On growth, principles, and power

I’d like to take a few minutes to address something that has come up several times in recent months on tumblr, in Youtube comments, replies to posts on my site, and in various other e-spaces.

The topic is that of ShackTac’s growth, or more specifically, the limitations I have placed on such growth.

To help frame this, let’s take a look at some comments posed to my Q&A Tumblr blog earlier. This is not the first time I’ve read something like this, but it’s a particularly suitable foil for the sake of this discussion.

When will you ever modernize ShackTac? I have always been a big fan of your work, but somehow feel you are falling behind. There are plenty of ways to cope with the increasing demands of the community, but you choose to handle most things alone, and blame server capacity. Why? You could make more brigades, give more responsibility to others, host more servers. I have sent several mails and comments on youtube with no answer, which is sad as i thought your ideals were grander.

Why are you only interested in your little tightly knit group? Do you have any idea how much potential ShackTac has? Which you are holding somewhat back? I think your responsibility is way larger than you are accepting it is, and your attitude to newcomers and your laziness has truely shunned me. I thought ShackTac’s principles were much more than they appeared. I really sincerely hope you will modernize, somehow, in the future. With great power comes great responsibility…

I’ve left the author’s nick out because it’s irrelevant – this could be one of a number of different people from past months.

Now, to preface the next part – I will have been running ShackTac for seven years as of January of 2013. What I have helped to cultivate in my group is the result of literally years of effort, of lessons-learned, of evolution and refinement. I have continually sought self- and group-improvement and have done everything in my power to make ShackTac the bar-none best gaming community out there. I believe that we have accomplished this goal. I have personally paid for our success in ways you probably have never considered – it has cost me in very real, quantifiable ways. With that being said, it has been worth it. The community that has grown over the years is worthy of that effort and worthy of years of future effort. If it wasn’t, I wouldn’t bother – simple as that.

I have seven years of experience running this group. Seven years of decisions that have shaped what we are, how we’ve grown, our ethos, our image, our gameplay – all aspects of the group. I’ve gambled, I’ve won some, I’ve lost some, but whatever the case has been, I have learned from it and moved on with the intention of doing better in the future. I believe I have succeeded in that goal and will continue to succeed with that mentality.

ShackTac does not have the gameplay it has, or the public image it has earned, by accident. The quality of our membership is not a seven-year series of fluke events, random chance, or anything of the sort. It is a hard-fought struggle to defy the norm and craft into existence something that would never come to be without a solid vision and a concerted, constant effort to support it.

Now, let’s look back at that comment from Mr. NameWithheld and address it point by point.

Why don’t you “create more brigades”, host more servers, why do you blame server capacity as your limit, etc?

This is simple. ShackTac exists as a unified, tightly-knit community. We have one ArmA server which unifies our playerbase. We play our sessions on that server, and our playerbase’s expansion is based around the capacity of that server, as dictated by ArmA. This is how I choose to operate. This is the experience I want.

I have received over 3300 join requests this year. There are other communities out there that would kill to have that kind of interest – communities that would funnel that interest and attempt to monetize it via paid memberships and other such jazz. There are people out there who would happily invite a horde of players their way if it meant they thought they could become the top-dog ArmA community, as if numbers alone are the deciding factor and simply shoveling more players at a problem somehow solves it. I have watched these communities in the past, studied them, picked at them until I felt I knew their pros and cons in detail.

What I found did not and does not interest me. I am confident of what ShackTac is, what our place in the scheme of things is. One of our guiding principles has always been ‘Quality over Quantity’, and the temptation of thousands of new members does not sway me. What we have works because of the relative intimacy of the group – the small size, secluded forums and other chat mediums, and the single cozy server we call our session home.

You cannot have a multi-thousand-person ShackTac and have it still be the Shack Tactical that I and others know and love. It’s not possible. Want to prove me wrong? Go for it – but do it with your own effort, your own years of building, of refinement, evolution, trials, and tests. Make that gamble with something of your own that you’ve built up over years – put your money where your mouth is.

Do you have any idea how much potential ShackTac has?

I do. I see it every day. I write about it in great, vivid detail every year – as I’m doing currently ย for our 2012 Year in Review exercise – as part of my desire to capture the unique history of this group and preserve it for future ‘generations’ of members, and for my own and others’ nostalgia. Again, as this is Year in Review time for us, I read about our potential, our successes, and the satisfaction of our players on a daily basis.

I also know that all of this could be sold out for my own gain, at the expense of everyone else in the group.

I refuse to do that. Money, fame – don’t even bother to suggestion anything along those lines. The word to describe the value of ShackTac to me is ‘priceless’, and I would sooner fall on my sword than compromise my morals for such fleeting and ill-begotten gains. I wouldn’t sell out ShackTac years ago when it was first asked of me, and I’m no more likely to do so now – regardless of what form it is presented as.

Why are you only interested in your little tightly knit group?

This ‘little tightly knit group’ is comprised exclusively of people who I invited into it. It has been cultivated, pruned, and maintained by myself, my fellow administrative staff members, and the general population of ShackTac for years. We have kept those we wanted, dropped those that didn’t fit, and have maintained our standards every step along the way.

I am interested in this “little tightly knit group” because they are the best people I have ever had the pleasure of gaming with. They are friends who transcend what you typically associate a gaming group to be. They trust me to do the right thing and keep the group moving in a healthy direction, and that faith is not misplaced.

Is that a sufficient answer?

Which you are holding somewhat back? I think your responsibility is way larger than you are accepting it is, and your attitude to newcomers and your laziness has truely shunned me.

You do not run a group as large and brimming with brilliant members as ShackTac is with an iron fist. The only power I have within my group is that which I have earned, and I maintain that power only so long as I am worthy of it. If the community felt I was holding them back, they would express that, and I would have no choice but to take that into consideration and enact change.

The ShackTac community has not expressed that. If anything, they are wary of expansion – to include the expansion we’ve had this year. I am confident that we can thrive as a group with the limits I’ve placed on things, and it has succeeded for us so far this year. The community has supported the decisions I’ve made regarding this and has helped to make our 2012 expansion successful beyond expectations.

However, this is as far as we can go for now. That’s not to say we couldn’t successfully grow larger if the ArmA situation was different – I have my own thoughts as to what the maximum sustainable ShackTac membership count would be – but reality is what it is and there is far too much to be done to waste time daydreaming about things that are currently technically impossible. In any case, it is a far different outcome than the one you and others have proposed, of alternate servers, ‘ShackTac 2’ sister groups, and so on and so forth.

Finally, the notion that any of this has to do with my “laziness” is just… laughable.

I thought ShackTac’s principles were much more than they appeared. I really sincerely hope you will modernize, somehow, in the future. With great power comes great responsibility…

ShackTac’s principles are as described in vivid detail on our site. They include things like ‘Serious Fun’, ‘Quality over Quantity’, and the notion that ‘Community is Key’. Everything I have detailed in this post is testament to the absolute devotion I have towards all of those principles.

I agree with your ‘great power’ quote. I take that responsibility more gravely than most will likely ever appreciate. It is good that I do, that I am in the position I am with regards to the group. Had that not been the case, 2012 could have been the death of ShackTac – the end of a proud era.

When all is said and done – who are you to tell me how to run my group? Who are you to call me ‘lazy’ for not martyring myself and my group to cater to your desires?ย Who are you to throw such attitude my way for how I choose to run my own community?

To those of you who understand and respect this passion, these ideals, and the preservation of something special – even if it means you’re unlikely to be able to participate with us directly – I sincerely thank you. Those of you that don’t – perhaps some day you’ll understand.

Perhaps not.


Skip to comment form

    • Max on November 13, 2012 at 4:03 am
    • Reply

    After reading this and your reply to my comment on your previous post about the Nov. selections, my “Sister Group” comment, I completely agree with this post of yours. I thought about my post and this post a lot and agree that what you are doing should not be “knocked” per-say. What you have works, and continues to work the way it is being run. Everyone, including myself, have asked why you don’t make it bigger, without the thought of the effort and work put in to create what ShackTac is now. I would like to apologize for my previous comment, on your previous post, about expanding, without truly thinking it over myself. I mean, i don’t have the balls or the means to create something you have like ShackTac, and it puts me in Awe of the amount of work you would’ve had to put in to make it what it is today. Im excited to watch Shack grow, but at the pace you set for it.

    PS It is greatly appreciated that you keep the community up to date.

    • Omar Slim on November 13, 2012 at 5:09 am
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    Read and understood ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Bullveyr on November 13, 2012 at 7:28 am
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    Great post, remain true to your principles.

    Your last paragraphs sums it up very well.
    Originally I got interested in ShackTac because I wanted to find out who those guys with this awesome big scale gameplay are, but I intent to apply at some point in the future because I found out that it’s about much more than that.
    I take my slim chance of becoming a member of the current ShackTac over a bigger chance to get into some ShackTac Light anytime even if it means I can “only” watch videos of your sessions.

    Kudos and the best of luck for the future of your community.

    • XenoFei on November 13, 2012 at 8:04 am
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    I don’t blame a lot of people, to be honest. Like you described, most gaming communities heartily grab all ‘potential’ members they can receive so they are able to expand and popularize the games they focus on. Since it was easy for most people to join a forum and type a two sentence diction for their membership entry, it has mostly been a stereotype among other communities to follow in suite. Those same communities even have options for people to be able to have administration powers on a server or website, if they pay a fee (typically monthly).

    By saying this, I’m not going against your ideal way of how to accept possible members into ShackTac. I just think that a lot of people confuse this community to follow the same method-of-approach as the ones I described above. So after they watch a popular ShackTac video from whoever, they:

    1) Get hyped.
    2) Watch a few more videos.
    3) Go to the main website.
    4) Read and skim through how to apply.
    5) Send a not-so-unique declaration of who they are or why they are applying.
    6) Get upset.

    Of course, I’m sure some people out there DID make a very solid application (or at least something that took effort), and I can understand their feelings of anguish. But applicants need to fully realize (pretty much repeating what you said in a previous post) that other communities are out there for them to be a part of. They may not be as ‘grand’ as ShackTac, but it also relies on everyone in the community to be involved to help make an ideal society blossom. Games also don’t have to involve 120+ people to make the experience fun or enjoyable, and this is proven every day with people who play with only 1-10 other guys/females. I don’t like advertising, but look at popular youtube gamers like ‘cricken’ and ‘nanners’. Watch their videos and see how many people they play with.

    • fish food carl on November 13, 2012 at 8:20 am
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    Speaking as a hopeful applicant, I completely understand and appreciate your difficulties and tremendous dedication to the group’s interests. In fact, reading this only makes me even more assured that I want to be a part of ShackTac. The fact that you are so motivated and dedicated after seven years reflects well on the community, and is convincing evidence that you are a huge part of the group’s continued success.

    You said it yourself – “You should never settle for an experience that doesnโ€™t satisfy you.”

    You’ve done a very remarkable thing with ShackTac, and I’m glad that you refuse to dilute it and sacrifice your own hard work. There’s no reason you should, and if anyone wants to try running their own community, they’re free to have a go. With that said, of course I’ll be very sad if I don’t ever get the opportunity to be a part of what you’ve built, but I like to hope that if I’m patient, my time will come. Hopefully you will get the opportunity to expand the group a bit if ArmA3 overcomes the current technical difficulties.

    Rather off-topic, but I’d rather ask here than bother your email – I sent in my application on November 7th, does that mean I was not accepted this month, or I’m in the December “no-join” cycle and will be considered in the January/February lot? I know it doesn’t make any difference, but it’s just for my peace of mind. I’m a bit anxious about joining.

    • Mack on November 13, 2012 at 9:07 am
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    I mentioned in my Year in Review that one of the things I appreciate is your unremitting lack of compromise. “You are an oak.”–Doc Holliday, Tombstone

    • Solitaire on November 13, 2012 at 11:15 am
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    What a great post, Dslyecxi. Your commitment to our ideals has created an ever stronger group as we sail through these uncharted waters. I believe a large part of what keeps all of us inspired to grow along with ShackTac is your uncompromising leadership principles – we trust you to do right for our community.

  1. That was a good read I understand you completely. keep it up, I may never be apart of the the group nor have I applied, I have been enjoying all the youtube videos you have done.

    • Crunchtime on November 14, 2012 at 6:16 am
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    As a recent potential recruit I can tell you that by having a small, close-knit group that doesn’t accept anyone and everyone….by having someone take the time to collect, prepare and provide for a select group of the best individuals….how do you think that makes me feel? Do be one of the few? To have a shot, a chance to be part of the group? Damned special. I’m certain the others in the group feel it to one degree or another and it’s part of what keeps people coming back. The friendships and bonds that grow, things that are much harder to cultivate in a group of 1000 instead of 100.

    No, ShackTac is fine the way it is being run and directed and nurtured. Dslyecxi and crew will continue to have fun, foster the community as they see fit and enjoy the fruits of their labors, with, or without us. I’m rather proud to have a shot at being part of the ‘with’, thank you. Good luck to all applicants.

      • XenoFei on November 14, 2012 at 11:02 am
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      Good luck to you too.

    • Madcows on November 14, 2012 at 7:58 am
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    The tact of a politician, Semper scalar!

    • Joseph on November 14, 2012 at 10:23 pm
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    Didn’t get in, but I think I remember reading that you can re apply in a year, so see you in a while

    • Tim on November 16, 2012 at 1:39 pm
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    This is a great post Dslyecxi, as was the previous one. I’ve been watching your group for a couple years now (found your TTP, loved it, and now I watch your videos every day at lunch) and the insane rise in popularity lately. You are a victim of your own success..ha ha ha.

    So my reason for commenting is: Perhaps you could publish an article or guide or something about how to set up an ARMA group? Lessons learned, philosophy, structure, etc. Maybe some other motivated folk (and it takes a dedicated person to head this sort of thing up…the time commitment is insane I’m sure) in the ARMA world would create a group that while not formally attached to ShackTac, follows its principles and therefor has a similar level of fun.

    I would love this, as I wanna play like you guys do !!! You have got the perfect balance of fun and realism, and a great group of players. DO NOT CHANGE ANYTHING !!! Not that you would, but just wanted to shout that. ShackTac is awesome.

    And yeah, I am hoping to either start my own small group, or find one. ARMA is just plain awesome. Now all I need is a computer that will run ARMA3….

    Take Care,


      • Mattias on November 27, 2012 at 4:15 pm
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      A very interesting idea, and something that I believe could increase the quality as a whole in the Arma community. I’d love to read something like that, just as I’ve enjoyed reading the TTP.


    • Mooncabbage on November 17, 2012 at 7:47 am
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    I have to agree with Tim’s post above. I’ve also been watching ShackTac for a while now, but I don’t think I could make it work in my timezone, so I haven’t even tried to apply, since I’d potentially be taking the spot of someone who could use it better.

    Frankly I’m baffled by the attitude of some people. I can understand frustration at not being able to join a gaming group like ShackTac, especially with limited alternatives, but the expression of that frustration has been pretty juvenile. The lesson I’ve taken from ShackTac, is that there ARE other people out there who like to play the kind of game I want to play. Hundreds, maybe thousands of them. People should be inspired to create their own groups, to emulate the success of ShackTac, learn it’s lessons and build on it. That’s how you build a thriving community.

    ShackTac isn’t what people want it to be. It’s fundamentally a clan, so as ever in the history of games, why not start your own? Who knows, maybe some time in the future, when the community matures, you might find you and yours in a PvP conflict vs ShackTac, and RPG Dyslexci in the face ๐Ÿ™‚

    At the end of the day, isn’t that all people really want?

    • Fenn on November 18, 2012 at 1:00 pm
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    I agree upon all points. After having been through several clans of various groups and games, I have always noted that although, “We are becoming the biggest group here!” “We are the best cause of our numbers!”, idea is usually what drives leaders, you have proven otherwise. To have such a tight knit unit is vastly greater to having just a large group. To be driven to have the best of the best, the one’s who care and are willing to work together on a goal of a group that helps everyone.”It would seem inane to have an elite group, with few who could join”, a friend once told me, “You would have a hard time getting anyone!” Its not about the numbers, its about the people. “Quality over Quantity,” in Dslyecxi’s own words. You don’t just want to grab every guy off the corner so to speak, you want to have a group of guys (and gals) you want to work with, have a good time and be who you are. Dslyecxi, as an applicant, I personally say that the a major factor to why I want to join is because your a tight-knit group who cares about their guys and because its so hard to be accepted. Not many people want to join a group they think is bad, so Shacktac has proven without question dozens of times why people are just lining up to join. They don’t want to join because they just want to be another number, they want to be another person. If they do, they should go look somewhere else. An expansion as suggested above would destroy the very values and principles laid down. I know because I’ve tried it. It rarely works.

    So never think otherwise Dslyecxi, haters gonna hate, potatoes gonna potate, at the end of the day, it really only matters what you do for your people, not everyone else. Take care of Shacktac and it will take care of you.

    • Terror_Ninja on November 19, 2012 at 12:47 am
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    After reading the post from “Mr. NameWithheld” and then proceeding to read the rest of the post… I felt there was no need to read on. Ive had the fortune of running my own tightly knit community…for a very short time, but the fact was once we gained “power” and people wanted to join, I self-destructed.

    Like many others I have thought about being a part of Shac Tac myself. I always watch videos from the group, and the group is something I would like to have or be a part of. I understand what its like when every one jumps at the chance to join, and what its like to not want those people for fear of runing the vibe the group has, or stretching bonds people have apart.

    Now im thinking why did I write this, I have listened to enough conversations between you and others to know you wont be swayed easily. So just keep doing what your doing, You have my support, as much as I can give over the internet.

    • Dj!NN on November 24, 2012 at 6:47 am
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    Some people just think you owe them something. You don’t. Keep running it the way you see fit man. I can tell you now. Other clans look up to your model and respect it. I can tell you now that my British based clan has learnt a lot from you guys. Keep up the good work! -Dj!NN?

    • Muir on November 29, 2012 at 3:09 pm
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    As with anything exclusive, people want the challenge torn down instead of rising to that level of exclusivity. I applaud you on the way you run things and the strict adherence to your principles even in something which to many outside the world of gaming and simulation might seem trivial. I’ve been witness to the rise and fall of clans and gaming groups over the past 10 years of playing online, I’ve even been partly responsible for both as well. Managing people, ideas, and relationships over the web is a complex hurdle in itself, but throwing in public relations for an international community has to be a high wire circus act, I’ve never seen it done before, and with such finesse. I’m not sure if I’d ever apply to join shacktac due to time constraints and my own independent streak, but I’ll always look to you as a great leader in the digital void and as always, I’ll like and subscribe.

    • Akiic ToDaHead on December 29, 2012 at 7:03 am
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    After reading this, (and completely agreeing with it), I have come to the conclusion that my chances of getting selected to join this wonderful group will be hard at best ๐Ÿ™‚

    • CameronMcDonald on January 2, 2013 at 5:01 am
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    You’ve got to be in it to win it. โ˜บ

    • William "Nerns" Mcgregor on January 10, 2013 at 10:00 pm
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    I love the way you run things, and i hope the challenge to keep such a strong community becomes easier in the next 7 years. I only wonder, do you see a open form of shacktac ever becoming a reality, separate form the shacktac you have built? and if so how do you think you would go about it?

    I hope that some day I can join shacktac for a game, but until then keep the videos coming.

    • Bryan on January 18, 2013 at 12:50 pm
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    3,300 unique applications? Dang! I really appreciate the way your community works. I think it’s the perfect format, and it’s reflected when you watch your youtube videos. Everyone has chemistry together. Gotta love it. I wish the community the best, and hope to be a part of it some day ๐Ÿ™‚

    • paradox on January 27, 2013 at 3:41 am
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    That was a great read Dslyexci, I can definitely tell you put a lot of time and effort into everything you do that involves this community and its members. What a humbling experience it must be just to be apart of it, hopefully one day I’ll get to experience that.

    • MrAttriti0n on February 1, 2013 at 4:59 am
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    I might be an asshole, but I boiled that down to “ShackTac totally needs a $5 application to join fee, non-refundable”.

    • Aleksandar on February 20, 2013 at 6:33 pm
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    R&A Thank you

    • 5aliiim on March 4, 2013 at 12:27 pm
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    I understand and agree with your statement, I also respect you for the stance that you’re taking.
    But still, it saddens me, as I probably won’t get the chance to be part of this great community.

    • Brick on March 9, 2013 at 8:52 pm
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    Incredible read. It’s truly inspiring, and to be honest just really freaking cool, that ShackTac has such an incredible leader at the helm. Dsylecxi, you have changed the ArmA community forever. Hats off to you for creating THE premiere gaming community. The fact that ShackTac is so selective is what makes it the community it is today!! It’s quite obvious that a huge majority of the ArmA community would kill for the chance to be one of the few among your ranks. I myself have applied (just the other day, so it will be awhile before I know anything) because I saw the potential to be a part of something great in the gaming community. ShackTac is GREAT how it is. Dsylecxi has done incredible things with his community. He has created a truly elite, truly unique community. It is my hope that ShackTac continues to be such a success. If I don’t make the cut, so be it!! The community outside of ShackTac should understand that ShackTac is the cream of the crop, and they’re not just going to let any old “ArmA Vet” join their ranks. All that being said, a guide on how to go about forming a group would be AWESOME ๐Ÿ˜‰ Thank you for what you’ve done for the ArmA community, Dsylecxi!! I know for a fact there are plenty more people out there who appreciate what you do. Keep the vids coming!


    • 5aliiim on May 19, 2013 at 1:56 pm
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    I understand and agree with everything you’ve said.
    The only thing that saddens me about ShackTac is the fact that I can never really join, the time of the missions just isn’t possible for me in Britain. Who knows, maybe I’ll start my tight knit little community inspired by ShackTac.
    It is evident that you’re influence Dsylecxi spreads far beyond Shacktac.

    • Aaron on October 5, 2013 at 6:40 am
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    When I was young I grew up around a collective, cooperative, community based in a old mansion house in Yorkshire, England. I suppose it was a kind of hippy/leftie setup, anyway that’s irrelevant. It was incredibly close nit, all the adults would share the responsibilities of the running of the place… what ever you could do to chip in, cooking, child care, gardening… etc. As kids we roamed around the large gardens. It was one of the happiest places in my childhood. This post made me remember it. The house is now a gutted, corporate conference center.

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