Interview No. 40
Interview By: @The-Great-One
Special Thanks to @liljim without whom this interview would not be possible.
Today's guests are the members of The Elite Guard Barracks. Now I certainly couldn't interview the entire club so I have chosen the following members. Supreme Commander @EagleRock, Supreme Commander @Coop, Private First Class @SpiffyMasta, Sergeant @Sheizenhammer, and Supreme Commander @Phantom. They are The Elite Guard Barracks.
ANSWERS WILL BE POSTED BENEATH THE _A:_ DUE TO TWO PEOPLE BEING INTERVIEWED PERSON ANSWERING WILL BE NOTED AS SO.
Q: How did you find Newgrounds and why did you join?
EagleRock: Newgrounds was a popular site in the Comp Sci department at my college. It was hard NOT to find Newgrounds. We loved the site because it was the #1 place for Flash, period. I started going on the site semi-regularly back in 2001, but finally signed up for an account in 2003. It wasn't until 2005 that I actually bothered to start posting and became an active BBS member, though.
Coop: Well, when I was in my late teens, just away from University, I was introduced to Assassin and Unidentified Flying Assholes. I left it until we got Broadband at home to sign up for Newgrounds and that was the first action on the computer I did after the broadband was installed.
SpiffyMasta: I was probably about 12 or 13 years old when I first stumbled onto Newgrounds. One of my friends showed me the telebubby games and assassin games. I loved killing Britney Spears and then playing her dress-up games. The quality of NG games has changed so much over the years. Basically I kept playing the hentai games for a few years (like most horny 13 year olds do) and then I decided to make an account a few years later. I didn't really go on the forums until 2005. This month marks the 8th year of my account and the rest is history
Sheizenhammer: Honestly, I've no idea when I first found NG. I think it was around 2002ish, but I really can't be certain. My first account was made in 2004, for the purposes of reviewing and having more vote power. Annoyingly, I messed up an e-mail change and locked myself out of it a week later.
After that, I just used NG sporadically, mainly for the audio portal, right up until I made this account... for the same purposes the last one was supposed to accomplish. Thankfully, I've thus far managed to keep this one going.
Phantom: I was a kid playing flash games on-line and after a while I became curious with the tank logo on a lot of the games and decided to check it out, back in 04'. Been here since. Through the highs and lows.
EagleRock: Just a bit. :-) The Barracks had a much more basic, singular purpose back then. Pre-redesign, the NG B/P ranks were all preceded with "Elite Guard", and I had recently reached Elite Guard status. Needless to say, I was really into the whole thing, and wanted a place where we could chat, but you had to act accordingly to your rank. Also, official membership required you to have a rank of Elite Guard Private rank or higher. Obviously the EGB has much more loftier goals by now, but this was basically how it all started.
Coop: I was pretty active in the Clubs & Crews at the time and came across this club, which just seemed like a good idea, as EagleRock shared my ideals. I stuck with it and still hold these things true today.
SpiffyMasta: No I was not part of the thread at that time whatsoever, I only joined about 5-6 months ago I believe.
Sheizenhammer: Since that was in the time I wasn't really paying attention to NG, no. Hell, I never even visited the forums at all until about a week after I made this account. I first found the place at about the same time I found the NGPD... and I didn't bother joining the latter for quite a while after that.
When I did, though, I saw how much fun it could be, and after I ranked out it only took me about a month or so to get around to joining the EGB. I've been passively active in it since; I'm always watching for new stolen flashes to be posted.
Phantom: I joined on page 4 because at the time I was really into B/P and over the following year I went from approx 0 to 30,000 B/P points. I was in the EGB for a long time, believed in its purpose and the way it was structured by Peter (EagleRock). Over time he became very busy with his real life so for some time I ran it and I was known as a very mean but fair leader, now, in 2011 I lurk more than anything, but I still maintain my respect and former title.
Q: The Newgrounds Police Department was created one day later after The Elite Guard Barracks. In my interview with The Newgrounds Police Department I asked them what was the purpose of their club and both Lizzardis replied saying...
"It teaches them about how they should behave and moulds them to members acceptable for the EGB by helping with their whistles, posting quality and overall attitude."
Would you agree with this? Also when newer members arrive from the police department do they still need to learn a few new tricks or is it a piece of cake?
EagleRock: Brigadier General Lizzardis has the right idea. While I obviously never had the honor to be in the NGPD, I would have joined first thing had I been able to. Some of our finest members were from the NGPD, and the club does a great job of turning potentially troublesome NG users into beneficial members. However, coming from the NGPD doesn't make you a shoe-in for the EGB. But I will say that a high percentage of recruits from the NGPD make it in with little difficulty.
Coop: A good question and I'm not sure that I'm qualified to answer it - I was never enthralled with the idea of having two threads running at the same time for the same purpose. Due to the effective high turnover of recruits who went on to either drop out, or even make the step up to the barracks, they need to have strong leadership, but if all of them graduate to the Barracks, then how can they govern themselves.
EyeLovePoozy locked it, because it became a spamfest and I wasn't at all surprised, since the prevention of spam mantra seemed to have been interpreted as only applying to the portal, as opposed to on the BBS as well. Fortunately, TailsPrower has pretty much got everything under control once more.
SpiffyMasta: I don't like the statement that it is something done for the EGB. I think the NGPD and EGB are two completely different entities, while one progresses naturally from the other, they have very different dynamics. I also feel like it's not just about getting users ready for the EGB, it's more about simply making them better users of the site and better members of the forum community.
As far as the second question, I think it depends on the member, there's factors like maturity and experience that come into play. Certain people can take only a few months to meet eligibility and don't spend much time in the NGPD before joining the EGB. These are often the ones that still have a lot to learn. Others, like myself, take a couple years to join up and have a much easier time in the EGB.
Sheizenhammer: Well... yes and no. That is one of the things the NGPD does, but it's by no means the ONLY thing it accomplishes. It is a place where those who wish to help out in the portal, but lack the requirements to join the EGB, can gather and fulfil their wishes to contribute their time to stopping portal abuse, whilst having some fun in the process. The educational side of it just comes as a kind of side-effect, IMO (read: learning when to whistle stuff, post quality, etc.)
When new members arrive in the EGB, how much they need to learn depens on the person. Some people come in with better standards than what we expect already, while others have varying degrees of stuff to learn. And amongst those, some just seem to 'get it' quicker than others. Generally, it's not hard to pick up a feel of how the place works, though (those applicants which lack significant knowledge of posting and / or portal rules are unlikely to get past the selection process, after all).
Phantom: The Police Dept. is doing both Newgrounds and the EGB a great service by taking newer users and teaching them the right from wrong of voting and reviewing and general behavior, we've had quite a few recruits come into the EGB after "graduating" from the Police Dept. and I definitely feel that for newer users it essential to find a more easy going place to start off with when it comes to B/P.
The Elite Guard Barracks, named after the (now deleted) Elite ranks of B/P starting from Elite Guard Private, all the way to Elite Guard Supreme Commander (EGSC), the acronym is still in use today for convenience.
In short, I'm glad the Police Dept. is there to build new users into the sort of members we want in the EGB.
Q: What is the purpose of The Elite Guard Barracks?
EagleRock: Well, I already went over the original purpose of the EGB when I founded it. Over time, as we started to grow and gain status on Newgrounds. As you can imagine, due to our membership requirements, our roster was full of influential members with high voting power. Eventually, we started to take our role as protectors of the NG Portal seriously and did all we could to make sure every Flash possible gets a fair vote with as little influence as possible from mass-voters, zero-bombers, malicious users, and the like.
Coop: It's a place where members of the community gather as a lounge thread for pretty much the basis of all having the same goal - clearing the portal of spam. We had quite a bit of dialogue in the early days and served a few bans for being too much like the Blam Club and even for being a little too stat-orientated, but we've gotten over that now.
SpiffyMasta: I'd like to think our main job is to try and make sure that rule breaking flashes don't get through the portal. I think we also try to help our members become better members of the forums and the website alltogether.
Sheizenhammer: What else? To help stop Newgrounds from becoming a YouTube - style cesspit of whatever random garbage you find on the internet. The defining feature of this website is the emphasis on user-generated content, and without people working to keep it that way, it would only turn into another generic flash-dump site.
(Although, technically, it is still just a place where people act like their in the military, but that's very much taken a back-seat to the portal business.)
Phantom: Our main purpose was and remains to help Newgrounds become an impartial, practical and fair portal of Flash creations. We do this by collectively speaking of our methods of work, sharing submissions we think we can help and ones we think should be deleted by the rules Newgrounds and the ones Tom himself put out long ago.
Spam, for example, is an ongoing problem we face that sullies the name of the portal and is often regarded as a file dump, we try our best to make sure that doesn't happen, that content is original and useful, and that it's always the real authors that submit their work, sometimes those authors have no interest in submitting to Newgrounds which is a shame but it is still never a reason to upload without their permission, a fact we try and enforce using the thread and our websites/forums to whistle and bring inappropriate material to admin attention.
Q: Where do you stand as a member of The Elite Guard Barracks? In other words what is your purpose and what do you think of it overall?
EagleRock: I am Founder and Chief Barracks Officer. While I have not always been active as the CBO, I've always had a part in the direction the Barracks goes. During times when I wasn't around, officers such as EGSC Phantom and EGSC SlashFirestorm took up the role of CBO at one point or another. Obviously the EGB isn't a one-man show and it would not be what it is today if it wasn't for these two people, my officers, and all of the members that put their time into it. Today, I'm proud to have taken up the role of CBO again.
Coop: I'm the resident moderator. As as result of my golden aura, I've got contact with the admins that no other member at present has. I can pass them links to abusive flash, even if they have passed judgement, which allows them to get checks and removed, as they see fit.
I'm also the top of the tree for B/P at the moment. Some members view that I'm just keeping the seat warm for byteslinger, but she'll have to catch me first, as I'm enjoying myself.
SpiffyMasta: I'm pretty much just a regular member, which is very polar opposite from when I was in the NGPD and had the billet of being second in command. I only serve the same purpose as most everyone else.
Sheizenhammer: I have no particular purpose: I'm not an officer for anything. I'm here to help out with whatever needs doing, and that usually means reporting stolen flashes and participating in new member discussions. Apart from that, I'm easy. :P
Phantom: Over time I held a great array of positions, from the common starting member, to relations Officer between us and the NG Mafia, another talented collection of users, with some humor in our role-play as Mafia vs. Military.
Along with Peter (EagleRock) I also held the part of secondary leader and leader of the club completely during his absence, it is still important to mention that the EGB was a hierarchy from the beginning and no one person makes decisions on his/her own.
As of now I'm coming back from a short sabbatical and choose to retain my title as former 3IC-(in command) in order not to offend any current Officers.
Q: You've stated that you've allied with other clubs such as The Newgrounds Department of Defense and The Newgrounds Mafia. What are your ties to these clubs and how have they helped you and how have you helped them?
EagleRock: When the NGPD first started, I wanted to make sure they knew we were their friends, had similar goals, and wanted to help each other out. So, we allied with the NGPD, as well as with the other C&C groups you mentioned. We helped each other out quite a bit by promoting cross-membership and by keeping Liaisons around to make sure all the groups kept in touch. While the DoD is no longer active, our other allies are, and we're still there for one another.
Coop: Personally, I have no ties to either of these clubs, so I keep myself to myself and so do they.
SpiffyMasta: I think both of those clubs are pretty much dead. I know though that for the longest time many EGB members were also members of the NGDD. Recently an attempt was made to revive the NGDD and many of our members including myself were in the club.
Sheizenhammer: Honestly, in my time here I've seen precious little activity from the NGDD, and even less from the NG mafia. If there were any ties in the past, they're all but gone now (along with the clubs themselves). I know some EGB members are trying to get the NGDD back online, but the success has been limited at best. And I've never heard of anything being done about the NG mafia at all.
Phantom: The NGDD's newer thread was started by Wylo and several of his friends, one of them was also my friend at the time, Gregory (WastedWizard) who asked me via MSN at the time to come partake in it, and because it was also low on members, I instantly became in charge of the Portal section of the NGDD. Since then activity has severely weakened on the NGDD but it comes as no surprise because the role of such an extensive club with the presence of the Police Dept. and the EGB, combined with the fact many Flash/Audio artists don't frequent the forums, made its activity rather slow. By now I've accepted its fate as a club and hope maybe one day in the future it will have a more valued place amongst Newgrounds members.
The NG Mafia as I've stated, I was also a member in. It was the first club I ever joined and they taught me, quite strictly too, how to properly post and behave on the BBS. Ghost (leader of the NG Mafia) made me the Capo (traditional Mafioso title for Officer) of the sniper division, at which point the EGB surfaced and I started to interact with it as well.
Q: A common complaint in the Audio Portal are the zero-bombers. People who constantly zero-bomb other's works so that their own may rise or just to be complete jerks. The Newgrounds Police Department responded with mixed answers, but is there anything The Elite Guard Barracks can do about this? If yes what do you do to help? If no then could you please tell us why?
EagleRock: It's definitely not the right thing to do. Like I said, the EGB has a policy that every Flash deserves a fair vote, no matter what. The same goes for people's audio submissions. We can help by voting as much as possible on the Audio Portal as well as the Flash Portal, giving every audio submission a fair, unbiased vote, and, if necessary, provide constructive criticism on how to improve. While not every EGB member is an audiophile as much as they are a Flash enthusiast, we can't be as effective in the AP as we are in the FP, but we can certainly do our best.
Coop: The only thing we could really do is counter vote. I get it all the time from people that get banned by me and they zero bomb me to retaliate, for what little good it does. I'm more concerned about the reviews I receive and if these idiots want to write me an abusive review, they will play right into my hands, since I'm a Review Mod as well.
SpiffyMasta: Not much besides trying to spread awareness about the consequences of doing something like that. There will always be immature people who like to just zero bomb things for the hell of it, so as unfortunate as that is it's not something anyone besides the admins can deal with.
Sheizenhammer: Sadly, no. Although we have a roster with some 40+ people on it, only about 10 of them are active at any given point in time. Ergo, there simply aren't enough of us to make a difference in the audio portal. And that's making no mention of trying to skew scores (regardless of if it's in response to other vote-skewing) being against the number one rule the EGB has, too (read: voting fairly).
Besides, zero-bombing is a self-limiting practice anyway. The bigger the gap between your own work and that of your rivals, the more likely you are to have said lead ruined by people using your own tactics against you. It all balances out in the long run.
Phantom: Sometimes, unfair voting is a concern due to the system Newgrounds has which allows for alts and daily voting, I myself have suffered some of those "bombers" on my Audio submissions, but except bombing 5's, which we don't support, nothing can fix the problem until the general population of Newgrounds becomes smarter, a process we actively try and progress.
Q: The Newgrounds Police Department have made a second thread and cleaned it up a bit. Have you had any intentions to do the same? If yes then why and how? If no then why?
EagleRock: I would say that creating a new forum thread for the EGB would not be beneficial at all. In fact, I would consider it detrimental in ways. As far as our first post not reflecting the current state of the EGB, our Recruitment Officer Supreme Commander Byteslinger (as well as the rest of the EGB) are well-equipped to informing new members about the club. If we split the page, it would be diminishing our heritage and long-time status on the C&C Forum. As far as the NGPD goes, however, I felt the move was great for them. Since the had problems in the past, recreating the thread demonstrated their devotion towards improvement and high ideals. However, what worked for them, in my opinion, won't work for us.
Coop: There's no need to remake a thread that is successful and has its own in house moderator. I keep it running smoothly and stop arguments, without even the need to indicate who I am any more.
SpiffyMasta: No clue
Sheizenhammer: I have had the idea myself, since the OP doesn't really describe what we do anymore. On the other hand, it would mean abandoning a lot of our history like the NGPD did, so I'm not sure if others would be willing to do it.
Phantom: For the most part, the EGB has had good relations with both moderators and users, and when spam occurred, we were able to clean it up thanks to the mods. We've had no need to open up a new thread thanks to the fact we only take on more experienced users, a risk the Newgrounds Police Dept. had to take for taking on newer members.
Q: If you could change anything about Newgrounds, what would it be and why?
EagleRock: Well, nothing annoys me more on Newgrounds than to see unfairness in the system. Some members post Flash that blatantly have no effort put into them whatsoever, yet they manage to get all of their Flash protected by mass-voters. On the other hand, aspiring artists that come to Newgrounds to get exposure tend to get ignored and not given the input they need to improve. I believe the bigger problem at hand is that the general populace of Newgrounds knows certain Flash will get protected even if it is substandard, so they will automatically 5 any mass-voted Flash as well. It's causing Newgrounds to longer be based on quality, but based on popularity and mass-voting.
Coop: More exposure for writers. We have some talented individuals here and they will come to the fore, but they need to get the credit they deserve to blossom.
SpiffyMasta: If I could change anything on Newgrounds it would have to be adding Flash Portal Moderators. There's audio mods and art mods that regulate the content, I don't see why there shouldn't be any in the flash portal. I think it would make it much easier and faster to delete abusive flashes and it would probably take a load off Wade. I think he's entertained the idea before but never acted on it.
Sheizenhammer: Portal mods. I never understood why we have mods for the audio and art portals, but not the flash portal. On top of that, 99% of the people who vote on UJ stuff either don't know, or don't care, about stolen flashes. And Wade can take months to get around to removing the things that are flagged, too. The current system is fast becoming unfit for purpose, IMO, and I think giving Wade some volunteer help (read: mods) could be the answer.
Phantom: Well, considering I could split my B/P in half and still remain EGSC, I'd love to see more ranks to keep even high-up users motivated to continue, but that may be difficult, still I hope the admins consider it sometimes.
Of course I'd also be glad if in time, a more efficient system was introduced to control the amount of spam coming into the portal so that our job could focus more on the fairness of votes with each submission, and not the "blind votes" that occur with many current UJ submissions.
Other than that, nothing particular, I've always liked Newgrounds and I believe it's awesome, even if some improvements can be made.
Q: What can we expect from The Elite Guard Barracks in the future?
EagleRock: The issue I mentioned above has been around for a while. It was most apparent back in August of 2007 when the "insta-5" mentality of Clock Day stuck around for over a week after the day ended. After then, many spammers came out of the woodwork submitting flash en-masse and getting it all protected. The Barracks has been doing what we can to give every Flash possible a fair vote, regardless of whether it is submitted by a spammer, a new artist, or an accomplished NG user. We believe we can eventually tip the scales as more people adopt a fair-voting policy. Eventually, we will tip the scales against those voting unfairly and let Flash have a fair and unbiased judgment. After this, the NG masses will see that Flash no longer get points based on popularity or mass-voting, and will start to adopt a fair-voting policy as well. Once this happens, mass-voters will have lost their power and fairness will be restored to the Newgrounds Portal.
Coop: More of the same, I believe. We root out the issues with Newrounds and continue to grow as a useful part of the community.
SpiffyMasta: I don't think the EGB is going away anytime soon, so keep expecting the same from us, constantly keeping watch over the portal!
Sheizenhammer: Hopefully, a larger active userbase. Large enough to reliably pull stolen flashes, for a change. However, I'm not too optimistic about that happening.
Phantom: We don't have any large projects at the moment but every now and again a talented user may declare a certain in-thread competition or make some form of art connecting us more closely to the portal we're protecting. If anything does come up, I'm sure the Newgrounds community will know of it.
Much like The Newgrounds Police Department, The Elite Guard Barracks are a group of people there to assist in protecting the Newgrounds Flash Portal as well as helping Newgrounds and its members. However The Elite Guard Barracks are a bit more experienced (no pun intended). If you are ever in the need of assistance then these guys are certainly capable of helping you.