Supplying semi-interesting factoids.
We dip back into the dark black waters this week for another round with a Bungie.net Ninja. Up today, Foman. If you spend any amount of time on our forums (or lengthy amounts of time being banned from them), you're already familiar with this man's work in our community. How about you spend a little bit of time getting to know the man behind the Banhammer? That may be a question, but it's not a request. If you don't read this Foman will find you, ban you, and then humiliate you via PM. You've been warned.
Q. Without revealing your real life, super secret hidden identity, tell us who you are and where the moniker “Foman” comes from. (You tried to steal it from Timmins and messed it up didn't you?
A. ‘Sup? Nah, the name “Foman” has nothing to do with “Abe Froman,” sausages, or Ferris Bueller. In real life, most people call me Fo or Fo-Man as a nickname, which is of course where my Bungie.net name comes from and what makes it less weird when people from Bungie.net call me Foman when they meet me in person. I was dubbed “Fo-Man” back in my freshman year of undergrad, which means I’ve been going by Foman both online and offline for about twelve years.
Q. So what do you do when you’re not scouting our online forums with your fancy nickname looking to unfairly ban people?
A. When I’m not busy issuing unfair bans for “OMG NO RAESON,” I am an antitrust lawyer in Washington, DC. Being thirty years old makes me a “huge loser” and practically Father Time for a large portion of the online community that I help to moderate, but I feel good because I am still 216 years younger than Recon Number 54.
I’ve been practicing antitrust law for about three years now, so I am hopefully well-enough versed to adequately defend Bungie against unfair monopolization claims when it eventually takes over the world. I enjoy being a lawyer, mostly for the hot chix, but partly because it is an interesting and rewarding mental challenge. Okay fine, I don’t get any hot chix for being a lawyer, and the long hours suck (my work day is typically ten to fourteen hours long with five or six hours of work on the weekends), but I do get to read lots of documents, hang out on BNet, and occasionally send threatening letters to people, which is almost as fun.
In my spare time, I have a private pilot’s license and fly when I can. I’m also a big gamer (duh) and spend a lot of time on Halo 3. Otherwise, I typically spend my evenings watching my favorite TV shows, making dinner, or hanging out with friends or family.
Q. What do you call a large number of lawyers at the bottom of the...sorry, I can't bring myself to make the joke. What did you do with your time on Bungie.net before you took up Banhammer duty between your fourteen hour daily legal stints?
A. I was pretty involved in the Bungie community generally, and the Bungie.net community specifically. I was a frequent poster in the public forums and in BNet private groups. Some people already knew my name solely from my involvement in the IRIS Alternate Reality Game/Viral Marketing Campaign that helped to introduce Halo 3 to millions of people. During IRIS, I helped to run a private group here on Bungie.net called CompoundIntelligence that was one of the “centers” of activity. I also received a few private messages from a character in the ARG named AdjutantReflex, which increased my notoriety for a bit.
Besides that, I helped out with a now-defunct private group named The Guide that conducted interviews and reviews of notable people and groups on Bungie.net. I was also (and still am) an administrator for Bungiepedia
, a Wiki designed solely for information about Bungie employees and notables of the Bungie Community.
I became a Forum Ninja a little over a year ago, and it’s been tough to keep up on some of the other stuff I do here (not in the least because of my job, which is a huge annoyance that gets in the way of my fun), but I still like to check in on my old projects from time to time.
Q. Your Halo 3 Fileshare is littered with Banshee pictures, you keep making strategy guides and videos with the Banshee, and someone even made a Bungie.net profile named “Fomans Banshee.” Dude, what’s up with the Banshee infatuation?
A. Somehow, I’ve gotten the reputation of being amazingly good with the Banshee in Halo 3. I have to say that, while I enjoy flying it and I do it better than most, there are still many players out there who are most certainly better than I am. I have to insert a shout out here to my boys in the group “Pilots
,” whose in-depth Banshee strategy discussions have upped my game big time. And almost all of them are better in the Banshee than I am.
But I’ve always been a vehicle guy in Halo, ever since the Halo: CE days. I love driving around in Warthogs, Scorpions, Wraiths, Mongooses, and other vehicles. In Halo 3, I quickly realized that the Banshee’s ability to become a force majeure had been increased, and to balance it out, many new ways of taking down the Banshee had been added (powerful turrets, Assault Rifles and SMGs, the addition of the Spartan Laser and the Missile Pod, and so on). I love the challenge this presents as well as the Banshee’s ability to be a game-changing vehicle when in the right hands. So I fly the Banshee whenever I can, and I love to talk about it, make videos about it, and take pictures of it.
Q. Speaking of pictures, what about your avatar? Is that some kind of electric space demon?
A. Hah, no, that is a picture of me drawn by Bungie artist Lorraine McLees (thanks again, Lorraine!). Without the cartoonish feel, that is more or less what I look like. The flashing symbol that appears every so often is a Forerunner glyph (brilliantly photoshopped by WhiteRaven119) that appeared throughout the IRIS ARG and one that I felt was pretty symbolic of my largest involvement in the Bungie community prior to becoming a Forum Ninja.
Here is a semi-interesting factoid: in my avatar, Lorraine’s sketch appears for 7.77 seconds, and the Forerunner glyph appears for 3.43 seconds.
Q. Looking svelte and suave, my man. Do you ever feel like you should just hop into a Banshee, fly beyond the barrier, and take a break from Bungie.net for a bit?
A. Occasionally. After a day in which I moderate the forums a lot (and therefore end up issuing a lot of bans and locking a lot of spam threads), my inbox can become filled with questions, conversations, group invites, and some pretty nasty stuff from some of our angrier forumgoers. Despite the fact that a lot of people see the Forum Ninjas as non-responsive, responding to private messages takes up a huge portion of my time on Bungie.net (by the way, if I don’t respond to your message, that does not mean that I did not read it. Except for conversations with friends, I usually only respond to direct questions that can’t be answered in the forums, ban appeals, and messages that are so interesting that they can’t be ignored). So it can get overwhelming at times, and I do sometimes end up not logging into BNet for a day or two. But I always come back :-)
Q. Where do you go when you take your day or two away (mod stalker: enabled)?
A. I’m not terribly adventurous, I’m afraid. I love watching humorous videos on YouTube, checking up on world/local news, and reading fun blogs. I have a Facebook account that I log into once in awhile, but for me, Bungie.net IS my preferred R&R website.
Q. So, what is it about the place that keeps you coming back for more after you've had your fill of Vlogs and Failblog videos?
A. I love the vast variety of things that the website offers. You can participate in the community in pretty much any way you want to. I feel like I have really made the most of the opportunities to “do it all” here: making strategy guides, participating in site games and contests, running big groups, joining clans (love you guys, H3ITWP!), making a map and corresponding post that meet Shishka's rigorous Atlas standards, choosing two rounds of Bungie Favorites, being in Bungie Favorites myself, being interviewed for podcasts and private groups, making funny Bungie-referenced photoshopped images, making a montage, recommending various people for more widespread recognition in the Community, posting long dissertations and short one-liners, meeting community members in real life, playing Halo and hanging out with Bungie employees, moderating the forums, and enjoying every dang second of it!
Q. Aside from finding plenty of new ways to enjoy yourself, are there any ways in which you view the B.net community that have changed since you took up the moderator mantle?
A. I love this community more than ever, to be quite honest. Being a moderator of the public forums, I come into a lot of contact with community members who most positive forumgoers try to avoid. At first, I was not too pleased about this prospect. But I came to realize that sometimes I can find out a lot more about a person through private messages after I have banned them rather than by what they post in the forums.
I think that most people see me as “just doing my job,” and the initial hatred (usually!!) subsides pretty quickly. It’s only then that I learn about individual people and realize that oftentimes, a person whose posts on the public forums make them seem like a total jerk is just a regular person who is just as much a Bungie fan as anybody else. Once they are calm and I have a chance to try to convince them to express their opinions in a nicer way, we sometimes end up having a lot in common. I have many people on my XBox Live Friends List who I once banned but then had great conversations with via private messages afterward.
And I don’t mean to make it seem like it’s a good thing to be a “bad” forumgoer. Actually, being so familiar with a lot of the site’s nuances has given me the chance to help a lot of great, positive community contributors. People who embark on a cool project or create something absolutely astounding but don’t quite know what to do with it. Groups of people who like playing Halo 3 together but want to also get involved in the Bungie community. And so on. Being a guy who frequently gets the first private message when somebody does something wonderful or amazing has really helped me to realize just how awesome and diverse this community is.
Q. Honesty is the best policy. Be truthful. How awesome is it to swing the Banhammer?
A. Some of the time, I ban somebody with a little wince. I always feel bad about banning people who are obviously well-intentioned but, over and over again, demonstrate that they really just can’t figure out how to post within the forum rules (protip: the answer is, “read them”).
But when the really detrimental people post in the forums, the ones who everybody WISHES they could ban (you know, the ones who brag about cheating or decide to spam up the forums that others are just trying to have a decent discussion in), the sound of the banhammer whistling is sweet. Ohhhh, so sweet.
Thanks, urk. See you at PAX 09!! :-)
They're doing one of those little PAX things again this year?
Thanks to Foman for swooping in and delivering the answers to our questions. And for running things on our forums. And for being awesome. Turns out the semi-interesting factoids he supplied are actually entirely interesting. Who knew? Well, we did. That's why we asked him questions in the first place, dummy. If you enjoyed this brief question and answer, don't forget to stop into the discussion thread attached to say hello. Foman is watching. And waiting.