New Forum Plans and Feedback
Posted 11 November 2014 - 08:19 PM
I've taken on the task of redoing the MM website to bring it into the current year and had some particular questions about the forums (what I'm typing this on right now!)
When I see existing game forums for AAA games, they routinely use them for outreach as well as updates to the community, saving news/blog posts for the Really Big Things. However, I've noticed a lot of these forums are TOXIC AS HELL and I know we have a tendency towards that (this is the Internet after all) so I wanted to find a way to minimize that going forward. I also don't happen to think that using the forums for patch notes and things is the best way to organize things, but that seems to be commonplace so people might just be used to that by now. What do you think?
Featurewise, what do you all think about:
1) Threaded posts?
2) Moving instead to more of a Q&A format, similar to stackexchange.com
3) Up/Down votes, ala reddit, with a point system
4) A point system that could (potentially) be used to gain fabulous prizes in-game!
5) Tagging system so that it's easier to link similar threads across categories
6) Any other features we should add?
7) Any features you want to go away?
And as far as organization:
8) What message categories should we get rid of or merge into existing ones?
9) What do you think of the current organization of the forums?
10) Anything else you'd like to suggest we do to improve the forums?
Posted 12 November 2014 - 02:02 PM
We could definitely use a few more features, such as 1-click access to all the topics unread since your last visit, and possibly see who is currently browsing the forums.
I prefer seeing patch notices in a dedicated page with a link. Not in the forums. Yes, many games do this, these days, but it just feels very unprofessional to me.
One thing I do wish for is more pre-generated avatars. Like, I'm a male drow, but the only "drow" avatar seems to be a female drow.
Posted 12 November 2014 - 07:32 PM
Points system, threading, and tagging posts all seem like good ideas, especially when implemented with a (correctly-functioning) search system. That said, I think some boards could probably be consolidated -- for example, in-character boards composing subsections of clan boards (but are those really needed, anyway?) and quest boards. I agree, also, on 'archons only'; at this point, it seems kind of unnecessary.
I think users should be able to edit their own posts for as long as they want after they reply (right now, it's something akin to 5-10 mins, and then they're locked out of editing). In order to avoid abuse, you have the option of users not being able to edit their posts after someone else replies or within certain sections (i.e., to avoid bid confusion in 'classifieds').
I agree - more functionality on 'view new topics,' 'view new posts,' would be most welcome, but I think that altogether stepping away from the kind of forum hosted that we're used to might be something of a tumultuous journey for players who dearly appreciate the past.
Posted 12 November 2014 - 08:19 PM
2) I don't think enough topics lend themselves to a SE-like format to merit forcing that style.
3) Point systems tend to devolve into popularity contests. A good idea from a unfavoured source can too easily get lost as can terrible ideas well regarded poster get undeserved visibility. The "Like" feature can stay, but shouldn't play a role in moderation or post visibility. With a small community like we have here, it just becomes even more of a c*****-j***.
4) I do not think it is fair to tie in-game rewards to forum participation, unless it is purely cosmetic in nature. Non-native English speakers, or those who mostly participate from places where they cannot access the website are at a disadvantage otherwise.
5) This potentially can be useful. However, if we start seeing superfluous tagging of topics and threads it could quickly lose it's usefulness.
6) A) A search feature that is actually useful. Should be able to search by any combination of the following: poster Name (match my pattern), posts by staff, pattern/keyword matching titles, pattern/keyword matching post contents, date ranges, tags (both allowing exact and basic pattern matches) and any combination of the above with full NOT, AND, OR and XOR logic. Search results should offer links to: The matching post, the original post of the thread, and last post made to the thread.
Remove the time-lock on self-editing posts. Keep a count of the number of times it's edited (and display it), and perhaps have non-admin edits preserve the pre-edit contents (visible via a link in the edit message). Admin edits would purge the posts prior states. The 5-10 minute window could possibly permit self-edits to not leave a history.
C) Single-page view for threads, also a way to easily save a thread to a human readable local file would be nice.
9) It's adequate.
10) A useful search system bears repeating. This is a forum, it doesn't need to be anything fancy. I'd rather have a well functioning, if not particularly featureful system over some attempt to make MMBook 2.0
Posted 12 November 2014 - 08:31 PM
To conversationally step a bit into the new site, topic-wise:
The goal for the new site is "simplicity". I'm getting rid of a lot of stuff that is outdated and we don't use as well as refining the way it works overall. The design is responsive which means it will display easily on browsers as well as tablets and phones. I'm getting rid of "Share on x social network" options everywhere because no one ever uses them. I'm removing some of the stuff which I personally like but doesn't really get used (and I'm not even sure if they work anymore due to lack of maintenance the year I was gone, like how the forum search feature stopped working) such as Zola's Fortune Teller, Tavern of the Green Imp, and Super Rewards Points.
There will be a main navigation with basic game stuff and a side navigation for those who wish to delve deeper.
If needed there will be a vision-impaired template toggle that removes the use of most colors and just uses high contrast colors. Also something I want to add if I have time (I'm trying to get this out before the end of the year, preferably sooner), is a light/dark toggle - if I'm lying in bed at night trying to look at a website I'd prefer not to be blinded if possible, so I'd like the ability to toggle to a light on dark style as well (but the default style won't be light on dark).
There's new functionality coming too, some things which we'd been dependent on outside websites to do but would be handy to have here, although I don't really want to get into that conversation right now as it's a whole can of worms.
I'm even redoing the logo to something simple, yet iconic.
I've learned a lot over the years (it's been what, a decade or more?) since the last major site overhaul so I want to apply that knowledge and bring us into the "now", which is fast, responsive, mobile-friendly, and simple.