NEO Magazine Forum - Secrets of An Admin

Muu_Puklip

Brigade Leader
It's good to see you have a consistent approach to adverts chaos. Your stated position of being against counterfeits and piracy is reflected in your actual approach to taking adverts. That's essentially the heart of the problem with NEO, their stated policy of being anti-counterfeit hasn't been matching their actual one. That is something which I at least think the community ought to know about. That way the community can make up their own minds about the value of NEO to themselves and others.

As for how people should think of me, well I would hope they would take up my offers to ask me questions directly. I give straight replies.

Reporting the likes of Tokyo Toys to Trading Standards and so on is something I have already done. Having occasionally trawled most of the UK based forums over the last few years I know a bunch of other people have done it too. There's a sad truth when it comes to how Trading Standards have responded to complaints though. They have pretty much only ever been interested in getting individuals a refund when a seller refuses one and nothing more. During a chat with one of the guys working for my local Trading Standards I discovered that the local council had more or less made the job impossible in relation to internet related things, as their firewall prevented their own Trading Standards officers from seeing websites that people complained about! Overall, Trading Standards seem to be generally under resourced and ineffective.

Given that situation it's really just down to members of the community to look after each other. Hence this thread. I'm sharing what I know in the hope it can help others.
 

chaos

The Boss
Oh, they have a policy against it?

In any case, I see what you mean, but still think that only bigger readership or increased numbers of legit ads can fix this problem, specially if all the official organs can't help as you mentioned. I still think that "attacking" Neo is not the proper way to deal with it, if the problem is Tokyo Toys.

After seeing the "defective discs" thread, it occurred to me that perhaps, we could go and write a Anime / manga consumer guide?
 

Joshawott

Monsieur Monster
AUKN Staff
MyM mainly stopped providing adverts from Tokyotoys because Square Enix (quite rightly) complained, right? And you say that Neo still support them because of the money they put in right? So surely the only way they will stop doing it is if the legitimate companies (MangaUK, MVM etc) who have the rights to shows that are infringed by Tokyotoys, threaten to break off from Neo? But that won't happen because aside from MyM, that's their only form of print advertisement. Anyways, I don't read Neo (why? When I can just find out about news online and just ask the people here if a series is good or not. Also, I only have enough money for one monthly magazine).

As for reporting to consumer services and that. You say Trading Standards can't do much in regards to the online store, but what about appealing to the office that's local to their Trocadero store? I'd ask if the Trocadero themselves know, but considering the tourist tat stores there, I imagine they probably would xD.

Also, what you said earlier about someone's review being given a bigger score by the editor to help the distributor is nothing new. It happens in loads of other industries; companies will often solicit positive reviews and sometimes even negative reviews to give the positive ones more weight. That's spelled out in the various books about writing I have. So it's not a Neo problem, it's a pan-industry practice, be it books, film or food. It's why if I want to know if something is good or not, I will take any reviews with a grain of salt and prefer to ask people.


chaos said:
After seeing the "defective discs" thread, it occurred to me that perhaps, we could go and write a Anime / manga consumer guide?
Personally, I think that's a great idea. I'm a moderator on the Pokémon fan site "Bulbagarden" and one of my recent duties was overlooking the reorganisation of their "Buy And Sell" section which did include a guide on identifying counterfeit Pokémon products and such - and that section is only a tiny part or the forum. The anime/manga industry is more heavily focused on buying than Pokémon is (playing the games or watching the anime on tv take precedence xD), so it would be a good idea to have, especially as we do have some members here who are acquainted with Japanese merchandise.
 

Joshawott

Monsieur Monster
AUKN Staff
chaos said:
Joshawott - Can you link the article to me? I'm interested in developing this idea here as well.
The only current threads on there are related directly to Pokémon merchandise (well, it is a Pokémon forum), but the bootlegging one does go rather in depth - here. It does give some simple, but good advice on eBay shopping though, like making sure to check a seller's negative feedback and that China and Hong Kong are mainly areas to avoid, especially if you're unsure. Then there's a general guide to merchandise.

I'd think a good place to start would be where to get merchandise from (I'm not too knowledgeable on that one myself to be honest!) and where not to. It could also be worth asking some of the members who frequent Japan a fair bit or import a lot of merchandise from Japan to help in regards to figures and other bits of merchandise and how to identify counterfeits and such.
 

Muu_Puklip

Brigade Leader
Ryo, yep that was tried a year or two back. They weren't helpful.


Joshawott, it's not the only way. It would be helpful to the community overall if rightsholders pressured NEO to straighten up, but they aren't the only ones involved. NEO's customers and wider fan community/consumers have at least as much influence. At least they do if they get to know what has been going on.

Sorry for not being clear with my comments about Trading Standards. The bit about websites was specific to my local council. I don't know if other Trading Standards for other local councils are the same. I do know that complaints about Tokyo Toys' behaviour online and at their retail store haven't had any real effect. That's obvious enough because they are still selling counterfeits.

Not everyone does know that it is an industry wide thing to have less than straight reviews or review scores. I have talked to a fair few people over the years who were surprised to learn about it when I told them. Knowing that NEO specifically has had less than straight reviewing and scoring practices can be helpful for understanding NEO's overall attitude and way of behaving towards the community it is being sold to.

Sharing guides on merchandise and how to avoid getting caught out is very helpful. Fans helping other fans by sharing information. Thank you for posting the links.


chaos, the problem isn't just Tokyo Toys. NEO's behaviour is itself a problem. I'll recap and draw the parts together for you here.

NEO has a stated policy that they are against counterfeit goods and piracy the same as you do here.

NEO have known for about two years or so that they have been carrying adverts for a company that sells counterfeits and that they needed to look into it. At least some of the adverts themselves and other material in the mag has featured counterfeit goods.

NEO have actively avoided investigating counterfeits in general, and the counterfeit goods that the companies they carry adverts for in particular sell despite many requests on the NEO forum for them to do so. You might wonder how much use NEO's journalists are when they can't or won't find out what at least some of their own customers and forum members know. As an aside, credit is due to Ian Wolf for taking that up with his employer/editor at MyM after (edit: My bad!) devilrules666's post on that subject in the MyM thread.

NEO are responsible for the contents of those adverts in the same way as you are for the content here. You either care about the community you serve and won't carry ads for that kind of stuff or you don't. It's not one standard for NEO and another one for you and AUKN. You are straight and consistent about it, NEO are not.

NEO have not only carried the ads they have actively promoted that company in other ways, even in the face of complaints about it on their own forum.

The reason that NEO has done all that is money and some kind of warped sense of loyalty to the wrong things. They chose to continue taking those adverts from a company that sells counterfeits when they had the option to take adverts from other sources. Sources that were perfectly legal and weren't selling counterfeits.

By promoting that company that sells counterfeit goods NEO have reduced the exposure of genuine sellers of legitimate anime and manga goods. That is unhelpful to both legitimate sellers and to fans/customers. Fans that haven't yet learned how to spot counterfeits are very likely to be misled into thinking that everything that company sells must be fine because NEO have adverts for them and have been actively promoting them.

What I am doing is not "attacking" NEO, it is drawing attention to what UM/NEO has been doing by revealing or sharing what I know from having been a moderator and Admin on the NEO forum for years. Call it whistleblowing if you like. I am doing that so the community can be fully informed about what they are getting from NEO. I tried for the last couple of years to get NEO to sort themselves out from within, but when it became obvious they never would I stepped down as Admin on the forum and then had one last go at getting them to do right by the community. I/we (see the earlier post in the thread with the pastebin link) failed miserably. So that just left the option of going fully public and blowing the whistle. Hence this thread.
 

chaos

The Boss
Thanks, Joshawott!

Muu_Puklip - I understand the behavioural bit, but having said that, if SquareEnix didn't pressured MyM, would they have stopped with it?

According to some data presented to me recently (listen to our Jonathan Clemments upcoming podcast for full details) close-ish to 80% of the anime "supporters" comes to from illegal download. Piracy and counterfeiting is an endemic problem, deeply ingrained in the anime fandom. I've recently bought a 3D printer and I was thinking about using it to make props for my eternally planned cosplays. The first comment I've got when i mentioned that on FB was "Oh, now you can print your own anime figures!"

I've always made a point of buying show even if I seem them (we get review copies from the companies, which I almost always watch) and I almost always double dipped when a UK release was available for a show I've got an R1 disc. I know I'm an exception and there seems to be one or two exceptions like me around here, but that is not the norm. In these recession times, I'm not working at the moment, so I feel guilty I'm not buying everything I enjoyed, even if for the slightest - Vampire Bund for instance, I've seen the review discs, I enjoyed it somehow, but not enough to pay for it. When I had a proper job, I wouldn't even think twice, even if I'm getting it only to support the industry.

Why I'd do this? The same reason I run an anime website. Because I want to see the industry flourish and more good shows coming out. I've seen and was relatively close to the demise of ADV, Beez and Revelation. And that was only on the 5 years I've been living in the UK. I know about the other companies that closed down.

Some fans complain about the quality of what's been released, but let's take MVM Sailor Moon's release for instance, MVM has said that it traumatised them so much, they would never consider a long series ever again. And while Sailor Moon may not be your cup of tea, it is in no way a bad show. Or an unpopular show.....

While I understand where you're coming from, my point was mainly that I wanted to keep ourselves out of the "anime magazine wars". Being independent means, I hear stories from both sides. We don't have the resources or the ability to confirm any of the stories, so I'd rather stay clear of the drama until I'm able to get facts to report upon. At the time, it's all allegations or third-person info, which is highly unreliable, not because I think people have been lying to me, but simply because I don't believe that they know the entire story. and given the time of these posts in here, to my eyes, it only seemed that this is a thread created to undermine Neo right after the release of a competitor, hence my previous questioning on your affiliation to any of these magazines.
 

HellCat

Stand User
chaos said:
Muu_Puklip said:
Found out that yes, Tokyo Toys did sell counterfeit goods. I even found posts from the guy that owns Tokyo Toys on the MCM Expo forum admitting it.
....
At least they aren't taking a dump on NEO's customers by ripping them off with fakes.
If they admit it's counterfeit is it really ripping off customer? Just wondering....
I won't take the side or either NEO or Tokyo Toys. They are what they are and if you don't like them, don't support them OR promote them.

IMHO - the biggest issue is also the fact that it is almost impossible to get official merch of anything from Japan. 2 months after the show's airing and all the merch immediately disappears from stores and you can only find it in really small specialised stores if you are lucky.

The market in here is not big enough for anyone to license things from Japan and use in Merch for instance. Agree or Disagree, what Tokyo Toys do is go to "alternative" outlets to get the stuff people want.

So whenever this discussion comes to mind, I remember of a scene from "Kamikaze Girls"

"Ichigo *show number with hands*: Nobody sells a Versace jacket for **** yen?

Momoko: It is a fake, after all

Ichigo: Fake or not, it's still Versace!"

What is MyM approach to this? Anyone who bought any MyM can tell me that they don't take ads from Tokyo Toys?

To be honest, I kind of question the import market here. I've been to conventions and seen people pay, say, £80-£100 for a Gundam Master Grade you can get online for about £40. You could argue they're avoiding waiting for it to arrive and the 50/50 chance of a customs fee, but I personally find it difficult to pay well above retail for something like that. Most of the stuff I buy (model kits, shirts, blu-rays, magazines) is imported directly from Japan. It can be expensive but not nearly as expensive as the prices I see at conventions, local comic shops or UK based online stores. I appreciate this is all highly niche product but there's a general limit I'm willing to pay. Otherwise I feel my hobby is intruding on other outgoings.
 

chaos

The Boss
HellCat said:
To be honest, I kind of question the import market here. I've been to conventions and seen people pay, say, £80-£100 for a Gundam Master Grade you can get online for about £40. You could argue they're avoiding waiting for it to arrive and the 50/50 chance of a customs fee, but I personally find it difficult to pay well above retail for something like that. Most of the stuff I buy (model kits, shirts, blu-rays, magazines) is imported directly from Japan. It can be expensive but not nearly as expensive as the prices I see at conventions, local comic shops or UK based online stores. I appreciate this is all highly niche product but there's a general limit I'm willing to pay. Otherwise I feel my hobby is intruding on other outgoings.
I'm guilty of doing it. But on the case of Gundam and knowing the Gundam Nation guy, I also know why he charges what he charges and I tell you, it's not all markeup for the sake of it.

Once he told me the volume he would have to buy to be able to order it wholesale, and the it was stock enough for a good year or two. Impossible for an operation like his. Also, the prices for the UK based stores will always be hit by the taxes, as importing directly may not always be taxed.
 

Vashdaman

Za Warudo
I've only just seen this now.This thread shouldn't have been hidden away in this part of the forum, it should have been in the anime news section of front page! The UK anime fandom need to be aware of exactly what they are supporting and aren't supporting when they give NEO they're money. Gah, I feel so dirty for ever having bought an issue (though I already felt dirty for having done so before I even read this thread, to be honest :lol: ).

Thanks for the info Muu.
 

Muu_Puklip

Brigade Leader
vashdaman said:
Thanks for the info Muu.
You are welcome. Glad to be of service.


A quick update.

NEO have got their NEO Awards running again for this year. http://www.neomag.co.uk/art/lifestyle/n ... wards-2012

And once again they have included TokyoToys in the 'Best Retailer' category. Seems NEO are dead set against learning any lessons.

http://www.neomag.co.uk/forum/showthread.php?t=133284 A few cynical comments have been made.

The voting for the NEO awards is very much open to abuse as usual.

To see how just take a look at the bottom of the front page of the NEO forum: http://www.neomag.co.uk/forum/index.php

All those spambots and never do they run out of email addresses...

And for an insight into the mindset of Gemma Cox (NEO editor and the woman behind the NEO Staff account on the forum) have a look around the NEO forum at all the spam she has posted herself over the last few months. Strange set of priorities. Post your own spam, avoid interacting with the forum members, and ignore all the spam signups which are strangling the life out of the forum.

After looking over the NEO forum for a few minutes it is very clear that Uncooked Media/NEO don't much care for the NEO forum or their customers that have, do, or might want to use it. They may as well close it down.
 

Muu_Puklip

Brigade Leader
And I've been banned from the NEO forum again. :roll:

The reason given? Spam. So now I am responsible for all the spam signups? What a farce. UM clearly don't know their **** from their elbow. They certainly don't know how to run their own forum.
 

SunlightHeart

Student Council President
Not that I really care much about stuff like this but i'm stuck at work and at a loose end so what the hell.

(warning: potential of controversial viewpoints ahead)

Firstly MyM does carry Tokyo Toys adverts, as i'm looking at a full page one right now in the newest issue. Not that such matters much. Neo does it, MyM does it. The issue being here is taking money from a shop that sells counterfeit merchandise to keep your magazine alive a good or a bad thing?

Now, obviously counterfeit merchandise is bad, right? well, hmm... certainly in principle. However is it worse than scanlations or fansubs? After all, they would also involve a loss of sale to the producer of the content in many cases. Then one could say that the shop is making profit out of the fake goods, well some of the scan sites make money out of advertisng.
The question is then should we in a way be glad that the magazibnes can get advertisers, after all, we have a vanishingly small market here in the UK don't we?

Now i've been to Tokyo Toys, i was on a pub crawl towards a gig venue at the time. I went and had a look. Didn't buy aught, as most of it was tat, and they had a strange fixation for Nanoha Takamichi. Now give me a Vita or a Signum and i'd have been more interested... but that's by the by. Now i'll own up to having bought a counterfeit product, the first figure i ever bought (Rin Tohsaka) was. However it was like a gateway drug and i have now quite a few genuine figures and even lurk the main figure sites looking for preorders.

In that respect it's little different from checking a fansub before buying a product (No way i'd have dropped over a ton on Bakemonogatari without knowing if it was good first)

Certainly not everyone or even most people who buy fake merch, use scans and use fansubs will buy the geniune products, but i'm pretty certain that it's higher than the industry thinks.

Wandered off topic a bit, but i guess what it boils down to is whatever keeps the industry going is at least partially a good thing. I know you can get all the info on line but i happen to like Neo and MyM, and if the only way they can stay afloat is with a few dubious adverts that are morally no worse than something a high proportion of fans do (subs/scans) then what's the big deal really?

Perhaps instead of worrying about the counterfeit merchandise we should be looking at ourselves as buyers. As long as we support the industry new sources of ad revenue could arise, and maybe then they wouldn't need ads from Tokyo Toys and everyone could be happy... maybe. (or we could just join region 1, wish we could *sigh*)

anyway, bleh, this probably wasn't conctructive...

As for running crappy forums, most forums are run badly, it's a rule of the world *grin*
 

Muu_Puklip

Brigade Leader
SunlightHeart said:
Firstly MyM does carry Tokyo Toys adverts, as i'm looking at a full page one right now in the newest issue. Not that such matters much. Neo does it, MyM does it. The issue being here is taking money from a shop that sells counterfeit merchandise to keep your magazine alive a good or a bad thing?

Yes, it appears that MyM have slid backwards since Mr Alozdi departed as editor. Since MyM are owned by the MCM Expo people it's a pretty damning indictment on both the state of the UK industry and the state of UK law enforcement.

Your question is starting from the wrong place. Neither MyM nor NEO need to take money from a shop that sells counterfeit merchandise to keep running. Both should be (are) capable of raising advertising money from legitimate sources. Both ought to know better than to do their customers such a disservice as to give advertising space to counterfeit sellers. Surely the point of magazines like NEO and MyM is to inform their readers not mislead them into buying counterfeit goods?

SunlightHeart said:
Now, obviously counterfeit merchandise is bad, right? well, hmm... certainly in principle. However is it worse than scanlations or fansubs?
Why are you comparing things which don't need to be compared? Selling counterfeit goods ranges from the dreary to the dangerous. The bulk of the UK anime/manga counterfeits are at the dreary end. We aren't talking about poisonous fake foods or fake aeroplane parts which would cause a disaster here, but we are talking about consumers/buyers having the full information available to them so they can make their own properly informed choices on whether they want to buy mags that promote dreary counterfeit tat through advertising and so on, and whether they want to buy the dreary counterfeit tat itself once they know that is what it is.

SunlightHeart said:
The question is then should we in a way be glad that the magazibnes can get advertisers, after all, we have a vanishingly small market here in the UK don't we?
I don't know about you, but I prefer my media sources to be useful to me. Much as AUKN and a bunch of other online only anime/manga sites are. If the mags don't want to play straight then I don't see any value to them and I won't buy them.

SunlightHeart said:
Now i've been to Tokyo Toys, i was on a pub crawl towards a gig venue at the time. I went and had a look. Didn't buy aught, as most of it was tat, and they had a strange fixation for Nanoha Takamichi. Now give me a Vita or a Signum and i'd have been more interested... but that's by the by.
I don't see that you have any real disagreement with me. I don't like tat and don't buy it either. I also like to know whether the things I do want to buy are real or fake. That becomes more important to me the more vital, i.e. food, and the more expensive for non essentials. I don't think anyone can have any objection to having that kind of knowledge shared around.

SunlightHeart said:
Now i'll own up to having bought a counterfeit product, the first figure i ever bought (Rin Tohsaka) was. However it was like a gateway drug and i have now quite a few genuine figures and even lurk the main figure sites looking for preorders.

In that respect it's little different from checking a fansub before buying a product (No way i'd have dropped over a ton on Bakemonogatari without knowing if it was good first)
Again you are making comparisons that don't need to be made. You didn't buy a counterfeit figure to try out a real one. You bought a counterfeit figure because you either knew it was counterfeit and were fine with paying the asking price for it, or you were not aware it was counterfeit. The issue there is the information one. Knowing what you are being offered so you can make informed decisions on buying.

SunlightHeart said:
Wandered off topic a bit, but i guess what it boils down to is whatever keeps the industry going is at least partially a good thing. I know you can get all the info on line but i happen to like Neo and MyM, and if the only way they can stay afloat is with a few dubious adverts that are morally no worse than something a high proportion of fans do (subs/scans) then what's the big deal really?
As above. What MyM and NEO are doing does not keep the industry afloat. It's actually harming the legit companies and preventing them from being able to compete fairly with the companies that sell counterfeits. The legit companies don't grow because MyM and NEO are not doing what their proper function should be. That is, they are not informing their readers. Instead they are misleading them.

SunlightHeart said:
Perhaps instead of worrying about the counterfeit merchandise we should be looking at ourselves as buyers. As long as we support the industry new sources of ad revenue could arise, and maybe then they wouldn't need ads from Tokyo Toys and everyone could be happy... maybe. (or we could just join region 1, wish we could *sigh*)

anyway, bleh, this probably wasn't conctructive...
We can only look at ourselves as buyers when we know what we are being offered. That's the point. Share the information around. Let everyone know what's fake and what's real. Let everyone know who is selling the fakes and who is straight. Let everyone know which media outlets are useful and informative and which are giving advertising and promotion to counterfeit sellers.

Your post was constructive. You are exploring ideas. That's a good thing. Thinking about the state of the world, and sharing ideas and information makes things better for everyone. ;)
 

Kyon

Completely Average High School Student
Interesting thread Muu, thank for sharing. Although I lost interested when the arguing started. Piracy, couterfeit goods, etc are wrong. Knowingly advertising pirate copy, or counterfeit goods is wrong. Simple as that.
 

Muu_Puklip

Brigade Leader
So now the NEO forum has finally been buried I will say a few more things.

First off, you need to understand that Uncooked Media (UM) is a relatively small company. It's nothing like a media giant such as News International where you might find multiple layers of workers and managers between the company directors (owners) and the front desk. It's really just a handful of people and there are very direct connections between the top and the bottom. At least one of the company directors tweets about the content and production of at least one of the UM mags because he is directly involved in producing it.

Looking back on it the NEO forum was in trouble from the time that the original editor of the mag, Stu Taylor, moved on and was replaced by Gemma Cox. Now that's really going back a long way! I say this because with the first incarnation of the NEO forum Stu was active on there, and so was Gemma. Once Stu left and the forum was restarted in the phpBB incarnation Gemma quickly drifted away.

That was a problem in several respects. Perhaps the biggest problem is that if you are going to run a forum connected to something like a magazine then you use the magazine to drive traffic to the forum, and then you need to have people working for the magazine on the forum to interact with the users. Once that interaction goes it greatly diminishes the reason for forum users to be there. It's about giving the users/readers a sense of being connected more closely with the mag. If the users see that the mag staff rarely come on, and when they do they either just promote their own side projects and bugger off again or just ignore the users and post promotional material for other companies (that are too lazy to come post it themselves) then it's a big turnoff.

For those of us who were trying to Mod/Admin the forum Gemma's withdrawal meant that we had no channel of communication with the forum's owners. Gemma was supposedly 'in charge' but not doing anything in terms of interacting with the users, and certainly not involved in the running of things at all. She never talked to us. It also meant that Gemma and the forum owners (UM company directors) were not seeing the huge problem with spam that developed. Literally. They were obviously never even looking at the forum or they would have seen that we ended up getting dozens of spambot posts every day, often containing all manner of foul pornographic material which certainly was not suitable for a UK based forum with a fair number of underage users. Something is very badly wrong when you have that kind of situation. Yet we (I'll limit this to myself, Manning, and kuro_neko for simplicity) carried on trying to make things work.

Eventually it got so bad that we discussed just walking away and seeing how long it would take for Gemma or anyone else involved with NEO to notice that the forum was being flooded with spam. We figured they never would. So we had one last push to keep the forum alive. We sent Gemma a PM informing her that if nothing was done to give us the tools to fight the spam we would have to walk away.

That actually worked. Gemma took it to the company directors. They agreed to spend some money. We ended up with the vBulletin version of the forum. Only then we discovered that things still were not right. UM cheaped out and behaved badly. So we ended up with a vBulletin install that was functional but not completely set up. We could have left it exactly as we found it. After all, none of us were being paid. We were just volunteers trying to keep a forum going for the good of the community. If we had left it as we found it then the forum would have flooded with spam within weeks.

Instead we set about figuring out how to protect the users from the spambots and we set about setting it up to suit how the users wanted to use it. Gemma soon vanished again. We were used to it by then so we just cracked on with things. And it didn't take us too long to work out how to deal with the spambots. That's because at least one of us made the effort to do some simple searching on the vBulletin forums. Nothing difficult. Basic stuff. We would have liked to have a system which was more or less fully automated, but what we ended up with was fine. It just took a minute or two every day to check the moderation queue for genuine users and nothing more.

The key part of the spam defence was the questions in the signup routine. Some of you may remember having to answer one of those simple questions about dinner plates, or hamsters, or what the middle letter of the name of the magazine was and so on when you signed up to the NEO forum. It's those that spambots have trouble with. At least they do until the human that runs them comes along and goes through all the questions and puts the answers in the spambot signup script.

And of course whenever we saw new spam signups appearing in the moderation queue we just added a question or two to the list and it kept them away again until the human came back. Simple stuff. Effective.

Now when everything blew up last year after I figured it was time we did talk directly to the organ grinders (UM directors) to see if we could get them to understand that they were doing things wrong and that we wanted to help them do the right things we got a bad reaction from them. Very bad. They sent in someone who took over one of the Admin accounts and then started blundering around doing all manner of stupid and counterproductive things.

That person made some very unhelpful posts claiming that UM had received threats and that he was ensuring the security of the NEO forum data, with the implication that he was securing it from us. Well we thought that was strange, since one of the first things he did was delete a bunch of threads and posts that were embarrassing to UM. Threads and posts that we had deliberately left there and protected. We also thought it was particularly strange and boneheaded to think that we were a risk to the forum when if any of us had wanted to be an ******** we could have simply deleted everything on there instead of chasing after the people who should have been talking to us all along.

That person and by extension the UM directors continued to behave badly towards kuro_neko and Manning so they stopped work. Why be helpful to people who are doing something wrong and treating you like dirt? That person and Gemma were being paid by UM, so it was time for them to do some work to make the forum run.

If you check back to the material in the pastebin link in one of my earlier posts you will see that I specifically told the UM director that they had to look after the moderation queue and look at the forum.

Yeah, it didn't take long for the person behind the Admin account to vanish and as usual Gemma did the same. Although she did seem to like popping up to post spam of her own. If Gemma had been paying attention and talking to us over the years she would have found out that when companies appeared and posted advertising material then at least some of the users soon responded negatively if that company rep did not stick around and chat. No chat and interaction and it's just spam.

So of course it was only a matter of time before the humans came along and fed the right answers into the scripts for their spambots. And now there was no-one to change the questions around. So the spam started to build up in the moderation queue. Which was better than it building up in threads on the open forum. And it continued to build up like that for months. Since I knew what was going to happen I tried to explain to the users a fair few times that the forum was done for. I encouraged them to leave.

That kinda backfired because after a fair while a few of the users wanted to try to save the forum and ended up getting themselves made Admins against my advice. By that time there were something like a quarter of a million individual items of spam in the moderation queue. (Guys, you really should have walked away as soon as you saw the size of that queue.)

What's worse is that the one behind the Admin account clearly never bothered to figure out how we had set things up. His apparent 'solution' after giving mod/admin rights to the new guys was to leave everything as it was and to put all new signups into the moderation queue at an earlier stage on top. So signups would go through the moderation queue twice. Which just created more work and didn't do anything to stop spam signups because it didn't take them long to adjust to it. It also made the signup process for legitimate users so onerous and painful that they may as well not bother. Not that there were ever likely to be many since NEO had stopped driving the traffic to the site from the mag a long time ago.

Now us three sure as **** weren't going to tell the new ones what was wrong or how to fix it. There is no reason for us to help NEO while NEO is behaving badly, and any help we gave to the new crew would be of more help to NEO than anyone else.

So we carried on biding our time. Until someone at UM finally wised up and realised that their forum was at best a zombie and needed to be buried.

Which brings us up to the last week. That announcement. UM aren't 'unable' to support the NEO forum, they are unwilling. It's sad because it is actually very little work to look after if you know what you are doing, and it doesn't take much to learn how to do it. Kinda sucks for UM that they paid the guy behind the Admin account when his work was so bad too. It never even occurred to him that he could have removed the public symbols that indicated my very obvious association with the forum by copy-pasting the contents of roughly four posts into ones of his own and deleting the originals. Five minutes work. So all this time there were things like the forum Acceptable Use Policy right at the top of the forum and posted by me. It may as well have been my forum! XD

And NEO would like us all to continue to love them on Facebook and Twitter. I wonder if anyone at UM knows that it is just as easy for me or anyone else to carry out the 'threat' to keep drawing attention publically to their bad behaviour by posting on Facebook and Twitter as it is on forums? It's essentially the same process. Create accounts. Post. Rinse and repeat. If only they would catch themselves on and start treating the community and their own customers with some respect. If only. I've had so many years of seeing UM/NEO pissing away their good fortune by mistreating their forum users and volunteer mods/admins that I doubt they ever will.

Hmm yeah. That was kinda long, and I even left out a few things! ;D
 
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