Perky (and all Commenters),
That was an incredibly well written essay with a lot of valid and interesting points. First and foremost, we value and appreciate all of your participation on the comment board more than you could ever know. You are the ambassadors of the website and we are grateful for that. To say that we "hope you will go away" is hurtful and not true.
We want you to enjoy the site and show as much as possible. We love that you have become friends on the comment board, talk about your lives, and share insights into the story (as well as solve puzzles and conduct great research). However, we need rules and structure for character interaction.
These are our concerns: 1) users must be able to realize that they are talking to characters and have an expectation that the characters will talk back, 2) users must be able to find these comments in a simple place, 3) characters must be able to find these comments, read them, and respond, and 4) users must be able to find what the character's say in response.
We think that the only place to achieve these objectives is the "in-character" section of the forum.
The comment board is an amazing place to express feelings about the show - both the fictional and non-fictional elements. However, it is not an easy place to find previous comments and reply. Also, the comment board changes every time a new video is posted. Forums are built exactly to achieve what we want from "in-character" interaction. A forum is a clean and straightforward way for people to talk to the characters, give them advice, and see what the character's have to say.
While a lot of you complain that the forum is hard to navigate or that the people there are too intense, I don't think that is the case for the "in-character" section. I beg you to give it a chance for a week or two, I think you will see that it makes sense to do interaction there.
Using the "in-character" section of the forum as the only place for interaction is both a logical and logistical concern. For logical reasons, it is just cleaner to have one place on our website designated as "in-game" where the characters can go. The rest of the site is for all of you to talk openly and candidly.
For logistical reasons, I do not want to have to moderate the comment board for story purposes. I also don't want people to have to right "IG" or "OG" before they post. What if they forget, do we have to go in and edit that? Also, our interactive department (Amanda) has to read all comments made to the characters and respond to as many as possible. She also has to relay all that information to the writing team. It would be impossible for her to go through the entire comment board (on each and every video), sort through "IG" comments, respond to them, and then try to weave them into the videos. It is just too difficult to do (in addition to handle all of the physical production for the show - she works too hard!).
The other "in-character" interaction such as the live events are open to all participants of the website.
As far as not having announcements about the site posted on the comment board, that is my fault and I apologize, I will make sure to do that in the future.
The "shout out" issue is tough because only those that post in the "in-character" section can get shout outs because that is where the characters go. Therefore, if a commenter solves a puzzle, they have two choices: 1) post it in the forum and get a shout out or 2) enjoy the accolades of your fellow commenters, but not the characters.
We each spend about 80-100 hours a week writing the show, producing it, running the website, and conducting interactivity (Kevin and I have been up until 3 am each night this week making sure the videos were all edited and posted). We do the best we can to make everyone happy, but we need to be able to create rules that we think are important to telling an innovative and coherent story. One such rule is the "in-character" interaction occurring in the forum.
I am happy to chat with you all about this. I will put out an announcement (on the comment board) about a time that I will be in the chat-room on Monday.
The comment board is the foundation of this website and we hate that you guys are hurt by our actions. I really hope you can respect our decision and continue to use the comment board.
Saturday, June 2, 2007