As most of you probably know, there have been an unprecedented number of changes to Whyville this year. The layout change, Pearls, WhyPets, etc. After reading Mylo9810's article about the City Workers' opinions on the changes, I thought it would be interesting to find out what some of Whyville's oldest and most well-known users think. These users are not necessarily the most famous or oldest users; they're just the first I could think of and out of those, those who would respond.
I was four years old when my sister made me a Whyville account. I was very excited, because I couldn't wait to meet people from all around the world. After about five minutes I realized I simply couldn't type fast enough to carry on a conversation. Instead, I played 'Pick Your Nose' for hours on end, and spent all of my sister's clams in Akbar's. I miss the old 'Pick Your Nose' more than anything because it was my first memory of Whyville.
I love Whyville. Unfortunately, many veterans are being turned off by the growing commercialization of it. It used to be quite hidden and subtle and that is why Whyvillians loved it. We're kids for the most part and day in, day out we've got adverts and products force fed to us by the media and we loved the subtlety that Whyville had. But now Whyville shoves their message in your face and their slogan is SPEND SPEND SPEND. When I try to log in to Whyville I get a, frankly annoying, pop up message (taking up the entire screen) about Why-Pets telling me that I can't fully enjoy Whyville without this. On the welcome page, in a poll, you've got all these branded celebrities like Justin Timberlake associated with spending money for Pearls. Whyville used to be a safe haven for us where we could learn without the consumer pressures. That's what has changed. It's no longer a few ads here and there. It's constant consumerism everywhere.
I'd like to assure myself that that's what happens when you got 4 million people but it scares me that they just seem to have given up. I firmly believe that it's taking the social element out of Whyville and just viewing us as the customer. There's little personal about Whyville anymore and I'm sure the next "Whyville Guides Reminder" spam I get will reinforce this. THIS is what will turn children away.
What I miss most about Whyville's past is how human and natural it seemed. The makers used to play more of a role in day to day life. Whyville was a place to live a *real* virtual life. It seems now that Whyville has become more of a machine, losing the soul which made it what it was. That said, some of the additions are very welcomed and seem to fit the Whyville aura. I certainly don't think Whyville has completely lost touch with the spirit it once held.
Ooooopppp misses . . . the good days when Whyville was still unique, when they weren't doing what every other virtual world was doing. There were no pets, there were no scions, and none of those smiley faces in our text. This was an educational web-site, one that, sad to say, seems to have taken a lot of focus off of the educational part and others agree with that. And so have the Whyvillians, they think too much about pets, pearls, and smiley faces, sadly. By the way, what happened to the Goth vs. Prep wars? They don't happen anymore. They were the Jammin' Nizzle yo. (Good entertainment.)
I understand that it is adding all these features to gain new members, But I've already lost many friends because of it. I DO Like the new Pick your Nose. It's much easier. Hmm, The Smiley faces, no. Just, No. Nobody here likes them. I can't stand them. Definitely a bad idea. I don't like the WhyPets. It freezes my computer. And I've heard that from a lot of people. Do not make us pay for chat. That would definitely upset us. Also, The one chat room, that EVERYONE was in love with, is gone. The Random House room. I met so many people there, I made my closest friends there. So many memories. I was crushed when they took it away.'
When I first joined Whyville, it was because my sister had read an article about the site and community in a magazine. I made an account, figuring it would be just like any other online community targeted towards kids and teens, but was immediately surprised. The chat test revealed that you were allowed to discuss the war in Iraq and complain about censorship on Whyville. Many sites I had used had very overbearing mods that would remove opinions they didn't agree with from forums or punish users for no particular reason in chat. The chat test was my first memory of Whyville, and it was a positive one. When they swapped it out in favor of the new one, I didn't really mind. But when they overhauled the aesthetics and added Pearls and Whypets, I was angry.
I don't fear change itself, and I understand that if things on Whyville stayed the same forever, there would be nothing to talk or write self-referential articles about. But one must ask: Why did they add so much new content while leaving all of the old bugs and broken aspects of the site? Why can you now pay for things with pearls you bought instead of clams you bought, but not buy a house plot or go on a Solstice Safari? I for one would pay real money for a house plot. But if I had joined Whyville now instead of when I did (earlier than my City Records would have you believe), I doubt I would have stayed more than a month.
There are so many gaping holes in functionality, yet all of the patches in the quilt of Whyville are sewn on as additions, not fixes. It seems like a third of the site--Myville, the electron game, the Sportplatz--is just a ghost town, while other things--the Sun Spot Puzzle, senators, example--don't even work at all. If the design team that made all of these new changes had instead spent the same time and resources improving and fixing existing areas, I believe that Whyville would surpass its former glory. The new Pick Your Nose was a good start. Now please stop putting in random smiley faces and full-screen ads for WhyPets and finish the job.