It has been a long time since I've been able to make a Xerxes' Wednesday Community Update. Before, all I had to do was go into the admin control panel and post a new update. Ever since Pinecone-gate, the only way to post updates is either directly putting them into the database or some other method that has not been shared with me by Kovu. Doesn't matter, the point is, it's Wednesday, I have a community, and I want to update its members. Also, I'm Xerxes.
Anyone who's been using MyFursona for a while may have noticed that the site's been roughly the same for a good long time, and there are some minor omitted features that cause some major headaches. Ultimately, we look pretty with a shiny interface which adheres to all the vague guidelines of Web 2.0, but our lack of things like threaded comments, editable submissions, and other such niceties make us prettier than but less functional than, say, the gargantuan ferrox-behemoth that is FurAffinity.
Aaaaaaand then FA went down for several weeks.
Shortly after FurAffinity went down, I sent a long email to Kovu, Xeon, and Tori telling them that this was our time: with the most popular furry site out of commission, people would eventually lose interest in pressing F5 and seek alternatives. And maybe if the alternatives were good enough, they'd stay. MyFursona could be that awesome alternative. If we did some major work on every aspect of the site that needed fixing, and maybe added some of the big things we were planning on, we'd not only be well on our way to becoming the best furry site like, ever, but we'd actually be noticed!
FurAffinity has returned after five some-odd weeks, and our biggest (and one of our only) achievements was enabling search again. WIthout tag support.
I'm very frustrated and disappointed. Not just because I feel we as a staff have failed our users, but because I was powerless to make anything work differently.
I am nowhere near as good at programming things as my fellow admins, so I generally sit back and handle the community. Except I can't. Recently, there was a dispute over whether a piece of artwork violated the terms of service of MyFursona. A huge controversy flared up around it, and everyone looked to the Glorious Purple Fox to save everyone. Well, guess what? I can't edit or remove the artwork submission. The most I can do is talk to the user and say what they need to do: delete the work and resubmit it with changes to the description. Now, I'd like to do this privately, except I cannot see their email address, and they're not on AIM right now. Thus, in the current state of MyFursona, I cannot do my job.
Theoretically, I could read up on web languages and add this administrative functionality that I need all by myself, right? Wrong. That requires access to and, by extension, knowledge of MyFursona's databases, and the only person who can touch that with our current hosting plan is Kovu. Well, XcXeon can too, he just has to hack into it.
Now, that would be all fine and dandy if Kovu and Xeon would help me out. Xeon has a very time-consuming day job, so he has an excuse. Kovu, by contrast, has had most of the summer completely free. So why haven't the admin features I've been bugging him about for so long materialized in any form?
At the moment, MyF-ers, I am the Queen of England - I have a pretty face and everyone loves me, but other people wield the real control over things. Except unlike the Queen, the powerful people don't listen to me.
And what about Tori, you ask? Why haven't I yelled at him yet? Tori's in a similar situation here, meaning he has no database access, but he does know quite a bit more coding than me, and is very good at making stuff look pretty. He's often been the catalyst for innovation here, producing working mockups of things we need and asking Kovu to fill in the blanks. Normally, the chain of events is Tori and I discuss something cool, Tori makes the front-end, and then thrusts it on Kovu or Xeon to make it work with the data and systems we have right now. This has worked for the most part.
Tori recently came to the conclusion that the site is very difficult to change or expand right now, and we need to make a lot of changes. I agreed. The problem with this agreement is that now the only work Tori is doing is related to our top-secret redesign of everything, and has nothing to do with making what we have now tolerable until then.
Initially, I liked the idea of a surprise redesign that we'd spring on everyone to make them go "ooooh!" I underestimated just how long we'd have to wait for that day. Tori doesn't have all the new pages finished, so Kovu isn't interested in linking them together yet with a backend, and Xeon is making money for food because he no longer lives with his parents. So it's not surprising that when Tori pointed out that we should do something for MyFursona's first birthday this month, he was quick to mention that 2.0 will not be ready by then. How about we commission a picture of Orson in a party hat, he asked? Unfortunately, that's probably the most that will happen at this rate.
So, yes, I'm putting the blame on my fellow administrators for making the decision that it makes no sense to improve things before the sitewide change. We try to pride ourselves on putting the community first, but usually that implies doing everything in our power to make our users happy. Of course, ultimately I have to give the greatest share of the blame to Kovu, because he has the most power and the least excuse to do nothing. And that's what he's doing. Nothing.
Before the other admins (or anyone else) start telling me to cool it because this is a hobby for us all, and nobody's paying us, it has to be said that there are over 3000 registered users of MyFursona, and when you tell all of them that it's your goal to give them the best service you can despite paying nothing, you had better live up to that. You cannot renege on a promise just because you're not being paid to keep it.
So am I exonerating myself? Is none of this my fault? Well, actually, I am to blame. Despite having no direct control over the site, I trusted others to give it to me without a problem. I trusted everyone else to give users the features they wanted. That didn't happen, because I have not spoken up until now. And now I'm doing my job in the best way possible.
Community, consider this a managerial statement: do not stand for this crap. Demand improvement and demand it now. And if it doesn't happen, don't stick around to see if the redesign is ever done. We're not the only furry site on the Internet, but our claim to uniqueness was the fact that we actually listen to our users and get things done when they want them done. And that is not happening. Be loud, be vocal, and ask my fellow administrators why you should be here. Make them give you a reason.