The Merger Initiative: One Year Later

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The Merger Initiative: One Year Later

Post by WheelchairNinja on Fri Jun 12, 2015 11:10 pm

So today marks the first anniversary of the merger of The Mary Sue and Geekosystem. I'm curious: how does you opinion now compare to your thoughts when you first heard the news?

I'll admit, when I saw that the site was changed so drastically I was discouraged. I was worried that TMS would lose its focus as "a guide to geek girl culture" and become just another nerdy news site. The thought of bringing in a bunch of new editors (who outnumbered the pre-merger team) felt like the site would loose the feeling of a tight-knit community. And as a designer, I was disappointed by the bland, corporate-looking new layout.

But now I know that my fears were baseless. Just like they said in the intro video, the merger allowed TMS to produce more content--easily double the number of articles per day--without a loss of quality. The site's focus hasn't changed a bit, even after all but one of the "original" editors has left. The comment community has grown but is still one of the safest places on the internet thanks to the editors' amazing mod skills. And it is nice to have an interface that works on a mobile platform, even if I like the look of the old layout better.
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Re: The Merger Initiative: One Year Later

Post by Ciella on Sat Jun 13, 2015 7:04 am

Overall I'm not put out by the changes. But there are a few little things I've noticed that bug me, but I understand why they were done. The big one is the ads. I'm sad to say that I installed adblock specifically because of TMS. I never felt a need for it before, but it was either that or stop going. My home computer's pretty old, and it could easily take minutes to load TMS with all the ads. That is, when it didn't crash my browser.

My other concern is related. I tend to not trust their reviews too much anymore. Some are fine, but others feel sponsored. And considering they turn their whole site into an ad for some of the things they review, it's pretty easy to believe.

Otherwise, they still have fantastic articles and a great community. The changes haven't changed those core things, so I'm able to forgive them Wink
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Re: The Merger Initiative: One Year Later

Post by aesta on Sat Jun 13, 2015 8:58 am

My main complaint is that there are so many articles now, it's hard for me to keep up! Razz Basically I think everything is awesome, & I love the TMS community so much, but I'm gonna spend an inordinate amount of space below critiquing a bit, because I'm thinking thinky thoughts about things! My feelings are overwhelmingly positive. Very Happy

The ads are kind of gross. I have to adblock as well. If ads are negatively impacting the user's experience - or in some cases, preventing them from having that experience at all - then they aren't doing their job. I like how The Toast runs things: If the ad's content is offensive, or if it makes for an annoying/prohibitive user experience, then they take them down or switch 'em out. The Toast is also independent & takes donations, though, so it's a very different situation. Still think there might be a better way for TMS to handle 'em.

& the sponsored content crosses a weird ethical line, for me. I've seen some sponsored articles on Buzzfeed & Mental Floss that I felt okay about, which prominently proclaimed that it was sponsored & who sponsored it. The article was then... still an article! Still written by a staff writer! Still content that you would normally see on those sites - just paid for by someone else! So something like this: a post on Mental Floss sponsored by ABC, at the bottom you get a line about the new Muppet show airing on ABC this fall, & the content of the article is still Mental Floss content, like 10 Weird Facts About Jim Henson or whatever - sort of tangential but still relevant, instead of being a direct advertisement. The sponsored content I've seen on TMS reads more like a press release or longform ad than TMS content, & the fact that the Stitchers stuff was framed as a review was weird. Reviews shouldn't be sponsored. It's the difference between letting someone else pay you so that they can use a portion of your platform, and letting someone else pay you to focus your platform's attention on a certain topic, maybe? Thinky thoughts. Complicated. Sponsored content is weird.

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Re: The Merger Initiative: One Year Later

Post by Servilius Ahala on Sat Jun 13, 2015 10:01 am

aesta wrote:My main complaint is that there are so many articles now, it's hard for me to keep up!  Razz  

That's my main problem as well. On some days it can get kinda overwhelming. Also, too much Chris Pratt. I know he's popular right now, but featuring him on a feminist geek site on an almost daily basis seems a bit excessive (e.g., does him teaching his son the pledge of allegiance really deserve an article?). I'd rather that space be given to promoting talented actresses and other women in the film industry.

On the plus side, I've been enjoying a lot of the contributors' articles, and the community remains amazing. I have learned so much by reading the comments alone, and had many a good laugh watching all the skillful troll-fighting.
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Re: The Merger Initiative: One Year Later

Post by The Themysciran on Sat Jun 13, 2015 10:43 pm

I agree with everyone else. I think the biggest contention with the merger was with some of the antagonistic language used by one of the Geekosystem editors, but they didn't last long (and also I think the only person to leave TMS without a goodbye post).

Other than that, yeah, the ads and sponsored content are really annoying. I don't mind sponsored content for just letting us know about a thing, but a review I feel is reaaaaally pushing it.

The community however has only gotten better and better. I have to admit sometimes I skim and an article and jump down to the comments.
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Re: The Merger Initiative: One Year Later

Post by Servilius Ahala on Sun Jun 14, 2015 2:14 am

The Themysciran wrote:I have to admit sometimes I skim and an article and jump down to the comments.

Me too! TMS is the only place on the Internet where I do that.
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Re: The Merger Initiative: One Year Later

Post by Katherinethegrape on Sun Jun 14, 2015 6:13 am

Me three!

For the most part I didn't start really reading the site until after the merger, so I've never really noticed any changes. :/
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Re: The Merger Initiative: One Year Later

Post by GeorgeT on Sun Jun 14, 2015 2:07 pm

I'll admit to having been a little nervous when it was announced since I had seen some rather gross comments on a few Geeko articles and I worried more about merging the comment communities more than anything else, but I was also excited to bring Victoria and Sam into the fold since I'd been reading their stuff for a while anyway prior to the merger (and now they're both gone, womp womp sadface). And I'll agree too with the ninja about the design, it looked so... corporate? I understood the reasoning for the merger (even if they could never outright state it, the decision came from on high, I remember reading an article somewhere about Dan Abrams hyping up TMS that read to me like merging was his decision) but I'm glad the overall positives have outweighed the negs and it's still a great place.

As far as the sponsored stuff, I seem to recall them doing that all along, it's just with the old site design they were a LOT easier to spot. It doesn't bother me, they have to make money somehow since I too have ad-block. (*insert shrug emoji, why is there no shrug emoji here?*)
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Re: The Merger Initiative: One Year Later

Post by Vel Venturi on Mon Jun 15, 2015 5:20 pm

I was wary, especially after seeing some of the comments--I'm still not fond of van Winkle--but all in all, it's been better than I feared. I still feel it's a safe place to read and comment. I enjoy many of the articles. I do hate to see so many people leaving, and I hope we will be getting new, awesome folks on board. The forum mods are also very much appreciated!

I am glad to have found out about this forum, though, as I have always wished for a forum-type area on TMS. Glad to be here, thanks for making this!
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Re: The Merger Initiative: One Year Later

Post by raerae on Mon Jun 15, 2015 7:09 pm

I still don't like the site(it's hell on mobile, especially).

I'm still not fond of van Winkle either. There's also several articles with so little content, they could be put under Things We Saw Today.

But overall, they seem to be doing pretty well with being more inclusive, minus that one article about how Boxtrolls wasn't transphobic. I'll admit, the most value I get out of TMS is the comment section, though.
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Re: The Merger Initiative: One Year Later

Post by Jeff B on Mon Jun 15, 2015 8:04 pm

When the merger first happened I was quite worried and distraught. I had really come to enjoy both the content and especially the community. Also loved the banner (still miss it a lot) "A Guide To Geek-Girl Culture", as I thought it was sort of an automatic indicator that it was a safe-space and I felt comfortable knowing that people felt safe there.

With the merger, both before it happened and after, at least from what I remember, a couple of things happened that made me almost jump ship. And then in one case I did jump ship.

First, there was (I think) the AMA on reddit (which already had me worried because I only know reddit as "that place with MRAs"). During that I remember the new editors, like Glen Tickle and Dan Van Winkle, being VERY mansplainny, dismissive, and rude towards the concerns of TMS regulars. I forget if it was Mr. Tickle or Mr. Van Winkle who went all "poor me! I'm a straight white cis-man!" on twitter, and that had me worried.

Then for a while I remember there being an influx of trolls and people who I assume were regulars of Geekosystem. I remember feeling like comment sections were losing the tight-knit community feel I loved so much.

Then there were the more science-y articles that were...okay, but they didn't feel like they should be on TMS. They just seemed so random and out of place.

But the thing that made me leave was the Boxtrolls article. That was just...appalling...on so many levels. The article itself and the fallout to it (the whole thing on twitter with the writer of the article where she pulled the 'angry trans mob' thing which just...no) and the lack of an official apology got me incredibly angry and sad. What was this article doing on the site? Just...what? And then I found out that many transgender posters and regulars in the TMS community had been treated badly in the past, before this article was posted, and that was the last straw. I left and swore to never come back.

After a while I noticed that the site (which I kept visiting due to being addicted to the comment section; faith in humanity was restored by just reading that; it was therapeutic; these are all excuses/justifications though I suppose) seemed to be improving when it came to inclusivity, I decided to come back. The community also seemed less infested with trolls and the like and seemed to have a bit of that tight-knit feel again, at least from my outside perspective. Not to say that the inclusivity erased or forgave the Boxtrolls thing.  

I'm still upset about the Boxtrolls thing and haven't forgiven them for it, or forgotten about it, and I don't really care for Dan Van Winkle due to how he behaved during the whole merger. And some of the old Geekosystem articles are just...ew.

But other than that, I think the site is improving. I miss the old editors, and I hope at least a couple of the contributors will become full-time staff. That would be nice.

I'm so glad we have a place like this though. So thank you so much aesta for setting up this wonderful place!

Really appreciate it, and I'm sure others do too! Smile


Last edited by Jeff B on Wed Jun 17, 2015 5:16 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Re: The Merger Initiative: One Year Later

Post by Aeryl on Tue Jun 16, 2015 4:39 am

One concrete thing the site did after the Boxtrolls debacle, was make a concrete effort to promote more trans voices, like Marcy Cook.

I dislike that it was never addressed by the editorial staff, but I can see that they learned something from it.
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Re: The Merger Initiative: One Year Later

Post by raerae on Wed Jun 17, 2015 1:01 pm

Yeah, I left for a while after the boxtrolls thing. The only reason I came back was because I saw transgender contributors. I still haven't forgiven or forgotten that either. But the community is still my favorite part of TMS, so that's what I stay for.
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Re: The Merger Initiative: One Year Later

Post by Guest on Thu Jun 18, 2015 8:00 pm

Man, was it really a year ago? Time flies.

Like many, I had my concerns. I hadn't been visiting the site very long, a few months I think, when the merger happened, so it likely didn't affect me as much as it did many others. My biggest concern at the time was about the fate of the comment community.

I don't really comment much anywhere. Never like the obnoxious trolls that seem to lurk behind every online site, waiting to be a dick to anyone for no reason. TMS made me feel like I could be a part of the site, talk to people, and not have to put up with insults and stupidity. That was something I didn't want to lose.

Overall, though, it hasn't been too bad. It's still a great site I visit several times a day. I don't always comment as much as I did, but that's nothing to do with the community, just to my lack of free time lately. I had adblock in place already, so I never noticed the ads.

Do really miss the old editors that have moved on, but at least they moved upwards to brighter futures, instead of being replaced.

Still love TMS. It's the one website I visit daily, no matter what. Mostly cause of you all. I'm a sucker for a great comment community.

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Re: The Merger Initiative: One Year Later

Post by Ciella on Wed Jun 24, 2015 11:03 am

Hmmmm.... a store has appeared.

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Re: The Merger Initiative: One Year Later

Post by aesta on Thu Jun 25, 2015 4:28 pm

I'm confused about the store! From what I've read in comments, it is full of stuff TMS didn't pick out. So will it be more like a deal hub than an actual TMS store? o-o

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Re: The Merger Initiative: One Year Later

Post by Servilius Ahala on Thu Jun 25, 2015 8:55 pm

I just saw on Twitter Jill is leaving TMS next week. affraid
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Re: The Merger Initiative: One Year Later

Post by WheelchairNinja on Thu Jun 25, 2015 9:07 pm

Servilius Ahala wrote:I just saw on Twitter Jill is leaving TMS next week. affraid

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All of the fraks. ALL OF THEM!!!!!
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Re: The Merger Initiative: One Year Later

Post by Vel Venturi on Fri Jun 26, 2015 12:25 am

Well, dang. I hope all will continue in a good direction over there. Good that folks are moving on to new and exciting things, but I will miss the site as it is.
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Re: The Merger Initiative: One Year Later

Post by Laurelinde on Fri Jun 26, 2015 7:07 am

NOOOOOO NOT JILL TOO?? What are we gonna do without our Jill??

Is anyone still around from pre-merger? Just Dan? I'm trying to think, here.

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Re: The Merger Initiative: One Year Later

Post by Ciella on Fri Jun 26, 2015 1:51 pm

So I wasn't really sure how I felt about the store, considering it wasn't even TMS merchandise, just a "deals" page. But I know I really don't like ads for that deals page masquerading like articles [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]
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Re: The Merger Initiative: One Year Later

Post by aesta on Fri Jun 26, 2015 2:16 pm

So many changes! A a i i e e e, change! I hope Jill has an awesome vacation & gets a kickbutt job somewhere that pays her beaucoup bills. Very Happy

I also feel not great about that article/ad thing for the deals/store thing. I was kind of excited about the deals thing at first, because there were some pretty cool-looking packages for programming courses and such, but I read some reviews of the courses and they were not so good. So, I'm kind of wary of the merch in there, now. =~=

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Re: The Merger Initiative: One Year Later

Post by SassyTabby on Fri Jun 26, 2015 6:29 pm

Oh no, I didn't see Jill was leaving, too!! What the heck Sad

I'm not crazy about the store at all. Wouldn't The Mary Sue brand merchandise make more sense? And clearly labeling sponsored (okay, self-sponsored) content? I mean, it's pretty obvious with that narwhale one that it's basically an ad for themselves, but it seems like it could soon get murky with all of the other items the site points out from other places....
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Re: The Merger Initiative: One Year Later

Post by GeorgeT on Fri Jun 26, 2015 10:23 pm

Laurelinde wrote:Just Dan?
And Carolyn! But they're both from Geeko, pre-merger TMS staff is no-go with Jill's leaving Sad

Wait... I followed Jill to TMS, I don't have to leave when she does, do I? Shocked
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Re: The Merger Initiative: One Year Later

Post by Laurelinde on Sat Jun 27, 2015 7:11 am

SassyTabby wrote:Oh no, I didn't see Jill was leaving, too!! What the heck Sad

I'm not crazy about the store at all. Wouldn't The Mary Sue brand merchandise make more sense? And clearly labeling sponsored (okay, self-sponsored) content? I mean, it's pretty obvious with that narwhale one that it's basically an ad for themselves, but it seems like it could soon get murky with all of the other items the site points out from other places....

Yeah that's what I thought too - like a link to TMS branded stuff, like the We Love Fine shirts, would make more sense than what is kind of a random store. And ads masquerading as articles is kind of...tasteless, to me.

I wonder if this was a decision coming down from Abrams corporate? I don't really visit the other sites, have any of them had something similar come down?
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Re: The Merger Initiative: One Year Later

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