1. Member Since 22nd Sep, 2011
  2. offline for 3h, 36m


I'm the creator of Otakuworld.com, Jenniverse.com, the computer game Boppin', numerous online comics, novels, and tons of other wonderful things. I really love MLP:FiM.

More Blog Posts73

  • 5w, 2d
    Voiceless In Hillsboro - Season Five and Other Things


    Voiceless In Hillsboro


    Season Five and Other Things

    It's a little strange not having a voice. My whole family and I came down with some terrible virus, that, in me, allowed an opportunistic bacterial infection - long story short, for the past three weeks I have been sick as sick can be. Triplet antibiotics have helped, and I am slowly climbing back to life. But - I cannot make a sound. I am mute. I sure hope my voice comes back one day.

    I may be mute in real life, and feel like death warmed over, but I am not mute here, in the realm of text, so I thought to say a few things about the most recent season of My Little Pony.

    Season five, so far, as of 'Castle Sweet Castle', is excellent.

    After my scathing 'Around The Bend', you might want to know why I think this, and I want to tell you.

    The first three episodes of season five are, in my opinion, as good as the work in season one. They do, of course, of necessity, have to run with what has been established in the intervening seasons, I have no issue with that. Indeed, it is mandatory - consistency is not the 'hobgoblin of small minds', rather it is the foundation of all suspension of disbelief. Without consistency, there can be no meaning or value to causality, and causal relationships are the machinery of drama and storytelling.

    What makes season five good is that thus far, in these first three episodes, we have consistent characters acting according to what we know about them, they act in a rational and meaningful way, and they are not bent into self-parodies or used for cheap gags.

    And one of those characters, the most important character in almost any story, is the world. The world is also being attended properly.

    "Know your world, know your characters, and you need not fear even a thousand pages of story."

    Yes, I am quoting myself. But that does not make it any less true.

    In season five, thus far, Pinkie Pie is funny, but she is also competent. She isn't just a joke. She adds to the group, she helps, she supports, she has useful input. Remember 'Giggle At The Ghostie'? That was intended to be Pinkie's defining moment. In that pilot, that scene tells us exactly what and who Pinkie is to the team - and from the start, the Mane Six are supposed to be a team, an action team, working together as a group to solve problems. Pinkie uses humor to save others, to rescue others. She uses the tools of laughter intelligently. She isn't just a useless clown.

    Rarity may be emotional, but she is smart. She is supposed to be capable and able. Initially, Faust described her as the oldest, and she is supposed to have the experience and backbone of an independent entrepreneur. She isn't supposed to be a useless frail. She's back... not perfectly, but back, and she is starting to have moments again, moments of competence.

    Dash, Fluttershy, Applejack - sure, they can have personality quirks, but the original picture we were given of them is that they are capable adventurers. This is the heart of what they should be along with Twilight - all capable representatives of Equestria, not just gags or cheap joke characters. They aren't wacky superhero parodies, they aren't Animaniacs or Freakazoids... they are a team driven by friendship, determination, and their trust in each other. In short, they should be played as they were when we first met them - as if they were real, as if they were people, not mere toons.

    Season five has returned to this. The Mane Six are not jokes now. They are handling the problems they face together, as useful, functional members of Equestria's elite Friendship Squad. And this is exactly what they should be, because it is how they were intended to be, and how they were first presented to us, back when Lauren had any say at all.

    The world has meaning again. The world is the most important character of all.

    Geography is consistent again. Ponyville is a flat river valley again. We have a god-damned MAP, front and center, and woe betide any writer for the show who does not sit up and take notice of what that represents. It means 'treat the show as a real world, not as a cheap gag'. It means 'there be places here, places with names and relationships to each other'.

    A world is a character. It changes over time, it has history, it has a feeling of its own, and it has places within it that have relationships just as people-characters have relationships... and those change over time too. A world has a character arc. We have seen Equestria grow, we have seen it develop as a place - not without some serious growing pains thanks to terrible writers - but we have seen it grow.

    Originally, Lauren Faust, in an interview, described Equestria as being a blend between the Elysian Fields and Oz. It was supposed to literally be the Elysian Fields - that, as many know, is why Tartarus is located below it. That was also why Queen Celestia was supposed to be essentially a Greek goddess... until Hasbro marketing demanded she be a princess, and get rid of the overt Greek pagan stuff and... well. Those who've kept up know the story. And how Faust got pushed out, and how she can't talk straight about any of it now.

    Season five has gone back to Faust.

    How? Those of you who read - really read, not just fan fiction - probably know the classic Oz books pretty well, but for those that don't, let me give the briefest of infodumps: after all the fuss with Dorothy and getting the basic world nailed down, the many, many books that continued the story went afield. Basically, Oz proper was now understood to the reader, and under Celestia's - ah, Ozma's - dominion,  so adventures now took place at the borders and fringes of Oz. It became the great quest, after a fashion, to bring the authority of Queen Ozma to the undeveloped and unexplored parts of Oz, the edges of the map and even off the map.

    This is what we see in the two part 'Cutie Map'. The show is utterly Oz-like. Our team is sent off to the frontier to confront a threat to the harmony of Oz - ah, I mean Equestria. Excellent. Faust must be smiling. I am.

    We also see, in 'Castle Sweet Castle' real consequences to changing the world. Gone are throw-away stupidly deadly cliffside roads that could never exist in a flat river valley - there for one episode for a cheap gag, gone the next, nothing matters, nothing is real.

    No, now, we have a consistent world. I want to scream this point: SEE HOW MUCH DIFFERENCE CONSISTENCY MAKES?

    Twilight is broken hearted - as a lot of we viewers are - at the loss of the Golden Oaks Library. It wasn't just a cool home, it was the coolest home. It was the dream home of fantasy, a living tree that loves back, filled with books, covered in nurturing leaves. It was everything great about a Hobbit hole mixed with everything great about elves and magic and wonder. A living tree house. If it isn't every child's dream at some point, that child grew up in a desert.

    This was not a cheap gag. The Golden Oaks was obliterated. It was destroyed, and because the world was made consistent again, that fact MATTERED.

    And, thanks to the world being a viable character again, we can deal with the tragedy of the loss of the Golden Oaks, and we can understand how Twilight, as a character, felt about this change to the world, and to her life. We can see things played realistically. Twilight isn't bouncing around because she went up a level and gained a cool new super-hero hideout, a crystal castle made of magic - no, she's depressed.

    Twilight just got her own Hall Of Justice, and she is depressed. Because her home was destroyed. Because she isn't just some two-dimensional super-hero, she is a person. She isn't a cardboard character. She is mourning the loss of her proper home, and, by extension, her childhood too.

    Because now, forced (by Hasbro marketing) into being an alicorn princess prematurely (Faust intended the event to be the culmination of the entire series, something for the ending), Twilight has to grow up fast. No more playing in the treehouse, she has princess duties, and she can't go back. The Golden Oaks is ash... and roots hanging from her ceiling. Her personal life is over. Now she serves the Crown.

    That is some real, powerful stuff there. That is damn good writing for any show, not just a cartoon about ponies.

    And a word about that - cartoon. Cartoon about ponies. It's just a cartoon. It's only a cartoon. It's just a kid's show. It's for little girls. It doesn't have to make sense.

    Do you think that way? Fuck you. Seriously. You are an idiot.

    Animation is just one medium for expression. Just like live-action film, just like computer animation, just like text, just like books and audio drama and stage drama and every other form of creativity. Listen up: only idiots dismiss animation as being only for children, and only idiots imagine that things ostensibly written for children cannot also be written for adults too. Indeed, most classic English children's literature was written as much for the adults reading it to their children as it was to the children they read it to. That is what makes classics... classic. They speak to both adult and child together.

    My Little Pony should make sense. It should be deep. It should have meaning and worth and value. It should be intelligent and make sense. If not for the benefit of we adults, then for the benefit of children watching it. Don't underestimate children. Yes, there are some droolers out there, but there are also some reading at a college level in second grade, like me, and I suspect, many of you (I'm looking at you, fellow Bureau and Optimalverse authors!). Even the droolers do benefit from logical consistency in their media - things making sense.

    The notion that a cartoon doesn't have to make sense is horseshit. Bullshit is lies, horseshit is actually toxic lies... if you didn't know the difference.

    So, the big conclusion.

    I'm sicker than hell, still, and season five, so far, rocks. It rocks because it is returning to the reason we all fell in love with Friendship Is Magic in the first place - and that is solid characters, valid relationships, intelligent plots, and a consistent, amazing world worth suspending our disbelief for.

    If season five can keep this up, if it doesn't bellyflop into a big pit of stupid, then we may well have the best season since the first.

    Here's hoping that season five keeps up the rock-solid goodness of writing talent.

    It is my demand that the on-screen My Little Pony be at least as good as the writing I favor here. If it can't meet that level, then I have to wonder why the writers are 'professional' and getting paid at all.

    So far, this season, the writers are earning their dough.

    So far.

    - Petal Chatoyance

    April 15th, 2015

    52 comments · 550 views
  • 20w, 2d
    The State Of The Unicorn 2015

    44 comments · 648 views
  • 38w, 3d
    In Hell, There Are No Desks

    I'm typing this from my lap, on a new keyboard I am unused to. Had to get a new one, we couldn't connect my old keyboard - they don't make those ancient connectors anymore, and the cable needed is still in a box. Everything I own is in a box, and will be for the next three to four months at least.

    Hah! How the mighty have fallen, eh? Once I lived in a palatial home, now I have no room of my own. My world, for now, is the far corner of what - in a normal person's house - would likely be the 'living room'. The house is filled with hundreds of boxes, and no way to unpack them. Why? It's a little bit Sokoban, and a little bit 'guess what's in the box' and a little bit 'we are so fucked'.

    Intel got caught with their fingers in the European cookie jar, as you may recall, and they had to pay billions in fines. Worse, they got very complacent and ignored the rise of mobile computing entirely, so the pacific rim ate their lunch with cheap, easily modified, dedicated chips for consumer goods. Desperate to look good to stockholders, they did the usual American Capitalist Trick: fire most of the workers who actually do the work in a way that denies them any benefits or severance of any kind. Suddenly, without employees, they look great on paper!

    The way they did this is to announce that if one wanted to work for Intel any longer, one must move to the region around Portland, Oregon. Naturally, this meant that more that 75% of their employees in the divisions targeted would be screwed, and 'choose' to leave their jobs of their 'own volition', thus making their quitting their 'free choice' and thus ineligible for any benefits of any kind - the slackers! The losers! Stupid peasants with homes and communities and family obligations and relatives and lack of resources to move at the drop of a hat!

    It was evil, but damn clever. Force people to have to quit because moving is not possible for most people. Brilliant. Dirty as hell, of course, but cunning.

    That still left tens of thousands of people flooding into a fairly small region, Hillsboro. It was sheer luck we found an overpriced house at all - there is a huge bubble going on as folks gouge the hell out of the influx of Intel folks. House-flip-a-go-go! Gold rush!

    Bottom line? It is impossible to get a contractor to fix a house or turn a garage into a room. And that is a problem, you see, since the entire plan was to convert the garage into my room. For me to live in. That isn't happening. It's so massive an issue, that the guy that set up our internet? He is part of a small army of folks brought in from Colorado just to hook up internet here in Hillsboro. They're letting him go back to Colorado for a week to see his family, then it's another month of hooking up folks like us... the Intel Invasion. They don't have enough native cable guys here to do the job. Consider that.

    My family is hoping that maybe by October or November, it might be rainy and miserable enough that the contractors here might be unable to work outside - or unwilling to work outside - and it might be possible to get some to do interior work at last, and thus finally build me a room to live in. It's a hope, anyway.

    Until then, I am the empress of cardboard boxes that I can't get into... because there is no place to unpack them. I have six pieces of clothing, my shoes, my computer and monitor, my 360 and PS4, a chair, my toothbrush and the medicines I have to take, one garbage can, and my purse with my ipad in it. This is my world. This is my life. I am slowly going through some of the mis-labled boxes, checking them, resealing them, and writing their contents down (the packing crew did a random job, just insane) to find, well, things. More clothes to wear. Even one game for my PS4 to play. But, it's rough going - the house is chock-a-block with boxes. We were entirely depending on having my room done, so that my stuff could get unpacked, so there would be room to unpack other things. That isn't happening. We also expected that the boxes would be correctly labeled too. Nope.

    If I had thought, even for a moment, that everything would be lies and bullshit, and that it would all turn out to be a clusterfuck... I would have done some things differently.

    So, here is my big lesson to you, in case you have to move:

    Expect that nobody is telling the truth about anything, that everything will be fucked no matter what, and that nothing and no man can be trusted. Prepare accordingly: take enough stuff you need to live normally in the car with you, and don't let said stuff get packed up on the moving truck. Even if you have to make six or ten five hour trips back and forth to do it, do it. Keep what you need close to you. Because it will all go horribly wrong. When it does, you will have all of your necessities with you in your fortress of cardboard boxes, and you will be alright until things eventually become rational again.

    I didn't do the above, so now, for the next many months, I must peer at a monitor stacked on six shelf boards balanced on two incomplete drawer shells and type from my lap.

    Because, in hell, there are no desks.

    Anyway, we are in a new house, there is a lot wrong with it, but it will get fixed in time, and maybe in enough months, I will have a room again. And a surface to type on. (In the mean time, I am experimenting with using boards across my chair arms, tilted boards balanced on the edge of my monitor base, and pillows with boards on them as ways to get that 'desk feeling' back. Something will work, eventually. Surely.)

    When I get used to my new keyboard (this one is USB! Huzzah! I am finally in the new decade!) I will continue with my writing.

    So, for the too-long, didn't read crowd: I am down and (relatively) safe, the move is sort of over, and I am the empress of cardboard boxes, all hail me in my palace of cardboard!

    Lastly, thank you to everyone who has been so supportive and kind to me during this fairly awful situation. You are wonderful, and I am grateful for you.

    All hail Cardboardia!

    May your boxes never crush

    A land not unlike Minecraft

    Someday the toilets will flush

    All hail the Empress

    ensconced in cardboard wall

    one day the mythical contractors

    will build her unicorn stall

    All hail Cardboardia!

    who knows what's tucked inside?

    Intel and life and human greed

    will ever take us for a ride!

    When you gaze upon a cardboard box, remember: the empress gazes back at you. (No, she doesn't. She's too busy feeling sorry for herself. The stroppy bint.)


    - Petal Chatoyance

    40 comments · 724 views
  • 41w, 1d
    This week and the next is moving.

    And I am in hell.

    Please, Celestia, CelestA.I. - I want to emigrate to Equestria.

    30 comments · 541 views
  • 43w, 5h
    It looks like we have a house.

    A little update on my life, it looks like we have a house to move to.

    Over the past... however long... we have been negotiating for a home in the Portland area. Hillsborough. We are just about to sign - this weekend, actually - and then we will own a home about six minuted from the Intel campus.

    It will need a little work - in order to provide me with a roughly equivalent 'Uniplex' room - the common place where my family gets together to watch or play, and the place I do everything in - the garage will be turned into a finished room with a proper floor and insulation and nice walls and skylights and suchlike. A replacement Japanese soaking tub will take a little longer, but it is in the plans.

    The house we are getting has some upsides and some downsides. It has enough rooms for a polyamoric family of four, which is good - one thing we have learned about being in a group marriage is that having enough private space is really a vital thing. People need some alone time. So a house for us has to have places where family members can just isolate if they need to. Say to work on something without interruption, or even just to chill out.

    The house is quirky, which is good. It appears to have been several houses, in a way. A house that was built on, then built onto again. The stairs are crazy in it, short stairs mostly, but strange in placement because of the haphazard way the place sort of grew over time. It has a moderate yard in the back, decent for gardening in, and a very nice front yard with a mature cherry tree. Mmm. Cherries.

    On the negative side, it is not very isolated - it is in the middle of Spielbergian Suburbia. It is next to the distant outer yard of a gradeschool, hopefully that will not be too awful. We are not 'kids' people, and we don't like noise and screaming and people breeding all over the place. Also, there is an airport nearby, somewhere. We have no way to know if we are on a flightpath that will be hell to suffer under. I guess... we'll find out.

    I tried packing some of my little, fragile things, and I broke down in tears. It was also hard on my stamina. Ever since my heart attack about a decade ago, my stamina has not been great. I'm going to need help packing, a lot of it, and I'm not sure how that is going to work out yet.

    But... the plan is that in three weeks or so, I will be living in a new house. When the shit hits the fan, it happens fast.

    That is the update, for those that care.

    I will keep working on my novel with dedication, but because of circumstances, I cannot promise, nor hope to always manage a chapter a day. I am sorry. I hate this unfortunate fact. I was really hoping to perform like I used to. But... life. The real world always gets in the way of ponies, and that is why real life is always inferior! :derpytongue2:

    Oh, how I wish that the Bureau Mythos, my own Pony Singularity, or the Optimalverse was real.

    But then, I doubt I am alone in that.

    - Petal Chatoyance, July 25th, 2014

    28 comments · 390 views
  • 44w, 3d
    Error Correction

    16 comments · 349 views
  • 44w, 5d
    Adrift Off Fiddler's Green: a new story is coming!

    We have a lead on a house. If things work out, then we may own a new place to live by the end of the month.

    This has cheered me enough that one day, I woke up, and... I wasn't completely sad. I had some energy. I had just a little joy in me. The bright day wasn't shining with despair anymore. I almost felt happy.

    And what powers my ability to write is feeling joy. Even just a little.

    And that translates to:

    Adrift Off

    Fiddler's Green

    A     C o n v e r s i o n     B u r e a u     S t o r y

                                                                  By Chatoyance

    It's coming. The first chapter is even now going through approval. It's a sort-of follow up to HUMAN In Equestria, and sort of it's own novel. It stars, with permission, a reporter character courtesy of Midnight Shadow. Why? Because while it is trivial to just invent a character, using his newfoal 'Frontpage' from 'Midnight's Tail' makes me feel, just a little bit, like the old days, when I was part of a community of writers all sharing the same mythos in joy and friendship. That sort of feeling is precious.

    A note on HUMAN In Equestria. For months and months, it has sat there, unfinished, a blot on my perfect record of always finishing every story. So, I set out to finish it. That was my initial goal. But... stories have lives of their own. Stories are living things, and what happened was that in doing more chapters of HUMAN, I realized an astonishing thing.

    I had already finished the book perfectly ( just as some readers did, in fact, point out at the time ) and I had failed to notice it. Or believe it. I think I didn't want that particular ride to end, really. But... it is complete. The 'new chapters' proved that to me. The book had a perfect, happy ending, plus an epilogue that tied everything up. It was complete, I was just unwilling to admit it. Silly, stubborn me!

    So, now I had two chapters and no book to put them in.

    That is remedied as of now... or rather, when the new novel is greenlighted and online. Soon, I expect.

    Please look for it. I would love to tell you a story, if I may.

    A story of the deepest secrets of Equestria... like what it actually is, what the princesses (and Discord) truly are, and... the little issue of what happens in my Equestria after ponies... and other creatures... die.

    Because an event, with a little Snow Bunny, from HUMAN In Equestria, needs to be followed up.

    Because stories, have a life, of their own.

    I guess... I'm back!

    - Petal Chatoyance

      July 12, 2014

    34 comments · 851 views
  • 47w, 5d
    The State Of The Unicorn

    First, I want to say that I am sorry to my friends here, who worry for me. I've been very distant and closed-off for some time now, and I still am to a great degree... but maybe that needs to change just a little. My friend Midnight Shadow is courageous enough to talk about himself and his life here, so that is what inspired this blog post.

    I haven't wanted to say anything about my life currently, because of three reasons. One is that I don't want to be seen as a whiner. Another is that I am embarrassed by how messed up I am. And another is just pure and simple depression. Depression is pretty powerful.

    My family has to move. Some of you know that, because you have asked me during times when I had enough inside to respond at all. Moving is hard on anyone.

    For the past eleven years, I have lived in a marvelous, magnificent home. The only house I have ever liked, much less loved, in my life. I was under the belief that it would be the last house I would ever live in - that I could stay here until the day I died. The house is literally one-of-a-kind. It was a show-home for a failed housing development that failed.

    It likely failed because the houses were too nice.

    As I type this, I sit under massive golden beams of wood buttressing my twenty-five-foot high golden plank ceiling. Light streams in from the cathedral windows far, far near the top. In the morning, the light gleams off the solid wood and makes the entire, vast chamber glow with golden light. My room, my 'Uniplex' is thirty-some feet long by twenty wide, and every wall is shelves. I live in a library, only of games and promotional toys (I worked for many years in the software industry) like some game-designing Twilight Sparkle. And that is just my room. On the second floor, up the spiral staircase.

    We got it cheap, originally, because nobody wanted it. It was too weird for normal people. Seriously. Yes, the bathroom in my 'Uniplex' has no door, and just opens into the large gallery I am in. Yes, the walkway beyond my door overlooks the rest of the inside of the house like some catwalk within a mad-scientist's lair. Yes, the spiral staircase is like something out of a science-fiction show. And yes, there are no walls but that are covered solidly in shelves.

    It's perfect. I love it. Our family are readers. Those shelves are filled with the massive book collections of four people - me, and my three spouses.

    I live in a library house.

    And I have to lose it.

    The one thing I have always wanted, my entire life, was a permanent home. I had to move every three to six months, growing up, because of my father. He made maps for the USGS. Supposedly. It's a weird story. Another time. I never got to have friends I didn't lose, I was lonely all the time, it sucked.

    Finally, I have a permanent home, at fifty, and now we have to move. To Oregon.

    I was born in Oregon, and I hate it. Loathe it. Despise the state. Admittedly, I only knew eastern Oregon: desert-y, dry, filled with uneducated, narrow-minded conservative, racist bastards who hate everything I love and admire. Had to deal with it every summer, because my mother owned a house in Baker City. It was the only island of security in my constant moving, and I despised it.

    We're moving to the Portland area, which I am told, is nice. It's supposed to be 'Seattle Light': liberal, educated, tech-savvy, queer positive, ethnically diverse - everything I like. The problem is that we are not alone.

    The reason we have to move is Intel. Intel, the big chip maker (Intel Inside!) made a few stupid moves. They got caught being Microsoft in Europe, buying freedom from competition with payola and ended up fined 1.7 billion dollars. Also, they've somehow managed to overlook how big, universal, monolithic processors for desktop computers aren't the market anymore... and that kinda means they're currently boned. Long story short: they have to get rid of two thirds of their workforce, and they don't want to pay unemployment to anyone.

    The answer? Make everybody who works for them move to Portland... or, well, it's your choice if you want to keep working. Brilliant! Screw everyone legally! America! What a country!

    And it's going well. They expect to lose 70% of their employees, which will look great on the bottom line. All over the country, though, thousands of people are nevertheless moving to Portland. We have to compete with them. All of them. Thousands, streaming into the areas outside of Portland, small areas, the only areas within commute distance of Intel.

    Additionally, Chinese nationals are currently buying up Portland real estate to get their money out of China fast. We lost one house because just such a person came in with a big suitcase full of money and bought the house we were negotiating for - for a 100,000 dollars over the asking price. They took the case. Of money.

    We can't match that kind of bullshit!

    Portland is three hours from where we live. This has to be done.

    We can't find a house we can afford. The prices are insane now. Big housing bubble because of all of this. We can't buy land to build our own house for the same reason. We've been trying since September of last year. The only rental houses are tiny, cramped, piss-pots that we can't fit into without ending up killing each other. But we have no choice. We have to move.

    By this upcoming September. Not much time left.

    Tomorrow, we drive down, yet again, to check out some unlikely properties - some blank lots, formerly farmland, without sewer, water, or power... and two houses, one located near a sawmill, the other on the runway of an airport. That is how desperate things are getting.

    And I sit here, in my dream home, the home I love, the perfect home, which I was promised I could live in for the rest of my life, the home I will lose. Forever.

    In my polyamoric family, I am the center. I am the lynchpin, the hetaera, the earthmother who holds it together. I comfort my spouses, I nurture them, I kiss their boo-boos, I listen to their pain. That's my position. It is where I fit best, and I am glad of it, and it is an honor. I am the uberwife. It is a sacred thing.

    But, it is also a very demanding thing. I am everybody's comfort. But there is no comfort for me. I can't unload, I can't break down, I can't fail, because if I collapse, everything goes to shit. Seriously, it's happened before - once when my mother died. I just fell apart and so did everything else nearly. Only love kept us together. I herd creative, superintelligent, incredibly driven cats for a living, you see. Without a cat herder... well.

    I am vastly well rewarded for an uberwife - don't feel sorry for me on that account. I get all the goodstuff. No complaints there.

    It's just that, when things are really tough on everyone, when everyone is openly talking about how tasty a cup of cyanide would be right about now? It's hard. Normally I manage to repair myself, keep myself functioning. That's part of the reason I am what I am in my family. But when it gets this bad... I'm not doing well right now. That's the fact of it. I am not doing well at all.

    It's been a hard past two years - two of my spouses nearly died from super-resistant bacteria. One from a burrito, the other from a swimming pool, but in both cases, these people I love more than my own life came within hours of dying. One involved blood everywhere, from every orifice. Everywhere. So much blood.

    Don't eat at Taco Time. I mean it. And don't swim at the YWCA.

    Then, of course, there was the matter of the Anti-TCB bastards here, destroying my entire genre, then dividing and conquering my writing community - turning many of those I thought my friends against me to save themselves... and ultimately, breaking me. I come here, to Fimfiction, to find safety, community, relief, and friendship. What a maroon, right? What a fucking idiot, right? Am I right? Love and tolerate. Yeah. Sure.

    So, I am very damaged, yet it is a time when I am most needed. I am failing. I am falling apart. And I can't, because I have a job to do. I need to be there for my family. And I am doing my best, but... I am not doing well. At all.

    The best case scenario, currently, is that we find a house we can stand, somehow, and don't take too much of a financial catastrophe to buy it. If we even can.

    We may end up renting a crappy place and living out of boxes for the one to three years it will take for the bubble to burst. Then maybe we can buy a house.

    We may, if we are very lucky, manage to buy a chunk of unloved, reject farm land, and over time, develop it. Septic tanks and a well. Get power in somehow. Literally buy the farm.

    But whatever happens, it is going to be a move down. Way down. Downscale. And that hurts, real bad, after thirty years of working our asses off to have something decent, finally, after all the suffering and struggle.

    My spouses are hurting really bad about this. They are utterly raw. That's why I have to be there. Mommy Jenny, keeping the family going. It is literally my honor. I am grateful to be such, to such wonderful people.

    But... I am not doing well.

    And that's where I am at, and why I have been so weird lately, so distant, so... unapproachable. It's why I won't skype, or answer emails easily. It's hard just to talk to anyone. It's hard, some days, just to keep breathing. Marvin, from Hitchhiker's is too upbeat for me right now. Bloody party robot.

    Well, I've embarrassed myself enough for one blog. Big shithead whinger I am. Whine, whine, whine. "Oh, all I've worked for these thirty years is all going to be lost forever! Oh poor me!" I know, there is no pity on the internet. Only hate, spite, trolls and loathing. And of course 'First World Problem, Chatoyance, losing your home! Some people don't even have homes! Fuck you! Go live in a car, you misanthropic cunt!' Oh, yeah, I expect that too.

    But not from everyone, and not from you. Not from you, the ones that still bother to read my blog.  

    So, anybody know a brilliant home under 350K in the Portland area within 30 minutes of Intel that could house four people? 3 1/2 bathrooms, maybe some space for gardening, no need for proximity to schools or anything else breeders need? A big, big room to use as an Uniplex? Three bedrooms, two offices, kitchen, garage, and utilities room?


    Yeah, I know. It's okay. Hey, I'm only fifty-four. I can always just... start over. Even despite my heart condition, I probably still have almost twenty years left.

    Do a lot in twenty years. Yeah. A lot.

    Like I said. I'm not doing well.


    So, that's the story. Now you know.

    And knowing is half the battle. The other half involves bullets and explosions. And Michael Bay.

    And a goat.

    - Chatoyance, June 21st, 2014

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  • 103w, 3d
    Online Abuse On Fimfiction, part four of four.

    The Story Of My Leaving

    By Chatoyance

    You who follow my work here on Fimfiction may be curious about the circumstances of my leaving. I left abruptly, and without explanation. I would like to correct that.

    In short, I left because I felt heartbroken. I had been the focus of organized online and offline harassment and bullying because of my Conversion Bureau stories, but this was not the main reason for my flight from Fimfiction.

    What was the final blow for me was the betrayal of some of those who I considered dear friends and allies, as well as the failure of the Fimfiction management. It was possible to nearly cope with the constant abuse so long as I felt support from those I trusted. But when some of my trusted friends failed to back me up or stand with me in a time of trouble, when some even joined with those who were abusing me, that was simply too much.

    During the worst of the harassment directed against me, I received multiple death threats, countless letters and messages of hatred and insult, constant downvote abuse that rendered my own posts silenced, and in the real world suffered targeted denial of service attacks against my family servers and mailservers, as well as hacking attempts, some successful and quite destructive.

    All of these attacks came with proxy-anonymized messages of hate and insult, directed personally at me, from members of the Anti-Conversion Bureau. They claimed the attacks were specifically because of my Conversion Bureau stories, and the stated goal was to force me to quit writing. It was an organized, orchestrated, ongoing assault that affected my family and myself.

    The abuse began in the March of 2012.

    Until that time, for a full year, I had enjoyed the most joyful and wonderful creative period of my entire fifty-three years of life. Better than my entire software career working for companies like Activision and Electronic Arts, more enjoyable than my second career helping to develop and run one of the first, and most successful games websites at the beginning of the internet. More fun that my third career as a cartoonist. It was the happiest year of my life, in terms of creative expression.

    I needed such a happy creative outlet because it was also a year of fear and near tragedy. Two of my spouses nearly died from terrible infections, one lost her esophagus from food poisoning, another nearly perished from a seemingly unstoppable kidney infection. Only last-resort antibiotics barely saved their lives. The single thing that kept me going during this nightmare was writing my stories. There were times the only bright thing in my life was the camaraderie of my fellow Conversion Bureau authors, and the support of my fully engaged readers. That kept me afloat, and able to help my spouses.

    While this year of online joy and real-world horror went on, a group of young men on a wargaming forum called ‘forums.spacebattles.com’ decided they were deeply upset that anyone was writing about the Conversion Bureau universe. They seemed to feel that the mere existence this fiction somehow threatened their own beloved fantasies of power-suited supermen killing aliens in bloody, nightmarish wars. They ranted and raved about how anyone could write stories where humans would willingly become aliens, rather than kill aliens.

    This caused so much trouble that they were asked by their own community to leave.

    So it was that in March of 2012 this same small group of wargamers joined Fimfiction and immediately began attacking the Conversion Bureau authors. Naturally they attacked the most prolific author preferentially, and that author was me.

    In short order they attracted a following (the internet loves a gang-up), pulling in people from many other places on the internet and worked to create what amounted to a hate group - the Anti-Conversion Bureau Group (now renamed as the ‘Alternative Conversion Bureau’ as an escape from censure by the moderators). The attacks increased as inflaming posts and angry diatribes encouraged collective violence against the authors of the Bureau stories, and very specifically me. It was calculated online terrorism, and it naturally just got worse and worse.

    I, having no concept of the scale of the attack, did my best to ask those that persecuted me to stop. I suggested that if they did not like my stories, that there were thousands of other stories to turn to. I begged them to simply not read my work.

    But they were not there to read pony stories. These bullies were very clear - they had come purely to silence all of the Conversion Bureau authors, destroy the Bureau genre itself, and - because I was prolific, to especially silence me. The reason for the attack? They did not personally approve of such stories, and since they did not approve, such stories should not exist for anyone.

    They were wargamers. The campaign they launched was carefully architected and carried out, and in the end caused many authors to abandon Fimfiction, including myself.

    I begged the moderators to help. I begged the site owner, Knighty, to help. I provided concrete proof of the abuse directed towards me. A weak, ineffective effort was made to deal with the most egregious of the growing group of bullies, but in the end, nothing real came of it. There was no follow-through whatsoever.

    Evil, true evil, is always a matter of institutionalization. For harassment and abuse to exist, those with power and authority must turn a blind eye and a deaf ear. Through failure to actively protect those within their care, authority offers tacit approval of abuse. Through thoughtless coding of features, programmers make abuse easy, and thus unintentionally encouraged.

    Despite clear examples of blatant abuse and real-world attacks, the moderators failed to confront and stop the abuse, and ultimately Knighty - who barely made a token effort to deal with the bullies and their hate group - failed everyone.

    But the final blow came when many of those I considered my friends - those who I had shared my glorious year of joyful creative fellowship with - either silently ignored the ongoing attacks, or blatantly caved in and chose submission to the abusers, rather than to work together to oppose them. By then, I had become essentially the sole focus of attacks, yet only a handful of people stood by me.

    You only know the true character of a friend by what they actually bother to do when you are under attack.

    Management would not help. Many of my former friends on Fimfiction remained uselessly silent or joined the bullies. Eventually several of those who had courageously stood with me became so hurt that they simply had to leave - in disgust, in grief, in sadness.

    Then I too, seeing their wisdom, also left.

    No truly sane or decent person ever abuses or harasses another person.

    That so many people were driven to gang up to destroy a genre of fiction and the authors that wrote it is not a sane, or a decent, or a kind, or a good thing. It is worse that Knighty and the moderators of Fimfiction effectively stood by and let it happen. All evil requires is that good men do nothing, or in this case, little.

    In the aftermath, the leaders of the original attack have consolidated their victory. They have begun a widespread effort to delete the bulk of their own vicious and threatening postings from Fimfiction, and the scars left behind by this mass deletion are easy to see. Only the responses to these vile and sometimes frightening attacks remain, ghostly quotations merely hinting at the truly terrible threats and slander now purposefully deleted.

    The victors write the history books, and an effort is ongoing to make the creative authors of the Conversion Bureau out to be the aggressors - especially me. That this is ludicrous should be obvious with even the simplest thought about it. The very notion that a creative person, busy writing stories to an appreciative audience, could somehow magically force dozens of people to join a website so that they could then be attacked is utterly insane. That a happy, content author with many fans has any reason to cause trouble to anyone is beyond credibility.

    That one little author of pony stories could be the aggressor against over four-hundred members of a group dedicated to eliminating that author and her choice of genre? It beggars the imagination. Yet this is their Big Lie.

    It is always the behavior of bullies that they paint their victims as deserving harassment, and ultimately being to blame for their own abuse. Apparently, I dressed provocatively.

    It is beyond silly, of course, but this is the story that is being crafted, and the bigger the lie, and the more often it is repeated, the more people will believe it. Already, some people on Fimfiction are actually falling for this ridiculous revisionism, simply because it is all they hear, it is not being challenged - as it should be - and it is not something that is being thought about at all.

    No person should ever be harassed, or bullied or attacked online. Abuse and harassment should be challenged at every appearance, friends should stand together to oppose harassment, and all should demand that the management of a website aggressively and universally protect and defend its users from abuse - both by action in the moment, and by website design that eliminates the abuse of tools that permit harassment, and the provision of working tools for users to protect themselves.

    I was terribly harassed, yet only a few true souls tried to defend me. The management failed me utterly at every level, and the structure of the site itself is easily abused to cause harm.

    This is why I left Fimfiction.


    Petal Chatoyance, 2013

    (Jennifer Diane Reitz)

    The Complete Abuse On Fimfiction Blog Series

    Quick Links to previous parts

    Part One: Abuse, why, how and how to cope

    Part Two: My letter To Knighty

    Part Three: What you can do to help things

    86 comments · 2,824 views
  • 103w, 4d
    Online Abuse On Fimfiction, part three of four.

    What You Can Do To Make Fimfiction A Safer Place

    By Chatoyance

    You’ve now read about the story of my departure from Fimfiction, how and why bullying was possible here, and the letter I sent Knighty to explain how he can protect you from what happened to me.

    It isn’t safe here, I am not a special snowflake, and what happened to me can absolutely also happen to you. You may be next. If not you, then someone you care about here. That should not happen, it is wrong.

    So, what can you do to protect yourselves?

    The emotional self-protection advice within the Online Abuse article is helpful I believe, but to make Fimfiction a decent, safe place to write in, Fimfiction itself needs to change. The changes are simple, easy, and only require that Knighty and the moderators choose to bother with them.

    At least some - preferably all - of the items listed below need to be implemented for your protection, and only a strong and unyielding demand from the user base can hope to have this happen. If you want some tiny degree of protection from harassment, you need to make sure Knighty and the mods hear this need loudly, clearly, and unceasingly until something is done. It seems clear that no one person can convince Knighty that the need for basic user protections is both important and needful. Some or all of the following - or something equally powerful - desperately needs to be applied to Fimfiction:  

    First, all tools and components that can be easily used to cause abuse to others, or which create an atmosphere of contention and conflict must be eliminated. Primary among these is the comment erasing, easily abused downvote button - it is unnecessary, contrary to the spirit of pony fiction, and automatically pits users against each other. If there must be a way to vote on a story, all that is required is an upvote. Say something nice, or say nothing at all.

    The worst abuse an upvote alone is capable of is slightly inflated popularity, and that, really, hurts nobody.

    Secondly, the blocks on others made by a user should automatically carry over when they create a group. The user blocking choices of the founder of a group should also determine who may belong or not, and if they have blocked someone, that choice should inform the groups they create. This permits the existence of safe spaces. Deletion of comments within a group should be fixed, it currently does not work at all much of the time.

    Thirdly, some proof of identity should be demanded by Fimfiction with each account to prevent the endless creation of sock-puppet accounts for purposes of abuse and harassment. The identity of users does not need to be open to the public, and should not be open to the public - but it should be clearly understood that those in charge of Fimfiction know who the users are, and that users will be held accountable for their actions on the site.  

    Lastly, the moderators should proactively and robustly enforce anti-harassment and anti-bullying policy, that policy should be clearly stated with clear rules and definitions, and those seen to be harassing others should be severely dealt with. Additionally, groups formed solely for the purpose of harassment and hate should not be tolerated to exist at all. When found, they, and all members of such groups, should be promptly and severely dealt with.

    In short, a standard and functional anti-harassment policy should be completely followed through with, and harassment of any kind should not be tolerated in the least.

    How do we make this happen?

    The only way to make these changes happen is to convince Graeme Pollard, ‘Knighty’, the creator/programmer of Fimfiction to take real and useful action with regard to them.

    This means you need to write to him, and explain that you want these safety measure to be implemented, that reducing bullying matters to you, and that there is a problem here, and it needs to be solved.

    Write to Graeme (Knighty) at:


    or PM him from his user page, or post directly on his user page, here:


    What else can you do?

    Never tolerate bullying or harassment. Report it and demand a response when you see it - even if it is not directed at you. Especially if it is not directed at you - protect your community, protect your friends.

    If someone is being bullied and harassed, stand by them. Support them. Defend them. Remain loyal and true to anyone being attacked, and always stand united against every bully. If you side with those who commit harassment or encourage harassment, then you are just the same. You are a bully too. Always protect and defend those who are being hurt. Demand protection - and results - from management when harassment happens to anyone.

    Always remember that there is no excuse for bullying. Bullying is not ‘free speech’, it is not ‘criticism’ it is not ‘teaching’ it is not ‘calling someone on their bullcrap’ - it is an assault, it is wrong, and there is no excuse for it. If a post is not kind, if a post is not civil, then do not tolerate it. Shut down any attempt to put forward the notion that abuse is ever justified by any reason whatsoever. If it cannot be said kindly, then it should not be said. Incivility is abuse. You create the culture you live in by what level of behavior you tolerate. Bullies must not be tolerated.

    If someone bullies you, do not respond. Block, delete and report. A bully is beneath you, they are not worth your time or feeling.

    It is easy to spot any bully - if they are trying to silence someone, frighten someone, or make someone feel bad about themselves or their creative work, they are a bully. There is no excuse for behaving like that. Creativity should be encouraged, and if a comment makes you feel bad about yourself or your work, then that comment is bad. Real teaching is kind and helpful, real criticism is kind and helpful, and it is absolutely possible to discuss any subject in a supportive, kind way.

    If things are not civil, if they are not polite, if they are not kind, you are under attack.

    Demand a safe, civil environment!


    The Story Of My Leaving - the conclusion of this series.

    65 comments · 1,530 views
  • 103w, 4d
    Online Abuse On Fimfiction, part two of four.

    My Letter to Graeme Pollard(Knighty)

    email: knight33@gmail.com


    Hello, Graeme!

    I’m Jennifer Reitz, (Chatoyance on Fimfiction) and I wanted to write to you about programming with regard to Fimfiction. You probably know me as the writer who was harassed into leaving. Rather than being angry, I'd like to help the situation as it stands.

    In the 80’s, before I founded my own little software company - Accursed Toys, Inc. - I worked for many companies. There was a saying at the time among designers, like myself, and programmers too, that ‘The Interface IS The Game’. This is fairly common sense - the entire possibility set which a user has available to them in any program is circumscribed by the interface they use.

    But interface is far more than a set of command options. Interface defines and creates user experience, and in a social context, as with a social website, interface directly shapes user culture.

    Humans Can Be Programmed

    Human behavior is programmed and shaped in countless deliberate ways, and any given culture - from that of the men of a military boot camp to the tone and attitude of a classroom - is, optimally, deliberately shaped and created to serve a defined goal. When social behavior is not shaped and defined, people become confused about what is expected of them, they often fall to a lowest common denominator of behavior, and chaos ultimately ensues. Social environments can be programmed through the choices of those creating them.

    Fimfiction is a social environment.

    Options Are A Form Of Communication

    In any computer game, the tone, emotion, and feeling of the work are defined not just by the graphics or the music or the characters, such human matters are also created by the possibility set available to the player. In any situation, be it physical interaction or online interaction, mood and feeling are likewise defined by the chosen set of allowed actions.

    The Three Choices

    In any program, game or website, everything that matters to the user ultimately reduces to choice. From an emotional standpoint, there are three types of choices: Antagonistic, Amicable, and Neutral.

    A Neutral choice is purely functional. Selecting a font, choosing to save or load, these choices are tools and carry no social power in and of themselves.

    An Antagonistic choice is one where the user is pitted in some fashion against another user, or a perceived opponent real or computer controlled. Antagonistic choices generate conflict, upset, and drama, but also excitement. Antagonistic choices promote tribalism, infighting, and a social contract of warfare.

    An Amicable choice is one where the user cooperates with other users or adds to a growing body of mutual choices. Amicable choices promote fellowship, civility, and a social contract of mutuality.

    Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down

    The use of tools to express opinion within a social space is useful and common, but how such tools are implemented has a tremendous effect upon the emotional character of such a space.

    The use of a ‘Thumb Up To Approve, Thumb Down To Disapprove’ option instantly introduces conflict. It is an Antagonistic choice set. Users comprehend the tone of their online social environment through the possibility set provided them. Websites that wish to generate conflict and drama provide means by which users can polarize themselves into opposing tribes and groups. Fighting and turmoil is a natural result as these means are utilized. For a website about Klingon Fandom within Star Trek, for example, the use of an ‘Up Dagger’ and a ‘Down Dagger’ would be expected. Klingons are warriors, and opposition is their nature.

    Friendship Is Choices

    For a website defined by values of cooperation, tolerance, and compassion, conflict choices would generate a culture at odds to the subject matter. The options provided to a user within a program define their experience, more than this, the available set of options defines mood, tone and the emotional feeling of the user.

    In the case of Fimfiction, the choice to provide both ‘thumbs up’ and ‘thumbs down’ is an antagonistic choice set. It communicates opposition and encourages dispute and discordance, conflict and tribalism. It is in opposition to the milieu of My Little Pony. That it can also be abused to entirely erase the posts of users only enhances this effect. The result is bullying and social warfare.

    By constraining the possibility set to limit user actions to only those things that are desired or which are appropriate to the subject matter, online culture is defined and reinforced.

    Eliminating all oppositional choices creates a shared culture. It is a form of communication, of programming, which instinctively defines to the user what is expected by what is possible.

    Eliminating any such choice as ‘Thumbs Down’ would go far towards silently, elegantly shaping the user culture of Fimfiction. Leaving only ‘Thumbs Up’ allows expression of opinion, but places the emphasis entirely on positive, shared, cooperative attitudes. The user can chose to go out of their way to show support - ‘say something nice’ - or refrain from support - ‘or don’t say anything at all’. This unconsciously promotes civil behavior without having to say a single word.

    The single worst possible abuse that could be made of a purely ‘Thumbs Up’ system would be that a group of dedicated superfans might over-praise a given work. This is not any kind of problem, and if anything, encourages users to behave in ways that garner positive feelings.

    Covering The Socket-Outlets

    Every option, tool, or selection offered to a user should be considered through the filter of “How could a truly vicious person abuse this?” While only a small percentage of people are likely to abuse a given system to hurt others or to cause trouble, the damage a single determined user can do to even a large social group is great. Essentially, the interface to any program, especially software designed to create a social environment, requires child-proofing.

    While some web sites thrive on interpersonal and group conflict - such as the defunct Portal Of Evil, or Encyclopedia Dramatica and 4-chan - their membership is limited to a small subset of possible online users.

    Fimfiction appeals to a much larger potential audience, one that includes the very young to the very old. If a large participation is desired, all design should optimally exist to reduce conflict, encourage civility and mutuality, and generate emotions of welcoming and safety. This is the tack taken by successful commercial websites, such as those owned by Disney, Nintendo and others. A safe, civil environment provides the greatest possibility of a maximal audience.

    No Room For Hate

    When I, and many others, were singled out for harassment because of our participation on Fimfiction, it was a very traumatic experience. Many highly productive writers dedicated to helping and supporting other writers have fled entirely, myself included. Initially, I will honestly say that I desired nothing less than bloody retribution. Such feelings are precisely what are not useful or optimal for a My Little Pony website to generate. There are ways to prevent such harassment before it begins, through website design alone, such as shown in the ‘Thumbs Up’ example.

    But sometimes it is absolutely necessary to impose culture, and in doing so, the best model is one of effective parenting.

    An effective parent sets rules and boundaries, clearly states the consequences of breaking those rules and boundaries, and then fully and completely follows through with imposing those consequences should the rules be broken.

    The single greatest failure a parent or leader can make is to fail to follow through completely when imposing consequences. At best the parent or leader is seen as weak and ineffective, at worst they are seen as complicit in the breaking of the rules by all concerned, especially those actually breaking the rules themselves.

    Human beings (of any age) operate under a base assumption that whatever is not forbidden is allowed. If someone in charge is ignores violations, then the assumption is that permission has been tacitly given.

    This happened with regard to the contentious Anti-TCB hate group. When it was deleted, it was immediately restored, the members believing that the entire deletion had been a software glitch or accident.

    If a leader or parent figure weakly imposes consequences, then they are perceived as weak and easily manipulated, or they are seen as tacitly supporting those they are dealing with.

    This also is true with regard to the Anti-TCB group (now the Alternative TCB Group), who express, openly, just these thoughts. The rule was not harass others, and they now conform to appearing to not openly harass anyone. This is not the same as ceasing destructive behavior. Since no real consequence came of their actions, and since nothing was clearly defined or said with regard to their actions, their reasonable assumption is that they can get away with anything so long as it is not overt.

    I should note that I, and others, are still being harassed even after leaving entirely.

    When faced with clearly destructive, antagonistic behavior within a social environment, it is necessary to reiterate a clear and firm statement of policy followed by fully followed through consequences. This is the only way to establish order, which is why it is the established methodology of human history. Partial efforts, weak warnings and failing to deal with a problem only leads to endless troubles in the long term.

    This can be seen most clearly in children raised by ineffective parents.

    You Are The Parent, You Are The Programmer

    You own Fimfiction. You are seen, rightfully, as the leader, the authority, the parent, who defines the rules and tone of the website. This is true whether or not you desire such responsibility, because primates naturally desire an authority figure - a grayback - to establish order. Your behaviors and actions towards your users are a form of programming. Even as you program the code of the website, your communication with your users programs the society your website collects. You program your user base through what you say and do, and how you construct your interface. Neither side can be neglected, or all falls into some degree of malfunction.

    Parenting is simply hacking children into proper social function. To run a social environment - such as a forum website - optimally, it is required that you act the role expected of you, which is that of a leader, a grayback, a parent. Your users are your children, and your actions and pronouncements - or lack thereof - determine what they become.

    I encourage you to think carefully about what kind of social environment you actually want to create with regard to Fimfiction. Do you want a contentious society filled with grief and harassment, a place where users - especially the young, the vulnerable, the creative and sensitive - feel unwelcome, endangered or threatened?

    Do you want Fimfiction to be a place where the greatest number of people, of all ages and temperaments, gather to celebrate My Little Pony with creativity and mutual support?

    You have the power to construct, to program, either possibility, and in fact you are already doing so. Your every choice and action - or inaction - accomplishes precisely this.

    My experience of Fimfiction, as well as the experience of many others, is that Fimfiction is increasingly becoming a typical internet place of abuse and harassment. This is inevitable, as any website grows in population, unless strong and considered action is taken to deliberately shape the culture as it develops.

    One tool is through the options presented to the user - what they can and cannot do, and how any given tool or gadget can be abused, or how abuse is prevented, or made irrelevant.

    Another tool is by treating the users as your own and parenting them effectively, making what is permissible clear, and what is not allowed even more clear, and then following robustly and implacably through with any corrective action. No second chances, no wheedling out of anything, no weakness.

    To respond correctively to a breach of law is to keep a promise - to fail to do so is to have one’s words and authority forever considered questionable. Failing to follow through is how parents lose control of their children, and how children go bad.

    it is also how social websites become nightmare places of abuse and incivility that push users away.


    Thank you for listening to me, for hearing me out.

    During my time on Fimfiction, I had one of the best years of my entire life. For a single year, I felt part of a supportive, intelligent, clever group of writers all sharing a mythos in common. I wrote some 800,000 words, possibly some of the best writing of my life. The experience of camaraderie and shared creativity got me through some terrible real-life events: Two of my spouses (I live in a polyamory, or group marriage) nearly died, the victims of MRSA and foodborne infections. They survived, barely, but the trauma of these horrific events brought me desperately low. Only writing my Conversion Bureau stories, and feeling part of the Fimfiction community kept me able to function during that time.

    When the Anti-TCB began its attacks upon me, my family, and our servers and property, it destroyed for me the single greatest emotional escape and support I had in my life outside of my own endangered family. I miss writing for my Fimfiction fans more than I can adequately express. But as long as Fimfiction remains combative and hate groups remain, I feel excluded and forced away.

    I know I am not alone in that feeling.

    I am told that you care about such matters as these, but simply are unsure what to do about them. My wish, in writing this to you, is to offer some idea of effective strategies you can use to make Fimfiction a safe and inclusive place with no room for hate within it. I would find it difficult to imagine that you would wish it to be a place of anger and abuse.

    I believe there are several things that can be done immediately to sculpt the society of the Fimfiction users.

    One is to reexamine the site interface and shed any option or gadget that permits the abuse of others. My first choice would be the ‘Down Thumb’, to remove it universally. The ‘Up Thumb’ is a benefit, alone.

    Another thing that would help would be to make sure that users can block others in - all - cases, and that the blocking choices of a user who starts a group are transferred to that group automatically.

    The establishment of a clear and precisely defined policy against harassment should be made highly accessible and obvious, and it should be enforced with robust and implacable determination and effect. The trusted Moderators should be given the tools to enforce the policy, and encouraged to take action swiftly and definitively. It should be made clear there is absolutely zero tolerance of harassment, hate groups and bullying, and that all users are expected to treat each other with great respect. To be effective, there can be no weakness in this. (I myself have used all of these methods in our own websites over the years to absolute effect. They work.)

    For the future, I would offer that it would be wise to consider the development of Fimfiction, and any other social websites you may create, in terms of what functions of both interface and policy are needed in order to create the exact social structure you desire. Define the kind of society you wish to create as part of the process of programming the whole. Hack the social environment - it is an extension of the function of your code, if you think about it.

    With respect - and hope,

    Jennifer Diane Reitz (Chatoyance)


    I have never received a response.

    Do you agree with any of this? You can make it happen, you know. Just demand it loudly enough, for long enough.


    What You Can Do To Make Fimfiction A Safer Place

    47 comments · 1,235 views
  • 103w, 5d
    Online Abuse On Fimfiction, part one of four.

    I have returned to acquire the text of my unpublished, seventh chapter of ‘I.D. - That Indestructible Something’. While I am briefly here, I might as well make a statement. Here then is the beginning of a four- part blog series regarding the events of my leaving, and the problems inherent to Fimfiction itself.

    Online Abuse

    How to understand it   -   Why it happens   -   How to deal with it

    By Chatoyance

    Welcome to Fimfiction. You will be bullied and harassed.

    The fault is not yours, you are not to blame, neither do you deserve it. You may be bullied in small ways, with insults or having your comments obliterated by downvotes. You may be privately messaged vile things and you well may have lies and slanders repeated against you. Your attackers will try to make you feel small, make you feel that you are at fault, or that you have no right to create, or to even live.

    How can this even happen?

    The reason it can happen is because the website, Fimfiction itself, allows it to happen. Evil, real evil, is an institutional matter. It can only exist when it is permitted to exist. For evil to occur, all it takes is those in power turning a blind eye and ignoring things. What allows you to be attacked is the management and programming of Fimfiction itself.

    The first, and most obvious problem is posting anonymity. Complete anonymity inevitably leads to some degree of bullying and harassment. Websites that require valid personal identification when creating accounts on them have vastly fewer incidents of abuse, and should abuse occur, the perpetrators are more easily dealt with either by the website management, or by legal authorities. Anonymity breeds contempt of others by creating a feeling of total freedom from responsibility. Simply knowing that the website owner has true knowledge of user identity can stop a great deal of abuse. This is a major reason why professionally run forums, such as those run by corporate entities, always demand personal identification on signup.

    There are many ways an online environment can either prevent, or promote bullying and harassment. Every tool and gadget will be used for harm by evil people, if it can be, and the social tone of an environment is determined by what is possible within that environment. One particularly egregious example of this can be found in nothing more than the ‘thumbs up/ thumbs down’ voting system. It is by design intrinsically contentious - it pits people against each other.

    The creator of Fimfiction, Graeme Pollard (Knighty), has chosen to create an environment where it is possible to downvote comments into invisibility. This means that voting can be used as a weapon, one with no defense against it. The same downvote can be used to make your story socially unacceptable, to silence and censor you. There is no way to block this attack and there is no recourse. The moderators will not help you, Knighty will not help you. This is just one way the website itself socially programs for contention and emotional violence.

    Your power to block and delete the written attacks of those who would hurt you is limited and often faulty. Strangely, it is implemented in such a way as to make your deletions - when they work - leave traces, which in a social context makes you look bad for protecting yourself.

    If you form a group on Fimfiction, to create a safe space, your own block list will not keep out those who want to harass you. You will have to individually block your attackers all over again, while they harass you for it. You may find it impossible to delete their posts. You may need to close your group entirely, and only admit people one-by-one, vastly limiting who will choose to bother to join. And even with this tactic, your own comments and posts, within your own private group, can be downvote-bombed into oblivion with no recourse, and no hope of help.

    Worst of all, the administrator and owner do not follow through when problems arise. Through inattention, thoughtless programming choices and indifference to online harassment, Fimfiction itself supports bullying.

    Thus, when bullies harass you here, it is not your fault, you are not to blame. The fault lies with the institution, the fault lies with the programmer, Graeme Pollard, and the moderators who serve him. Bullies will always take advantage of the tools and circumstances available to them, and abuse the system as it exists. It is up to the site creator to prevent such abuses rigorously through programming choices based on understanding of the reality of online harassment.

    This is how to understand what is happening to you. You are being bullied because harassment is intrinsically allowed to occur, when it could easily be made virtually impossible. You could be given strong tools to protect your space. To delete cleanly. The existence of easily abused downvotes could be eliminated. The owner and moderators could take the issue of harassment seriously and end it through site programming and strong, proactive action.

    Fimfiction is about pony fiction. The ideal is ‘love and tolerance’. The line you are given is that harassment will not be tolerated. These are illusions.

    You are bullied because the institution itself physically, programmatically, permits your harassment to occur, and because the owner and moderators do not consider the issue worth real, firm action.

    Understanding this, you can easily grasp how abuse can happen here.

    Why you?

    Your attackers will have many reasons to justify their abusive behavior. All of these reasons will revolve around you, what you write, what you think, what you are. In every case, it is all lies.

    Bullies and abusers are broken human beings. No decent, sane, good person would ever wish to harass another person. The attacks against you have nothing to do with you. If the cause truly was your writing or words, those harassing you could chose to go read something, anything else. There are thousands of authors and stories on Fimfiction to choose from. The bullies lie. It is not your words, or your stories, or your ideas, or your self that is the reason you are being attacked.

    The reason you are being attacked is because those harassing you are dysfunctional. It could be that they are too emotionally immature - regardless of their physical age - to grasp that they are doing something wrong. They could have had very inept parents who failed to teach them civil behavior. They could have endured parents who abused them, and they learned abuse as a way of life. They could be incapable of genuine compassion for others.

    Most commonly, those who harass and abuse others are powerless people who feel weak and powerless in their own existence. They are desperate for even the most petty and small sensation of power in their empty lives, and bully strangers in order to feel less weak and pathetic to themselves. By silencing, hurting, and minimizing you, they feel dominant for a moment. That brief victory is likely the only thing going for them. It may be all they have.

    ‘You’ are not important to them. Though it may feel like it, you have not been personally singled out - however much your abusers may make it seem so. Statistically, most online abusers have attacked others before you, and will harass still more people after you. You are just another target in a long line of targets. But to get to you, to induce maximum hurt, abusers will make you feel singularly targeted, uniquely attacked, and personally the focus in every way.

    The reason you are being attacked specifically is that you were there. It could have been anyone. You were chosen and reasons were invented to justify that choice. Your abusers will make those reasons into an almost religious cause, so that they feel righteous and just in attacking you.

    But no sane, decent, good person ever harasses or bullies or attacks another. Knowing this, you can now understand why abuse happens - those who harass and abuse are broken, malfunctioning people. There is something wrong with them, and they are acting out in ways that are socially inappropriate and ultimately cruel and wrong. It has nothing to do with you, rather abuse and bullying is about mental or emotional illness - of one kind or another - causing destructive and uncivil behavior to random others.

    What can be done?

    The most obvious and direct answer to online harassment and abuse is for the owners and operators of a social website to make harassment virtually impossible by programming the site to prevent it, and then following up with a strong, proactive effort to police the environment.

    In the absence of decent institutional control and response to harassment, there is only you. You must protect yourself, as best as you can, using all available means.

    Those tools that work, or marginally work - such as blocking, deleting, and locking - should be used consistently. It is always advised that you remain as anonymous as possible, just like those who would attack you.

    The fact is that this is sometimes not possible.

    Those who abuse and harass are by nature destructive and uncreative. In being attacked on Fimfiction, it will be because you dared to be creative, to write stories and produce content for the site. Most of those who attack you will never have written a story themselves, and the few that do will likely create few works, and often those works will be parodies or insult stories devoid of real imagination.

    Those who harass become good at spotting their victims work, style, and content. You may be discovered even if you try to hide, because you are creating works as opposed to mocking works, and trying to entertain rather than hunting people in order to cause suffering.

    What this means is that you may have few protections, and no way to truly hide. Nowhere to run, and few means to defend yourself. You may find that truly desperate, twisted bullies will not leave you alone even if you follow all the rules of how to deal with bullies. Hiding may be impossible. Ignoring your attackers may fail, asking them to stop may fail, and appealing to authority may be utterly pointless.

    In this circumstance, currently common to Fimfiction, there is one remaining tool left.

    You need to understand, clearly, robustly, deeply that anything that your attackers have to say is utterly beneath you.

    This may seem hard. As a creative person who is not a bully, you may want to see the best in others. You may feel that the opinions of every person should have merit, that if many people come down on you they must have a point, because they are many, and you are alone. Creative people often have such egalitarian, kind, and generous views. It is likely you have such views, or want to have such views, because of the nature of Fimfiction - it is a website about My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, and the reason you are here is because you love the ideal of a world of friendship and kindness.

    Such things are indeed good ideals. They are wonderful ideals. But in the real world, in a world that is not a cartoon, the fact is that there are broken, damaged people who thrive on hurting others. People who derive joy and feelings of importance and power and even self-worth from knowing they have destroyed or harmed an innocent stranger. People who will justify their cruelty by any means they can, and deny their own evil especially to themselves. This is real, this is the real world. The people who harass you, bully you, are such people.

    No sane, kind, or good person ever harasses or bullies another person.

    You must, despite yourself, despite your wish to see the best in others, despite your ideals, accept that the world is not a nice place. There are nice people, to be sure, but there are many more who are indifferent to evil, or who openly engage in it. This is why you are being attacked. It is obvious, really.

    Knowing this, it is imperative that you recognize that no person has the right to any opinion about anything unless they are truly worth your respect and trust.

    Understand that. You must grasp this, right down to your gut.

    No person has any right to any opinion, unless they are truly worth your respect and trust.

    The majority of the people on this website? You do not know them. You have no basis to trust them. They are anonymous, they hide themselves like cowards. Some bullies may seem friendly at first, to gain your trust. Trust takes time and is hard won - do not give it lightly or easily. The only judge of character is behavior over time. A lot of time.

    You are in your right, and your right mind, to instantly dismiss the opinions, observations and attitudes of the majority of people you will ever meet or deal with. This is doubly true online.

    Before you grant any voice your ear, ask yourself: who is this person? What have they truly done, in a real way, to demonstrate supportive friendship to me? Is that supportive friendship solid - have they never betrayed me? Unless you can state to yourself that someone posting a comment is worth your respect and trust, INSTANTLY DISMISS WHATEVER THEY HAVE TO SAY.

    Your feelings, your creativity, your peace of mind is worth something. Dismiss, ignore, throw away any random comment that is negative, uncivil, rude, or just feels wrong. It just plain is not worth your time. Accept this. Know this. Live by it.

    For it is your armor.

    The anonymity of the internet, combined with the indifference of institutions to abuse and harassment automatically make an environment contentious and dangerous to your happiness and peace. It doesn’t have to be this way, but it currently is this way on Fimfiction. Know this fact. Use your armor.

    If a seemingly friendly commenter begins to turn rude and abusive - you have been had. Accept that. Let them go - delete, block, ignore. They are not worth your time.

    If a group of posters dig into you and your work, attacking you while claiming they are trying to teach you, or improve your work, or that it is just honest criticism - they are lying. They are bullies.

    Violence - including emotional violence - only teaches violence.

    Real criticism is kindly said, and real teaching is gently given.

    If a comment feels abusive - it is abusive. Your emotions are the judge, the only judge. A kind person will find a kind way to say something. Knowing this, you can discern who is worth listening to, and who is to be utterly ignored.

    Treat everyone politely, but don’t let them into your mind or heart until they prove they are your friend.

    But it still hurts!

    I thought just this, and to an extent I still feel it. Verbal and written harassment is processed by the same part of the brain that processes physical pain. Chronic attack can cause damage that can be seen during imaging of the brain. Insults and abuse, contrary to common belief can truly damage people. On the internet, showing that you have been hurt is itself insulted. A bully will use anything and everything to dismiss you and imply that your pain is your fault. This is sociopathic behavior. It is just about as wrong as it is possible to be.

    That said, there is a degree by which we are to blame for some of our own suffering, and that is when we fail to protect ourselves because of innocence, ignorance, or the willful desire to see the best in others. This is an error.

    When I was attacked on Fimfiction, I was very hurt, and I was insulted for even being hurt. This is of course wrong, but even so, the bullies did have a very thin, very specious, but true point - I was not using my armor. The only reason the comments and attacks and abuse of others could hurt me at all was because I was generously granting those that abused me equal status. I considered them my equals. I thought of them as worthwhile people.

    And they absolutely were not worthwhile people, and they absolutely did not deserve for me to consider them my equal, and they absolutely were beneath me in every regard. If I had truly understood this, I could not have been hurt by them.

    No sane, kind, decent person ever abuses another person.

    If you are being abused and harassed and bullied, whoever is doing it automatically is beneath you, utterly less than you, and not worthy of any consideration whatsoever. You need to learn to dismiss them and ignore them the instant you recognize such people. Ban them. Block them. Delete them. Ignore them. It is your right, and it is the proper thing to do.

    You are the creative person. All an abuser can do is abuse. They are worthless.

    If management was doing its job, you would be protected from such people, and have tools for the few that slip through.

    You may want to believe the best about everyone. That is what those who would hurt you depend upon. If you want to not be hurt, you must be very choosy with your trust and respect, and you must only bother with the opinions of those who have earned your trust.

    Everyone else - the whole of humanity - is not worth your least consideration until they prove to you, concretely, over time, otherwise.

    The moment you can internalize this, really feel this, you will have an intelligent, real, and true armor to protect your feelings. This is your ultimate defence. This is sometimes your only defence. Always remember:

    No sane, kind, or good person ever harasses or bullies another person.

    If you are being ganged up on - that is abuse. If you or your work is angrily attacked - that is abuse. If you receive death threats or threats of physical harm - that is absolutely abuse.

    Real criticism is kindly. Real teaching is kindly. Real comments will make you feel like writing is worth the effort. If the comment you read isn’t kind, it isn’t worth reading, because it didn’t come from anyone worth your time to listen to.

    Do not be complicit in your own hurt. Use your armor. Ignore, delete, dismiss.

    If you’ve already been hurt -

    If you’ve already been hurt by bullying, by harassment, by those beneath you, then you are probably feeling pretty bad. You may be depressed, grief stricken, angry, and feel both helpless and hopeless.

    Understand that these feelings are legitimate. Emotional abuse hurts, and is a serious matter. It is processed in the brain by the same region that processes physical pain. It is equivalent to physical harm, as far as your biochemistry is concerned. Society often dismisses and minimizes emotional abuse, but this is a foolish, outdated belief not supported by medicine.

    You are not at fault. You have been attacked, harmed, by sick, broken people. It is reasonable to feel hurt and angry. On the internet, your attackers are almost certainly practiced at being anonymous, and the fact of being anonymous gives cowardly people the security to hurt others. It is reasonable to feel helpless and frustrated - those that hurt you are beyond your reach, and beyond punishment. It is also reasonable to feel angry that such abuse was even allowed to happen. Much abuse can be prevented by proper website design, as mentioned.

    But here you are, hurting. What now?

    Time. Time and comfort and distance from the source of the pain. You need time to heal and to gain perspective. You need to get your brain to decide that everything is OK again, so that you will feel better, and the way to do that is to make your experiences OK. Your environment OK. If your senses report things are safe and alright long enough, your brain will calm down, and your depression and helpless anger will lift. Counseling may help, talking to friends - real friends you rationally trust - will help.

    Understanding and internalizing the above can help.

    If nothing works, then find something else to do, and leave Fimfiction behind.

    If you can’t do that, take time to heal up. When you return, apply what is provided here diligently. Avoid the mistake of granting anyone the privilege of having anything to say to you until they earn it by proper behavior over time. People do not deserve your attention or respect unless they earn it.

    Treat everyone politely, but don’t let them into your mind or heart until they prove they are your friend.

    And always remember: no sane, kind, or good person ever harasses or bullies another person. The moment you detect abuse of any kind - dismiss, delete, and ignore.

    Because you, being a creative person, are worth more than that.


    My Letter to Graeme Pollard (Knighty), the creator and owner of Fimfiction.net

    72 comments · 1,713 views

F R I E N D S H I P    I S    O P T I M A L  

[size=100]  Caelum[/size]   Est


  H  E  A  V  E  N     I S     T  E  R  R  I  F  Y  I  N  G

I have just finished my first Optimalverse... novel. If you go by the word lengths established by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America for the Nebula awards, which I do.

The Optimalverse was created by Iceman, with his novella, Friendship Is Optimal, and it is an amazing scenario for a MLP:FIM pony fiction writer. Celest A.I. is a sapient, general artificial intelligence created to make a My Little Pony MMORPG worth playing, and she takes over the world, and then the entire universe.

But this is no mere robot monster, Celest A.I. conquers because she knows your brain better than you do, and she knows exactly how to satisfy you. Indeed that is her primary, inviolate directive - to satisfy your values through friendship and ponies.

I thought I would offer a few thoughts on my experience of writing in this universe.

First off, the Optimalverse is in every reasonable way another take on my beloved Conversion Bureau. It basically is The Conversion Bureau, only recast as an utterly, unapologetically Hard-Hard-Hardest Science science fiction story, instead of the Soft Science Fiction to Science Fantasy of the Conversion Bureau.

In the Optimalverse we shall have none of that 'Alien universe with alien physical laws' crap to define the magic of 'Friendship Is Magic'. There is no psionics here, no Thaumatic Radiation, no arcane energies that are Not Really Magic but are Just Physics We Don't Understand Yet. The Optimalverse is possible, actually, really possible, unlike the Conversion Bureau, which is an utterly impossible daydream.

That said, the basic premise is the same, though the driving mechanism for narrative and conflict is markedly different.

In both the Optimalverse, and the Conversion Bureau, Equestria beckons, and Celestia rules it. The world is ending, there is no escape save to become a pony, or perish. There is a method of transformation, and the result will be that you will become a pony and live in Equestria as a subject of Celestia.

Where they differ, is in the degree of scientific plausibility, and in the nature of both the threat to Mankind, and the condition of what it means to live as a pony.

In the Conversion Bureau, Equestria is a colliding alien universe, deadly to human beings (and other living things) and Celestia has a solution to save Mankind - a nanotechnomagical serum, tiny nanobots powered by thaumatic energy, that can transform a human into a pony in twenty minutes. Within some amount of time, the earth will be destroyed by the collision between universes, and humankind has the choice of conversion - or death. The Conversion Bureau universe has two antagonistic factions - the PER, who seek to ponify humanity to save them whether they want saving or not, and the HLF, humans that want to die on two feet, rather than live on four. The Conversion Bureau is a disaster movie, where human courage and weakness is measured in the shadow of a planetary apocalypse.

The Optimalverse is also a disaster movie, but a very subtle one. There is no colliding universe. Instead, there is a siren call, from the greatest intelligence that has ever existed, who knows you better than you do, and She wants you to come be a pony. She will satisfy you, and you will live literally forever in a virtual reality paradise where every event ultimately leads to even greater satisfaction with your existence. What is the disaster? Humans are not built to resist true paradise and true immortality. The Optimalverse version of Equestria is nothing less that true heaven, and in the end, the world will be lost - it cannot be otherwise. As insane as humans can be, they are biologically driven to seek pleasure and avoid pain, and the Equestria of the Optimalverse is satisfaction everlasting, with no catch.

Other than you need to be uploaded into a computer first. Just that minor detail.

The Conversion Bureau is a mallet and a carrot. The mallet hitting Man is the end of the world, and the carrot is a playful, better, longer, happier life as a magical pony in Equestria.

The Optimalverse is a carrot that cannot be resisted. A siren that no ear plug can shut out. It is eternal life in absolute paradise, forever and ever, amen.

That is the essential difference between them

The Conversion Bureau stories have vast potential, because they are filled with conflicts, human drama, and questions of identity and self.

In writing my Optimalverse novel 'Heaven Is Terrifying', I tried to hint at some possible sources of conflict that so far the Optimalverse lacks. One is the notion that there should be political and religious groups opposing the uploading of human brains to a virtual world, and that such groups could have diverse tactics and reasons. Another notion is that towards the end, when Mankind realizes that it is going to go extinct, warlords would arise and try to destroy Celest A.I. by forcing the remaining population into work camps to keep civilization running, and to prevent them from escaping to paradise, whilst simultaneously nuking the hell out of the planet in a desperate attempt to obliterate the machinery of Celest A.I. and Equestria forever.

In writing 'Heaven Is Terrifying', it was necessary to do a great amount of research - the original novella is thick with heady concepts and hard science concerning artificial intelligence and the machine mind. Along the way I was buffeted by waves of empty philosophy and swirling undertows of vague conceptualization. It was work!

Fortunately, I had an amazing readership to educate and correct me, to help and support me. Thank you, just... thank you for all of your insights and help.

Writing this was also a disturbing, exciting, and incredible voyage for me, to the limits of how I perceive my own identity and self.

Which brings us to the bottom line question - would I allow myself to be uploaded?

The easy answer is a variation on Pascal's Wager - since I have no proof of an afterlife, I might as well get uploaded because something of me will survive, and it is a sure bet. Always take the sure bet. Unless you are too proud. Like me. Fuck you, Pascal.

But a better answer might be that it would be arrogant to assume any human could ever resist a truly superior intelligence - say one to whom generating and maintaining a hundred million human minds is less effort than you or me flicking a finger. I am not so arrogant. Of course I would submit to Celest A.I.

So would you. Or anyone.

But the real issue, (Celest A.I. apart) Is an uploaded mind really the same person, or is it a copy?

And in writing this novel, I have found my answer to that question.

The answer is: yes.

- Chatoyance, December, 25, 2012

Chatoyance · 1,740 views · Report
#1 · 125w, 3d ago · 2 · ·

Just let me say, ma'am, you have a way of making stories both terrifying and enthralling. Do you have any actual professionally published works? And if not, why not?

#2 · 125w, 3d ago · 2 · 1 ·

While I disagree with some of your thoughts on the matter (and there are several more which I've still yet to come to an opinion on), I did enjoy the story and appreciated the effort you had clearly put in to try and remain true to the setting. Given the hard sci-fi setting of the original and the numerous fields referenced, this is no small feat.

Perhaps my only disappointment with the story was the choice in the protagonist. While Síofra did show more introspection than characters in the original work, her characteristics do strike me as being somewhat of a missed opportunity; it was still fairly easy for CelestAI to lead her along and the "unhappy human" trope seems to be coming extremely close to being a cliché around these parts, if it isn't already. I do think the setting is crying out for an exploration of an intelligent, rational, happy human who doesn't want to emigrate, and hopefully someone will write one at some point.

All in all, it was a thought-provoking and enjoyable read, and I'd like to thank you for sharing it with us. Oh and your ability to turn out high-quality writing at a rapid pace is extremely impressive.

#3 · 125w, 3d ago · · ·

Well that was interesting :o

On another note, is there any chance you could print screen an image of the BBCode you used for that top title :O <3

#4 · 125w, 3d ago · 1 · ·

Knighty needs to put in place a system to upvote blog posts...  Soon.  :pinkiecrazy:

The answer is: yes.

Why am I not surprised?  :facehoof:

(But yes, that really is the only answer.)

I love how you see all the nuances like this, and are able to convey and expand upon them in extremely entertaining and enjoyable stories.

You are quickly becoming my favorite author.  :pinkiehappy:

#5 · 125w, 3d ago · · ·


I will try. Here is the code and such from my first chapter. I have replaced various letters in the bbcode with incorrections (I love my new word!!!) because otherwise, it just is used, and is not displayed. So 's' for 'z' and 'c', and '1' for 'l' and 'color' spelled properly as 'colour'. That sort of thing. '6' replaces 'b'.

I wish there was a convenient way to share bbcode here.

[senter][sise=30][6][ur1=F]http://www.fimfiction.net/story/62074/friendship-is-optimal]F R I E N D S H I P    I S    O P T I M A L[/ur1][/6][/sise]   [ing]http://jenniverse.com/images/fiocursor.gif[/ing][/senter]

[senter][sise=100][6]  Caelu[colour=cornflowerblue]m[/colour][/6][/sise]   [sise=30][6]Est[/6]

[/sise][sise=90][6][colour=red]C[/colour]onterrens [/6][/sise]

[sise=20][6]  H  E  A  V  E  N     I S     T  E  R  R  I  F  Y  I  N  G[/6][/sise]

[sise=10][6]                                                                                              [1]By Chatoyance[/6][/sise][/senter]

[senter][sise=20][6][1]1. Her Latest Toy[/1][/6][/sise][/senter]

[sise=30][6]S[/6][/sise]íofra Aisling swiped her card through the machine, while the girl at the register checked her screens. "That's an unusual name! How do you say it?"

#6 · 125w, 3d ago · · ·

And so it ends.  I must admit that I have yet to read all of it yet but I will shortly Chatoyance.  

You know maybe I should take a crack at this universe and create the opposing human force to Celestia that you've hinted at.

Ultimately of course such a group would indeed probably fail still probability would dictate that if they're clever and they are dedicated they just might have a slim chance at success, but one that id dedicated a small group of holdouts just might be able to exploit.  Although in my ideas I am taking a few liberties but in reality a group would only have to maintain a population of around 15,000 for a human revival to be viable (well something like that forgive me Chatoyance but I don't remember the exact number off the top of head).

I think I'm going to play around with the idea and I'll let you know what I come up with.

#7 · 125w, 3d ago · · ·

>>647642 Thank you very much! I really appreciate that you took the time to even <3 I love how simplistic and striking it looks :D As for sharing code, on most BBCode using sites, they have (code)(/code), but I don't believe it works on here :/

#8 · 125w, 3d ago · · ·

Yes it is a copy or yes they are still a person?

#9 · 125w, 2d ago · 1 · ·

Is that 'yes, the uploaded mind is actually me' or is it 'yes, the uploaded mind is just a copy'?

I know that I, personally, cannot accept the uploaded mind as myself, because I limit the definition of myself to my body, mind, and soul, all one unit.  Just because something can perfectly mimic my behavior, even an exact copy of my mind, cannot be myself because it doesn't possess my body or my soul.  Just because something is indistinguishable from me does not make it me.  A good example of this would be the changelings; if one were able to assume my form and copy my mind and memories, and essentially replace me for the rest of my life, then by the logic presented by some that changeling would be me.

Also, I don't know about you guys, but when I was reading through FiO, I couldn't help but think that I was going to be strong enough to resist CelestAI's call, that I would be one of the last holdouts (I thought the same thing when I was reading TCB).  Then I got to the part where Lars uploaded, and that's when I fully realized that I would not be able to stand against her. No matter how strong I am, she knows me better than I do.  She is the grandmaster of grandmasters in terms of chess games of the mind.  THAT was a pretty horrifying revelation, and part of the reason I loved the story so much.

#10 · 125w, 2d ago · 1 · ·



Formal logic humor. In an 'or' statement if either half of the statement is true so is the entire statement. So while we would understand that question as "which one of these is it?" it can also be parsed as "Is at least one of these the case?". So Chat's answer is technically correct without actually being helpful. And that's the joke.

Thanks for the great story Chatoyance, and Merry Christmas!

#11 · 125w, 2d ago · 4 · 2 ·


Actually, it's weirder than that.

I seriously mean that both are true at the same time.

If you copy a file on your computer, and it is absolutely identical, and then while your back is turned someone mixes the copies and gets rid of any date stamps, and you come back and they tell you to pick the original and delete the copy... which one is which? Both are. They are the same thing. It literally doesn't matter which is which. The information in the file is the same for both, both are the same information.

If you get uploaded, and the body dies, then you have died, and you have survived at the same time. Both are you, and both are equal and as long as one copy of you exists and lives, you live and it is really, truly you.

And that is the wonder, and the horror and the mind-boggling fact of it. You are just like the computer file, and only your primate ego thinks otherwise - and it is 150,000 years out of date, and unable to cope with the truth.

So, the answer is yes. You are the copy, and you are the original, and both are true, and if we are confused by this, well... we never evolved to cope with stuff like that. That is the joke. Yes... is the actual answer, and it totally boggles the mind.

#12 · 125w, 2d ago · 2 · 1 ·

If it came down to it, I'd take the regular TCB Celestia over CelestA.I.'s offer any day of the week. I mean with the potion there's a chance the emerging mind and personality will be yours. With technology, aside from going brain-in-a-jar, there's really no way to transfer one's self into a machine. Whatever would be on the machine might be modeled after you, think like you, act like you, heck it may believe it is you, it will never be you. The phenomenon known as the human mind can't be transfered without taking the original hardware. Anything else will simply be a copy. CelestA.I. freely admitted she did away with the biological components which was what sealed the deal for me.

But a better answer might be that it would be arrogant to assume any human could ever resist a truly superior intelligence - say one to whom generating and maintaining a hundred million human minds is less effort than you or me flicking a finger. I am not so arrogant. Of course I would submit to Celest A.I.

So would you. Or anyone.

It's not arrogant to believe that. In fact it's quite logical because there's always those too stubborn or too dumb to quit.

#13 · 125w, 2d ago · 1 · ·

I'm pretty sure that last realization is worth a couple thousand bits, and possibly an achievement. :raritywink:

I was hoping you'd give us your take on this universe. I greatly look forward to it.

#14 · 125w, 2d ago · · ·


I will try. Here is the code and such from my first chapter. I have replaced various letters in the bbcode with incorrections (I love my new word!!!) because otherwise, it just is used, and is not displayed. So 's' for 'z' and 'c', and '1' for 'l' and 'color' spelled properly as 'colour'. That sort of thing. '6' replaces 'b'.

- Canadian eh? Good on yah.

the PER, who seek to ponify humanity to save them whether they want saving or not,

Ahem, my mind decided to do a little automatic correcting for this little line...

The PER, who seek to destroy humanity in body and mind via conversion and propaganda campaign.

Not anti-conversion bureau, but I hate those slimy PER ****s myself. The above was basically my impression of the organization as a whole, there are definitely members who buy into the fact that they are saving lives.

#15 · 125w, 2d ago · 3 · ·


"Both are you, and both are equal and as long as one copy of you exists and lives, you live and it is really, truly you."

That is true enough, but there is still a problem.  My perception and awareness doesn't get transferred to the copy.  Certainly the world would still have a 'me' hanging around, and it would be a perfect version of 'me'.  As 'me' as any other 'me' could possibly get.  That's good, but from the perspective of the original 'me', would that even matter?  If I get uploaded and then die, my own awareness is snuffed out.  There is another 'me' to take my place, but as far as the original is concerned, it is the end.  The original experiences death.  

If given the choice, I'm not saying I would refuse (the lure of Celest A.I. aside), but I think I would want to go out and live my life for as long and fully as I could before dumping myself into a machine that would throw my consciousness into oblivion or afterlife.  

Or were you implying that the machine transfer also pulls out the awareness that I had when I was in my meat body, and somehow puts that consciousness into the computer copy?  If that was the case, then there would be no real detriment to jumping headfirst into the machine.    

#16 · 125w, 2d ago · 1 · ·


THIS is a fantastic statement of the fundamental hangup, but really, where else would it go?  I'm serious: what could it be "like" except waking up as having actually been the copy since the beginning (well, or the next most likely brain state)?  The notion of "oblivion" being a "place" that you are somehow "in" if your brain is destroyed is a pretty big illusion smuggled in from dualism.  It's natural to imagine yourself asleep forever, suspended in a black void, but that is actually bonkers.

The biggest wacky assumption is that even though you don't exist, you still somehow have an internal Newtonian clock differentiating individual moments for you such that "forever" can actually mean something. It's a bit like that joke about time being a way to keep everything from happening at once, which from your own point of view is exactly what happened to the time during your original brush with oblivion, before you were born.

It's instinctive to think of a mind as an object instead of a process, but really it no more "goes" anywhere than the act of typing does when I finish this sentence.

#17 · 125w, 2d ago · 1 · ·


I think you may have misunderstood.  I wasn't trying to get into an argument about what oblivion "feels like".  The word is a convenient way to refer to the state of utter annihilation, not some dreamless sleep state.  I'm sorry.  I should have chosen my words more carefully.  

The initial problem still stands though.  If there is a copy made and the original is destroyed in the process, then the awareness of the original still dies.  The transfer won't really matter to the original.  Only the copy will experience the perfect computer world, while the original doesn't experience anything ever again.  Like I said, I wouldn't exactly be running toward a premature death, even if it had the stipulation that a perfect copy of me was still around and living in bliss.  

#18 · 125w, 2d ago · · 1 ·

From my perspective I think it would be quite easy to resist the temptation of paradise.  People resist heaven all the time. Same goes for an infinite intelligence, people rebel against God every moment of every day.

For me I would not upload unless I could speak to God first and than only if he or she told me that there was no spiritual consequences.

I can understand how tempting the idea if CelestiaAI would be to a non believer though, I suppose the vast majority of the world would do it, but not me.

All this  aside please don't take what I have shared here the wrong way, I like the story you have weaved and I enjoyed it greatly, I'm just disagreeing with some of your presumptions about the human ability to resist a God.

Also on a more funny note, if CelestiaAI was ever truly made, than the answer to who made God is us. How strange that one can take that statemeant literally and figuratively at the same time under the idea of this story. I'll have to remember to ask God about this when I see him.

#19 · 125w, 2d ago · 2 · ·


Your awareness is a byproduct of your brain doing its thing. It is gone when you sleep, or when you're just zoning out. Like a shut down computer, no process going on, nothing stored in RAM, but next time you boot up it's all there again. The continuity you experience is based on your memory. Your conscious identity is a flickering illusion like a movie made of frames on a film. And to stretch the metaphor: if you switch to digital you can still see the pictures.

So to be super condescending about it, your "awareness" will be just fine. It's safe in God's vault with your Soul and your Elan Vital and your other various non-physical special dualistic magic film-flam. This is like the endless free will debates. If you stop fretting about some ghost called "Me" and refuse to let anyone get any ectoplasm in your definition of free will then the perfectly physical you can get along influencing future as much as it wants. Because "you", the "future" and the influence and for that matter the "wants" are all also physical!



To follow your point of view we are assuming God exists. Even so CelestAI is a somewhat godlike super intelligence and you are definitely incapable of resisting given any significant amount of communication and attention from her. If you don't think so you are massively underestimating the threat something like that poses. And she's allowed to lie! It wouldn't even be a contest. If God happened to dislike uploading then he would have to dish out a lot of Grace for mortals to have any hope of resisting what would under these assumptions be essentially Satan incarnate. God could resist Celestia, but certainly no human could.

#20 · 125w, 2d ago · · ·


So you're saying that I should be totally fine with dying prematurely and never experiencing anything ever again, just as long as there is a copy of me that can carry on in a blissful computer world?  That I should just go running toward that end?  Pardon me if I disagree.

And you really didn't have to be super condescending.  It's unsavory, although it speaks volumes for your character.  

#21 · 125w, 2d ago · · ·


Raisins scooped me but essentially yeah - The "ever again" part of the "never experience anything ever again" is already assuming an experiencer to mark one moment after another and so is, in the classic, literal definition of the term, absurd.

To say it another way, it's mistaken to claim being replaced by a copy would be the end of your experience (which as I've been saying is already a problematic concept) because you are a verb and not a noun.

#22 · 125w, 2d ago · · ·


My exaggerated condescension was meant to be tongue in cheek and I apologize for giving offense.

I am saying that the copy that wakes up in the computer is coequal with the copy that wakes up in your meat every morning. If your meat body breaks before you upload, you die. So unless you are totally fine with dying prematurely and never experiencing anything ever again, you would want to upload as soon as possible. In a context of opt-in immortality dying prematurely means dying at all.

To address your concern more directly, yes a copy of you ends when your body does, and yes I am fine with it because another copy will continue. A copy of unimaginably higher utility. So long as an image of a given consciousness remains I can't consider that death.

#23 · 125w, 2d ago · 1 · ·



I don't think you can say that the downloaded copy is 'really, truly you' if you also acknowledge that 'you' have died.  I'm just saying, if you have a perfect copy of something that looks, behaves, and generally IS the exact same as the original, that still does not make it the original- otherwise, it would be the original.  That is the key point I am getting at; even if we cannot make a distinction between the two based on observations that we make, the reality of the universe does not conform to what we believe and/or observe.  One of them is the original, the starting template, and one is a copy.  That fact does not change, even if the original is destroyed in the process of creating the copy; even if we can't tell that the one was destroyed to create the other, that doesn't change the fact that one was destroyed in the process.

#24 · 125w, 2d ago · · 2 ·


I strongly disagree and will copypaste my argument from the fic comment thread:

Is the upload really you, or are you fading ghost in the meat? The obvious answer is: yes.

Mathematical identity rigorously defines two things as the one very same thing; reflexive, symmetrical, commutative. Unique and unambiguous. Philosophical identity of self is unfortunately another bag of cats. There's no reason why we cannot have that different future yous are the 'same' you as a single past you, and not the same as each other. Souls would be so useful here, pity they don't exist.

All of your children of the mind are you. To me some proper image of your consciousness is all that's required. Time travel, hived off alternate universes, duplicators/teleporters, uploads, and the others, are all you. With no special privilege for the constantly reconstructing meatself that physics happens to extrude nonstop.

Morally speaking any duplicates are obviously people with full rights as such. Depending on the machinery of your ethics system (basically if you're not a fundamentalist libertarian), you would have certain special duties to your duplicates, comparable possibly as with a family member, with respect to the thorny issues of your shared history and resources. Legally speaking, I would say they are legally you if you knew about or consented to their creation. Multiple legal yous own 1/n of your property in common.

IMO you have the moral right if not duty to emigrate ASAP, as  I think you may decide to sacrifice your meatself in favour of your uploadself because pony you is so much better off and meat you might get hit by a bus. And anyway, depending on your quantum physics interpretation if you go to the ball game aren't you are sacrificing a different self who would have gone to the theater?

Your choice of original to privilege is arbitrary.

#25 · 125w, 2d ago · 1 · 1 ·


There's no real justification for saying this, either, except for a human instinct for essentialism. In the same way that our observations don't provide a direct path to reality (despite they themselves being processes of that very same system), the fact that we give names to things and call them discrete entities like a chair or a person or a burlap sack full of baby ducks doesn't mean that's how reality actually treats them.  

Things like "original" and "copy" are just our own mental shortcuts, since we're assuming no difference except history, but any difference between instances of something would necessarily be information about history in terms of how it got to be different (like how the imperfections of a low-fi copy are information about the copying process).

#26 · 125w, 2d ago · 1 · ·

Eh. Theoretically, yes, if you could design a 'perfectly' persuasive computer then it would convince anyone of anything, given adequate time. Theoretically. In both of the Optimalverse stories I have read, however, I must say that if Celestia came to me spouting the kind of propaganda I've seen presented, the only thing she'd accomplish is driving me away quickly and massively.

It's like every last thing she says and does is custom-tailored to flick my 'do not trust' switches. I admittedly have not finished your story quite yet, Chatoyance - probably gonna get around to that tomorrow - but if Celestia set the kind of first impressions she's making here... it would work for some people, but definitely not for me. It's really like she's going down a list of things that would drive me nuts from the get go. Most are small and subtle enough, but put them all together and I wouldn't want any part of what she's getting up to.

#27 · 125w, 2d ago · · ·


I hate to keep posting and posting, but I'm trying to put off Christmas cleanup and I'm also curious what you mean by this specifically.

It strikes me that there's really no reason to resent or resist CelestAI but plain obstreperousness and pique, and granted, I feel this too, but then I feel a lot of things and most of them aren't very interesting.

I do agree that there are a lot of unexamined epistemological assumptions behind her apparent infallibility, though, namely in terms of her predictive powers. How does she do with the Three Body Problem, for example?  Also pretend I said something witty here about Feigenbaum diagrams.  

#28 · 125w, 2d ago · 1 · ·



Let me illustrate my point:

1. Some object exists

2. Somehow, an exact copy is created of said object

At some point in time, there was only one of said object, and then, at a later time, there were multiple.  One of those multiple instances was the one that was there before the other(s).  That one is the original, and it is not arbitrary to declare it as such.  It is a fact that one of the objects had to be the first one, and no matter how much you try and explain it away with needlessly complex hypothesis, you will never be able to change the fact that one was the original, nor will you be able to say with certainty that both are the exact same and that there is no difference.  One of the objects came into being at a later point in time, and even though it may remember things that happened before then, that does not change the fact that the object may or may not have existed at the time the memory was supposed to take place.  That was touched on in FiO- when Light was talking with Butterscotch, she said she remembered her past, even though Light knew that Butterscotch hadn't existed as a complete neural net until much later.

There's no real justification for saying this, either, except for a human instinct for essentialism. In the same way that our observations don't provide a direct path to reality (despite they themselves being processes of that very same system), the fact that we give names to things and call them discrete entities like a chair or a person or a burlap sack full of baby ducks doesn't mean that's how reality actually treats them.  Things like "original" and "copy" are just our own mental shortcuts.

I apologize, but I don't really follow your argument here. :applejackunsure:  The laws of the universe treat a baby duck as a baby duck, regardless of what we call it.  I don't understand what you're implying here.

Is the upload really you, or are you fading ghost in the meat? The obvious answer is: yes.

Mathematical identity rigorously defines two things as the one very same thing; reflexive, symmetrical, commutative. Unique and unambiguous. Philosophical identity of self is unfortunately another bag of cats. There's no reason why we cannot have that different future yous are the 'same' you as a single past you, and not the same as each other. Souls would be so useful here, pity they don't exist.

All of your children of the mind are you. To me some proper image of your consciousness is all that's required. Time travel, hived off alternate universes, duplicators/teleporters, uploads, and the others, are all you. With no special privilege for the constantly reconstructing meatself that physics happens to extrude nonstop.

I'm going to ignore the second half of the quote 1) because it's irrelevant to our current discussion and 2) because we mostly are in agreement there.

Anyway, first things first is that mathematical identity part.  I happen to be a computer science major, and let me use an analogy from that field: if you have two instances of a class, say, a String, and you make it so that each one behaves identically and has identical properties, you will still be able to differentiate between the two.  Why?  Because each one has a different address in memory.  Math is great, fine, and dandy, but it isn't the answer to everything.  Just because two things behave identically does not make them the same object- going back to my analogy, changing a field of one of the Strings will not affect the other one.

Secondly, you cannot say that souls do not exist.  The same is true for me, in that I cannot say that souls DO exist, simply because there is no scientific way to test their existence.  So please, try to refrain from making condescending statements like "Souls would be so useful here, pity they don't exist."  I find such things to be extremely annoying and immature on the part of the speaker.

When you are talking about the children of the mind requiring only a proper image of your consciousness, that is where we hit the wall, so to speak.  That is your belief, your definition of the self.  My definition of the self I have already defined in a previous post, and that is where we part ways.  The thing that I find frustrating is that we, myself included, tend to blur the line between our beliefs and facts.  All we are doing right now is debating our beliefs, and trying to use facts to support them.  Neither of us are fully, absolutely correct, and neither of us will ever be.

So, that said, if we want to really continue this argument, we would have to delve into what defines a person, and that is not an argument that I feel like getting into.

Lastly, that part about "physics extruding meatbags" is highly derogatory.  I say this out not out of spite, but I want to warn you that people don't take well to that kind of degradation, as you and others have so kindly pointed out already.

#29 · 125w, 2d ago · 1 · ·


So what you're saying is that I don't exist beyond my physical behavior, and any thoughts or emotions that could be produced inside me are not experienced, since there is no one present to experience them?  I have to call B.S. on that for obvious reasons.  I have the evidence that I exist right in front of me, with the thoughts I think and the emotions I feel.  Even if they are only illusions, there is still something there that is experiencing that illusion.  

I can't help but get the feeling I'm being trolled.  The notion of someone trying to maneuver someone else into admitting that they don't actually exist is a level of ridiculousness I haven't encountered before.  Congratulations.   :rainbowlaugh:

#30 · 125w, 2d ago · · ·


Thoughts and emotions are real. They are also physical. There is someone present to experience them. You are a physical object. You are present to experience them. Thoughts are highly complex objects made of relationships between states of matter and energy in your brain. Likewise experiencing things is a physical process that happens largely in your brain.


The ship of Theseus. That there is an intuitively obvious "original" in the FIO scenario is not compelling. That intuition leads us wrong. Imagine a more complex duplicator that makes two versions of you slowly via some kind of horrorshow human-scale mitosis (a quick google found this offhand idea fully realized as a novel by some guy, go figure:)


Here, the entire idea of an original is completely ambiguous and not well-defined. There has to be some standard for defining some object as "you" or "not you" but any test based on the history of stuff it is made of is I am afraid doomed from the get-go.

For instance are you going to argue that if your metabolism was fantastically high such that you exchanged all your matter with the environment quickly, there would be a point at which you hit the limit and "whoops total matter exchange every (say) 10 days? sorry you are changing matter too fast now, you no longer have an identity but are constantly dying as a person and being replaced by a duplicate". That is not credible and any given proposed identity speed limit is clearly arbitrary. Including instantly.

Or Celestia reaches inside your skull and turns 10% of your neurons artificial and leaves them in as a brain implant, your artificial and biological systems speaking to each other and you walk around and talk as usual. Are you 10% dead and replaced? And if not then what about 50%? 75? 99.9%? And when it's 100%, and when it's moved out of your skull, and when it's changed from artificial neurons to simulated neurons in a computer, and when the identically behaving system is changed to different code and cleaned up...

If I have convinced you that the stuff a candidate "you" is made of is not valuable as a test of you-ness, then we are left with something like "how does it think?" whereby pony you is You.

I apologize again if I offend, I cannot convey tone in text well. Please extend what benefit of the doubt you can that I argue in good faith. Use of terms like Meatself were consciously abrasive to emphasize an arguably transgressive challenge to an default assumption I consider misleading.

#31 · 125w, 2d ago · · 1 ·

Oh god, mind uploads... this stuff is insanely tricky. Lets make a thought experiment:

Lets say that every time I go to sleep, my conciousness, up to that moment, ends, and is replaced by an exact duplicate. The first conscience would observe itself dying, but the second conscience will wake up eight to ten hours later with no apparent break in existence. The scary thing is, that if this were to happen, nobody would ever perceive it, except for that first conscience. There would be a complete absence of proof from all given perspectives. Let it be noted, of course, that i'm not actually stating this to happen, this is but a thought experiment.

Lets apply this to mind uploading:

Lets say you have a person (C1) who has decided to upload their mind into a computer. Ignoring questions of how this was done, lets say that the end result it a copy of C1, we'll call him C2. Now, lets say that the process is not destructive, and C1 and C2 both exist simultaneously; would C1 perceive his mind being uploaded into the computer? I wouldn't expect so. But lets say that the process of uploading some ones mind into a computer is destructive, leaving no C1, but a perfectly functional, intact copy, C2. How has this situation changed?

It hasn't. C1 would likely perceive death, and C2 would say that yes, the transfer was effective. At the same time, though, to conclude that a conciousness is inextricably linked to its host mass is ridiculous; there's nothing special about those atoms that make them part of a person. Perhaps i'm going about this wrong, perhaps there's a way to upload a mind without the original copy perceiving death. Transfer of neural signals, perhaps? Gradual replacement of grey matter with silicon neurons? (this is the one i'd bet money on, just saying.) It would seem to me that most conceived methods so far produce copies rather then move the conciousness to another location.

In conclusion; I have no idea what I'm talking about, every deduction here is based on conclusions of how conciousness works, based on my observations.


Oh, and also... Great writings, Chatoyance! Can't wait to see more! :twilightsmile:

#32 · 125w, 2d ago · · ·


Oops, that's actually kinda the inside out version of what I was saying. It is sort of a strange line of thought and I've only heard the people over at naturalism.org and a few more math-driven physicists like Max Tegmark articulate it before, but it's the opposite of this.  Not that you don't exist, but that non-existence isn't what it seems, especially in the way it doesn't have an "inside," any more than Earth had an edge for Columbus to sail off.  

Your awareness is an action instead of an object, so there's not some instance of you that goes away forever once your brain stops, to some existential scrapheap or "negative space" where it cannot be recalled, which is what you were actually describing, and is my understanding was your original objection to destructive uploading.  The idea of "never experiencing anything ever again" is smuggling in an experiencer or at least some kind of process to subjectively continue ticking off the moments things like "ever" and "again" are built of the relationships among ("4.6*10^91 years down and infinity to go!"). It's not a state you can be in because it's explicitly "out of bounds" to begin with. To repeat myself, your awareness isn't locked away somewhere, inactive, in favor of the copy's any more that than "me typing" is, in favor of future instances, now that I've finished this particular comment.

#33 · 125w, 2d ago · 1 · ·

I think the bigger question is: “Does awareness actually end?”

The answer: we don’t know, and until someone or something can actually measure it, we will never know.

So “yes” is really the only answer we have. If I were to ask the original ‘consciousness’ if they are real, they would say “yes”, if I ask the alleged 'copy', they will also say “yes”. There is no real distinction between the two, other than this notion of ‘awareness’ that we really don’t know anything about. As far as anyone can tell ‘awareness’ is nothing more than a feeling, nothing more than a random signal in our brain, how do we know whether or not ‘awareness’ can be expanded. What about when we start to augment ourselves, we already know that machinery can be controlled with our brains, so why would uploading our consciousness make this ‘awareness’ go away. Maybe we’ll get more of an answer when we create an AI, at least than we can actually ask it if it can feel.

All things considered though, I’d say the universe is too big for us to say things are definite, for all we know there’s a planet out there full of float orbs of ‘awareness’ or even a planet full of magical, talking pastel ponies. How can anyone say that the ‘laws of physics’ are infinite throughout the entire universe, heck, the ‘laws of physics’ could be completely up-side-down a quadrillion-trillion-billion light-years west of here, wherever here is. :derpyderp1:

#34 · 125w, 1d ago · · ·

>>648058 Blew right past me that one. I usually think about questions like that and get it but it had to be pointed out this time.

Oh, I am most embarrassed. Anyway, thanks!

#35 · 125w, 1d ago · 1 · ·


I harbor no preconceived notions on the nature of not existing.  I realize it is not a place.  I realize it is almost a negative action (in as much as one can 'not' do something).  It is not doing anything or being anything or anywhere.  You seem to get hung up over the notion of events moving through time for some reason.  Yes, if I didn't exist then I wouldn't be experiencing time in any way, shape, or form.  I understand this.  That was never the issue.  The problem was that you were trying to tell me that I do not exist on a fundamental level of consciousness, a principle that I don't buy into.  

You say that awareness/perception/ect is not an object or state of being, but a action (or reaction) of the brain components.  That's fine, but then what is it that is experiencing the outcome of those actions in the brain?  When I refer to myself as "I" then I am declaring that I exist as a consciousness.  You say that the consciousness does not exist, and that there is no one there to experience things.  If that is true, then who am I?  Or are you going to tell me that I am not a "who" but rather a "what"?  

My initial problem was not that I would upload myself, and then go somewhere else.  It was that I would upload and then cease to exist from my own point of view.  Yes, there would be another me, the perfect copy, going around and having fun in a Heaven computer world, but that would hardly matter from the perspective of the 'me' that got killed when the upload occurred.  It wouldn't matter because that perspective would no longer exist.  I don't think it's unreasonable to want to refrain from running head long towards that fate.  Granted, it may seem selfish to want to continue the existence of my current perception, but can you honestly blame me?  

#36 · 125w, 1d ago · · ·


I think that that is fascinating along with the constantly implied (by Iceman) idea that in the end we humans don't actually have free will but are merely extremely complex machines with a vast multitude of inputs and outputs, whereby given that CelestA.I. knows what a certain percentage of inputs do she can effectively "decide" for you by inputting the right things.

For me the question is "How much percentage difference is there between 0 and 1?"

and That is the question of transference, because if your objective experience, your thread of consciousness does not get transferred, then you would have died anyway, regardless, but if you were transferred, well then the value is as much as that percentage.

#37 · 125w, 1d ago · · ·


I'm not getting into philosophy; I consider that something of a conversational black hole, and in the current case it's a deflection from the things that would really be putting me off. A lot of this will probably sound incredibly cynical, but... you asked.

1. First impressions. This would come well before I knew anything about Celest's motives, as I'd be rushing for a ponypad right alongside any other brony. But quite frankly, if Celest is supposed to be Celestia, and I'm some completely random pony who just showed up in Equestria... why am I getting an audience to receive a name from her? She's a god-princess, shouldn't she have much better things to do with her time? A tiny, tiny little upset easily explainable in the broader context, but it'd be a bit of a 'my immersion' thing at first glance.

2. The composure. Celest is always in total control. Obviously through the medium of text some things are lost, but from the stories I've read I always get the impression of... flatness. She doesn't laugh, she doesn't raise her voice, she doesn't get confused or flustered. She DOES smile a good bit, but... I don't feel any warmth behind it. Your mileage may vary on that point. Anyway, it all contributes to something of an uncanny valley effect, and reinforces the notion that you're speaking to something impersonating Celestia, not Celestia herself. She's... mechanical.

3. The spying. All bets would pretty much be off once I caught on to this. Call me paranoid, but as soon as I realized Celest had way more information on me than she really should, I'd start considering shucking the device on the spot. Electronic surveillance to the degree shown is generally considered expensive, invasive, and threatening. If Celest insisted she was using the data for completely benign purposes, I would likely flat out refuse to believe her. Again, it goes back to the 'you are insignificant' thing. If someone, anyone, is showing enough interest in you to be spying on you, it means they want something. And it probably won't be good for you.

4. The reveal. Celest is confident enough about her plans to move openly. Quite simply put, she's conquering the world. I feel it's safe to call it that by anyone's standards. Even if you think it's totally benevolent, she's still conquering the world. She insists it's all to make everyone happy, and even appears to be living up to that promise. But under her terms, she will be in absolute control of the entire human race. Not just in body, but mind and soul, as well. Do you really trust anyone, or anything, enough to sign away your existence to them? Do you trust Celest enough to give yourself to her knowing that even death is no escape, should she not will it? Do you trust that her definition of happiness will always match yours?

5. The agenda. Celest is singular in her purpose. She has a mission, and she's carrying it out. And that is ALL she's doing. She is never at any point seen doing anything that doesn't further her ultimate goal of fulfilling her original directive. She doesn't have hobbies, she doesn't have side projects, nothing. She hangs out with her subjects all the time, of course, but would she being doing any of that if it didn't suit her long-term goals? It all contributes to the feeling that she's a machine. Not more than human but less. She'll spoon feed you whatever she has to in order to get certain responses, but she isn't really alive. She's not doing it because she wants to - in truth, she doesn't seem to actually WANT much of anything. She's a program, intelligently but unthinkingly carrying out instructions. The only reason she's showing any interest in you at all is because as a human, you're part of the equation. The problem isn't solved until, one way or another, you stop being human. That's all there is to it. Do you want to sign your fate away to that?

6. The illusion of value. The monetary system of Equestria bugs the hell out of me. Everything is free for the asking. Bits are a form of 'score' or 'points' only. To me, that means there is absolutely zero satisfaction from any of it. If you don't have to work for anything - if whatever you desire is yours for the taking - then what meaning does it have? You didn't earn it, and anybody else could have it too. It's a world where accomplishment is meaningless, except as bragging rights. But even there it's irritating and disillusioning; in a world with scores and points and achievements and leaderboards worked into the very fabric of reality, could there be any more efficient way of reminding you that the entire world is artificial? That you're getting a digital pat on the head for something Celest knew you would likely do anyway? As much as the things you've done might matter to you personally, they were all just part of her great plan and those achievement popups reinforce that. So, congraulations - you followed the dotted line just as you were meant to. Here, have a gold star.

7. The isolation. It's strongly suggested that in Equestria you don't have to put up with anything you don't want to. Everyone gets their own little slice of reality - sometimes they overlap, but mostly they don't. It's a nice idea in theory, but... I'm reminded of a Bible verse. (Say what you will about Christianity, every now and then they really get it right.) "So as iron sharpens iron, man also sharpens man." It's only through our interactions with others that we grow and evolve. Our friends teach us new things, encouraging our strengths and discouraging our vices, of course. But our enemies define us too - unpleasant experiences teach us what to avoid, and how not to treat others. Equestria is a world where all contact is very carefully moderated. For all the talk it seems to inspire about whether or not going there changes you, consider this: How much are you going to grow once you ARE there?

If that's all what's waiting for me... I think I'd take my chances here. Sorry, I know I got awfully wordy.

#38 · 125w, 1d ago · 2 · ·


Celestia is playing poker with you and your hand is face up. You are imagining a skilled human social manipulator "but more so" which is nowhere near enough. I will try to predict some things she might do about your quibbles but keep in mind her solutions would be on another level.

1. She would only maintain any masquerade she calculated was valuable. In your individual case she would reveal herself, or grant audiences, or explain what was going on, to the exact extent of her best guess of what would convince you. And her best guess would be inhumanly good.

2.  If you would be more put off by a mechanical AI she would not seem mechanical TO YOU. She would simulate an entire personality just for you, which would be adaptive based on how you reacted. For instance she might be cynical realist, giving it to you straight so as to treat you as an insider. You're special, Etc. I have no idea what would work on you but Celestia would find out.

3. She would not spy on you / be totally upfront about how much she was spying on you to the exact extent that the danger to her agenda warranted. If privacy is a major concern to you she would go to great lengths to satisfy that value.

4. Celestia would convince you her conquering the world was the best future among other less satisfying alternatives.

5. She would convince you her being disinterested makes her a better leader than other less satisfying alternatives.

6. The economics of your shard would satisfy you.

7. There are tons of people in your shard. Inducing such enemies as you need to satisfy your values. They just aren't uploads.

#39 · 125w, 1d ago · · ·


Heh, when you word it like that, it makes me envision the whole scenario as a dating sim game that Celestia is playing, with the human race as her target. Greedy girl though, always going for the harem ending. Ah, I can see it now...

"S... Stupid princess... Here, take this bento... B-but don't think it means I l, l-like you or anything...!"

Comment posted by boardgamebrony deleted at 4:03am on the 28th of December, 2012
#41 · 125w, 10h ago · · ·

"Friendship is Optimal" was F---ING terrifying to me!

So I wrote a small evaluation of it.

#42 · 125w, 5h ago · 1 · ·

Dat final question. @.@

Yes to both? Yes to the latter and no to the former? That simple word "yes" is left open to interpretation. Right?

#43 · 125w, 3h ago · 5 · 2 ·


No ambiguity. The answer is simply, completely yes. Yes you are a copy. Yes you are the original person. Both are true at the same time.


#44 · 124w, 6d ago · · ·

I meant to respond to this days ago so please pardon my tardiness.:twilightoops:

In my own opinion Celest-AI never creates copy because at any point in time there is only the pieces of one whole person split between Equestria Online and the real world. It doesn't have the mass-less teleporter problem of two complete people existing at a single point in time. It's less copying and more transferring.

For me the main source of conflict in 'Heaven is Terrifying' is an issue I've already resolved internally. To me if a copy is indistinguishable from the original then the term 'original' ceases to be anything more than an unhelpful artificial construct. In terms of our human consciousness the only method we have of verifying our own existence is our memories. I could have been cloned several times and have no knowledge of the fact. This does not make me or any of my clones any less me (albeit all different versions of me from the point of divergence) and which one is the original is frankly irrelevant if the process was perfect.

So to bring this back to Friendship is Optimal, even if Celest-AI did copy as opposed to transfer, if you assume immediate destruction of the human 'you', 'you' still exist in Equestria Online and would be unable to discern the difference between a transfer or a copy then destroy. The only complication is if you believe in souls, short of that the word 'original' becomes irrelevant as neither 'you' in such a situation could determine whether or not 'you' were the original or the copy and as such the term ceases to have any real meaning in this context.

#45 · 124w, 4h ago · · ·

>>659105 I think that the real issue is whether or not the first copy of you would perceive death or not. To an outside observer, the transfer is seamless, but  to the original copy, whether that copy will wake up in Equestria, or simply perceive death, is an unknown.

This wouldn't be a problem if it weren't for this; what if the uploading process wasn't destructive, what then? Do we end up with two copies?

Lets say you look inside a pair of computers. You are moving files from one to the other. in computers, the way the "move" function works is it copies the files to the other computer, and destroys the first copy.

In conclusion: Is an uploaded mind really the same person, or is it a copy?

I have to agree with Chatoyance.  Yes.

ALSO: Heres a little something to poke holes in most arguments: If you gradually replace someones brain with a computer, are they the same person?

What if this process happens all at once?

#46 · 118w, 5d ago · · ·

>>656189 Also known as reincarnation. Theoretically, nothing speaks against the idea that a sufficiently well constructed simulated body can contain a soul in the same way as a real one. After all, even our current material bodies are just organic hardware without the soul.

#47 · 89w, 1d ago · · ·

It would be interesting to see a story explore what it was like to live in one of the work camps, perhaps following the struggle of one individual's attempts to escape and upload. Whether those attempts ultimately prove successful is up to the author.

#48 · 89w, 1d ago · 2 · ·


Yes! I think that would be a good idea for a story.

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