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02/11/01: Memo From Firetop Mountain: IMC prevails!
by Pieter van Hiel

If you haven't heard the news yet, let me be the first to let you know.

GO network is dead. Long live IMC!

GO, if you didn't know, was the ad-driven network that Walt Disney Corporation put in place when they bought out the free World Broadcast System, or WBS. WBS was where most of the hosts, staff, and chatters on IMC first got into online role-playing. (Myself included.) When GO went up, so did IMC - playing home to a small, but always growing, band of role-play refugees and stragglers. And now, one and half years later, GO is gone and we remain, larger and more active than ever.

While we were obviously never in "competition" with GO, it is still a notable landmark in our site's history. Despite the best efforts of the nay-sayers, our sturdy little volunteer chat site outlasted the Disney sponsored behemoth. It has not been an easy ride. Not everyone who has come through our gates has left happy. Not everyone likes the system we have in place to keep the rooms lively and chatters happy, finding it to be overly restrictive.

I can accept their opinion, but I have never really understood this attitude. One only has to remember the legacy of abandoned rooms on WBS, or room hopping flamers, illiterate lamers, and ad spammers. One has only to think of the The Nexus. The ostensibly Star Trek themed Nexus was perhaps the most populated room on WBS. It was also a dumping ground for incompatible genres, 30 something stalkers of underage chatters, and the worst role-players in the known universe. It is to guard against rooms like The Nexus, against dead rooms, and against random abuse by anonymous cybernauts and L33T dullards, that IMC's Terms of Service was drafted.

Some of these unhappy former users have gone to publicly slander and denigrate IMC. Wander by the We Hate IMC (WHIMC) site some time. You'll find a site full of simple-minded personal attacks on IMC staff and chatters, foul language, and absolutely no constructive criticism whatsoever. Essentially, the site states that anyone who enjoys playing on IMC is a fool and a toady. "Ass kissers" is the collective term they use.

Then, take a look at RolePlay Chat (RPC). It was founded by someone with a deep personal resentment against some IMC founders, dating back to WBS.  Look at RPC's logo. It reads "The Alternative is Unthinkable."  IMC is the alternative referred to in that logo. The RPC founder felt IMC's systems of rules and choice of staffers would choke creativity, and thought IMC would eventually die because of them.

WHIMC and RPC are cut from the same cloth. These sites were founded on bitterness, spite, and resentment. It shows in the way they are run. Take a look at the cartoons on WHIMC - they seem to evidence a basic disillusionment with online role-playing in general, not just IMC. Every genre has something wrong with it. High fantasy is for bookworm losers, WoD is for under sexed angst cookies, and everything else is childish Final Fantasy or Dragonball Z.  I think if WHIMC's founder is so unhappy with the online role-play experience, he'd be better served taking a break from it as a whole than wasting his time spewing vitriol over a pastime he used to enjoy, or singling out IMC for abuse.

IMC is definitely not for everyone - it never pretended to be. If you think any kind of outside direction in your role-play or online behavior is tantamount to Fascism - well, have your fun on an IRC channel. If you simply don't like the way the site is designed, or the way the staff work, no one's forcing you to stay. We can part ways amiably. If you start your own chat site, fine and dandy. Maybe we can set up a joint information mailing list, to keep each other appraised of potential hackers or problems. We can work together.

But...

Don't try to knock us down. Don't try and advertise your chat site as existing only because ours is crap. IMC is an impressive achievement, not matter how you consider it. We continue to be the largest of the web browser based role-play sites, by a very considerable margin. We continue to run on the entirely volunteer efforts of the sysops and staff. We are not rich people, folks. We have full-time jobs, families to care for, aging cars, and mortgages. Some of us are students. We made this site for YOU, to give YOU a place find others who share your outward urge, your sense of longing to explore hidden places and desire to "take the Hidden Paths that run/ towards the Moon or to the Sun."

And you know what?

Despite all the headaches and abuse, not one of us has honestly regretted or questioned our dedication to this site, and to you. Whatever the future holds, we all had a blast.

IMC prevails, readers!
 

Next month, Editor Pieter van Hiel will definitely remember to tell you what the title of his editorial refers to.