www.whyville.net Oct 30, 2016 Weekly Issue

Guest Writer

Is There Still Hope?

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I've had an account on Whyville since 2011, and I remember there being lots of people; in every chat room and on BBS at any hour of the day. Now it's difficult to find people around. There's almost no one in chat rooms and only a handful of people on the forums. ​

Over the course of the last few years there has been a obvious decline of active citizens. The following civilians; nicenfun, Deanna03, ElBanjo, Lanabanaa, agreed to answer questions about this decline and voice their thoughts on it.

TheNewS: How long have you been apart of Whyville?

nicenfun: I have been a part of Whyville for almost 13 years now . . . which is just shy of half of my life!
Deanna03: I've been here since 2014, on my main account DeannaD, that was hacked.

ElBanjo: ugh, I dunno. I played it on and off when i was a kid in like 2004 or 2005 or something. But I'd say I've visited Whyville everyday since like 2012 or 2013.
Lanabanaa: I started Whyville when I was 13 back in 2004 but stopped playing when I was 16 (I am 24 now.)

TheNewS: How has your experience been with Whyville?

nicenfun: I have had a fair share of great experiences with Whyville, but of course, there is always the negative experiences. Overall, I am glad I have been a part of this community because I have made some lifelong friendships with amazing people.
Deanna03: It's amazing! I've made so many friends and they are just amazing.
ElBanjo: I'd say its been good man. Made a lot of friends, made a lot of enemies. I'd say my experience with Whyville has been great considering that I still play it everyday, all day.
Lanabanaa: I used to be so obsessed with Whyville, I spent a lot of my time on it chatting with friends and playing games. Now I come on occasionally and chat but I am not as interested in the games anymore. Overall, I would say I like Whyville, but I think the site has lots of room to grow.

TheNewS: Have you noticed the decline of citizen? If so, please state when you noticed.

nicenfun: I have definitely noticed a decline of citizens, along with practically everyone else. I think it started fairly recently; I would say within the last couple of years. It has been a steady decline rate, but it has been getting worse lately.
Deanna03: We declined last year, probably around January 2015.
ElBanjo: yeah yeah. Definitely a decline. I don't know when exactly, but I'd say a steady drop off since like 2010 or something. In 2016 though, it seems like a real big dump of people took off, ya know.
Lanabanaa: I was not around to notice a decline but when I came back this year (2016) I realized that the site was not as heavily populated as it was back in 2004.

TheNewS: What do you think caused this decline?

nicenfun: I honestly think it is the lack of the adapting to today's society. It seems as though today's generation is glued to their cell phones and not on computers as often as before. Whyville has tried to adapt by making chat rooms mobile, but it doesn't work very well in my opinion. Also, the constant promises that are never met is a huge factor. Some citizens feel that they cannot rely on City Workers and that they no longer care about what us citizens want or recommend for improvement.
Deanna03: People got older, and they lost interest in Whyville because, let's be honest, Whyville is great but not everyone likes it anymore.
ElBanjo: eh. Who's to say? A lot of things probably. Ya know, social media of all types is real big, people can chat with people they actually know rather than strangers from the internet. All kinds of other entertainment that wasn't around in Whyville's heydays, ya know, people can just play a game on their phone or pirate a TV series, so why would you play on Whyville when all that fun stuff is available? I dunno, but most of all, I think it's a people problem, not a Whyville problem. I think Whyville is just great the way it is, the problem is, ya know, the youth of today aren't really into what makes Whyville cool. Ya know they'd rather hang out with their "squad" than have a chat with strangers. They'd rather cuss and talk about drugs or whatever's popular in the media instead of have a nice, intellectual conversation with people from different walks of life on here. And most of all they just want drama man. Ya know they just want to be Whyville's Kim Kardashian to call out Taylor Swift or whatever man, they just want to be toxic. It's not just on Whyville man, go read some YouTube comments or look at your favorite celebrities social media pages. Just drama man. Very toxic.
Lanabanaa: I think that it's a mixture of factors like advances in technology, the creation of apps, and an overall shift in children's interest of internet browsing. I work with kids and we generally don't allow them on sites that are specific to chatting online because of the risks. They seem to be more into Minecraft and games that allow you to create something of your own.

TheNewS: What do you think made the site popular in years past?

nicenfun: When Whyville was first created and into its earlier years, it was so advanced for the time. People were amazed that they could go into a simple chat room with customized avatars and talk with people from all over the world. It was interesting and new, and the citizens at the time really appreciated that. Other website didn't offer their members to design their own face parts to that extent, they didn't have the same chat features, and they didn't have the same educational aspects.
Deanna03: Probably because everyone was young, and Whyville was cute and new, so everyone loved it but after a while, you get bored.
ElBanjo: Well ya know I hate to sound like a grumpy old dad but, the older generation of kids ya know I think they were more up to be civil and have nice decent fun on here and ya know, have a little chat with interesting people, and Whyville was just cool back then, well, kinda cool. You could dress up your person, play games, I dunno, all virtual worlds were more popular back then. nowadays you can just get on yer telephone and have 100 different dress up games 100 different chatting apps, I dunno man.
Lanabanaa: I think that when the site was created back in 1999, the internet was blossoming and kids were finding new sites and places to learn. Whyville provided a free and fun environment for kids to explore, play, chat, and learn with lots of people in different parts of the word. I think the bright and colorful background was attractive to kids in the past and the games were more appealing. The ability to really personalize your avatar is still something that I love about Whyville, and I have friends who make parts and I like supporting them and their artwork. Saying that, I believe that this is something that needs to be improved.

TheNewS:. Has the decline affected you in any way?

nicenfun: The decline has affected everyone. Less and less people are logging on because their friends have moved on, whether it was because they grew up and got bored of the website or because they were tired of not seeing as many people in chat rooms and lack of respect from others. Many of my friends aren't active citizens anymore and it definitely sways me into not wanting to log on now. New members join and see that there is one somewhat active chat room and they log off and don't return. It is becoming almost predictable.
Deanna03: Yes, I've lost friends.
ElBanjo: Eh, I dunno man. A little bit. Not really though. Ya know I kinda dig the small know everybody community like it is now. Not that I don't want to see it grow again or anything, but it's cool.
Lanabanaa: The decline in active participants has defiantly impacted the amount of time that I spend on the site. Most chat rooms are empty all the time and the only rooms that I have ever seen people on a daily basis are south beach and the woods. Otherwise places like the mall are used for Style Studio. I have met friends on the site so that's what keeps me coming on from time to time, I don't want them to think that I have abandoned them!

TheNewS: Do you believe this site can once again be popular among its target audience? (8 to 15) Why or why not?

nicenfun: Honestly, I don't think Whyville will ever be popular again. Times have changed and what this website has to offer isn't a main focus for the targeted audience. Social media allows people to connect with anyone they wish. I think it is only a matter of time before everyone gives up and doesn't log on and that is really unfortunate. Unless Whyville changes their campaign and/or their targeted age group, I don't think there is much hope.
Deanna03: Yes! Whyville actually has been doing better lately! People are telling their friends to join! Which is great! Some people are under 8 and some are older than 15.
ElBanjo: Nah probably not. Like I've been ranting about the past couple questions, There's just more to do these days than Whyville.
Lanabanaa: It is really hard to say, but, I would like to think that it absolutely can. Whyville needs to completely revamp in order to attract kids now but I think it could be done. I believe that there are still kids who like these types of sites and maybe if they see the changes, it will peek an interest again and they will tell friends.

TheNewS: How do you feel about the City Workers, and the work they have been doing to better Whyville recently?

nicenfun: I love the City Workers; I really do. There are a couple of them who try their best to answer our questions, listen to the demands of the citizens and deal with the nonsense from some people. They have handled it very well. However, I think the root of the problem is from the top dogs. They get involved for a short period of time and disappear out of thin air. It makes us feel like we aren't important and that they don't care about us citizens. I applaud the City Workers who patrol BBS and are involved. We appreciate that those specific ones care about us.
Deanna03: I feel like they are doing good! But they should ask us more what we want! Prom attracts many people and so does the parties!
ElBanjo: The City Workers, I like em. I try to be nice to them and not nag about every small little thing wrong about the website and treat them with respect unlike a few people on here. Are they on the right track though? Eh, they were when Superid was here. I looked forward to and was genuinely excited for his Greek Theater meetings, whether it was trivia or just a community meeting to talk about Whyville, it was fun man. Then he kinda left or something, and we got City Mgmt version 1 in the forums. And boy, that was bad. I feel like their whole deal was to punish and push away the few people we have anymore instead of doing anything to gain any new people. She had a temper tantrum and quit though, and now City Mgmt version 2, they're alright. Not doing anything bad, not doing anything necessarily good. Just coasting, ya know.
Lanabanaa: I am not sure that I can speak to this. I have not had any interactions with the City Workers. However, saying that I have seen the forums and sometimes I think that people expect a lot from the workers but I also believe that things can be done to fix the problems that are occurring for citizens. (speaking generally)

TheNewS: Have you been doing anything to better the site, or increase the traffic it receives?

nicenfun: I have not been doing my part in bringing in new citizens. I am out of the age group for Whyville and the few people I associate with in my real life would not be interested in this website. I have no means of showing Whyville to younger kids who might join. If I was half of my age, it would be much easier. Given that I am 23 years old, there isn't much I can do.
Deanna03: No, not really, other than I've been helping people on Whyville that are new and I've became their friends, and I encouraged them to stay here.
ElBanjo: Eh, not really. I did make the why-tunes popular again and people seem to be having fun with that for the time being, but not really.
Lanabanaa: No not really, for me the site was a place I could escape to, so I never shared it with anyone.

TheNewS:. Do you have any ideas that you think this site can benefit from?

nicenfun: City Workers of all ranges need to start listening to what we want and following through with their promises. That turns people away faster than they imagine. Whyville can't change their purpose from educational to something different because it would mean losing sponsors. It is honestly a lose-lose situation. I am not sure if there is anything that could be done to benefit this website.
Deanna03: You learn and make friends, yes there is bullying but City Workers are strict and don't let it keep happening!
ElBanjo: Yea, this place needs a leader. Not a dictator, but a leader who is open to suggestion, who knows a direction they want Whyville to go, instead of just coasting on what they have now.
Lanabanaa: The color scheme definitely needs to be upgraded. Games need to be updated, give us different games or just upgrade the look of the ones that exist! More clams for games! Things are costing more in the forums and it's hard for new people to get their hands on things they actually like larger base clams when signup. Restrictions on Akbar's need to be reassessed, long bodies should be a thing, we'll all like them. Get rid of the popups in chat rooms, they are annoying.

TheNewS: Do you believe Whyville can once again become a popular site?

nicenfun: No, I don't believe so. Like said before, today's society is so different from what it used to be. Most kids today don't care about creating avatars or sitting in a chat room to talk to people. Video games and social media are taking up their free time, so why be on a website with outdated graphics with a maximum of 50 citizens total?
Deanna03: Yes! If we all take apart and try to keep people here by being nice we can make the site thrive again.
ElBanjo: Popular, well, not really. Not as popular as it was in its heyday anyway, but it can definitely be more popular than it is now for sure.
Lanabanaa: If things change!

It seems in this group of people the vote is split. You can decide for yourself; Is there still hope?

Author's Note: some answers have been modified to correct spelling/grammar mistakes

Editor's Note: Thank you all for your honest and thoughtful answers. I know we all care a lot about Whyville. The Times has been a huge part of my life for over 10 years. I want to help make it and Whyville as great as can be. So I am always open to your suggestions. Keep writing and making a difference! Thanks for your continued support and belief in Whyville and the Times!


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