. You know that pesky question of "what truly rates inclusion in such an elite group?"
"What standards should we use?"
"Do we consider every aspect of a career, or just the best, or just the worst?"
It often seems that there as many different yardsticks for measuring a career as their are careers to be measured, and I've learned that sometimes it can be helpful to take a step back and consider not just the question, but also the very concepts and idea involved *in* that question as well.
For example, instead of arguing about specific achievements or accomplishments of one possible nominee versus those of another, perhaps we can learn more by thinking about what we mean by "Hall of Fame." Ordinarily I am not especially fond of nor impressed by discussions which peevishly trot out dictionary quotations, but in this specific case I was impressed by the definition I found for "Hall of Fame" in my dictionary, which offers this small but useful bit of guidance:
"Hall of Fame (n.) a group of individuals in a particular category (such as a sport)
who have been selected as particularly or notably outstanding because of dignity
or achievements or actions." *
For once, I'm happy to defer to the definition of a dictionary.
"Notably outstanding because of dignity or achievements or actions." A more perfect phrase I could not have hoped to find, as I have felt since the beginning of this burgeoning little debate that inclusion in any "hall of fame" type group must not be just the inevitable end result of prolonged activity or the meeting of some easily quantified requirements, but first and foremost should require honor, and honesty, and respect, and patience, and tolerance, and courage.
In other words, dignity,
And when I tried to think of members onsite who best personify "dignity", I quickly came up with two names: KCFoxy and Grouch.
Take a look at both profiles and you'll see an amazing record of consistent excellence in reviewing and writing, but as I said at the outset, the story is about more than just number of reviews or number of trusters or percentage of VHs or number of titles. With both Casey (KCFoxy) and Dave (Grouch), you get a true rarity: an example of the kind of ridiculously good person you badly wish you could be yourself.
When I first came to this site a little more than three years ago, I had no idea what to expect. I was tickled that I met with early success, grabbing consistently good ratings and supportive comments, including some from these strange names , "KCFoxy" and "Grouch". I checked their stuff and found a pair of writers who were deceptively talented, penning prose which looks and sounds simple and unforced but which is in truth the result of years of practice and hours of editing. When they both added me to their respective Web of Trust, I was flattered and thrilled to see that such well-read supremely talented grizzled veterans of the site would think that highly of my infrequent and often overlooked efforts.
It wasn't until I'd spent years on this site, however, that I began to fully appreciate just how unique and special Casey and Dave are among the high-power folks on this site. What makes them unique are all those little things that will never show up in any numerical review of their hit counts, nor in an mathematical analysis of their postings and ratings and comments. What makes the unique is the old fashioned decent humanity they bring to the table. Not once have I ever seen or heard of either of Casey or Dave taking sides in any childish fire fight or shouting match in any comments thread, though I have received hundreds of encouraging little comments and personal notes in response to my comments to them or to postings of my own.
Not once have I ever seen or heard of Casey or Dave getting drawn into any of the oddly intense little political dramas and intrigues of this site, though I *do* remember them both leading by quiet example over the course of more than 1000 combined reviews, every one of which is among the strongest and most-readable reviews you might ever hope to find on this site.
Not once have I ever seen or heard of Casey or Dave playing games with their trust, instead offering it freely and without the slightest concern for how others might interpret such courtesy, but I *do* know that somewhere along the way they have accumulated more than 2000 "trusters" between the two of them, including many of the most reluctant and careful trusters onsite.
Not once have I ever seen or heard of Casey or Dave whining about their perceived slights or antagonists in a self-absorbed rant, though I *am* consistently impressed with the fact that both of these folks somehow manage to thrive on Epinions while still maintaining a full and fulfilling life away from the keyboard (Casey as an RN, devoted wife and obsessed music fan, Dave as a career Army Sergeant, husband/dad, and respected freelance writer).
When you look at Casey or Dave and consider everything they've ever done for this sitethe hundreds of professional-grade reviews, the thousands of users they've inspired and encouraged, the tens of thousands of thoughtful, fair and accurate ratings they've handed out it's laughably obvious that these two folks are overflowing with that special blend of dedication and honesty and passion and respect and a dozen other rare but wonderful qualities which in combination can best described by one simple word:
So if Epinions wants to start a new tradition by creating a "Hall of Fame" for site users who best personify all that is, was, and might be good about this site who best symbolize "dignity" in their every word, action, and deed on behalf of this site then I can think of no more appropriate pair of people with which to start.
I say this not just because Casey and Dave are two of my favorite writers on this site, and not just because they're two of my oldest friends on this site, and not just because they're two of the members whose opinions and insights and encouragement I most respect and cherish. I say this because Casey and Dave are also quite simply two of the best people on this site, and when all the nonsense relating to reviews and ratings and hits and titles is stripped away, that remains the absolute highest praise which I (or anyone) might hope to offer for any Epinions user. If we, the Epinions "community," are going to compile a list of our best and brightest those peers who truly are "notably outstanding because of dignity or achievements or actions" it is my heartfelt opinion that the names "KCFoxy" and "Grouch" either must then appear somewhere very near the top of that list, or else that list will clearly have no true value, meaning or relevance.
Note: I'm more than a little stunned by the response which the idea for an Epinions Hall of Fame has been drawing. Lots of interesting and potentially useful ideas have already been offered in the comments section to the Epinions piece in which I mentioned the idea ("It's Time for an 'Epinions Hall of Legends'"). Meanwhile, plenty of folks have already confirmed what I expected: that this "Hall of Fame" idea is so obvious that lots of others have had similar ideas before. For whatever reason, it seems that *this* time the idea reached someone in a position to run with it (thanks to whomever it was at Eps HQ who moved to so quickly set up this new content area to help maintain the momentum!) and at the same time found traction with the Epinions community (thanks to all who have helped spread news of the idea and helped develop some interesting debate).
And huge HUGE thanks to Helen, aka "pogomom", for her relentless cheerleading and encouragement and assistance with this bizarre grassroots campaign. If you haven't already, be sure and check out her supporting essay ("Do The Right Thing Epinions Hall of Legends") and nomination essay ("Foxy Lady She's the One!") for lots of interesting comments, ideas, and food for further thought. Her relentless efforts and support deserve as much credit for the early success enjoyed by this idea as does anyone or anything.
Oh, and thanks to Casey and Dave for making my picks for nomination so damned easy.
* taken from Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, Tenth Edition , ©1993 ;-D
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