TSSZ In Hot Water Over Community ‘Non-News’

TSSZ In Hot Water Over Community ‘Non-News’

Now this is news. TSSZ has come under fire from many members of the Sonic online community for misrepresenting and not fact-checking community stories. The website, run by Tristan Oliver, was quite popular in 2004, but went on hiatus in 2005 – since its return this year, Tristan has had much criticism thrown his way for being ‘out of touch’ with his peers.

While the regular, ‘safe’ articles generally get a good reception from readers, fellow members of the Sonic community have been at loggerheads with Tristan since TSSZ’s return – a trend which all began when the website misunderstood The Sonic Stadium’s new approach in design and editorial during the initial reaction to Sonic and the Black Knight.

Perhaps the thing most public about the controversy surrounding TSSZ is the seemingly never-ending feud between Tristan and TSS’ own badass Slingerland. Feathers were ruffled when a news story was written involving Sonic Fan Games HQ (and by extension, Slingerland, in enforcing the rules there) and their irritation towards a non-English speaking member on their forum. Many wondered whether it was news-worthy at all, and the tone of the piece seemed to suggest a veiled attack on Slingerland. Tristan has denied such allegations, saying he wishes to report on the ‘good, bad and ugly’ side of the community.

The controversial story also helped create numerous follow-ups, beginning when Tweaker of Sonic Retro joked in the comments area about enforcing English as the only language spoken on their forum. Tweaker then began a social experiment in temporarily stepping down as admin – this was reported as something more permanent by TSSZ then updated hours later as he returned to his post.

Sonic Fan Games HQ’s administrators have been showing their anger on the comments area of the website, in disbelief that a forum incident encouraging ease of communication has been strung out into a report on the issue of online discrimination. Despite this, the follow-ups continue.

Slingerland has vocally decried the nature of these reportings, claiming they do nothing but in fact hurt the community:

TSSZ is a good site for serious business Sonic news, but when Tristan delves into reporting on the various, big name communities, he just trolls the night away. Over the past few months, his community reporting has seen stiff resistance in the comments area, where people unanimously take verbal dumps on him for his lack of context, information and poor choice of tone.

The lack of these things, along with real research, just puts Tristan in the ballpark, say, above the average LiveJournal Sonic blogger. For a site striving for professional integrity, he sure as hell dropped that ball.  His community reporting is essentially trolling of the highest degree. Snarky, sophisticated trolling.

The fact that an outside site takes a post out of context and makes it an issue is counter-intuitive to communities, as now we actually are arguing about it.

Don’t know about you, but all this drama is making my head hurt. It’s certainly sad to see TSSZ go from the once-respectable position in 2004 to resorting to causing a fuss over little things in 2008. Things really have changed in the community over the last few years; people aren’t so naive, fellow websites actually talk to each other, and building trust between each other is crucially important.

It would be one thing for TSSZ to face criticism over simply wanting to report the news, but the truth is there is no conspiracy. Internet forums just like to have same-language members so they can enjoy each other’s company better. I hardly think it’s a discrimination issue that’s being discussed on the BBC at any rate… although it could be that the BBC haven’t cottoned onto us yet, and we’re all just a bunch of RACIST BASTARDS. Our time will come eventually. Possibly at the hands of Chuck Norris.

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Founder of The Sonic Stadium and creator/co-organiser of the Summer of Sonic convention. Loves talking about Sonic the Hedgehog in his spare time. Likes Sonic Colours a little too much for his own good, apparently.