"Thank you for saying what a lot of us were thinking for a long time."
I received that PM from someone after I posted my disappointment that the Gaia Autocash discount would be discontinued after this month. Several people complimented me on the post, and several tipped me as well or gave me a hug in virtual worlds when they saw me over it. The consensus is I spoke up for a large number of people who are too scared to make their opinions public due to the number of "defenders" that will not handle criticism under any circumstances.
As happy as I was to receive it, the following night I ended up scammed and going through the infamous report system which is every bit as long and brutal as people have made it out to be. I even showed an online moderator, actually two, the person selling my stuff on the market. One did not answer, the other said to be patient and wait. Despite the fact they could have actually pulled the items down until the investigation was over to avoid having to trace them all around Gaia, they decided to continue with the same old routine that had been drawing criticism for years. And with the scamming situation I realized the likelihood I'd not get my stuff back but more importantly I realized that it was time to move on. I was left with questions I cannot answer:
*Why would a site refuse to help somebody who donated over a thousand dollars to them in favor of a psychotic stalker who harasses people and follows them around claiming all sorts of threats and horrible slander? Worse, why would somebody with questionable "connection" to Gaia defend that person when they have the ability to have that individual removed?
*Why would a site take away a discount that gave many of us a reason to order AutoCash in the first place?
*Why would a site say their one single Flash programmer was unable to fix an issue with an event earlier this year and then take the time to show online videos of their staff playing video games and goofing off when people were unable to use the site features?
I was left with a lot of questions. Those were just a few of them. Hell, I'd had my run-ins with unseemly individuals in the past here. In fact, two of them threatened to hack my account and said so with profanity lacing every other word. When reported, nothing happened and instead I was warned for abusive language when I told them what to go do with their hack threat. Screwed up? Absolutely.
The message Gaia gives to you all is to press ignore and hit report. Even though we do these things and the problem persists and persists, we are told to press ignore and hit report. We ask a mod to come to a virtual area to help, they say to press ignore and hit report. Certainly I do not expect the MASSIVE number of complaints to be checked out immediately, but if a situation is developing that could lead to a number of individuals banned isn't it best to step in BEFORE things get out of hand? No, press ignore and hit report.
I've donated a very large amount of money to this site over the past several years. As of June 2012, that amount of money is cut off. I will be taking my patronage to IMVU, where I have had the luxury of being treated like a human being by customer service whenever I've had an issue. They talk to me, they respond within 24 hours, and they actually fix the problem fast. When you are a paying user on IMVU, you receive the best of everything as paying users should... face it, if you travel a lot on one airline doesn't it make sense to enroll in their VIP program for perks and benefits? Shouldn't they treat you a little better for the money you spend there? If you shop in one store primarily, and get into their rewards program, is that really a bad thing?
Gaia's approach is to give nobody any favor, at all. Rich and poor users are treated poorly in comparison to other sites. I'm not saying if I have a problem I should go right to the head of the line, but if I'm a paying user with a legitimate concern I think I should be given a response before three weeks passes. And I think if my items are scammed away from me due to a misrepresentation of an item price, I should have people work on that a little quicker than 30 days. If I call the police, I don't have to wait 30 days for an investigation to begin now do I? If I have an issue with my credit card and a mysterious charge, do I have to wait 30 days for it to be traced down? Absolutely not. Here, the only thing we all have in common is that it is the same length of time for all of us, no matter who we are or what we did. And that's why people have been leaving for years.
If I posted this in Site Feedback I'd have -100 on the page within minutes because any criticism or critique, constructive or not, will be assailed by the people there as "unjust" no matter what. So, I posted it here where people will hopefully at least read and think about what I've said. In closing, Gaia is at a crossroads where at last they have to choose if they want to become a community again or a corporation that forgot about its users and could care less about them. Not all corporations are bad, in fact many are very good! The ones who forget they all started small and needed the help of people like us are the ones that fail.
I'll leave you with this:
There was a very big company in the 1980's that possessed an immense amount of talent. Chances are you never heard of it, because something very bad happened to them a few years into the decade. The owner was given word that the company wanted to move ahead with a brand new image, and they sternly told their subordinates to continue the same old song and dance they've done for the last two decades. The owner refused to change to fit the times and refused to allow the chance for something new to happen. Instead, their top talent left for another company which became an international conglomerate due to the new ideas that the owner of the previous company failed to embrace. Several years later, the company went bankrupt and out of business for good. Their once multi-million dollar company was purchased for pennies on the dollar and their assets were used to make the same people richer that they originally competed with.
Gaia is at the crossroads described in that paragraph. Do they move ahead with new ideas, better visions for their users and the future, or do they continue the same old song and dance of:
- Limiting user feedback
- Ignoring most user suggestions
- Refusing to assist their paying customers in a timely and helpful manner
- Adding unpopular additions to the site (Alchemy) and neglecting every other part for years on end (Towns, Fishing)
- Charging $50 USD for a single item in their cash shop that is a virtual item and cannot be used IRL
This decision cannot be made lightly, and it can only be made one time. This is the difference between a Gaia 15th anniversary in 2018 or people discussing "that stupid site that went out of business" in two years. The difference between Gaia becoming bigger and better, or being purchased for pennies on the dollar by a competitive company for their intellectual property rights.
As for me, when Autocash's discount expires so does my patronage of this site. I will not pay for it the way it is anymore, I will not fund bad behavior and neglect. I just hope others will have the guts to follow in my footsteps. The next move is up to Gaia... do you continue with the same business model, or do you step it up a notch and improve?
Perceptible Flaws in the Fabric of Reality. With Cheese, to go.
Literally, anything and everything will be covered as needed. To ensure quality, nothing will be posted to meet a deadline and only posted if the material is actually something I feel so strongly about it has to be written, period.