There Goes the Neighborhood – Massively Shutdown

First reaction on hearing the rumor / news? Damn, some passionate folks are out of a job.

If there’s one thing Massively did right, it’s making their news and article writers very recognizable people with their own opinions and personalities, especially since a number of them also have their own personal blogs in our part of MMO blogosphere town.

Second reaction? Well, crud.

If there’s another thing Massively did right, it’s be a really comprehensive summary list of MMO news and things of interest happening in the MMO world.

Lately, I’ve almost never clicked through to read an article – mostly because specific MMO news these days ain’t that exciting to me, and for one other reason I’ll get to below –  but it’s always been good for skimming through headlines on an RSS feed and getting a feel of what different MMOs out there (including many one will have never heard of otherwise) are doing.

But I can also empathize with a currently very unpopular opinion and post whom some others are reading as being a jerk dancing on someone’s grave, in that there’s one thing I’ll be glad about seeing Massively go.

The quality of the culture and the comments around the articles started going down the toilet a year or two ago, and has pretty much hit rock bottom these days.

-That- actively repels me from a click through because I don’t want to scroll down and end up seeing another flame war, replete with Massively trolls going at each other and anyone not yet savvy enough to recognize them.

A long time ago, when Massively first started, things were very different.

Comments were Rock, Paper, Shotgun-quality or higher, a bunch of bloggers were all hanging out there, and I had a really good time and run as a commenter there, which imo, got my name out there and recognized before I decided it was time to carve out my own lil place on the internet.

I’m really not sure what happened down the road, maybe it was just a side effect of too much popularity, maybe AOL was remunerating based on click-throughs, hits and comments and it was more profitable to let a combative , troll culture rage unchecked and get more people responding that way, maybe the comment system AOL made them use just sucked with moderating tools (I vividly remember a total inability to edit comments for a long time, fer instance) but something happened…

And it just made the bottom of the articles a really unpleasant place to be for me, especially when they somehow managed to attract a Positivity Troll whose name I recognized from the City of Heroes forums.

Every now and then, I would try to get back into the community swing of things with an odd comment or two, usually during the Daily Grind articles which I was quite fond of for coming up with thought-provoking questions and seeking reader opinion and input, and generally end up repeled by something or other.

The absolute straw on the camel’s back for me was when I tried to add a little humor with one comment, in my usual sardonic style, and guess what, my comment got deleted, presumably being read by the editor as a troll, while a whole lot of other trolls were running rampant.

LOL.

Well, I guess I don’t fit as part of the Massively community any more then. Cheers, see you, I’ll be hermiting over here on my corner of the internet, where people who don’t like me or my opinions can decide to stop reading me – no offense taken – and where people who do can stick around.

And that was basically how I took myself out of the Massively commenting community and stopped contributing to clicks and pageviews for the most part.

An inhospitable, controversy-fond social environment / culture had formed and no one was actively community managing or cleaning it up to any visible degree of success.

Do I really want to see Massively go?

Nah.

As I said, I’m sorry for the writerly guys and gals who are now out of a job. I hope they can move on to other better things and get a good income stream going again quickly.

I’m sorry for the loss of a news-aggregating site who covered MMOs primarily and did a good job at providing a specific kind of news service.

But, in this ever-changing world, the only constant is change and even institutions and businesses fade, restructure, shut down, grow or be born again. It’s just the natural cycle of things.

And sometimes, if the work environment has suddenly become toxic or intolerable in some way, it can be better in the long term to clear the decks and move on to other things, or give the place a graceful end.

There will still be plenty of folks content with the old way of how it’s always been, and not seeing a problem, of course. “It was doing fine!” They argue. *stares at SWG, stares at City of Heroes*

Somewhere, behind the scene, a bunch of suits were looking at the numbers. Sorry, but business is almost always about the numbers.

Sure, if you care about it, go ahead and appeal, petition, cling onto hope. If there’s enough of you (those numbers again), you can even change minds sometimes. So that’s good.

But if that doesn’t work out, then we may as well gracefully accept that things change, and then move on to better things – even if we have to MAKE them or the opportunities ourselves.

I hope to see another MMO news aggregator eventually step up into Massively’s place, grabbing hold of its strengths and the niche it was serving, but hopefully rehashing none of its mistakes – eg. having AOL as its boss, allowing a cesspool of a comment community to form and linger, etc.

RIP Massively.

I guess it’s really a new decade for MMOs now.

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6 thoughts on “There Goes the Neighborhood – Massively Shutdown

  1. bhagpuss says:

    Not at all sure it was all about the numbers. A 40% YoY increase in page views doesn’t really support that. AOL have a significant history of flailing and thrashing. I wouldn’t dignify their decisions as having any objective commercial validity.

    The comments at Massively have been appalling for a long time though, you are spot on there. I run an aggressive setting of NoScript and and it is really quite difficult for me to access Massively’s comments so I haven’t seen them for several years. There’s a very good reason I never whitelisted them.

    • The problem on the web has been even that sort of jump in traffic hasn’t been able to offset a big crash in what advertisers have been willing to pay for ads placed through the normal services. Unless a site is able to go out and make special deals for those sort of “everything on the site is suddenly colored in as an ad” things… and AOL doesn’t have the mind to do that sort of thing… the money hasn’t been there. Not for sites that want to run ads in a hands off manner anyway.

    • kiantremayne says:

      Thing is, it wasn’t specifically Massively that got cut – it was Joystiq and a whole swathe of other stuff of which Massively was a part. Even if Massively’s numbers were good (no way of telling), when someone’s going to amputate a leg it’s hard to say “but that toe there is just fine!”

  2. C. T. Murphy says:

    I agree about the comments, but some of the things Massively posted were begging to be trolled or at least leaving the door open for all to come in. The Soapboxes especially killed me. I loved that different authors would weigh in in the comment section as well with dissenting opinions, but there have been some Soapboxes I question being published at all.

    If anything killed my enjoyment of the site, it was posts like that which infuriated me while offering no place (outside my own blog) to respond since the comments section was so often overrun.

  3. j3w3l says:

    I don’t know.. I kind of liked those troll posts. It is interesting to see things get riled up and then watch the opinions flying about. It’s a genre that has some really strong beliefs about things and these butting heads is always worth a look… because, SCIENCE!!

    In saying that I do get the problems people had with the site, I certainly don’t claim impartiality, but I still believe that this was their own thoughts rather than something prescribed.

    And regardless of that, welcoming or worse, relishing in a sites demise, the loss of jobs is incredibly childish and petty.

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