www.whyville.net Mar 17, 2013 Weekly Issue

Times Writer

Happy Birthday, Whyville?

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HotTrent1 at your service! I was just logging onto Whyville like any other normal day, and my Y-Mail icon had told me that I had new Y-Mail to be read. I click the icon and notice that the unread mail was red, which means that it was from the beloved City Hall. Knowing me, it was a report decision. I look at the title. No! I didn't get into any trouble this time! In fact, City Hall was telling me that Whyville was almost fourteen! The Y-Mail had also stated that there will be contests with big prizes. I click on a blue link that took me to the contest categories.

I scroll through to find that most were the same as Whyville's annual summer contests. Some were new, but most were the same. Something that I had always taken interest in is the "Most dedicated Ymail Helpers" contest. I take more interest in that because not everyone can participate because it takes a lot to become a Y-Mail Helper. You have to take a test after you qualify. The test is pretty hard. City Hall even said the she had failed five times. So it is an honor to be a Y-Mail Helper. As a Y-Mail Helper, you are to help answer anyone's questions either by Y-Mail, or by the Help Center.

So the whole contest is pretty much who sits in a chair the longest, whether the Helper helps or not. It's the only way that City Workers can determine a winner. It used to be a huge problem that "Helpers" would sit in the chair and not do anything else just to become Helper of the Month prize. The prize would go from 500 pearls to the top Helper. The next two runner-ups would get 250 pearls a piece. Then the next seven runer-ups would get 100 pearls a piece. Later, scyllacat, a City Worker who is mainly in charge of the Y-Mail Helpers, devised a better system.

The system made it to where you wouldn't have to worry about switching in between tabs to make sure that you weren't leaving behind a Whyvillian in need. When a Whyvillian enters the room, the Helper would here a ring, no matter what tab he or she is on. So you can quickly tab back to the Help Center and help the Whyvillian. Another addition is that the Y-Mail Helper would hear a bell, telling him or her that there is a simple math problem to solve. The math problem is simple and only says that you're still active. After about three to five minutes, you will receive the problem to do. If you get it wrong, you just have to try again right after. If you don't answer in a certain time frame, you get booted out.

I thought that this addition to Y-Mail Helpers was excellent and would help destroy all of the previous problems that Whyville had faced with unresponsive Y-Mail Helpers. So when I heard about this contest, I got a little curious. I got curious to see if people would help someone now. I dressed as a newbie under a different account so that I wouldn't be recognized. This is where my investigation begins!

Investigation 1

I went into the first room. I waited a few seconds for this "Helper" to help me. Seconds had turned to minutes. You'd think this person would hear the bell. Many people had come in. Many bells had probably gone off. By now, one of the math problems would have popped up a few times. So this tells me that the Whyvillian has seen me. Later, I was greeted by two other "newbies" who were seeking help. We waited for a good five to ten minutes until the "Helper" responded. I was highly disappointed. The Whyvillian didn't even apologize for the delay.

Investigation 2

After investigation one, I waited everything out for a few hours. I walk in and wait a few seconds. I wait longer, until I see that the Whyvillian was booted due to inactivity. The citizen comes in a few seconds later and gets back in the chair, ignoring me. I was left disappointed, yet again.

Investigation 3

I can't do all of my investigations on the same day. The day after the first two investigations, I went to the Help Center again. Room one was taken and the Helper was handling a troll account very professionally. I went to room two to find the same Whyvillian that was in Investigation 2 sitting there. I waited a little bit, and got no reply. So I went to room 3 where there was Helper sitting at the chair. I was immediately put in the chair and asked how to raise my Whyville salary. I got helpful answers and left to "boost my salary".

Investigation 4

The first room had the same person in Investigation 1. I still had no reply. Room two had the same Whyvillian in Investigation 2. I have yet to get replied from the citizen. Room three had someone I had not encountered before. I waited patiently for a few minutes. I had no reply. The "Helper" seemed to have gotten booted for inactivity. The Whyvillian didn't return.

Investigation 5

I walked in like usual. I got a pretty immediate response. The Helper helped and did a wonderful job. I asked how to raise my salary. I was answered with a through and helpful answer. Good job! Now I'll be going on my final investigation.

Investigation 6

This was another good outcome. I asked about salaries, and got a clear response. I had no difficulties with this person. All of today's investigations were good! I could only wish that every single day could be like today.

Whyvillians are still winning a good bit of pearls to just sit in a chair and not answer those who are in need. They're getting even more due to the contest. I am upset at my outcome. Yes, there are a few Helpers who actually helped, but what really grinds my gears is that these so called "Helpers" still won't answer me even with the new additions to the Help Center. It angered me so much, that I Y-Mailed scyllacat, the City Worker in charge of Y-Mail Helpers, about this. On Thursday, March 14, I got a Y-Mail from scyllacat:

HotTrent1: I am currently investigating the Help Center (disguised as a newbie) to see if "Helpers" are helping me. So far 3/4 are NOT helping me. They ignore me. I know this because the time limit for booting has passed each time I am in there. I really thought the current Help Center update was fantastic, but people are ignoring users voluntarily now. I truly think that there has to be something to do about it.
scyllacat: Good report, HT1! Yes, it's a bummer that Helpers aren't always so helpful or attentive. I think the Birthday Contests get them to go in there more, so that's a good thing; but a lot of them are just hanging out to rack up lots of time, which is a bad thing. Any solutions that you have to suggest? Thanks!
HotTrent1: A few [solutions] have crossed my mind as I did my report. Maybe the reward could be lowered, or even disappear. I see that being a Y-Mail Helper more as volunteer work. Maybe there could be a little 911 Report Tool to report unresponsive Y-Mail Helpers. If someone gets into enough trouble the "Helper" could get fined, suspended, or even expelled.

I really thought that the new Help Center update was fantastic! Is it just the fact that even more pearls are involved this month with it being Whyville's birthday? Even so, the outcome of my project is unacceptable. I really do hope to see a better update in the future. Maybe removing the pearl reward would suffice? I find being a Y-Mail Helper more voluntary work than a profit. Maybe being able to file a report on an unresponsive "Helper" like the 911 Report tool could come in handy. The outcome of the ridiculous behavior could be a fine, suspension, or even expulsion if it gets too out of hand.

So on that note, HotTrent1, signing off!

Author's Note: Please note that I am not bashing Y-Mail Helpers. I personally think that a few Y-Mail Helpers are just ignoring people who have questions so that they can get easy pearls, especially with the new contest for Whyville's birthday. I understand that not everyone will agree with what I have done in my article. Try not to bash the Y-Mail Helpers as a whole. Remember that around half of the Y-Mail Helpers actually helped me. Thank you to scyllacat for a quick response regarding this issue.


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