A slightly satirical guide to the seven key stages members go through upon joining this site. Things like writing are taken as a given and these are more akin to passive states that people acquire or adopt.
For the vast majority of contributors, life upon the wiki begins as an unregistered user who browses the site for content and perhaps reads into it to see what things are like. Some who do this already have accounts but do not contribute straight away while others will begin writing before even knowing what an account is.
When new to the site, not a soul tends to know who you are or what your business is here. Yes, everyone intends to write but the reasons are vast and varied. In that sense, the new user is largely anonymous and can be forgotten about unless they either gain infamy for stirring up trouble or a degree of renown for creating high quality articles. Usually it is the former and not the latter.
Of course, anonymity almost inevitably leads on to the next stages. Either joining a hard to miss feature of many wikis and this one is no exception. Chat.
In the days of yonder, light socializing and communication between users was limited to the IRC Channel, Blogs and Talk Pages. These days it's almost exclusively handled by what is now the mainstay of wiki add on features. Of course, for users who have been here longer than the institutionalization of chat, then this stage was done the old fashioned way.
In Chat, people discuss articles, daily goings on, random unrelated topics and essentially everything under the sun that is regarded as "fairly acceptable." A few rules exist, but it tends to be a place where people realise that anything they say wont be recorded for eternity upon the main space and used against them (even wiping and deleting doesn't remove things that have been written from the databases. Provided you know where to look).
Over time this increase of communication between users is usually used to build up a degree of camaraderie between users although things can just as easily turn bitter. In the case of the former, this leads to the next stage. Community.
Over time the user ends up ingrained within the community. This can be done a lot quicker these days due to the use of chat as this integration used to develop over a far longer timescale when messages between users could take hours if not days to be responded to. On top of that, there was always that niggling feeling of revealing too much upon a place that kept everything recorded. Even if you're not paranoid, you didn't want to be too open about personal details.
Becoming part of the community typically leads to forming relationships with other people. Whether these were amicable, social or antagonistic is of course all relative to people's personalities and there will almost always be varying degrees of what people considered to be the limit of these interactions.
While being an utter cynic, it cannot be denied that some people do seem to form genuine friendships with one and other over the internet while in other cases it can lead to people baring grudges against people they have almost no chance of ever meeting in real life. All negative aspects aside, you may actually start to find the whole experience of contributing to be relatively fun. Hell, this could even lead on to the fourth stage of enjoyment!
Imagine that! You're actually enjoying socialising with these faceless sentient beings that exist behind other computer screens while writing stories about fictional characters you have created for what is one of your favourite settings! Great!
During this stage, everything is fun. From being raided by other sites to helping to deal with trolls and showing new users the ropes. Life seems good and you've perhaps just finished what you regard as your best article upon the site. Of course, one of the things you are enjoying the most is that people know who you are and you are no longer the newbie of the site. Terrific!
You may start to become very active because this site is something you are very passionate about and prefer to be a part of than other things within your life. Maybe some old website you were a part of no longer fills the void in your life and so this becomes the better alternative. However, this recognition you have been receiving will almost always come at a cost. People might start to look up to you and rely upon you for advice as well as wisdom. This is when you realise you have been given a degree of responsibility.
This stage can start out enjoyable. It also takes on many forms and is practically never the same for everyone. For the vast majority, it starts off with newer users asking you questions and wondering about certain details within the Warhammer 40000 setting. With the Warhammer 40000 universe being as large as it is, your knowledge will of course vary. You could be a walking wolfopedia or merely one with an interest in the macabre. There are overlaps in some fields, but there will be a vast range covered so you may offer your services to set this poor new guy straight.
If you do this enough times then people may start calling upon you to be given actual powers or you may have just been randomly given them by the mysterious masters of the 40k Wiki known as Dark Seer and Blade bane. Or perhaps one of the admins has realised you are a pretty level headed dude who keeps the peace and you wind up as a Chat Moderator. Either way, you're community standing is reinforced with the ability to actually make a difference of sort. Again, this can still be enjoyable and a fun thing to do as you help people with their problems.
However. And this is a big however. It is practically impossible to do a job that makes everyone happy. All of your actions will slowly be criticised whether it was because you weren't fast enough to respond or are apparently being too unfair. It may just be one or two people who take this stance while the rest of the community supports your actions, but this builds up and up. This is not exclusive to those with administrative powers, as even merely having some degree of responsibility leads to everything slowly turning into a problem while people expect you to be capable of electronic miracles. If you don't have the means to fix the problem and people keep moaning at you to do so, this this can become particularly infuriating. This almost always leads on to the sixth stage as the site no longer becomes an attractive prospect for spending your time.
The reasons for this are also numerous. The path above is only a single one that does not always necessarily run its course for everyone. For some that is the case but social lives, work commitments, education, video games, other websites, sexual partners, dislike of new users, dislike of old users, dislike of admins. You name it. All can lead to a decreased interest with the site and a reduced desire to bother yourself with it.
Why would you metaphorically lock yourself in a room with a bunch of people out for your hide when you could be off having fun with some friends, playing the latest release for the gaming system you own or checking out more friendly internet communities.
I mean, really, when your mates are calling you out drinking or some member of the opposite sex wants to spend time with you I seriously doubt you your priorities would be to deal with some people you have never met in real life or finishing off the latest chapter of your fanfiction. So of course you were going to end up reaching that last stage in the spiral of contributing.
From the start this was going to happen. Come on now, you must have considered it away back then when you were rosy eyed and filled with a sense of wonder. I hate to say it. Actually, I'm a cynic so I don't. But the moment your fingers hit the keys of that first character of that first input into your registration for your account, you were going to eventually abandon this site. We are all mortal beings and so leaving a website is inevitable.
Some people may only take this as a temporary option, returning to it months later because they have decided that they either have a thicker skin, have forgotten what they did not like, are no longer preoccupied with other affairs or that ban they got for posting offensive messages was finally lifted. However, any return, not matter how much people say they are staying, is doomed to be temporary simply because of the mortal nature of man. And woman.
After leaving this site you have probably grown as a person. Or at least your hide has and so the rest of the internet doesn't seem so bad. Or it can seem a lot bloody worth. I'm not your damn psyche, so I honestly have no clue. But I do hope that your experiences here were almost entirely forgettable. I mean, do you really want to have memories of some random website you once contributed to years ago? Of course not, now go and play outside.