Community Tip of the Day: The Atreides Bought Loyalty with Loyalty

Warning: this is one of those Betsy posts where I combine a lot of disparate points. :) 

One of my late night reading addictions recently  has been watching the personal finance/frugality bloggers expound as we go throught this economic downturn.

Personal finance/frugal bloggers in the tradition of the Tightwad Gazette are a unique breed and because they talk about money (which is like sex and tech, people can't stop reading) there is a lot of community activity and a lot of real-world anecdotes coming in.Because technology workers are often in their own little bubble (the dot com bust hit just us for example, though on normal days we can make above the average) reading the PF bloggers also keeps me in touch with what the rest of the world may be thinking.

Today's post by the guy who runs Get Rich Slowly was an interesting post in itself, but it went on to spawn a lot of thoughtful and passionate comments about what is the price of selling out? Is there such a thing as situational ethics? Should you take the money and run?

What struck me in reading the slew of comments about his decision was how many people just typed a quick" good job, that's why I keep coming to your blog." Because my life has gotten me thinking in science fiction cliches these days, these comments  reminded me of the book Dune ( where the young Duke, Paul Atreides, keeps getting reminded of what the ethics of his ruling dynasty are ("Your father would've been more concerned about the men he couldn't save" ) and that "the Atreides buy loyalty with loyalty."

Anyway, JD of Get Rich Slowly - who is a blogger concerned with money - and whose constituents are also obsessed with money - now has a much more loyal fanbase than before. Why? Because he's showed them that even though money is his main theme, even though he knows they too are all about money - the money isn't as important as his contract with his readers. For him, it seemed, in the famous words of Betsy's gut speaking, "It was ooky and I just didn't like it." Taking the money would have violated his fundamental loyality to his customers.

Microsoft is a for-profit company, and for gosh sakes, even has a online/software product called er, Money. But the places where we win - and where we can always stand to win more - is if we show you folks that you have our loyalty. When I spoke in October to folks at the CEA Industry Panel, and talked about how one person with an email can make a difference, I was really talking about this.

XNA Community Games is an interesting venture because it takes on that risk of showing belief in the customer. Hey, we will have a team spending over a year working on a mechanism where you show off your stuff as game developers and can thus make some cash. As with anything a big corporation does, there's a "work iceberg" under the surface of the water. :P  Meetings, negotiations, discussions, comps, cross-team integration, Phil's pile of soda cans...Randy the (desiccated) Red Vine -- stuff you just don't want to see.

I won't bore you now with the death of a thousand cuts (via email), but a small dedicated group of people put some soul into it - the tools, the framework, the Web site. Because we believed you would create the games that would stand up and make the world take notice.

We don't know you, but we are loyal to this idea of your greatness. We don't know you, but we trust you to peer review your community's games and help them out in the forums. And now we have over 100 games showing on marketplace, game sites are starting to review those games, and its only two months in. Thanks for repaying us with your belief in this brave new world of community games. It's good to get this chance to know you and see your potential.

Now go kick some more butt in this new terrain.

Live it vivid!