I've told this story a few times before: I actually started out on WoW.com as a comment troll. A few years back, Jennie Lees was the lead blogger here, and she posted something silly about a wallpaper or a plush doll, I don't remember. I was also reading the forums at the time, and Blizzard had just dropped new priest patch notes. "Why are you posting this junk," I commented angrily, "when the priest notes just dropped?" She was nice about it -- she actually emailed me and said that the priest updates post was coming soon. And I felt so bad about it, I never activated the comment. But a little while after that, when WoW Insider posted that they were looking for some new writers, I applied, and said that I was sorry for that comment, but that I was working on becoming a writer and could help out with posting on the site when needed.
When I started writing for WoW Insider (now WoW.com, obviously), I was working retail in Chicago, writing part-time in the evenings. The site itself got only a few thousand hits a month, with one or two weekly features and maybe ten comments per post. Now, over three years later, I'm a fulltime freelance writer, I've been to three BlizzCons, I've written over 1.7 million words in over 3,300 posts here about everything in Azeroth, and the site itself rivals some of the best blogs on the Internet, routinely garnering millions of hits a month. I helped build this site with my own two hands, and while I definitely can't claim all the credit (there was and is a huge team of people who keep this thing running), it's with a fair amount of sorrow that I'm here to tell you today will be my last day on WoW.com.
I figured that, after over three years working with the WoW community, I'd share a few things I've learned. One of the things I've figured out while here is to always, always be inclusive. We became as big as we did on WoW.com not by shutting out competitors and ignoring the work of others, but by highlighting it and sharing it and embracing everything in the community that we could find. It's far better to link and give credit and become friends with the sites around you than to try to shut them out and compete with them until one of you shuts down. We made our name not just by doing great work, but by doing it while also sharing and appreciating the great work of others.
I've also learned, similarly, that you should never, ever put down the hard work of others, no matter what you think about it. I've learned it's better to say what you mean and mean what you say -- you can't make something worth making without getting some people angry, but if you're up front about what you're doing, people will value your opinion. I've learned that a lot of you guys really don't care about Arena tournaments or any non-loot TCG cards, but you sure do love cakes and costumes. I've learned that drama is what happens when people take something that's not serious far too seriously, and that when mistakes are made, the best plan is to lay out clearly what went wrong, and don't let it happen again. I've learned that everyone hates paladins, especially monkeys who spec ret.
I want to sincerely thank all of the writers here on WoW.com, both past and present. To a person, they are all exemplary -- every single one of them has done what we asked of them, and then gone on and done more for you readers. My thanks to all of our contributing editors and columnists for all of the work they did for and with me; please keep it up. And you commenters, please give them a break from time to time -- I promise, that priest updates post is coming up soon.
And of course thanks to you all for having me -- it has been my great pleasure to wake up every day and write and podcast about World of Warcraft for your information and entertainment. It's because of you that I got to do this for so long, both here on the site and on the podcast, and I really, sincerely appreciate it. I am proud to say that in all of this time I never forgot why I was here or what we were really doing on this site, and that was always to provide you with content you enjoyed. Thank you for letting me do so. I'm a huge fan of this game, but even moreso, I am such a fan and in such awe of the great people that make up the community around it.
I'll be around -- I'll be working on our mothership blog Joystiq, and I'll be continuing my work on The Unofficial Apple Weblog, so if you like Apple computers and iPods, go say hi over there. You can follow me on Twitter at @mikeschramm, and I have my own personal website at mikeschramm.com. Tomorrow will be my last appearance on the WoW Insider Show, but I'm sure I'll be doing some more podcasting in the future -- it's too much fun not to. Thanks again for everything.
EDIT: The podcast WILL go on after Mike's last appearance tomorrow. We'll be announcing the new host soon. Thanks! - Dan O'Halloran, Managing Editor.