F13 tries a mutation

Nothing. It seems that they want to add two rotating banners (dangerous weapons they are), one to the front page, one to the forum. These ad banners will be sold under strange rules:

These ads won’t be sold to just anyone. Our main criteria is that companies which are fans of the site and which garners attention from the site will be the main focus of the banners. If SOE or NCSoft want to purchase ad space, so be it.

The money they’ll gather will be used to finance “official” trips to E3 and GDC and, if there’s more, they’ll buy more games to review on the front page. No mention of the costs to maintain the site.

My opinion? I have nothing against finding a way to support a site so I won’t be one of those screaming “sellout” (Oh wait, I did?). As a personal preference and as an user I don’t like the banners, in particular when they are on a forum. They are useless and make a page run slower, plus they ruin the layout. They are ugly simply from an aesthetic point of view. F13 has a simple, sleek style that I like a lot and a banner will disrupt this quality. So it’s not about the money.

Another point is that I’m not interested when they review and discuss non-MMORPG games. I went there because of the old Wathertread and I still read the front page and the forums because I share with them a passion and an interest. This doesn’t mean that the place should be completely focused but it’s still a matter of identity: what’s the primary purpose of the site? I completely accept the possibility to remove the filters and discuss everything, from hardware to politics. But that happened inside a community with a strong identity. The passion about mmorpgs. What happened? Time goes on, the community changes, the focus is gradually lost and we are mostly upset and also bored by the current status of the industry. We lost too many times a direction (as: someone who leads and a direction about where to go) and, instead of rediscovering what was good, they tried to find a new way.

The questions asked in this thread are still the questions to be answered. My impression is that the community lost its purpose. The situation is upside-down. The purpose was the reason why the community was formed (around Lum), now the community lost the purpose (and Lum) but is trying hard to find a new excuse to survive. I don’t know. I arrived late and I still have a passion and interest for mmorpgs even if I feel often frustrated, disappointed and yes, also bored. I miss what we had before and it’s still what I’m searching for.

I’m probably the only one still giving more importance to that interest than being part of the community. And it’s not like I’m proud of it.

But the question is still there even for them, if they want to change they’ll have to consider why and how. I know the answers when it comes to my own site. I know that you’ll never see a banner here and I know that I’ll never ask for a donation. Instead I’d gladly welcome others and offer what I have available, like I tried with Coke and D One. Because my aim is about forming the interest. I want to read what Coke and D One have to say. Gathering instead of shattering.

I find what Haemish wrote rather weak. Too many apologies, too defensive. Probably about something that hasn’t fully convinced even himself. But let’s say that they really find someone willingly to pay to advertize a product on their page (which won’t be easy) what will happen then? This is the real conflic of interest. What is shown in the ad banners is what the community writes about, and the words aren’t supposed to be “kind”. Haemish hints the fact that they’ll select who will be able to buy the space and this makes the conflict of interest even stronger, like a partnership. It’s obvious that this will have an influence, even if they are determined to demonstrate the opposite. You get paid and your attitude toward someone giving you money will definitely change. The line is between having this partnership within the community itself or with the subject of your rants. From a side Haemish doesn’t want to beg for money, but from the other he accepts the idea of asking a company to give them money so that they can throw shit at their products. Even worst if they this partnership is selected and approved, creating an “F13 brand” and a quality stamp: “F13 quality assurance”.

Now I’ll take a completely new direction and say that all this can be good. This could force them to have a more positive attitude, to be more careful about what they say and to point out the problems with more respect towards the developers. I don’t really care if the money will finish to affect the mood of an article and I think the result will be more useful both for them and the game companies. I believe that the conflict of interest is a good thing. In fact it’s *because* we fought against it that the community is now without a purpose.

In the meantime everyone who has something to say has its own little corner of the internet to do so, like I’m doing here. Perhaps in the future there will be again the need to gather all this and reform a community with a specific purpose.

Let me know when it happens.

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