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    Arcade
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    The Truth
    Thursday, December 2nd, 1999

    About a month ago, I did something I NEVER do, and that is to email all the "big" StarCraft sites to announce GameSurges reopening with a new design and tripling our content. At this moment, only one of those sites (Tech-Base) ever mentioned it, while the other sites just ignored it.

    Well, I am so S-T-U-N-N-E-D.

    Let me tell you why I did it. It was not just a promotion type of thing as well. I was real proud of what AN had put up, the fact that we were back, and to announce that AZL was to take over the StarCraft Section as well. By why not let you see for yourself?

    Greetings... This is from shiva, webmaster of GameSurge. This email is to inform you that GameSurge just went through a total site change, complete with new layout, and we have also greatly expanded our content. We are also pleased to announce that AZL has become the new webmaster of our StarCraft section, and will be working on a new expansion and upgrade of the section. The link to our StarCraft pages is http://ancient.igg.net/games/computers/Starcraft/index.shtml

    GameSurge will continue to cover the entire gaming industry, as well as featuring new additions and game sections to our site. Thank you very much P.D.Sanderson (shiva) Webmaster: http://ancient.igg.net

    That was the message I sent 2 days ago, and I can tell you one more reason why I sent it. It was a sort of olive branch on my part.

    Anyone who has been a viewer for a long time will know that I am not known for liking the big sites. In fact, I was a pain in the ass every chance I got. I had some very good reasons, but I still was gleefully pointing out problems whenever one large site made a announcement "for the community", when in truth, they were just putting more money in their pockets. I hate hypocrites, and I hated my intelligence being insulted as well. But you know what? There was a time when I didn't feel that way, that I was willing to swallow my pride in exchange for a brief mention here or there for my hard work, but after events in the past, that attitude soon changed.

    To understand all of this, I will take you to the very beginning, the start of a page called shivaSite. On March 1st, I launched a single page site, with no graphics, called shivaSite. It was devoted to StarCraft news, and that was it. A month later, I had made a couple of friends in the StarCraft community, and to help them out a bit, I agreed to post some mirrors of my news coverage on their site. That site was StarCrafters, run by Mazeman and Guenon, and soon, we caught the attention of David Shipley, who ran a news contest on Tarsonis, which was rating the news coverage of the StarCraft sites on a daily basis. So we won the first day we were in, and then we won the second day we were in, and then the third day in a row. And then, soon after, I started to get people telling me that I was gonna have some problems, that I was starting to show up certain people.

    I didn't listen of course. I guess I started to get into this a bit more, as we kept winning. At the 8th day, because of complaints and pressure from some of the big sites, David closed down the contest. (I have forgotten the reason why, but the complaints were pretty minor. In fact, Extreme StarCraft had the same problem with their Top Ten list, as soon as some of the reviews and ratings came out after a period of time that showed a drop by some of the big sites, and some smaller sites were actually rated higher, suddenly, the big sites caused ESC to end the contest, despite the fact that some members of the big sites were reviewers for the Top Ten before)

    It was a shame, as these two contests were very important to the community, especially the small sites, but what the big boys want, the big boys get. Besides, using myself as a example, how embarrassed would you get if you had this huge, powerful website and you were getting the stuffing kicked out of you on news reporting by a little one man site on tripod that was lucky to get 100 hits in a day?

    People did warn me though. and I ignored those warnings. Even after the death of the news contest, I continued on. I just did my "job". It may have been for 50 people a day, but it was enough for me. I knew some top posters were coming to my site to see my postings, so they could put it up in their site, but that was okay. I did the same thing.

    Then it came time to move off tripod. I won't comment on why it took 5 weeks to move to a new host, but only because of a lack of proof, but after a long and hard decision, I ended up with Blizzard Oblivion. And still got now-where... I shouldn't really say that, because the site was doing better. I was getting better at doing graphics (Though barely) and I decided to expand shivaSite to cover other games and because it was a unlimited account, I could offer files and stuff.

    But I made one mistake though...I lost my temper.

    Again, it was over what people had been telling me. If it's only a couple of people, fine, but when several people are telling me the same thing, then you can't help but start to wonder. That is when it happened. That was the day I stopped looking at the big sites as a fanboy, but as a adult. And I came too the sudden realization that these weren't sites for the fans, these were sites run as a business, and they were just hiding under the guise for a "fan site".

    The truth is that a lot of these sites are being run by snotty-nosed, egotistical self-centered teenagers, who seemed to have started to develop a power complex as well. And I decided that it was time to point these things out, everytime one of them would announce something that was for the good of the "community", when it was pretty obvious that it was good only to them, and that everyone else would properly suffer. (Unfortunately, I have proven to be more right than wrong)

    So began my 2nd stage. The watcher....

    I had moved into Blizzard Oblivion, had a new site design up, and was making plans to expand and promote the site. I was still trying to piss off the "elite" sites, and that is when the very first "The Truth" article came out. Naturally, people took offense to that one, which I still don't really understand, but now I'm a little clearer on why.

    It's very simple. I said earlier that the big sites are businesses, and not fan sites. To clarify that, it can be put simply. Under the terms of their agreements, some, if not all of the big sites earn revenue (usually 50-50 split) from the ad banners put up by their host. Less hits equal less money. Since this money generally goes just to the Webmaster, the big boys get very protective of their sites, because if there is a threat, it usually translate to less money. To add to this, there is a "power" issue running around in here as well.

    That's part of the reason why a lot of small sites are so frustrated with the "elite" sites. The small site perception is that the large sites just ignore them out of arrogance, but that's only part of the answer. It's a combination of reasons on top of that. But like everything else today, it's money that is the main reason.

    The net has changed very fast in the last couple of years. Before, it was just fan sites and hobby pages, and now, because of the huge amounts of people who have started to surf the web, it has turned into a business, with very large companies diving in with both feet, and small companies based on the web rising from a company set up on the computer on the kitchen table, to suddenly being worth 100's of millions of dollars.

    And this has infected the StarCraft community as well. 2 years ago, a lot of these sites were very different from what they are now. Though I am sorry to use them as a example, when StarCraft Org put up their link to their old site, I was surprised by what I saw. It wasn't the graphics or the site design that struck me, it was the posts on the page.

    Back then, SC:Org was a community site, a true community site, in that the vast majority of those posts was dedicated to the community as a whole. Now, SC:Org is vastly different, very little in actual community news, and the majority of their posts are more of promotions for themselves or their "sister" sites. I've seen this happening on other sites as well.

    It's no longer a community.

    I have watched as several large sites have moved servers a couple of times, all for "the benefit of the community" and "to serve their viewers needs better", when in fact, it's because the deal with the new host is better than what they were getting before. I have had sites email me with news when AN was doing better, but when I stopped posting, and the staff members didn't cover, causing the hits to decrease to half, these sites decided not to email me again. I suspect that the reason was that since I wasn't getting the amount of people coming to the site, I wasn't generating as much hits for them, so why bother?

    I watched as several sites restricted their access to the community, because they feel that community is defined as sites that have "com" in their name, or they don't have "Geocities" in their name, or even they weren't "large enough" to be considered part of the community. And I have seen several names, smeared falsely, walk away with their reputation gone, and yet, no apology offered as at least a matter of pride. And I have seen some respected names, people I hold with respect, just walk away in disgust, never to return.

    The best case can be put by David Shipley, who wrote a article on his AvP site, about how disgusted he was with the SC people, and why he left. I reported it in GameSurge, but no-one else did, because he was right on the mark. And I agree with him on his statements to this day.

    It will never be a community again.

    When I started shivaSite, it wasn't much of a community by then, but it was still there at least. Now, the big SC sites are trying to become big Blizzard sites, again, as a "service" to their readers, but the truth is, they have saturated their hit totals, vacuumed up all the hits from all the smaller sites, leaving most of them destroyed and dark, and now, because they have reached their limit on the StarCraft fan hits, have moved into the other games to try and increase their daily totals, and their revenue, as a side product.

    Do I critique them for this? No.

    I critique them for the way they have accomplished their success, and the total destruction of many fine sites left in their wake. All the time, they have claimed that they are there for the "community", but because of their selfish actions, they have ended up destroying it. They put the fact that they were a business, and their own power issues before the fact that they were a fan site, and a part of the community. I wonder now if any of them can even remember when they were just starting out, and were just a small site back then, a true part of the StarCraft community?

    If some of them had even remembered that past, and had just taken the time to at least make a proper effort, things would be different now I'm sure. The big sites have moved on to conquer other game areas now, the small sites will continue to get fewer and fewer in numbers, and everything will be all right in big site land.

    The webmasters will be happy, they will continue to make a decent living on work done by others for free. (Not true in all cases, I believe that the Org does pay their employees) Their hosts are happy, because they too earn money because they host these sites. And even their employees are happy, because they get a "name" for working there, but not much else.

    The hope lies in the medium class sites, who have the opportunity to rebuild the community. But they are also being affected by the business syndrome as well. Again, using myself as a example, during the AN down time, when the hits dropped to below 100 a day because I was working on the site change and redirection, several sites just "dropped" me as a affiliate, without notice, yet mysteriously, suddenly re-added me when my totals started to get much better. I was still around, the site was still alive, but there was a time where maybe, I wasn't good enough for them to keep, or maybe, I wasn't generating enough numbers for them to keep me.

    Maybe it's time to give up on the idea of a StarCraft community. No-one has stepped forward, and though I gave it a shot, I couldn't do it by myself. But the difference is there. At least I tried, which is a lot better than not trying at all. Now, I find myself not even caring anymore. Those friends I have made will still be so, but the vast majority of the other SC people, especially those that have the power or the money, I couldn't care one spit for anymore. I felt that if we all made a effort,we could be proud of our community, but because the lack of effort, whether by ignorance or intentional, has destroyed any chance of a community now that I can believe in and count myself lucky to be part of. There's no longer a "whole", its just little groups now, with a structure similar to the caste system in India. The high level castes, and the "untouchables".

    So I guess it will soon be my turn to leave in "disgust", just like many before me. It's a shame, because when you get to the heart of it, StarCraft is my favorite game, and was so much my favorite that I decided to start my own web site on it, to become a part of a "community", to share my love for the game with others, and to meet new people.

    I haven't played a game of StarCraft in 3 months

    " "



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