I hear there's new management, I come back to see what's up, and this is the first thing I see. Yikes
In the past I've offered advice and help, and got ignored, flamed on, or just generally kicked out by the seat of my pants. I tried everything from headbutting my way through walls, to 1v1ing the 'new-gen' users in pointless bickering that only made things worse, to just writing and minding my own business and getting bored out of my mind, to sitting and letting you all do your thing, none of which have worked thus far and lead to me leaving for several years.
And I just keep coming back. I genuinely dislike watching the place I spent nearly my whole teenage life going to shit. So here I am. Again. Offering advice and help. Again. Even though multiple people told me not to, because it's probably not a good idea and we should just "let it die." Again.
But I'm a stubborn creature and I enjoy challenge, so let's do this...for what, the fifth or sixth time? I've lost count.WARNING
: If you are easily hurt in the butt by words, do yourself a favor and ignore my ramblings. I am a very blunt sort of being, and dislike sugar-coating things, particularly in situations like this. Normally I enjoy giving out cookies and all sorts of goodies...but not this time around folks. I'm putting everybody on a diet.
First of all...
Geeze Leo, you're STILL here? I give you mad props to sticking it out this long, holy balls. I thought I was stubborn, but take my crown, please. You win, lol.
Second first of all, you're pointing the pointer finger of pointyness at the wrong inanimate object here.
It's never been the system that screwed the pooch, and you all know it. It was the people
abusing the system; nine times out of ten the staff and people who were close to them. People were friends with staff members, and it made them lax. Because of course they were going to make friends; when you hang out with people for years and years and years and years, you get to know them, y'know?
Whine all you like about the "glory days", but at least they had an active user base and didn't spend their time pointing fingers at previous management for their issues. (Well...the DECENT glory days didn't.)
You guys've been doing that for way, way too long now for it to be effecting anything going on now. They've moved on. They're not the (or your) problem anymore. Stop throwing your blame on ghosts. You all know what the problem was, but IRONICALLY like the "glory day" people you keep throwing blame on, you've formed a bond with [unspecific person/object that caused the problem] so you don't wanna point it out.
But friendship is easy, and criticism is hard, so let's drop that and move on.
Call me out all you'd like and cry that I'm biased because I am one of the ghosts, but my fucks are so far gone they're in orbit now. As far as I'm concerned, labels are stupid and won't help me, won't help you, and damn skippy won't help the pickle we're in now.
The success of any forum rests on the shoulders of the owner and the staff. It always
has. And if the owner and staff have no life to them, if they come up with something that has no personality, that's on them, NOT the userbase. The users garner their energy from the staff. If the staff is tired and beaten like a dead horse, the users start to feel it too--they leave, and suddenly your website is dead.
You guys have been wringing your hands, looking around, going "Aw geeze Rick, maybe the website will get better soon..." for YEARS now.
Morties, the answer is no.
The website will not fix itself.
Sitting and doing the same thing you've been doing for the past four years is not going to fix it.
Constantly changing systems is not going to help you.
You want to know what'll help? Let Granny Rose learn you a thing.1: Look over your whole system, ONE last time, and think to yourselves."Is this going to be easy for new members to jump into?"
Relatively simple question. People get intimidated by complicated shit. Ain't nobody wanna pull out no calculators to figure out if their fireballs hit something."Does this give ease to my staff?"
Staff is people too. They have lives n' shit. If applications and approvals are easy, so too will the lives of the staff be.
"What features does this system as a whole have to continue holding people's interests?"
Aside from staff as active as a graveyard, what absolutely Freddy Kruegers the hell out of a website population is a lack of interest in what you're doing.
Because there's about a million skillion kajillion forums out there, you have to have something that stands out from everything else and NO, "we've been here a really long time"
does not count unless you have other shit to back it up. A Model-T Ford is really old, but unless it flies or dispenses cotton candy while you're driving, nobody's gonna wanna buy it.
What's gonna interest people? What makes us stand out from other websites? Shit like this is why I designed the Raid and Conquest systems: things that would keep people's attention. You own a world and don't want it taken away from you? Well you better show up when the giant Heartless comes knocking at your door or else you gonna lose it.
So what makes YOU so interesting? I don't mean you as people, I mean you as in "us" as in the website. Obviously. If you don't know, or your answer is generic as fuck, chances are you're lying to yourself.
If you can't find answers to these questions, or if the answer is "no" congratulations, you're doing it wrong. Before you start advertising again, change shit that needs to be changed and then...LEAVE. IT. ALONE. The system was NEVER the problem. It wasn't a problem in the "glory days" it's not a problem now. You know it. I know it. Everybody knows it. Let's move on.2: Figure out where you're going to stand
What kind of website are we? Think about that for a minute. Labels are stupid, but they're also helpful. They identify certain qualities about an object. If you didn't know what a firetruck was, and I told you "that red thing that puts out fires and has four wheels"
the labels "red
" and "four wheels
" would probably help you find it a lot easier, right?
Well that's the sort of characteristics you people need to figure out this website has. WHAT characteristics do we have, besides being around since the early 2000's?
And if you can't think of anything besides Role-Playing and Kingdom Hearts, congratulations, there's your problem. You wouldn't write a character that is "happy" and "fun" and that's it, so why in the name of Tetsuya Nomura's left eyelid would you keep the character of your website to two characteristics?
What ELSE do you do? THINK. Are you lore-centric? Are you a little more free-form? Are you for all types of writers, or do you lean towards more hardcore writing with big-ass paragraphs and tons of colorful words? Do you focus more on character growth, or are you more action-oriented, or hell, are you both?
THIS is the kind of shit you all need to seriously reflect on. 3: Recruit like you freaking mean it.
Don't just slap a generic advertisement onto another website. That shit's for baby pansy people. And you're not a baby pansy person.
Once again, look at other people and think "what can I do to make myself stand out?"
Back in ye olde days of yore, I used gifs when most people were using static images. That cookie doesn't crunch anymore, since people learned how to use the photoshop machines. So think outside the steamed rice buns. Stop worrying about what people ARE doing, and think about what they're NOT. It'll click eventually.4: Rewards are incentive for people to STAY
We have to remember that not everybody is in the mindset of "I just wanna write good stories." Not everybody's here for self-improvement. What are you gonna give people to keep them around?
I dislike the carrot and stick mentality of the world sometimes, but admittedly, there's a reason it exists; because it works.
So with that in mind, how are you, as a website, going to get people not just to come, but to stay? What makes coming in every day, writing up a post, and waiting for a response worthwhile?
Well multiple things. Character growth, development of relationships, blah blah blah. That's what the whole "old school" "More posts is more power" system was all about. If you were active, you got stronger. If you weren't you were SOL and it was your fault for not being on more, nobody else's.
Was it crude? Yeah.
Did it work? For a long-ass time, yeah.
Was it effective in keeping membership and post creation up?
Oh hell fucking
Dwell on this for a bit: What makes YOU stay here? Probably the spark of hope way, way off in the distance that this place will come back to form and be the bustling hub of excitement it once was, but that's not what new people will probably stick around for.
Put yourself in the shoes of someone who just got here. WHY would they stay? If you can't give a decent, honest answer, try something else: What could change (ASIDE FROM THE OBVIOUS "we need more active people" ANSWER) to try and keep people interested here?
When the original website was decimated in...I think...2007, I am bad with dates, the collection of staff elected to incentive people with their original power levels intact, and the addition of some new items in exchange for activity and feats of exceptional character development.
((What it ended up being was the favoritism game, but that's aside the point, because we're all grown-ass adults now and know that's no good for overall growth.))
But that's how we kept people going, even when shit literally got to the worst possible outcome it could have possibly had. It didn't matter that everything we had worked for had LITERALLY been destroyed in like a few hours and we had to do everything from scratch. As a community, we pulled together in a time of crisis because we cared about it and one another.5: Wipe your ass
But this isn't about ol'skool shit. That's over with. But it's an effective example of what incentive to stick around does to the overall growth of a website. New people don't know that you have interesting and well-developed characters by looking at the main page of a website. That requires digging, and digging requires effort, and people are generally lazy.
So what do they do? They scroll down and they look to see what posts are up, how long ago they were touched, and how many active members you have at the bottom of the page--something that is chiseled into that footer and isn't going away. ((Unless you HTML the hell out of that footer.))
That's what most seasoned forumgoers are going to be looking at, and it's usually the FIRST thing they look at.
The numbers and dates aren't on our side. People look at "remodeling" or "under new management" and IMMEDIATELY the dramatic red flags of drama go off, and the sirens of NOPE sound off, and congratulations your new user is gone.
I utterly...positively LOATHE to say this as someone who has WATCHED her own work that stood vigil over several years get torn down...but y'all need to remove even the SLIGHTEST LITTLE FRAGMENT OF A HINT that there was ever a "before" to begin with.
Just repeat after me: There never was Yima. There never was a Etzolix. There never was a Biscuits. There never was a Zexion. It's all in your head. It's all in your head.
Just remember, this is ME who is saying this; someone who was there when Axel
was in charge. If ANYBODY should be bootybusted about things getting deleted, it should be me. Is it disrespectful to everybody who came before us and built the foundation of everything we stand on? Well imo it absolutely is, but it didn't stop Etzolix or Zexion or Yima from doing it before, so bring out the Neuralizers, because it's time for a memory wipe.
Truth be told, those people are LONG gone and don't care about what happens, because they have moved on. So let's do ourselves a favor, and pretend like there never WAS a before. It never
happened. No announcements saying there was a reset. Nothing. Zip. Zero. Nada. Nix.
We all shut up, and move on, and ignore the burning, post-apocalyptic hellscape looming behind us in the background. Cool guys, after all, do not look at explosions--and we are definitely cool.
It's really hard to stand on a foundation built for you by years and years of dedicated and outgoing personalities, and claim you're standing on it, when there isn't a trace of it left except the occasional wistful mentions of times of yore gone by. It's like two of your friends having an inside joke between each other that they say you won't get. Kind of uncomfortable to new members. You can practically taste the drama of the past in the air when you hear about stuff like that.
This whole "things were better in the past" "no it wasn't, everything was shit" argument is stupid, and dumb, and it's stupid and dumb for it going on as long as it has.
It's wasting everybody's time, bumming everybody out, and wasting energy you could be doing something constructive.
And this is coming from someone writing a small novel trying to fish out a website that has been managed by people who hate her face for a really, really long time. That's like the ultimate waste of time...right next to pointlessly bickering about times and people that have long since abandoned ship.
So do yourselves a favor, and please, wipe your ass.
((I'm not implying that the people who got us where we are, are shit; I love them all very much and happen to be one of them. I'm implying discussing and mentioning them has reached the end of its lifespans and, much like the stuff you're wiping, need to be flushed and forgotten. When Etzolix was in charge, I had the exact OPPOSITE mindset, and threw a huge tantrum about it. Again, I am a very stubborn creature and it takes a lot to change my mind. But I would rather lose all that history (and drama) and grow more than keep it and stay rooted in one spot.))
6: Playing IRL pretend
The atmosphere of a website is directly
controlled by the staff, whether or not you want to believe it is entirely irrelevant. If your leadership expresses they are tired and out of life, much like HPV, it will spread to every single member of the website until everybody's got it.
The best way to counter this, and I WISH this did not sound plastic-y as fuck, but it's gonna--is to absolutely pretend like you're 125% fine all of the time.
I'm going to go back to that "back in my day the original website exploded because someone got buttblasted over cliques" example.
The website exploded. We all freaked the hell out over skype (ironically the thing that one person was mad about being excluded from, allegedly,) got angry, threw tantrums, and tried getting to the bottom of things. One of us, (Jeremi) decided to rebuild from the ground up. The rest of us agreed that was the best course of action, and that we weren't going to let one butthurt tear us all apart. So we all went back and we google searched for various, scattered remains of our website for a few weeks until we'd pieced together enough to get something restarted. It sucked, and we hated it, and we were all bummed out, but we elected to suck it up and drive on. We went back and recruited on Myspace (YES REALLY.) We never really did recapture what we had before, but we got it back on our feet at least.
If we'd kept wringing our hands and being super bummed about the whole situation, this WHOLE place wouldn't even BE here. That's the power of pretending everything is fucking fine.
I mean...we do it every day in our regular lives anyway.
Nobody but the staff needs to know about the staff's problems, unless something is MASSIVELY, HORRENDOUSLY wrong and absolutely REQUIRES the attention of the entire website for some reason.
Bob is sick of approving things and doesn't want to be staff anymore. Instead of bumming everybody the hell out with a long-ass post going over the constant stresses he has in his daily life, he decides to tell staff, who then replace him with someone temporarily until someone qualified can step into the position. There is no notice of changing of staff members because it's really not needed, because that shit's drama-y as fuuuuck, even when it's actually not.
No mess. No fuss. It's quick(?), It's quiet, and it's drama-free (hopefully. I can't make promises like that.) Just efficiency. If big changes need to happen, talk to your users, THEN your staff, THEN come to a conclusion with all the information you've got.
That's all I have for you. That's all I can really give to you. Everything else is pretty much rock solid, as far as I'm concerned.
That's everything that's been wrong for a very, very long time. And I think if we can get all these things accomplished, even if it's hard and depressing and it totally sucks, we'll be better for it all.
If you made it to the end of this really long rant, congratulations on your patience. I appreciate it. I hope what I mentioned was helpful, even if I am as gentle with pointing it out as a baseball bat to the dangly parts. I'm not here to hurt people's feelings...I'm here to help cast Full-Life on this K.O'd website.
Sometimes that means being tough and saying things that need to be said.
"Pinky you bitch, you haven't been around for like six years, you have no right to talk smack."
Blunt, but correct. I wasn't, and I don't. But given that the owners of the website at the time didn't like me or what I had to say because of my label, I was understandably uncomfortable un-anonymously lingering.
But depending on how things go with this post, I'll weigh on how it was received and decide whether I decide to stick around and do everything I can to help, or fuck off and let you all do your own thing like I've been doing for...like...a long-ass time now. ((Which I remind you, has done nothing but make me fret from a distance.))
Idk. I don't like it. I don't like how things are falling apart, and judging by what I've been
reading from users around here for a long, long time...nobody else is either. I'd rather say things that need to be said under the fresh perspective of new leadership than keep quiet and let you all keep going the same route. Ain't nobody can say I didn't make the effort, at least.
But saying things and doing things are two different elements, and I won't move until Simon Says it's cool to do so. Definitely learned from the last few times I headbutted with management. It was unpleasant for every party involved.