Blokus Community Meeting

By | May 18, 2012


 

To all members of the Blokus community:

Currently the site has been taken down for reasons that most of you probably at least partially understand.  Many community members have come together to try to act as a single unit, and work to get the website we love back to a usable condition as quickly as possible.  As such, I have sent the following email to Mattel.  I would ask that others refrain from contacting Mattel – overloading them with complaints will not help this problem – in fact it is part of what started the chain of events that led to the current state of the website.  If you would like to support this, please leave a comment in support at the bottom.  If you have specific messages you think Mattel needs to hear, either post it in the blokus.com forums, or let me know, and I will do my best to help make sure Mattel gets the word.

 

To MATTEL,

My name is Eric Hart, I am a blokus fan, and have been a member of the online blokus community for a long time.  Obviously you have been hearing a lot about blokus lately, so I will try to keep this short and try to avoid repeating things that are I get the impression you’ve already heard from a number of other blokus community members.  I really have 3 main purposes of writing this email, so I’ll just jump right in.
First of all, I want to apologize on behalf of the community for the trouble that may have been caused by a few of our members.  I use the term “members” quite generously – as there is nowhere to sign up for this community you essentially become part of it by playing online, and getting to know other people in the community – and as a result we have very little influence over members who behave in a way that most of us feel uncomfortable with.  In particular, while many of us do hope for better communication between our community and Mattel, very few of us agree with the tactics of constant phone calls, and harassment that a few have been trying to employ.  Many people have expressed a desire to make sure Mattel is aware that most members of the Blokus community are quite reasonable people, and are not supporters of the “spam” tactics that are being used by a few.  So here it is: We’re Sorry!
Before I continue, I would like to tell you a little about myself, and my position within the community, to try to give this apology a little more weight and context.  I have been using the blokus.com website since it started way back when it was owned by Sekkoia, more than 10 years ago, but I have been a VERY active participant within the community for the past 6 years.  In that time I have been to two live blokus tournaments in Canada, one of which I organized last year, and another two in Europe.  I will be going to another in Chicago this July.  Further, I run the website blokusstrategy.com, which is frequented by many players within the blokus community as a source of information and contact.  I have also organized and participated in numerous online tournaments during that time.  I know the vast majority of the players online, and speak to many of them regularly, and during the last few weeks, as issues relating to this site seemed to be coming to a head, many of them have talked to me, suggesting that I try to contact you, or someone else who may have some responsibility for what is going on, on behalf of the community as a whole, to try to open a line of communication between the whole community and Mattel.
That leads me to my second reason for contacting you, which is that if you don’t mind, I’d like to make a suggestion for a part of the resolution of the problems that have been going on lately.  I think the single most important thing that can be done to help would be to open a clear line of communication between Mattel and the blokus community.  One of the reasons that I am contacting you is that, from what I understand, you seem to have a bit more control over the website than anyone who has been found by the blokus community in the past.  While Mattel might like to deliberately keep the people in charge of the website hidden, many people within the community have even come to believe that there actually just isn’t anyone “in charge” who can hear our feedback.  While the recent change to the blokus.com website suggests that someone talking to you may have at least kicked something into motion, I have a feeling that you do not want to be a long-term contact for the blokus community, and further, that the current changes are more about stopping the recent calls and complaints Mattel has been receiving than they are about solving the problems that the complaints are about.
If you’d permit me to digress briefly: A little over a year ago I had an idea which I sent to Mattel – I thought that it would be worth while for Mattel to appoint a “Blokus Community Ambassador”, who would be the main go-to person for the community.  At the time I tried to contact Mattel with the intention of applying for such a job, but ultimately nothing came of it.  Regardless, I think that the community has grown to a point where such a position would be warranted, and at the time I even had a number of suggestions for other tasks to be undertaken by that ambassador which could help grow the community, and increase the customer-base for Mattel.
This “Blokus Community Ambassador” would have been exactly what I suggested above – a line of communication between Mattel and the blokus community.  While this may seem like a small problem on Mattel’s end, it certainly means a lot to the community, and having a contact on staff at Mattel would, in my opinion, either entirely solve the recent problems, or at least go a long way towards solving them, while keeping the community happy and keep them spreading the good word about Blokus and Mattel.
My final reason is a simple request on behalf of me, and a large number of others who have contacted me within the last couple of hours: please keep the site running while the changes are being made.  Technically speaking this is not difficult, and although Mattel must not be happy with the way things have been going for the past few weeks, the majority of the site users find blokus.com eminently usable (while not perfect), and far better to be left online than to be taken down indefinitely.
Hopefully you’re in a position where you can take these ideas seriously, and I hope they come to fruition, but thanks for at least taking the time to read my letter.  If you’d like to ask my any more questions about this idea, or the blokus community, I would love to answer them, or have a discussion some time.  And thanks again to Mattel for keeping the (free) website running for as long as it has – the whole community is thankful for that.
Sincerely,
-Eric Hart

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