Sunday Thoughts: 15/11/09

Sometimes, when somebody says something nice about all the work we put in here on TSA, it makes me smile. It only takes the occasional kind word every now and again to make it all seem worthwhile: a note of thanks from a publisher, a knowing wink from a developer or even a kindly letter from a reader – it doesn’t matter which, it’s just nice to get a bit of praise because it makes you feel like you’re actually doing something right.

Because most of the time, sadly, the feedback you get far outweighs the positives.  I honestly don’t think some people have any idea how much work is involved with running a site like TSA, which now that Peter’s stepped down from the Editor position means that scheduling all the posts and managing staff also currently falls under my remit.  That’s in addition to any coding, graphics and PR that needs to be done, plus all the writing I do too.

Sometimes I sit back and think – you know, Nofi, you’ve done a good job here – but sometimes I wonder whether all the stress is really worth it.  I’ve been here before, mind, several times really but only just recently I’ve been contemplating the time I spend ensuring the site runs to some level of smoothness and whether it’s really what I want to be doing.  I like writing stories up, I like dealing with PR and I love designing and coding.  But everything?

I get upwards of 200 emails a day about TSA.  If I don’t answer them immediately I’ll get another one from the same guy asking why I hadn’t replied – it’s like a constant reminder that I don’t actually have a life outside of the site and when you’re that close to something twenty four hours a day you really don’t see the goodness in things – everything gets highlighted as a chore or a complication and the enjoyment slowly seeps out of it all.

I think it’s because we’ve always tried to be so community focused right from the site’s inception with Michael and myself that we’ve managed to achieve what we have.  We’ve always listened and based the site around our reader’s feedback – the site layout changes to accomodate you guys, we run regular community events, competitions and blogs on the subject and your right to reply seems to take precident over anything else on a daily basis.

However, it’s impossible to cater for everyone.  For example, I know lots of you didn’t like our move to covering Xbox 360 content but our readership has increased accordingly, so I see that as a successful transition.  We spent days assuring everyone that the site would continue to cover PlayStation topics to the same volume and although a few readers doubted us I hope you’ll now realise that we were true to our words, as we always are.

No other un-paid, volunteer site, that I can think of, offers so much quality writing.  It’s not just our constant 24 hour news coverage but our extensive reviews (and Peter’s video reviews), brilliant features such as Lewis’ Abdriged Too Far and great blogs from Gamoc and the rest of the team really balance out TSA into something unique and special, and that’s what I’m most proud about.  Anyone can recycle news, but we’ve got that little bit extra.

It’s the things that take the most time that don’t seem to garner as much feedback, though.  When a two line blog can reach the stratosphere on Digg or N4G it’s frustrating because some of last week’s great writing fell as flat as a pancake on the aggregators and in our own comments section.  As ourloyal community, you have to let us know what you want more of, and what you want less of, because as readers we want you to be happy with the site.

So, whilst this is probably opening me up to even more work, I want to offer the comments area in this Sunday Thoughts as a free space for you (new or old member) to voice your opinions on any aspect of TSA without fear of retribution.  Nobody’s going to get a nasty response if you just speak your mind, and we’ll collate everything and try to take it from there.  Hopefully, fingers crossed, some of the comments will also take the time to make me smile.