New community portal online!

Discussion in 'Announcements' started by begla, May 20, 2012.

  1. begla

    begla Project Founder and Lead Developer Staff Member

    We've just finished setting up the new community portal replacing our good old phpBB 3.0 powered board. AlbireoX kindly contributed this XenForo license – thank you!

    We actually have not finished setting everything up yet and there may be a lot of changes in the forthcoming days and weeks but it looks like all threads, posts and user accounts from the old board were successfully migrated. If anything is missing or not quite right: Let us know! As a small start we've tried to reorganize the structure of the message board. Any requests for new forums or overall feedback are greatly appreciated.
  2. eleazzaar

    eleazzaar Member

    Looks spiffy!
  3. overdhose

    overdhose Active Member

    aye spiffy... like that one... spiffy
  4. woodspeople

    woodspeople Member

    Hooray! Looks wonderful. Suggestions on forums:

    1. Have never known what to put in "General discussion" forum, since it said (and still does) "how to get it running" and so on. I know how to get TS running so I never post there. Maybe that forum would be better called "support" or "questions" or "user forum"? Also, should there be a bug report forum?

    2. Topics that have previously cluttered up the main "development" forum in the past but that should really be separate discussions:
    - documentation (wiki, FAQ, etc)
    - marketing (promotion, videos, press, etc)
    - design (things like a thousand questions about minions, etc)
    - teras (NPCs/minions, huge topic, maybe too huge to be mixed with rest of development?)
    - ideas (a "wouldn't it be cool if" forum would relieve some of the traffic, or this could go into a "cool ideas" repository in the design forum)

    3. No final hope on not calling the things "mods"? Think there would be less in the way of misunderstandings if they were not "mods" but components, elements, modules, plugins; because they don't modify, they build, the game. Last time saying that. Promise.
  5. Cervator

    Cervator Project Lead and Community Wizard Staff Member

    Yeah, we definitely have some more restructuring to go through :)

    Terminology topic definitely isn't closed yet, think that was just one of the active things getting bowled over a bit by the "Surprise Xenforo!" factor ;)
  6. begla

    begla Project Founder and Lead Developer Staff Member

    Those are some valid points Woodspeople!

    The forum definitely needs some restructuring and some serious moderation (moving old threads into the right places and all that good stuff).

    That's why I promoted Cerv. to be the official community manager in the hope those problem now magically solve themselves. :p

    Just kidding. Maybe there is someone volunteering to be a moderator? Maybe even for some specialized area in the board?

    EDIT: Did I mention that writing in this forum is pure joy?
  7. Cervator

    Cervator Project Lead and Community Wizard Staff Member

    I'm made of magic! I hope to work on this some tonight my time

    Yeah this forum is nice. The smileys are too. More are coming - some like Kai will be in love, others will groan ;)
  8. overdhose

    overdhose Active Member

    I want an evil smiley... or wicked one... whatever you wonna label it
  9. begla

    begla Project Founder and Lead Developer Staff Member

    I... Sense... Ponies. At lot of ponies actually. :D
  10. Cervator

    Cervator Project Lead and Community Wizard Staff Member

    Round one of forum organization done - more coming, check out the shiny new Website forum for more: (sorted out some of the stuff like ideas, the weirdly non-general general forum, support, design, etc)

    Edit: So yeah, already renamed "Website" to "Site & Services" - pretty sure I'll be leaving broken links all over the place for a few days :p
  11. woodspeople

    woodspeople Member

    Reactions - my oh-so-humble opinions only.

    1. The "community" part is much improved. Will help newcomers a lot.

    2. For the "contrib introductions" maybe a "Team" section would be good? There you could have intros but also a forum specifically for talking about the team itself, interactions within it, handoffs, small collaborations, who is doing what, etc. For example recently we collaborated with metouto but did it entirely through PMs and email, would be cool if there was a place for team members to coordinate in such mini-projects.

    3. Still think the development parts are too mixed together. It seems from previous discussions that there is a serious difference between discussions pertaining to engine, API, and particular modes/mods/components. Also, mixing design and implementation in one forum seems bad, since such mixing was leading to problems before. One possibility is to use the engine/API/components distinction as the forum divider, then use [Design] or [Implementation] as subject header distinctions (or [DES] [IMP]). You can do a lot to clarify things using subject headers.

    4. Like "long term planning" but unclear on what it means. Sounds a lot like design, but I gather it's not for "us" but for you and begla? And who else? I am in general unclear on who is doing what in the whole thing so far, which has been .... a bit demoralizing so far. Sometimes there are allusions to plans made by some not seen by others, and it makes one wonder who is "in charge" of decision making for the whole project. Transparency is key to keeping people interested/motivated to contribute. If there is a "core team" who decides, you should be clear about who is in it and why, and what constitutes the barrier, and how one can/cannot overcome it. A hierarchy of control is inevitable in projects like this, and this in itself is not dangerous; but a hidden and confusing hierarchy of control is dangerous, in terms of disappointing would-be contributors and sending their volunteer time away.

    Hopefully helpful as usual :)
  12. Cervator

    Cervator Project Lead and Community Wizard Staff Member

    Teams - yep, there's something more coming. While laying restless in bed last night due to insomnia over what else to add to the forum I figured there should be a"Teams" section, tho I had thought to put it under Admin for some reason. Probably to go with the one existing stealthy forum which is hiding under there.

    Honestly at this point most the stuff not publicly visible is purely hidden because there hasn't been time to drag it out from the hidey spots from the days when it was just 3-4 of us total :)

    A few more people have been added to that since but the growing pains are obvious as there's no easy line between "core team" and "general development" anymore (before we essentially had no "general development" to speak of) - so again that has just gone mostly left alone till it was time to reorganize here. Barely anything happens there these days. I do apologize for any badness from the slight cloak and dagger feel now and then, I take responsibility for not getting stuff out into the light faster :(

    The upgrade / restructure! The teams / groups we can set up with badges here on Xenforo I see as the "confirmed contributors" and they'll have access to view the long-term planning forum, which will be the only hidden forum with any really interesting stuff in it. Core forum would likely be down to storing account credentials and other purely administrative bits and pieces.

    I'd like to have a fairly well known yet hidden forum like long term planning around specifically to let anybody with any significant contributions feel included by being able to see it (you and Metouto among many others). There are just a few longer-term ideas kicking around in old hidden places at the moment I'll post in there after setting up permissions properly. Some relate to emerging concepts not really seen elsewhere yet that I'd like to keep out of public view till we're closer to implementing.

    I was also thinking about making the team members being the only ones able to post new threads in Design & Implementation (anybody can comment) and maybe the same in Teams (to promote cohesive use of the different forums). I thought about splitting D&I into separate forums, but then how do we transition from design to implementation? New thread in Implementation with a link to the Design thread? Seems like discussion would diverge. Maybe move the thread when it transitions from pure design to pending implementation? That would hit on the funnel effect. Open for further ideas, keep em coming! :)

    Oh, and on Engine/Modding - that's still such a tricky pile of terminology. I was leaning toward the side of funneling discussion from a vague open area (General Dev) into either D&I (whether one forum or two) for Engine + Core content (Genesis & Untrue Tao, etc) or Modding if it was unlikely to fall within the core "game modes" - plus the few threads we're likely to need to discuss the modding framework itself. That could be in its own forum, but maybe later when we have more than 2-3 threads total? The setup may shuffle further when I start going over all the threads to split them out. Consider the current setup merely the initial draft :)
  13. woodspeople

    woodspeople Member

    I hope I didn't sound whiny/whingy on that "core team" thing (child not here to help with that). There have been a few times when you referred to some sort of decision-making apparatus separate from "the team". Is it not a problem that I cannot even guess who the initial "3-4 of us total" were/are? (Or maybe I'm just clueless?)

    Not to quote my own stuff again but I published a paper specifically on work teams and boundaries between them and advice to open source projects on this, which would be relevant (I know TL;DR). Let me see if I can helpfully outline it in a few sentences.

    There are three types of interaction between people. (BTW this comes from the work of the sociologist Harrison White)
    1. Selection: making choices. Like shopping. Like Amazon.
    2. Mobilization: building coalitions. Like politics. Like any political discussion site.
    3. Commitment: building things together. Like the core team of an open source project.

    All open source projects have to deal with all three interactions, but among different people.
    1. Selection happens when users come to find out about the product and decide whether to choose to use it.
    2. Mobilization happens when people might want to join the team, and have suggestions, but haven't actually joined.
    3. Commitment is what really gets built by people who devote their time and attention to the group.

    Each of these interaction types needs different things to make it work.
    1. Selection requires lots of simple clear information, like FAQS, a wiki, and fast clear answers to questions.
    2. Mobilization needs ways to attract people to the cause (promotion), ways to have one's say (voting), ways to collect lots of crowdsourcing wisdom from people who don't want to commit but have little bits of useful opinions to give (polling, suggestions).
    3. Commitment needs negotiation, handoff, decision support, trust, reputation, recognition, a quiet private space to work unobstructed.

    For the boundaries between each other things are needed.
    1. If moving from selection to mobilization, people need to learn enough to find out where they can add their ideas usefully. They need to jump the hurdle of not filling up the regular discussions but find the right places to have their say.
    2. For moving from mobilization to commitment, people need to do the homework to fit into the team productively. They have to learn the coding conventions, get the source control system to work, learn the forum etiquette, learn the core team and what they do, etc. There is generally a much higher barrier here, and there has to be, or the core team will not get anything done.
    3. Moving from selection to commitment ... does not happen. It cannot and should not.

    Lots more on this in the paper but hopefully that summary is helpful?

    Second post coming on other points in your thing.
  14. woodspeople

    woodspeople Member

    On separating D&I... Waterfall says two teams, throw it over the wall, design then implement. Agile says D&I intertwined, release early and often, mix and match. Neither are entirely right, so maybe something intermediate is best. Each benefits from exposure to the other, but too much exposure is disabling.

    If D&I are entirely intermingled, implementation looks at design, says "we can't do all that!" and gets overwhelmed. Design looks at implementation, says "if that's all we have now, how can we think about this?" and runs out of imagination. If they are too separate, implementation can't plan for what design needs, and design can't accommodate what implementation can realistically do.

    Maybe the same is true for engine/API/modes/mods, that an intermediate separation is best.

    I have seen headers in discussions used fruitfully, e.g, all threads start with things like

    The benefit of such a system is, it is flexible. You can imagine a thread called [DES+IMPL] or [DES->IMPL] or even [IMPL->DES] and then something, or [IMPL][API->MODS]. You could almost "code" the discussion using such a system. Which is potentially far more useful than the binary in-or-out decision of separate forums. Then you could have simply "development" (hate the word "general", invites random wanderers) and "intros" in the "Development" section.

    However that requires people to USE such a system. Maybe too nerdy? Too high a demand? It also could be part of the "dev team" barrier; you have to learn and use the subject-heading system to participate. (Nerdiness test)

    OR: Maybe mods are fundamentally different from engine/API/modes. Maybe THEY ALONE deserve their own forum, and the subject headings work inside that.

    Just thinking out loud. Your plumbing of the old topics may be the best gauge of what is needed.
  15. woodspeople

    woodspeople Member

    One more thing: looking at your "general dev" explanation; when it says "including trouble setting it up to run from source", that seems to be about making the transition from interested outsider to dev team member. (See above post about mobilization->commitment.) This might be worth keeping as a forum, because people interested in committing could ask questions there, which would keep the questions out of the main development forum. However it might be better off in the "team" section, as in "Joining the dev team" or "getting started with development" or something. Can imagine LOTS of questions going there. The "suggestions" section of the user/community section performs the selection->mobilization function already.
  16. Cervator

    Cervator Project Lead and Community Wizard Staff Member

    Lots of stuff to read - more good stuff, thanks :)

    I'll do some topic sorting to get a better idea of what we're got and keep those thoughts in mind. Sounds like the "funnel" feel I was heading for has a bit of that selection - mobilization - commitment thing going on.

    On the hidden core stuff etc - the first 4 were Begla, Anton, me, and Immortius. I think. Been a while. Kai, T3, and rapodaca might have been the next few, and I invited some close friends in I could trust implicitly, tho most of them haven't really gotten to the commitment phase ;)

    I don't think we've ever done any sort of decision making in the shadows, it was always limited to suggesting a few long-term ideas - tho yeah, hinting at "We've got something special in mind for that topic..." might in a way be a decision I suppose. In the very beginning I think we hid away stuff out of shyness more than anything, in particular when there was no other real content or discussion going on. Much more comfortable in the spotlight these days, especially after I've personally dropped my count for % of all posts ever, which used to be a fair bit past 50% :D
  17. woodspeople

    woodspeople Member

    Not implying any evil (cartoon or otherwise) in the core-team stuff, just wondering who it was. I don't think there is any problem with anything you did or said, but I wondered what was implied...
  18. woodspeople

    woodspeople Member

    BTW I think everyone who was on the original team "when it wasn't cool" should get some kind of super badge/trophy thing that nobody else can ever attain, so everyone can see who merits the most superlative respect. :)
  19. Cervator

    Cervator Project Lead and Community Wizard Staff Member

    I think we'll just stick with custom titles or something - some serious, some not so much, more made over time - I still need to re-affix some sort of pony-related applet breaking pun to Kai's title, but he's probably too busy in RL to notice :D
  20. Cervator

    Cervator Project Lead and Community Wizard Staff Member

    Blargh - spent some time doing more restructuring and thought I had it sorted out, but then I started poking holes in it. Had a separate category for team-specific forums meant to be a second line of development for established topics (not introduction stuff, trying to do the funnel thing). But then I realized - where would a new user offer concept art? Natural choice would of course be the "Art" forum, so it would really need to be part intro-level anyway. So crammed all of them back into the plain "Development" category again.

    Initial teams I'm thinking of are Design, Art, Architecture, and World (generation of it and the mainstream content for Genesis, True Tao, etc). Modding is also a thing, but different (Modding framework fits into Architecture IMHO)

    Also feels a little like there are too many forums now. Thought of renaming General Dev to Getting Started or Coding Help, but keep hitting issues trying to imagine where new stuff would get posted and how naturally users would figure that out. And then I got sleepy - more tomorrow :p


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