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NEWS Minecats, myself, the community

AeSix

[SysOp]
Staff member
Owner
#1
Preface:
This is a long post. If you will not take the time to read it, then that's on you. There are things in this post which will upset many of you, on various levels. The only advice I have for those whom this upsets: Get over it, or leave.

I felt I owe the community an explanation as to why Minecats is currently shut down. I also feel it is important that the community understands Minecats' history, and the paths we've lead to get to where we are. It's been an interesting and complex 6 and a half years.

=======================

Minecats started when Cindy had an idea over Christmas in 2013. She and her son Awexdio proceeded to create a new Minecraft server, opening December 24th, 2013. In 014, I met Cindy in a support channel for a plugin, Essentials. At first, I gave her no more attention than I would give any other person. But, over time, our friendship grew. One day, we realized we lived somewhat close to each other. At the time, I was in Pennsylvania helping my friend move from Tampa to the mountains, and helping him build a really awesome cottage for him and his family. We came back down to collect more of his stuff to move to Pennsylvania. I told Cindy I would be back in Florida. We decided to meet each other in person. Shortly later, She flew over to London, England for Minecon. My friends and I went back to Pennsylvania. At this time, I started working directly with the servers, on the back end. Our friendship grew into a personal relationship, and by August 2015, she decided she wanted me to move in, and our relationship flourished. By this time, Awexdio had lost almost all interest in Minecraft, and Minecats. Cindy changed jobs (got a much better one) which limited the amount of time she could easily give to Minecats. I stepped up and took over more responsibilities for running the servers.

I stayed mostly invisible, behind the scenes for a good long time before taking any in-game responsibilities. Some time in mid 2016, I took the "SysOp" title in game. I seen myself as a link between Cindy and the community. My job was largely to implement changes Cindy wanted, to take issue reports from the staff, to fix those things, and to enforce the rules Cindy laid down. This is the agreement Cindy and I had at the time.

The great exodus came. Certain staff members felt jaded, igored, and passed by - by Cindy and I both. A lot of emotions were flying because I was now in charge. Some staff dug up dirt on me. Oh no! It looks like I was arrested! When I confirmed and accepted that, with no worry - lies about me began. Things which I could only refute, but which there was no proof (because these accusations were completely made up lies) This didn't seem to matter to many of the staff, for which began a covert propaganda campaign against me, thus much of our userbase left - either believing the lies, or not wanting to deal with the drama. On a daily basis. I became increasingly disgruntled at these people. At one point, a certain ex-staff claimed ownership of the Survival server, removing all mention of Cindy from the server, and claiming it as their own, completely and in whole. At Cindy's order, this staff was banned. She was beyond furious at this. This caused even more players to leave. This situation probably could had been handled better. We live, we learn, we try to do better from the lessons in our lives.

Time after time, we had staff who, for what ever reason, kept going this route. Feeling as though they owned the server which they were admin on, acting as though they were above the rules. Becoming uncooperative and attempting to take control while knocking Cindy and I out. At one point, an admin attempted to ban me from the server.

About this time, Left2Die was removed from Minecats. This was the one server which Cindy did not actually own or operate, but which was linked with Minecats, for common advantages. The owner did not tell us he was leaving Minecats, and instead set up a proxy to his new server. He banned Cindy and I from connecting. To a server linked to our own network. Cindy, again, was furious about this. She was betrayed.

Since 2018, Minecats has not been profitable. We reacted by moving to less expensive hosting, by moving the forums, cutting costs where we could without adversely affecting the Minecraft servers as little as we could. Even at this, the cost to run and operate Minecats is still quite expensive, with monthly bills increasingly paid out of pocket. Other than 2 donations in 2020, every aspect of Minecats has been paid out of pocket. This is money which I could easily use for other things - from games, to computer parts, to woodworking. I could literally pay for a new vehicle for the monthly costs of running Minecats. This is even considering that Minecats is hosted from our home now. We made the decision to move to home hosted in early to mid 2019.

So, let's go over what we're actually paying for:
4 Virtual Private Servers (VPSs) for the gateway addresses (us. uk. eu. and sg.)
Several VPSs for the forums, website, Minecraft vote catching service (where we count your votes for Minecats), and other services
Business ISP account
Buycraft account
our Electric bill (for running the servers, and the air conditioner to keep them cool)
Licensing for various software
Domain name registrations

Then there's the one-time purchases we've had to make:
Battery backup units (UPS)
Server hardware
server upgrades
plugins
other software

When all is said and done, we spend $7,500-$10,000 a year to operate Minecats and the associated services.

In early 2018, I decided we would continue to operate Minecats as a hobby, which I would use to continue to practice and expand my knowledge and skills as a system admin. I made this decision because the community is great, and I didn't want that to disappear. I didn't want Minecats to be remembered for some short time as "a great place that was" Not because of some nostalgia or emotional attachment I have to the thing, but because I really love to see the friendships that are made, and blossom both in game and in the rest of the community. I love seeing the awesome things people make - even the really creative, yet inappropriate builds - I gain much amusement from certain builds. I took it upon myself to take the financial hit to continue running Minecats because of the wonderful community, my ability to continue to learn from the community and new system admin techniques and skill, and my interest in these things.

For quite a while, I have been wanting to step back away from in-game management. I have been wanting staff to step up, to take over operating the games and managing the in-game aspect of the community. My attempts to move towards this has been met time and time again with failure. Staff taking too much control and ignoring what Cindy and I want, not taking enough control at all and using their staff position as a social status, or straight up leaving.

At the end of the day, Cindy and I are legally and financially responsible for Minecats. As such, it is nowhere near out of the question that our instructions, rules and policies be followed. And yet, they are not.

Over the last month, we went from being very excited with a large potential to get things rolling on the right track to having 2 higher staff leave, other staff being condescending, players being extremely rude, and seemingly nothing being done.

(1 of 2, please read the rest in the comments!)
 

AeSix

[SysOp]
Staff member
Owner
#2
I currently have very little time and energy to put into Minecats. Writing this message to you all is taking up time from other tasks I have to do today. But I feel I owe everyone an explanation. On July 7th, I was met with a user who decided to tell me that he would ddos the server, has multiple accounts, and access to VPN and proxies. This, if correct, would have meant a long night of fighting with this child, banning accounts and IP address, and ensuring firewall and security policies on at least 8 different computer host servers were working properly. I'm tired, have no energy for such things, and have no interest in fighting like that, or otherwise. Over the last week, I have been looking for reasons to keep Minecats running. I have found a few weak reasons. That night, I was met with one very strong reason to shut it down. I made a rash, quick decision, and shut the game servers down. I gave no warning, no explanation. For this I am very sorry and feel I have betrayed the community, the people who truly support Minecats and what we stand for.

Over the last 2 days, I have asked for reasons to turn it back on. I have gotten several really beautiful stories, and many many reasons why Minecats should be allowed to continue. And even some reasons why it should stay off.

I have been wanting to discuss this with Cindy, to find what is best for us, and if we are to continue, how we should. We were to do this after dinner yesterday evening. However, another issue occurred which distracted us, and we were unable to have the discussion as we planned.

That issue explained, so you understand why it took precedence over Minecats:
As many of you know, my mother passed away in 2017, mere days before Cindy and I were married. In August of 2019, my step father was in what would become a fatal car accident, passing away almost 3 weeks later. We were unable to find his will, and as such the property which, for 20 years, had been promised to me, for which I had spent a lot of money and energy on to help maintain, was stripped away from me. The way inheritence works in Florida is... not clear and straight. I was told by our lawyer that I had no claim to the property as when my mother passed away, all of her claim was inherited by my step father. His siblings, who had wanted nothing to do with the man, or the property for the entire time I have known him, had told me that since I had no legal claim to the property that I would be arrested if I were ever to set foot on the property again.

Yesterday, while working with my brother to build organization in his garage, I received a text message from someone wanting to discuss that property, citing that he was told by my step father's siblings, to contact me. He was under the impression (as an expert in real estate law) that my siblings and I /did/ inherit a total of 1/4 of the property, contradicting the lawyer. He is now having his lawyer research the issue, and will let us know. This has stirred a lot of emotions in me, and Cindy as well. We were unable to turn our focus back to Minecats because of this.

With that said, here are the options we have, and which Cindy and I will discuss ad-nauseam.

There are three basic options we have:
Leave it shut down
Start it back up
Sell it to someone for a LOT of money. (Somewhere in the range of tens of thousands of US dollars)

Leave it shut down:
1) We would retain all rights to the brand, the servers, worlds and builds.
2) Sell off portions in part or in whole for personal use (NOT to be used for other servers)

Sell Minecats to someone else:
- This, by far, is the least appealing option to use. However, it may be a better option than leaving everything off.
1) The sale would be for the servers, worlds, builds, user accounts, donor positions, etc- so everyone would be able to continue to build the things they have started, just not at Minecats. This would leave the brand rights with Cindy and I.
2) Sell everything, including the brand rights. This would be for more money than anyone reading this could afford.

Start it back up:
This is by far the most desirable option, of the three. However, there are several ways we could do this:
1) Go back to how things were, and hope that people will step up to help run things.

2) Do a pay-to-play model, where everyone may join the lobby, but have no permission unless they purchase access

3) Go to a public whitelist server - requiring people to request access through discord in some automated fashion.
4) Turn it into a private whitelisted server where new players may join by invitation only.
5) Go back to a public server, finish getting the little issues resolved, and leaving it at 1.15.2 forevermore, letting it stagnate.
6) Partial start up with only Creative and Survival, and focus our energies on these two servers.
7) A split Minecats with public servers and VIP servers, requiring a monthly subscription to access the VIP servers
8) Some other mix of 1-6 above

Cindy and I both feel that there is only one option above which does not lead to a death spiral, however even that option will require people to step up to take more responsibilities while still working with Cindy and I to ensure that Minecats remains both under our control and represents what we want for the community.

Cindy has very little time to focus on Minecats
I have declining interest in managing the in-game aspects
I have decreasing time and energy for Minecats with everything else in my life I have to do.
Minecats has a declining number of users
Minecats staff has been declining in numbers and activity

The only way to make Minecats successful is for us to build a strong and active staff team, and for more players to join. We currently do not have the funds to both operate and advertise Minecats, and honestly, Minecats is not in a good state for which to advertise. I feel it is falling apart and any new players will join, look around and leave because of it's current state (if we were to turn everything back on)

For almost a full day, I have seen so much more activity in the Discord than I have in months. Maybe even a year. So many people have come out to discuss Minecats being shut down, their fond memories, beautiful and wonderful stories how Minecats has positively affected their lives, and the friendships made. July 8th was a great example of what the Minecats community is all about. I even started crying when reading some of those stories.

I don't know if those were tears of sorrow for a thing lost, for the beauty Minecats had a part in creating, or because I know I just don't have the ability by myself to bring those joys and wonders to our current and new players again.

I have been praying on this well. I know most would not assume me to be a religious man. I know as well, I have not acted or spoken like a good Christian. I have been coming back to my faith over the last several months and am learning to be a better Christian, a better person. In this time of Covid-19, the sheer stupidity and fear mongering that goes along with that, the riots and hatred spreading throughout the US and the world at large, and now my personal crisis relating to Minecats. It's been a lot to deal with on my own, and have found help and answers where I knew to look all along. I have no plans to force my Christianity upon any one else, and regardless if Minecats is turned back on, that won't change. God has given me answers, some I do not like, and some I do. But I also know God does not micro-manage man kind. The best I can ever ask for is guidance for my own actions and path in life. I have been met with a heart broken, split between wanting to continue, to keep Minecats going as a community where we can all have fun, and create wonderful experiences with each other - and a heart where it is time to move on, and let those wonderful memories be untarnished by continued failures and darkness which can be brought to and created by the community.

Cindy and I will pray and discuss the future of Minecats. I don't know when we will be able to do this, God willing it will be this evening. Please pray that we are able to make the right choice, and that God guides us through this.

If the above offends you to the point of anger, please just move on and away from Minecats - I'm completely and utterly done with disrespect, trolls and people whose only goal in life is to make ours miserable.

Everyone else, regardless of religion, ideology, etc, are and will always be welcome to Minecats, provided our rules of respect are followed. Our rules are quite simple and in my opinion are not overly strict. They are designed to allow everyone to enjoy Minecats, without drama, disrespect, harassment, etc. If that's too much to ask, please also move along.

I make this promise here and now that I will no longer allow evil to be the controlling force for Minecats - even if that means leaving it shutdown. We will run a community based on love for each other, in a Godly manner, if God's will for Minecats is to be allowed to continue.
 

WInd_War_Cat

[Villager]
The Villagers built this community!
#5
Aesix and Cindy,

No matter what happens with the Minecats network, I wanted to thank you for all that you did for this server. This server has given me so many memories, and again, I would like to thank you all for that. From killing level 50 ender dragon infernals, to simply making builds. Minecats was my first introduction to Minecraft on the Java Edition. I vividly remember being on the phone with MattyNJ and setting up my first head shop on the creative server.

I wish you and Cindy well.

Thank you,
Wind
 

OldTimePlayer

[Villager]
The Villagers built this community!
#6
I used to play a long time ago but have since lost my Minecraft Account due it being so long since i had played.
Minecraft would forever be duller if minecats ever shut down. I remember always being excited to play after school. I was a pretty big part of the community back then. I remember having the biggest skyblock at some point. I hope youre still around when i eventually decide to rebuy minecraft. Also i support your decision to become a christian.
 
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