Banned!

Following my previous post about guild websites, you may have gleaned that I wasn’t very pleased with our previous host, Wowstead, resulting in moving to another guild site host.

Unfortunately, although completely understandably, Wowstead will not delete old sites (just in case the site admin deletes the site out of spite, for example, leaving a guild without).  They also don’t have any method for disabling a site, which means that our old website was still sitting there.

I did what I could with it – I removed “new posting” access to most of the forums, apart from the public ones, I removed most of the “widgets” (the small information boxes to either side of the main content) and I put up a Notice on the main screen stating we had moved, and giving a link to the new site.

As the site was still there, despite us having settled nicely into the new place, I went back to check occasionally – see if anything had changed, any posts made to public forums, etc.

A few weeks ago, Wowstead finally announced they were finishing their “premium preview” period (basically an enforced beta for users who, as a type of compensation for dealing with all the problems, got access to all of the “premium” parts of the sites).   I noticed not long after that there was an extra widget on the main page, asking members to pay a subscription fee.

Well I tried half-heartedly a few times to remove it – usually when I only had a limited amount of time available – but failed miserably.  So I finally got around to having a good go at it last week.  I tried various ways of removing it, looking through all the options in the control panel, but couldn’t find anything.

I suspect, looking back on it, that I just assumed I’d be able to remove it because the new site is so much more customisable, I’d gotten used to being able to move what I want, where I wanted it.  I was then applying those principals back onto the old Wowstead site.

However, at the time I just assumed I was being daft, missing something obvious, and posted a question on their support forums.

Now, as the title of this post suggests, I have since been banned from said site, so I cannot give a complete transcript of my forum post.  However, I can say that it was fairly short – I think only 3 lines long maximum – and didn’t include any swearing, reference or links to our new site or anything else that I would consider being inflammatory.  I simply stated that we no longer used wowstead as our guild website, although we still had our old site there due to being unable to delete it, and that I’d noticed a new widget I was having trouble removing from the home page – could anyone suggest a way to do so.  I explained that if someone did decide they wanted to contribute towards the website, I didn’t want them accidentally doing so on the wrong site.

About a day later I received a Private Message from one of the mods (moderators), stating they had looked at my site, and couldn’t see the widget I was referring to.

I therefore took a screenshot, cut it down so that it only showed the widget and the location on the page and replied showing the screenshot.  I also posted a copy of the screenshot on the forums as no-one had replied from there and decided it may be because they had assumed it had been sorted, as the Mod had.

I eventually got a reply from the mod, stating they understood that only members could view it, and apologising for not replying sooner – they had been off ill and thought that all of the other staff/mods would have assumed the problem was being dealt with.

Again, as I am unable to access my own messages in wowstead, I can only give a rough idea of what I said in reply, which was that I was sorry the mod had been ill, however that rather demonstrated one of the reasons why we had left wowstead – things got left for days or even weeks on end before being dealt with.

I got another reply fairly quickly saying that the problem had been forwarded for a resolution, which should be replied to within a few hours, stating they would track the problem for me and basically sympathising with the problem of getting solutions quickly – the mod referred to their previous host Guildomatic, stating that their support was terrible, hence their move to wowstead.  I was also asked whether or not I had raised a support ticket, as the forums were only for users.

My reply thanked the mod for their quick reply, and for forwarding the problem for me.  I stated that I hadn’t raised a ticket as (a) I had had poor experienced with their ticket system in the past, indeed to the point of having to close some that had been open for months, prior to leaving wowstead, and (b) I had assumed I was more likely to get a fast response from the forums as I had assumed others would have had the same problem.

The moderators final reply was only a few hours later, agreeing that the forums were a place to post if I wanted to see if anyone else recognised the problem, and stating that creating a ticket would ensure Tech support attention.

I then tried to reply, to ask if I should create a ticket, when I discovered I had problems trying to submit it.  I tried a few times, assuming it was just one of those “glitches” we often experienced there, but eventually I got logged out.  When I tried to log back in, I got the message that I had been banned.  I then tried to access my website, which also failed.  I managed to access their forums, but my post had been deleted.  I was unable to even reply to the moderator who had been dealing with the problem of the widget in the first place.

Our (old) website seems to keep flicking in and out of existance (or they have something in place to keep me off it completely).

The only place I now have access to is their external ticketing system, which is not related to their website hosting ticketing/PM system.

I raised the following ticket yesterday:

Obviously I’ve said or done something to pee someone off.  Last I heard, Brighttree was helping me solve a problem with a widget – I went to reply to his/her latest post and found I couldn’t, and then suddenly I’ve been banned.

That’s of course up to you.  But I was the sole creater and admin of our website, AND the GM.  It needs someone to monitor it, whilst it is still up.  And as far as I’m aware it doesn’t solve the original problem.

Could someone explain please, without getting aggressive?

(as a background to this, as I alluded to previously, I have had problems with wowstead support in the past, where they would be exceptionally rude, resorting to name calling on at least one occasion, and removing tickets I’d raised for no good reason).

The reponse was as follows:

I am sorry, but there is nothing I can do about the banning.

Until we start to delete sites per request, I can remove the content from the site.

I can also remove admin permissions from the site so that no one can make any changes to it.

That way there will not be anything that needs monitoring on the site.

I have now replied:

So basically I have been banned from wowstead so that I can’t see the widget I was asking about, and so that I’m unable to affect my website?

Wow.

Unfortunately I’m not the person I was worried may accidentally pay subs to wowstead – I still have guild members who are members of our guild website here, who don’t visit websites much, and who have the potential to accidentally pay the wrong site.

Will you be banning all those as well?

All I want is an explanation as to why I was banned – which seems horribly drastic and heavy handed to me – as far as I know I haven’t broken any wowstead rules, together with help on removing that one widget.  I would also be interested to know who banned me.

I didn’t swear, or spam, or advertise other guild sites.  Heck, I even made sure the screenshot I put up was a cut down version so it didn’t show our full home page message.  In my exchange of messages with the Mod, she/he was the one who was comparing wowstead to another website first so you can’t blame me for that?  Speaking of which – can you let Brighttree know why I’ve been rude and not replied?

As for the lack of need for site monitoring – no-one else has any permissions, as far as I am aware – I removed those I think when we moved site.  However, there was still the public forum and there was still new widgets popping up occasionally that needed dealing with.  Besides that – I’m generally a fairly “tidy” person (at work, if not privately!) – I don’t like the idea of leaving something I created, spent weeks of hard work on, sitting there with me unable to access it.  Fine if we get to the point where we can delete or simply disable the site, but whilst it is visible, I’d like the ability to work on it.

Plus, whilst it was here, even though our home is elsewhere, I like to monitor how wowstead is doing just in case we move again – obviously after all this, moving back to wowstead in the future is very, very unlikely, but there is nothing wrong with keeping options open.

Normally, I’m a fairly easy going, cheerful person and, at the start of the whole Wowstead hosting thing, I was both those.  But over the course of months they have slowly worn me down, until I now dread having to interact at all with any of them.  Which is no doubt doing a whole load of nice people a disservice – however I know for a fact that at least two of those “nice” people visited the old website prior to me being banned and were therefore aware that I had been asking for help, and have not done anything.

Moving to Guildlaunch was like a breath of fresh air – I don’t feel like I have to keep myself off the forums for fear of some sort of verbal attack, although I’m still very wary of accidentally upsetting someone; I also no longer feel that I could lose any or all of my content without notice (probably due to the major problems Wowstead had with their sites, up to and including seperate websites for completely different guilds getting accidentally merged into one another, permissions suddenly resetting so that anyone could see officer chat, or delete threads, etc, and having mods able to “take on” the persona of any wowstead member, apparently in order to troubleshoot problems).

Wowstead left me feeling persecuted, constantly worried, nervous and twitchy.

Edit:  Just a quick update to give the latest reply from Wowstead:

The content on your site has now been deleted, permissions removed, and the domain is inactive.

We are very sorry that WowStead was not the right fit for you.

Impressive change of policy for a host that claimed it would not delete sites!

I have replied:

Thank you, that’s very nice of you Laughing

I still would like to know exactly WHY I have been banned though?

I really don’t want to spend another sleepless night trying to work out which rule I’d broken.

I don’t honestly expect a response though.  Especially as they have now set my ticket as “fixed” and I’m unable to change that.

I expect they simply took note of the fact that I was no longer a proper Wowstead user, didn’t tow the “wowstead are wonderful” line and even when I did, I was not a fee-paying user, and decided they’d rather not deal with me.  They also didn’t want the potential of me being able to influence other users – hence the banning.

Because if they had simply wanted to be helpful, they would have suggested site deletion in the first place, and carried it out for me, rather than doing it in this very heavy-handed way.

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