Ask Massively: Unpopular decisions edition

For old time's sake.
Ask Massively is apparently the mouthpiece through which Massively communicates its reasons for unpopular decisions to you, the reader. And by "Massively," I of course mean "Eliot," since I'm the only person who writes this column (and have been for over a year, apparently). So instead of my usual somewhat flippant tone in opening off a column, I'm just going to be direct and say that we're discussing one of the site's long-running and beloved features that's finally shuffled off this mortal coil.

You probably all know what I'm talking about already, so go ahead and jump past the break for the explanation and a bit of discussion. As always, your questions are welcome in the comments or via mail to ask@massively.com for inclusion in a future installment of the column, hopefully one in which I go back to posting public domain artwork as the header before rambling on about elephants. I like those introductions better.

Many, many people asked: Why did you kill One Shots?
Despite what some people theorized, we do not have site metrics that lead us to decide a given article or story isn't "pulling its weight." We do our level best to make sure that every game gets coverage, whether it's enormously popular or has a small but dedicated playerbase. This wasn't anything so cynical. Nor did it get killed because of some deep hatred of the feature by one part of the staff or another -- we all liked One Shots. That having been said, it wasn't pulling its weight. Not only in the sense of hits, but in the sense that it just took more work to produce that it earned.

One Shots, like our other regular features (The Daily Grind, The Soapbox, WRUP, or our game columns), was here for a lot of reasons. But the main reason is to engage our readers and keep developing an active sense of community. The problem is that One Shots really wasn't engaging people as much as you'd expect given the work required for each installment. Most weeks, we'd have one image submitted for seven days. Even after we announced the impending demise of the feature across all of our usual social media channels and on the site itself, we received only a handful of submissions for One Shots' very last week.

A lot of you did pipe up to say that you were sad to see the feature go, and it's appreciated. But last week's final installments were by far the busiest and most involved that it's seen in a long while. And we have to occasionally decide that something needs to get moved because we would rather fill that space up with something that's more interesting to our readers than something that's less interesting.

It sounds kind of corporate, yeah. But it's also the truth. There was no mandate handed down from a man in a dark suit saying that it needed to go; we made the decision that it just wasn't fulfilling the need that originally put it in rotation. Sometimes, it's that simple. In fact, our Editor-in-Chief made the decision, so let's hear his thoughts on the subject:

"I really do appreciate the outpouring of passion over the end of One Shots because it's probably one of the most surprising things I've seen from commenters in a long time (and I've deleted some pretty shocking comments in my day). The fact is, it was a community post (not a column) encouraging the Massively community members to participate by sending in their favorite screenshots. In theory, it was fun and involving. In practice, we never got half the submissions we needed, so we'd have to ask the team of writers to fill in the rest, using their own character names to submit, and that just wasn't the intent of the feature as it was originally developed. It's really daunting to ask for submissions in every One Shots, on Twitter, on Facebook, and in our forums, only to get very minimal participation from the people for which the feature was created.

"So I made the decision to axe it, leaving one more open spot for news, interviews, special features or whatever else we cram into our busy days at Massively. We publish every hour from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. EDT and usually more, so that 4 p.m. slot is prime real estate.

"Another interesting fact I want to leave you with: Although page views weren't key to our decision to end One Shots, the feature consistently received the lowest traffic of any other post on Massively. Its final installment got about 15 times the traffic as any other One Shots. It is scientifically impossible for all of the people who complained about its closure (on that post and several others since then) to be regular readers of the feature. Again, I appreciate the enthusiasm, but where were you all when we asked for submissions over the last four years?"
Looking for some advice on which class is best for soloing in Aion? Not sure who this Raph Koster fellow is? Curious about the release date of NCsoft's newest MMO? You've come to the right place! No one knows MMOs like we do. If there's anything you'd like to know about the MMO genre or the site itself, Ask Massively is here to help every Thursday afternoon. Just ask!

This article was originally published on Massively.