Player's Blog

This Great Community | Part 2: Bad Dragon vs. the Tender Lamb

A cautionary tale of sexism, elitism, lies, deceit, crisis, assault, and power abuse.

This is a long one, and I don’t have a ton of energy to go into it as it’s not the main focus of these series of posts, but it does lead to some of the actions by the community I want to address, so its context is helpful. And it’s probably my last chance to share it with people, and to warn them. And, maybe I can stop people being hurt by him, too. Or at least give them pause so they can protect themselves.

I’ve kept completely quiet about the issues between Nemekh and I these past few years. You cannot say the same of him. Since I’m leaving, might as well be my turn.

Static Drama, that’s really just it.

I think it was somewhere in the late fall of 2018 that we picked up Nemekh Kinryu for our raid group along with his friend Aloise Nel’hah to do the Savage tier together. Yes, that Nemekh. It was quickly apparent that Nemekh had an overreliance on blaming “server ping” for Every. Single. Mistake. He made. Nemekh, who lived in the UK at the time was playing with us on Primal, a North American datacenter. So it does stand to reason that he would face more ping challenges than the rest of us. 

But we had played with other UK gamers before (and did so after, too). None of them came remotely close to the volume of mistakes or excuses Nemekh was making. It grated on the group, badly. There was one night in O10s (the Midgardsormr fight where he spins in a combination to tell you which spots were safe) where Nemekh tried to propose a strategy change to something everyone else had been performing consistently for weeks — a change that boiled down to the 7 other players adjusting for him, a Summoner. It didn’t go over very well. Then another couple of times he blamed the mistakes he was making on running in some PF runs doing different strategies and he was mixing up the habits. Still another time, just after he had gotten his crowdfunded PC, he came to raid with nothing set up, and we had to wait for him. Notably, for those spins in O10s, he had set up a special trigger set up (beyond the scope of what triggers normally can do, though I won’t claim to know the technical specifications) but he hadn’t got it working on the new PC that day. So I was doing vocal callouts for the movements. I wasn’t using triggers, I just knew the mechanic and offered to do the call – and I was calling them as soon as the boss moved — plenty of time to perform the mechanic, even for UK players. He snapped at me for not calling them quick enough when he would get hit.

Things eventually came to a head in our Unending Coil of Bahamut (UCoB) prog. The excuses were getting really thick, and patience was waning. He complained that no one in the group trusted him – and he wasn’t wrong. So, I told him. Honestly. I pointed to the past examples of him deflecting, how the group had felt about it, how he didn’t always prioritize the group’s time, and most importantly I constructively tried to demonstrate different ways he could approach communicating his issues so it didn’t grate on the group and instead encourage us to help him when he acknowledges he’s struggling. And I put it bluntly: we respect the work you do for the community, but your actions in the raid group had made the members lose some of that respect. And respect is something earned, not given. I couldn’t wave a magic wand to get it back for you, but you can work towards earning it back by being more respectful to everyone else.

Oh boy was that the wrong move. Apparently I had bruised the giant ego of the Great and Powerful Nemekh. How dare I say respect is something earned?! 

There’s more to this story, but to gloss over and cut it short, we kept on for a few more weeks and things deteriorated much much worse. He’s data-oriented, so a couple of nights I broke down through multiple people’s VoDs and cross checked them with the logs that were uploaded and did my best to quantify the source and cause of each and every wipe so we could hone in on the issues. He was green. Surprisingly he thanked me for the data, even though he had emerged as one of the primary wipe sources

Eventually he quit. Claiming he “wasn’t going to burn bridges.”

He then proceeded to throw a nuclear bomb at all of the bridges, repeatedly. Still does. All over some petty static drama. That’s it. That’s all there is. That’s what he can’t swallow his pride over.

Some time last year after he stepped down from the Balance another mentor had finally asked for my side of the story, this is rough but what I typed up for them. It has the highlights plus full paste bins of our chat history.

Full Transparency, something he was always on about, yet never was transparent for about this. 

If you want the full drama details, as well as the source of his delusions and refutes to the claims, give that a look.

Now keep in mind even back then Nemekh was a big name in the community. He had hands in a lot of things — or rather, the perception of hands in things without actually doing anything for them — and people knew his name. He was “the stat weights” guy. And “the summoner” guy. And “the theorycrafting” guy. And “the TheoryJerks” guy (TheoryJerks was the previous name to the current Allagan Studies). I was just some scrub White Mage girl.

So when the shit hit the fan, it was only natural for everyone to flock to him. It was my word up against the big bad dragon. I didn’t stand a chance. Granted, there wasn’t actually any evidence for him to point to, but that didn’t stop him from launching a massive and still ongoing smear campaign against me.

Ramza and I were blindsided by it. Afterall his last message to the group was that he wasn’t going to close the channels to talk to us.

And my last message to him, oooo look how terrifying and bad of a person I was:

 

He blocked us shortly after. Apparently the story he spun was that I was deliberately trying to ruin his fanfest experience by reaching out to him that day.

The Smear Campaign

The smearing started small, but increased steadily. First he just wouldn’t talk to us. Then he started actively shit talking on his server. Go ahead and search through Akhmorning if you’re on there, I know I come up. You know how in the blame game, the first acquisition made is the one that tends to stick with people? He plays into that hard. 

The amusing part is he took all of the issues I constructively lodged with him to try and get him to work on, and claimed they were all issues I had. Deflecting blame, inconsistent performance, greeding casts and getting hit for it, poor communication. But “let him who is without sin cast the first stone,” essentially — I wanted no part of the shitflinging fest. I said nothing negative or derogatory about him in any public or private channels, ever. This is the first time I’m publicly talking about the issues, and why he was unwilling to work with me on a web project.

Also let’s make that extra clear: I was always ready and willing to work with him, even after everything. The door was always open on my side.

I tried to reconcile. Many times. I tried to appeal to the Balance staff to help convince him to reconcile. He didn’t have to like me, but surely we could get to the point of a passive working relationship, as clearly our roles had overlap. It would be better for everyone if we could at least coexist at a bare minimum level.

But no, his response was always that “I wasn’t worthy of it.”

And the Balance’s response was always “this isn’t related to the server,” “no one here wants to deal with it,” “we don’t want to hear it,” — I’m not being facetious, those were the actual staff responses.

One past moderator, for example:

The more emboldened he got, the more it blocked me from trying to help in various aspects of the community. I took serious issue with this, though no one else cared. Afterall, it didn’t affect them.

I work full time in a position as a web editor, where including creating and managing digital content for my company’s website, I also handle their social media channels. In short, I have many years of real world working experience in marketing, public relations, and web content. I tried, many times, to get involved with the Balance’s website and their social media “team.” But guess who was in the channels for those projects already? No way I was being added.

I had come to Skye with a whole list of social media post ideas to try and get our channels running more routinely – helping to disseminate the work the Balance mentors were doing. I had ideas about having the twitch channel host mentors and other community members to spotlight. I had ideas about the website. Heck, I’m the one who designed all of the Balance’s branding.

But apparently real work experience and demonstrated knowledge was never enough to get added to those other projects?

Before the Shadowbringers launch, one of the admins (Dev_nights) at the time was trying to get in contact with Square Enix’s media contact, to see if we could get in on the media tour. As this was heavily in the public relations camp, I offered to help edit the correspondence since the way we came across was extremely important. Unlike all other media tour invitees, we didn’t have an acknowledged content production channel (like an established YouTube or Twitch channel, or content sites like Gamer Escape, where on each they routinely make posts about FFXIV). So I took on trying to amplify the angles we do have that would appeal to SE, as we were already well ahead as the largest FFXIV discord server by then. Matching a B2B (business to business) expectation here was much more important — this wasn’t a small indie game dev. We needed to be professional.

But then, suddenly, Nemekh was added to the task. And suddenly my every suggestion was challenged with his opinion of what to do. — His previous experience is quite literally just in a customer service role for a dildo company, from which he was fired after much drama, and also previously in a community role (I think unpaid?) for Everquest some decade or two ago. But apparently his “gaming industry” experience and “connections” that he didn’t actually have trumped mine real-world practical experience. Subsequent correspondences were handled without my inclusion, despite my success at getting a response to the first message.

This became a common occurrence, both inside and outside of the Balance. I was afraid to get involved in anything, for him to come in and rip it away from me. But I still wanted to help this community that I loved. I wonder now why I loved it.

I tried to appeal to the moderation team when Nemekh made an announcement post on his discord server publicly admonishing Blake and I as dishonest, awful, bad people. 

Here was a case of one Balance mentor outwardly smearing and demeaning the other. Surely, I thought, this was a server issue we could actually address. My asks weren’t big, I thought one of two things would be fair:

  1. Either he is made to remove/edit the post on his server

  2. Or all links to his server are removed from the Balance since his server is actively slandering another staff member

Seemed reasonable?

Here was the official moderation response:

In short: “not our server, nothing we can do.”

I responded with more details about projects I’ve been blocked or removed from (the aforementioned social media, web, and PR ones). I offered full 100% transparency to the entirety of my discord account. As in, I offered to screenshare, log in, show them any DMs and servers, run any query on any server or whatever I’m in, etc. Honestly something I should in no ways have to have done. But you have to realize the bulk of the staff was against me at this point. Dance the dance, Levi.

Nemekh is very effective when it comes to manipulation and persuasion. It doesn’t matter that there was no evidence to any claims he was making. It doesn’t matter that he instigated every argument that flared up. I tried to ignore what was flung, I failed at that a lot though. I was enemy #1. One misstep and they’d easily have my head.

Can you imagine staying in the community with a target on your back like that?

But I did. I was never in it for the clout of the role color. I was in it for the little sprout white mages who would DM me asking what the heck weaving is, or who were too frightened to roll their damage GCD and heal less. Who find enjoyment from improving at the game they loved too. That’s who I was always in this for. 

 

I broke several times though. The anxiety attacks were heavy and large last year in particular. And the server that I was trying to contribute so much to? They never had my back. Even when I needed them most.

The Dragon Persona

Nemekh has some primary claims he’s made about me over the years. That I’m distrustful, that I talked about him constantly behind his back, that my performance was poor. The irony is that he’s the one who’s been dishonest. He’s the one who literally hops into streamer’s chats like Oryza’s to publicly admonish me, leaving nasty and false comments on his YouTube videos when I’m mentioned. He’s the one who made a whole announcement on his server about how bad I am; I’ve never made mention of him on mine. He’s the one who, when asked why we can’t collaborate together said, “he only works with professionals.”

I wonder if it was lost on him that I’m actually a web professional. And that his “professionals” he paid through the nose for a redesign missed some basic fundamentals of web design that would never fly in an actual professional setting.

The funny thing is, I even sent him issues with his site when it launched, by proxy of course, to try and help him. Things like what was broken on mobile, the lack of a discernable pagination button, things cut off, etc. Sent them to people like Furst and such to pass on anonymously.

As for dishonest, he’s very very good at drumming up his own clout without actually lying about it.

Let me grab an example from his site:

“Approached directly by google” literally just means your google analytics account sent you an automatically generated email about adsense because they want to make money off of you and you make money too. And he didn’t even implement the ads with Adsense.

I say that because of course I’ve gotten those messages as well, SaltedXIV pulls more traffic than Akhmorning based on Google Analytics data. And I was exploring adding them to offset project costs before shit hit the fan.

But this is how he does his work. He arranges phrases in such a way that make it seem like there’s much more importance to what’s going on than there actually is. But he does it without technically lying. 

“I was chatting with -name drop- about X and they said…” actually means “I DM’d this person unprompted a question about X” but the implication for those reading the message is, “I’m just really friendly with -name drop- and we were causally chatting about X.” That’s not stated, of course, so it’s not a lie. But the dishonest implications are wild. Frankly, they’re also impressive how well he pulls them off.

He’s also very good at making it seem like he does a lot more work than he actually has. Let’s go over some examples:

Rankings Site

Now let’s take the FFLogs Raid Statistics site: https://rankings.akhmorning.com/ 

Now, notably, he does credit the original user’s concept. But what you don’t know is that the code that runs the scripts to calculate the data he didn’t write himself. Another developer in the community had an extremely heavy hand in fixing it so that he wasn’t running thousands of functions individually. So, another one person’s original concept, and another person’s code to do the bulk of the work. But who’s name do you remember? That’s by design.

Akhmorning

Now to touch on his website. This is a fun one so buckle in. A developer friend of mine described Nemekh as “not a developer at all, but a cobbler” meaning he takes bits and pieces he finds of other people’s code, like on stack overflow, and tries to cobble them all together to get them to work. In short, Nemekh doesn’t do the actual development work on his website. He may help maintain some simpler functions for all I know. And obviously he’s doing the bulk of content management – I can certainly speak to how much work that is – but he outsources a developer he pays to do the site work. 

Which is, of course, absolutely fine! If that’s what you want to do for your project, by all means. But it’s not clear to users and he doesn’t exactly take steps to clarify misconceptions when others have them. Because the misunderstanding benefits his persona. 

This is someone who dropped $10,000 reportedly on the site design. To spite me and this website. He would rather drop $10,000 out of spite than collaborate with me because of static drama from three years ago and his own grand delusions. That’s why there would never be an Akhmorning and SaltedXIV collaboration. I link to his site because I care more about players finding the best info out there than I do about my pride for “associating” with him. The same can not be said in reverse.

Notably his team of “professionals” blatantly violated trademark law when they used the Square Enix Meteor symbol in his logo. Not exactly standard level work. The real reason why the logo changed recently was because SE approached him about the violation of their media use policy and “asked” (made) him change it. Curious how he doesn’t mention the obvious oversight publicly: https://www.akhmorning.com/news/new-logo-updates-and-fanfest-giveaway/#akhmornings-new-logo 

But let’s talk a bit more about his site. Let’s talk about the content contributors. Did you know the Red Mage contributors tried to leave Akhmorning? Did you know when one requested his content removed from Akhmorning’s website, Nemekh’s response was to hide that person’s name from the authorship credits and that was it? That was his response to the request to remove their content. I can’t think of a single thing more disrespectful to the contributors of your project than keeping their content and removing their name. 

That did bite him a bit internally though. Even those who are drunk on Nemekh’s inability to do any wrong started asking questions here. It left a hole in the trust between contributor and project owner.

One that, until this post, I had done a pretty bang up job of not doing. Every aspect of SaltedXIV was designed to put control in the hands of the content contributor (including your very own delete button!) from the ground up my primary goal was setting up a platform that people could readily and easily post and update content to. Those same Red Mages had plans to add their content to SaltedXIV, if not by 5.55 then by 6.0 for sure. Hinoka, who has swapped to Machinist since, has already authored some posts here.

Granted, with these posts I’m making today I’m also lighting a torch to the trust they had in me. Well, whatever of it was left. I don’t think there was much. But let’s make sure I can’t come back.

Harassment

I also want to talk about the actual harassment Nemekh lodged towards the developer who worked on the tooltips for this site. When Nemekh got wind that I had someone working on actual functioning action tooltips boy was he livid. This was something he also apparently had wanted for Akhmorning, and tried and failed to develop his own. Akhtion tips or something like that, he called them. So as soon as I made mention of it in the srs staff channel and I even mentioned it to him specifically that it would be really great for him to use on his site too, he immediately went into the developer’s DMs. The first message out of his mouth was smearing me for “talking about the tooltips and not giving you any credit.” 

Now, I mentioned the tooltips extremely briefly (and in a channel Nemekh wasn’t supposed to leak from) and spoke only to what they do/how they function. Essentially the message was something along the lines of “oh the site will have hoverable tooltips that when a user hovers over them it’ll pull data from XIVAPI to show accurate action info.” I didn’t make any mention of who was making them (to the point, the developer didn’t really want his name attached to it).

That was the tip of the iceberg though. 

Nemekh repeatedly and constantly barraged and harassed this developer about the tooltips and about me. About how he shouldn’t trust me, that I’d just steal his work. About how awful I was. About how I was “taking all the credit” for it (I wasn’t). It was pretty gross.

The part that really ticked my poor developer friend off was when Nemekh started asking for ways to write me out of the code. And, specifically, how to get me out of the license and copyright notice for the library. Something that just breaks the very fundamental ethics of a good developer. 

Nemekh sent several from his community to harass this person in DMs about the accreditation, the license, how to write me out or overwrite my contributions, too. The HTML structure, css, and general design and implementation of those tooltips was my own work, for those wondering. The developer did do the large share and all the magic bits with the AOI, and I give all hard work credits to him routinely, though he likes to keep to the shadows.

After the slew of harassment, the developer took an indefinite break from all XIV communities. That’s how bad it got.

The Vue-XIVTooltips are open source under the Apache 2.0 license by the way: https://github.com/xivapi/vue-xivtooltips. Meaning, anyone is free to use them and implement them in their own projects. Some, like the dancer calc, already have! So, isn’t it odd then that a project like Akhmorning, whose user base would actively benefit from this feature’s inclusion on the site, a feature that Nemekh himself tried to replicate, don’t use this freely available open source library?

Not really. His pride is too big for him to use something that has my name on it buried in a copyright file. That’s the only reason. 

Special Shoutout: Fey’s Temperance

In truth, a lot of the top members of this community aren’t so great as you might think. I’ll do a special sidebar here to talk about a community that closely aligns with Akhmorning, Fey’s Temperance.

Now, I very specifically don’t link to any of Fey’s Temperance’s resources on SaltedXIV (though, not that they’d let me, either) because frankly they’re very poor, inaccurate, and filled with misinformation. 

But the crux of what’s off about the community isn’t that aspect. Nor is it the questionable amount of funds they have to throw around, where they attempt to whale their way to relevancy without any perceivable income source.

The origins of Fey’s Temperance come from fallen Scholar Balance Mentor, Yuni Azure. Someone I had personally put forward for her mentorship and actively mentored her approach to teaching too. However the clout of the role quickly went to her head. Where she was originally humble and open minded to differing opinions, she became overly headstrong, to the point where she actively worked against anyone who disagreed with her. This came to a head a few times when she abused her powers as a Balance Mentor to silence the voice of other content contributors. 

When the developer who worked on the some Scholar components of a popular community made tool stopped jumping to the snaps of her finger like a lap dog, she removed his access from the theorycrafting channel and revoked her support for the project. In short, she abused her power to prevent him from further contributing in the balance, and also decided to no longer provide any contributions (which, in fairness, were quite small anyways) to a project that benefited other players. Because of her pride.

Then came a comparison spreadsheet she wanted to make for all of the healer roles, with pros and cons of Astrologian, vs. Scholar. White Mage was notably absent from the process, honestly I think because Yuni didn’t yet have the confidence to contend with me. She was challenged quite a bit by Tobio, the Scholar Guide writer. Not just for the information on the sheet, but because the presentation would actively lead to the detriment of the player base with inaccurate perceptions of one job looking better than the other, more than was actually true.

For his crimes, he too was removed from the theorycrafting channel. The theorycrafting channels are where mentors often do the bulk of their preliminary work before it’s ready for public release. So in short, she felt Tobio, who again is the Scholar Guide writer, no longer had anything to contribute to scholar resource generation. At least that was how she cited it.

She also had taken her spreadsheet to the public healer optimization channel, and it was hotly debated by many for the very reasons Tobio had tried to bring up to her. Where other active scholars like Momo and Tonto were constructive with the feedback, she took to rejecting everyone’s claims that it was anything less than perfect.

Things came to a head when in a public channel she took a conversation that wasn’t about her at all and attempted to steer it to one that praised her accolades on a project. So, in turn I called her out for it.

This led to a private channel on the balance being made, with myself, Yuni, Zyrk, and one other moderator. The point was to discuss her recent behavior, and also address my action in calling her out in public. It culminated with Zyrk telling Yuni if she didn’t acknowledge her behavior, he’d remove her. 

I tried to articulate what she had done with an analogy:

In short, she would happily ride the coattails of the Black Lives Matter movement for her own personal gain. It’s pretty disgusting. 

She was issued a final formal warning for her conduct in the server and she elected to leave of her own accord a few days after. Ironically she gets a warning for in server conduct, and I get removed for out of server conduct that’s “out of their purview.”

Fey’s Temperance was spun up for her grab at clout and to restore her pride. It does not respect the theorycrafting and peer review process by any stretch. 

It’s buying it’s way to get its name out there, and that’s great for the people who win the prizes. But please don’t trust the resources generated there, nor the owner of the server. She’s only out for herself.

The Truth

But the really sad part? All of this pales in comparison to what the Balance did to me. Nemekh’s years of smear campaigns and dishonesty can’t hold a candle. But I wanted to provide that transparency before I leave the community. Because I think everyone is always owed the truth if they want it. I don’t think it’ll impact his site much. And frankly with SaltedXIV’s shutdown I can’t see there being anywhere else to go unless someone steps on to this project.

And maybe you weren’t asking for this. And I have no idea what the fallout will be, probably nothing. And/or probably some response trying to discredit everything I’ve said. I don’t care anymore. I’ve already been made out countless times as someone I’m not. I’m tired of trying to respond.

And, I won’t ever get the truth I’m after.

Read the rest:

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