Funeratic's first live online tournament gives Rock Block players a chance to compete head-to-head: Inspired by Bobby Day's classic hit song, the "Rockin' Robin" tournament pits players against each other in a double-round-robin tournament, while most participants join either a videoconference or text-based chat room. Things get off to a slow start as players struggle to get online with their devices, but the delays give players a chance to converse and catch up. Once the playing begins, talking takes a back seat, and the competition is fast and furious, with Steve West eventually emerging victorious. Although there are lessons for doing better next time, everyone agrees that the format works well and deserves re-visiting in the future.
After five years of declining participation, Pirate Paradise is scuttled for good. It once started out strong as a replacement for Rock Block, but outside of a few popular tournaments, it has struggled to keep lots of players participating at once, and the return of Rock Block in 2014 has rendered it obsolete. By the time Scott announces its impending end, it has seen zero player activity for half a year, and the nature of its registration process makes it virtually impossible for new players to join without other players already being active. In the interest of keeping the rest of Funeratic feeling vital without one whole section being a ghost town, Scott ends the game and thanks players for the good times playing it.
The 2016 version of Ghostbusters has been controversial since its announcement, not just for remaking a beloved classic but for casting women in the four lead roles. The debate eventually makes its way onto Funeratic when the movie comes out in theaters, with members debating the movie's merits versus its reputation and the chilling effect of labeling people sexist merely for disagreeing. The conversation spills over from Thorough Movie Reviews into Tragic Comedy and even out to Facebook. The presidential election ultimately sparks the most discussion of any subject in 2016, but the movie is a provocative flashpoint all the same.
With the site's membership continuing its slow decline, Scott proceeds with an ambitious multi-step plan to make Funeratic more appealing to search engines, improving everything from images to page addresses to HTML markup to indexing to linking, and asks members to help by linking to Funeratic from as many different places online as they can. The effort does improve traffic but does not (at first) lead to new memberships. A few former members are attracted back, however: Elaine Beckland, Jesse King, and Stan Iwanchuk all return to guess celebrity goos, and Elaine becomes a daily participant in Rock Block as well. Efforts to improve site traffic and participation continue on an ongoing basis.
With less than a month to go before the event, Scott is forced to cancel plans for "GooCon 2016," a day-long online gathering of Funeratic members to celebrate the site's twentieth anniversary. Real life has gotten in the way: Kelly and Scott are very busy seeking their first house with only a few months to move, and Scott doesn't have time to finish the GooCon preparations. He promises to revisit the half-finished activities soon afterward, but it's an unfortunate missed opportunity for Funeratic members to celebrate a big milestone together. On the day that the event was intended to happen, Scott can at least share the good news that a house has been found and purchased.
Although the volume of comments is a far cry from Tragic Comedy's heyday in 2004, the surprise victory of Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton in the presidential election is still a landmark event for Tragic Comedy: A shock to some members, a relief to others, and a turning point for site participation. Liberal members spend weeks before and after inauguration debating how terrible they think Trump and his policies are, and the normally friendly Tragic Comedy feels like a bitter, unhappy place for weeks. Other members stop discussing politics whatsoever, either turned off by the negativity or just unwilling to voice their support for Trump in the midst of such liberal hostility. Over the coming months, Tragic Comedy gradually begins to feel light-hearted and welcoming again on other matters, but its political discussions in the Trump era remain tense for much longer.
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