10,957 Days of September and Counting
This was largely written before I had learned of Loghead's stepping back from editing the zine, and have since decided that this would make a great intro to the zine at large.
I have to get used to the idea that for once I'm not The Old Guy in a given community. Fine, I might have been around during the twilight of the BBS in the early/Mid-90s, but I'm 90% sure there are folk on server that were around during FidoNet, or during the Usenet discussions of Yore from the prior decade.
My mind is drawn to 'Eternal September' mostly because my niece has started school and I happen to catch something on TikTok that I... Just can't let go.
'We were a Peaceful Community til The Locals started showing up!'
I have heard and read that refrain for the past thirty years across all manner of communities from BBS, to IRC, php Forums, Mailing Lists, MUDs, MMOs, Discord, Reddit, and on... and On. The internet may be vastly diffrent from what it was in 1993, but the refrain remains the same.
As a concept this has its roots in the days when 'The Internet' was far less public and far more rooted in universities as points where normal, as opposed to Millitary or Big Business, people might have a chance at experiencing the Wired World. Every September universities would get new students, transfer students from other schools that might not have had UseNet access, and so every September the established communities that had formed would basically have to educate The Newbies on The Way Things Are.
Then, in 1993, AOL gave its subscribers UseNet access.
I'm sure the folks that ran and or maintained Usenet in theory understood what the problem was, but I can guarantee you that they were not prepared for the sheer scale caused by AOL sending CDs out in such volumes that they tied up a majority of the world's CD pressing plants at the time.
Suddenly September never ended. It wasn't a single month of a few hundred or so newbies in an incredibly niche culture. It was suddenly anyone with a computer and a modem. It was never-ending and all-encompassing. From the standpoint of any Oldbies the old arguments and passions suddenly gained rose tint to them and everything before the tsunami of users didn't seem so bad. The old shouting matches, threats, deeds, and all were now remembered as 'the peak of civility' or 'harmless fun to keep things interesting.'
That is where the term originates. However it has since expanded to basically be 'any community that gets Big andgets a flood of new users, or a bunch of old users leave or the community Changes.'
Basically, it was nerds suffering from the same tribal nostalgia that hits everyone when things change.
Why It Shouldn't, and won't, End
This is all subjective. My Opinion. If you feel otherwise that is well within your right. The moment a community stops evolving, it starts dying. This is diffrent from 'infinite growth at all costs.' This is just an observation I've had based on every communy that has tried to prevent Eternal September essentially devolving into a tight knit in-group conisting of staff, their friends and sycophants, and everyone else with a clear and oft immuteable line dividing the two groups.
The momnet that happens? To me a community is dead, or at least may as well be dead. New Users at that stage are seen as something to exploit and step on rather than actual members of the community.
We very much want to prevent that, and the best way to do so is to have new voices cycle in, old voices step down, and essentially keep the waters of culture and community from stagnating. Change is a part of life, on a communal as well as indavidual basis, and trying to act like it isn't will only lead to ruin.
Don't ask me on specifics. I'm just the guy that joined Last June and only sorta hover around and about at the edges. I stepped up because I thought the zine was something worth continuing, as have several others. If it wasn't me it would've been Basil, and if not him then someone else. So, here we are trying to keep the ball rolling.
It has been September for Thirty Years.
Everything will be alright.