Note: Frogboy edited his original post to make it visually easier to read, therefore some of the quotes are from the original draft and not available through the link.
This is not intended to be flamebait, just to kick off a friendly discussion. In response to Frogboy's "The changing world of skinning communities"
I think had I chosen to post the article around the consequences of entering the wider market, that Frogboy made on behalf of Stardock, and if I believed that the sum total of development has outstripped a willing community's ability to support it, then I would have chosen to phrase things differently. I'm not sure there's any point in targeting a community post that raises the spectre of consequence based on future responses, if it's already known that the community, this or indeed the wider market, cannot possibly meet or affect those needs. There's a degree to which such a thing sets a course that pre-empts a later post that goes on to say 'see - I told you what would happen if you people didn't respond' However well intended, taken to it's conclusion, it's a difficult approach to embrace.
On the other hand...
If, based purely on what's been presented by Frogboy, which appears in the text to not be predicated on having already reached a point of no return, but instead built around the basis of 'if people don't provide..... there will be consequences' (my phrase not his), then It suggests that there is scope for future targets to be met that could impact positively on some of these challenges.
"If users aren't able or willing to contribute to the development of a program, then the producers of the program will have to hire people to do that testing. The cost of that will be passed on to users. Similarly, if new generations of skinners don't arise, then the producers of the software will have to provide the content and provide avenues for skinning veterans to earn income from their hard work as well since the load is increasingly borne by them."
Note again, failure here is defined as an unwillingness or inability of others to respond to need.
As a member of this community, faced with a challenge I'd like to help where/when possible, however I'm still unclear as to what if any response was being asked for when Frogboy wrote his articles - who is to impact on these 'ifs and how is it to be achieved? The elements he refers to are core elements, not those of a wider market that just wants to use it's software. Yet as I understand it, inversely,'we', the core community, may actually be protected to some degree from change, possibly through some form of community credit. Ironically then, not to be equally subject to the consequence of inaction, by a wider market that understandably, never realised it had failed in the first place. It's not that it can't be seen and understood in overview, it's just that something seems wrong with how it's being framed.
The above quote from Frogboy doesn't say, 'If Stardock cannot create postive avenues which encourage and enable user's to test'. It doesn't say 'If Stardock is unable to create an environment in which skinners are enabled to develop and create good quality skins more quickly etc...etc..' - it moves the onus out away from Stardock and onto the user base.
The last line of Frogboys article:-
"But that relationship has changed to being more akin to a traditional producer/consumer relationship. Which is fine if that's what the...market has chosen."
Again externalising responsibility, putting it on the changing nature of the relationship by 'the market' - whereas I think that any responsibility, if such exists, is more likely a result of Stardock having made a positive decision to chase a mass market, that simply remains true to it's nature.
This community is hopefully a focal point for many future skinners, and also the community that that has been identified as having previously been responsive to the need for beta-testing. So again it's difficult to see who else the post was aimed at, were the post really aimed at identifying consequences that may be yet be avoided.
Responding directly to averting those consequences:-
The community, however willing, cannot simply vote for, clone or buy new skinners to support Stardocks pace of development in the customisation arena . All it can do is make the most of what it has, to create an atmosphere that helps foster the new Master Skinners of tomorrow - I believe there's an increasing amount of energy & creativity that's going into this. However, I don't feel that skinners are encouraged to develop by this community, solely in order to feed the commercial market, although hopefully some will go that way and take advantage of the avenues opened up by Stardock. I'm certainly not against this route at all, I applaud the opportunities provided by Stardock and those that have the skills to take advantage.
The skinning community could equally through it's efforts be very successful in supporting new skinners develop through to Master Status, who then create very exciting niche skins, that still potentially fail to meet Stardock's needs. So while the way the paragraph is phrased to suggest there may be a target of some sort here that the community should be looking to recognize in order to avoid consequence - even if we could somehow set up a conveyor belt of skinners, it's not as linear as it first appears, because we can't and shouldn't plan to define the ethos of those skinners.
As to the contributing to testing, that's been responded to by several people now in Frogboy's threads. If there is a useful target to be met here, an area in which the community can be more supportive, raise it's game, phrase it as you will, I believe it is now for Stardock to respond to the interest that this has raised, and be clearer about what could be achieved if we worked together.