In my long years of gaming, I've really developed an appreciation for the great Community Managers of various MMO's. They handle the angry posts with grace, patience, and wit, while conveying a genuine affection for all the players. And they relay information from other folks in the company who don't have the temperament for posting on the forums. For potential new players coming to the forums looking for a general idea of type of community present in an MMO, a great CM can really set the tone for the entire forum and the game.
I've been part of the Alganon community for four years. So having a prior long-term connection there, it's a little easier for me to not take the recent shenanigans that seriously. But if I knew nothing of the game and the people involved and just started reading the forums, I'd be really put off and wouldn't be playing.
I've stated before that I appreciated the candor that Derek Smart initially expressed to the players. It was great to finally know what was going on and what direction the game would be taking. And it was great to hear that someone actually wanted to fix the game instead of leaving it broken while adding more broken new stuff on top of it. But he shouldn't be posting anymore. They desperately need a Community Manager.
In reading his posts as well as the subscriber posts over the last few days, this is not is not a direction in community I like to see. His more recent posts have been along the lines of, "If you don't like the game, leave. Any negative posts will be deleted and the poster banned with no warning!" (yes, he did boldface those words) I've been reading the posts and have seen nothing ban-worthy. I have never been part of an MMO community where negative posts are deleted and users banned. I mean seriously, what the heck? Foul language, yes. Name calling, yes. But negative opinions?
This in turn has changed some of the posting styles of some community members. For some there seems to be a need to get on his good side as they join in on snide remarks against the negative poster. His display of preferential treatment to certain players who agree with him or impress him drives the wedge further. And if I hear one more gushing "I really like you, Derek!" grrr. What was already a niche game may become even more niche.
I think he's well intentioned with wanting to help the game and I still appreciate his effort in "getting er done". But he needs to hire a Community Manager pronto to moderate with a kind, gentle hand and stay off the forums. They need to contact Sandra Weathers for advice. She knows how it's done.