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Hal's Letter


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#1 VACC

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Posted 11 January 2003 - 03:24 PM

I don't know if you guys have seen it yet, but Hal did indeed send out a crop of letters concerning the "future of Nerfonline". I though maybe you guys would like to see it, so here in it's unaltered glory is the letter.

"I'm writing this as an open letter to all the members of the Nerf community.
I've addressed it to the community members that I feel will be best served
by it, but I by no means know everyone's email address. I'm so out of the
loop that I'm just sending it to the email addresses that I have on hand...
That said, feel free to post this to whatever bulletin boards are necessary
for public consumption. (and don't be insulted if you're reading this and I
didn't send it directly to you).

It's currently 3 AM, and I'm running on lots and lots of coffee and a
cocktail of cold medicines due to this cold I picked up in San Diego last
week, so don't expect me to be entirely coherent, but I'll try my best.

I'll cut the bullshit and go straight to the chase. I'm trying to decide
what to do with NerfOnline. It's a really touchy issue for me for a lot of
reasons. First and foremost, it's kind of my baby, and I've been running it
with various staff members since I started it with Load (AKA Code, AKA Walt)
in 1998... And even before that, with Austin "Ozzy" Miller when it was a
newspaper for a local Nerf Club in, God... 1996. That's well over seven
years, probably almost eight. As many of you no doubt know, I closed it
about five months ago. It was a very tough decision to make, but at the
time I felt that it was the best one I could have made. The site was
becoming increasingly, nay, exponentially more expensive to run and
maintain, and I also sensed that the Nerf community as a whole, and
especially NerfOnline was deteriorating. We can argue about it's heyday and
get nostalgic all we want, but the fact remains, in the last month I've
deeply regretted my decision and I believe that I've been proven wrong on
all accounts. For one, the community seems to be in a state of
renaissance... New sites are cropping up left and right. Projects that I
brushed off as cool ideas but nothing more have begun to take hold and turn
into something impressive. Of course, I'm talking about Vacc and Cxwq's
Nerf Haven here, but there have been a few other sites that share that
limelight. Futhermore, my company (technically NerfOnline's parent) Bald
Rocket Productions has been doing so well that we can again afford to take
more risks in investing into NerfOnline. (at the time of NerfOnline's
closure, we were in disputes with two of our clients, and it's outlook was
hazy). In the last month, though, we've struck a partnership with a new
hosting company that will basically give us an insane amount of bandwidth...
And at a fraction of what we're poying now. Anyway, I'm kind of getting
into the business end of it, but what I mean to say, is that it's going to
cost a lot less to run NerfOnline should we bring it back.

Which brings me to my next point.

The first option is to try to reopen NerfOnline. This is by far the most
difficult option to complete. We've got significant work to do, but even
harder is the ground needed to reclaim NerfOnline's place as the #1 Nerf
website for, well, you know how many years. Financially, we shouldn't have
much of a problem... It's going to cost less to run, and we can recoup
costs with a few ideas that I have... Ideas that aren't at all original and
that most sites use. (No, not advertising). To accomplish this, I'll need
a team again. I seem to have alienated more than a few members of my former
staff (all of you are recipients of this email) with the break-up of the
site, so I'll talk to you individually later. The inherent problem is that
many of my staff members have started (or are starting) their own projects.
Whether these projects prove to be successful or not remains to be seen...
Perhaps these projects could be reincorporated back into NerfOnline to bring
the largest central Nerf web site back into one piece again. I'm willing to
put in the time necessary... Although I've been extremely busy as of late,
between working with various clients, attending trade shows and getting
plastered at parties, writing and managing the exploding Electronic Mayhem,
and hopping from city to city -- I'm in Los Angeles now, and so far this
month I've been in three cities, I got back from attending MacWorld Expo in
San Francisco not 24 hours ago, and in two days I'll be on the road again,
this time to work on a massive client project in Albuquerque NM for a week
and a half making it four -- but I'll be back in Los Angeles at the end of
the month with the promise of more free time. I haven't even really had
much of an internet connection before I'd got back home.

For instance, perhaps to bring the site together we would form more of an
alliance of sites instead of keeping a central one... Get all the content
on NerfOnline, but maybe grant NerfHaven the "official" NerfOnline Forums,
since they've got their shit in gear... And maybe set up a third sub-site
for the war organization and chronicling of past wars with it's own
dedicated and specialized staff.

My other option, of course, is to "open" up NerfOnline... Since legally all
the content is ours, we could do it, but I don't think it'd be fair to the
contributors who contributed the content in the first place. Perhaps I'll
turn it all around and give all of NerfOnline to NerfHaven, since the
majority of the NerfOnline staff is over there. I'll help out wherever I
can (offer my graphic design skills, for instance... Sorry to say it guys,
but you need it) and remain in good standing with the community, the truth
is that I'm still flung far out of the loop since the closure, and I really
don't like it.

Anyway, I'm kind of rambling... This kind of turned into a mess of ideas
rather than a coherent letter, but I think the message is the same. I'd
really like to bring NerfOnline back, reassemble my old staff and rebuild
the site to be much better than it's former shell, most likely in the next
few months. I've had this idea in the back of my mind since my partner in
Bald Rocket, Zach "Xeo" Brock and I worked out exactly what it would entail
and what the costs would be to being NerfOnline back while we were in a
parking garage in Westwood five weeks ago. The original idea we came up
with was a lot more ambitious than what I just proposed, and included
perhaps some kind of merger or buyout of the defunct NerfCenter (Zach had
been nagging me to call Andy for some time about it, but I kept forgetting
the time difference and didn't really want to send any phones in Ohio
ringing at 4 AM, but I digress) and get some new staffers in, possibly from
some of the smaller sites that had the ambition but not the means to do
something really really cool, but the project hasn't been touched since, and
so hence this email.

Argh, I was rambling again. It's 4:20 AM now. If anybody is interested in
contributing to the project, wants to help, or has any ideas or suggestions,
let me know. I might not get back to you immediately, but I will try my
best.

Well, as the Vacc-coined adage goes: "Nerf-On or Fuck Off".

Sleepy time now.

--

-Hal Bergman

Bald Rocket: Really good websites.
http://www.baldrocket.com/ "



Well, any questions?

VACC
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#2 SSWB

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Posted 11 January 2003 - 04:40 PM

Well, just for the hell of it, I'll put a copy of my long-ass reply to this on NHQ here:

"There are really three points I want to address: access to Nerf information, centralization vs. scatteredness (uh..that's probably not a word), and commitment.

What we need is easy access to Nerf info. If I want to find some mods for the AT2000, I do not want to sift through all the forum messages from the past too months. Neither do I want to make a post entitled "aNy at2000 m0dz??????///" because then I sound like a "st00pid n00b," which I am most definitely not, despite what my post count says. No, what I want to do is go to a website I trust and find neat, well-written instructions for a mod. Lately, I feel this has been very lacking. I mean, the forums are a great place to share ideas, but for those ideas to be of use to anyone in the future, someone needs to write them up neatly and put them in a database-type thing. I remember someone wrote an editorial on NO about something similar to this; "Open Nerf" I think was what he called it. I mean, we have lots of smaller sites each with the webmaster's personal mods. I'd have to say Yakman's was the best for that kind of thing (where'd he go?), but what we need is a larger site with a more comprehensive collection.

Which brings me to my next point. Hal's right: Nerf sites are cropping up everywhere. In my opinion, our community is very scattered right now, not having much of a focal point, though NHQ serves that purpose partially. Every webmaster is vying for the top spot, but can any of them truly be succesful? Granted, they're all great sites. NHQ has become the place to which (almost) all the NO members have congregated. Nerf Haven has the vets and Death by Foam. NC has that new design coming soon, which I'm excited about. Then we have all the smaller sites, many of which have good info. But that info, as I said above, is hard to find being so scattered. Then there's the issue of the forums. I see a lot of smaller sites with their own forums, trying to attract members. I feel this is hurting us. We're a small enough community as it is. We can't afford to have everyone on different forums when those forums all have essentially the same members. I'm busy; I don't have time to check five different boards for stuff that could have been found on just one. I remember, back when NO and NC were "neck in neck," so to speak, I hated having to check both forums when I wanted some Nerf info. I think it's better that we take one of the existing forums, tell everyone else to come there, and make that our "official" board. It'd make things a lot easier.

Now it may seem to you that I'm in favor of centralization. I'm not entirely though. Having one big, scary, Communist Party-like website might stifle creativity and discourage others from trying out a unique, novel idea that they have. So I suppose in that sense I'm in favor of the hub-type setup, with different sites specializing in different things, just so long as we have one large database of reviews, mods, etc. So that is what I suggest on this issue: a compromise between centralization and scatteredness.

The bigger problem, I think, which I've also saved for last, is commitment. We need to make sure that if this new NO goes up, it won't degrade like before. I know better than anyone that real life is a drag, but we seriously need to work harder at this. I can name so many examples of a site starting up strong and energetic and soon degenerating into sloth and apathy. Foam Corner, Nerf Center, and NerfOnline followed this pattern. If you don't agree with me about NO, just look at it in its last few months. They had maybe five "weekly" columns, none of which were being updated and most of which had only two articles to begin with. Nothing else was being updated either, like the mods and the LANO movies and all that. Certainly people will lose interest in Nerf, or will be obligated to stop by outside pressure, so how can we be certain the site, if it's an important site like NO or NC, will keep going? More staff members will help, as well as choosing enthusiastic people to run the site. It's always sad to see a good site degenerate, so I say we take these measures and others which I'm not smart enough to think of to ensure smooth running of any new NO or hybrid of it or whatever the hell the original point was.

So, in conclusion, I'm excited about the idea of a new NO, but I'd really like it if all of you and Hal as well take my points into consideration. What I don't want is the entire Nerf community reduced to something to the likeness of 1337 /\/3rF3rz, which embodies all that I find annoying in the Nerf world."
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#3 Frenzied fury

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Posted 11 January 2003 - 04:52 PM

I'll add my NHQ reply also:
Maybe. Though that seems like just a little odd, merging all of these into one. What about that x-forums place? Would Hal sepperate that from NO? The idea sounds great, but it feels weird too, you know?
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#4 merlinski

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Posted 11 January 2003 - 05:33 PM

Although everything I have seen recently sounds like a really good idea, the one thing that I have noticed is that four major projects are being undertaken, and all of them have the potential to succeed. Andy has done some new stuff with NC, lots of brand new fancy updates for 2003. He also stared the open::nerf project, which is something integrating BB's and user-submitted content. There is also (obviously) Nerf Haven, and now the re-emergence of NO. I think that with 3 or 4 sites trying to all work in conjuction might end up spreading the viewer base of any of the sites a little thin. I think that it would work best if maybe the major contributors for the sites discussed possibilities for integration, or something like that. I dunno, just my 2 cents.
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#5 Diablo

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Posted 11 January 2003 - 08:48 PM

Here's my post from NHQ if some of you didn't read it already.

It wouldn't be very smart of Hal to reopen NO for many reasons.
For some reason or other, a lot of people wish NO was back, may I ask why?
What did NO have that NHQ dosent? Nothing. What does it have that NH and NC will most likley have in the near future? Nothing.
You see, NO was only good for it's forums, which you can find at NHQ, NH, and NC. NO is no longer a contender in the big Nerf site "war for popularity". I mean really, did NO have ANY good content besides forums? Unfortunatley, I think not. In my opinion, the best sites are always the underrated ones. Those are the ones with the least forum members, but the most content. Nerf Center has reviews, and Nerf Haven has mods, so why the hell isn't anyone posting there? I think people should get their heads out of their asses and see the light, that NH and NC have the best things to offer, and that your only going to be unhappy when you stay at a place that sucks. I'll see you at NH and NC.......
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#6 SSWB

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Posted 11 January 2003 - 09:05 PM

Now, did anyone notice what's going on here? Everything in this thread save Merlinski's reply has been an exact replica of what was posted at NHQ. This is the further support of my point that all the different forums are 1) mostly the same, seeing as most of the same people populate them, 2) a waste of time for posters b/c they have to post the same message on all the forums to get maximum coverage, and 3) a waste of time for readers like me who want the most Nerf info possible but have to check a bunch of different forums. What we need, as I said above, is a central hub forum of some sort, which everyone goes to. It'd save a lot of time. Honestly, I don't have a suggestion for one, seeing as I only just got to this place, but it's something to look into in the future.
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#7 cxwq

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Posted 12 January 2003 - 01:12 AM

Hal,

You've probably noticed that there's not much support for the whole 'assimilation' plan. The Nerf rennaisance that you mention is a direct result of the NO forums going down. A bunch of us had our own ideas about how we'd like to run a Nerf site but we just didn't have the critical mass to do it until the NO shutdown kicked the Nerf community into the street.

Now all of our stockpiled ideas are taking off, fueled by all the new and newly redesigned sites. We're entering a period of Nerf site expansion that's really exciting to watch. Of course some of these sites won't make it. Either people won't come or the administrators will lose interest. Either way, we'll have a fresh batch of sites that build their popularity and keep things running. Eventually, there will be a new order, and people will tend towards the two or three best sites. These sites will be better than anything that existed in the previous order. Fresher, more informative, and more exciting than the 2002 vintage NO and NC.

Regarding the possibility of turning it around and giving NO's content and your help to NerfHaven, I don't want any content without the consent of the actual creator. NO's 'shared copyright' is a rediculous contract and is usually only tenable in cases where the IP is generated while on payroll.

If you want to join the new competition, I for one welcome the challenge. Every new idea makes the whole community better at a time like this.

I wish you the best whatever your decision.

Cxwq
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#8 VACC

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Posted 13 January 2003 - 12:58 PM

I think everybody has some valid points on this subject. The reasons we're getting replica posts is because I more or less replicated the thread on NHQ, but I just thought that we were far too deeply involved in this to ignore it. The truth is Cx and I caught wind of this from Hal a few weeks ago. The truth is that although it effects everyone on these boards, it really comes down to the owners' discretions, and I see how that might be infuriating to some of you. I guess this is just our way of letting you vent that frustration and let us know where you stand on the issue. The fact remains, however, that we had made our decision concerning this subject about 4 weeks ago. I mean we've just started this thing up, and we're not even in full swing yet. Don't you guys wanna' see where this ride is going? Don't you want to see what cxwq and I have up our sleeves? We didn't start this site to be really popular, we started it to do something different, and we just hope that people will appreciate where we take it. If you want the same ol' shit, I guess you should go somewhere else.

Anyway, that's that. NH isn't going anywhere.

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#9 Big Mac

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Posted 13 January 2003 - 06:51 PM

Hey guys. I'm back.
I really don't have much to add, but just this:
If there are enough Nerf Sites out there right now, why don't we bring water to the horse? (As in, disperse the content of NO. The posts, the articles, Archive NO, let it live on in a different body, as a "sub-soul")
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#10 cxwq

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Posted 13 January 2003 - 07:08 PM

I have no problem with that if that's what Hal wants to do and the original authors of his content are in agreement. I would be unable to archive the forums since NH runs different forum software than NO did.

Vacc and I have discussed an attempt to archive a bit of the NIC history here and that would be a nice addition.
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#11 superadaquabat

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Posted 14 January 2003 - 08:45 PM

Ever since Nerf Online has moved over to the X-forums, my interest in nerfing has greatly deteriorated. I just started posting again regularly in the last month or so trying to get as excited as i once was. I'm not sure what Nerf Online had (it may have even been majinssvegeto), but not even using the Nerf Online skin at Nerf HQ could get me in the mood again. I'm not sure that bringing it back could ever ignite my passion for nerf again, to many people have left the forums, including spoon. there hasn't been a major nerf war in california since armegeddon, SDNO (which was just as awesome) if you count it. I think Nerf Online had a certain group of leaders that brought everything together and kept things going. Nerf HQ has Evil Angel and things, but its not the same has having them all together. Nerf Haven seems to have a lot of the leader types like VACC and Cxwq who is now organizing a nerf war, and i just found it a week ago or about. Perhaps it will be the next Nerf Online. Or perhaps Nerf Hq will evolve its own new leaders. I miss the feeling I got from Nerf Online though, and I'm not sure it will come back. Especially without Goo.
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#12 Dan Cromer

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Posted 14 January 2003 - 10:15 PM

I think it's important to note one of the biggest factors contributing to the downfall of NO in my opinion: the consilidation of NO and all of Hal's other forums. It just kind of soiled the site, and drew lots of unnecessary crap in. If NO is launched, it has to be a completely independent site in order to be successful.
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#13 Spoon

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Posted 15 January 2003 - 02:12 AM

Yea umm I'm not (and never was) out of nerf. I just was really REALLY busy at college last semester and just didn't have the time to organize any LANOs, or post on shitty boards. I'm here at NH now because I know Cxwq has his shit together and can run a nerf site that won't become ghey-sauce.
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#14 ItalionStallion

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Posted 15 January 2003 - 06:31 PM

I dont think this idea of combinding all of the nerf sites would work.I mean who would run it, who would be in charge of the content, and so on. Anyway I think Nerf Online should defintley come back. It would still be a top nerf site, plus some of the old nerfers from NO would hopefully comebck.
And just add something my whole nerf organization went down the tubes alog with NO.Although a few of us are still nerfing KCNO wil never be as strong as it once was. :mellow:
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#15 Famine

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Posted 15 January 2003 - 06:42 PM

Honestly, if Hal wants to try and win back the hearts of the endless hoardes of "Non-Nerf Nerfers" and the "Nerf Centerlites" that's cool, good for him. I know that I'll never go back to the NO boards. I kinda like it here at Haven, smaller group, a little more comfy and for the most part everyone here seems to be a little more experienced, I'm used to the Listservs where a new member was a fuckin major event and as a whole it was a pretty tight knit group that you had to work to earn your place among.

Anyways, I'd like to see this place become The Place for mods and homemades, that'd be cool. I like the Open Nerf idea and I think a little competition between sites is good but if the NIC adopted some sort of unofficial, loose system for content allocation it would benefit everyone. Nerfonline really just had the message boards, also it presented a nice forum for anyone who wanted to post an article on Hal's sight. Nerfcenter doesn't like to touch mods but their gun reviews are usually pretty thourough and they seem to be able to get some Nerf News faster than anyone else. I dunno, maybe NHQ could handle major war organization and such. I'm just throwing this shit out there because this is kinda how I've personally always viewed the different sites.

Out.
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East Coast Nerf 2009: Quid pro quo, douchebags!

#16 superadaquabat

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Posted 19 January 2003 - 01:34 AM

I didn't mean that you left nerf, spoon (I'm guessing your refering to my post). I meant you left the forums. Sorry for the confusion. And by the way, I'm liking Nerf Haven a lot right now. I'm feeling that it could very easily be better than Nerf Online very soon.
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