The History of RPGClassics
Beware The Coming Storm:
As time wore on, and as the years passed, ShaheenJim came into increasingly frequent clashes with members of his staff. They began as minor issues, and most people agreed that through discussion a consensus could be reached between the two sides. This would prove to be an incorrect assumption.
The first conflicts began cropping up shortly after Rast left the site following the Great Deletion. It took awhile for the site to recover following the deletion of RPGC (coupled with Rast's abandonment), and thus acquiring new advertisers and message boards took awhile and led to a few brief arguments as egos clashed. The first major disagreement arose between the staff and Jim over the layout.
When RPGC got back on its feet following the Great Deletion, Jim instituted an older layout used some time ago. After awhile Sinistral got annoyed with it and argued for a remodeling. Jim preferred the old one, but eventually consented to an agreement that if the majority of the staff agreed on changing the layout he'd do so. A meeting was held, the staff elected to have a new one, and Jim reluctantly put it into motion.
After this subsequent meetings were a bit chaotic and Jim apparently lost interest in holding such formal decision-making gatherings, and these monthly meetings faded away for a time. This lasted until Wertigon registered a chat channel, at which point an interest in holding these meetings increased, although not from the webmaster's point of view. Tensions appeared to settle down as the site fell into a routine, but the peace was not to last. A dispute over money was the trigger of the next wave of ill will.
The Beginning of the Beginning:
One day in the summer of 2000 ShaheenJim announced (in an effort to get more shrines built) that he would pay new staffers upwards of 100 dollars for new shrines, extending the same privilege to current staff. This seemed like a good idea at the time, but it quickly grew into a storm of hostilities. It was Jim's opinion that paying people for new shrines before the old staff got paid was more important, lest he appear hypocritical for not paying people when he said he would. Plus he probably didn't want to pay for stuff he already had. The current staff of course felt that it might be wiser to pay the people who already made shrines for the site. ShaheenJim tried to balance the system of paying old and new staff, but due to either a shortage of funds, an influx of new staffers, or some feet-dragging by Jim, some staffers did not get paid as timely as they wished.
Chief amongst these unpaid staffers was Sinistral. He had already gotten into a few disagreements with ShaheenJim, and also felt that many of the sites' newer innovations were his own instead of the webmaster's. In any event, he tried to argue with Jim that paying the older staff was more important, and also that Jim should keep his promises by paying off the staff sooner. There were also a few arguments over taxes and how they would be involved with the revenue. Jim, after much protesting, said he'd try to get people their money sooner. Many staffers were paid, although some of the ones who disagreed with Jim more were not paid as timely as others (like Sinistral), all in all this argument was only the sign of things to come.
The weeks and months continued to pass by, and arguments between Jim and the staff increased over many other topics. In the chat room, Jim randomly took away all the "operator" status of the various staffers and chat frequenters, opting for a new system where the more shrines someone made the higher their status (Jim only had 3 shrines at his peak yet remained a senior operator). Most of the staff were clueless as to why this was done, the chat wasn't too busy to begin with (it has since grown) and there didn't seem to be any plausible reason to make this decision. He also removed all staff access to the administrative features of the message boards, shutting them out of that too around the spring of 2000. Around this time much of the staff began to meet either in pairs or in groups (organized the most by Sinistral) to discuss their grievances with Jim and the best logical way of solving their problems.
A little while later things began seriously heating up. Bahamut and Blizzard, two staffers who left in the early days of Jim's ascension (due to personal issues with Jim), returned to the message boards. It was immediately obvious that Bahamut and ShaheenJim never liked each other, ShaheenJim even admitted being amazed at how he couldn't get Bahamut banned on the boards. A few days later, Zeppelin posted a couple of rather large meandering updates on the main page, which Jim "truncated," to put it nicely. This sparked a wave of controversy around the site, and Jim's shortening of Zeppelin's long updates can arguably be seen as the "point of no return" in our little melodrama.
The debate began as Zeppelin simply protesting his "censorship," but the situation soon got uglier. Most of the other staffers and a few frequent posters got involved in the debate and it became apparent to Jim that he could not silence the posters, so he silenced the board instead. ShaheenJim removed the link to the message board on the main page (yet still left the boards on the server) and this obviously incensed many people, not just because their main large-scale communications vehicle was eliminated, but the fact that they weren't consulted on the matter.
This quickly became the first of two major disagreements between the staff and their webmaster. They had (rightfully so) begun feeling that they were no longer a part of the operations of RPGC. Jim ran virtually the entire site himself, he rarely consulted with his staff members (from things ranging from the aforementioned chat room to reformatting shrines against the maintainer's wishes), and if he did it was only to learn how to do something himself.
In fact, as time wore on ShaheenJim came under the delusion that he didn't "need" the staff, that they were merely stumbling blocks against what he thought was the true best course of action. This became evidenced by not only his growing disregard and ignorance of staff suggestions, but also a general flippant attitude towards fellow staffers. Eventually he even arrogantly declared that he "didn't care about the staff" on the message board.
In any event, Jim and the staff agreed that if the staff didn't "flame" him further (as he called it) on the main board that he would bring back the link, the staff even made a new board elsewhere to air out disagreements between Jim and the staff. This (temporary) cease-fire was arranged around January of 2001, and naturally Jim paid very little attention to the new board, and the staff would not need it for long, for the informal meetings first started by Sinistral were becoming more important...
The next event to stir up trouble (before the side-deal just mentioned occurred) was that Luna, personally distrusting Jim and no longer wishing to leave her subsite out of her control, simply removed it from the server, including her Zelda shrines. Jim (who had a backup of the site's work), reuploaded her Zelda shrines, and replaced Luna's name with his own as the maintainer, firing Luna simultaneously -- although not on the main page. This further angered the staffers, and brought up the second major disagreement between ShaheenJim and themselves.
They had created their own shrines on RPGC, and felt that they were under control of them, that they "owned" them. Jim disagreed. He stated that when a shrine joined RPGC it became RPGC's "property" and since he declared that he now "owned" RPGC the shrines belonged to him. He even made continuous references to an "agreement" the staff had all made consenting to this arrangement, which Merlin would later find out to be a lie.
Clearly Jim was incorrect. The individual creators have sole control over their "intellectual property" unless they agreed to hand it over to someone else. Most companies make you sign an agreement saying this when you are hired. Since no one agreed to hand his or her shrines to Jim he didn't have a right in "owning it." However, since at the time Jim was in charge of the server he basically said "tough luck" to this argument, stating that since he was in charge what he said goes and the staff would just have to live with it.
As a "pleasant" side-effect of Luna's deletion Jim changed the FTP passwords, refusing to give it out to most of the staff. This would begin a string of password changes, up to the point where the staff was virtually locked out of their own site. They now existed as staff in name alone and at his beck and call.
Despite the calm exterior on the site, the greatest upheaval seen since The Great Deletion was imminent, just months away. Despite agreeing to this temporary truce with ShaheenJim the staff began to actively discuss what their options were. They had tried to negotiate with Jim, to reach a middle ground and agree on a system where both Jim and the staff could reach consensus on issues, but these compromises largely fell apart due to Jim's increasing misconception that the staff was unimportant.
The staff knew they must be right in their claims, but couldn't figure out what to do about it for a while. They started a Yahoo E-groups messaging service to keep in touch with one another and they kicked around a couple of ideas. They could always leave the site and start a new one, but it would take perhaps years to reach the level RPGC currently was at; this was a most distasteful option. They could just perpetuate Jim's new decree by trying to feel a part of RPGC even though they no longer were; this idea was foolish and also dismissed. The decision they settled on was to take RPGC back.
Rast, the site's founder and original holder of the RPGC domain name, was contacted and the situation explained to him. He could not believe what had happened around the site since he entrusted it to Jim's care, and quickly agreed to help out. The plan was for Rast, being the original registrar of rpgclassics.com, to redirect the URL to point towards a new server, thus cutting Jim out of the loop. This was rapidly agreed upon as the best course of action, and the staff began setting the groundwork for managing the site without ShaheenJim; this phase in the site's history would be known as The Firing.