PALGN’s editorial team leave today, cites management problems

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The editorial team for Australian gaming website PALGN will leave the site on February 10 – or tomorrow – with the executive editor citing problems with the new management and its owner Roland Kulen.

“The reason for this decision stems from an inability for the editorial team and the PALGN ownership to come to agreement on how the site would function. Whether or not PALGN will continue to produce any video game content will be solely at the discretion of the current ownership, and what they wish to do with the site,” Jeremy Jastrzab said in a statement.

Can’t believe I missed this, but then again, when you don’t check into your gaming news for a while, then you tend to miss this.

Kulen is currently leading the campaign for an R18+ classification, and is also a lobbyist for GAME in Australia. He also owns PALGN since 2008.

Leaked emails have been posted by a “guest” on pastebin, revealing the team’s discontent about the management. They cite several problems including server problems – turns out, it does not have enough RAM to handle the load; the lack of transparency and what appears to be constant infighting between Kulen and the team.

I believe this single email explains it:

Given the dire situation of the site, there is no point holding back any frustrations now:

Server

The biggest issue of all is simple: PALGN IS TOO SLOW. Embarrassingly and unpredictably slow. I don’t know how much more specific we can get. It is a complete shambles when compared to just about every single other internet site currently accessible. I doubt that anyone would argue that this issue has almost single handedly been responsible for eroding our user base, to the point where it will now be extremely difficult, if nigh on impossible, to repair.

The issues that have been listed as causing the site issues reek of being menial. However, while I’m no expert on these matters, it has to be quite clear that they stem from neglect and failure to update. And as mentioned, this isn’t something that can sit around and wait. Too much damage has been done. I don’t know why you’re not discussing a server upgrade. Everything points to that being the most pragmatic immediate fix.

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Also, I’m pissed off that someone has put instructions on how to check the temperature of a car – BIG joke

Why do we have to keep hearing about this? Four separate administrators have been told about this, at least three months ago but it seems that nothing has been done about it. As I explained before, this is either a remnant from the past administration that tried to tinker with video hosting (pre-2007), or a casualty of a hacker war that we got caught in the middle of in 2007. This has to be the least important issue currently affecting the site, but it still seems to be brought up. Get over it.

The content of the server should not be focus at the moment. The sole immediate focus should be making sure that PALGN runs properly and promptly. Flushing a database table every now and then just doesn’t work. Bringing cars back into it, there is no point of sprucing up the interior and have the car brimming with features if it doesn’t run properly. Once the site is running properly, then clean up the server.

Action

The second biggest issue is timeliness of action. The inability to get any of this done has been an abysmal failure.

I can understand the length of time required by the R18 campaign but the above mentioned site issues are purely mechanical. A Boeing 747 mechanical fault can be fixed in a number of hours ñ a website doesn’t require weeks to fix, let alone more than a year of neglect. Everyone agrees ñ this should not have ever reached the point that it has, nor should it require any longer to fix. October 9th should be the absolute latest for fixing this, not the time to finish taking ësubmissions’.

From an administrator perspective, these three plans have been talked about since before I went to Los Angeles in June, yet nothing has been done about them. Quite frankly, I have no motivation to work on them when:

1) There is clearly no proper leadership or deadlines for completing them.

2) That I only have a ceremonial leadership role, where even if I did try to implement some of these ñ particularly technical items ñ I wouldn’t be able to do anything about it.

Furthermore, I’ve thought all along that these plans sound like a load of bullshit, and totally redundant. Our editorial standards are constantly evolving, while Adam, Anthony and I have put in a huge amount of work to fix our relationship with our publisher partners. And since James V can no longer access the server, we can’t actually implement a lot of the things that we want. So the lack of action has made a lot of this null and void.

If you are serious about saying you’re here to fix it all, then action needs to be taken NOW. If not, you might as well not bother at all because there won’t be anything of a site left soon.

Communication

While I’m heartened to see that this post was made in the forums, communication between yourself, Roland, and PALGN has been completely unprofessional and unacceptable. Myself and the other administrators are regularly in contact with one another, and I speak to each of the staff whenever I can. Part of the reason that there has been such a vehement reaction is that every single one of us has been that none of us actually know what you’re supposed to be doing? Seriously, what do you do? That’s something that I’m sure EVERYONE would really want to know.

Regular openness and communication, is absolutely essential to a place like PALGN, where we don’t have much face-to-face contact. And that’s what the PALGN forum is for. And this is the first time in THREE years that you’ve actually approached the staff and talked about site related issues on the forum. It wouldn’t have been difficult to, every now and then, pop in and give staff an update on what has been happening. But no, there has been absolutely nothing. And I know that you don’t read much in the forum either, as you tried contacting me while I was away in Nepal, when I clearly had told everyone on the forum that I was away.

Maybe that’s simply because nothing has been happening? And if this is the case, it’s completely unacceptable as well, particularly for the person that is meant to be in control of ownership of the site.

Luke Van Leuvren was asked to leave the site because his communication with the site and its partners had completely broken down and he was using site materials for personal financial gain. Luke Mitchell was also dismissed for complete and utter failure to fulfil his duties in a senior position on the site, and complete failure of communication. In both cases, the reputation of the site took a lot of damage and the core issue was a failure of communication, which is what is occurring here. This is an area that needs significant improvement.

Trust

Quite frankly, my trust that anything will be done has been completely broken. I’m a very loyal and trusting person, but once this has been broken, it’s impossible to recover it. Here are a number of issues that have caused my trust to be lost for good:

*Firstly, why did the administrators have to beg, kick and scream to find out that there had been a change in ownership? James Peter didn’t tell us until March 30 this year: http://palgn.com.au/viewtopic.php?t=60337 but it is very clear that the change of ownership had happened long before that. It’s unacceptable that we had to wait possibly up to 6 months to find this out, for something that would have taken very little effort to relay to us. It only makes us suspicious that there is something to hide.

*Secondly, as extremely disappointed I am that you cut access to the server for James Varoutsos, the manner in which you did it was completely underhanded and unprofessional. The passwords were changed and you refused to tell ANY of us that it happened and even danced around the issue when asked.

I couldn’t care less what happened between you two, but in either case, it’s damaging the site now because James was the one who was taking care of the minor fixes for the site, and there are a fair few lined up now.

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As you’ll recall, James V I called you on a number occasions – no response.

Still, who am I more likely to trust? Someone who I’m in regular contact with and has implemented the things I’ve asked even if it took a little bit of time, or someone who only contacts me when they feel the need to feed me some intangible and vague musings?

While there are always two sides to every story, I have no reason to believe this one. I don’t care that you, Roland, wound yourself into some deal with Hasbro that required immediate action and got upset that someone couldn’t answer their phone while working. The fact that you went behind James’ back to lock him out of the server and not tell a single one of us, or even have the professionalism explain your actions was pretty much the straw that broke the camel’s back. There is no way I can fully trust a single thing that you say to me after that.

James needs access to the server. Put that on your list for items that require immediate access.

*Thirdly, who is Jason and why is he away now? As far as I understand, he’s had access to the servers for nearly four months now and has done nothing. Ok, maybe he has been flushing a database table here and there, and he helped clean out the portal when it got flooded but he shouldn’t be waiting on us to fix such a major problem. James at least understands the site and the exact functional issue at hand. And again, you told us nothing about this for several months, which makes me scratch my head and wonder, why? What did you have to hide?

I respect that our input is needed before we can redesign, but as I said before, there is no point changing the contents until the engine is fixed.

*Fourthly, why don’t you tell us more about what you’re supposed to be doing and the different partnerships and sponsorships that PALGN has been blessed with? And why are you so clandestine about it, refusing to tell us if something happens ñ where we often don’t know or find out one day when we log onto the site.

For example, why didn’t you tell us anything about PALGN sponsoring Supernova? I only found out from a publisher that we were involved. Couldn’t the staff have been told at least, let alone at least offering the staff in the respective cities a chance to go in without paying?

*Fifthly, why can’t we be told more about the efforts to get PALGN out into the further media? Most of us have seen the video that you filmed with GameTV, but none of us were told that you had something like this lined up. Yes, it was a great opportunity for the site, and as someone who has been working extensively on the R18 campaign, you were the right person to be doing this. However, my biggest worry is that we are representing PALGN on one front, while you are doing so on another. And while we know what we’re doing, we don’t know whether what you’re doing is for the betterment of PALGN or to raise your own profile. Everyone here is happy to follow a common goal, but not only do we have no idea what your goal is, none of us actually have any confidence that it is what we feel is best for the site.

*Finally, I can’t see any tangible gain that you’ve given to the site during your tenure. As we see now, nothing has been done with the site’s future in mind and we’re paying for it dearly now. Everyoneplays was a great cause and the end result fantastic, but you fucked me up the ass with the amount of work I eventually did for this, in the process burning me out and driving me to the brink of leaving the site. I’m staying on now to try and prevent leaving everyone the mess that was left for me. You’ve USED other staff members as well and paid off some good kids with token gestures.

Aspects such as the Hasbro connections, Supernova connections are all good and well, the Sony Ericsson phone was worth a shot, but at the end of the day, PALGN is heading towards oblivion. And fast. The site is barely accessible, load times are unacceptable, advertising is a failure and we can’t even make minor fixes at the moment. And that’s despite the efforts that myself, Adam and Anthony have put in to keeping aspects such as publisher relations, and the effort from EVERY SINGLE STAFF MEMBER to make sure that we’ve covered EVERY SINGLE IMPORTANT TITLE during your tenure.

And none of this mentions the trail of broken promises, unfulfilled potentials and wasted opportunities.

Seriously, I have no faith that anything will be done about this. It’s all completely gone.

Quit dodging questions, start being open with us and get things done. Everything that needs to be done is quite simple, it’s just a matter of doing it. No stuffing around with vague plans and vapid discussions. The initial problems are clear, and once they’re fixed, I’m sure every single person on board will happily give their suggestions for improving the functionality of the site.

And I won’t be answering the phone on these issues. A phone call is too ëoff the record’, and everything should be written here and discussed in the open. I’m sick of keeping the staff in the dark, whom I have a great deal of respect for, and they deserve to know what’s going on.

It’s now or never. Show me and everyone else that you’re going to fix this.

The email also appears to show that the email was conducted for weeks before the editorial site decided to leave. Talking to MCV, managing editor Adam Ghiggino said that the email leak was “unfortunate.”

“It’s unfortunate that the circumstances of our departure have come to light like this, as we would have preferred if those private conversations had remained as such.”

“However, I can confirm that the remaining members of PALGN’s editorial staff intend to leave in the near future, after tying up some loose ends. Most of us will be leaving to pursue other projects, both in video games journalism and other fields.”

The site’s future is up in the air, so it may or may not shut down. But those former contributors, if you still want to contribute to video gaming journalism, could you help us with ours?

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