Memoirs of a Former Middle Management DinoI've been reluctant to speak about my time in TEST, since I was hoping to keep the door open. I no longer feel that that is necessary. TEST Alliance is a failure. Not because they got kicked from Fountain, but because they failed to achieve enough organization and leadership to stay viable. I want to put a massive disclaimer on this. This my opinion, based on my perceptions as a line grunt, who was in a TEST corp, that wasn't Dreddit. This is not intended as scholarly opinion or a journalistic piece.
This is TEST's primary failure. First of all. The alliance leader needs to participate. Montolio's reign was characterized by him "winning Eve" (not logging in). Yes, I realize that there is a lot of back-channel things that go on out of game, but for the most part, he was not involved. Same with rob3r. Yes, we got an occasional Jabber ping, and a quarterly forum post, but that is about all we got out of him.
TEST forums were the most hostile, caustic environment I have experienced to date (other than my extremely brief stint with League of Legends . And I spent 8 years in the US Navy submarine force, so that is saying something. If you aren't in the "cool people" clique or an "adorable newbie", pretty much anything you say on the forums will be mercilessly down-voted and you will be verbally insulted. Also, they tolerated some seriously inflammatory posting from certain members. The primary intention of many of these posts was just to set new records for most number of down-votes but if you tolerate this from some members then you should tolerate it from all of them. Which was not the case.
Now let me caveat this, by saying I am a firm believer in free speech, even if that free speech is offensive to other. I believe that political correctness is an illogical fallacy, put forth by a delusional minority, and rabidly promoted by an unscrupulous and sensationalist mainstream media, that holds that it is entirely possible to pick up a turd by the clean end. I even joined the military to protect the rights of people in my country (the US). That said, I believe it is ok for communities to not tolerate hatefulness.
This is where TEST failed the most. They did not attract and retain talented people or build bench strength and delegate properly. Basically a small group of individuals bore most of the responsibilities and then were worked to the point of frustration until they rage quit The "Goodbye, you guys never appreciated me, I'm joining PL" threads were regular and epic. Their FC boot camp program was horrible, because they constantly purged it. Players with limited time would get kicked before they had enough minimum roams to not get purged. Almost no other group purged as frequently as this one. After a while I quit rejoining this group, basically every time I wanted to FC a fleet I found that I was purged from the group and no longer had access to the jabber channel to coordinate getting a fleet started. This could have been a major reason that Test has so few FCs. Basically everyone that is overworked felt unappreciated and got butt-hurt and left. It also doesn't help that PL and other major players regularly poach actual talented people. If you can't give someone a good reason to stay then they are certainly not going to ignore an opportunity to join PL.
Lack of respect.There are stories about people or groups getting kicked from the alliance and then rejoining and doing the same thing again. This demonstrates a lack of respect and unity, but it happened regularly.
Keeping people in the dark. Again there was a regular pattern of keeping the line grunts in the dark and the "elite" fully informed. When members asked "why" a certain thing was done they mercilessly got down-voted and told "because I said so."
I fully understood the need for OPSEC from my time in the Navy, been there, done that, got the Top Secret clearance. But "I told you so" isn't good enough in a video where you participate voluntarily. I'm not saying we should have space democracy or anything, but when I ask why we are doing something, you owe me an answer.
It's Not All Bad
I did enjoy my corp (Ars Ex Discordia) who were from the Ars Technica community. I have enormous respect for those guys and I had fun when I flew with them (which was not frequent). Unfortunately, the corp is mostly a bitter-vet retirement home, so they weren't as active as I would have liked. But they were good guys and the only reason I stayed in TEST as long as I did.