I’ve thought a lot about the future of +10. Where do I want it to go, what do I want it to become? We’ve been doing this for seven months, are we where we need to be at this point? What I’ve realized is that, for +10 to survive and for me to maintain my sanity, certain changes are in order.
Perhaps most importantly I have decided to disable all comments on the website. I’ve never really understood comments. On YouTube they’re part of the algorithm that determines your placement, but as far as I know they’re useless on a website like this. For so many of us comments are just a way for us to affirm that what we’re doing is good and right. First and foremost I am a writer, and like many writers that comes with a whole lot of self-doubt. Comments are there to tell me that I’ve done a good job or a terrible job–I don’t really care so much as they’re there. I need feedback for what I’m doing, how else will I know if I should spend anymore time doing it? If I get 30 views in a day and no comments, I get worried. Is my stuff so bad that no one even made it to the comment box at the bottom? Is anyone actually reading these posts or just landing on the page only to leave after the first paragraph?
Like so many people online, I’ve gotten more hung up on comments than my actual work, and to be this stressed out when only getting a comment every few months I can only imagine what I will be like if I start to get them regularly.
So, to nip this obsession in the bud, I have decided to get rid of it before it can become a problem. There’s really no need for people to leave a comment on everything they read. If something resonates with a reader they are more than welcome to send me an email or contact me on Twitter. Hell, if you hate everything I have to say you are also encouraged to contact me privately, but there’s no need to potentially get into it with other readers. These are my thoughts and as such your thoughts should be directed at me.
I know this sounds a bit aggressive. I can understand how it might sound like I just want to “censor” anything bad anyone has to say. To an extent that’s true. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read an interesting article only to have the experience ruined moments later by seeing some of the comments. The thoughts and views expressed in this blog are the thoughts of its writers alone, and frankly the views of every random person on the internet have no bearing here.
That said, it is my hope that one day we can have forums right here on the site. I’m not against the idea of people discussing our posts or discussing games and news. Quite the opposite in fact! From the beginning I have always wanted +10 to be an open, welcoming environment for all sorts of gamers. I want +10 to be safe, to encourage discussion, and to not be an IGN or Kotaku. Bigotry has absolutely no place here, and while those sites may let that garbage slide, I will not under any circumstances.
Discussion is not what I take issue with. It’s comments that I do. Comments are sloppy to me.
I definitely want to see forums here. I think they would be a nice compromise–only registered members would be able to use and see them. Unfortunately we just don’t have a community here yet. While I could certainly put the forums here now, I don’t want to waste time on them if they aren’t being actively used.
As you may have seen on Twitter, the website isn’t the only place I am disabling comments. The moment our YouTube channel launches it will be comment-free, and while I’m sure that will negatively impact our ability to get out there and be seen, so be it. I don’t have the time or the patience to rummage through the slop only to find the bits of constructive criticism that are actually meant to be helpful rather than attempts at trolling or bullying. And again, you want to come attack me? Fine, there are ways for you to do that. But like hell will you get into fights with my readers or viewers and that’s what comment wars always become.
“YouTube channel, yeah, right, you’ve said that for months…” That is very true–the channel was something I started planning for last fall. Unfortunately to properly produce decent content takes money. I’m not willing to start half-assed. We need microphones (and stands), editing software (which is definitely not cheap!) music, and more. It’s looking like I will possibly need a new computer or at least an additional hard drive if I expect to be doing any editing. While we’ve acquired some of these things so far (two Fraps licenses and a microphone), we’re still a long ways off. I really wanted the channel to launch in January–start the year off with something new! But frankly I have no idea how long it will take before we’re ready to go.
Running a website is not free. Reviewing games is not free. And frankly, things are tight around here at the moment. Syndrome’s place of work got a new manager last year and he managed to very nearly run the place into the ground before quitting with no notice. The store is recovering now but very, very slowly as more than half of the staff quit.
To help I decided to run advertisements, but with Adblockers so popular, and my affinity for banning ads that don’t fit with my content, I’ve managed to make $.86 since October. (This is also partly because I use Project Wonderful and don’t have a minimum bid required for my ads–we just don’t get enough views to justify that!)
So yeah. This site definitely costs far more than it brings in. Which is why the future of our reviews is a bit uncertain.
I have done all that I can to keep our costs down. I play free games, or super cheap less than $5 games. And while I would do that regardless of income (cheap indie games are far more fascinating than AAA titles), I feel like I’m not doing this to the best of my abilities. The number of games I feel compelled to cover are forever increasing, while the games I can afford to cover are dwindling.
So what does this mean for the website? Well, probably that in the near future you will not see regular postings here, which I know is a death sentence really, but there’s not much I can do about it. If there aren’t games for me to review, then there aren’t games to review and that’s life. Currently I have posts planned out till April, so I guess things could change by then, but as of now it looks like this summer will see a bit of a drop in content. It’s not how I want things, but rarely does life go as planned.
One thing that could help sustain the site and that I’ve been actively seeking to do is expand the staff. I know that sounds weird considering I just made it sound like the site is on its deathbed, but bringing more people on board would allow for 1) Other people to write reviews and features, thus allowing for more consistent content and 2) People who actually get social media would be able to use it in all of its mysterious glory to find new readers. If you’re interested or know of anyone who might be, check out our Opportunities page.
After seven months I definitely thought we would be a bit further along than we are. One of the things that has me most bothered is that I don’t know if we have any regular readers. Without “fans” we can’t build the community, and without the community I’m just this random person talking about games. I admit that this is entirely my problem. As the founder and main writer for this site it lies with me to find new readers and keep them engaged. But quite frankly I’m terrible with people. I’m anxious and shy, and social media feels very weird to me. I don’t like it–rather, I hate it, and I’m pretty sure that shows. Everything I have ever read says that social media is the single most important technique for getting readers, and it’s the one thing I am absolutely horrible at.
As of now we tend to average 30 views a day. While we have had some truly amazing days (once we passed 300!) those are rare and far between. I’m not ready to give up, so please don’t think that’s what this is about. I still believe in this site and what it stands for, but sometimes being super niche is difficult. Not all gamers agree with or even care about the things I have to say, and that’s okay. I don’t want every gamer out there to come here–what purpose would that serve?
So there was my little update. I’m sorry it was so long, but there are a lot of changes coming. If you’ve made it this far and are a regular reader, I would love it if you would send me a Tweet, or email me at email@example.com to let me know! Thanks for hanging in there folks, and we’ll see you with a Kickstarter tomorrow!