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Location: Cowford, FL
DOB: 4/21/1989
Joined: Nov 23rd, 2010 @ 5:48 pm
Last Visit: Jan 24th, 2020 @ 11:57 pm
Member: #1
Posts: 2914
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MFGG and lessons learned (Post) @Nite I don't mean to toot my own horn - there are many reasons why things happened the way they did - but I think of the 2012-2015 period as a golden age for MFGG. Obviously, the post volume wasn't as high as it was during the IPB era, but we enjoyed a high-quality community and many of our best games ever.

Things took a sharp turn for the worse around the time you resigned from your staff position - things got especially bad in summer 2017 and in the second half of 2018. We've had some fun times since then, and I believe the "new guard" of staff members are generally doing their best, but MFGG isn't the same these days. Forum activity is pretty slow, but I'm still hopeful that things will improve.

I hate that you had to deal with a handful of not-nice people - you didn't deserve any of the mistreatment you've received online. Most people on MFGG think you're really cool, and if there's someone who's causing trouble, we can take appropriate action. I can understand if you'd rather not hang out in a place where you've had problems in the past, but I hope you'll feel comfortable paying MFGG an occasional visit.
MFGG and lessons learned (Post)
Ah... good times, good times. I basically agree on most counts here, it's weird to think back to all of this over a 10 year period; how YOUR tenure as staffer goes back to a decade, specifically. It doesn't feel like it was that long ago, but here we are.

I find it doubly amusing that we're talking about all of this and nostalgia and not-so-nostalgia on some old internet community... on a different internet community.

True, true... there's a touch of irony that we're talking about MFGG nostalgia on a place that's not MFGG!
MFGG and lessons learned (Post) There's a Web site called MFGG. You might've heard of it before - a huge chunk of y'all have a connection there!

Until I stepped down about a year ago (also known as February 8, 2019), I was an admin on the site. I served in that role for about seven years - which is quite a good long time, especially in Internet years.

I think I did a decent job of making sure the place didn't implode. But while hindsight is 20/20 (especially in the new year), there are some things I could've done better. Since it's a new decade and a trendy time to reflect on the previous ten years, I decided now was as good time as any to write my own self-assessment.

The Good
Not everything I did was dumb! Really! I promise!

Maintained fangaming focus...
MFGG is, at its core, a site for making, sharing, and discussing fangames, especially Mario fangames. I was wise to not deviate too far from this successful formula. Nowadays, there's a greater demand for online communities that fill a niche (like Mario fangames) than for those that serve as unspecialized hangouts.

...without going overboard
Black Squirrel, the admin who came before me, did a lot for the community, but he was a little overzealous around the time of The Split. I was wise to restore some institutions on the periphery of fangaming (like Drawing Competitions and the badges associated therewith). The community also proved itself capable of handling a General Chat board (at least for a while) and a Gaming board, and I'm glad I brought those back (especially Gaming).

Stayed active and visible in the community
I wasn't active 24/7 on MFGG, but it's also true that I was in college/grad school or had a job (or both) my entire time as an admin. Yes, I could've spent more time on the site, but I struck a healthy balance of devoting a lot of hours to the community and maintaining my own sanity.

Engaged members of the community
I wasn't everyone's BFF every second of the day, but I made a lot of friends just chatting one-on-one over IM or forum PMs. This also had the nice side effect of making people feel good about the staff and community as a whole.

Made games and stuff
MFGG is a site for making creative things, especially games, and I think the leader of the community should be involved in those activities! I was pretty good about that.

Didn't cuss like a drunken sailor
The Mario series is generally squeaky-clean, and it's reasonable to assume that the content of a fansite for the franchise would not be radically different from the content in the actual games. I'm glad I kept MFGG safe for work most of the time. There were a few folks who complained that they couldn't disable the swear filter, but the small number of people who would consider leaving a Mario fansite because they couldn't cuss are probably not people you want on your site.

He went data way
Relatively few online communities have been in continuous operation for almost two decades - but MFGG has! That's given us a massive archive of data we can use to help us make better decisions. It showed us how activity has fluctuated at different times, helping us dispel misconceptions (like the dumb idea that MFGG's userbase has gotten younger over the years) and make better decisions about how and when to promote events. I also recognized that data is a complement, not a replacement, for good ol' common sense - and that some data is fascinating but not terribly useful!

Made more good staff decisions than bad
The Village People
No man does it all by himself

While I was the most visible admin during the better part of this seven-year period, I certainly wasn't the only staff member - I had plenty of other people who contributed a lot. After a few years, the majority of staff members were people I had chosen. Not every staff member was a home run, but I made more good decisions than bad ones. I think I did a pretty good job of building a staff with diverse backgrounds and skillsets, and not letting the group swell to excessive size (we didn't have a hard cap on the number of staff members we could have, but having "too many cooks in the kitchen" can be a problem if you get carried away with promoting all your friends).

Didn't get wrapped up in dumb Skype drama
MFGG had a bunch of unofficial Skype groups (and later Discord) during my time as admin. These unofficial groups were sometimes fun, but they tended to get dramatic after a while (although the Coconuts IRC stayed pretty chill). Toning down the "discord" was part of our motivation for creating an official Discord channel, although that wasn't very effective.

I find fast-paced chat groups to be a distraction. You can be active in a forum if you check once or twice a day. With a chat group, it's easy to get wrapped up and check every few minutes when you should be working on a game or finishing a Great Big Team Project. I usually ended up leaving these chat groups after a few weeks, and I have no regrets.

Had some semblance of a life outside of MFGG
Leaders are most effective when they have some semblance of life outside of the place they lead. This is especially true in the online world, which can be isolating and disorientating if you're not careful. My social life hasn't exactly been riveting, especially in the first couple of years of my tenure, but I was pretty good about having interests outside of plugged-in things. Sometimes I even moved my body and went outside and stuff.

Went out on my own terms
It could be argued that I stayed on board too long - I wasn't quite as active and engaged in the final year or so, when I got a full-time job (and, unfortunately, when MFGG drama reached a high). However, I'm glad I didn't cave in to the pressure of a couple of rather toxic folks* who clamored for my departure. Instead, I left once I'd done everything I wanted to do as an admin and felt it was time to pass the torch to a new generation.

* Thanks for pushing me to step down - you actually had the opposite effect, and staying on board for a few more months was a valuable learning experience for me!

The Not-So-Good
Whether by omission or commission, I also did plenty of dumb things.

Let things stagnate
When I first become a staff member of MFGG, I saw myself as the caretaker of this awesome place I'd enjoyed using for years. I was reluctant to rock the boat (for I might sink the ship!). I also tend to be more of an "incremental changes" person rather than someone who leads radical transformations.

However, I was a little too slow to make changes that would have benefited the community. In particular, I stuck with some really outdated forum software (yes, that means you, phpBB version 3.0.12) that made it next to impossible to add new functionality. By 2017 or so, I was realizing that we had stagnated. We made a lot of changes at once, although this transition was sometimes painful.

Didn't embrace social media
MFGG first got big in the era before social media had become a major influence on the world. In fact, MFGG was getting close to a million posts per year at its peak despite getting no advertising or organized promotion outside the community!

The MFGG administration of the early 2010's viewed social media as something that's a little flaky - a poor use of time, and something that could attract copyright problems or sketchy new members. I see their point. I was also concerned that social media could cannibalize the actual forums if implemented badly. However, it took us too long to get a Twitter going.

Didn't anticipate the way copyright issues would happen
MFGG is a site that makes tributes and parodies based on material owned by other parties (in most cases, Nintendo). None of these fangamers earn money off of these derivative works (in fact, we work for free and give Nintendo a whole heap of free advertising!). I've been a tiny bit concerned about DMCA takedowns in the past, but I didn't anticipate the way copyright problems would affect the fangaming scene.

In the past handful of years, there were a few takedowns of high-profile Mario fangames hosted elsewhere (usually because they're almost 1:1 remakes of games that Nintendo still sells, or games that were earning revenue for their creators). Then people started hyping the idea that if you make a fangame, it'll quickly get taken down. By now, some people are afraid to make fangames - even really simple projects - because of fear of takedowns.

I'm not sure how big a difference we could've made, but maybe we could've had some positive effect by sharing our side of the story - that we make nonprofit games for fun, and that the games getting taken down are making money off other people's properties.

Made a couple of bad calls with staff
There were one or two staff promotions I never should have consented to. There's one that happened in 2018 that was a very bad idea - he contributed a lot of good things at first, but once he got a colored name, he had a really hard time getting along with the rest of the staff and stirred up a lot of drama. There was another person who was very articulate and made an exquisitely-crafted case for his promotion, but he was a bit too eager to make drastic changes without having any understanding of the community's purpose or history. (This one didn't do much damage, though, since he lasted only a few weeks and didn't hold much power.)

Was probably too easy on inactive/jaded people
At any given time, MFGG usually has a few staff members who are barely active at all. This is understandable - no one's getting paid to watch over a Mario fansite, and people can get busy with school/work or have other more important things that prevent them from participating regularly. However, I think I erred on the side of being too patient with inactive staffers - it may have been good to demote a few of the inactive staff members earlier and replace them with people who had the time and willingness to serve. That said, I caused a few hurt feelings when I demoted an inactive staff member who wanted to stay active - fortunately, he came back not long afterwards.

Didn't build rapport with one subset of the community
Don't hurt me, but I've never been a fan of Minus World - the community that was split off from MFGG at the end of 2010. It never seemed to have a purpose or goal, and it seemed like a negative and toxic environment. (To use a recent example, their annual awards show had a category where the members voted on their least favorite former member!) In 2017, a bunch of people who primarily hung out on MW joined the MFGG forums, and misunderstandings and drama ensued. I still probably could've done a better job of building rapport with them.

Didn't pull the plug on the Discord experiment
This might be a hot take, but I think having an official Discord group did more harm than good, and we would've been better off retiring it.

Didn't play any of the recent games
I still don't own a game system newer than the original Wii! I would've been more engaged and "in the loop" if I'd owned one of them. I was in college/grad school most of the time I was on staff and didn't have much cash flow, but buying a 3DS or something wouldn't have broken the bank.

Specifically, we never really embraced Mario Maker, which was a missed opportunity for us. Maybe I would've pushed harder for more Mario Mania support if I'd actually played the game!

And that's all, folks
I'm still thankful that I got to contribute to my favorite Web site as an administrator, but I'm also glad I don't have to worry about online drama anymore! (Instead I have plenty of real-life drama to keep things interesting.)

Perhaps someday I'll write a longer reflection piece about my life, MFGG, and online culture in general. Perhaps I won't. You never know!
Tiny Tobasco! (Post) That is extremely adorable.

I also like the speakers in the background!
Backing up a bricked LG G4 phone (Post)
Ouch. Sorry to hear about that, man.

Yeah, I never keep anything important on my phone. It's on way too often, and with no way to physically remove the storage media, it's just too much of a risk if it breaks.

That is a very good point! Any electronic device can fail at any time, but a phone is especially risky because it's always on and because you carry it with you so much. It's all too easy to drop your phone in a storm drain or flush it down the toilet (I know a very intelligent person who accidentally made the latter mistake).
Game Title Generator (Post) http://letsmakeagame.net/game-title-generator/

I've been having way too much fun with this.

Big Weight Loss Racer
Strategize of Rule
Hideous Rabbit X-treme
Remote Cookie Uprising
Command of Lies
Everybody Loves the Love Jihad
Forgotten Cannibal Temple
Shoot of Hypocrisy
Irritating Terrorist Prophecy
Year and Cult
Internet Quiz Fiasco
Ye Olde Desert Rescue
Create Your Own Combat Forever
Corporate Monster Revolution
Supreme Hillbilly of Doom
Crossdressing Yoga Demolition
Samurai Vocabulary Restaurant
Roman Lacrosse - The Movie
Bionic Volleyball for Kids
Red State
Jedi Florist Legends
My First Car Attack
Revolution and Skeletons
Kosher Sword Creator
Celebrity Equestrian on Wheels
No One Can Stop the Android in the Outback
Wrath of the Buddhist Dudes
My Little Turtle Spies
Soviet Platypus on the Road
British Drug-Dealing Man
Day of the College Scam
Retro Nudist Smuggler
Darkest Basketball Zone
Scottish Wrestling Story
Backing up a bricked LG G4 phone (Post) Back in late 2015, my brother bought an LG G4 phone. It was a great phone... at first. However, the phone turned out to be a lemon - because of a defect in the hardware, after a while the phone got caught in a "bootloop" - when you turned it on, it would get stuck on the LG loading screen. We couldn't find anything to revive it - restarting it, removing the battery, trying to load recovery mode, and so forth. This problem happened to thousands of users, resulting in petitions, lawsuits, and innumerable complaints on social media and support forums.

My brother ended up buying a new phone when the problem happened in 2017. However, the broken LG G4 had been sitting on his shelf for over two years, and we decided it would be fun to back up all the stuff he didn't get a chance to recover (don't follow his example in not backing up your files!).

After a bit of Googling, I found that there was no cure for this problem - LG could replace the broken part, but that would wipe out all your data. Various users complained about this problem on forums and social media, and the general consensus was that there were two ways you might be able to temporarily revive the phone (at least long enough to do a backup): fire and ice. You could expose the phone to high temperatures or stick in the freezer.

Before we go any farther, I'd like to warn you that you should be very, very careful in exposing a phone (or any electronics, especially those containing batteries) to extreme temperatures, or using microwaves or ovens used for preparing food to heat up electronics - this can release all kinds of interesting harmful substances.

I started by sticking the phone in the freezer. I removed the battery, loosely wrapped the phone in a towel, and stuck the phone in the freezer for an hour. Then I re-inserted the battery and tried to turn it on. After a few attempts, the phone turned on for a few seconds. However, it quickly died again.

Realizing the freezer trick was probably futile, I tried Plan B: exposing the phone to high temperatures. I decided to start by using a heating pad - the kind you might use to soothe a sore muscle. I knew the heating pad would generate heat but probably wouldn't make things dangerously hot. After removing the battery, I wrapped the phone in a heating pad and switched it to its highest temperature. After about 20 minutes, I removed the phone and tried to turn it on. It took a couple of tries. I had almost given up, but I decided to keep the phone on the bootloop screen while it was wrapped in the heating pad.

A few minutes later, I heard a loud notification sound and saw the T-Mobile logo appear - a very good sign. I was able to connect the phone to my laptop using a USB cable and copy all of the stuff we wanted - photos, audio, and other original content. The phone stayed alive for a couple of days before perishing again.

The moral of the story?

  • Back up your stuff regularly
  • If you manufacture phones, try not to make dud products
  • If stuff breaks, don't be afraid to Google around and try creative solutions (but don't do anything stupid or dangerous, and talk to a pro person if you're dealing with very important data)
What are you listening to? (Post) Baby Shark Dance. I'm (not) sorry.

It's possible that this was the theme song for a baby shower at work. I wasn't involved in the music selection. I promise. Probably.
Post your dreams (Post) Weird Vacation Dreams strike again. A few nights ago, I dreamed that I hung out with three incredibly random people:

1. A very good friend of mine who was my successor as president of my college's defunct IT club. I talk to him just about every day.
2. A girl that my mom taught 15 years ago. We talk every blue moon.*
3. Some random guy on another team at work. I barely know him, but I pass him in the hallways from time to time.

We went to Wendy's. Exciting.

Also, the girl's dreamy counterpart decided to dye her hair black and cut it shorter than usual. I have no idea why (it could have something to do with her Pokemon Go persona).

Later in the dream, we all went to a church service on a Thursday morning. I don't know why. Maybe it's because my department at work tries to discourage working from home, but if we convinced them that we were expected to go to church at this odd hour, we could convince the IT executive folks that some people needed to work from home and take an hour break during the morning for religious reasons.

And no, this doesn't make sense. At all.

* Coincidentally, this girl is the inspiration for one of the four default characters in my Bibby RPG Engine. The groom in my previous dream is also a member of this party.
Post your dreams (Post) Miles dreams are always interesting indeed. The latest one is particularly interesting because many of the details bear an uncanny similarity to the medical adventure a certain friend of mine had been through just a few days before your dream. I'm pretty sure that Miles has never met this friend in real life, but the dream actually sounds like something she could've had!

For those worried about my friend, she's all right - they just ran some special tests to get to the bottom of some health problems she'd been wrestling with for a long time. I am also fairly confident that she was not a test subject for the latest innovations in mind control.

It's interesting that the sounds seem to be more audible on the right side of the nurse's head. Perhaps the Brain Control Technology folks are focusing their efforts on certain regions of the brain responsible for different tasks. For example, the right parietal lobe plays a key role in language processing, and if you're trying to control someone's mind, it would be useful to be able to transmit messages directly to the brain (or perhaps block stimuli that you didn't want the subject to receive). I am no neuroscientist, but those are my random comments on the latest Zany Miles Dream.

I've had a couple of entertaining dreams lately.

A few weeks ago, I dreamed that I attended a wedding in a church I'd never seen before. The groom was apparently the pastor of said church. The groom resembles the younger version of a gentleman I knew years ago - he was the son of my late next-door neighbors. Like the dream world person, he was a pastor. The bride looked a little like the older version of the new girlfriend of one of my friends. After the wedding ceremony was over, all the guests were going to surprise this pastor with a surprise reception (he spent so much time working that he hadn't even planned a party for the wedding!). However, the pastor had already retreated to his study in the church basement. There was a "normal" way to access this study through a staircase somewhere in the church, but we didn't know how to get there. So instead we took the alternate entrance - a long, narrow slide on the outside of the building. I am not chubby in real life, but apparently I got stuck near the bottom of the slide, and the dream ended. (Freud would probably have a field day with this.)

Yes, I have a lot of dreams about weddings, even though I've never really attended a wedding before!

I had another dream while I was on vacation (possibly the same night Miles had his dream). My company's IT department recently held a bowling tournament - it took place a few days after my dream. I dreamed that I went to this bowling tournament but was very surprised to see what I saw! We weren't expecting this, but assorted corporate VIPs had suddenly informed us of their plans to attend. The co-chair of the committee I'm on (the group that plans these events) was very dressed up - she wore a red dress shirt and a kind of fancy black skirt. I saw my department head, and he was also dressed more formally than usual (especially considering the invitation specifically asks attendees to dress casually). At the bowling tournament, people typically help themselves and sit where they want, but some of us were preparing plates full of food and assigning seats for the executive folks who were rumored to be coming. The dream ended before I got a chance to find out whether the VIP-y folks were actually going to visit.
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