The Community Summit
Is our community elitist? Are we becoming a clique?
Recent statements in the community by this site and others have made people wonder quite a bit about exactly what this community we all participate in is really all about. So, in order to try to get to the bottom of this, loonygames hosted a roundtable of sorts, with some of the most well known and ‘powerful’ people in the community getting together to discuss exactly that.
What follows is a log of the chat we had, edited for content and legibility. I asked the questions, they offered the answers.
The cast of characters you’ll see in the chat:
Aurora - Vangie "Aurora" Beal, founder and manager of GameGirlz
blitz - Adminstrator of Quake2.com
Bobbi - Stephanie "Bobbi" Bergman, associate editor of loonygames, and ‘devil’s advocate’ for the purpose of this roundtable.
bwernicke - Brad Wernicke, Founder, Business Manager of 3D Portal
ChrisDay - Chris Day, Editor-In-Chief of 3D Portal and its network
Fargo - Dave "Fargo" Kosak, Creative Director of the GameSpy/PlanetQuake network. Also known as "Critical Mass." With the help of Joost, he manages the content across the entire network, whether it's the development of new stuff or the maintence of the old. Dave also handles PR and promotion.
Idoru - Paul Magyar, one of the owners of Telefragged and the business manager
jschuur - Joost Schuur, hosting manager for PlanetQuake and the network.
loonyboi - Jason "loonyboi" Bergman, editor in chief of loonygames.
NetGuy - Ryan Passage, co-news editor for Quake2.com and Coordinating Administrator of the GamesLink IRC network
QuakeGod - Brian "QuakeGod" Malkowski, webmaster and more of TeleFragged
Redwood - Sean "Redwood" Martin, the creator and editor of Redwood's 3D News
Also invited to the roundtable, but not in attendance, were Steve "sCary" Gibson, from sCary’s Shugashack, Steve "Blue" Heaslip from Blue's News, and William "Phoebus" Mull, from Hexenworld. The three were sent the unedited log of this chat and given the chance to comment before this article ran, but as of this moment, they have not.
Read this with an open mind. Remember, nothing of this kind has ever been done before, and most of the people in attendance compete with each other on a daily basis. The intention of this chat was to learn something, not to create enemies. I think you’ll find the results were rather fascinating.
Bobbi: Well, since the idea for this came from Blue's editorial, why don't I start with that issue, 'specially since answers to that may hit some of the other subjects I have on tap. Has the community become elitist? Is this a clique?
jschuur: it has to be a clique
Bobbi: Has to be?
jschuur: the net is too big and too many people want to run a web site and don't know what they're getting into, you need to carefully balance fresh blood and reliable staff
Fargo: Far from it. Traffic across all the sites is growing. (Heh, I just disagreed with Joost.) It's easier than ever to start a fan site.
Idoru: I agree it is not really a clique, traffic seems to have skyrocketed in the last few months
ChrisDay: I see it as more than one clique, but there is definitely segregation involved, and an elitist attitude in some cases
NetGuy: i can see where some people are thinking it's a clique, but to be frank there is quite a bit of eliteism. it's part of what keeps the smaller sites from growing really.
jschuur: elitism, or what people perceive as elitism
Bobbi: People are starting to call the community elitist, and impossible to break into...Is that true?
Aurora: I don't think it is. I think it depends on how much time you spend involved in the "online" community that would determine that.
ChrisDay: I believe it is nearly impossible to break into
jschuur: people often think because someone is famous, they're untouchable, vain and greedy
Fargo: There are more great hosts than ever. And the good ones will promote new content. Now, it's harder to find something origninal to do, but it CAN be done.
blitz: some people resent the larger sites, sometimes they are right to do so
Aurora: Again, i don't think so... Unless, of course you want to start a website only for the purpose of having a large audience. But, that depends on your reason for doing the site in the first place
ChrisDay: it takes talent and devotion that the average person trying to break into it just doesn't have
NetGuy: it takes an immense ammount of work/manpower to compete with larger sites, for most people the payoffs (if any) just aren't worth it for them.
jschuur: having a large audience (that comes back), means a lot of people benefit from your site's content. that's what i like about being successfull. at the end of the day i know a lot of people learned something
loonyboi: Joost, doesn't that attitude discourage originality? If there's a clique, then that assumes a sort of passive, assimilated state amongst the participants.
jschuur: i'm saying people need to start slowly and prove themselves somehow. i know the word 'clique' sounds wrong, but people are often so eager to be like the big guys that they don't know what they're getting themselves into
NetGuy: it's sad that this even needs to be called a "competition", because it shouldn't need to be that way, but it's gotten to the point where it is.
blitz: sites stealing sites from each other is a good example
ChrisDay: also true, blitz, but I think its inevitable
Fargo: Look, it's 90% stamina. Sticking with an idea through the points of low traffic until you're noticed.
NetGuy: Fargo: yah a lot of it, that and manpower.
Idoru: not really manpower for newer sites but uniques
Fargo: BitchX is a one-woman operation as far as I can tell. How much promotion has she had? Almost none. Word of mouth. Now it's an industry force.
Bobbi: How do you get noticed?
ChrisDay: having someone within the clique spot you ;)
Bobbi: I think part of the arguments being made, is that if you're not 'someone' there is no word of mouth.
jschuur: in the case of a lot of sites, you run a site on your own, and if you have an original idea, you mail into the big news sites and get discovered. that's one way, but not the only one
NetGuy: considering the wide variety of coverage that the current sites provide the gaming community, your new site has to have some kind of catchy features or something, otherwise they're just going to pass you over for the big guys.
blitz: sometimes the big sites will not post you
loonyboi: good point blitz. is that their fault though?
NetGuy: yes, it is their fault.
blitz: good question but they do blame the big sites and it alienates them
ChrisDay: when you're posting news you have to discriminately choose just the best news out there
jschuur: a big site that does news is like a shitfilter, they have to bring what they think their audience wants to read
loonyboi: you news page people have to have a lot of enemies...anyone whose site you don't plug tends to resent you.
blitz: their are also cliques in news reporting
Aurora: And bring what a dozen other sites aren't doing
NetGuy: if this community plans on growing & surviving, having big sites filter out the smaller ones is counter productive to the over-all cause.
Fargo: A big site would hurt itself if it ignored interesting news. It helps itself and the community if it doesn't publicize junk.
NetGuy: yea, there's a difference between filtering out "smaller sites" and filtering out "junk", not all the smaller sites are junk
blitz: some people will post any garbage about sites they like and nothing about the new guy on the block, that is the attitude that the little guy resents
Redwood: Not exactly true, the new guy maybe has something that's been done before, is done poorly, or takes his/her site down way too quickly after not getting a thousand hits the first day
blitz: sometimes true but a good deal of little guys get missed and resent the big sites for this
jschuur: news guys have seen a lot of sites come and go (mods and tcs in particular). if they don't post something, it's because they don't want to get 10000 people's hopes up over something that hasn't shown enough progress
loonyboi: well, where does a new site become news, and cease to be yet another site?
ChrisDay: good question loonyboi, however I feel it can only be answered on a case-by-case instance
Bobbi: There are at least half a dozen smaller sites that have great stuff going on, but they never get mentioned on the big news sites...I guess the question is why not?
Aurora: Perhaps they are expecting news sites to post it, rather then tell sites they exist and what they are doing?
jschuur: bobbi: example?
Bobbi: Well, Aurora's here...GameGirlz would probably be a fit example of a smaller site that doesn’t get the publicity it deserves.
jschuur: a big problem is people don't mail sometimes too. pq doesn't always report on telefragged news because they don't mail us in, not out of competition
Fargo: But it's true of the real world. Do something good: get attention. Do something mediocre: nobody looks.
Aurora: Yep. I don't have time to search a dozen good sites seeing if they've posted a new review or something, and only a few smaller sites are sending us news items
ChrisDay: I have to agree with Fargo there, there's no other way typically.
NetGuy: bingo, and most of the smaller sites can't get the manpower or even the skill required to do something good. their information could be first rate, but if their page isn't that hot because of lack of skill, then they tend to be overlooked
NetGuy: yeah if he has the skill but it's pretty rough
Aurora: GameGirlz is a small site. I *know* we would not compete with larger sites to any extent. But what we do is provide the news that those bigger sites don't. In turn, that brings us a different audience, and we don't have to compete
Fargo: I WANT A COMMUNITY THAT REWARDS SKILL! :)
ChrisDay: the little guys need to learn to better attempt to get the larger sites' attention IMO
NetGuy: i can think of at least 2 domains that are basically run by one person, and they're just not as popular as they should be. not because of info but because of manpower. they're just shadowed by the bigger sites
jschuur: yeah, but what sites? i'm genuinely curious
bwernicke: Heh, look at Blue... one man band... and one of the biggest
* Fargo points at Brad. "Yeah, what he said."
Idoru: Actually I have had excellent response from all the major sites conserning things I thought were news worthy
blitz: posting only the best creates an elitist attitude to some extent
jschuur: posting everything shows you don't take the care to find the gems
Redwood: They can't honestly expect to be mentioned always. There are other ways of getting noticed too. usenet, search engines, etc.
Bobbi: Do you all who run the big news sites actually have the time to check out each e-mail sent to you?
blitz: slipgate used to actually go to every site :)
ChrisDay: Bobbi, yes, but I'm sure I get nowhere near the amount that the other folks here do though
Aurora: Bobbi: yes. I block off time each day to try and respond to as much mail as I can
jschuur: i don't actually post a lot of news, but i skimm each news@ mail. i don't always follow many of the links. interesting question: how much mail do your news@ aliases get?
ChrisDay: Joost, just a handful for us, and another handful that comes directly to me
NetGuy: quake2.com usually gets 50-70 mails a day give or take a few
jschuur: probably the same at pq. a lot of good news doesn't get mailed in
|Credits: Illustration © 1998 Mike Sanzone.This interview is © 1998 Stephanie Bergman & its participants. All other content is © 1998 loonyboi productions. Unauthorized reproduction is strictly prohibited and totally not cool.|