On Complaints

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On Complaints

Postby balder » Tue Oct 26, 2010 5:22 am

There is absolutely no way to address complaints without sounding like an asshole. Including this one.

I started a thread about it tonight, instead of writing the next text update. Writing the text update would have been positive action, starting the thread was a negative one. But I feel like I had to say something. I still do. So I am going to try one more time.

My life is at the lowest ebb I can ever remember. I do not wish to share the details publicly. Please do not ask about it or speculate in the forums.

I am not in danger of suicide. I am not in danger of quitting Erfworld. I am doing my best. I will continue to do my best. There is nothing you can do to help, except exercise patience.

To the vast majority of readers who have been patient, supportive, and understanding, I thank you very much.
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Re: On Complaints

Postby zilfallon » Tue Oct 26, 2010 9:37 am

I don't know if it is appropirate for me to reply to this topic, but since you left it open, i am going to.

Dear rob, i thank you very much for replying to your users, honestly. The news at the bottom of the main page were not clear enough it seems. I, for example, had no idea about your situation, and was one of the people frustrated about update pace.

If you are doing your best, then there is nothing more to say, other than give our thanks to you for not ignoring Erfworld and it's community completely, despite your personal problems.
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Violets are blue.

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Re: On Complaints

Postby the_tick_rules » Tue Oct 26, 2010 12:25 pm

We'll try our best. I'm assuming this is related to the what happened to this comic and I'm cancelling my tool membership threads?
I would be a procrastinator, but I keep putting it off.
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Re: On Complaints

Postby arin » Tue Oct 26, 2010 1:03 pm

Heh, if you think it's impossible to address complaints without sounding like an asshole, it's even harder to /respond/ to this thread without sounding like one. :) (Well, that's not true entirely, the previous two posters did it, but they were fluffy responses, whereas I'm going to attempt to share a more balanced point of view).

First of all, let me add my sympathies to zilfallon's and, also, to those of the others who've been constantly saying on the complaint forums that "Yes, Rob's going through some tough times and we feel for that, but...", because we really DO feel for that. Hard times suck, it's a shame anyone has to go through them. They do, however, give us two great consolation prizes - the ability to see who in our lives really cares, and the ability to recognize the sweeter times when they come around again. And they DO come around again, at least in my experience. Great cycle of life and all that. You say that there is nothing we can do to help, and maybe that's true, but for whatever it's worth, a prayer or two have already been tossed your way and I'm sure more will follow. When a writer shares their talent with the world, they touch the lives of other human beings, often very deeply, and there are many among us who ache to pay you back /emotionally/ for things you've given us over the years. I know you don't want to share the details of your situation, and this isn't a request to compel you to, but part of our frustration (mine, at least) was the sense that maybe we /could/ help more, if only we were let in.

Now, all of that said... the fact that you're not suicidal aside (not that some of us didn't really need to hear that), there really wasn't anything you wrote here that wasn't in one of your bottom updates, and if it's not followed through, you're going to find it's pacifying effect to be /very/ short-lived. I know what you've read on the forums are constant gripes about the updates. But if I may be so bold as to speak for the entire community, what we're really saying is that lack of communication from you regarding a schedule is our real issue. 95% of us could easily be appeased by you formally saying something like, "Until further notice, the comic will officially be updated on the 15th of the month, my life is too hectic right now to keep up to any schedule greater than that." Sure, we'd all /like/ to see the comic update more than once a month, but we'd /rather/ just know for sure what day to check the main page. It is that "running down to the tree on Christmas morning and finding no presents" feeling that is your worst P.R. enemy here, because we're kids without calendars who don't know when Christmas is. :)

Taking an X week break to build up a reserve again, officially slowing to a crawl to build up reserve again, any other solution you can think of along those veins, if it results in a steady, predictable frequency, will make most people much happier. Because, of course, most of us are still thinking about the last schedule you set up, and while we empathize with your personal problems (well, technically we empathize with you /having/ personal problems), we're still thinking of the comic as "late" because it's still being held up to the last deadline you set it up against. But the nice thing about being both production staff AND management is that you set the deadlines, so all you have to do is declare a new one with your management hat. :) Like that kid in the Neverending Story who had to choose a new name for the empress, you'd be surprised at how renewing it all is. :)

Of course, the downside is that if you set a ridiculously easy update schedule for yourself and fail to meet it, the lynch mob will blow up that much faster. :P Make sure you're always at least 1-2 ahead of yourself regardless and you should be fine there, though.

tl;dr Thanks for Erfworld, we know life sucks, we wish we could help, you're in our prayers, but pick a damn schedule, ANY schedule, so we're not so anxious all the time. :)
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Re: On Complaints

Postby Jay » Tue Oct 26, 2010 3:34 pm

balder wrote:There is absolutely no way to address complaints without sounding like an asshole. Including this one.

I started a thread about it tonight, instead of writing the next text update. Writing the text update would have been positive action, starting the thread was a negative one. But I feel like I had to say something. I still do. So I am going to try one more time.

You had your choice between doing an update, and writing a short post in response to people upset about the lack of updates.. and you chose the latter? After the ten minutes of posting, you couldn't have maybe done the update too? Best of both worlds and all.

Anyway, I wish you well, and respectfully suggest that drastically curtailing your con appearances might improve both your personal troubles and the complaining about lack of updates while you do other things.

Update wrote:I've sat on something like 400 panels at conventions by now...
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Re: On Complaints

Postby Toolbreaker » Tue Oct 26, 2010 4:13 pm

Thanks for the update Rob. I don't think your life and problems are anybodys business but your own but that is my personal opinion of such things. I hope things get better soon. I remained faithful to Erfworld through book one, where the updates at times took even longer than here so I won't stop watching and waiting for my favorite web comic to update any time soon.
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Re: On Complaints

Postby balder » Tue Oct 26, 2010 4:17 pm

Jay wrote:
balder wrote:There is absolutely no way to address complaints without sounding like an asshole. Including this one.

I started a thread about it tonight, instead of writing the next text update. Writing the text update would have been positive action, starting the thread was a negative one. But I feel like I had to say something. I still do. So I am going to try one more time.

You had your choice between doing an update, and writing a short post in response to people upset about the lack of updates.. and you chose the latter? After the ten minutes of posting, you couldn't have maybe done the update too? Best of both worlds and all.

Anyway, I wish you well, and respectfully suggest that drastically curtailing your con appearances might improve both your personal troubles and the complaining about lack of updates while you do other things.

Update wrote:I've sat on something like 400 panels at conventions by now...


No Jay, I wrote a much longer post. Someone created a sock puppet to argue. That went on for some time, before I deleted the thread and IP banned the puppet.

I still spent two hours after this writing the text update. It feels like it has about 3 or 4 more hours to finish it. Meanwhile, I more or less have 80 hours of work in the next week if I want to get books to the printers. I am trying.
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Re: On Complaints

Postby Jay » Tue Oct 26, 2010 4:26 pm

balder wrote:No Jay, I wrote a much longer post. Someone created a sock puppet to argue. That went on for some time, before I deleted the thread and IP banned the puppet.

Ah.. that makes much more sense.
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Re: On Complaints

Postby Sygerrik » Tue Oct 26, 2010 4:29 pm

I absolutely 100% agree with Arin. Rob, it's great that you're addressing this. I, and many other complainers, do hope that your life gets better. And on this I can only speak for myself, but I don't think you should be forced to work on this when your life is in such turmoil. Simply addressing the topic is a good start, but I know I would be completely placated for the foreseeable future if you would lay out a simple, adjusted schedule. It's really the lack of communication that has been riling people up, not the lack of comics. Even if you were to say "Erfworld will not update until June 2011, due to personal turmoil," that would be totally understandable and would get many people off of your back (myself included).

Dan Abnett, to give an example of another author, was diagnosed with late-onset epilepsy recently, which completely flipped his life upside down. His response was to inform the fan community of the situation and push back his next book by a year. While it sucks to go without reading wonderful Abnett fiction in the interim, he laid out a clear schedule of when his next book could be expected, and the communication prevented anyone from lashing out at him.
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Re: On Complaints

Postby balder » Tue Oct 26, 2010 5:11 pm

Right and what you guys do not understand about schedule is that we want to go faster. Locking it in right now, saying "the schedule will be 1 every 9 days" guarantees you will not get one in 7, but it makes almost certain that something will come up (if not with me, then with Xin) and one week it will be 10 days. Then everyone screams bloody murder.

It will continue on an "as we can" basis. Eventually, this will get much closer to what we want it to be, which is at least one page and one text update a week, preferably two of one and one of the other. That will happen, but it will be 2011 sometime. This is the best we can do.

A schedule solves nothing. There are all of a couple dozen of Erfworld's 250,000 readers who have been vocal about this, but those two dozen have done a lot of damage. If we radically change how we update to satisfy those 2 dozen, then we'll get a different 2 dozen complaining about that. Those ones will say how they were "being patient and just waiting for it to go back to 2 a week someday," but now that it's officially once every 9 days, they're canceling their membership. You see?

I'm asking for patience, not advice. I think about Erfworld more or less my entire waking life, and there is probably no suggestion you can make that I haven't considered and dismissed for pretty realistic reasons. I'm asking you to find something better to do with your time than bitch about this comic's updates, because it can't possibly help and is definitely making things worse. All you do is get me and the other readers upset. It does not lead to things getting better, ever. You just make it that much harder for the people who want to keep posting about story here to have fun.

But I know how this goes. I have played it out many times. I just played it out again last night. What happens? Some (even most) people say, "hey it's okay, I understand." And they do. But a smaller number smell blood in the water and attack, sometimes by registering a new account at 3:47 so they can begin calling me a whiny bitch at 3:49 and not let up. And others read that and go "yeah, the author's a whiny bitch," which is why I can't win. Can't be silent, can't deal with it via news posts. And I can't have a dialog here because I am outgunned, and anything I post sounds assholish even to me.
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Re: On Complaints

Postby balder » Tue Oct 26, 2010 5:15 pm

Hightower wrote:Just please, for the love of all that is good, dont turn into OotS where the only time 'news' is ever posted it's "new stuff for sale".


I don't want to disengage from the readership. But there are times like right now when it seems like the smart thing to do.
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Re: On Complaints

Postby MarbitChow » Tue Oct 26, 2010 6:39 pm

Douglas Adams wrote:I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.

I've been waiting for George R. R. Martin's next Song of Ice and Fire for years.
I've been waiting for Stephen R. Donaldson's to finish the Last Chronicles for almost a decade.
I despaired when Robert Jordan died. (Brandon Sanderson picking up the torch made me very happy, as I've been very pleased with his other work.)
Compared to these, waiting a couple of weeks for new content is trivial.

Almost all of the web comics I read that are updated regularly are completely forgotten minutes later.
Erfworld, on the other hand, lingers in my mind as much as the other most entertaining works of fantasy I've read.

Please do not get discouraged by a small but vocal minority.
Please continue to match the amazing effort you have managed so far.
Please continue to avoid the compulsion to publish something 'because it's due', and continue to create 'because it's good'.

Having said all that, please don't wait TOO long between each update, and consider that dropping a quick status update to set expectations can go a long way towards silencing the vocal minority.
Heck, if she's not swamped, maybe even consider having Xin create some 'filler' artwork: single panel images of various characters in iconic poses, etc. as a fan service. The images don't need to advance the story at all (and won't satisfy the vocal minority) but new updates help keep the comic fresh in people's minds.
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Re: On Complaints

Postby cheeseaholic » Tue Oct 26, 2010 7:25 pm

balder wrote:No Jay, I wrote a much longer post. Someone created a sock puppet to argue. That went on for some time, before I deleted the thread and IP banned the puppet.

I still spent two hours after this writing the text update. It feels like it has about 3 or 4 more hours to finish it. Meanwhile, I more or less have 80 hours of work in the next week if I want to get books to the printers. I am trying.


I think I see what makes the story so good. Not sure what it's called though...OCD maybe.

balder wrote:Right and what you guys do not understand about schedule is that we want to go faster. Locking it in right now, saying "the schedule will be 1 every 9 days" guarantees you will not get one in 7, but it makes almost certain that something will come up (if not with me, then with Xin) and one week it will be 10 days. Then everyone screams bloody murder.

It will continue on an "as we can" basis. Eventually, this will get much closer to what we want it to be, which is at least one page and one text update a week, preferably two of one and one of the other. That will happen, but it will be 2011 sometime. This is the best we can do.

A schedule solves nothing. There are all of a couple dozen of Erfworld's 250,000 readers who have been vocal about this, but those two dozen have done a lot of damage. If we radically change how we update to satisfy those 2 dozen, then we'll get a different 2 dozen complaining about that. Those ones will say how they were "being patient and just waiting for it to go back to 2 a week someday," but now that it's officially once every 9 days, they're canceling their membership. You see?

I'm asking for patience, not advice. I think about Erfworld more or less my entire waking life, and there is probably no suggestion you can make that I haven't considered and dismissed for pretty realistic reasons. I'm asking you to find something better to do with your time than bitch about this comic's updates, because it can't possibly help and is definitely making things worse. All you do is get me and the other readers upset. It does not lead to things getting better, ever. You just make it that much harder for the people who want to keep posting about story here to have fun.

But I know how this goes. I have played it out many times. I just played it out again last night. What happens? Some (even most) people say, "hey it's okay, I understand." And they do. But a smaller number smell blood in the water and attack, sometimes by registering a new account at 3:47 so they can begin calling me a whiny bitch at 3:49 and not let up. And others read that and go "yeah, the author's a whiny bitch," which is why I can't win. Can't be silent, can't deal with it via news posts. And I can't have a dialog here because I am outgunned, and anything I post sounds assholish even to me.


You know the people who complain do it because they love the comic. Except maybe trolls...but there don't seem to be too many around here.

I'm sure now that you have stated that you don't like complaints about time, they will stop. I think one reason that those complaints stick out so much is that there are so few complaints about other things. At most people will complain that the story isn't going how they like it (such as Jillian getting too many things going her way, for instance). But everyone trusts that the story is going to be good even if they might want it written differently themselves...and even those posts are small in number, and people like to complain.
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Re: On Complaints

Postby Hiai » Tue Oct 26, 2010 7:27 pm

^What Marbitchow said.

Also, I don't think you are any more of an asshole than you were BEFORE the "update situation" became such a hot topic :twisted:

Seriously, though, it's understandable that the serial format of this graphic novel has it's downside in terms of deadlines and grumbling, demanding readers. However, I personally find this format very fulfilling and exciting, as it seems almost like a peek into the "writer's process" that a devoted reader would never normally get a chance to see.

As a fan of your work, I humbly request that in between your harrowing real-life escapades, you take a moment only to step back a bit and see that the euphemistically-titled "vocal minority" (I just call them a-holes, but I guess you are less waspish than I) truly are a minority, and the rest of us are patient and willing to wait, as we do for any of our favorite authors in a more traditional format. Please do not let your Art consume the rest of your life, destroying both in the process. Instead, concentrate on handling your Real Life, so that you may come back refreshed and strong when it's time to create and share with us again. Anyone who loses patience will only cheat themselves.

Besides, I'm still trying to choose what new Stuff to buy with my Tool points, I need more time, too! :mrgreen:
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Re: On Complaints

Postby effataigus » Tue Oct 26, 2010 7:28 pm

Arin's bit about:

arin wrote:When a writer shares their talent with the world, they touch the lives of other human beings, often very deeply, and there are many among us who ache to pay you back /emotionally/ for things you've given us over the years.


and MarbitChow's bit:
MarbitChow wrote:Almost all of the web comics I read that are updated regularly are completely forgotten minutes later.
Erfworld, on the other hand, lingers in my mind as much as the other most entertaining works of fantasy I've read.


... were very well said. Thank you again for Erfworld and may your current lull in life pass soon!
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Re: On Complaints

Postby Tensor » Tue Oct 26, 2010 7:31 pm

balder wrote:Right and what you guys do not understand about schedule is that we want to go faster. Locking it in right now, saying "the schedule will be 1 every 9 days" guarantees you will not get one in 7, but it makes almost certain that something will come up (if not with me, then with Xin) and one week it will be 10 days. Then everyone screams bloody murder.

It will continue on an "as we can" basis. Eventually, this will get much closer to what we want it to be, which is at least one page and one text update a week, preferably two of one and one of the other. That will happen, but it will be 2011 sometime. This is the best we can do.


Honestly Rob that is not the best you can do. The best you can do is listen to your readership and tools. Many have said here that a regular schedule is better than "as you can." In fact, I don't think anyone has said otherwise (publicly). I don't think you realize exactly how frustrating it is to come here with no idea whether you will be seeing something new or not. The Christmas morning example above was pretty good. Why don't you officially take the rest of the year off from the comic and build up a few weeks worth of stuff, then come back in Jan with a regular update schedule. I am confident that if you were to take a poll, the readers would vastly prefer this option compared to "as you can."

As an aside, I do, really appreciate that a) responded and b) you don't have the Gestapo moderators that other comic forums have when it comes to discussing these things (schedules, etc.). There's a reason I neither read nor support nor promote them. Yeah, and c) the selling crap all the time, sheesh.
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Re: On Complaints

Postby Nihila » Tue Oct 26, 2010 7:46 pm

Tensor wrote:Honestly Rob that is not the best you can do. The best you can do is listen to your readership and tools. Many have said here that a regular schedule is better than "as you can." In fact, I don't think anyone has said otherwise (publicly). I don't think you realize exactly how frustrating it is to come here with no idea whether you will be seeing something new or not. The Christmas morning example above was pretty good. Why don't you officially take the rest of the year off from the comic and build up a few weeks worth of stuff, then come back in Jan with a regular update schedule. I am confident that if you were to take a poll, the readers would vastly prefer this option compared to "as you can."
Yeah, actually, I agree with the last point--if the Book 2 Issue 1's are coming and Book 1'll be out in that time, I think that I won't get too Erf-deprived. I'd prefer to see a consistent update schedule in January rather than "as you can," even if it means 2 months without updates.
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Re: On Complaints

Postby Hiai » Tue Oct 26, 2010 8:19 pm

To Tensor and Nihila:

Those are YOUR preferences. Do not presume to speak for the rest of us. Personally I'd prefer that those who keep trying to joggle Rob's elbow would stfu. You guys here prove that personal preferences mean very little to anyone else in the world.
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Re: On Complaints

Postby Nihila » Tue Oct 26, 2010 8:31 pm

I do not presume to speak for anyone except myself. That would be stupid. I simply think that it is valuable to express my personal preferences, whether other people agree or not. I simply do not care what anyone else thinks of my opinions unless they can tell me why they are bad opinions using logic. Exactly like you didn't, that is.
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Re: On Complaints

Postby Tensor » Tue Oct 26, 2010 8:44 pm

word
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