Originally posted by Phlabibit
What more is to know? He answered the question.
I respect that it's Russ' right to not tell us. It's his site. We don't have a 'right' to be here, and
I would never (and have never) made a claim to the contrary.
My concern is this: Once upon a time, RHP was basically Russ' (and Chris'
pet project, something
they did in their spare time. That period was marked with a certain desire and active effort to
cultivate a community. Read some of Russ' posts from the first few years. Yes, there are the
usual announcements of upcoming developments, site outages, and sundries. But you'll notice
there is a certain tenderness to other posts, a humility, a sense of pride in the community. Almost,
a sense of reverence. If you have the patience, read some of the archives of other active
posters: there are a lot of unsolicited 'This site is great, Russ' posts (that is, not in response
to any specific changes made by Russ at the time [although there are many of those, too], but
just seemingly out of nowhere). And, with the exception of an occasional troll or disgruntled
cheat, you never found people complaining about the general tenor of the site.
Lately, in the past year or so, the administration has been rather detracted. Decisions of
significant consequence are being made without explanation: The dissolution of the game mod
team is a perfect example. No explanation was given for this, even though many people
raised very legitimate concerns. The disappearance of the removed players list is another one.
This seems especially odd, since Russ was one of the most active 'Sorry, see ya' posters when
players were getting removed some four years ago. I suspect the reason is because some of
the most recently removed players were storming him with complaints regarding the 'See ya'
posts that were being manufactured in the General forum and he figured the best way for it
to go away was to remove the impetus for such posts (the list). That's all he would have to
say: 'The reason I removed the list was because the general community's response to the list
was resulting in a backlog of feedback which made developing the site impossible,' or something
like that. This 'behind the scenes' stuff is very discouraging, I think.
I think that RHP has gone from pet project to business venture. I think that Russ is sufficiently
vested in this project, that the community is so big, that the volume of information exchanged
is so vast that he simply cannot keep up with the feedback (and can't afford to hire a full-time
customer service representative, naturally). The site is solvent enough he can keep it afloat
and pay his bills, but it still requires a lot of (not-so-fun) administrative work. I get it; I know
business, having grown up with a very enthusiastic businessman for a father.
The site clearly has enough traffic from paying members that are indifferent to (or not sufficiently
conversant in English to use) the forums. Even within the forums, there aren't a lot of voices
who really care about the removed players list. The best thing a politician can do with a scandal
is ignore it, because eventually the only people remaining are those with reputations that end
up obscuring any legitimacy in their speech (case in point: No1Marauder). By acknowledging
the reasons for removing the list, he may end up having to discuss it with even more feedback,
setting him behind even more, and so on and so on.
I guess it just saddens me that it seems that Russ has become detracted. I miss that side of
Russ which I thought permeated the whole community at first, the sort of child-like enthusiasm
which made a magnificent chess site out of a after-work hobby. That playfulness seems to
have been quashed by the demands of the site and its community, and I'm almost sorry that
I've been here long enough to have seen it move in this direction.
It's still the best correspondence chess site on the web, by a long shot; I wouldn't begin to
debate that. But it's lost something in its massiveness, I think.