We Value Your Opinion…

The title of this post is also the subject header for at least one email I receive every week, usually from a company that I have bought something from, or opted into their newsletter, or sometimes just some random business that probably bought my information from Facebook. Something like that. Of the dozens of corporate entities making their way into my inbox each week looking for feedback, I respond to maybe a handful of them. Usually, when I do agree to fill out their “short” survey, many of the questions I’m presented with are either not applicable to me, or are predicated on what I might be interested in, or I have no idea how to place how I feel on a scale of 1 to 10. Sometimes I abandon the survey halfway through, because I don’t feel like continuing is worth it.

I’m not sure how to define the rest of the post…perhaps “ironic for a cause” is good, or maybe “needs reassurances” is more apropo, but writing this out allows me to kill two birds with one stone, and so it seemed like the best approach for these related-yet-separate situations. The meat of the matter has to do with our handling of the “business aspects” of SomeAwesome and how we incorporate those aspects to get us where we want to go which, ideally, is a place where we can run micro-communities like this full time. But first an explanation.

Recently, one of our players decided to quit playing. Typically, this is not even considered an event. Most people who quit just stop playing on the server, stop interacting in the Facebook group, and go on with their life. In fact up to this point, every player who wasn’t outright banned, who stopped playing with us, did exactly that. So to say we were thrown a little off our guard when we were presented with the opposite of that, is putting it mildly.

What I mean by opposite, is that not only did this player want to “discuss quitting” with myself and Tonya, but they also wanted us to assist them somehow with a “quitting party”, which in my opinion is absurd, since why would we want to bring attention to someone who did not like it here? Were we supposed to make an event in the group? Roll out the red carpet and announce it in the chat? Make it /motd or something? I think I was more puzzled with the request than angry really, but I was working at the time so Tonya took the reins on reaching out to the player in private chat, which she usually handles anyway because I am generally much shorter with people than she is.

She asked the player why they wanted to quit, for which they gave evasive answers, and that they just wanted to go over the details of this “quitting party” in a voice call. When it was explained that players generally just leave and then come back if they change their minds, she was met with a condescending rebuke, the particulars of I will not go into, but suffice to say it was not all that surprising, as this player had become increasingly like this over the previous month, the more they ran up against any policy of ours that got in the way of what they wanted to achieve on the server. It wasn’t just with Tonya either, this had been the case with pretty much every admin that had meandered onto the server while the player was logged in, so isolated incident it was not.

We had tried to accommodate this player already a few times before, if for no other reason than because we hadn’t vetted them in the way we normally do, and so their initial complaints held at least the impression of reasonableness and/or sincerity. Eventually it got to the point though, after repeated attempts to remind them to keep up in the Facebook group or at the very least read the website articles, that we came to the understanding that there wasn’t anything that this player was going to be satisfied with. Our final dispute involved capitulating to the the player’s grievance yet again after several back and forths (with our insistence that this would be the last time), but by then the player had gone AFK and therefore was kicked by the server, so they never actually saw our whisper to them. A few days passed, they did not log onto the server again, and then we received the message about the quitting party.

If you’ve played here long enough with us, you know that there are times when my “diatribes” can be a little long-winded and emotionally sterile. My response to the idea of the quitting party was indeed one of those, but there are times when I feel it truly calls for such a response, especially when the response also calls for me to put together a number of factors in order to come to a decision on how we should deal with a situation that is both unprecedented and (in my personal opinion) contrary to the server’s best interests.

For brevity’s sake (not that this article is brief) I will sum up, but essentially I told the player that they could have their quitting party, but that we wouldn’t assist, and that since the player was so dead set about leaving (without being all that forthcoming with any reasons for doing so), that it made the most sense to cancel and refund their Patreon pledge, and that we would have to remove any connections they had to SomeAwesome wholesale. At that point I had also made a backup of the server, just in case, as part of my job is to prevent worst case scenarios. Granted, it was a much longer response, but I do feel it is important to detail why we do something in cases like this.

The reply I received was unsurprising in its tone, but I will admit that I was taken aback by the actual text. In short I was told that my “above message was one of the reasons” they were quitting, and then I was subsequently accused of only caring about this server “as a business, and not as a community”. I tried to explain that we had been running this server for 5 and a half years out of our own pocket, and that maybe since the person had only been here during this initial Patreon/economy period, perhaps that was the reason for their thinking, but I will admit to you that, by that point, I was in no mood to invite this player back with open arms, no matter what they said afterwards. Not that they gave any further reasons after that exchange, and proceeded to move forward with their quitting party. And then they left a couple hours later, and I removed them from the Facebook group and banned their account from the server. So it goes.

What bothered me about the whole thing (as I watched the console with this person having their quitting party) was not immediately apparent to me. Obviously, being (what I considered to be) insulted was irritating. Certainly, sitting there and letting the player do what they wanted after that exchange gave me pause, as I wasn’t sure I was doing the right thing. Maybe I should have banned them right then and there, but I didn’t. Was that the correct move? After everything was said and done and a couple days passed, I do think it was the right thing to do, but still it gnawed at me.

The point of this article, and really the future of this server, is based on what I eventually came to terms with, what was bothering me so much. The problem wasn’t about the player leaving, or the player having a “quitting party”, or even that the player accused me of something I truly believe is the opposite of what they thought. It was the fact that the player had only been here for less than a month, and they felt they had the right to judge me on something they had no backstory to, nor did they want it.

Conversely, I know so many of you so well, and have for many years. Some of you have been here since the very beginning. So while I didn’t give this particular player’s accusation much weight, I think what bothered me so much is that one of you might be thinking the same thing. I will admit, we’ve rolled all of this out in whirlwind fashion. Sometimes I take it too far, as I did today with posting about the limited run tridents at 10:30am EDT on a Wednesday. I didn’t think it all the way through, it’s true. But I was lucky that a couple of you called me out on it. I need that, and because I trust your opinion, I will be happy to take the criticism from you.

Now, I don’t want to make it look like tenure is the only gauge I use to trust you guys. There are many, many reasons, and yes obviously I feel like I know some of you more than others, but my point is that this person who left, and wanted so much fanfare for leaving…I had no reasons to trust them at all. But one of you might have similar complaints, and its no good at all if you don’t tell me about them. I mean, spare my feelings a little if they’re super-harsh and send me a private message, but tell me nonetheless. This server is a community, and I do my best to meet everyone in the middle where I can, so let’s help each other get there, with everything. Except surveys 😉

Thanks for listening,

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