Since IainC is a nice guy and helped me behind the scenes on a couple of occasions, I’ll spend some words on what is going on.
Lum has a piece on the specifics (Warhammer Euro open beta not starting exactly well), I agree wholeheartedly with that, so won’t repeat.
It seems instead that Mark Jacobs found his scapegoat:
3) I have read IanC’s post on the situation and I have just communicated to GOA my thoughts on it. I’ll simply say this, I do not agree with what he said, I do not support what he said and his comments were, in my opinion, way out of line.
Now I hope that “communicated to GOA my thoughts” doesn’t correspond to “FIRE HIM, FIRE HIM NOW!”, because I really don’t see how a community manager is responsible of a database server not working well. Especially a community manager that wasn’t there that day.
In particular he’s probably the most dedicated CM they have, as he posts frequently all over the internet (including f13.net, quite a feat) and seems overall a nice guy that does the job well (frequent updates, clarity, helpful).
But what is even more incredible is that MJ is blaming him for saying THE EXACT THING he just posted on the blog. But he is Mark Jacobs, and obviously does not fear that someone steps in his office and fires him.
This is the blamed passage written by IainC:
I wasn’t at work yesterday, Magnus was the man on the scene covering the situation, but I did keep a close eye on forums and was in contact with the guys in the office. A lot of what was said yesterday here and on other forums was entirely out of line. Of course you were disappointed and criticism is certainly warranted but frankly many of the posts made about the situation were borderline sociopathic. If having delayed access to a beta test really drives you to such depths of anger and fury that you felt compelled to make the death threats, racial slurs and other deeply unpleasant posts then – and there is no polite way to put this – there is something wrong with you.
And this is what MJ wrote himself:
Why do some people feel it is okay to threaten, curse, abuse and be downright hostile to other people over a game, especially in this case when it is only over access to a game that is still in testing (Open Beta Test = Not Yet Ready For Prime Time Players)? While I’ve become quite cynical over the decades, I still find myself amazed at times at certain people’s reactions to stuff like this. I don’t mind when people get upset but to treat other people in such a callous, mean and immature manner is really a bit much.
Now I know that there’s this stupid, but motivated, rule that wants Community Mangers not being able to say WHAT PASSES ON EVERYONE ELSE’S MIND, but I really don’t see what’s the sense in MJ’s remark. He SURELY agrees and supports what IainC said, since he wrote exactly the same on his blog.
However, as a Community Manager telling the players that were disappointed about not getting into a game because of the errors of your company were “borderline sociopathic” is as over the line as some of the comments that were posted here and other places. Saying that some of the players were “way out of line” is one thing but the “borderling sociopathic” bit is quite another.
Ghislaine (CEO of GOA) did something that she has never done before for GOA and we are in constant touch with them about what happened yesterday, today and what we need to do to straighten things out before launch. I would hate to see those efforts be tarnished in any way by an ill-conceived and ill-considered post by any member of that team.
It’s not the first time we see a CM blowing up because of the pressure, it surely isn’t justifiable as it’s part of the job, but let’s not be *completely hypocrite*. That part of IainC post could have been spared, as you really can’t be surprised at some reactions if you aren’t an internet noob. But I also do understand the intent that drove those words (bring back the discussion within civil bounds).
It was a misstep of form, not of merit, and putting the blame on that is about being simply hypocrite and just find a scapegoat to burn only because you need one handy.
What went wrong was responsibility of the engineers who are supposed to make the thing work and anticipate stress issues. JUST THEM. But of course you can’t blame or fire them, because in a 3rd party company they are the only ones who really are indispensable. So let’s blame the Community Managers, because they are disposable. Easily replaced. And you can burn them publicly so that the players can cheer up, so that you can demonstrate how seriously we are taking things.
The truth is that the real errors were made days ago.
Those errors were about the overconfidence and lack of humility in the way things were presented. And these were errors of BOTH the engineers for being caught off-guard, and the Community Managers for passing over that overconfidence without blinking.
It’s indispensable for every business that the REAL problems are recognized and acknowledged. Not the wrong, but handy for public display, ones.