I've been an avid reader and poster on GamesIndustry.biz for a good few years now but recent changes are pushing me away from the site.
First off the site content has slowly become more tabloid in nature since their joining with a US-based entity - I have forgotten the site name at the moment! It's generally not so bad and I wasn't planning on stopping being involved with the community there but today or maybe yesterday they made one further change: even though I have an account with them I am no longer able to post comments on articles.
Now, it's not like the site in question hasn't gone through some changes over the last few years. Originally you could track the posts you have participated in - which was really useful when continuing conversations with other developers on the site - but got rid of that feature right around the time they merged with the US site.
Then they blocked all pages from people without an account. They rescinded that choice once I'm sure they saw their relevance and page views death-spiral off a cliff! GI.biz then implemented a commenting rating system with "stars" which people could click on to show they liked a post (I had quite a few starred posts).
Now, finally, they're reducing the conversation to only those with "verified" accounts. Whatever that means! I mean, if I'm a freelancer - which I am - how do I verify myself? Why is my account - that was presumably in good standing - no longer verified?
The other thing that really hurts the site is that now there is no critical feedback from smaller devs or people interested in the community. It creates a walled garden composed of mostly like-minded people who echo their opinions on whatever topics are brought into view by the site itself. This is a bad thing for GI.biz and for the games industry in general.
Yes, there may be a feeling that having "outsiders" (who don't know what they're talking about!) devalues the conversation or that they have no reason or need to be there but those outside views are very important to retain balance within the industry - within any industry. It is vital to the health of any industry that they allow conversations between both those within and without otherwise mindsets will tend to stagnate and people lose touch with those of differing opinions. Like it or not, differing opinions help us challenge and grow - even if those opinions are not correct, they make us analyse the paths we are travelling on.
Hopefully, this will be another move that is rescinded or at least easily passed as I enjoyed the conversations that popped up on there from time to time. I will update here with how the "verification process" goes.
It appears I've been "reinstated". No communication, no nothing. I'm not a fan of these sorts of things in the first place - it's really bad in a general business sense (from experience in my current sphere of work) but also terrible from a user perspective. No reason is given - yet you somehow manage to flail through the system regardless...
I received an email from James Grant (Commercial & HR Manager) explaining the decision:
Specifically, with your recent experience of re-entering the verification process, we simply wanted to get away from very generic professions on profiles.
This is fair enough and I can understand their wanting to do this - even if I disagree with them on what effect it can have on the commentary and discussions within a site. However, effectively locking a person's account to do so really did give a poor user experience which may have been better served through a user form or survey.