A lot has happened in the last 24 hours after I announced I was stopping writing FM content. That’s still the plan and regardless of what changes if any are made by SI it’s too late for me I’m afraid. However that is not why I’m posting. I’m actually posting because I want to help and be part of the solution rather than sat on Social Media bad mouthing SI, as that solves nothing and won’t get us far. So I thought I’d share some ideas with you of what myself and Dave (Caleyjag) have planned. Some of you might know Dave and others might not. If you don’t know him, then he was the original creator and founder of Sortitoutsi (Susie) and made that site into one of the biggest and most active sites there ever was from 2003 to about 2007. Since then he’s created many other niche sites but quit FM’ing many years ago. However we both have the same vision and wanted to show you what we are working on and why.
With the shift to Youtube, and more content being produced there, it’s natural for SI to focus on it. The gamers that started with the old CM then FM are older (30+) with kids and they have less time to play. The younger generation is fully immersed in an “instant results” timeline. Gamers are content with dipping in and out of a mobile game for 5 minutes. So SI think that long articles aren’t going to hold someone’s attention. They want flashing images and “whoosh” noises. They want “pow” graphics and soundbites. They want everything to jump out at you. They want it condensed into 3 minutes or less. (They also continue to demand that fans do this in their own time, for nothing).
SI is just moving with the times. It’s worth more to them to get a celebrity to endorse the game or retweet something to tens of thousands of followers than you spending a week writing something. They’re after sales, they’re not bothered about retention. If the game is too complicated this year, then next year’s “new feature” will fix that. The promise is always “next time it’ll be better”. They’ve no competition, so they can make the game as complex, as bug ridden as they like then ask “the community” for ideas that they aren’t going to use anyway, giving you a belief that you have a say in how the game is developed, tricking you into buying next year’s versions. Sold on a promise that is never delivered.
What made FM great especially in the early to mid 2000’s was that it really was a community effort. Not just from you, me, or the hundreds of others who made fansites. A lot of the people around this time also ended up working at SI, people like Anderson, Nygreen etc. There was also really good and honest banter between SI staff (like Ter) and the rest of us.
That community spirit from inside feels like it has disappeared. When there is less effort or acknowledgement from within SI that everything comes from the community, then the connection is broken. Once they become disconnected and see no real need to get the community on board again (due to what I said earlier about relying on retweets or endorsements as an example) then they’ll find it hard to justify having the community on board to that same level. Financially (and that is how they look at things now) it doesn’t make sense.
The FM community has refused to accept this and still operates the old model based on the history of SI and its community. There is still a belief that FM is borne from the community and that SI still respects the work that is put into it, when in fact that USED to be true, but no longer is. SI is on the hunt for bitesize content that those with a smart phone can understand and digest. It doesn’t *need* fansites anymore. It’s happy enough to promote content on Youtube & retweet stuff on Twitter. There’s a bigger market audience for it to access on both these platforms.
So what can the community do? It can resist the change that SI has decided upon with what it considers material worthy or promotion. It can continue to write in-depth articles and lovingly craft stories about homosexual encounters induced by an overdose of Calpol in the lower leagues of Norway, or it can adapt to what SI now considers to be worthy of mentioning. Unfortunately, either method will kill the community.
If you continue writing articles, you’ve a limited audience. You become reliant on word of mouth to get people to notice, and whilst that’s not impossible to do, it’s a hundred times harder than posting a Youtube video and waiting for SI to share it.
However, going along with the “new media” means you’ll struggle to grow. You’ve set up shop on Youtube for example. What if you want to pen an article? What if you want to describe something in a bit more detail? So you create a website. What do you think SI will focus on? The video or the write-up? SI are intentionally focussing on content produced on platforms the traditional community doesn’t use.
There IS a solution to that. It requires the community to take back control of where content is shared. It needs its own platform where EVERYTHING to do with FM is shared. It basically needs its own social media website. When SI link to a video on there, suddenly the visitor is presented with content from EVERYONE. The content is no longer fragmented around the net or hidden in the Steam store. It’s available for everyone to browse.
And the answer is so simple and easy.
Put it this way…
- It requires NO work from anyone who runs a fansite, other than having an RSS feed.
- No content is copied. All it shows is a synopsis of your content, and a link to read more.
- As soon as someone posts something on their website, everyone who follows your account gets notified.
- You can embed a status exactly like you do with Twitter, on external websites
- People like and share your content. It trends like on Twitter. The cream naturally rises to the top
- There is a like/share button similar to Facebook & Twitter and can be placed on other people’s websites. “Like” the content and everyone on FM’s social media site will know about it.
- Articles can be written on it. Full length ones. Directly on your timeline. Sitting alongside Youtube videos.
- Podcasts? Yes, it handles those.
- SI will be forced to take note. And once they start linking to content on FM Social Media, and people visit, they’ll be able to join and follow your group, forever keeping up to date with your work.
- Oh, and there’s an Android app. That sends you notifications whenever your favourite sites post something.
As I say, there’s no real work involved in setting up your group to showcase your content. It’s not forcing you to register and visit to post links to your stuff every week like we used to do. You tell it your RSS feed then you can leave it forever if you want.
THIS is what the community needs. SI have all the power right now, picking what it wants to show off. It has the Steam store that has killed download sites, for example. The community needs to take back that power, and provide a platform where all content is available. It’s not a return to super-sites like Supports Interactive or the old Susie, it’s a streamlined version of that. It’s not to host content ON, but it’s to link to the content that’s out there. It allows people to share what they find, to like it, to comment on it. It allows other websites to quickly show other content they have found too. It essentially shuts SI out from the loop, removing the need for them to be the judge of what is good or not.
With this method, the traditional fansites such as yours can sit alongside the new media such as Youtube or Twitch or whatever the fuck kids are using. Now it’s not about the platform the content is on and how “marketable” SI see it when pushing it to their twitter followers, now the community is deciding for ITSELF what is quality work and what should be promoted.
Remove SI’s control over the community. It’s the only way for fansites to thrive.
Over the past 24 hours myself and Dave (mostly Dave tbh) have been working on something behind the scenes. We sent out something similar to the above to a few people on twitter to gain feedback on the general idea and it seemed to go down well. But what we want is to create a proper community and because it’s impossible to reach each and every one of you on a one to one basis, we thought we’d do this article and share it with everyone in the hope we can all pull together and make this work.
So what would this look like? It’s probably a lot more advanced than you’d imagine. The screenshots you see are what we’ve been working on today and we’ve used a few popular sites to highlight how it will work. These sites don’t know this so it might appear as a shock to them see their name mentioned haha
I’d say it’s similar to Twitter, but content is categorised. Streams, YouTube videos & podcasts have dedicated areas. There is also no word limit so full articles can be posted which include videos, or images or both.
This is the media page and this is showing all at the minute. But if it’s just podcasts you’re after or interested in you can filter it so you only see those;
Or if it’s just YouTubers you want then;
So it’s easy to navigate and find specific things if needed. Or you can view all.
Another thing to look forward to is groups. You set up a group for your website, add links to your news feeds and it runs itself. People can join your groups and get notified the moment you post new content on your site.
For this we created the Deep Lying Podcast as a group rather than an individual member to highlight how it would work and what it would look like. If you join a group then you’ll be notified of new post. Popular groups are shown on the site, that’s based on number of members. Suggested groups are based on what your friends follow.
Also, there are verified groups and users. Best sites and users will be verified so new users or even existing ones can easily navigate to the more trusted users quickly.
A dedicated Android app will notify people of any new podcasts or videos and will remind you 5 minutes before a Twitch stream is due to start.
The Android app notification system looks like this;
Anyone can comment on content, like it and share it. There are also scripts available that site owners can install on their own website. Similar to the Facebook share button that lets visitors share content they liked onto our site as well if they wanted to.
It’s essentially an aggregator of FM content from around the world. You subscribe to what you’re interested in, and we’ll keep you up to date with latest content.
This is our idea and project so far and we wanted to share it with you to generate interest and make sure everyone was aware so we can all be included if you wish to be. At some stage we will be inviting a lot of you to come and test it out when it’s working a little better to find bugs and give feedback and to see if we’ve missed anything or not.
Also we need you to think of a name for this. We have some ideas but before sharing them we’d like to see is you can come up with something we can use for it better than what we currently have. So please let us know 🙂