O.P. An open letter to Yuna Software
To: Yuna Software
From: Adam Smith
CC: Messenger Plus! Live Testers, Translators, and entire forum community
Date: February 18, 2010
Re: An open letter to Yuna Software
My name is Adam Smith, and I am a Plus! user since 2004. I was introduced to Messenger Plus! by a friend showing off its fancy abilities as far back as 2002 if memory serves me correctly. Since then I have become an active member on the community message board (http://shoutbox.menthix.net), our IRC channels (irc.msgplus.net #msgplus and #banana), and most recently last summer meeting some other community members including Cyril ‘Patchou’ Paciullo at an organised event in Toronto. I have offered hundreds of hours of my own time supporting users both in our messageboard and IRC chat room. My graphic design skills are horrible, so I have refrained from making people suffer from designing any skins. I have been active with scripting on the other hand. I have created a few scripts myself and helped countless other people with coding advice.
Our community has had many successes, many triumphs. We have also had our tragedies. From Plus! babes and laptops, gaming consoles, petitions, scandals with Microsoft (anti-spyware campaign, MVP status), shocking video appearances (Patate Spears, traxor.avi), marriages, newborn children and deaths, our history spans many facets. Many members have come and gone in the span of 8 years. There are lots of names that have built our community to what it is today. People such as Muss, Johnny_Mac, Chrono, WDZ, reisyboy, shine, EvilSeph, Time, sock, fluffy_lobster, musicalmidget and the late Imogen, just to name a few, were the founders of our community. Today, our community boasts 150 testers and translators, over 87,000 messageboard members and a userbase of more than 62 million. All these users and members can’t be wrong about something so good. And now I see the community slowly falling apart.
I have been part of other communities in the past, one specifically that has faced similar demise. This community was also started by a single individual, and was run by him alone for a number of years. This particular website and community also hosted over a million page views daily, and an army of volunteers made sure everything went smoothly. I was one of these volunteers, seeing out daily operations, assisting others, and I was eventually rewarded by moving into an administrative position (but still volunteering). Eventually this community grew too large for one person to manage himself, and thus the website was sold for a large sum of money.
This new set of owners did not take kindly to its volunteers. We were left in the dark, and the former owner told us it was now out of his control. One day very suddenly, all of our administrative tools disappeared for all of the site’s volunteers. Chaos erupted. Volunteers left, the site’s content slowly degraded, and nobody knew what was happening. The new owners, realising the hell they created, sold the site again for an even larger sum of money. The new owners took a look at the mess, and consulted those who remained, and even set up telephone conferences to speak directly. I was one of the lucky few who had the opportunity to speak directly with the new owners. Unfortunately, as this new owner was a large corporate entity, they had rules to follow. I was eventually kicked from the administrative staff along with a few others as I am not an American citizen (I’m Canadian actually), and our remaining volunteer staff were further restricted in their abilities compared to before. I parted ways after being betrayed by the owners of the community I had come to know and love.
The website? RateMyProfessors.com. The original founder is John Swapceinski, later sold to a duo forming the never heard of company Baltimore Solutions, and later to MTVu, subsidy of Viacom. I was in a group of 7 people who overlooked the entire volunteer base and filtered user submitted materials for colleges and universities all across North America.
The community surrounding our favourite messaging addon seems to be heading down similar pathways. Messenger Plus! has been sold to an otherwise unknown company. The community has been asking questions. We have asked Vanessa a number of personal and business related questions in private, and no response was ever given. A female spokesperson who was supposed to be our representative for Yuna has turned into a fashion show model showing off her wares in fanfare and then disappearing behind the curtain again leaving the crowd with only a show.
I was swayed to write this letter after reading another letter from a much respected community member, Will ‘Willz’ Ingles. Will has been an exceptional member to the skinning community. He currently has hosted 21 skins on Messenger Plus! Live’s skins database, with a combined download count of more than 12 million on this site alone. He has made many other skins before Plus! introduced skinning itself. I respect his decision to part ways with his unique talents. The Messenger community as a whole has been slowly degrading since the dawn of social networking. And along with it, the community of developers, supporters, fans and users. Everyone eventually moves on and Plus! is no exception. Our community will never be as strong as it used to be.
As for myself, I will not be leaving what I believe in. I believe in our community, but there has to be people in a community for it to exist. Now to be fair I did start writing this letter before Cyril has posted his most recent announcement, but I believe all my points are still valid. The community needs accountability and trust, and right now we have neither coming from Yuna. As a silent protest I have recently changed my forum avatar to the image of V from the movie “V for Vendetta” and I have invited others to join as well. We are all living in the Shadow Gallery right now, isolated from the bureaucrats, waiting to become revolutionists.
In closing Yuna, you must come to realise that we are a community. Without this community your new found product will fail. Gain our trust, and watch how far we will fly with you.
I cannot hear you. There is a banana in my ear.