Yesterday, The Ballad of FroYaoTech, the first opinion article on teamfortress.tv in years, was published. Now that everyone has had time to digest that article, I think it is a good time to discuss what it means for teamfortress.tv as a news platform moving forward.
As it should be evident, that opinion piece was an experiment – a test to see how the people would react to a different kind of content. While there were some things that succeeded and others that failed, more importantly, there were lessons that will allow us as an organization to make better content moving forward.
To begin, some context may be in order. The longer I wrote for teamfortress.tv, the more disappointed I grew with the state of our news platform. It quickly grew stale to write about roster changes for the upteenth time, and it seemed that everyone knew the roster changes we reported on long before we published. Over the seasons, I tried to fix this by improving our workflow: proactively asking teams about their LFPs, monitoring logs.tf pages, and requesting that players keep us in the loop. Nevertheless, the process of writing, procrastinating, begging for quotes, and editing could not compare to the speed and transparency that Twitch streams and social media can offer. It seemed pointless. As a result, I, along with other writers and editors, have been interested in expanding our content; when I got word that eXtine was writing his piece (wholly independently of teamfortress.tv), I was inspired by the opinion sections of legitimate news publications and offered him a chance to publish it as an op-ed.
It is at this point I would like to acknowledge the concerns regarding that particular piece, because as soon as I made this offer, I began to second-guess myself. I grew worried that that particular article would be an improper reintroduction to the first teamfortress.tv editorial in five years. The topic was sensitive, and, in retrospect, the writing perhaps didn’t live up to quality standards (sorry eXtine). Regardless of one’s opinions towards the actual argument made within the piece itself, these are relevant and valid criticisms. After a few hours of pondering, I was about as divided over this issue as that article's comments section, and when I reached out to the writing staff, they were equally divided. Nevertheless, as is plainly evident, I eventually made the decision to move forward with the publication.
The logic is as follows. Announcing op-eds in theory is all well and good, but the barrier between theory and action has long been an intractable one. While eXtine’s article was not perfect, it presented a prime opportunity to break down this barrier and to experiment with something new. With publication comes feedback, and with feedback comes iteration, and with iteration comes improvement. Now, we are at the point where we can discuss concretely the merits and flaws of what has been created, and not what could be created.
I welcome and appreciate the candid feedback in that thread, which I believe could not have occurred without that publication. I am pleased to see a positive reception to opinion articles as a concept, and to a lesser extent new content in general, and it is great to see that the community is able to discuss serious, and perhaps taboo, issues in a constructive and cordial manner. I also recognize the concerns people have regarding that particular article, as mentioned above, and will take steps to resolve them moving forward.
Opinion articles will be here to stay, but will have regulations informed by the community feedback. Topics will be restricted to articles that “inform on topics and/or foster relevant discussion that can improve the competitive TF2 community.” These articles will be reviewed by active teamfortress.tv writers to ensure they are held to the same content and stylistic quality standards that all other articles follow. Beyond these two guidelines, any potential future articles will not need to resemble eXtine's in any way.
Moreover, as a consequence of this experiment, further ideas for new types of content have been suggested among our internal staff, so expect to see some of those come into fruition in the near future.
Any constructive feedback regarding the eXtine article or any of the content in this post is welcome and will be taken into account. My only goal as current editor-in-chief is to do what is best for the competitive community, and that is not possible without feedback.
If you are interested in writing an opinion article for teamfortress.tv, feel free to contact me directly through Steam, Discord, or PMs. I'm sure contacting any active teamfortress.tv staff member on Discord would work too, but I can't speak on their behalf.