The Community Summit
Bobbi: How do you decide what's newsworthy?
Aurora: If it fits our focus, and if it's related to the games our readers tell us they play. Meaning, for us the latest SiN chick ad isn't news, but the demo release is.. it's easy to filter it out
ChrisDay: The main thing is to make sure that the news falls within the bounds of what you typically post. I know that most news sites will even link to an unprofessional site full of typos if it happens to have a hot interview or something though, so quality of the site isn't always a big issue if the content is there
jschuur: for PlanetQuake i'd like to think we try and stay quake related. we get a lot of mails sent in that isn't like robert stutz' reviews for 3dgaming e.g.. good news, but why are they mailing [email protected]? How can you build up a reputation when you don't focus one one aspect
NetGuy: yeah i know what you mean. [email protected] gets quite a few unreal emails, and a LOT of heavygear emails from phoebus ;)
jschuur: heh. yeah, us too
Aurora: We get a lot of e-mail from people who I don't think send news to other sites because the events aren't related to 3D games
loonyboi: just look at the Quake 3: Arena shots that were scanned. Is anyone going to call that a killer new page?
Bobbi: Good point, I think everyone linked to that. Has anybody been back?
jschuur: do you remember the url of the site that had them first? i don't. i guess that proves something
ChrisDay: haven't been back, nope
Bobbi: So nobody knows if that turned into a decent site or not.
ChrisDay: nope, and until they have something new to report, I'm afraid no one will find out
jschuur: oh wait... gamekilla's? was that it?
ChrisDay: gamekillaz or something, sounds right joost. not a bad site, just nothing I'd add to my bookmarks ;)
Fargo: You gotta keep the content rolling out.
jschuur: but the interesting thing here seems to be the attitude that they have to keep up their rep now and bring scoops again. an attitude which i share i'm afraid. it's too easy to produce a site on the net. people need to prove they’re reliable
Fargo: There are two issues here. Can a new site "break in?" Yes. If it's providing a unique service. (reposting other sites' news is not a unique service.) Can they get publicity from the big sites? 1. Yes, if their content is good 2. Even if they don't they can still break though.
Bobbi: So how does Joe Schmo's Quake page get the scoops?
jschuur: they understand that they can't do it on their own and don't start out as a news page. find a niche and focus on it. a small niche
ChrisDay: they don't need the scoops I don't believe. They can improve their page in whatever way they choose, and maybe that will get the news sites' attention, scoops aren't necessary though
Aurora: I dont think an audience cares if you have the "first scoop", as long as you keep a high standard
Bobbi: John Romero wouldn't answer Joe Schmo's e-mail, I'm sure.. (Not intentionally hitting John Romero, just throwing out a name there)
NetGuy: Sure he would. unless john romero's an eliteist, and that brings us back to square one ;)
Idoru: John always answered mine and I am a Joe Schmo. i have to say he is pretty accesible considering. most of the developers have been accesible. there are a few that seem to be "too busy", but most aren't.
Redwood: Not necessarily true. How do you think I got started? Somebody big answered nobody me's email :)
Aurora: I think even if your not "unique' a personality in your site would allow you to break in as well
Fargo: Yeah, definately. But adding "personality" to news (ala Scary) is adding value and uniqueness...
Redwood: yes, non-dry info (i.e. personality) helps, even if it's rediculously harsh like BitchX used to be
jschuur: interesting question: and totally without side thoughts, what does everyone think of processed.net? he updates regularly and had a lot of exclusive screenshots a while back, but gets few hits
ChrisDay: I think Process runs one of the best one-man news pages out there
NetGuy: Honestly, and i'm sure it's a fine site, but i think i went there once for Messiah screenshots, other than that i haven't seen it :\
Bobbi: So, do sites need the help of hosts to exist successfully?
Aurora: I don't think a host is needed to be successful
Fargo: A large host is a big help nowadays.
bwernicke: I think we are overlooking some issues because some of us take things for granted... ie: resources, Joe Schmoe can not necessarily afford a server with tons of bandiwth and ftp space. It is not always just about news, but files as well. I can't imageine where our sites would be without a resource like cdrom.com backing us. Enabling us to store thousands of files.
Idoru: thats where site like PlanetQuake or Telefragged come in, when a person(s) show that they have the talent and the drive to build something worth going to, sites like ours can provide them with bandwidth and storage
ChrisDay: I've gotta agree with Brad there, Geocities just doesn't cut it typically
jschuur: want to know what the first site is i check out?
ChrisDay: sure Joost :)
jschuur: the competitive site i'm the most afraid of
jschuur: (and no, i ain't saying what) ;)
ChrisDay: we want the name damnit ;)
bwernicke: 3D Portal ;)
jschuur: sometimes it varies
Fargo: Excellent strategy.
jschuur: depending on how long ago bastard gave his last pep talk
blitz: why is this a competition in the first place ? for what purpose
ChrisDay: it's a friendly competition though (at least with news)
jschuur: it's a competition over who read news somewhere first. there's only so much news to go around. news items are replicated elsewhere
bwernicke: Competition is a given in this, you cant have pages offering similar content and not call it competition
jschuur: brad: you don't _have_ competition ;)
bwernicke: Joost, we have our share, but we actively promote them as well via several methods
Fargo: Competition = the audience winning. ;)
jschuur: competition encourages you to do your best and provide your visitor's with the best
Aurora: BUT you don't have to let it be competative
NetGuy: i don't think news is a big competition as much as hosted sites are.
bwernicke: Netguy, I disagree, but I see why you might say that
blitz: seems to me that people go out of their way to try to take sites from hosts. I have had mail forwarded to me from people that I host
jschuur: that impression is overrated and quite frankly not true in my case
NetGuy: maybe from your end but it happens quite regularly with us.
Bobbi: Has the possiblities of money being made from fan-based websites ruined the 'fun' in running a site? When does money need to be considered, no site can run forever without financial backing? And how would a 'good' person handle it?
blitz: quake2.com does not profit from advertisers, we spend more money then we make
ChrisDay: I believe it does ruin the fun for the majority of folks. I'm not sure when it needs to be considered, but a 'good' person would make sure to take care of his people before himself
jschuur: popularity means more people consume more resources to do your sites. money has to be made to pay for those
Idoru: For Telefragged, we had to run banners to generate income to pay for bandwidth an servers. We wanted to expand from our previous host and host ourselves so that was the plan we choose to take. It is a proven plan and it works
Aurora: Cash certainly did ruin the fun, which is why we don't really do it anymore. Our host is one of the few who remembers that without affiliates (sub sites/hosted sites) they wouldn't be able to do so much network advertising, and we've decided to just go with our share from that
Fargo: There are several reasons to run a website. 1. Because you love something. 2. Because you have something to share 3. To meet people 4. To augment your income 5. To BE your income. ;) I don't think reasons matter so much as results.
Idoru: It has lost some of the fun to be sure, but when some dude sends you and email saying thanks for you help hosting his or her site it sorta makes my day
jschuur: or all 5. the big question is (and pardon the pun), where's the critical mass? and have we reached it?
blitz: well, I think a lot of people are turned off by the whole competition issue. one of the big reasons unreal.org does not exist anymore
Bobbi: Don't you get to a point tho, where you can't just run a site for the fun of it...that you NEED money to continue?
ChrisDay: yes, and it takes heart to stay in it when you're at that point
Bobbi: Chris..what do you do then?ChrisDay: well, I'm busy with school, and am unable to squeeze in both a job and a web site... so for now I'm just going further into debt :)
NetGuy: i think that depends on the hosting. i mean anyone can run their site on geocities for free for as long as they want
Bobbi: Geocities can only offer so much space and bandwidth...it's not realistic for anybody to hope to run a large scale site from there
Fargo: Lots of things to consider when you need your site to pull in income. Like journalistic integrity, competition, finances. :I
jschuur: what if money means you can expand and provide the same kind of coverage you've done on a small scale for even more people?
blitz: what if it means all you see is $$
Aurora: If you feel you are going to reach that point, you need to re-evaluate and stop expanding if you can't keep up
ChrisDay: if I didn't love it, I would have quit long ago
Idoru: It turns into a vicious circle, you generate income to expand servers to increase service to buy more bandwidth, etc...
NetGuy: it depends on the staff too. noone on our staff receives any kind of monetary compensation, which is fine, but a lot of it depends on how far you plan on taking your site. and how much time and money you want to invest in it.
jschuur: fargo: interestingly enough i got a few emails about the Shogo review and black market
loonyboi: well, that's a good point, joost. was that a questionable move on your part, Fargo?
Fargo: PlanetQuake wants to provide a slew of services for users. One of those -- a no-brainer, actually -- is an online store. Of course starting a store has all sorts of issues of its own.
Fargo: Like software, security, promotion --And how do you promote a store with no content, and how do you get content if your store has no promotion? So you've got to move slowly, take some baby steps.
jschuur: and if we think Shogo is a great game, why not tell them where to get it?
loonyboi: but if you generate income from something that you write a positive review of...isn't that contradictory?
ChrisDay: cross-promotion? I believe it is contradictory for sure, but a brilliant business move
Aurora: I would think so, and then how do you make your readers convinced what you write isn't biased
ChrisDay: Aurora, I don't think some readers can be convinced
jschuur: innocent until proven guilty?
loonyboi: that's like trusting Sierra's magazine's review of the new King's Quest game.
Fargo: Fortunately, Monolith was interested in working with online communities, so we saw a preview of their game and it was very cool. They were open to letting us sell it, hopefully as part of a full-featured store that we want to expand into. They came to our LANParty and showed their game to people. I didn't need to edit their comments; reponse was overwhelmingly enthusiastic. I played through the game and loved it.
Aurora: and if you sell it to make a profit, how do your readers know that isn't why your review was positive? Thats one main reason why I use fan-based game sites for info rather than game mags
|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.|