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The Role of the Gatekeepers

One of the hallmarks of the Ill Bethisad Project is that is has long been one of individual creative autonomy expressed within a group oriented framework. Part of this framework is the oversight and maintenance work done by the IB Gatekeepers (a.k.a. Illuminati & Powers That Be).

Don't let the grandiose titles fool: more important than what the Gatekeepers do is what they don't do. The Gatekeeper is not a controller or a boss or an executive (except in the very rarest of rare circumstances, and even then, that role is not taken happily or lightly).

For the most part, the role of Gatekeeper has been to monitor the overall flow of IB. Keeping track of trends and placing them within the already existing historical framework is an important task. Whenever new articles appear on the Wiki or new news articles or discussions happen on Conculture, it is one of the obligatory functions of the Gatekeepers to either think back in time or study the archives to see if there is contradictory matter. The Gatekeepers are the overall leaders and arbiters of what is and isn't kosher.

The Gatekeepers also make a study of the Project itself as a conculturing / conlanging / alt-historical phenomenon. From the Secret Archive: "I usually think on this role as very much a background affair. Mostly it entails thinking about the project as a whole and comparing modern trends and efforts with the Original Plan, such as it was. That Plan was a world in which Brithenig could exist and flourish, and was based on the POD of Roman power not dying out in Britain. Naturally, many other PODs have occurred over the years as other Members have entered the project, made their mark and then exited." Part of this external oversight also involves the consideration and formulation of the philosophical principles that form that group oriented framework. We all "know how it works" deep down, but as time marches on and people come and go, the need for laying out the cards as it were was felt more keenly.

One of the historical functions of the Gatekeepers is to invite people to join the group and to make the necessary introductions to the group. With the way the Wiki is set up, this function has largely dissipated into one of welcoming new and interested individuals when they request a login ID and sign on for the first time. The List of Members is maintained by the Gatekeepers and one of their jobs is to discuss membership matters and deciding who should be identified as a contributing Member.

As a group, we have been blessed in that our Members have exhibited an admirable level of maturity and self control, even though by in large our demography shows that most of us are fairly young (some have been in their teens even). There have only been a very few times the Gatekeepers have had to act as bouncers in an effort to restore order. For the most part, discussion and good old fashioned "working things out" has done our job for us. Sadly, therefore, one of the functions of the Gatekeepers is to deal with the problems. Should a Member become unmanageable, it falls to the Gatekeepers to decide what to do.

Certainly Andrew Smith himself was, as the originator of the Project, the original Gatekeeper. When he left us for a while in 2001, I took on the role. The role was shared with Dr Cowan and so things stood for several years. When Dr Cowan retired from his on-line activities in late 2004, that left me without a partner again. I thought that the job is best done by two people: this is not an autocratic sort of arrangement, and it is not a one-man project. Thinking "two heads are better than one", I considered a number of possibilities and chose Dr van Steenbergen as my partner. Thus it has stood for the last couple years. In 2006, Jan and I chose Dan Hicken as our third.

One time, Marc Pasquin enquired about the nature of the Gatekeepers (or Iluminati): "One thing I'm wondering, what exactly would be the powers of the Illuminatis ? would becoming one be by co-optation or by vote from the active members ?"

The Illuminati are something akin to the Lords of the Instrumentality. Mostly, they have been older members (for they have more time and effort involved in the project and know a lot about what's gone on before), though at present two of them are fairly recent. Their powers are somewhat amorphous; absolute in many respects but almost never obvious in the foreground. A strict ethics code binds them in their actions.

For the most part, their powers are those of directing the overall movement of the project: not at all by telling others what they can and can not do (though at rare times this is needful); they are the ultimate arbiters of facts ( QSS); when fundamental problems arise, they consider and devise solutions; they mediate disputes; traditionally, they invite and approve new members; at times, they disinvite members.

It's not so much a matter of what "would be" the powers of the Illuminati, cos they've had them all along. As for becoming one, that's by invitation of a present Iluminatus. For a long while there was one and then two. Now that we've grown, there are three. In time and given the need, it may be that another will be chosen. (30.JUNE.2006)

In future, and if the Membership as a whole deem it necessary or profitable, I would not stand in the way of a general vote of no confidence or even of removal of a Gatekeeper. Though I remain baffled aforetime as to what sort of malfeasance could lead to such a thing happening.

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