So, as of this morning, the RPGNow Haiti contribution level is up around eighty five thousand dollars. For some context, Wells Fargo gave $100k, which is to say, we’re awesome.
But this is the internet, and some people can’t see a beautiful pool without wanting to drop a turd in it. Then point at the turd. Then touch themselves inappropriately. Intellectually, this isn’t much of a shock, but it still ends up bothering me a lot.
See, for me, the reason I chose to contribute through RPGNow rather than some other venue was partly influenced by the awesome bundle of free games but it was more a matter of my sense of identity. I’m a gamer, and this was the action that my tribe was taking, and I wanted to back that play. As a tribe, we tend to be pretty bad at organizing for this sort of stuff, so when the opportunity arose, it was amazing to see just how profound the outpouring of support from creators and players has been. 
And that’s why the crazy people bug me more than they should. They’re part of my tribe too. Sure, some of them try to self-select out of it by associating themselves with some narrow slice of the tribe or try to expel some groups from the tribe by force of will, but neither of those approaches affect me much – it’s my tribe, and I’m proud to be a member. And by extension, I am ashamed when a member of my tribe goes off the deep end. I might be able to handle it if it was just the Timecube style conspiracy theorists, but the petty stuff gets to me too, so let me just lay down this shout to the void. I invite the Internet to share this when needed.
ESPECIALLY if you’re a crazy person.
Look, I know that you don’t think you’re crazy, and that this obviously doesn’t apply to you, but just think about how people respond to what you say. It’s not about whether you are crazy, it’s about whether people think you’re crazy. And if they think you’re crazy, they’re not going to listen to the incredibly important truths that you have seen which need to be shared. In this, truth is like craziness – it doesn’t matter if it’s so, it just matters what people think.
So, if you have some Powerful Truths to share, you owe it to yourself and the world to stop and think about how you present them. If you can’t present them in a way that people will listen to, then you have failed. No one will see the truth because you were too proud to learn how to communicate. You will get dismissed as “crazy” by the people who don’t understand the truth. This may not bother you personally because you understand that you are above their petty assessments, but the problem is not a personal one. If you are perceived as a “Crazy Guy,” that creates a barrier to you getting your message out.
The key is that your unique insight comes with a responsibility to learn to communicate in a way that gets people to listen. That might mean less profanity or laying a foundation for you argument before presenting a conclusion or making sure the sources you cite are held in equal esteem by your audience. This may be frustrating: most of the people you’re talking to are clearly not smart enough to understand what you’re telling them, but if you cannot communicate your idea to lesser minds, you’ve just written off most of the world.
If you don’t take that responsibility, they will never understand.
So man up. Communication skills are trivial to learn compared to the things you already grasp. It may feel like you’re hobbling yourself at first, but just remember that most people aren’t ready to handle the full weight of understanding all at once – it would be like trying to drink from a fire hose. But if you can regulate the flow, then you can bring them around to comprehension by offering them truth a sip at a time, until they discover a thirst they didn’t know was there, and start -asking- you for more.
1 – Totally anecdotal.
2 – Things I Can’t believe I Have To Say: OF COURSE you’re not going to find every game in the bundle useful. There are a lot of different games there. Shock. But if your decision-making process is “Well, I would contribute, but the free prize is just not good enough” then you may not want to publicize that fact.
3 – More things I can’t believe I have to say: Publishers are not getting any kickbacks or hidden benefits for their contribution to the bundle. Every publisher makes their own decision regarding what to contribute, and most of them (including Evil Hat) have included supplemental material, but there are no shortage of publishers with a single flagship game that have slapped that down on the counter. But whatever the publishers put up, they did it because they wanted to, not for any other reason. In fact, the bundle is hurting most of the creators who contributed (and rpgnow too, I am quite certain): the combination of the draw of the bundle and the impact on the site as a whole has really cut down all other sales.
4 – Another thing I can’t believe I have to say: As much as this might boggle some people, the invisible magic that makes computers go is not actually free, even if it looks it to you. Bandwidth, storage, invoicing, administration, support and money-handling all cost money, even for a company which sells entirely electronic products like RPGnow. Even setting aside lost revenue from other products, and even setting aside the cost of the matching they’re doing, this bundle is costing them money, and very nearly nuking their site. And they do it anyway because these are the tools they have, and you make a difference with what you’ve got.