Saturday, December 19, 2009

Xbox Ambassador Program Refresh

On October 13, 2008, I was admitted into the ranks of the Xbox Ambassadors program. What is an Xbox Ambassador, you ask? It's an official program run by Xbox, an all volunteer group who's mandate is to help new players joining Xbox LIVE. At the time I was accepted, the only requirement was an Xbox LIVE Gold membership, so I purchased one for the first time in my life.

During that time, I assisted people over Xbox LIVE when I could, but truth-be-told I continued to help and was the most helpful to posters in the official Xbox Forums Canada General Discussion forum. Flash forward to now and Xbox has decided to revamp the program and to greatly increase its members' involvement in the community. Overall, I consider this an excellent idea, as aside from having the little icon identifying me as an Ambassador on the forums, I personally found no change from the norm in my involvement with others over the Xbox LIVE service or the Xbox forums.

You see, sometimes things go stale, even things with good intentions, and they need new management and a good shake up to get them back on track and to push them forward. So yes, I think a restructuring of the program is good, but what I did not approve of was the manner in which this restructuring was announced.

There is a private forum specifically for Xbox Ambassadors where they can chat and work things out with one another, and the program changes were specified in this forum and this forum alone. The kicker of the new program restructuring: all existing Ambassadors had to re-apply to maintain their current Ambassador status.

Like many of my comrades, I hardly went to the Xbox Ambassador forum as I was too busy assisting community members in the best way I could. Since I missed this announcement and the re-sign up, I am now no longer an Xbox Ambassador.

Unto itself, that's fine. Real life has become far more demanding in the last year and to find time now to properly invest for myself into the program is going to be difficult, so I have no issue with no longer being an Ambassador and I would have likely gracefully bowed out if given the opportunity. My problem with Xbox's restructuring is the method they've chosen to go about it, and how against the spirit of the program this method was. Use and activity of the Xbox Ambassador forum is now a mandatory part of being an Xbox Ambassador, which is great, but it would have been nice to have been informed of this policy change before getting booted. The new administration, primarily a gent by the Gamertag of DMZilla, claimed sending private messages to everyone would have been far too time consuming, and sending a mass email would have been less than effective because many members have likely changed emails, and to this I disagree.

True, PMs would have been tedious, but since Xbox is so keen on reminding us for every contest to keep our email addresses up-to-date, I would honestly assume most Ambassadors would have current contact info on file. That, and then DMZilla could truly say he at least attempted to contact all of the previous members.

I understand why he did this, of course. He simply wanted to start from a near clean slate, and the easiest way to do so would be to cut loose as many existing members as possible as quietly as possible, however does this really reflect well on a program meant to encourage assistance and community involvement to others? Seems to me the new brass just gave the shaft to myself and many other now-former Xbox Ambassadors.

The Xbox Ambassador programming is looking for new recruits now, and those of us cut from the program have been told, again on the forum itself before we lost access to it, that we could re-apply if we wish and for those interested you can do so on the main page here. I, however, will _not_ be re-signing up for the Xbox Ambassador program. This transition has thus far been handled poorly, with little courtesy and professionalism shown to many of its now former members. I think it's a great shame how Xbox and DMZilla has handled its Ambassador program, and how they've thanked it's members for their work and commitment over the years. I do hope its future members will be shown some simple courtesy, leadership, and guidance for the volunteer effort that they'll be putting in.

Thankfully, the lose of membership in this program will in no way limit my ability to continue to help and participate in the Canadian Xbox Community of which I'm so fond.

Best of luck to Xbox and its Ambassador program, as hypocritical as it now seems to be.

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