There are times when a person can feel isolated from the Sonic community. ‘Grow out of it’, if you will. But when that person becomes someone who’s been running a large-scale Sonic site for nearly eight years now, it starts to get worrying somewhat. I look at the SSMB and feel completely separate from it – like the people in there posting are guys I really can’t associate with (or care to).

We’ve been here before, yes. A few years ago. But this is different. That was anger. This is near despair, somewhat. Call it over-dramatic, but I feel like I have out-grown my own community’s target audience. My duties when it comes to SSMB is simply to keep a tight ship, but because of my feelings about how things are going with certain topics, personalities and atmospheres, there are only two ways to go. Get some extra planks and nails or abandon ship.

This is the planks and nails option. And this is far from your usual forum reshuffle, this is big news. There are forums that are so far beyond the point of no return that we have to literally take them back ourselves and keep them on a tight leash. There are people that are so self-righteous it is almost childish; people who’ll believe any old rumour on Youtube; people that just won’t stop talking about tired and staid subjects.

Essentially, I have had to take a look at my own forum and ask myself “What do I want from the SSMB?”. It’s nice that we have loads of forums to accommodate what the members here want – a personal chat forum, role playing, video games – but none of it means squat if we as staff don’t have the drive to look after them and make them a better place for you guys. In my eyes, the SSMB has become a jack of all trades, master of none.

In asking myself the question, I thought about what the focus of the SSMB should be and what it has become. It should be a thriving, mature place to chat about Sonic – a place to have a laugh while doing so and not rag on anyone for disliking (or liking) a particular game or comic or whatever. Respecting one another’s opinions, chatting about what you love about Sonic, learning more about the games and merchandise and other things from others in a common ground.

SSMB has not become this. It has been a forum that has focused on everything outside of Sonic discussion, and then some. People who believe they are right in their opinions on certain aspects of Sonic games (i.e. whether they’re good or crap). Rumour spreading (and not even believable ones either). Speculation topics that almost always end up involving unbelievable garbage and waffle that sound more Concept: Fanfiction than Concept: Mobius. The constant discussion of whether Sonic is going downhill, or whether he’s going back to his roots, or whether he’ll make another ad deal with Coca Cola for over nine thousaaaaaand dollar. Watch this space kids, watch this space.

Then of course you have the additional forums, which although have inspired some good discussion, have not altogether demonstrated why they deserve their own specific forum in the first place. And others which were good ideas in theory but staff no longer have the resources or time to maintain.

You could call this the dawn of a new era for the SSMB. We feel that we have outgrown the kind of topics and discussion that I have mentioned in the last couple of paragraphs. We want to encourage fun, enjoyable discussion for all – but for a different mindset, and thusly a different audience. Bizarrely enough, that particular audience is sitting right under my nose and I’ve only just realised.

I’d hate to be using examples at a time like this, and this is in no way a personal attack on anybody; simply something that allows me to illustrate what I’m saying. This topic, and the negativity within it, is the kind of stuff I am pretty tired of. Not necessarily the ‘opinions against SEGA’ thing – regardless of our ties with SoE we’d like to think we’re independent enough to tell them where to stick it when something bad happens. But simply the overreaction and instant negativity over something trivial. We’ve seen it before with the anti-Jason Griffith arguments here too – who really honestly gives a shit?

If you put your hand up just now, to quote Die Hard 4, “That’s what makes you that guy”.

To use a counter-example, this topic – excepting my opening post by all means – is exactly the kind of stuff I’m looking for. People like these, to put it bluntly, are people I really want to be seeing populating my community and the fact many of them regulate themselves to the announcements forum only is something that is truly saddening.

I feel that fewer forums, more concentrated on the subjects that best befit the SSMB, along with heavily overseeing the kinds of topics and posts people write, will help make this place the fun, interesting and close-knit forum it started out as, and I hope it to evolve into.

Many people will not like these changes. Many will object. That is fine, that is your prerogative, being a member here for so long (or not long at all, depending on your situation). But these will pretty much not be altered and will go ahead as planned. So if you feel that these changes will result in your leaving, then sorry to see you go. This topic will serve as an advance warning, because there are going to be people that will want to save certain information in topics before things get rolling. So listen up please.

I will outline the forums that are due to be removed or changed following the pending cleanup.

  • TSS Network Forums: Individual TSSNET forums are not getting traffic, and it makes no sense to keep them when a unified forum for them all can work better. In terms of the SEGASonic Radio shows, we will work on the new website so you can find out information on your favourite LiVECAST that way. Discussion on SSR and the Sonic Show outside of announcements will be allowed here, along with future TSSNET sites. Sonic Show previous episodes will be available in the unified forum.
  • Community Feedback: Originally a forum to allow open suggestions to improve the TSS website, SSMB and other places on the Network directly under my control, it hasn’t really lived up to the original hope I had for it. With TSS currently serving a total overhaul, it has made it difficult to take on board any suggestions properly, so for the time being it will be closed.
  • Member Introductions: This forum was set up years ago for one purpose – to expand on the Buddy Center idea that quickly died a death shortly after. This will be missed by many because of the opportunity to say hello to new friends, but the forum feels far too separate from the rest of the SSMB – in that posting in there is not like posting in the ‘actual’ forums and getting right in on the action. There will be an Introductions topic in the new ‘General Discussion’ forum however, so newbies can still say hello to you hairy lot. It makes more sense too as you’re making your first post right in a primary forum. A specific forum for Introductions has run its course.
  • Personal Chat: Personal Chat was made to help members connect in such a huge Message Board, by expanding on the General Discussion idea to talk about personal likes, dislikes and such things. Instead it turned into a ‘Dear Deidre’ forum full of topics that, arguably, belong better on Livejournals.
  • Debates Centre: Although some of these topics were quite engaging, there’s nothing to support a separate forum for it when topics of that calibre can simply be made in the ‘General Discussion’ forum.
  • Sonic Game Forums, Game Archive: This was a trial that ended up cluttering the SSMB. Game specific forums will remain for upcoming projects, but will be removed shortly after the game’s release, with the best topics being moved to the main Sonic forum.
  • Miscellaneous Sonic: The vast universes of Sonic can be discussed in one unified forum. Whether that forum be more heavily game-related is entirely up to those that post within it. We have seen awesome topics from people like T-Bird regarding OST’s and other merchandise – to have it on the same level as healthy game discussion would make the perfect haven for members.
  • ROM Hacking: With the awesome Tweaker gone from the SSMB Staff, this forum has unfortunately become defunct by default. We at TSS or SSMB do not have the expertise to maintain this forum, so it doesn’t make sense to pretend to. As Hacking is not the primary focus of the SSMB/TSS anyway, it will be removed. Sonic Retro has many articles and forums regarding ROM Hacking which would be a much more suitable home for the serious and honest Hacker.
  • Role Playing, Light RP’s, Character Profiles, RP Discussion: I personally have no interest in maintaining this one, sorry guys. No point making up a phoney excuse and sounding like a cop-out. It just doesn’t suit TSS/SSMB’s style, it’s always been the kind of black sheep amongst forums for a while. HOWEVER! Don’t despair. Roareye Black will be ‘adopting’ Role Play topics within the Sonic Showcase Network – he specifically asked to look after them, so I handed them to him, so thank Roareye for keeping the dream alive. There will be stricter guidelines on how to create them and whatnot though, so look out for more details from Roareye soon (maybe in this topic or in a separate one, who knows).
  • SoniClans: It’s time we put this puppy to rest. There’s nothing we can do for SoniClans anymore to keep it going, even to humour it. The Clans was an idea from an SSMB staffer that was put to trial by myself – since then staff have left and the focus of the project was ultimately lost forever. Maintaining it further is just an exercise in the staff deluding the members here. Most things that were promised or flaunted in the Clans – badges, events, that sort of thing – are planned and can be done on a much wider scale on the SSMB as a whole anyway.

The Sonic the Hedgehog (one unified forum) and Video Games forums will see a MAJOR overhaul in what kind of topics and posts we allow. I will personally be overlooking many if not all posts in the Sonic forum and picking/deleting/locking posts that I feel aren’t appropriate, or outside the reach of this forum. The VG forum will get the same treatment – gamertag/friend code stickies will be removed and members will need to place their codes in their signature or profiles from now on, and we are currently discussing how to make the forum a non-Nintendo rabid fanboy Zone. We’ll keep you posted on that.

Finally, the manner in which staff will be treating posts and rules and such will take a dramatic change. We will be re-enforcing the Three Strikes system, re-writing the rules and modifying our own conduct so that the SSMB is a more natural, friendly place to be.

I hope you all can see where I’m coming from here, and I hope these changes will usher in a new era for TSS/SSMB – a place for the well-informed, mature Sonic fan. If your behaviour matches any of the ‘no-go’s’ I’ve mentioned earlier though, I hope you will straighten yourself up soon if you want to still be a part of our forums. The changes will happen over the next week or two – Role Players will have roughly three or four weeks to save and backup all of their work before we delete them in favour of the SSN’s Textual Showcase forum.

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Founder of The Sonic Stadium and creator/co-organiser of the Summer of Sonic convention. Loves talking about Sonic the Hedgehog in his spare time. Likes Sonic Colours a little too much for his own good, apparently.