It started innocently enough with a message over the PSN. I know someone on their staff and that was the method they had to contact me. I won't say it's professional, but it's functional and this ain't that highfalutin germes gerbalisms or anything. It's just a blog. Sometime over the course of playing games with this person, I've mentioned my profession and they would like me to ply my trade gratis. While I'm not falling all over myself to give up my free time, I know that contributing to what I would consider an actual website rather than a business' half-forgotten advertising screw-up would be good for my portfolio, so I say I'm interested in hearing more about it but can't commit until I know how much they're looking for. I have a job, I like to game and cook, and I might be an insomniac but I at least like to try to get a few hours of sleep in a night. I think, most of all, I just don't like making commitments I can't keep. Unfortunately, this is where everything starts to go wrong.
They want something "firm". What the hell is "firm" beyond "tell me what you want done and I'll tell you if I can do it or not"? I can't tell you how many times I asked what work there was to do, I wasn't counting, but the back and forth went on long enough for my voice to start getting rough on one occasion. Is there some part of repeatedly requesting a list of things that need doing that doesn't indicate I want to do them? Oh, and remember this, because it comes up again later. Eventually, I need to stop pulling my punches on this one, so I just go ahead with the gist of things:
They need a developer.
I am one.
The only thing they can offer me is the chance to contribute content.
Both of those things benefit them; neither benefit me.
I decided that I wouldn't include "So stop wasting my time and tell me what you want so I can get to work." The first step is planning, after all. I could have at least been brainstorming while they made up their minds. Hell, I can already post here on the dtoid cblogs and I barely do that outside of the Friday Night Fights posts because I either don't have something worth writing about or leave it rotting in Google Docs until I don't care. Oddly enough, that part of the email goes over just fine and another part is interpreted as sounding more upset than it was intended. I'm aware I can be blunt, but I don't like to mince words. Writing professional-sounding, businesslike emails for work is one of the hardest things for me because I always feel I'm hiding the actual message. This isn't an issue here because this is me doing them a favor and not me at work, and everything is talked out in the end with no bruised feelings. A nebulous intent of setting up a Skype meeting was stated and that was it.
Then the website is snatched away from them. While I am privy to some details on that, they aren't relevant here. What happened was the people I was interested in working with had to get a new site, and so they did. Also to note, is that no one bothered to tell me this had happened until weeks had passed and I asked out of curiosity.
A new website was created and I was asked if I was still interested. As I happen to love programming (nerrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrd!), I told them I was and another meeting was set. The time for this meeting comes and goes and their Skype contact stays offline. That night, prior to the meeting I added them and sent an email to the address I was given to confirm that it was me attempting to add them, just to cover the bases. In the end, this would turn out looking like an issue with the piece of shit that is Skype, which would have been an excellent answer to the question I would ask in the future.
Nearly a month passes. No follow-ups, no emails, no PSN or Skype messages are sent to me. Sometime in there I check the "Team" page of the website they're on and the person I had been in contact with isn't there any more, which turns out to be in error. My thought is that since they have nothing to offer me other than entertainment unless their website becomes the next Destructoid or Joystiq, they would be interested in contacting me about the free programming I was going to do. Turns out I was wrong about that. Last night, I finally sent a message to ask about the apparently nonexistent meeting. Then things got really hairy.
"Wendesday at 9... Just be on Skype so we can all discuss."
Well, that doesn't really answer the question about the meeting, and I asked specifically about it, so I respond.
"So what was up with the meeting that fell through before?"
"It's probably going to have to wait once again... right now we still need to acquire a business license and a new web host."
Once again, my question is brushed off. All I'm really looking for is what happened with that meeting, but after a month without contact and the above, I finally don't care. I just bought Skyrim. I'm not going to have trouble filling up that off-hours web development time.
"I'm out. I don't like getting jerked around and still don't know why I was blown off for the last meeting, even after asking directly a couple of times."
"This will be the last time I discuss this business with you. To be honest I'm not really surprised by your reaction. I understand where you're coming from, fully. However, I don't think you get where I or anyone else stands. We needed something firm, and last time I checked we did schedule a meeting over Skype, we had the meeting, but you weren't online, so we just went on without you. You don't understand how accommodating we've tried to be with our offer. We needed you to give us something back."
"Think of it this way: I offer you a job, knowing how many extra things you have going on, you accept the job under the agreement that you don't have much time, but even before you get work you don't show interest. You asked me twice about the meeting that was weeks ago, but only since yesterday. Does that prove your interest level? You have to put something in to get something back. Lastly, I've told you dozens of times that this will take time, Also, telling you to meet us on Skype once and cancelling is hardly "jerking you around." This won't get in the way of my personal ties with you, but I think that's the end of our business together."
It's like he wants to sound professional without acting it. I have to put something in? You mean like the free web development and site content you were set to get?! They've been accommodating? Their offer? I was offered nothing and they really have no choice but to accommodate because, lookie here, I already have a blog with no responsibilities which I control. They can't really beat that. They didn't even have the courtesy to follow up their meeting with an email and there was no contact for a month! What the would have been the problem with saying that the meeting went on without me the first time I asked? Moreover, they cancelled? Now it's just getting confusing because I thought it went on without me. It takes a couple more messages to finally get the response I was looking for, though it's only incidental and doesn't really explain things.
"I'm not sure how specific I needed to be about the work I asked you to do. And who did you email? You're one of my contacts and I have 2 messages from you, one pertaining to your Skype name and the other is an image. That's it... <- there's your reason, by the way."
So, because they have my Skype ID and email address, they were unable to contact me the night of the meeting? That makes so much sense. They also implied I was lying to them! On top of all that, in response to my asking if anything I said was in doubt, I get "let's not talk about lying..." Really?
I think I won't be doing any work for them. I'm glad I won't be doing any work for them. Even if they manage to come back with an apology for all this, they've burned that bridge. In fact, I doubt I'm going to attempt doing such work for anybody in the future. I'm sure there are some fine gaming blogs out there (we're where, again?), but I have a job already and FNF is chore enough each week. I guess I've sparked it a bit myself with this blog post, but oh no! Will people not come to me expecting me to prostrate myself in gratitude over the chance to work for free? I can see how that will be terrible.
Really. So terrible.
P.S. Dark Brotherhood 4 lyfe.