Modding: Avoid making the same mistakes that I did #3

Don’t expect too much, but DO remove slackers

Modding is unpaid, so you cannot and should not expect to be able to slave-drive people. Modding is also carried out during people’s free time — don’t expect the earth. Give people a bit of slack for getting their work done. If someone drops off for a few weeks or a month due to other commitments and they’re up front about it, that’s fine.  Be straight with people and expect the same in return.

However, if it becomes clear that someone is unreliable and/or lazy, just remove them.  Do not recruit someone to take their place while also keeping the original person on board.  It just bloats the mod team and complicates things when that person tries to return to being active, particularly if they are working on the same area of the mod.

In the three+ years of FF development, I can remember a single instance where an inactive person made a telling contribution after returning to the mod.  The rest of the time the person just did the exact same thing — worked a little for a few weeks and then flaked out.  You will obviously have to make exceptions here or there, but in general you ought to have an idea of what you’re willing to tolerate and stick to it. Once someone fails to hold up their end of the bargain more than a couple of times, just remove them.  It’s easier for all concerned.

It can be difficult if you have grown to know and like someone, but having a mod team with lots of passengers just doesn’t work.  You might think “well, maybe they will dip in and do something useful when they have time”, but believe me, most of them will not.  Acknowledge their contribution and move on.

Be honest

The major thing that pissed me off when working on FF was people who committed to reasonable goals but then stalled, lied and ultimately disappeared without having the good grace to simply admit that they haven’t got anything done. I much preferred it if someone came to me and said “I’m sorry but I just haven’t got anything done in the last few weeks”.  If someone is honest you can have a quick chat with them and try to sort out their situation (maybe they are unhappy with something)

Similarly, I was honestly never once angry if someone said to me “sorry, but I don’t have the time/energy/motivation/whatever to continue on the mod”.  Someone who is honest and tells you that they cannot continue is much better than someone who wastes months of your time by lying about non-existent progress.  If a mod isn’t for you, that’s fine.  Just tell someone and then leave!   It’s not hard.  The mod loses someone who was not producing much and can replace them.  The person can move on to something that is more their cup of tea.  Everyone is happier.

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