What’s going on at the RPMN?

UPDATE: Berin decided it was the best to go along with his initial plan and close the RPMN.

As you know I usually don’t rant on this blog, but sometimes there are things that rub me the wrong way. This is one of those rare cases…

Some of you might still remember when Berin Kinsman announced the Role Play Media Network. In my first blog post about it I called it “a social network for gamers done right!” For the first few months the network was thriving. But alas the activity started to die down over time. Even the majority of admins had abandoned the project.

So in November 2010 I made a last effort trying to get people interested in the RPMN again. While there was some minor activity after that, it wasn’t enough to warrant the costs produced by the site, so Berin finally decided to shut the RPMN down this month.

Or so we thought. As it turns out, Sam Proof, who has been made admin recently, has some plans with the community. In his blog post on the RPMN, he announces that he has taken over and is planning to move from Ning to a self-hosted WordPress site.

While I believe his goals may be laudable, I am not too happy about the way he and Berin are approaching things. While the shutdown announcement was sent via email, Sam announced the move by blog post only, which can be easily missed. After some protest on my part, Berin wrote a proper announcement.

But there are still a few things bothering me. While Sam is talking about moving the site to a new host, there’s much more happening behind the scenes.

  1. There will be a new owner. It’s obvious that the new site will not be owned by Berin Kinsman anymore, but by Sam Proof.
  2. The community will be moved to a new domain lessthanheroic.com and a new software. Even though Sam Proof claims otherwise when I asked him about that I have not found any mention in the ToS that allows moving user data to a new host.
  3. From what he’s written, it’s obvious that not even the name will remain, so it’s definitely much more than a simple move to a new host

Again, even if Sam is doing this with the best intents, the whole process seriously lacks transparency and professionalism. Although I have been one of the RPMN admins basically from day one until today, I was unaware of what Sam was planning. This is just not the way things should be done.

When it comes to social networks and privacy concerns a little trust goes a long way, but seeing how this whole thing was handled I don’t trust the new owner of the RPMN with my data. So I left the RPMN and deleted all the content I posted there. If you want to do so, too, check out this page.

I also would really like to know what someone wants with a dead community? The RPMN hasn’t been properly used by it’s 700+ members for several months now and a move to a new domain, new owner, new name and new software can’t really remedy that. But since I left, I don’t think I care anymore.

Michael Wolf is a German games designer and enthusiast best known for his English language role-playing games blog, Stargazer's World, and for creating the free rules-light medieval fantasy adventure game Warrior, Rogue & Mage. He has also worked as an English translator on the German-language Dungeonslayers role-playing game and was part of its editorial team. In addition to his work on Warrior, Rogue & Mage and Dungeonslayers, he has created several self-published games and also performed layout services and published other independent role-playing games such as A Wanderer's Romance, Badass, and the Wyrm System derivative Resolute, Adventurer & Genius, all released through his imprint Stargazer Games. Professionally, he works as a video technician and information technologies specialist. Stargazer's World was started by Michael in August 2008.

7 thoughts on “What’s going on at the RPMN?”

  1. Done. I too, find it very strange that somebody wants a dead community just like that, particularly one that costs money to host. It might be some kind of content or data farming scheme, so I deleted my account. Thanks for the heads up.
    My recent post The Society of Adel

    1. I wouldn't have said a thing if they had been a bit more upfront and open about it. And it annoys me that they expect users to opt-out if they don't want their content being moved to a new site. This is just not the way things should be done.

  2. Ok, my mistake then. But what still surprises me what he wants to do with a site that 700+ people abandoned months ago? The whole thing still sounds a bit fishy to me.

  3. To clear a few things up.

    For starters I've been a member of RPMN for a little over a year. I was particularly interested in the World Building group that was on the community. That's what first brought me over.

    Berin was prepared to shut down the ning community because it was costing him money.

    To say it was a dead community is a little hasty, It may have not been the most active, but there were in fact a good 10% still logining in to check things out and occasionally even post thing. So with the thought that there were 70 people that found this to still be a place to talk I was a bit saddened to hear it was going to shut down operations.

    After receiving Berin's newsletter from the community, I offered up the concept of a transfer, and offered Berin full admin control. He replied that he was too busy to really maintain admin control and said he was ok with moving the community.

    One special note about Ning. When I site stops paying it's monthly fees they lock all the boards and groups and you can't even see anything that had be previously been posted. So I thought at the least I could Archive these threads.

    Since I'm also not able to take up the cost of maintaining the ning transferring it to a wordpress based community running buddypress was the option I had available.

    It's funny you claim that non-transparency because we didn't just up and move the community. I posted a blog, for a small initial to group to beta test the new community and get it up to speed. I didn't expect Berin to post the blog in a newsletter, I should have probably talked to him about that.

    My intention, was to let a few users test the new community out and give me feedback, so once they liked it I would make a full site announcement, and give people a week to delete accounts or not.

    As for the Ning TOS – The Network creator is granted full copyright/ownership of all data posted on their ning.

    "You hereby grant Ning a non-exclusive, worldwide, transferable, royalty-free right and license to use, access, store, cache, publicly display and publicly perform Your Code (a) for the purpose of operating and making Your Network available for interaction with the Ning Platform and in all current and future media in which the Ning Platform may now or hereafter be distributed or transmitted; or (b) for our internal business purposes so that we may derive metrics and analytics relating to the Ning Platform and Your Network."


    "5. Your Content and Licenses to Your Content and Network Data

    You own all of Your Content, Your Network Data and other information that you upload to the Ning Platform. Ning does not claim any ownership rights in Your Content or Your Network Data. After posting Your Content, you continue to retain any ownership rights you have to Your Content, and you continue to have the right to use and license Your Content in any way you choose. The Content that you upload to any Network needs to comply with the terms of this Agreement. At any point, you can remove Your Content from Your Network and cancel your account and Ning does not retain any license rights."

    SADLY – the bombardment of emails that followed, and blog posts like this forced Berin's hand and he took down the site in full. So RPMN is done and gone.

    There was no malicious intent here, no money making scheme, there was no data that wasn't public already that could have been gleamed.

    Lessthanheroic will still offer any one who wants it a community and forum to use, for the discussion of Role Playing, Gaming, Fantasy and Sci-Fi topics of any kind.

    I'm very sorry to have been involved in the reasoning for it's hasty shut down, and especially sorry to Berin for any additional stress I inadvertently put on him.
    My recent post What Happened to Role Play Media – Role Playing Community

    1. Sorry, Sam. I have no idea how you get the idea that the network creator gains any rights to use the content. The network creator is not even mentioned in the text you quoted here.

      And perhaps was the bombardment of emails a good thing. The members of the RPMN were not ok with what you have been planning and voiced their concerns. So perhaps taking the RPMN was the right thing to do after all, don't you think?

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