Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Auf Wiedersehen Meeroo Forums

Team Meeroos is closing all but two (2) of their current Forums. The Genetics forum and Bug forum will remain and there is some good news: the Trading forum will be coming back! Catherine writes: "We will be reopening the Trading Post forum due to player request!" Having the trades forum back will be a huge help to newer players, and everyone really. It has the potential to be a really positive and helpful forum, as opposed to what has befallen the others.

I have to admit I am not a big user, or as it were; was not a big user of the forums. As Catherine says: "I'm terribly sorry that it had to come to this, but these forums are no longer a positive or productive place for communication." I always found it difficult to locate important information, and staff answers, on the forums due to the insanely large number of irrelevant posts. Mostly complaining about something, often personal issues that could only be solved by filing a support ticket and waiting. I do not believe that any amount of moderation could have solved that. For the most part they were posted with honest intent, out of frustration or anger, but not intended to do harm. That does not mean they did not come across as personal to the Staff members who read them. On top of those innocent posts were plenty of intentionally offensive or aggressive ones. If you are looking for a mate for any of your aggressive Meeroos I suggest you try some of the more vitriolic forum posters and their alts.

I myself fall in to the lazy category, perhaps why I never had the energy for the forums. While I completely agree with the decision to close them there is one thing I will miss very much, something Catherine alluded to in her post: the answers from Staff. In her own words: "Staff members including myself, Tiger, and Allatu have answered reasonable inquiries to the best of our ability which are often lost in the shuffle or uniformly ignored in favor of flame wars." Both scarlett and I have found (and quoted) important information given in answer to player questions by both Tiger and Catherine. I have read countless other useful answers and suggestions from the other forum moderators as well.

I am not sure how players will be able to query Team Meeroos now, but it occurs to me: If I want to tell say Nike about an issue I have with their shoes, or make a suggestion or even just complain; would you imagine I could get that across on their forums? No, of course not. They have people that manage their forums and keep them a safe distance from the Board of Directors. Here is a link to an article Tateru Nino wrote about the most effective way to communicate with Linden Labs. You will notice the LL PJIRA and blog are not high on the list.

Forums are simply not the way to get answers or information from a company. That is what the PR department is for, letting players know what is going on. Players, no matter how invested, have no right to demand answers to their every query. If you have an issue with Meeroos there is a support system in place, if it is too slow for you, well I can only suggest you try calling my ISP and asking them for support. Malevay Studios has grown from nothing to a major company in just a few months. I have had tickets pending with LL for longer than they have been selling Meeroos. Sometimes tickets will get backed up. It has happened to me and my partner. She is waiting to have a Meeroo ticket resolved now. Neither of us ever considered posting on the forums about it, it is an issue between Team Meeroos and us, their customers. Something I can not say of many companies, but can of Malevay Studios, is that they have responded to every one of our tickets and, in good faith, fixed everything to the best of their ability. I have yet to hear of an avatar not getting a ticket responded to at all or who was unable to get their issue resolved. [The exception being missed breeding cycles which is an unfortunate side-effect of Meeroos having timed breeding periods instead of a fixed number of Nests.]

Unfortunately there is nothing us players (playa, play on!) can do about mean-spirited forum posters. It is not enough to not be spiteful yourself. Although I applaud everyone who made good use of the forums and kept a civil tongue, they can not stop the trolls. Every non-troll helps but it only takes a few to ruin it for everyone. It is in essence a denial-of-service attack on the forums. By posting personal attacks and flooding the forums with pointless tangential posts they managed to drown out the good information and posts. It is worse that it was done intentionally with the desire to harm Malevay Studios as a company and it seems in some cases; individual staff members. Personal attacks are unwarranted, the CSRs are employees of Malevay Studios. If you have a problem with the company, raise it with the company. The avatar who represents them is not making the decisions you disagree with, or refusing to pay your ransom.

So we say goodbye to the forums, and perhaps good riddance. While they could have been great a small minority has besmirched their patina. The return of the Trades forum is fantastic news, and shows once again that they are listening to what players are saying, what people want. Even if they have to listen over a crowd shouting that they never listen. For what it is worth: I know you are listening Team Meeroos, most of us do. So um, any news on when that auto-petter you might make will be in the Regard store? Just kidding :)

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