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Riding the Failure Cascade 195

Posted by Zonk
from the wreck-you-with-maths dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The Escapist has up an article looking at a curve that represents the dissolution of large social groups, like online guilds. Called the Failure Cascade, it's essentially a way of examining the dissociation of members of an organization predicated on a culture of success. They primarily explore this phenomenon using descriptions of EVE corporate alliances. 'These are the two forces at work in [an] alliance's failure cascade: the individual and the guild ... This happens because the failure cascade is the inverse of a network effect. Websites like MySpace define their value by the people that use the service just as guilds define their quality by their members. As bad events cause players to leave or become inactive, the quality drop leads others to do the same in a spiral that rarely stabilizes, until no one is left.'"
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Riding the Failure Cascade

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  • by spun (1352) <loverevolutionary@nOSpam.yahoo.com> on Friday December 14, 2007 @07:46PM (#21704060) Journal
    Anyone here? Where did you all go?
    • Arguing about Math and Maths a couple of articles down
    • by fm6 (162816)
      I'm in your base, killing your dudes.
    • by m4g02 (541882)
      Anyone here? Where did you all go?

      I remember how the downfall happened; it involved a catastrophic event of huge dimensions, huge and expanded dimensions, painful ones, the goatse was called and when "they" started posting this horror it just became a matter of time until the collapse.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by rednip (186217)

        , the goatse was called and when "they" started posting this horror it just became a matter of time until the collapse

        Really? Here I was believing that the goatse was the reason for /.'s popularity.

        I've never 'got into' the chat room games, but I have seen some other online communities come and go, yet somehow /. remains. Usually, most seem to get 'stale' and fail to bring in new interesting people. Sure there are some here who browse and post nearly every story (or it sometimes seems that way), but most of us come and go, sometimes days, months, and even years between appearances. However, when we do return, we find v

  • Pointless (Score:4, Insightful)

    by kaos07 (1113443) on Friday December 14, 2007 @07:47PM (#21704064)

    The article could be summarised as so:

    People leave guilds.

    More people leave guilds.

    No one is left in guild.

    Guild dies.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      The article could be summarised as:

      People leave guilds. -> More people leave guilds. -> No one is left in guild. -> Guild dies.


      I dunno, this is actually pretty interesting. I think it's the first time I've heard of this subject being formally studied...and as a big MMOG player I can use information like this.

      It would be nice to see others doing studies like these.
      • by OECD (639690)

        People leave guilds. -> More people leave guilds. -> No one is left in guild. -> Guild dies.

        Counter-example: People join guild. -> Guild can has success -> More people join guild. -> Guild p0wnz.

        Discuss.

    • Re:Pointless (Score:5, Informative)

      by gnarlyhotep (872433) on Friday December 14, 2007 @07:58PM (#21704160)
      Indeed, the summary paints a glowing portrait of an article which does not exist. Nothing is explored, and there's certainly nothing even remotely relating the pseudo-scientific terms of "probility curve" within the article itself.

      It all breaks down to a statement of the events which occurred, without any actual insights into the particular motivations (there's some pure speculation, but no actual information).

      Cultures of success breaking down when encountering failure is nothing new, and doesn't need vague exploration. Actual exploration of the problem, with statistical models to help understand and, possibly, predict the curve would be helpful. Too bad this article offers none of that.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Psychotria (953670)
        Couldn't have said it better myself. I was hoping that the article was a scientific analysis, but I don't care about "guilds" or MySpace. If the article had substance it would be useful. From a corporate point of view being able to predict the things that the summary alludes to would be important (not that I care too much for corporations, but it interests me). The inverse would be where there is growth and, again, if TFA had substance, this could have been explored if there was any real statistical substan
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by ShieldW0lf (601553)
          There wasn't any substance in the Guilds either. The decision to stay or go is a triviality because it's nothing but mindless entertainment that achieves nothing. So, conclusions from this study wouldn't really mean anything anyways.

          Kind of a waste of time if you ask me. Don't they have anything better to do? If they don't, their education was a waste of time.
          • by DeadChobi (740395)
            What if the statistical information taken from EVE can be applied to a real-world group of some sort?
    • The article could be summarised as so:
      It's an application of catastrophe theory. It applies to many things, explains why change rarely happens slowly. Games like EVE allow sociologists to watch what causes the change...

      Or ... it's just "people leave guilds".

      Life, as shallow as you like.

       
      • by imsabbel (611519)
        No, you are just putting to much into that story.
        Its just a single case of a dying alliance presented there.
        And even that case doesnt give an point towards some kind of "failure cascade".
        It just tells that if one corp is losing battles, its getting weaker, and thus likely to lose more battles if it doesnt stop. Somebody call captain obvious...
    • You forgot the step: People leave the game.

      I know I lost interest in EVE after the corp I was in dissolved. I canceled my account about two months after the corp crashed.
  • by Technician (215283) on Friday December 14, 2007 @07:49PM (#21704078)
    I wonder if the RIAA and MPAA will figure out that DRM and huge lawsuits with huge awards simply results in a cascading decline of their products as customers become upset and leave.
  • by ettusyphax (1155197) on Friday December 14, 2007 @07:49PM (#21704082)
    I never thought I'd see a failure cascade, let alone create one!
  • Unless you're talking about being able to predict the rate of failure reliably, what's the point? I don't think that's possible because you'd need to be able to predict specific events that lead to a significant improvement or drop in quality.

    Associations, cultures, empires all come and go. That's not something that's new or poorly understood. People have been applying empirical measures of success to all of the above for quite some time.

  • by DECS (891519) on Friday December 14, 2007 @07:54PM (#21704126) Homepage Journal
    I feel so topical and current! I just wrote the same thing about Microsoft, detailing the spiral pattern affecting the company's entire consumer product lineup, from Zune to Windows to Office to Xbox to WinCE/Windows Mobile. Will the last person left please turn off the lights?

    Soviet Microsoft: How Resistance to Free Markets and Open Ideas Will the Unravel the Software Superpower [roughlydrafted.com]

    Somewhat ironically, one of the most financially successful capitalist companies of the 90s has positioned itself as a modern counterpart to the old communist Soviet Union. Microsoft's ideological contempt for and resistance to free markets and the open expression and propagation of fresh ideas and technologies is not only a close parallel of the old USSR, but also a clear reflection of why Microsoft is currently failing and why its troubles have only just begun. Here's a comprehensive look at why this is the case.
    • Awaiting moderation in 5... 4... 3... 2... 1... And you're outta here!
    • Uh, a roughlydrafted.com article? Hmmm, there's absolutely no MS bias, no siree.
      • by DECS (891519) on Friday December 14, 2007 @09:17PM (#21704642) Homepage Journal
        The problem is that reality is biased against Microsoft as well.

        Take your pic on the data you'd like to take issue with: slagging sales, stock market indifference, consumer market share in any product that has any competition, consumer perception, forward looking sales projections, historical inability to ship, outrageous inability to make money on any product not supported by a monopoly position.

        And please, drop an occasional detail why you think I'm wrong. All this weak ad hominem criticism just makes me more likely to get sloppy. I really need the competition, just like Microsoft.

        Apple TV Digital Disruption at Work: iTunes Takes 91% of Video Download Market [roughlydrafted.com]

        This quarter's NPD report on video downloads flies in the face of claims made by certain analysts claiming to have the answers required to turn around the supposed "failure" of Apple TV. Echoing his earlier claims that iTunes faced a dire future, Forrester Research's James McQuivey recently took Apple TV to task, fretting that his guesstimate of sales didn't match his earlier sales prediction. Based on McQuivey's guesswork, Silicon Alley Insider's Dan Frommer offered suggestions for "fixing" it.
        While it has become fashionable to mimic the complaints of others when talking about Apple TV, the more shocking reality is that the product is actually working as intended to strengthen Apple's plans for the digital disruption of television. Here's why.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by quanticle (843097)

          Take your pic on the data you'd like to take issue with: slagging sales, stock market indifference, consumer market share in any product that has any competition, consumer perception, forward looking sales projections, historical inability to ship, outrageous inability to make money on any product not supported by a monopoly position.

          I agree with all of the above points, save two: lagging sales and stock market indifference. If you look at sales of personal computers, you'll see that Vista is taking hold despite all of the negative attention that it has attracted. Simply put, the mainstream media haven't covered the disadvantages of Vista to nearly the same extent as the tech press, with the result that consumers are largely uninformed. Those banner ads saying "Dell recommends Windows Vista" work, because consumers by and large don

        • So, I give your article a readthrough, and I have to take issue with some parts of your analysis (I am sticking to the Xbox comparison, because that's where I have something of a clue):

          You write: "The PS3 has sold better out of the gate than the PS2 did in its first year (PS2: 6m in 1 year; PS3 6m in ~5 months)."

          - The PS3 didn't sell 6 million in 5 months - they shipped 6 million from factories in the first 5 months. Sony have now shifted to the more conservative "shipped to retailers" estimate. (The same t
        • And please, drop an occasional detail why you think I'm wrong. All this weak ad hominem criticism just makes me more likely to get sloppy. I really need the competition, just like Microsoft.

          Weak ad hominem? Please. Just look at the images on the site: here [roughlydrafted.com], here [roughlydrafted.com] among others. Also most of the site paints MS in a bad light no matter what they do and paints Apple in a good light no matter what they do. I mean, where are the articles critical of Apple? Not faux critical, but really critical?

          • by DECS (891519)
            Removing "no matter what they do" allows your comment to approach being accurate, but without that phrase, it no longer serves any purpose. What exactly is Microsoft doing right? Is crying about satirical artwork the best you can do?

            Objective criticism isn't the presentation of equal numbers of pros and cons when comparing two things. You've just been brainwashed into thinking its polite. Comparing a failure with a success isn't bound to be flattering.

            Should Apple TV Copy Tivo and Media Center? [roughlydrafted.com]

            With Apple ho
    • by quanticle (843097)
      To be quite honest, that was one of the most poorly written rants I've seen in a while. What was that essay about, the imminent failure of Microsoft, the downfall of hippie culture, or the downfall of Marxism/Leninism? There's three different threads of thought in that article, and not enough has been done to draw them together or draw parallels between them.
      • by LarsG (31008)
        That article is about par for the course for roughlydrafted. To keep your sanity, add the following to your userContent.css:

        A[HREF*="roughlydrafted.com"]:after { content: " [IDIOT WARNING]"!important ; color: red }
    • by RobBebop (947356)

      "In Soviet Microsoft, gates control the commerce."

      It fits... it really fits. How appropriate.

      Ref: This post [slashdot.org]

  • Political Parties (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Doc Ruby (173196) on Friday December 14, 2007 @07:55PM (#21704130) Homepage Journal
    What happens when Republicans lose the White House in 2008? As a brand [rasmussenreports.com], Democrats didn't decline in popularity after their 2004 defeat (or after 2000). But Republicans did decline after their 2006 losses - though they'd started after their 2004 victories, and regained some shortly after the 2006 upsets. Maybe political parties act different.
    • Poker is a fair game, unless one person in the group is able to count cards. Maybe polical parties can "count cards" while we all play on ignorantly.
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by MBraynard (653724)
        There are 52 cards. Give me your money.
      • by jtev (133871)
        Most card games are fair. And if you don't know what the probablities are of what you can get with your hand and you're playing poker, you're a fucking idiot, and deserve to lose your money. Also, in every poker game I've played, the deck is shuffled after each hand, but if it isn't, then you might have a point. If it is, the probabilites are there, knowing the game isn't cheating.
      • by Nossie (753694)
        sadly, I do not think that is too far from the truth. :-|
    • Maybe because their politics at CCC in Indonesia [unfccc.int][1] is dooming us all. [sciam.com]

      [1]not the other one [www.ccc.de]
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by fm6 (162816)
      Well, if "Democrat" is a brand, then its fatal moment came a long time ago, when Ronald Reagan ridiculed their core ideologies into political oblivion. And thus founded the politics of Nya Nya Na Nya Nya, probably his biggest contribution to posterity.

      But if the Democratic brand is defunct, how is it that the DP has been in and out of power since then? Because not everything is about brands. When people go to the polls they vote for a person, not a party. Thus the Demos held on to the House of Representativ
      • by Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) on Friday December 14, 2007 @09:44PM (#21704788) Journal
        I'd say that 2006 was a combination of the dislike for the republicans as a party and as individuals. Many of the incumbants that lost were voted in during the 94 republican revolution when they all said they wanted smaller government, less pork,more accountability and term limits. In 2006 these idiots record was one of bridges to nowhere, huge deficits, major ethical lapses, and never left office when they said they would. Also, people didn't much care for the Iraq war. Politicians are like diapers, you really should change them often. I wish they would have been able to get some term limits written into the law books. We'd be a better country without the 50 years of strom thrumand or 30+ of Ted Kennedy.
        • by Darby (84953)

          Many of the incumbants that lost were voted in during the 94 republican revolution when they all said they wanted smaller government, less pork,more accountability and term limits. In 2006 these idiots record was one of bridges to nowhere, huge deficits, major ethical lapses, and never left office when they said they would.

          All that says it that those people were idiots. The Republicans have been savagely opposed to all of those things since at least the election of that fascist, terrorist supporting, cra

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Xonstantine (947614)

          In 2006 these idiots record was one of ...and never left office when they said they would
          Some of them actually did leave office when they said they would, but you can't exactly vote THEM out of office now can you?
      • by Darby (84953)

        People who voted party line didn't vote for the Democrats, they voted against the Republicans. Not because they didn't believe in the politics of the GOP anymore, but because they felt the need to send a nasty message


        What are you proposing their "nasty message" was regarding? Their fascist politics is all they stand for, so what totally foreign thing do you think the message was in reference to?!?

        • Fascist? I don't think that word means what you think it means. Hyperbole much?
          • by Darby (84953) on Saturday December 15, 2007 @03:39AM (#21706502)

            Fascist? I don't think that word means what you think it means. Hyperbole much?


            Actually, I know exactly what that word means, and there is no hyperbole whatsoever.

            It's the merger of state and corporate power according to, you know, the guy who invented the freaking word.

            So you might not think that it means what it means, but that's only your ignorance showing.

            So, when we have a system where corporations write our laws and then bribe our representatives to pass them, then it's pretty hard, no impossible, to argue that this isn't fascism.

            Heck, just spend a little bit of time researching the history and you'll see that we're the direct ideological descendants of the Nazis.

            You know, don't you, that a huge chunk of American industrialists absofuckinglutely adored Hitler, right? You know Henry Ford received a medal from Hitler due to his militantly anti-Jew hate screeds, right? In fact Hitler credits him with helping him conceive the holocaust, right?

            I mean damn, our current sitting President's grandfather was an avid supporter of Hitler *while we were at war with him* and barely avoided execution for treason over it. Add in the Republican party's 60 year all out war on anything remotely leftist leaving us with nothing but the extreme right, you know, fascism as their platform. You do know that extremist anti communism was the genesis of Nazism, right?

            Then look at Bush's original cabinet. You do know who Wolfowitz got his PhD with, right? The primary proponent of Nazi philosophy, especially "the big lie".

            Seriously, dude, when you know shit fuck all about a topic, you might consider just shutting the fuck up instead of demonstrating yourself to be an ignorant fool.

    • by pfafrich (647460)
      But this is not an example of a failure cascade, because the decline is non critical, drops will eventually flatten out. Here we see more sinusoidal fluctuations. Indeed it would be unlikely to see a failure cascade for either of the two main parties as both have very solid core supporters. A smaller party would be more likely to see a failure cascade, here success in getting vote share would become more important strong positive feedback when votes are incressing but when the votes start to drop the feedba
  • We have formed a player association (the equivalent of guild in star wars galaxies) in 2003, just 1.5 month into the game.

    despite it starting up with only 2 members in rebel side, and many mishaps and failures, went on to grow to 120 members (a major number for the bigges server in the game) and established one of the biggest player cities on the server. the group still continues today by hopping from game to game.

    the idea is that it was a democratic pa with a solid constitution after the fashion of t
    • by NialScorva (213763) on Friday December 14, 2007 @09:17PM (#21704644)
      It's interesting that in EvE, the most vulnerable alliances are the ones that are most democratic.

      The article is a really horrible description of what happened. The goons launched a combination of raw propoganda as well as propoganda targetted to specific events. Defeats for the goons were absorbed and made part of the culture. Wins were beaten into the ground as a failing on the part of the enemy. An impressive spy and saboture network was fully exploited in terms of economic and military assistance, as well as in the propoganda.

      "Failure Cascade" was a term coined by The Mittani, the leader of the Goon Intelligence Agency (GIA). It seems to apply mostly to the application of public opinion and propoganda to widen rifts and blame games within an enemy organization. If the logistics people make a mistake, any military victories are met with comments on the pointlessness of fighting when the territory-holding infrastructure won't hold. Same thing applies to military losses in the face of stout infrastructure. Pretty soon the fighters and logisticians are distrustful and burnt out, not trusting the others to do their jobs.

      Enemy command structures are infiltrated and often the goon populace knows as much or more about internal workings as the rank and file members. After the fighters begin got get more confirmed leaks from their leadership on public boards than they do on private boards, a rift is formed and further exploited. At some point, these rifts become self sustaining -- a "failure cascade". It's not unrecoverable.

      Democratic alliances are more vulnerable because there are more rifts. People bring up and participate and lose in the democratic process, causing a LOT of "I told you so"s and "If you'd only gone my way..." to exploit. An alliance with ideals presents a target for showing hypocracy within the leadership. The best defense seems to be playing in a largely amoral, berserker-don't-give-a-damn-about-loses style.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        Considering that I first heard the term "failure cascade" at least as early 1995, it seems unlikely that the term was first coined by someone playing a game that was introduced in 2003. I am pretty sure the term is older than that. The term is based on cascade failures of electrical systems which is a concept that goes back to at least 1965. I would guess that the term was first applied to organizations in the 1970's by one of the many management consultants or motivational speakers who made a name for them
  • When the internet gaming wasn't mainstream yet, there were alot of people theorizing in EDGE about how game play can work when anyone can just disconnect at anytime. This is basically the same thing just at a massive scale what happens if key persons in your web of trust[1] just leaves, or if things get boring.

    So the question is what keeps people go, from my own experience nationality is very important, and web site communities. But that's all in the article too.. ;-)

    [1] miss use of buzz words bingo
    • Re:I remember... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Penguinisto (415985) on Friday December 14, 2007 @08:25PM (#21704372) Journal
      Sometimes friendship.

      It wasn't a clan per se, but there was once a group of players I regularly hung out with when the ex was at work (I had no real responsibilities back then, and it beat hitting the bars with the buddies). Everyone would hit a Quake 2 WF server in the wee hours, hang out in observation mode, chat, and play... it was like hanging out with friends at a public pool - you blather on w/ each other a lot, and occasionally jump in the pool and goof off - with the added dimension of giving each other a ration of shit when they were playing and did something dumb (which we would all laugh our asses off at - including the one who goofed).

      It wasn't about scores, or standings - most of us in there were fairly solid players who could easily hold our own on nearly any public server (lag permitting). It was about hanging out in something that was new and unfamiliar to most of us in there. It was about a female player (she lived in Utah) blurting poetry in rhythmic time to the goofball sounds that would come out of the screen. It was about telling dirty jokes to distract a flag runner while he was trying to hold off three pursuing defenders. It was about seeing who could stick a sentry gun in the most weird-assed place on a map (you could get them to 'stick' to ceilings if you knew how), or getting a flag without ever touching the ground (or flying - grapple only, please). It was about seeing who could make a flag run as the weakest character, with only that shitty no-damage blaster, and with no help doing it... and everyone (including the defending players) cheering like mad when someone pulled it off.

      It's things like that you simply cannot fully analyze, but its things like that which are vital to making and keeping a coherent group of players involved and happy.

      /P

      • by kryten_nl (863119)

        ... there was once a group of players I regularly hung out with when the ex was at work (...) Everyone would hit a Quake 2 WF server in the wee hours,


        If you still have doubts as to why that relationship ended, I might have a few pointers for you. ;)
        • Nah - she was a nurse who worked graveyards a lot... so it left me @ home alone... a lot. Playing Quake/WF kept me out of trouble, kept my brain occupied, and when she was home, I simply didn't go online.

          /P

  • The MC (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jpedlow (1154099) on Friday December 14, 2007 @08:05PM (#21704224)
    Mercenary Coalition: "If you cant play with us for 16 hours a day, you're kicked out." I played in eve for 3 years (since beta 6 for those keeping score) and went with the same group of people from failed corp to failed corp, alliances that rose and broke (the OLLDDD Stain Alliance, before the MC existed) and the into the MC which had its own people who left (TC), the problem is that its hard to draw a solid line between "hardcore" gaming for people who have the time to do so, and "casual" gaming for people who play when they have time to do so and want to do so. That being said, both mindsets usually collide at some point and the "hardcore" people go one way, and the "casuals" go the other. You keep seeing these splits as peoples lives/jobs/relationships change. Some group that is good for several years will all of the sudden change when for example, someone gets a new job, or a leader almost loses his family, or school. That being said, it will probably always keep happening. History repeats.
  • I used to describe the discovery, advent, blowoff, collapse, rebirth (elsewhere) of online communities (from BBS forward) as the Online Cycle of Life, or similar phrases that indicate cycles...It looks like Failure Cascade would cover the blowoff/collapse phases. This would apply to just about any socially-oriented group nowadays, whether we're talking websites (/., Fazed.net, etc.) or MMO groups (as mentioned in the article).

    I figure, it's at least a matter of group basis (what is everyone doing/coming he

  • I disagree. Social networking tools aren't within a competitive environment, where a collective can "attack" and "disband". People can subscribe to multiple, and often do. For the most part, social networking sites are slipping from the "ease of contacting friends afar" to the "amass a myriad channels to communicate". We will arrive at saturation quite quickly I believe. Face-To-Face, hand-passed-notes, letter-through-post writing, telephone calls, cell phone, voice-chat, text-chat, email, Foru
  • by Penguinisto (415985) on Friday December 14, 2007 @08:14PM (#21704294) Journal
    I saw a lot of clans in Quake 1/2/3 (and weapons factory for 2&#) rise and fall much the same way. It's cool that it has been articulated, though.

    The 'culture of success' is no simple analogy, and can have adverse effects as well. There was a Weapons Factory clan that was founded on success at all costs (they went by the symbol "$"), and they managed to claw their way to the top (mostly through questionable and 'slight' game modifications that weren't exactly botting, but weren't exactly fair play, either - e.g. setting the client binds so that a normally silent cloaked spy player would have nice, loud footsteps to the defending player's ears... meaning they're much easier to locate. Just one of a mountain of examples).

    This eventually killed off the entire MOD... folks didn't want to have to deal with outright cheaters (not bot-users, just cheaters), so the clans died off one by one, since most of them were only in it for the fun. Once the clans left, the cascade took down a lot of public servers with it (it didn't help that the Quake 3 MOD's main coder eventually became a member of that same clan, and actively implemented changes as suggested by same...) It had been bad enough that the shift from Quake 2 to Quake 3 had done quite a bit of damage to the MOD's player base, but the clan's modus operandi were eventually too much for the community - they still survive as a small shadow group, and occasionally play on a part-time server. Compared to the days when literally thousands of players could be found on hundreds of servers? Just a faint shadow.

    Nowadays, most games are fairly cheat and bot-proof (I said fairly, not mostly or certainly). But the same dynamics are at play - a clan/guild/whatever that makes success their only goal will invariably attract the kinds of players you don't want on any server/world/etc, and tends to ruin the gameplay for everyone else while they're at it. While yes they do set themselves up for failure more readily than those who form just for fun, they also tend to start getting desperate when normal gameplay doesn't offer them the success they need to stay alive. This means they may start looking at 'alternatives' to try and keep the mojo going.

    IMHO, the best organizations are those who simply do it for fun, and have a cadre of players who are really into the game. Again at the Weapons Factory example, the Quake2 version had a clan that were the friendliest and most respected guys in town... Population Control Incorporated (PCI). These guys had ISDN connections when the vast majority of players were on modems, but they always played fair, and the matches (at that time) were tightly regulated and fair. The funny thing is, this particular clan did it just for the fun of it. They'd go out of their way to mentor new players on a public server, and to make it fun for the whole pile playing (for instance, if more than one were playing on the same public server and it was full of unknowns or newbies, they'd automatically split themselves among the two teams). They were a stand-up group of people, and it showed in their playing style. It's still a pity they disbanded during the Quake 2/3 shift, but as they themselves said - they held the top slot for too long, many members got burned out from playing the game for literally years, and they pretty much came together and decided that it was time. Most stayed played on for fun (but never joined a clan again) in the Quake 2 version with the occasional fun meet-up matches, until the Q2 version of the MOD finally died a quiet death around 2002 or so... 3 years after Quake 3 came out.

    I believe that all organizations begin, they (might) rise, and they (certainly) fall. Some do it short, some take awhile. Some end by mutual agreement. Most are benign, some are poisonous. A precious few even shift from one game to another together.

    It's a complex dynamic in any organization, but I kinda like how TFA articulated at least one aspect of it...

    /P

  • by xPsi (851544) * on Friday December 14, 2007 @08:18PM (#21704322)
    The mathematical study of this process could be potentially quite interesting, analogous to the study of critical points and phase transitions in statistical physics. By systematically studying the rise and decline of stable structures in online communities like guilds it could give some insight into a real life version of psychohistory. Indeed, these online groups are microcosms for the real world, but where certain parameters could be controlled and studied. Unfortunately, this article has nothing to do with that and simply seems to be a personal lament about how sometimes online guilds fall apart. It is a bummer for many-a-gamer, but not exactly groundbreaking stuff here.
    • I've sometimes thought of trying to model aggregate human behavior as a collection of gas molecules in containers, or as harmonic oscillators. Think of eg. masses of people trying to move as viscous fluids, or of the stock market as driven by a vast number of superimposed oscillators.

      Oh, and +1 for the Foundation reference.
      • Why don't you try it?

        Although, I suspect that if it's something you can do with built-in Matlab functions on the vast readily available financial data (you can get historical data in CSV from yahoo, google, et. all for free last I checked. I'm not sure about intraday though) that there are plenty of firms already doing it and it's already priced-in.
  • by DdJ (10790) on Friday December 14, 2007 @08:33PM (#21704402) Homepage Journal
    Okay, does anyone else think <The Failure Cascade> would be an awesome guild name?
  • Wikipedia? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CowardX10 (521665) on Friday December 14, 2007 @08:34PM (#21704404)
    I think Wikipedia is a prominent example of this. Assholes(deletionists) are driving away the people who made it great in the first place(content creators) with their elitism and petty power grabs. And now, Wikimedia is only able to achieve 1/4 of their fundraising goal [wikimedia.org] because a lot of the content creators were probably money contributors as well.

    Congratulations asshole deletionists. You may finally achieve the ultimate deletion-the entire encyclopedia.
    • Wikipedia sucks for other reasons
      - refusal to acknowledge certain facts, such as popular musicians (Mehdi) even though they are established (he has an 8 volume CD set out!)
      - bone-headed policies of not allowing trivia. One man's dis-interest is another man's interest!
      - censoring criticism, i.e. WOW, etc.
    • While I agree, I must say that Wikimedia Foundation has set its goal as 3 Million USD, while earlier it was only 1 Million USD. It is natural for ratios to be skewed.

      Not a Wiki-fanboi here.
    • by imsabbel (611519)
      Sorry, the people that get articles created nowadays arent creators.
      Most of them are just self-serving wankers, add-shills and crackpots that are better off gone.
  • by SlappyBastard (961143) on Friday December 14, 2007 @08:44PM (#21704474) Homepage
    Watch highly touted stocks when they hit a wall. A lot of stocks are bouyed by the push to love them and nothing else. Once the push stops, the bottom falls out.
    • by FLEB (312391)
      It makes sense, though. Reactionary idiots (buy/sell) the stock because it looks like it's going to [skyrocket/tank]. Smart people do as well because they know the effect that reactionary idiots can have on the price, and that someone will be left [out in the cold/holding the bag] when the mass of idiotry drives the costs and returns [up/down]. Basically, everybody's fighting to steer the same boat, so nobody has the individual power to take it anywhere but where everyone else is pushing.
      • I don't mean just in terms of the rational/irrational market. Also I mean in terms of the fact that stocks aren't dissimilar from MMORPGs in that a core of people recruit new buyers, and once the success gives out they fall apart along similar lines.

  • kind of applies to a lot of groups.
  • by gelfling (6534) on Friday December 14, 2007 @09:28PM (#21704688) Homepage Journal
    People just get tired of them and when a few most vocal persons leave or are kicked out everyone else leaves too. Woow.
  • The idea that membership will generally grow or decline in spurts is nothing new. While this subject could be grounds for an interesting analysis in the context of an MMO social organization and how it affects the community of a specific game, but when no specific examples are given with supporting data, why exactly would someone write an article, or more importantly, why would anyone want to read it? The Escapist has long suffered from filler articles, written by people who claim to be game designers, bu
  • by michaelmalak (91262) <michael@michaelmalak.com> on Friday December 14, 2007 @10:06PM (#21704946) Homepage
    I've had the pleasure of working on two "dream teams" in my career -- not really just software development teams, but entire organizations including management and marketing. Both eventually collapsed. In both cases, team members gained a lot of experience and were ripe to move out anyway, but hung on to the team longer than if there were no sense of belonging. Then, some catalyst enters from the outside. It's just as the article describes: The catalyst causes one person to leave, and then another person leaves because the team isn't as valuable anymore, and then everyone leaves because the team isn't worth anything anymore.

    In one case, the catalyst was the company being sold. In the other case, it was near-criminal behavior of a newly added team member.

  • by dada21 (163177) <adam.dada@gmail.com> on Friday December 14, 2007 @10:31PM (#21705128) Homepage Journal
    I've seen this often in real life, going back as far as 21 years ago.

    Personally, I'm a risk-taker, but not a long term responsible individual. My failures in business or projects have generally come from a lack of finding responsible people who can carry the long term needs after the risk I take starts earnings its rewards. I ran a succssful BBS 2 decades ago, and I saw many failures due to there being a risk taker who took off, leaving the responsible ones with no "leader."

    I think the same is true in social groups, although maybe it isn't the factor of having a risk-taker, but having a natural leader who others look to for support even if it is purely "spiritual" in nature.

    I run a not-for-profit that works with hundreds of churches, and I see the same thing. The leader leaves, retires, dies, whatever: the church falls apart. Recently a large client of mine went under after 25 years of being in business. The boss left, leaving his responsible managers but no leader/risk-taker.

    There's nothing to see here. These are proven truths over millenia that have surfaced in every area of life: politics, businesses, faiths, even families. If there isn't a new leader to move the group in a direction away from complacency, the group will fail. Sometimes a responsible individual finds a natural tendency to lead/take new risks in new directions, but I'm not sure its a matter of nurturing those skills. I do believe firmly that there is a natural propensity to either being responsible, or being risky. A very rare few have both talents, although I personally have never met anyone like that. It's either one or the other, generally.

    The majority, though, seem to have neither. They want to follow in hopes that some day they will lead, but in the end they're driven to neither. They follow long enough until it is obvious that they'll never lead (because they don't push to become an obvious leader/risk-taker), so they fall away from the project. In this case, though, I don't see many failures, because a natural leader has a tendency to attract others to the project. When that risk taker gets bored, runs out of money, or gets caught up in something else, the project fails.

    Every project I've worked on that has failed has been my fault, and no one else's. Usually it boiled down to getting bored, but sometimes it was pure irresponsibility. Sometimes it was a lack of trusting another person to take over for me, at which point I put too much burden on the future leader, and they left. Life lessons.
  • Sounds like a failing startup to me.
  • by Solra Bizna (716281) on Saturday December 15, 2007 @03:09AM (#21706402) Homepage Journal

    My VO guild is still alive. Probably. I haven't actually logged in for over six months...

    -:sigma.SB

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