As the cliche goes, "communities are tough".
Today I pushed out an update to https://paneljam.com (a collaborative, freemium drawing community) that I was really proud of: I'd solved rendering issues in the drawing app that caused progressive lag as drawings became more complex. This was something that many had complained about, and finally, I'd made the drawing tools smooth like butter.
I thought this would be great! ...Except, the most active artist on the website was actually pretty ticked. As it turns out, they'd been drawing using a mouse on an older computer, and relied on the lag to 'smooth out' their strokes.
They expected that I immediately create a user setting to opt-in to the old, unoptimized drawing engine.
I told them that I would look into it, but that it wasn't a priority at this time. Perhaps unwisely, I joked that maybe it could become a priority if they decided to join the premium membership.
Well...here's how they responded on our Discord:
"I honestly think you should have focused on making PanelJam the best possible experience for free users as a priority, to get a large userbase that enjoys the best that can be experienced. Once you have the big activity, you start providing the Premium features. This is a "long term" thing, baseball teams either "build up" or contend, and I don't think PanelJam is ready to contend yet, as the very few "Backwards Jam", or "Speedy Jams" got to show. We need a site like OpenJams (which doesn't exist), where everyone is free to use layers, text tools, and other game modes, and they subscribe to the site to support you, not for the features. So this is me, signing out. Bye PanelJam, it was a blast! (huh, I already have 21 drawn panels coming out in finished games... but at last they won't be jaggy XDD)"
They left the Discord before I could reply, and they changed their profile picture on the site to read "I wasn't a priority".
So... how would any of you respond to something like this? Should I even be bothered? It doesn't seem like this is a user who would have ever paid, but at the same time, it's a collaborative community dependent on user-generated content, so I feel an obligation to do my best for everyone who joins the site...
I responded (just for the rest of my Discord members to read) to explain that this is a project I've built on my own in evenings and weekends, that paid memberships really just cover the expenses and help with marketing, and that if you would look through the site's changelog, the large majority of improvements benefit all users.
But, I'm not sure if I handled any of this right. I don't know how to feel about it, and I could sure use some perspective.
Can anyone share similar experiences running a community, or offer some words of wisdom?