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A Plurk Christmas Carol

December 25, 2010

Once upon a time, there was a headless dog. Now, this headless dog hated the holidays, because he could not smell the wonderful smells that everyone else could, could not enjoy the wonderful holiday TV, and could not even sing/bark Christmas carols with his comrades. One year, the one-eyed monster thought she could cheer up the headless dog by turning herself into a bouncy ball for him, but to no avail. The headless dog wanted desperately to play with the one-eyed monster, but games he had enjoyed before were now totally void. How was he supposed to play Fetch with no mouth?

It wasn’t always like this. Before he was headless, he was known to be a complete gentleman, giving out dancing bananas like candy and using qualifiers like they were going out of style. However, he had never recovered from losing his head. “Don’t go losing your head now,” people used to say to him. Since that had happened, that had been replaced with “At least you’re still alive! Look at that delicious and moist cake!” For some reason, people thought that cake was an appropriate substitute for losing a head.

Year upon year, the headless dog grew more and more depressed. “Bah, Plurkbug!” he was known to mutter around the holiday season. The headless dog enjoyed causing havoc on Plurk, causing irregular karma drops, random periods of downtime and being mean to the other Plurk mascots. He stood on the tail of the lizard, convinced the cat to gobble up the many-eyed fish, and kicked darts at the winged creature.

“What’s wrong with him?” Plurkers whispered to each other before the headless dog flew into a fit of rage and caused another bout of downtime.

This Christmas Eve, the headless dog was sitting in his kennel, plotting how to ruin Christmas for every plurker, when something strange happened – for a second, he thought he had seen the face of his creator, Alvin, reflected in his water bowl.

The headless dog shook himself. It was getting late, and he must’ve been tired.

However, a few hours later, there was a great commotion outside his kennel. The Great Angel Alvin appeared in front of the headless dog’s kennel and proclaimed, “Lo and behold! I am the Great Angel Alvin, Master and Creator to all Plurk creatures worldwide…” The headless dog gave a large sniff of disgust. This dude makes him headless, but he still gets to be an angel. How was that fair? Ignoring him, The Great Angel Alvin continued, “Tonight, you will be haunted by three spirits; the Ghost of Christmas Past, the Ghost of Christmas Present, and the Ghost of Christmas Future. It is the only way you will escape my fate – being shocked mercilessly by Rammi’s taser.” And without any further explanation, he disappeared.

“Bah, Plurk -” the headless dog attempted to say, but could only get out the first syllable. There was nothing left to do now but wait.

When the headless dog woke again, he saw the Great Angel Janet motioning him to get up. Begrudgingly, he followed her. In an instant, he saw what his life was like before he wasn’t headless, his first encounter with a dancing banana, and most importantly, an ostrich Plurk mascot he’d fallen in love with. Everything was going well until he was made headless, and could only wallow in his own-self pity. He could only watch as he saw her say for the second time, “I can’t be a Plurk mascot any more,” she had told him. “Your only thoughts are revenge on those you believe have wronged you.” And she left him. “Take me away from this place!” The headless dog screamed, and woke up in a cold sweat. He wondered what Plurk staff member the next spirit would be.

But it wasn’t a Plurk staff member who next appeared to him. It was a terrifying amalgamation of discarded Plurk creatures over the years. This creature took him into the homes of the other Plurk mascots, who were all sharing Christmas gifts. “Bah, Plurkbug,” the headless dog muttered.

“Oh, if only the headless dog could be with us now,” said the lizard. “What, so he can throw more darts at my head?” sniggered the winged creature, and they all laughed at him.

“Imbeciles! They wouldn’t dare to do that to my face! Oh, but they look so happy together!” cried the headless dog, before being brought back to his kennel once more.

The headless dog was now dreading what the last spirit had in store for him. He didn’t want to see what his actions had done to those around him. Nevertheless, the Ghost of Christmas Future, also known as Kan, appeared. The Ghost did not speak, but expressed itself in a variety of emoticons. And as he stretched out his cold dark hand towards the headless dog, all the headless dog could feel was darkness.

Kan had brought him to a Christmas feast, where many plurkers were waiting for the main course to be served. The headless dog could only watch as an all too familiar body came into view. “Hey, at least we won’t have to worry about downtime so much now!” A Plurker reached for the headless dog’s leg and bit into it. “Mmm, he tastes better dead than he did alive…” another gave a sigh of delight. Soon, the whole table was full of murmurs and appreciation for the headless dog’s carcass.

“Is this what will be? Or is it only what may be?” the headless dog begged Kan. But Kan being Kan, gave no response, and the headless dog was left crying at his water bowl.

“I will change!” the headless dog resolved to himself. “I will not forget the lessons these spirits have taught me. I refuse to be a Christmas meat.”

When Christmas morning hit, the headless dog gave the lizard a new tail, offered the cat and fish some catnip and fish food, and apologised to the winged creature. Everyone was astonished to see the transformation in him. But what could he give to the plurkers to repent for his past sins?

“I shall give them unlimited karma, so that they are no longer limited at 100,” he proclaimed with pride.

And so, from that day forward, the headless dog became known as a dog who was proud to be headless, and a dog who kept Christmas well. Plurkers and Plurk mascots lived in complete, blissful harmony… Forever.

Posted by Rammi

Early retirement for IM and Plurk Lottery

December 7, 2010

Over the years we have experimented with different features and product enhancements on Plurk. Some worked pretty well. Some didn’t. IM integration and Plurk Lottery didn’t.

We measure the success of our features by looking at different metrics but they mainly come down to user engagement (how many people are using it? how often do they use it? Are they happy with the feature?) and extensibility (is it hard to maintain? does its existence align with the core purpose of what we are trying to achieve in near future?).

Regrettably, Plurk Lottery and Instant Messaging perform poorly on these metrics. As a result, we will be retiring them come this Friday. As we plan to release more interesting features over the next coming months, the removal of these features will hopefully introduce more breathing space for the newcomers to shine without overcrowding existing user interface.

We apologize if this causes any inconvenience for our users.

Posted by alvin
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