NEWS/OPINION — The first in a new series of posts exploring just how far SCP has come in 13 years.
It’s SCP’s 13th birthday today. To celebrate, WhiteGuard, a SCP member and staffer, has conducted weekly interviews all month — in my opinion the best thing to happen to SCP since the KaktusKast — with some of the site’s forerunners, their initial ideas revisited and re-pronounced. These include “The Administrator” Fritzwillie, Dr. Clef, Kain Pathos Crow, and Dr. Gears.
In a new series of blog posts, we will take a closer look at some of the more muted changes that these old guards allude to, and tell the other, less fortunate side of the story regarding how far SCP has come. Two claims will be made simultaneously in them; that SCP has lost the plot and has become close-mindedly maximalist, the effigy of their own reputation and brand preferred as the sole instance of legitimate containment fiction, and at the expense of cultivating the genre any farther than beyond itself.
The climax of the interviews is reserved for last — it’s Dr. Gears himself, of course. In the new interview, he reminisces on the early days, gives new insights, some great quotes, and expresses his gratitude for the whole thing, particularly for the donations regarding his recently defeated kidney cancer… something he might not have survived were it not for the loving and gracious outpouring of support from the (whole) community he helped create. The interview is an instant classic.
It wasn’t all sugary praise, however. Dr. Gears, in the most loving and fatherly way possible, took the occasion to say some difficult things to SCP, things that the community will have a hard time hearing; some for the first time, some for the hundredth.
“I’ve been trying to ease back into the site, and it has admittedly changed a great deal since the old days when I was more active… Before the first wiki, you have to remember, there really wasn’t a fandom. Hell, 4chan doesn’t really have Ids, so everything just lived in a void. Which was both a good and bad thing, I think…yes, it made things harder, but I think many of the issues the modern fandom has had mostly trace back to ego, and the vote module… Write because you have to, and don’t worry so much about reception. If you’re trying to prop up your work, scrapping it out with critics, or trying to boost votes beyond just telling people to come to take a look, then you’re likely off course.”
— Dr. Gears
What’s ironic here is that everyone wants to be the second coming of Dr. Gears, and that desire drives the egoism and obsession with the rating module that he correctly identifies as originative to SCP’s modern, endemic woes. As it turns out, Dr. Gears is a remarkably humble person who is insightful despite all the praise and upvotes to know that these two elements have become problematic. What’s unspoken is that Dr. Gears likely cannot ease back into the site, because it has morphed so completely as to make such a thing impossible. Not only would his style of articles fail (he gives room for them to survive based on his name alone… another symptom of the site’s ailments), but the culture is likely too unattractive; it clearly does not suit him. (This is in addition to all his primary IRL demands of course too.)
This is a needed move of leadership and is a fracturing of the archetypal “role model” at SCP, where there is usually a direct correlation to one’s willful ignorance of these basic & very observable problems in the culture and one’s incumbency to being notable in that culture. In other words, and typically, the denial expressed over what a deleterious factor the celebrity culture is at SCP is in direct proportion to one’s standing as a beneficiary of it.
It’s tempting to take a victory lap here. After being initially laughed at, this message has slowly percolated into more sidelined areas of the community where there they have even become trite; and yes, Dr. Gears’ endorsement and his independent account of it represents an exponent to the message that is most comparable to it hitting warp-speed. But Dr. Gears’ echoing of the insight, while a nicety, doesn’t make or break it. Imagining the other side of it; if he had said the opposite, I certainly wouldn’t take it as definitive.
Furthermore it’s not that Dr. Gears or people like myself and others who have shouted this for years to much ridicule, are incredibly in-tune with the site, more intelligent than those neck-deep in it, or years ahead of our time. That’s too much credit.
Instead, the testament is to the uncritical nature of SCP’s standards of inclusion in the present day; a community that has under-performed with regards to their intelligence and have willfully remained ignorant of these issues, which are really quite average in terms of comprehensibility and obviousness. A remarkable complexity of denial and optimism have so far prevented the inner SCP community from recognizing the ill effects and idolatry of the rating module and how it cultivates downstream the weed of writer ego. Their self-lobotomy performed in the name of virtue or supremacy is the reason why people in-community can look the other way (or as long as possible at least) when a culture of underage grooming takes hold in the most senior parts of the site… a denial that continues to this day. Someone will go along with unbelievable things, terrible directions for a community included, when they think they have something to gain from it.
Although those on the site who will read this quote are the sort that would find the validity in something after and only after their most influential figure has said it, Dr. Gears’ endorsement of this long-repressed critique will likely still not be enough to make a lasting impact there. SCP’s case of converting writing standards into political and performative ones is by now terminal and all measures at this point are palliative. There is no injection of cash support or any surgery that can remove the wholly separate and metastatic cancer that has overcome SCP. It has already run off the rails, distracted in an undisciplined way by the more degenerative parts of its success, the price for it denominated in member count and upvotes. Like vegetables at market, here is a barter that saw the plot and format that SCP helped grow, traded away from itself for riches used to further aggrandize and gentrify themselves out of the business of growing things.
Still, this is a great birthday gift. Maybe not the one SCP would have given itself, but the one they need. Dr. Gears has again stepped up as the true and only leader of the community.
Happy birthday, SCP.
Instead of making an hour-long read of a post, my forte, we will go into exactly how and why SCP has lost the plot a different time. But the bottom line is that it’s reducible to two things:
- The unchecked expansion and overgrowth of the writer’s ego and its hijacking of the genre’s core principles to incorporate new, more extravagant, & less fidelitous elements into the medium; elements that are unspecific, & common to other forms of creative writing, and that the exclusion of initially made the format unique, appealing, and outstanding.
- A hostile resistance informed by the hubris of that collectively expanded ego aimed aggressively at new platforms of the genre, to the point of self-isolation, censorship, dictatorial informational control, xenophobia, and further deleterious aspects that such an insular stance germinates.
These two things are slowly — imperceptibly if your nose is pressed to the canvas — turning SCP from the primary buoyant force of a new and fledgling genre into a dropped brick. Were it not for a small but dedicated cadre of outspoken and unpopular critics — universally permabanned from SCP as it were— and their obsessive sawing at the rope binding the format to SCP, the whole ecosystem might be drowning with it.
(Picture credit is given to Wikidot user Vizlox, and to The Containment Fiction Wiki.)
© Lack of Lepers, 2021