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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
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
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
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
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
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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