While for legal reasons I have to shy away from exposing you to the copies of direct correspondence between Portalarium and myself regarding the personal harassment I have undergone, I’m certainly going to outline it for you so that you can be armed with the proper information about how this has or has not been handled because I think you all have the right to know.
On August 22nd 2015 I found out that I was doxxed. I found this out because I was contacted initially by two Shroud of the Avatar forum personalities. Themo Lock via SotA Forum PM which went unnoticed for some time because I was busy ready to go away for the weekend at the time. After I did not respond to Themo Lock I then received a message from Kazyn Pheonixfyre on Twitter via Direct Message who said he was contacting me out of courtesy. Kazyn self admits that he has a security background so what he actually should have done immediately was to report it to Portalarium and not contact me what so ever. You will see that in the direct message linked here later, Kazin did say that “we’d contact portalarium to make them aware.” – though it was still a mistake for either of them to contact me directly. What reason could they have possibly had for giving me the information directly other than to make it known, hey bro, we have your number?
I took a month away to think about things and I waited for contact from Portalarium about this, about the information that either Themo or Kazin were going to send them. But there was nothing? I was in the dark, and I really had no idea what was going on. If they had sent that information to Portalarium, how could Portalarium not have contacted me in regards to this?
I started to think the worst, because what else is there to do when faced with these actions and lack of actions? Two Portalarium users told me they reported being sent my personal information to Portalarium. Portalarium did not contact me! So, were Themo and Kazin lying? Did they conduct the dox and troll me with information to shut me up, confirm if I was the InsaneMembrane, or both? When finding out that AvatarAcid was potentially the InsaneMembrane did Portalarium ignore it because of the InsaneMembrane’s constant grief through this Blog and forum, ignoring their responsibilities? Any way you look at this, it doesn’t look good.
Well I returned from my reflection time to begin a process of selling my account when I had the time to do so. There was no reason to keep it, clearly I was disconnected from the early community and friends in which I was involved and now both myself and my family were being harassed because of this game and my passions for it. I returned home again late in the year and organized the sale though my time off in December.
On the 30th of December 2015, after my account had been sold, handed over, and money received, I contacted Portalarium support. You know, what you are suppose to do when you have big issues like this. It was a very simple and open ended E-Mail, I asked the support staff if they could look into any knowledge of my personal information being distributed between SotA community members. I made a point to tell them to “treat this issue seriously” and to “ask anyone employed or working for you as a volunteer member like forum moderators” before returning to me with the information. Just a reminder this is 30th of December, nearly two weeks ago now and before I posted who I was on this Blog.
Someone from Portalarium wrote back to me, said they take their security seriously, told me their account data is behind a firewall, and told me that if I felt that account data had been violated, let them know. A little bit of a cold hand. Did they have the info already, know I was the Membrane? That had to be the case right? If they only thought I was AvatarAcid, then I actually believe they would have helped me out unless they really truly have no bloody idea what the frack they are doing! If however they thought I was the InsaneMembrane, they might just let me rot and not help.
I wrote back again, I told them I didn’t think that my SotA account was compromised. I then indicated to them that it doesnt seem that they are directly aware of what has taken place, which goes against what I have been told, then let them know that someone on their forum appears to have doxxed me with the intent of spreading that information to other people in the SotA forum. Lastly I reitirated the fact that I had told them to check with EVERYONE about the matter before geting back to me with the above stock standard support reply.
I got another response which seemed more sympathetic to the problem at least, but it was just asking who had the information basically.
I wrote them back again and this time I gave them the information I had. I attached the following images which are the PM from Themo and the DM from Kazin. Note, I have blocked out my personal information.
I honestly cannot believe the E-Mail in which I then got back from Portalarium next. They said that they were such a busy community and there is a lot to track, but now they had what they needed. NOW. Really? Ok… So apparently, NOW, I was told that both Dallas and the person speaking to me indeed got a PM on August 21, 2015 from Themo!!!
OHHHHHHHH REALLY NOW!
So, the person I was liaising with via these support requests for days whom I had asked, remember, to please ask around very carefully and treat this seriously, if my personal information was sent to anyone… ACTUALLY HAD MY PERSONAL INFORMATION? This whole time? Hahahahaha. Excuse me for a moment. LOLOLOLOL. This is a joke, it must be. They went on to say Wrathpheonix also contacted them later the same day and interestingly enough now only confirm that the rest of the fields from Themo/Kazin were blank when they received them. Portalarium felt it necessary to mention again at this point that since what little they got, because the fields were blank apparently, included only my full name and since my middle name wasn’t in the Portalarium account database; it proved the information wasn’t acquired from them.
Did they truly honestly think that I thought that it had? My passport number was in there for crying out loud, how or why on earth would I ever disclose my passport number to Portalarium! Wait it gets better, because the information didn’t come from their database they said that Themo and Kazin couldn’t have been the perpetrators! I…don’t…even… Forget it. It just makes no sense what so ever to say that.
Further to all of this, they claim to have advised Themo and Kazin to delete all information they received and then asked THEM to contact me! Wait a moment. This is in direct contradiction what what Kazin told me, that he was going to contact Portalarium! I don’t care who you are or what company you work for this is a ridiculous request to have made of your community members anyway, if we are to take them at their word now because, and an extremely unprofessional level of security and support. How are you suppose to sort through this total mountain of falsity?
I wasn’t very happy with this understandably. Even though they were probably not 100% sure I was InsaneMembrane or not, and even if they did you have to expect more from a company like Portalarium in form of support when things like this are taking place in the community. Typing an opinion on a Blog and committing crimes harassing people are two very different things. They didn’t take this seriously, and they really should have. I gave them an earful, said they were unwilling or unable to help me, told them to let it serve as a learning experience and a warning because if this happens a second time it will clearly show something other than incompetence for their part in all of it.
I heard nothing back from them after that. Not much at all until I posted on my blog that I was AvatarAcid. Initially I wasn’t even going to come out and tell everyone who InsaneMembrane was, I was just going to let AvatarAcid die quietly never to be heard from again. I said before you have to expect more from Portalarium, why did I, and why did I come forward at all to them? Because of this post and the Dev comments within:
To point out what is hopefully obvious, we take reports of harassment very seriously, investigate them quickly and resolve them outside of the public eye.
I could not have said it any better myself. Harassment violates our Terms of Service and should be reported through firstname.lastname@example.org along with any supporting documentation.
I wanted to believe Themo and Kazin were legit and for a fleeting single moment my trust extended outward towards Portalarium once again despite all of the mishandling we’ve all witnessed in the past two plus years in the hope that when harassment was clearly present in some manner they would indeed preform their duties as they indicated above and set aside any differences(which didn’t exist if they indeed didn’t know AA was IM) in order to help a member of the community out. They were either unwilling or unable thus casting a very bad light on the entire situation.
Only wait for it, there is actually more… If you didn’t think this was convoluted enough and just plain wacko before you read thes, you’d be mistaken. Themo came into the Shroud Unlimited forum yesterday and said that another member was doxxed too! But nobody told that member, not Themo, not Kazin, not Portalarium. Why not!? What in hell is happening here?
EMPstrike, I suppose you have your answer now on how harassment is handled.
IN CONCLUSION. AvatarAcid was summarily found guilty of running a “hate website” and sentenced to permaban. I accept. It had to be done to show the community Portalarium’s perceived strength. I do not accept that this is hate. It is very inconvenient having your actions and dirty laundry aired and to have no limits on the conversations regarding your practices, product, and community yes. But it isn’t hate. Shroud of the Avatar is getting talked about at my site, a great deal more than any other gaming sites. My Blog and Forum together when it comes to discussion about Shroud of the Avatar could be in second place to the actual game site next to the Official in terms of how much is discussed and read by unique individuals and I didn’t do it out of hate. It was done out of a sense of comradery for my fellow community members outcast by the SotA forum-norm in an environment constructed by Portalarium Glass Joes which was not conducive to honest in your face feedback. Members afraid to speak out for fear of their hundreds, thousands, some tens of thousands of dollars will be lost in an effort to give you their honest feedback. Portalarium, I gave you the chance to review this critical feedback away from your place of business and without any filter on it or any shred of attachment to yourself in any legitimate form. Were you paying attention? I know you were. If you really think about it, it isn’t hate.
Publicity can be terrible. But only if you don’t have any.
– Jane Russell
I can’t go out without a piece of tinfoil now can I? I wonder if someone, soon, will be rewarded with a big fat ONBE? Tune into the winter telethon to find out everyone!
This concludes my broadcasting. Goodbye.
First thing is first. @Dallas. You need to re-think how you do your marketing updates. Keep your marketing updates under 102KB so that popular hosted E-Mail services like Google don’t cut them off. I’ve been missing some news from time to time and I am guessing many others are also. Everyone should look for the following advice at the end of SotA updates so that you don’t miss them. On the other hand, Portalarium you do seem to have a nasty little habbit of hiding the bad news at the end of the messages… #tinfoil
Click: View entire message to read the full marketing flyer for SotA.
Now on with the show; Portalarium have just recently taken easily their best and arguably one of their only customer facing services left and have completely buried it. If you haven’t noticed, Shroud of the Avatar is suffering from an exodus of current community members, even highly noticed and productive members like Blake Blackstone and The Mad Hermit are on their way out. Thanks Envy.
Here is the text from the update:
Account Services Vouchers
For a very long time now, since before our Kickstarter ended, we have endeavored to satisfy, at no charge, each and every one of our backers’ Account Services requests. As time has gone by, the number of requests for Account Services has grown. Most of these requests have not been related to account or purchasing issues, but pledge transfers and converting add-ons into store credits.
To accommodate these requests, we have been spending an ever growing amount of backer money to devote more resources to support these efforts. We do not consider this the best use of backer’s funds, so we will no longer be performing these types of requests without some way to fund these elective account services.
Effective immediately, Account Service requests may require at least one Service Voucher, including, but not limited to, the transfer between accounts, or conversion to Store Credits, of pledges, Add-on items, or Player Owned Towns. The voucher will be considered redeemed and removed from your account upon completion of the Account Services request.
Service Vouchers can be purchased in the Game Services Store with new funds only (not Store Credit). You will be notified if your service request requires more than one Service Voucher.
Please send us an email at email@example.com if you have any questions about whether a Service Voucher is needed for your service request.
I am all for saving “backer dollars,” however this is also a mess they have created all by themselves. This mess has been created through the ineffective customer engagement, the inability for devs to live up to their pledge tier rewards, lack of updates in Dev+, their stranglehold on the information presented on the forum, the RF/F/B account split/melt/merge fiasco, the– I’ll stop, I can go on for a week on all the things they have done to either directly and indirectly cause these issues.
Customer service at Portalarium no longer really exists in my opinion. Standard things you should have done for you, no matter where the money comes from, are the cost of business. If you are spending too much money servicing the sale of your member’s accounts, thanks Blake Blackstone, then you are doing something wrong for your members! Simple as that and pretty easy to grasp I would have thought.
There is one exception to this rule, high-level and Whale backers as illustrated on the image above. Not only do they get one on one personal time with the Shroud of the Avatar Developers via E-Mail, Phone, and Forum messaging, they get it in person. To get good customer service at Portalarium you will be spending around $5,000 at a minimum, and then even so is no guarantee. Just look at Blake’s case where 40-60k got him nothing but a sign on a door that said Don’t Call Us, We’ll Call You. Hmm, wonder why they are all too busy to deal with us plebs huh?
So what will these account service vouchers cost you? $25! Most mobs like Riot, Nexon, and even the Devil itself, Electronic Arts, allow you to do these things with earned account credit from within the game. But not Shroud of the Avatar ladies and gentleman, they are blazing a trail, right through your wallet. You don’t agree, you think I’m over reacting? I’m not done yet! Click the vouchers, dare you, they tell you that they will get in touch with you if your request will take MORE THAN ONE VOUCHER! What a joke.
Cash must be pretty low indeed for them to be doing this to us all. We know they already have dedicated people working on this, for free, so why the change? Again, a complete lack of foresight as most of this stuff should have been automated anyway. Why can’t their store figure out that you just liquidated a $50 dollar yule tree and turn it into store credit? They have someone at a keyboard doing that? Come on!
It probably isn’t even that really, the reports on the forum and reports relayed to me from people who have sold their accounts have indicated an excellent turn around. There seems to be no lag involved in processing these requests. So with that information on hand and my Transparent Aluminium hat I mandate that it is just another dirty fundraising scheme.
Welcome to Shop of the Avatar.