Well well well...
Looks like all my agitation about the SOE ads is getting some attention. Not the kind of attention that I wanted though. Late Monday evening I was posting on the Planetside forums when I suddenly was unable to access the boards. I was greeted with a message that stated that I had been banned from the boards for 3 days for;"Posting Inappropriately, posting links to information on blocking the in game advertisements in your signature, and other violations."
Now, the last I checked, there was NOTHING in either the SOE TOS or the Planetside boards usage rules that prohibited posting information on how to block the in-game ads. You can judge for yourself. HERE
is a link to the SOE TOS. And HERE
is a link to the Planetside forum rules of conduct. As you can see, there is not a prohibition on posting links to removing in-game ads either in a post OR in your signature. So I have not and did not violate the forum rules. I was banned without cause and without warning or chance to appeal. As far as the other accusations go, as they are not spelled out, I can't very well refute them, now can I? Although given the manner in which I was banned, I'm sure that these rather vague accusations were simply tacked on to give the ban more of a feel of legitimacy.
What is most amusing is that those links were in my signature for at least 3 MONTHS before I was banned. AT NO TIME did any representative from SOE or the board moderators attempt to contact me and inform me that those links were inappropriate and a bannable offense. Of course, since they aren't actually against the TOS or board rules, I guess they couldn't very well ask me to remove something they knew perfectly well was NOT against the rules, now could they? I guess it's easier to just slap a customer with a ban and deal with the aftermath than to demonstrate proper customer service and business ethics.
Of course, these are SOE's boards, they have a right to administer them in the way they see fit. Indeed, there is a section in the Planetside usage rules that states that they do not have to give any warning before meting out any punishment. Of course not having to doesn't mean you shouldn't. Indeed, in my case a simple PM or e-mail with a request to remove the section of my signature would have been appropriate and I would have willingly complied with that. By simply banning me carte blanche without a warning they are only showing themselves to be petty.
The ban was a mere 3 days, and for the last 3 days I have busied myself with the many other things I have in my life. Indeed, I have found it rather nice to take a break from the boards, as I was able to get quite a few other things done around the house. However, my sense of honesty and fair-play has been offended, and I cannot just let it lie. As I stated in my original post
on the in-game ads issue, I do expect and demand a certain level of business ethics from any company that I do business with. SOE is only further demonstrating their corporate culture of disdain towards their customers with a petty ban such as this.
To whomever was responsible for the ban;
That was a stupid mistake. From this point onwards I will be making every effort to contact as many Planetside players as I can and inform them of the ways in which they can block the ads. There are plenty of Planetside outfits that run their own websites well out of the reach of SOE. I can and will contact every single one that I am able to and will inform them of how to block the ads. It will likely end up costing you MUCH more money in lost ad revenue now than if you had just let it alone and not said anything at all. To take a line from the movie "Pretty Woman", Big mistake. HUGE.
As far as my own account goes, I do enjoy Planetside, and am not yet ready to go so far as to cancel it. However, I am certainly willing to cancel it should I feel it necessary. Hopefully it won't go that far.
Incidentally, I am more than willing to accept an apology from SOE or the board moderators. My e-mail address is on my blog, just e-mail me. I am open to having a dialog on this issue.
Until I do receive that apology and just as a refresher, here are the directions on how to block the ads from Massive. This will work for any game that uses the Massive Adclient, Planetside included.
Simply open the Hosts file using Notepad. If you don't know where it is on your PC, just use the Windows search function (Start -> Search) and have it look in hidden and system files for "hosts". Once you have the file open, simply add these lines to your hosts file:
127.0.0.1 madserver.net After the "localhost" line. This "blackholes" the Massive adservers, and when the AdClient attempts to make outbound contact to either those servers or IP's, it gets looped back to the PC itself and the connection dies. Alternately, if you have a router with configurable IP routing, you could also block access to their servers from there.
These directions will remain on my blog in-perpetuity. I will be creating a separate page just for blocking directions that other people can link to. I will not take these directions down until SOE removes the ad-client from all of their games. I will, however, be willing to stop my informational campaign to Planetside Outfits if I receive an apology from SOE.
Do I expect them to listen to me? No. Do I expect them to listen to the lost money as more and more of their paying customers block the ads and/or stop subscribing? Yes, I do.
Money talks, let SOE hear.