Spiderweb Software founder Jeff Vogel has written an interesting little article imploring fellow game developers not to spend too much time in the trenches with the fans.
Vogel provides three sound reasons for not reading online forums discussing your work: It's not productive to read how much people hate you, it's not going to be helpful, and you might get suckered into being angry. Citing unreasonable hatred from fans and unhelpful, contradictory development ideas from people who don't know what they're talking about, he provides some solid reasons for keeping your fanbase at arm's length.
"When I read the forums for, say, World of Warcraft or xkcd, I'm always amazed at how nasty things get," he writes. "It makes me think, 'If you hate it so much, why are you there?' But that's just the way it is, and excess exposure to insults can really get under your skin, make you doubt yourself, and interfere with your work. It's very sad, but you sometimes need to just protect yourself by staying away. Keep your brain clean."
As someone who has been insulted on possibly every videogame forum in the world, I back Vogel up on this. Fan forums for anything are usually full of bitter sniping and raging nerds, and no good can come of it. However, while in theory, Vogel is right that you shouldn't read fan forums, he doesn't provide any methods for resisting the urge because, let's face it ... we always want to read what's being said about us.
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