Author's Note: I don't want people to think I am bashing every y-mail helper. I just think that a few of these y-mail helpers are taking advantage of a dated system with bad intentions. I am not going to mention any usernames but my own in this article.
Vancyon here! It has been about 5 years since I became a y-mail helper, but after becoming inactive for a few years, I had pretty much forgotten about it until I decided to check my y-mail at 5 am one day. Big mistake! I'd received a y-mail from City Hall announcing January's helper of the month.
The first thing I thought of when I was reading the y-mail was the sheer amount of time people were sitting in the help center - twenty hours? I thought that would take insane dedication! I was a bit suspicious, though, because sitting in a Help Center for twenty hours answering people's questions does not seem like the funnest way of passing time. Even on my most active months as a y-mail helper, I probably only sat in the Help Center for a good two or three hours per month.
Something that helped heighten my suspicion was the fact that there are multiple rooms of the Help Center, much like the Trading Post and Meadow. A mischievous "helper" could easily be in a secondary room just sitting there with no one catching them. This idea troubled me, so that gave me the idea to investigate the Help Center system and make sure it was running smoothly. But wait . . . curiosity killed the cat, right? I didn't care though, because my inner reporter was excited to start investigate
January 3rd 4:53 AM Whytime
I started off early. No one was there, so I started ringing the bell. I kept pressing the bell until a Helper came at 4:59am. I asked her how to get a job. She was very informative about City Workers, y-mail helping, etc. I asked her about Whydating and even asked her to be my Whydate. She handled it all very professionally.
January 3rd 4:03 PM Whytime
I arrived and there was a Helper. I said hello, and they were unresponsive. After two minutes, I got fed up and moved to another room. There were two Helpers in this room. Both were unresponsive. So, I went to the next room. Guess what? There was a Helper in there. Guess what? Unresponsive! Three rooms with three unresponsive Helpers . . . I finally rang the bell of the fourth room and paged some Helpers. I rang it for 7 minutes before getting fed up and leaving to go to check the other rooms. I don't think I need to even tell you that I got a negative at this point. I ended up leaving the Help Center in disgust.
January 3rd 7:04 PM Whytime
I went into the Help Center, and there was a Helper sitting down. The Helper there wouldn't respond to me when I said, "Help me." So, after a few minutes, I went through the other rooms to see if there were any other Helpers around. Room two had one of the Helpers who had been not been responding to me a few hours earlier. The helper finally came back to the keyboard, and I asked him to answer my questions. He said, "No." I complained that I had been waiting for a long time, and he said, "Brbing," and didn't answer anything else. He had not even invited me to the guest chair.
So yes, citizens of Whyville, some of these people are getting 100-500 pearls a month to just sit in a chair and ignore questions! Just great. This made me very angry, so I confronted Scyllacat (who is in charge of Y-Mail Helpers) about it at meet the makers. He seemed to not be completely aware of this issue, but when I brought it up, many other people quickly agreed with me, and said they had noticed it as well. He said he was going to investigate it. He suggested a timer, like they have in the Style Studio, where after a certain time you must click continue, or you get ejected. I think that this is a step in the right direction, but I also think other measures must be taken, such as cutting back the number of rooms in the Help Center.
This is Vancyon, signing off.
Just kidding. I couldn't stop there! I decided to interview a Y-Mail Helper who has placed in the top ten before:
Vancyon: Do you feel that all of the Helpers of the Month earn their pearls? Why or why not?
Anonymous: Some do earn the right to be Helper of the Month or in the top ten, but there are a few that win pearls every month and never answer a question. I've spent hours in there answering questions and I do enjoy it, but then to see others that only go and sit for the rewards and do nothing it angers me. Also to see that I am only credited for 13 hours out of the month when I spend at least 4 hours a day there, and except for rare occasions I am totally paying attention and answering questions. Makes me think that I'm doing it wrong and they are the ones doing it right. Perhaps it's better to sit and say nothing, then be there and actually be helping others??
Vancyon: So . . . wait. There are a few Y-Mail Helpers that sit there and actually REFUSE to answer questions?
Anonymous: I know I have seen them come in the room and sit at the desk and I would say, "Hi," and I would get no response, so it's not just that they have looked away, they are outright ignoring all questions even if they are paying attention. I've done this with several different new accounts and some of my older accounts I don't really use, and I get the same result.
Vancyon: That's just ridiculous! Do you think people who do this should be punished for their (in)actions? If so, what do you think should be their punishment?
Anonymous: Honestly I do believe there should be a punishment of some sort. Totally taking their rights to be a Helper is a thought, but I think if that were to happen, they would have to be found to be doing it month after month and that is happening with some. But I believe if there was a way to show without a doubt that they are doing this, there should be perhaps a fine and suspension first. Of course that would mean City Hall would have to come up with a way to prove they are doing this. But yes, there should be consequences to their actions/in-actions.
Vancyon: Okay, thanks. You have brought a lot to light. Any final thoughts?
Anonymous: I know people do anything they can to cheat and get whatever they can without doing much of anything, I see it all the time, especially on here, but the Help Center is there to help the newer players, and the helper of the month/top 10 helpers should actually be helping and not just there for the rewards. Perhaps they should only get the honorable mention and no pearls or clams, then maybe only those really wanting to help will be there and be helping.
I personally agree almost everything "Anonymous" said, especially about removing the pearl award. I understand where the City Workers are coming from by awarding the top ten helpers, but personally, I have always considered the Y-Mail Helpers to be a volunteer task force, not a paid job.
This is Vancyon, actually signing off this time.
Author's Note: I suspect that this article will be controversial. Please respect people I interviewed, Y-Mail Helpers as a whole, etc when discussing it in the BBS. I DO want your opinion, so feel free to critique this article, my interviewing skills, etc. I am always looking to improve. As always, for further reading, I've listed some articles that also delve upon the subject of Y-Mail Helpers: Article ID 4207, 4263, 8215, and 8766.
Scyllacat's Note: Thanks, Vancyon, for shining a light on the disappointing and unethical behavior of what we hope is just a few of our Helpers. We will take steps to make sure the monthly assessments are more aware of this issue. That aside, to those Helpers that continue to work very hard to be helpful and responsive to those seeking help, please accept my personal thanks and admiration for your volunteer efforts.