Forums Kongregate

The State of Kongregate.

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I know that threads complaining about the updates outside of the official update threads are locked. I’m biased, but I’d like to think that this thread’s purpose goes above and beyond that. It’s not about one specific update, or one thing that’s been done here, or there. But, by all means, if it’s felt that it’s necessary for this to be locked, go ahead.

I’m really trying to understand where Kongregate is coming from, with their strategy that they’ve had the past 6 months. I, obviously, don’t have access to any type of company information, so there’s a bit of speculation thrown into all of this, but I’d like to think that it’s grounded with common sense.

As someone that joined less then a year ago (this is my third account for anyone that questions that), I can’t really say I’ve known Kongregate that long. The way things look now, that’s Kongregate for me, I don’t have any real basis for comparison. A lot of people that have been around for a long time, 2008, 2009 and 2010 even, have huge problems with the way things are going. There’s two significant things I have to say regarding that:

1. Things change. It’s a fact of life. It’s been proven time and time again that stagnation kills. Kodak is a perfect example.

2. Kongregate always has had someone to answer to, and those people want progress.

I’ll elaborate on #2 a bit. Before Kongregate was purchased by GameStop, they had investors. They raised venture capital so they could buy servers, etc. The investors that gave their money to Kongregate (either Angels, which are individuals, or funds from firms) want a return, obviously.

Being purchased by GameStop changed things, obviously. Kongregate traded (up) from investors to corporate overlords. Why? Not sure. Maybe the reason for the acquisition has been revealed and I’ve just never seen it, or maybe it hasn’t. The financial state of Kongregate then, and now, is unknown. It’s impossible to say, for example, Apple was 90 days from bankruptcy when Steve Jobs came back.

Anyways, so Kongregate is a part of the GameStop Network now. According to Wikipedia, GameStop has (annual, 2009) revenues of over $9bln USD. I’d say, on a good year, Kongregate is probably making approximately $100 million in revenue. A complete guess, but I don’t think it’s outrageous. So, from GameStop’s perspective, the Kongregate division is a drop in the bucket. Kongregate has to justify themselves to GameStop. Yup, I bet that’s true. Reddit was so starved for resources by their owner, Condé Nast, that they had to build a premium service to be able to afford to hire new people.

This brings me to my next point (yes, I have a point, this isn’t entirely rambling). K+ launched at the end of 2011. The end of the year, right before Christmas. So far this year, we’ve had a crazy amount of updates and changes to the site. I really don’t think that’s a happy coincidence. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if GameStop is pressuring Kongregate to make this their year, to make stuff happen.

Like I said, change is inevitable. Change is good. But not losing your identity is just as important as change. If you lose sight of who you are, then the change is pointless. The reason I say this is because several times, users from 2008 have used their very first post ever to explain how Kongregate is doing a terrible thing and that they’re leaving forever. That shouldn’t be happening, but it is.

Things are changing too much, too quickly. Personally, I like the changes up this point. I think the profile looks nicer. The old one was ugly and the About Me was out of hand. The right-side statistics are huge, but I also understand why they have to be, to balance out both sides of the profile. But, a change every other week (that’s what it feels like) isn’t necessary.

Everyone is, rightly, saying that Kongregate is copying Facebook. It’s too obvious to deny. But, let’s look at Facebook themselves for a moment. They’re famous for moving quickly and controversially. They force profiles on people (but give them a change to get used to it by switching back and forth, or making it opt-in for a while), they roll out half-baked products because they don’t want to go stagnant. They break stuff just to see what would happen. They’re constantly testing, refining, experimenting. But even Facebook doesn’t move as fast as Kongregate. It’s insane how quickly new updates and features are being rolled out. It’s too fast. Period.

Everyone is complaining that the administration doesn’t care and they’re not listening. First of all, in my opinion, everyone is being far too dramatic. Secondly, their point about the silent majority still holds true. I’d wager that the vast majority of people either: a). don’t notice or b). don’t care. Argue all you want, but it’s true. Most people just open up Kongregate, play a game and close the tab when they’re done. If an administrator wants to reply (and has the information) it’s be interesting to see the average number of friends/fans per user; I think that’d be a telling statistic.

First of all, I say with a high degree of confidence that the administration does care. They do. Whether they care on their own or because they get paid to care, they do. This is a matter of priorities, though. It’s common sense that Kongregate is benefiting from these updates, improved monetization. It’d be utterly stupid and terrible business if it wasn’t. So, from their perspective, they’re making X% more money while “only” losing X% userbase. It’s unfortunate that people leave, but from a business perspective, the numbers must make sense.

Kongregate is a business, so making money is a necessary evil. They care, but caring only goes so far to buy food, servers, etc. I don’t blame anyone that isn’t willing to work for free, because they “care.”

So, everyone else: calm the hell down. As Zshadow said, give constructive criticism about the update itself and how it could be different or improved. Don’t bitch about the update itself. It cost a pretty penny to create the update, so it’s not going to go away because a few people throw a temper tantrum. Think realistically and look at the big picture. These updates aren’t going to go away, so make the best of it.

To Kongregate: slow down. No, really. Seriously. Slow down. Also, remember who you are and what put you into this position. It was mentioned in the other thread about reputation. Think about it. Talk to GameStop, work something out. Figure it out. But slow down and try to listen to us.

Yeah, I’m long winded, deal with it. No, there will be no “tl;dr” because everything I said is important, as far as I’m concerned. If you’re not going to read the entire thing, you’re going to miss the point so don’t bother.

I think that’s everything I had to say.

 
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Amen, sister brother gender neutral sibling.

No, there will be no “tl;dr” because everything I said is important, as far as I’m concerned.

tl;dr Stop bitching.

 
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Well said sir.

 
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Kodak is a perfect example.

btw, Kodak is still awesome.

A complete guest

I don’t thinkor blame anyone

Typo alert!

 
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I agree that kongregate changes too fast. Every time I stop using kongregate for a few months, everything is just different.

 
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Very interesting post, and I find myself in agreement with most of it. It also raises some questions about why all of these changes are necessary, and that’s something I’ve been wondering myself. If what you’re saying is accurate, then this definitely helps me to understand where Kongregate may be coming from with regards to the current direction we seem to be heading. I say we, because we are all a part of this community.

 
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Originally posted by MaistlinRajere:

Amen, sister brother gender neutral sibling.

Originally posted by EndlessSporadic:

Well said sir.

Thank you, both of you. I honestly wasn’t expecting positive responses. I was expecting flaming.

Originally posted by Moshdef:

If what you’re saying is accurate, then this definitely helps me to understand where Kongregate may be coming from with regards to the current direction we seem to be heading.

Well, yeah. I think I’m right. I’d find business (in general) interesting and I’ve taken a special interest in technology companies, so I’d like to think I have a bit of an idea about what I’m talking about.

I think what I said makes sense.

 
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Quite honestly, I disagree with a lot of what you said, adv0. :)

Change as a concept is not good. Nor is it bad. Individual changes may be good or bad, and the collective result of the recent changes may be good or bad, but the concept of change itself is not. To characterize change the idea as both inevitable and positive completely overlooks what Kongregate has actually been doing recently, and that doesn’t really take us anywhere.

Change is alteration, and progress is a mere subset. Whether recent changes actually constitute progress is a legitimate topic for debate; that debate, I think, is what should be at the core of this discussion. Understandably, different people are going to have different opinions about Kong’s present direction, but “get over it” has never been a meaningful response to criticism, just as “this sucks” isn’t itself meaningful criticism.

Setting aside my personal feelings about the changes, I’m not convinced they lend themselves to long term success. Stagnation may be a recipe for ruin, but aping Facebook may be a formula for failure as well. As I said in the other thread, “liking” isn’t socialization; it’s socialization by proxy, an indirect substitute for actual interaction and communication. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but one has to question the actual motivation behind that change. Liking brings nothing truly new to the table; what it does do is make Kongregate more similar to Facebook structurally. We’re out of the Internet’s Wild West days; I wouldn’t go so far as to call anything permanent, but Facebook certainly seems entrenched as a major force for the foreseeable future. I see these recent updates as an attempt to appeal to the legions of Facebook users and Facebook-types; the risk is that the strategy could backfire entirely. Why use Kongregate as a substitute for Facebook when you could use Facebook itself, which certainly has greater brand recognition and more users (the better to kind of, sort of socialize with)? In essence, the danger this path poses is that Kongregate moves outside of its traditional gaming niche into one already occupied by Facebook—and that’s a battle that’s going to be hard to win. Yes, Kongregate is a gaming site, but this process lends itself to a “precarious” balance, and a full shift toward monetized MMO/Facebook-ization might well undermine its long term viability.

And my personal feelings? Well, some changes I’ve liked; most I’ve disliked. To the extent that I’ve seen them (I haven’t seen this new main page feed yet, so I’m not really in a position to comment), I’m left feeling a bit dubious. Worse, though, has been the general unwillingness of the admins to address the complaints and, yes, constructive criticism of the forums. When the profiles were updated, there was obviously a lot of consternation in the main thread. Yet after the first page or two, no admin bothered to respond. They were evidently keeping tabs, judging by all the locked threads and redirects to the main thread, but once it became apparent that that the forums were almost totally united against the change, it seems they stopped trying to sugarcoat it, and abandoned the discussion entirely.

What I’d like to see is greater interaction—between the users of Kongregate and its administrators. It’s been suggested that Kong run proposed changes by the forums, and I think this is a good idea—not because we have any right or ability to vet or evaluate those proposed changes, but to give Kong a more accurate idea of what its vocal user base thinks. I also hear a lot about a so-called silent majority, with an emphasis on majority. I kind of think the emphasis should be on silent—we don’t know what the silent majority wants; that’s kind of the point of silence. Extrapolating that “Facebook is popular, let’s do that” is unfair not only to the vocal critics, but also to that silent majority, and maybe even to Kongregate as a long term money-making venture. In truth, given the millions of registered users, and the comparatively small fraction actually online at any given time, it’s reasonable to conclude that the average “Silent” is less a casual gamer and more a casual Kongregant—here occasionally (or even once) to play a game or two, and not particularly interested in any of the features (new or old) that the site has to offer.

Yeah, okay, that was kind of a rambling response. Ultimately, though, I think my feelings can be summed up by using Maist’s post. He distilled the OP into “Stop bitching,” and that’s the problem. It seems to me that a lot of people are trying to provide constructive criticism, but if they feel that strongly about Kongregate’s Facebook-ization, there’s probably not a lot of difference between constructive criticism and complaining. And I think there’s value in exploring just why so many people are upset.

 
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@Precarious – My opinion on the forum/silent majority thing:

The forum users are only a small percentage of the user base; if Kong posted proposed changes on the forums only a few people would respond, and the opinion of this group is different than the majority, which, content with playing games and collecting achievements, never venture to the Kongregate forums to discuss the website and other topics. They are referred to as the silent majority because they use Kongregate for pure fun and enjoyment: playing games, maybe talking with a few online buddies or posting on a specific game forum. They don’t really care about the site changes, they just utilize the site for relaxing or relieving boredom or stress. They don’t care about profiles at all – they just want to have fun.

Because of this, only the people that oppose the changes post on the forums. The majority of people who don’t care about the changes stay silent, they have no reason to involve themselves because they are already content.

As for why people are complaining, I think it’s this:

Basically, to many users, Kongregate is their place to play games and not interact. If they wanted to socially interact, these users would use other sites such as Facebook. This causes them to dislike changes that transform Kongregate into those very places they are trying to avoid.

Again this is my opinion, I may be incorrect, but this is my best (educated) guess.

 
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I do agree with you, Precarious, that it’s a logical fallacy to say “Facebook is popular, let’s do that”.

The silent majority is the key here. They’re the majority, so they should get what they want. But, they’re silent, so how do you find out what that is? I suppose that is the reasoning behind the split tests, possibly. Either way, the silent majority is silent, for a reason, I think. They don’t give two shits what happens. As SupHomies said, Kongregate is merely a tool for relaxation and stress relief.

So, if the silent majority as a whole doesn’t care what happens, then the focus should fall on the loud minority. I’m not saying that the loud minority should be able to dictate everything, but their opinion should be weighed appropriately against the silent majority. If Kongregate can assume that since Facebook is popular that it’s the right thing to do, then they should also assume that unless they nuke the site, the silent majority won’t care.

Which goes back to constructive criticism. Some people keep threatening to leave, or just being overly dramatic. If you’re going to leave, then go. Making as much noise as possible beforehand accomplishes nothing and just proves that you no longer care or want to be here. I agree with what you, Precarious, said as well. There’s a noticeable absence in administrator presence in the threads after a certain time frame. It’s like they decide to give up, or something.

 
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Kongregate has simply lost its homey feel. Sure some of that’s gonna go as the site gets bigger, and that’s okay. But there are many things they could have been doing to keep it the way things once were.

To me, it mostly boils down to admin-user interaction. I have been pushing with every homepage update for them to put the “news” section back in, not only because it’s interesting and an easy way to see what games won the weekly/monthly contests, but it’s a “connection” (since they’re so fond of that word) that they can make with their user base and make them feel more involved. Transparency breeds trust and trust breeds that homey feel.

And thank deity/non deity I’m not the only one who noticed this:

Worse, though, has been the general unwillingness of the admins to address the complaints and, yes, constructive criticism of the forums. When the profiles were updated, there was obviously a lot of consternation in the main thread. Yet after the first page or two, no admin bothered to respond.

Funny thing is that the more they expand on the social aspects of the site, the less welcoming those parts of the site feel…

 
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Well, it’s good to know that really amazing posts by Precarious aren’t restricted to badge suggestions.

 
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The idea of this “silent majority” is a bit troubling because it begs the question as to why they’re being silent? The forums are easy to access, and there are plenty of threads to go to in hopes of discussing issues that are plaguing users. There’s a spectrum of options, but for the pressure of time (as it is extremely early in the morning) I’m going to boil it down to the two main ones: 1.) the majority of users are too lazy (or don’t care enough) to put effort into voicing a reasonable complaint in a respectable manner; or 2.) users see it as a moot endeavor since the administration won’t look into the issue or answer them.

For the first one, I think it speaks for itself. People may complain about it for a few weeks, but everyone settles down into the new formatting sooner or later and continues to play (mimicking the behavior of Facebook users after that site’s updates). The users that compose the silent majority are most likely young teens, older (elderly) users, or such casual players that the changes don’t impact their ability to play in any drastic form (this is speculation on my part, but I find it well-founded). This silent majority is receiving a lot of weight that may not be applicable in this case. While the minor changes that are being made to Kongregate over the past few months have been steady, the over-all idea of Kongregate hasn’t changed. It’s still a place where individuals can come to enjoy gaming, whether they fall on the casual, the hardcore, or in between those ends of the spectrum. Simply put, silent majorities aren’t worth much if they’re not going to speak out. If you want to be heard, you need to voice it, and on a growing site like Kongregate, that can turn into a bit of a battle. This brings me to my second point.
When users speak, they may not feel heard. As it’s been addressed above, there is a definite lack of interaction between the administration and the general Kongregate community, yet there may be a deeper lying problem. Exactly how many administrative personal are there in proportion to the general users? Does the number of administrators and moderators keep with the exploding number of people that continue to join the site? From the looks of it, no. There simply aren’t enough administrative personal to go around. I’ve already seen a large number of complaints about the lack of moderators; what’s to say administration isn’t feeling the same strain? It’s difficult to experience the rejection of not being heard (either accidentally or blatantly) by administration, but the reality may be that there are more pressing issues at stake besides another user complaining about the change in the wording when you friend/follow another user.

It is easy to point fingers and blame administration for what’s going on, however there’s much more going on behind closed doors. I’m not saying become a mindless sheep that bleats in agreement as things fall apart. What I am saying is that there are reasons, many unknown to the general gaming community, that perpetuate these changes and these changes haven’t slowed the growth of Kongregate.

 
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If Kongregate can assume that since Facebook is popular that it’s the right thing to do, then they should also assume that unless they nuke the site, the silent majority won’t care.

The idea of this “silent majority” is a bit troubling because it begs the question as to why they’re being silent?

If you don’t care about something, are you gonna make a point to tell people that you don’t care? No.

 
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Originally posted by MaistlinRajere:

If Kongregate can assume that since Facebook is popular that it’s the right thing to do, then they should also assume that unless they nuke the site, the silent majority won’t care.

The idea of this “silent majority” is a bit troubling because it begs the question as to why they’re being silent?

If you don’t care about something, are you gonna make a point to tell people that you don’t care? No.

La la la

 
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Originally posted by CrownHeiress:

The idea of this “silent majority” is a bit troubling because it begs the question as to why they’re being silent? The forums are easy to access, and there are plenty of threads to go to in hopes of discussing issues that are plaguing users. There’s a spectrum of options, but for the pressure of time (as it is extremely early in the morning) I’m going to boil it down to the two main ones: 1.) the majority of users are too lazy (or don’t care enough) to put effort into voicing a reasonable complaint in a respectable manner; or 2.) users see it as a moot endeavor since the administration won’t look into the issue or answer them.

This. I’ve been a member of Kongregate for several years and consider myself to be a badge hunter, but I never really posted in the forums until very recently. Both of the reasons that you stated are why people don’t post on the forums as well as many others such as not wanting to be attacked or they simply like the changes. I know that I may be alone in thinking this but I like how the new profiles look, everything is easily searchable about a user and it’s all nice and big. However, I hate the new Facebook-ish system. I don’t like being prompted to link my Facebook account with my Kongregate and I don’t like how for mobile badges they give (or gave) a point increase to those who post their achievement to facebook. It got to the point that I made a fake one just to shut people up.

The thing is, Kong wants people from the most popular website in the world to be exposed to Kong. When you like a game, it goes onto FB’s newsfeed which brings it out to a whole new audience who may never have heard of Kong. After that point to keep some of the new users interested Kong had to make this website more like it even though, as Percarious said, that may not really be a smart move on Kong’s part. But like the OP said Kong is going to update but they need to make it slower. I say much, much slower.

edit I forgot to mention. I know it’s been at least a year but I liked when they created the badge of the day system. It gives users like who don’t refer others, or develop, or rate 50 games a day, or find other ways to exploit points (obviously referring and developing aren’t exploiting points, but rating 50 games a day that you don’t know is) a way to get up to the level cap with hard work just from earning badges.

 
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I’m glad you brought up the point of staffing, CrownHeiress. That’s the thing, we really don’t know what the state of Kongregate is. I don’t expect them to start telling us their financials, either though. But we don’t know if they’re in a position to hire another person, or multiple people. There’s 3 community administrators, and while they all do everything, it seems that Zshadow is the one that has taken to this (and the Technical Support forum).

It’s all to do with priorities. Do they appoint more moderators (I’ve mentioned the scaling issue before) and have to deal with training them? Do they hire more administrators and have to pay them? Or, are the priorities elsewhere.

This thread may be something they want to ignore completely, leave it to see where it’s going, or want to formulate an official response – but I find it interesting that no administrator has replied (yet).

 
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The silent majority may not say things, but you can still look at their actions. I would bet nearly any amount of money that that’s exactly what Kongregate is doing: the reason that things such as Like buttons are here (and are staying) is because people are using them.

It’s pretty much exactly the same dynamic that happens when an MMO gets badged — everyone complains on the forums, and yet they keep getting badged for a very simple reason: people keep playing them and rating them highly.

So if you really want to get rid of the Facebook-like features, you just need to convince everyone to stop using them.

 
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Originally posted by adv0catus:

So, from their perspective, they’re making X% more money while “only” losing X% userbase. It’s unfortunate that people leave, but from a business perspective, the numbers must make sense.

I don’t think this is Kongregate’s perspective. The number of new users that are registering on this site every minute far overshadows the small amount of people that notice the changes, and dislike it so much that they decide to leave Kongregate. So Kongregate should not care so much that people are leaving.

On a different note, if Kongregate really wants to do something smart, they would update the forums. I think there’s only been like 1, or maybe 2, updates to the forum since I registered here over 4 years ago. Since the people who tell there opinions go to the forums, I’m getting into the whole silent majority thing, they should do something we want. But they don’t because we are a small percentage of all Kongregate users. We should be the most important, though. Sure, more users come here every minute, but they aren’t usually very active. The forumers typically are and actually say how they feel. Everyone else doesn’t. So if they want a general positive feedback, they need to update the forums.

Nice thread, by the way, adv0.

 
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Originally posted by adv0catus:

So, from their perspective, they’re making X% more money while “only” losing X% userbase. It’s unfortunate that people leave, but from a business perspective, the numbers must make sense.

One quick thing to add: Money and userbase are not equivalent. I imagine that money spent per user would follow a power law, and as much as I hate to admit it, it’s often the worst games that hook the people at the cha-ching end. If Kong could get just a handful more of these users, it would make sense financially to cut even a large number of free-to-play players adrift.

 
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you know how in the chatboxes, it will tell you to play google a day or a new quest?

can kong actually use that to invite people to the forum? it’s most we haev mostly casual gamers and so little people voicing opinions

constructive criticism:
also, i miss the old box that contains all the badges and you can hover. but i also like how you can hide notifications. i like to keep track of which game that i completed every single badges in. and remove notice once that game is done lol.

 
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Bringing more people into the forums seems like both a blessing and curse. I haven’t been posting in the forums very long, and it was predominately in “Rate that Song”, but from my observations, most users either fall into the “Trolling Buffoon” category or the “Legitimate User” category. Generating more awareness about the forums may prove to be useful in bringing more users here, but at what cost? How many more people that are going to constructively comment is it going to bring? Unfortunately, I’m a bit elitist when it comes to the forums. Yes, everyone has a right to post in the forums, but if a user can’t take the time to follow a simple link or take ten minutes to do some clicking on the Kongregate homepage, why even bother to post? The forums aren’t for everyone, and by trying to advertise them, it may bring on a whole new set of issues that administration doesn’t want to have to deal with.

Then again, bringing in “new blood” may be the right push to have the forums updated (although I haven’t noticed any real issues, so I’m just going on the theory of “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it”).

A quick edit: Adv0, this thread has quite a few views, and I’d bet money that an administrator has seen it and even read portions of it. This is a bold and heavy issue to be posting in the forum, and it may need to be discussed with other administrative personal before any single administrator makes a formal reply. I wouldn’t be surprised if they are communicating about how to best approach this subject. From the looks of those who have been posting, users that are rooted in Kongregate are going to have the most critical eye.

 
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Originally posted by CrownHeiress:

Bringing more people into the forums seems like both a blessing and curse. I haven’t been posting in the forums very long, and it was predominately in “Rate that Song”, but from my observations, most users either fall into the “Trolling Buffoon” category or the “Legitimate User” category. Generating more awareness about the forums may prove to be useful in bringing more users here, but at what cost? How many more people that are going to constructively comment is it going to bring? Unfortunately, I’m a bit elitist when it comes to the forums. Yes, everyone has a right to post in the forums, but if a user can’t take the time to follow a simple link or take ten minutes to do some clicking on the Kongregate homepage, why even bother to post? The forums aren’t for everyone, and by trying to advertise them, it may bring on a whole new set of issues that administration doesn’t want to have to deal with.

Watch out, now that you said it’s a bad idea to start advertising the forums it’s probably going to be next on Kong’s list. Sorry, bad use of sarcasm but I can’t help myself.

I love this website and I will always love it no matter what. I just really think that Kong should be focusing on improving our gaming experience and not on the sociability of its users. The social ones have a facebook, and if they care to post their achievements there than they can link it up with Kong. The thing is, I don’t like Facebook but I love Kong. I figure that the chatrooms and the forums and the shouts and whispers are enough, I don’t care about every time someone rates a game and I really think that this whole thing is going to backfire on Kong when they realize people are deleting friends in order to remove their feed.

If anything, they should make it so we can filter what we see on our activity feed, if not get rid of it altogether, I know that we can filter what is shown by us but we can’t filter what we see from our friends. But mostly, they need to focus on stopping hackers and spammers who ruin the originality of the site by compromising scores and points. Kong needs to move away from integrating into Facebook and start trying to save the integrity of what already makes this website unique.