The Reader’s Survey Part 3: The Interviews- Natfka
In my opinion, this series has been my most successful. In terms of feedback, reader engagement, comments, emails and readership, this series has blown anything else I have done out of the water. The gaming community has really taken this series and run with it- be it responses directly to me, or increased engagement in the comments section, or other indicators, you have let us at House of Paincakes know that you found this series worth your time.
I’m really glad that I trusted my gut on this one, and followed through with getting all the responses compiled into data points that I could show you in charts or graphs. (I continue to get responses! From old customers to guys who play MtG, to guys in Brazil (!), the community has continued to offer their opinions and thoughts to me, and has been incredibly candid in doing so.) I have to think about what to do with the data that came in after I published my original breakdown, because I don’t want to waste it, but I don’t want to skew it either. This is definitely an ongoing project; and I really enjoy it.
I’ve learned that listening to the readers is smart, but I have to do it in a directed fashion. Just asking, “what do you want to read about” isn’t going to cut it. I have to give you choices, sort of like dealing with my kids. Only readers are a lot less intimidated if I frown at them than my kids are, haha.
My final interview is with Naftka of Faeit212. He’s the oldest out of the people I interviewed, and he’s been through a lot in his gaming and blogging history. I have to admit upfront that I’m not big on rumors (as an owner, it burns you more than it’s helpful) so I quite honestly had not heard of him or his site except in passing; and I had never taken the time to LOOK at it until I set out to interview him. I liked what I saw.
[My questions in italics, his questions in standard font.]
I asked my readers to mention a blog or blogger that they felt was most influential on the hobby (mostly meaning miniature modeling/painting/game playing) and your blog came up several times. That said, this poll was the first I had ever heard of you or your blog ( I live under a rock despite owning a game store and having been gaming for almost 30 years, I swear) so I apologize if the questions I ask are things that your regular readers “know”. The questions are new ones to me, and I hope we’ll find interesting things to talk about as we progress. I also tend to ask a LOT of questions up front, and then dig deeper or follow up once I get a sense of the replies.
Getting to know you-
When (what year, or as close as you can guess) did you start gaming?
I started gaming a long time ago, I suppose back in the mid 70’s (I’m making myself out to be old here). It started of course with chess and Risk, and later other board games like Axis and Allies. I was introduced to Warhammer 40k around 1998 at the onset of 3rd edition, and ended up with everyone’s Dark Eldar side of the starter sets. I still have untouched sprues of these warriors.
When did you start blogging?
March of 2010. I started a blog with the only purpose of helping out people that I was playing at the local gaming store. I was always being interrupted while playing to ask about this rule, or this list combination. I don’t mind this, but while I am playing its a little distracting. So I started the blog to put a lot of these questions I was getting weekly, into a format that friends could quickly access.
I have an incredible amount of respect for this. As my buddy SinSynn would say, “That’s da awesome!”
Was your blog always focused on the news/rumor side, or did it evolve over time?
No, in fact it was list oriented, and list building as I explained above. Really the first 9 months I spent on the blog was talking to myself mostly, but when suddenly Dark Eldar were next, I went nuts. I am by nature a news junkie to begin with, and before I was married, used to get my 16 hours of news a day (she has since cured me of some of that). My normal day consisted of CNN, Radio, and internet news, often all at the same time. I even worked with my radio headset on listening to NPR (national public radio news).
So it was quite natural that when my first army was going to get an update, I was on it. Every bit of news or rumors that popped up I had it, and posted. I was hooked. I was normally reading these things anyways, so it was not much of a stretch for me. After Dark Eldar came and went, I was posting up on each unit, and then just didn’t stop. The next days news was already here, and things just moved on from there.
I too am an information junkie. I normally read 3-5 newspapers a day, read CNN, MSN, Yahoo, etc, etc. If I could listen to the radio at work, I would!
What blog or blogger do you admire most?
I admire all the blogs that post up, regardless of who comes to their sites. There are so many of us in this community with great ideas and projects going at any given moment. Its the reason I do a Faeit 212 BlogExchange (exchanged links on a blog roll). For months I felt like I was blogging in some dark corner of the internet talking to myself. It often still feels like that, even though I know there are people coming to the site.
I can tell you (and you can see when Part 2 of the survey goes up) that you are NOT talking to yourself.
What I do not like, is when site or forums get personal with people, netragers are everywhere, I think they are the most detrimental part of this hobby right now. Forums are like a breeding ground for this kind of behavior, which I find distasteful and disappointing as these sites are still popular, and used to be much better than they are now.
We have a fantastic world-wide community in this hobby, and I have met so many of them through events and Faeit 212. It really is a vocal minority that tend to attempt control of the negative attitudes online. A majority of the community is not like this.
What blog or blogger do you feel has been most influential on the hobby, and why?
I really don’t know about this one. There are so many good blogs out there, and to mention a few of them would be leaving others out unintentionally. Personally I read through the BlogExchange blogs on my site.
Married, kids? What do you do for a living?
Yes, and Yes. Married with two young kids. My background is in Architecture and design, and I did this for a number of years. Afterwards I have done a lot of things, but now manage my properties.
How many events do you attend? General geographic region? What do you like most about events? Do you play much?
I play quite a bit. During 5th edition I was getting in at least 1 game a week or more. I also did a lot more tournaments as well. My local watering hole closed down, and its effected my tournament participation quite a bit, not to mention that marriage and kids will do that as well. GT’s for me, were back in the day as well, although when Ard Boyz tournies ran I was always there competing. This year I am doing two events, Valhalla (which I have confirmed) and I am probably going to Nova later in the year, (confirmation probably in a week or so).
About your blog-
I am very impressed by your site. It’s visually pleasing and easy to navigate.
How many hours a week do you spend keeping it clean (keeping it free of broken links, bad formatting, etc)?
Hard to say. It varies, and I am always behind on things. I have had help setting up the site, as we recently did an overhaul on it and how it looks and functions. That was several months in the works, after an already failed attempt to do it about mid-last year.
Do you mind if I ask, was the help professional?
No it was not a professional, but I probably do need professional help…. dry humor
How many hours a week do you spend adding new material?
A lot and it depends on what is going on. My hours on the site vary between 4-6 hours depending on a lot of different things. This does include talking to sources, email (which I try and answer most email sent to me), and of course researching and writing on the site. Its also hard to quantify, as I get carried away and find myself off reading tangents to what I started doing or researching.
Email is very time consuming when there’s a lot. I can tell you that readers and friends appreciate them.
How much money do you spend and/or make on your blog?
My only goal is to not have the site be a drain on my income and family. So as long as Google ads break me even I am good.
Do you mind if I ask how much “break even” equals?
Finances are never a good thing to discuss for too many reasons. Do I make a living at blogging? No. A blogger never gets out of blogging what he puts in. My understanding is that its easier to make money on a forum than a blog because of the amount of traffic hitting the ads while readers bounce back and forth many times between topics. I blog for many reasons, and if money is why someone is starting a blog, I would suggest looking elsewhere.
Purely from a formatting perspective, I originally thought you were a WordPress guy, but I see “powered by Blogger” at the bottom of your site. Is programming/scripting/code moneky-ing a hobby of yours? Your site looks fantastic, especially for the amount of information you are getting across.
I had help
How many friends/writers do you have working on material for your blog?
Its just myself for the most part. I have three other great authors that run their own sites that contribute on occasion as well. Reecius from Frontline Gaming, Prodigal Player from The Prodigal Player blog, and Unknown who is able to get to great events at Warhammer World etc. Overall though, its the community that is the greatest here. Without the community, even with my own diligence, I would miss stories from time to time.
A purely personal question: you offer subscription service for your site. If I signed up for subscription service on another site, is there a way to turn it OFF?
I am not sure. I have had help setting that up, and I am not much of a social media guy, and I need t look into that.
Ok, a few more.
When pursuing a story, how do you tell the difference between a legitimate rumor and a guy spouting off what he wants to happen?
This is and can be quite hard to tell. I talk to more people than you can imagine behind the scenes, and keep 0 records of what is sent in to me, everything removed as much as possible. This is because protecting sources is my number one job. Other sites and forums are quite rude and sometimes just spiteful to most rumors sources, and I would rather the forum spite come my way rather than at them. No rumor is worth someone losing their job over and a sources anonymity is extremely important.
As far as what rumors come true and what does not. I try and rate rumors when I can, and during my weekly round up of news and rumors. Otherwise I try and convey the strength of the source as much as a I can when posting up anonymous rumors.
To determine this, I specifically listen to what other rumors are coming through, and other discussions behind the scenes. The more separate sources that are saying the same thing, the more the rumors will ring true. However, even the wildest rumors can become true or have some truth to them. I like the phrase, “even a blind squirrel in the dead of winter sometimes finds a nut”. Because of this I will often post up things that require more salt.
Do I get trolled sometimes, yes. The funny part is that sometimes its just someone trying to discredit the site purposely, often one of the forum naysayers behind it. I dont linger on it. Its always just time to keep doing what I do rather to play those games.
Is there any specific source or resource that’s more reliable for rumors and leaks than others?
Of course there is. Often behind the scenes information can’t be released, simply because there is not enough people that know it, so its not postable or releasable information. That doesn’t mean that it will stay that way as more people know the information, just that when I learn of it, I cant post up on it.
After doing this for years I can tell you that only about 10-20% of all rumors are completely true and another 10% that are completely made up and false. The rest have some truth to them, or some vague bit that someone heard that was true. So when looking at rumors its important to look at their direction over all, to try and decipher what the future will hold.
The community is my set of sources, and they are great at helping me find the stories that I miss. After all I cannot locate everything on my own, even though being a news junkie at heart, really helps me find these things rather quickly. I greatly appreciate this community, they are great, and are what makes this hobby something unique in the world.
Have you ever received cease and desists or other types of communication from any of the larger companies?
Yes, and the site was even shut down last May. I wont go into many of those details except to say that my ip attorney rocks. He single handedly took care of it, and the site is back up and running, and stronger than ever. The shut down in fact, over the long haul, made the site stronger, me more knowledgeable and understanding of where I can go and stand according to the law. Any correspondence from certain companies involved goes through him directly, before or at the same time as coming to me. Since that time, I have had no issues with any company, nor should I.
So today, as time goes on, there are very specific things that I do and cannot do to stay out of the gunsights of companies. In the end though, and I cannot stress this enough. I am not a source of anything. As I don’t have any first hand information. I am a reporter that reports on news and rumors in our hobby and for the community.
It’s obvious that you value your sources’ privacy and anonymity. You mentioned that you keep 0 records. Without revealing all of your methods, how do you accomplish that?
Not really an area I am willing to discuss, simply because of its sensitivity for too many reasons.
You said that you’re a reporter. Do your personal feelings ever get involved in pursuing a story? Did you ever feel motivated to “revenge post” after the takedown?
In regards to the take down last year, its not something I talk about. I prefer to not live in the past and instead focus on what I am doing now and in the future. Past is the past. Yes, I was frustrated and upset, but revenge posts are not who I choose to be.
As for feelings in news stories, opinion always leaks into them. I am not unique in that, all you have to do is read any of the news sites CNN, MSNBC, or any of the others. Feelings and personal opinion are always revealed on how news stories are told, regardless if we try to remain neutral.
So while I try and remain somewhat neutral, but I am still a very enthusiastic person for this hobby. I love the hobby we are a part of, and what it is becoming. I try and stay positive and keep things that way. I also want my readers to keep things from getting personal with each other, as we are all a part of the same hobby.
So instead of trying to maintain a journalistic neutrality, I instead am upfront and honest in what I post, and try as hard as I can not to fall into the negativity that sometimes prevails in our online community. When I do make mistakes, or articles that fall from Grace, I also choose to live with my mistakes and keep them up, and I am not above admitting my mistake. Only rarely do i remove a post, and then only so that readers are not misinformed later by something I said in erroneously.
What about the community response to the takedown- how did that help (or hinder you)?
I do get frustrated still that other major sites and forums are allowed to post up things that I am not. How GW handled my case was not well, as a simple email would of worked and opened the dialogue to come to a solution. In the short term, the take down hurt the site and the community it is a part of. However, in the long run, it was educational in some of the grayer areas of the law, but I know where I currently stand. GW legal also made me a front page news story on many forums and blogs, although I prefer to be reporting on the news stories, rather than being them. In essence GW legal really added to my site being more popular and talked about.