Funkyterrance wrote:Anyone want to tell me why this is a bad idea?
You've been so consistently depressing and negative lately that I've started ignoring you as one does with trolls. But then I thought about the fact that you used to be an interesting poster, and I used to enjoy reading what you have to say, so maybe before I write you off completely I should take one shot at achieving an understanding.
Okay, so why is this a bad idea? Let's get started.1. A successful strike needs a clearly defined set of demands.
We actually did have a successful strike on CC not too long ago, when the mapmakers went on strike, demanding some XML upgrades in the foundry. That was a pretty specific demand, and they got it. But what, specifically, do you think the mods should demand site-wide?
There is absolutely no general consensus on what is wrong with CC and how to fix it.
- On one hand, you have the mapmakers and the foundry mods, who say that what we need to sustain a vibrant CC is upgraded XML to make more complex and innovative maps. As noted, the foundry had a strike recently because they felt very strongly about that issue. On the other hand, you have Changsha's recent essay about "the real reason CC is declining" which argues that complex maps are the reason for CC's decline and we need to get back to basics. Lot of people posted supportive comments in that thread, which reveals a huge watershed of people sick of being ambushed with Byzantine maps and settings that require full-time specialization to be good at and are guaranteed to defeat any genuinely casual player.
So, which side would you have the mods demand: more complexity or less complexity?
- On one hand, you have a steady stream of people whining that the reason for CC's downfall is "excessive moderation" and "the loss of Flame Wars" and other such things. On the other hand, you have fairly regular input from people who are sick of all the filth and profanity and ask for more moderation. One mod actually did go on strike not too long ago to try to force the issue and get stricter rules in place for foul language. He didn't succeed, but do you think he should have?
Which side would you have the mods strike in support of: more profanity or less profanity?
- One one hand, you frequently see suggestions that CC should invest more in advertising. On the other hand, anyone who has been in business knows that the effectiveness of advertising is a hit-and-miss affair, and while it can sometimes pay off, on other occasions it can bleed you dry and accomplish nothing.
So what would you have the mods demand: that CC's financial reserves should be put on the Pass line in the crap shoot of advertising, or should be carefully shepherded?
- On one hand, a lot of people demand more action regarding the perceived dominance of the scoreboard by freestyle farmers. While there might still be some things we can do to curtail a few specific forms of farming, the bottom line is that there will never be a real resolution without hurting the practise of freestyle itself. Some people would like to see freestyle abolished outright, some would like to see it banished to a separate scoreboard, some would like a cap on the points you can earn through it. On the other hand, many of the freestylers are among CC's oldest and most loyal members. I'm not sure exactly how many there are, but it's a risky business to make changes in favour of a new crowd at the expense of the old crowd that has been paying for years.
So, where do you think the mods should line up: for freestylers, or against them?
These are a few of the things that divide public opinion on CC. I could find you more examples, but these suffice to illustrate the point. For every person who says "We need more X!" there is another person saying "We need to get rid of X and have more Y!"
"The mods" are not some unique species bred in captivity and selected for unique characteristics. Except perhaps for having slightly
more than average willingness to volunteer for stuff, we are otherwise just a reasonably random sample of CC's membership. We come down on both sides of every issue just as the membership in general comes down on both sides of every issue.
This was illustrated quite recently (during your hiatus) when people attempted to revive the issue of reforming the scoreboard. Almost everyone agrees the scoreboard should be reformed (even there, it's "almost everyone" and definitely not an unqualified "everyone") but that's about as far as the consensus goes. There are at least five different major suggestions of how to reform the scoreboard, and minor variations on each, and none of them can command the support of anything resembling a majority.
Anyway, let's carry on.2. Forcing lack to do more may not accomplish anything.
Okay, so maybe there is one thing you could try to build a consensus around: the basic idea that lack doesn't do enough to improve the site. You will never get a consensus about what changes he should make, but you can get a consensus, however useless it might be, that he should be doing more of an unspecified "something."
Would this make a difference? Let's consider the evidence.
Since I joined CC, the suggestion/demand I've seen most often is "Why can't we play Battle Royales all the time, not just during the Anniversaries?" And recently, lack made that change. All premium members can now join a Battle Royale every month. Did that do anything so silence the endless clamour of "lack never does anything!" or "the site never changes!"? Not really. Maybe for two or three days there was a flurry of people thanking or congratulating lack, but soon enough the old cacaphony returned. "Lack never does anything to improve the site" was being chanted in unison less than a week
after he implemented the single most frequently demanded change on the site!
The second most common demand was one-minute Speed turns. Again, that was something lack implemented in his 2011 Speed Game Revamp, along with 2-minute turns, the turn-warning buzzer, and other improvements that speed players had been asking for. Did that silence the clamor? Again, absolutely not. A little extra interest in Speed games for a few days, and in less than a week the old mantras were being chanted again. "Nothing every changes" "Lack does nothing but sit on his thumbs" and of course "We haven't seen an update in years." I shit you not -- within three or four days after the Speed Game Revamp I saw someone claim that he hadn't seen a single improvement on CC in "years."
Cognitive Dissonance is a frightening thing. People who spend all their time chanting "nothing ever changes" cannot be moved from their position by showing them change. All they will do is trivialize and belittle the changes in order to persuade themselves that they were still right all along.
Let me just try to review the changes I've seen in the time (less than two years) that I've been here. In no particular order:
- Speed Game Revamp
- Battle Royales
- Trench Warfare
- The new Tournament-Finder drop-down
- Mass Wall Clean and other functional improvements to the wall
- integral clickies
- Dice Stats
- Medal Stats
- Round Limits (What a huge improvement that was -- a way for people to eliminate the possibility of stalemates if they chose)
- various server and database upgrades to reduce lag
- various new medals and minor improvements
So, I've been here 23 months and I can list 11 significant changes. There's probably some that I missed, but any day of the week I can find another post in the forums saying "nothing ever changes" or "lack doesn't give a shit" or some other version of the popular mantra. So, if one change every second month has absolutely no effect on the critics, do you think one change every month would? How about one change every week? What do you think, maybe we should pressure lack to make one change every day, so nobody has any idea what all the different game settings are, or where anything is?
I mean, if you give your wife 11 bouquets and she's still screaming, "you never buy me flowers!" do you really think that bringing her a 12th bunch will fix the situation?
Okay, let's move on.3. If your primary plan fails, your fallback position is disastrous.
Funkyterrance wrote:Worst case scenario he sells the site and someone who actually cares takes the helm.
Are you really that naive? Please tell me you were just trolling, and really aren't that naive.
First off, when games come on the market, they are not bought by white knights who selflessly seek to improve them. Games are bought by predatory puppy mills like Electronic Arts and Ubisoft who are only interested in draining whatever profit can be derived before the well runs dry. The first thing a major company would do is lower the boom and put a time limit on free players so that they would get an introductory 60 days or something and then pay or f*ck off. Then they would increase the price for the rest of us, while littering the site with massive bandwidth-sucking ads. "Why not?" you ask, "if they're going to make improvements?" Because they won't make any improvements.
Major gaming companies are interested in hits. Games that have a minor cult following like this are just cash cows to be milked in order to produce new hits. No executive at any major gaming company would authorize five minutes of programmer time to be spent on something like this. Well, except maybe to close a loophole through which someone might get something for free.
"Okay," you retort, "let's not sell it on the open market then. Let's sell it secretly to someone who is prepared to love it." Well, there you run up against a couple problems. First, no one will ever love something as much as the original creator. As unmotivated as you might think lackattack is, you can be pretty sure that his replacement will be slightly less motivated.
Let's take a few minutes to look at the economics of the situation. Of course, nobody except lack really knows what the financial picture is, but I've spent quite a lot of time thinking about it and looking at stuff, and I have my own estimate. I figure CC grosses about $130,000 and has about $100,000 in costs, for a net of about $30,000 to lack.
Now, I will not spend even one minute trying to defend those numbers. I admit that they're mainly based on speculation and conjecture and that I could be way, way off. But just as thought experiment, pretend that I'm a clever guy who used to be involved in some business startups and that my estimate might be correct.
$30K is a barely adequate income at a Canadian cost of living. I'm a blue-collar guy who works seasonal and temporary jobs and has periods of unemployment in between, and even I make more than that. For a university educated computer programmer like lack it would be totally unacceptable to settle for that kind of income.
Can you imagine a guy with a wife and two young kids coming home and saying, "Honey, I could have had a job at Oracle making $150K, but I've decided to stay home and play with my pet project. We don't need more than $30K a year, do we?" So, either he has a day job somewhere or he has other websites not related to CC. Possibly both. Certainly he isn't going to make CC his full-time career.
Now, you propose to sell CC to some white knight who will make it his full time carreer. What can be the selling point? If you could wave a magic wand and quadruple the profit, it might be interesting to someone. But you can't. There are no guarantees in business. Someone might make a bunch of changes and quadruple the revenue, or they might make a bunch of changes and nothing happens. Or worse, they invest a whole lot of time and money and the revenues might continue to go down. You just don't know, and all you can offer this hypothetical white knight is what the profits are at present.
If he's even moderately proficient at programming, your hypothetical white knight can get a six-digit salary any day of the week at any established software house. Even if he's a really bad programmer, he can bullshit his way into a job paying $65K or so. And you want to entice him to take on a job that pays possibly half that much?
If you were to succeed in this hypothetical private sale of yours, you would either get just another lackattack who would work on this part-time in between more lucrative projects, or you would get a really atrocious programmer who would fill the place with bugs and make it unplayable in no time. (That's one thing I love about CC: compared to any other Internet game I've tried, there are so few crashes and bugs. This really is the most stable game I've ever played.)
So, to get back to your original question, "Why is this a bad idea?" I think I've answered it. (1)There is no consensus about what changes we should pressure lack to make, (2)making changes would not satisfy the ingrates who have self-brainwashed with the "nothing ever changes" mantra, and (3)if you did manage to depress lack to the point of giving up and selling the thing, it would get substantially worse and not better.
Biff Tannen is in the White House.
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Somewhere, the Doc went wrong....