A private Usergroup for current or former members of the armed forces from any country led by Rob Wilson
Notes, History and Traditions
The Mess is Stardestroyer.net's private military usergroup. Requirements for entry include being in good standing with the board and having served in the Armed forces (no matter the country or if service is voluntary or conscripted).
The History of the Mess insofar as its exact date of inception is lost in time, but it originally came about as a result of a series of Private Messages between Rob Wilson and Coyote, when discussing how many current and former military members there were at SDN. Coyote commented to Rob something about "almost having enough people to start our own Platoon with soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines all included". Rob Wilson liked the idea and went to Mike Wong with the proposal for a private usergroup and shortly after that the Mess was born with Rob as primary Mod and Coyote as Deputy.
However, with Rob and Coyote both being activated for service at various times,more Mods were needed and so RogueIce and Mr. Bean were added as well. Mike Wong is included with an honorary title of "PSAO" although he rarely reads or posts in the forum, being respectful of the group's privacy.
While originally little more than a private club for servicemembers of SDN, the Mess has grown considerably in "mission". Early attempts to create a Mess-centric fanfic series didn't get very far, although the characters and bios thought up are still considered potentially active. Mess members kept a watch on ignorant comments about the military or soldiers in general in the board population, confronting people making foolish comments about military missions or capabilities, and also helping to put science-fiction military activities in contexts or comment on their realism. However, other, more real-life matters became topics of discussion as well.
As real-world politics dragged on, the Mess became an area where servicemembers could talk about experiences openly without having to put up with military-fanboy wankery or political screeds for or against various countries' policies. As wars in Iraq and Afghanistan dragged on, it also became a valuable tool for helping troops who have been/are being rotated to combat and other deployment duties that involve long periods away from friends or other sympathetic supporters. In the Mess topics such as family stress, re-adjusting to civilian life, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder have been discussed in constructive and helpful ways among people who understand, care, and in no few cases empathise.
On the lighter side, The Mess is also known for perpetrating epic and ultimately hilarious "April Fool's" day pranks, which often result in a lot of mixed feelings. While many have praised the Mess's ability to carry out uniquely grandiose pranks, others have derided them as childish and infantile. Pranks for April Fools Day will frequently involve many (if not all) of the Mess members acting in concert. Being from many different countries (and therefore maintaining a presence all 24 hours) the Mess work together to produce scripts and analyze responses from among the general population and plot courses of action. The plotting and planning phases are often as grandiose in scope as the pranks themselves, and involve detailed and meticulous planning.
Over the course of time, the major pranks have coincided with odd-numbered years because, as Coyote put it after a rancorous argument in the Senate following the 2007 AFD prank, "You people seem to need a lot of clues".
Recently, the Mess has been coming to grips with such issues as how the military society and the civilian society frequently has trouble seeing eye-to-eye on such things as priorities, duty and commitment, and whether or not service as an obligation to the state is a valid concept.
Rob's A Cook! 2005
Rob Wilson, Co-founder of the Mess, was "revealed" to be nothing more than a mere Army Cook-- the joke was given some lead-up in the days preceding April Fool's Day, and when the "great revelation" of his low-rung status in the British Army was revealed, the shock was near complete and total, with only a few suspecting. Only on April 1st was the prank revealed for what it was. People seriously fooled included Sheppard, who in an actually well-meaning attempt to try to contain what he thought was "slander", got involved in a serious flamefest over the issue.
The Great Mess Mess of 2007
Operation Brokeback Warwolf was the operating title for the 2007 Prank. The lead-up to this prank was almost a month long and involved a series of articles published in mainstream news about the controversial "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy regarding gays in the US military. A Mess member was "outed" as gay to his commander by a another vengeful (and fictional) Mess member for reasons left unspecified. A carefully staged "Mess civil war" was had, with occasional "eruptions" and "airing of dirty laundry" among the general population. It led to Mess members being "banned" temporarily just days before April Fools and had many in the general board population gossiping about the situation. The prank was carried out in toto: even planned IM chats were had away from the board to reinforce the situation. Furthermore, the SDnet chat was involved, and some members were pranked in real life.
Reaction to the Prank
When the prank was finally revealed for what it was, many applauded the cleverness, timing, and discipline that had been required to pull it off.
Others, however, were furious that such a sensitive topic had been used as a foil for a mere prank, and that the prank itself had been too "real"; e.g. the Mess, instead of doing the lead up to the prank a day or so before April Fool's Day as had been traditional, had begun the prank a month before April Fools Day, and had not informed any of the Admins or Moderators who were not part of the Mess about the prank itself.
Arguments and recriminations were had that made the "fallout" as thoroughly "entertaining" (or at least "engaging") as the event itself. For a while it looked like there actually would be titles, bannings, or other punitive actions taken against an unapologetic Mess, but the sudden announcement of the Stofsk verdict completely derailed the discussion and within a few days it was left to the past.
Due to the fallout of the April 01 2007 Mess Prank, a Senate thread was --originally jokingly-- threatened to pass a resolution that would change the name of "the Mess" to any one of a number of derogatory nicknames, the "leading candidate" being "Messholes". The Senate thread was eventually realized and votes were actually had, carried out and tallied, however, it was a defeat (mostly through abstentions) and written off as little more than a childish vendetta in retaliation for the prank.
However, the nickname "messhole" continues to be used, albeit jocularly.