An Open Letter to our Community Pillars

Written by PhilPhoenix
Dec 12 2011, 10:52 AM EST

Dear Community Pillars,

You guys are cool. No doubt about it. But we need to talk. There’s been a lot of fuss these past few weeks about a lack of independent eSports coverage, both from you and from the fans. But fans and pillars are not the same. Fans exist to want things and support the things they want. Community pillars are a created by fan support after providing something necessary for the community. In the case of the SC2 community, this “something necessary” is content. Shows, articles, interviews, stuff like that.

That’s all well and good, but now we’ve realized something. Because you were the first to break through with this content, you’ve been snapped up by sponsors and event organizers. That’s great, but as some have noticed lately, it makes discussing certain topics difficult, namely those that involve any sponsor or organizational conflicts. So how do we fix that? We need different content, this time provided by people who are completely independent from these ties. Simple enough; our community is filled with talented and motivated people. And yet, it’s exceedingly difficult for anyone to break out and gain a foothold. Why is that?

Well first off, it’s because there’s much less star power. Your shows are filled to the brim with popular players and influential members of the community. Not only does that make your shows more interesting by default (depending somewhat on the topics discussed), it also makes them viewer magnets. These people are all super busy and can only make time for shows where there is a clear benefit to them, be it sponsor ROI or access to a wide viewer base to promote themselves or an event. Why would they want to appear on a show with no real guarantee of viewership? It’s not impossible, but it’s much harder for an independent source to get their foot in the door to the extent that you have.

So how were you so successful? Hard work of course. Some of you have been involved for over a decade, and now that hard work is paying off. But because you’ve been around for so long, you’re part of the “Old Boy’s Club” as it were. So when you want to get someone on your show, you’re not pitching to them, you’re just asking for a favor from your buddy. Things like this have helped you gain a large amount of followers from your projects, and now you’re among the most influential members of the community. So when you start commenting about the lack of independent eSports media, people see it and listen. That’s nothing to scoff at. It seems pretty obvious to me how influential you all are, but maybe you’re too close to the issue to fully understand it.

I say this because when it comes to taking the next step in the development of our community, namely the addition of independent media sources to our pool of contributors, you are the key. You’ve accrued a great deal of influence over the last year-and-a-half, now it’s time to use it. It’s already sort of happening. You’ll sometimes link a thread or an article, maybe an event a friend of yours is working on. It’s a start, but it’s not enough. Somehow you never forget to tweet about ten times about your show that is coming on later in the day. Here’s the thing: we get it. We know when your fucking show is on. Unless you’re cancelling an episode of the show, most people can remember when something is on when it’s something they want to watch. Sure, shoot off a tweet a half hour before it starts, but we don’t need reminders and Reddit threads every goddamn day.

My point is that you’re still stuck in “grassroots” mode. You’re still in the mindset that you’re the scrappy underdog trying to make a mark in eSports. But you’re not. Not only have you made a mark, you’ve essentially “made it”. You’re on the inside looking out now. You have legions of devoted fans who will support your every endeavor. So it’s time to stop fighting for yourself and start paying it forward. Your opinion is respected, so use it to start shaping the next generation of eSports coverage. Right now there’s no easy way for a new idea to get seen. Neither Reddit nor TL encourages blatant self-promotion, so how are people going to find exposure? If only there were a group of people who were unanimously agreed to be the most popular and knowledgeable people in the community that could highlight grassroots efforts that are ambitious or that show potential… Do you see where I’m going with this?

What I’m describing is part of your job as a community pillar, something you’ve largely been neglecting up until now. This is something you wanted to happen, you worked hard to become so admired, but if you don’t use this influence to cultivate the growth of our community, you’re just being selfish. I’m not saying you need to spend all day on Twitter, nor am I saying you need to support less-than-stellar endeavors. But this is part of your job now, so get off your asses and do it! If you really want to see more independent sources of content, then find some examples and share them with the rest of us. If every tweet I’ve seen in the last two weeks bitching and moaning about how lacking our coverage is could have been a tweet with an example or suggestion, we’d be that much closer to actually improving things. Maybe you are too close to the issue to have this perspective. Maybe it seems like your current duties inhibit you from making a difference in this arena. I guess only time will tell.