Where in the World is Iain C?

It may have escaped your notice recently, but in the heat of GOA-gate Iain C made an inauspicious post on Warhammer Alliance. It went down poorly. While some in the community thought he was pretty much ‘on the button’ when he called certain rabid posters ‘borderline sociopaths’, it’s not the kind of thing you expect to hear from a Community Manager, and it happened when tempers were already about as frayed as they get without Bright Wizard-type implosions.

It was followed by a public chastisement by Mark Jacobs and then an apology by David Petit (wheeled out by GOA when they have a BIG apology to make, but not quite big enough to go get Ghislaine out of bed again).

Since then, Iain C has not been seen on any of the fan forums. Magnus has done the job of getting news across to us, and he’s done it really well. But having 1 CM is not the same as having 2 CMs. And for the record, we think Iain has done a pretty damn good job with the closed beta and wider community. Yes, sometimes news has been sporadic, but that’s been across all the GOA languages and CMs (with a little more leeway from Sterntaler, the German CM).

And now a full circle has been travelled and threads are popping up like this one supporting Iain C over at Warhammer Alliance. There’s also something similar on the beta forums, which we obviously can’t quote or link to. In the WHA thread he’s referred to as a ‘working class hero’ and while that’s not strictly true, I’d hate to see him take most of the rap for what happened last weekend at GOA.

Let’s face it, GOA was a mess. The CMs job is not to fix the technical side. It’s to keep us informed. Neither Iain nor Magnus nor any of the other-language CMs did a great job. Because it all had to go out simultaneously and wait for them to have some good news, I’m guessing. Iain said something dumb, twice. Once when he bragged about the capabilities of GOA to get it all up and running. But he has to go on what he’s told. Then, when he ‘insulted’ the playerbase (or rabid fans who might have been European, American or Oceanic) on Warhammer Alliance. I wouldn’t like to see him punished for that. I’m sure he’s had quite enough flak from it already.

GOA – needs to get its communication in-line. We’re getting better updates now. But it shouldn’t take a public slapping from Mark Jacobs to obtain that. Yes, they have languages to wrangle, but presumably plenty of people who speak those languages fluently and can talk to one another. Translating a sentence or two shouldn’t take long.

Anyway, am saving any further thoughts till we see how the headstarts and launch go. I hope to have a better experience.

And to hear more from Iain C soon!


11 Responses

  1. I think it was just a minor faux pas — if people had seen the venom he was responding to, I think they’d have been more sympathetic. Yeah, it was the wrong thing to say in his capacity as CM.

    Learning experience, etc. Hope to see him around soon. Funny thing is, in the long run it might be a good thing. It’s difficult for a CM to really be accepted as part of the community because we know they are paid wonks (no offence). Reacting in such a human (and justified) way and being yelled out for it might be good for his street cred further along the line.

  2. Yep, he was fully justified in saying what he did, but in hindsight, perhaps the wiser course of action would have been a firm tongue biting. Not sure I’d have been able to manage it in his position though.

  3. He’s statement was true but too lightly to be misunderstood in the heat of the OB-start-mess.

    So true statement, bad timing. It would be better if he’d not posted it, but ..well..it happened. I think that he is aware of the mistake and I hope to see him soon back in the forums.

  4. Paraphrasing something I’ve said elsewhere: it’s hard not to have a lot of sympathy for Iain personally, not least because the people having a go on the forums were indeed being twats.

    However: by reference to his job title, it was actually quite serious. There is just about nothing a customer relationship manager can do worse than be seen to be insulting the customers, however justified he may be. Imagine you call up Sky to complain about your satellite connection, get the run-around on an automated service for 3 hours, and explode at the poor schlub on the other end of the phone when finally you are connected to an operator. It’s not his fault. But it’s not up to him to tell you to chill out, or lecture you for being rude either – and if he does, his boss, who is paying him to help to keep you as a customer, is likely to want a word.

    In my view there are certain things you should NEVER say when you’re in that ‘oops I messed up’ situation.

    You don’t say that it wasn’t that bad.
    You don’t tell people the problem’s mostly solved (until well after it has been).
    You don’t point out that person X in exactly the same situation did much worse.
    You certainly don’t point out that the person you are apologising to is behaving like a total twat.

    Any or all of these things may be true. But you still don’t say them, because that’s not what the situation demands. In a personal capacity it doesn’t matter to anyone except you if you make one of these mistakes. When you are employed to speak for someone else, it’s a lot more serious, and goes to the root of what they are paying you to do.

    I think the most likely thing is that Iain has had a telling-off from inside the company and been asked to lie low for a while. Depending on what GOA is like as an employer, it either ends there or gets escalated. Personally, I hope that it’s now blowing over and that he will be back soon. But it would be good to see a bit of understanding of why this particular incident has – rightly in my view – been treated as very serious by GOA and Mythic.

  5. Beefeater, I know what you mean, But this is more like hearing the guy from Sky complain about some other customer’s abusive behaviour.

  6. If I called up sky and told the guy, my sky isnt working, and hasnt been for a whole day, I’m gonna come and kill you, I think It would be normal to expect the police to call on me, and the CS to tell me I was a far from normal person.

  7. Spinks,

    That’s true. The difficulty is that the complaint – which was a fair one, I wouldn’t dream of disagreeing – was about the nastier forumites as a class. That was unwise. Part of the chap’s job is being able to hold his tongue under extreme provocation, so that the Ghislaines of this world are not forced to rely on their own customer management skills*.

    *Which, based on the only communication we have seen to date, are rooted firmly in the 19th century. Dirigisme for the lose.

  8. I take all your points Beefeater, and yes, he shouldn’t have said it. Nor should Ghislaine have said ‘I don’t usually talk to players’ (paraphrasing cos I’m on the train). Iain’s was a worse mistake,, especially at the time.

    But. I don’t know if I trust GOA not to scapegoat him over it, and I’d like to see him able to man up and face people on the forums again.

  9. Arbitrary, I think you’re right.

    What’s not in doubt is that Iain personally comes across as having a lot of integrity or that GOA as a corporate entity comes across as very unimpressive.

    I found Ghislaine’s apology amusing because it revealed a lot about corporate culture there: the top boss is clearly too grand to muck about with the customers except in extremis.

    That’s a pretty old-fashioned way of running any company, never mind one whose core business is providing online role playing games.

  10. I feel for Iain; I honestly feel he was in the right, CM or no. Frankly this community isn’t the kind that lines up on a Saturday afternoon at Walmart…this community is more the kind that camps Walmart all night so it can race into the store sweeping shelves clean of merchandise to find hidden Furbies. How do you manage such a pack of psychos?

    Personally, I don’t mind telling them to their faces that they are a pack of psychos. =) Sadly, I fear that won’t have a bit of impact. They are, after all, an anonymous pack of psychos.

  11. Bad comment, but not a bad man. I do not wish him to be fired for telling the rabid players to cool down.
    Death threats should not be tolerated!

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