Post-0.3.3 Forum Management


#1

As you may have noticed, this forum looks a little different than it did the other week. I would have addressed it at the time but have been busy recently. Apologies for the rather blunt post, I’d just like to get a few things off my chest.

First off, I switched the home page to categories instead of latest. It still shows the latest threads on desktop. I personally prefer the way it looks like this, although others may think differently. Let me know if you’d like to revert back. After much frustration, I was also able to add the website links in the header. I’m thinking of standardising the navigation menu for the website, dev forum and community forum since right now few newcomers may know that the others exist if they find one.

This thread is for discussing thoughts on both these forums and the community ones.

In the latest Devblog, we (I) said we’d start threads on the community forum promoting intelligent yet non-development focused discussion. My first attempt didn’t exactly last long. The idea for these threads came from a conversation with @Seregon, who said he missed the rigorous but speculative nature of discussions on the old forum back in ~2012. I want to make it clear to everyone developer reading: those threads are primarily for you. We’re hoping interesting discussions arising there will make developers more motivated to work on the game and stick around longer. On the flip side, we’re relying on ourselves to make them work. If no one bothers to start them or contribute to the first few posts, the idea is useless and nobody will find motivation. We have a great team of moderators now, and they’ve been instructed that such posts will require stricter moderation guidelines.

Similarly, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: we need to use this forum more. @NickTheNick made some extensive and useful posts recently on our next steps here and here, but so far little discussion has actually taken place on them. I think we’ve gotten far too used to Slack, and while it has its advantages, we end up seeming dead to most of the outside world and all our discussions fade into the forgotten realm of scroll up land.

I’m not sure how to fix this, and I feel bad for insisting people go here for discussion, so what’s should we do about it? We’ve had plenty of discussions on what would motivate us to work on the game further, and I personally would find motivation if we had an active public presence of (mostly) useful development discussion. I think others would like this as well, but the whole thing’s a Catch-22 and breaks down as soon as a few people become less active for a while.


#2

Not completely related, but… I remember about six months ago some guy on reddit was asking if Thrive was dead. And that quite frustrated me because I had just earlier that week made a few commits and commented on a couple of issues. So even though there was public things happening, it seemed that github didn’t count for not being dead.

So I worry that the same thing will happen with these forums; probably the only places where people will notice activity are on reddit and the community forums.

As to actually trying to discuss ideas

I’m worried that I’ll bring up some topic that has already been discussed extensively (I haven’t read much of the old forums or other older material) and no one bothers to comment on it once again.
This might be related more generally to the lack of discussion as the cell stage is pretty simple and most people (in the achievements suggestions thread, for example) seem to prefer discussing much more about the later stages.

So I think we are in a tough spot as we cannot implement new things fast enough that there is enough topics to discuss.


#3

I think there’s two challenges I see in this area.

  1. It’s easy to come up with ideas which are hard to implement. Actually building the agents system, for example, is a lot of work whereas discussing it is easy. We have quite a big backlog of stuff that is well fleshed out but needs dev time to put it in the game. I’d like to point out that I think all the programmers have been making awesome contributions recently and I’m really happy about how Thrive is progressing. However it’s always easier to imagine something than to build it.

  2. The problem with too much archived discussion (and one of the things I think is a strength of Slack) is that it makes an impenetrable wall for new people trying to get into the project. Being sent to a 50 post thread is very intimidating and I’m a little bit worried that more pages of discussion is actually making it harder to get into things and not easier.

I don’t have very many suggestions on what to do about this.


#4

I think the best way to address this is to have a very easy to find and clear post that outlines, “This is what we are doing now, this is later.” Also, once a decision is made on what is wanted in say the agent system. Add those exact details to the post so if someone wants to tackle the agent system they can go to this post and see, we are hoping to do it for X release and it needs X,Y,Z features.


#5

I think a great way to help insure people that the project is progressing, is doing something like what Chronicles of Elyria are doing; basicly giving an overall progress status every few week. We could use the community forum or the facebook page for that. In that way we can both show off how far we are along making the game and also show our transparency, which might attract people to join the project. I personally think it will bring a lot more optimism to the masses. Also, I wouldn’t mind helping out making short videos for that purporse once in a while if needed. In that way we wouldn’t need the developer forum to insure people that we are still putting in hours on the project.

It might not even have to be as formel as the devblogs, but just something short from time to time.

I think the same goes for our community discussions (For instence the Achievement and behavior discussions) I think we should use the facebook or reddit to bring attention to them.

If that is what you are worried about atleast :slight_smile:

Also with a little math I figured that we have about 435 members on the community forums and 1872 likes on the facebook page, which is insteresting.


#6

I think the wiki would be a good place to collect agreed-on aspects of future stages.
Right now the pages for everything that isn’t microbe stage are blank.


#7

I think this is a great idea. Another thing that many companies do along with this is highlight a different team member each update, a little about them, and what they do for the project.


#8

I’m feeling a little guilty that I suggested getting more serious discussions going in the community forum, then proceeded not to take part in, or start, any of them - sorry!

I’ll quickly mention that I had a few motivations for suggesting that (@Oliveriver helped develop these too):

  • Regaining some of the freedom to discuss speculative ideas that we had on the old forum (noting that we make no promise of actually implementing anything that’s discussed, so we run less risk of creating a backlog of work to implement).
  • Giving those of us who enjoyed those discussions some more motivation
  • Encouraging some more dev-community interaction, possibly leading to more applications
  • Encouraging more serious discussions on the community forum, hopefully helping shape it as a space for the kind of educational/science/theoretical discussions me and @tjwhale have previously mentioned wanting to encourage.

@hhyyrylainen makes a really good point regarding posting new topics, both being worried that something has been covered before (which happens regularly, the specific vs. general storage discussion has been had at least 4 times by now). While that’s an issue, I feel like posting a redundant topic is less of an issue that not posting it.


#9

I’ve only just realised I should have probably posted this in #meta instead of #outreach. Oops. It’s fixed now.

One of the questions in the Thrive survey last year asked which of our web presences everyone used regularly. Though it’s not exactly up to date, it’s still a good indicator of where people get their information (Slack was entered as a custom choice which is why very few people voted for it):

We could do another survey now asking where everyone gets their information from these days and what suggestions they have for improving the various websites we use. In fact, I’ll make one after finishing this post.

EDIT: Here it is. I’ll wait for suggestions and approval then post it to all our media outlets.

I am in favour of this but it’d be difficult to organise. Multiple times in the past, we’ve been asked whether we have some sort of coordination system for handing out tasks, and while we’ve tried to implement them a couple of times, it’s impossible to stick to them due to the go with the flow approach we have to making feature lists for releases. We could try again, and with more input from the people actually making the things being planned it could work better, but I know a lot of us here enjoy the fact we can work on what we like. Perhaps there’s a balance to be struck - some tasks with high priority and smaller ones anybody can contribute to at any time.[quote=“Naggorath, post:5, topic:321”]
I think a great way to help insure people that the project is progressing, is doing something like what Chronicles of Elyria are doing; basicly giving an overall progress status every few week. We could use the community forum or the facebook page for that. In that way we can both show off how far we are along making the game and also show our transparency, which might attract people to join the project. I personally think it will bring a lot more optimism to the masses.
[/quote]

This came up as a suggestion from several people in the same survey as above. My fear is several weeks of not much could reinforce perceptions that not much is happening.

I have had an idea though. Alongside the forum visual adjustments, I figured out (after much struggle) how to make a bot which would post in the Thrive Discord whenever a new post is made. It made me realise we don’t really have a centralised feed of everything within quick reach: the website, this forum, the community forum, GitHub, the subreddit, YouTube, etc. If we could collate the RSS feeds of all of these into one page somewhere linked prominently on the website, it’d give newcomers and veterans alike quick access to every new thing anyone does. If we were to do weekly progress reports, a feed like this would make it much easier for us to understand what’s happened at a glance, so we could cherry pick what we feel are the most important items and write a paragraph or two about them. Unfortunately, either would rely on at least one person being available at the same time each week to write and publish it.

I’m sure everyone would love you to do that, though we’d need topics which can be explained in video form. You’re the expert on videos - what would you think of making the above idea into weekly videos? Would screenshots and voiceover be enough?

Again, we’ve said a lot about how we should use the wiki more in the past. The trouble is few people bother to keep everything updated, so it falls into disrepair again. As with everything, it’s a matter of free time and motivation.


Web Presence Improvements
#10

I was thinking of making about 30 second to 1 minute videos (I dont know how often, once a week? once a month? I don’t think it needs a perticular schedule, but that can be discussed) showcasing what is going on around the forum and with the development. For instence show off some topics and discussions, introduce new developers if any, show new gameplay footage if any new features or organelles are added, and in generel spread awereness about what is going on. Just stuff like that. Short, simple, with trailer-ish music and texts. Or something like that atleast. All ideas and inputs are welcome of course.

As a matter of fact, I think I will start a topic about that a little later

Also I hope my suggestion wasn’t misunderstood. I don’t think updates should be strictly weekly, I don’t think we should make updates just for the sake of updates. So only if we have enough new stuff to show off. Weekly updates should be a maximum amount in my point of view. And i don’t think they have to be massive updates each time


#11

I like that idea but I don’t know how well it would work. As you say, a separate thread on the topic would be useful. This one seems to have gone a little off-topic. Feel free to make one.


#12

Was gone a couple days for spring break but back now. I would be willing to take that development schedule and take a couple days to just troll through the forums and list the goals for each feature and then create a thread in meta where the OP stays up to date with those. As for priority of each item that’s more for the people currently working on them to say but I can flag things as told.


#13

I think that’s the idea with the Future Release Plans thread?


Web Presence Improvements
#14

I think the issue mentioned above though was that it didn’t have specifics on the features as well as priority or who was working on it, things that help new people or people looking to start on something get an idea of what needs to be done.

But if its not necessary to change then no need for me to do it.


#15

As I said here, we’ll use this thread to discuss potential reorganisation of this forum, since it was a frequent comment from the outreach survey.

How do people feel it could be improved? We’re talking things like categories, navigation, etc.


#16

I feel like the old layout, where all the latest posts regardless of categories were shown, is better than having a split view of categories and latest threads (that we currently have) because there is so little going on that having categories take most of the space when only a few threads in some categories get responses is not very useful and makes the small amount of activity seem even less.


#17

I agree, also having a link to the webpage would be helpful (maybe even one to the github repository too).


#18

I’ve reverted back to a list of topics, so that’s taken care of.

It’s possible to add more elements to the page using CSS, and I had a go at it a while back. I wasn’t very happy with what I ended up with though, so I deleted the code. To me, the site as a whole feels too bare. There are plenty of Discourse plugins available though, including a sidebar, a list of users online, users replying to the same topic simultaneously and LaTeX support. Unfortunately, I can’t make these changes since installing plugins requires access to the server backend, which only @moopli has.

I’ll have a go at making some cosmetic changes throughout the day. Let me know what you think later.


#19

If it’s ultimately possible with Moopli’s access to the server, I would be fully in support of the “online users” and “simultaneous reply” plug ins.


#20

Does anyone have any suggestions for visual and/or navigational changes? Colours, layouts, main page changes? I’m particularly looking for things which would appeal to newcomers, which is why we currently have the dismiss-able header,