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Observatory Notes
My thoughts, observations, and notes regarding events specific to Gaia Online.
On Top Fishers - the guild, the people, fishing, and others.
It's early May, 2015, and for the first time in many years, something different is happening, or to be more exact, something is NOT happening: There is no longer a Top Fishers monthly fishing thread for the new month.

The announcement explaining why this is, given by Gaidin on behalf of the remaining Top Fishers staff (i.e. Gaidin and myself), can be read here:
http://www.gaiaonline.com/forum/gaia-fishing/top-fishers-april-2015/t.96487781_45/#45

A part of me feels that I should be sad, and indeed, there is a part of me that feels this way regarding the discontinuation of what I feel has been a healthy tradition in the history of the fishing community. However, another part of me acknowledges and understands that what has happened here is simply a result of the natural progression of time, and that it is healthy and not necessarily a 'bad' thing. It is a reminder of the transitory nature of things in life and this world.

Thinking back on how I became involved with the Top Fishers guild, it all started when I was fishing in a room at the Port of Gambino. I got into a conversation with another fellow fisher by the name of 'maharito' who encouraged me to join the guild. At that time, I thought I wouldn't fit in. I remember he told me that many people also thought that they wouldn't fit into the guild, and that all an attitude like that did was cause drama.

Here's something I kept in my bookmarks related to that:
http://www.gaiaonline.com/forum/gaia-fishing/tf-march-06-go-fish/t.12405087_3347/#3347

I wasn't really a joiner; I'm still not a joiner to this day, but maharito's friendliness somehow encouraged me to send my own request to join the guild. What a decision that ended up being!

How can I attempt to convey all that Top Fishers has been with words? Top Fishers wasn't just about people's fishing achievements. In the end, yes, the love of fishing was something the people there all seemed to share in common, but there was really far more to it than just fishing, trophies, scores, and fishing achievements. There was a real community here. It was almost like... a family of sorts.

We talked to each other about more than just fishing-related things. We shared our troubles in life, things we found interesting, and engaged in intellectual discussion. We argued and even quarrelled at times. We were a community of many individuals of varying personalities, and with that kind of territory came conflict and drama. But isn't that to be expected when a community grows or matures to a certain point? Aren't all communities eventually 'tested' by life's adversities as to how they choose to respond? Can we truly say that we really know or understand someone if we've never seen them at their worst and only seen them at their best?

---

When I first got into a quarrel with a prominent member of the Top Fishers guild community, who then went on to label me with a certain derogatory title, my image of the Top Fishers guild was shattered. I realized I had been putting the guild and its members on a pedestal while viewing it all through rose-tinted lenses. I never expected to be treated with such disrespect from a fellow guild member. In retrospect, an incident like this was probably exactly what I needed to shake off the illusion that the guild and its members didn't have human feelings and human failings, and that everyone was idealistically supposed to just get along perfectly. It took me a while to get over the hurt and insult I felt, but eventually, I learned to forgive them, and it seemed that they learned to re-examine their attitude towards other people, even though they never apologized to me personally.

---

A lot of my time with the people in the Top Fishers guild was spent playing the game 'Maplestory'. There's far too much for me to convey in this journal entry as far as my experiences with this are concerned. The general public community in Maplestory was terrible. What made the game worth playing was the company I had. I remember CrimsonGoten (Starnebula) complaining about never getting ilbi throwing stars from Mushmom. I remember Nihilistic_Carebear (Avagar) telling me that he was going to make a character named 'Avagara' and marry it himself. I remember having a conversation with maharito and Gaidin on ethics, philosophy, and the relevance of medicine (that was such an enjoyable discussion - I wished it could have gone forever), until Usagi_Hasano expressed her confusion upon logging in and reading our purple guild chat. I remember dying while helping Avagar kill Tauromacis in the Sleepywood dungeon as a level 5x Ice & Lightning wizard (he was a level 5x Fire & Poison wizard), while madanthony stood on a higher balcony as a level 70 Chief Bandit, ready to 'clean up' in the aftermath.

Those were the days - the days of fun, laughter, stress, and grinding.

---

It's obvious that Top Fishers will never be back to the way it used to be. The golden days have shone and gone. People have moved on with their lives. I can only look back with humility in appreciation of all that it has been and the experiences it has given me, both 'good' and 'bad'. It has all been completely worth it.

There are many people who have meant something or contributed something, and I'm sorry I can't mention them all. I mention the following people only because I feel that they absolutely must be mentioned, as a means of closure and respect. To everyone else whom I haven't named, they each have my appreciation and acknowledgement for all that they personally are and have shared, no matter how little or small it may seem.

Firstly, I'd like to mention Ariela_Steadfast.
http://www.gaiaonline.com/profiles/ariela-steadfast/1840312/
Her friendliness, compassion, understanding, and supportive nature can not be given enough credit. She is one of the few people whom I genuinely looked up to, not just for advice and support, but as a person as well. She was a 'mother figure' to me, as I'm sure she was to many others, and even though I haven't spoken to or seen her around in years, I still miss her dearly, for her presence was a comfort in and of itself.

Secondly, I'd like to mention Bria_Teragram.
http://www.gaiaonline.com/profiles/bria_teragram/3513326/
I first met Bria in a Bass'ken Lake fishing room. At that time, I seem to remember her saying that she was going to win the Gold Bass'ken Lake trophy, or some kind of trophy. I knew her only as a name then. I took her comments somewhat casually, and I guess you could say that in that sense, there was a part of me that questioned how far she was willing to go in order to achieve what she said she was going to. She certainly didn't disappoint in her future fishing endeavours, and in one particular fishing contest, I had the pleasure of competing with her. Suffice to say, she 'outfished' me in the end, but it was worth it. She has also run her own fishing contests. I believe they ran by the name of: "Filter Force Trauma".

Personally, I would have liked to see her acknowledged in the Top Fishers Hall of Fame, and a part of me is a bit saddened that that never happened. My experiences with Bria are otherwise extremely limited so I can't say much more, other than that I respect and acknowledge her as a skilled fisher, someone who knows how to get things done, and someone who has held events for the fishing community, even if her name never made it to the Top Fishers Hall of Fame.

Lastly, I have to also mention someone by the name of entivore.
http://www.gaiaonline.com/profiles/entivore/921238/
His (or is it her?) attitude towards fishing and general character was always something I found inexplicably interesting. Their name may not be very well known amongst many people today (or even amongst the older generation of fishers), but for some reason, they're still my favourite fisher and someone who stood out to me.

For memories' sake, here's a thread from one of my subscriptions:
http://www.gaiaonline.com/forum/gaia-fishing/common-fishing-mistakes/t.9517617/

---

With all that said, in regards to the future of the fishing community and the newer generation of fishers, I hope that the people who will undoubtedly make a community for themselves here (assuming they haven't already done so) will have a chance to gain some sort of prominence for that community, be it in a monthly thread like what Top Fishers used to host, or even a guild itself. I hope that they will lead by example - and set a good one at that - for the people who may follow after them, just as they are now following after what Top Fishers has left behind.

For the people who may be feeling ill will towards Top Fishers for whatever reason(s), I hope they can find it within themselves to forgive whatever hurt or wrongdoing they feel has been brought upon them. Neither I nor anyone else in Top Fishers can change the past. I hope people can see that the decision to discontinue the monthly Top Fishers chat thread in the fishing (sub)forum was our way and last act of trying to support the fishing community, as opposed to neglecting it.

The responsibility of catering to the fishing community, running events, and doing things like writing lake news articles is now unofficially in the hands of those outside Top Fishers and the Top Fishers guild (not that Top Fishers ever held this responsibility on any 'official' level in the first place). It is my hope that those who truly wish to foster a fishing community here on Gaia are able to do so, and that the right people step forward to establish a community that is open, friendly, compassionate, and tolerant amongst other things, and that doesn't simply value or recognize an individual only for their fishing accomplishments.

Top Fishers was never about prestige, status, or how many trophies one could display in their cabinet. Many of the regular members of the Top Fishers guild hardly won any trophies or made a name for themselves on the scoreboards. They just did what the rest of us all did. They liked to fish, and they cared about others as people and as part of a community.

I am grateful for having been a part of the Top Fishers guild, the friends I made on Gaia, and the times we shared, both on and off Gaia. All of this has made the path to today worth it, and I hope that someday, some other community will be able to experience something similar, if not better, compared to what Top Fishers had in its prime.

For those who wished they were recognized in the Top Fishers Hall of Fame but weren't, I would point to their trophies and remind them that these serve as recognition of their accomplishments. I would point them to their friends and fellow fishers, and remind them of the friendship, respect, and admiration that exists between them and those who cheer them on. I would ask them to look at what they have now, and consider how much more valuable all this is compared to simply having their name and a description of their prior accomplishments displayed on a thread that ran for roughly 10 years. Top Fishers and the people in the Top Fishers Hall of Fame have only memories, and would probably be little known or acknowledged by those in the current generation of fishers. The current generation of fishers have not only memories, but so much more. Isn't that worth something? Isn't that enough?

I must end this entry on a somewhat sombre note. If there are those who would continue to look down upon Top Fishers for whatever reason(s), then I must ask them to please show some empathy. I would ask them to think about how they would feel to slowly watch most, if not all, of their friends disappear from Gaia, while Gaia becomes more commercialized with advertisements and aggressive 'promotions', delivered straight to our inboxes without our prior consent. This all happens while the fishing game continues to be left in a state of disrepair, while botters make a mockery of the scoreboards, trophies take months or even years to be handed out, and the fishing game itself contains errors like server disconnections, and fish not being granted to your inventory upon 'saving' a bucket.

I would ask them how they would feel after seeing images like these:
http://www.gaiaonline.com/forum/site-feedback/do-you-think-this-is-a-game-gaia-interactive/t.92701133_17/#17

If you can carry the torch for the fishing community here on Gaia with all this in mind for the odd 8-10 years that Top Fishers did it, then part of me would be happy for you, and another part might be very curious as to what drives you and how you manage to maintain your enthusiasm. If, on the other hand, you find that you can't, or that your enthusiasm or your energy wanes, or life simply drives you to concentrate your attention elsewhere, then I would tell you that I can probably understand how you're feeling, and that I don't blame you for feeling that way.

If you can set a better example and do a better job than what Top Fishers did, then please lead by example. I genuinely wish for your success. If you cannot, then please try to show some understanding.


IxianMace
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