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5 Lessons Learned and a Sneak Peak into the Future of the GDNet Community

Posted by Michael Tanczos, 08 December 2011 · 641 views

Note: This post contains images from the next version of our site from areas still under development and are subject to change

In shaping our future we have developed a number of principles that will shape our future direction in a way that will be very positive for the game development community. Over the past year we have implemented a considerable number of changes to secure the longevity of our site and community, and now we're looking to improve what you get out of the site and make it a valuable resource.

The idea behind these five items is to allow us to help each other much easier. Sites like StackOverflow have done a great job with quick questions and answers and the interface is simple to use for people to contribute answers. The forums on our site have long been immensely popular as a way to communicate, and the ease by which people can contribute responses is a huge factor in it's success. Our own developer journals have resulted in the publication of a number of really great articles as well.

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Above: Sharing resource links with fellow members using a special bookmarklet is quick and easy


Lesson learned?
Provide an environment that makes it easy for members to publish information on game development




When we originally made the site back in 1999 were nothing but a bunch of wet-behind-the-ears programmers who wanted nothing more than to provide a cool place where people could share game development information. What a simple concept. Over the years we've heard complaints of us becoming too "corporate" with our look, but the truth is that for anybody running a large web site you have to appeal to both your audience and advertisers. It may have been just us going from a black background to a white one though..

One of the more interesting things we have experienced on this site was seeing how important reputation and recognition really is to our members. Quite honestly, to go and give hours of your time to help others is very selfless and in many cases our members don't quite get the thanks they really deserve for all of their efforts. As we go forward we're going to do a much better job giving credit where it's due.

Lesson learned?
Encourage members to communicate and share information with each other and recognize those who take the time to contribute





The next area we've already spoken about at length in previous blog posts. But when you run a site for 10 years you accumulate cruft.. lots of little odds and ends that really serve as distractions more than anything. We're going to be doing a MAJOR house-cleaning going forward and allowing you to focus on just the topics that you are interested in most while adding new ones where needed.


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So instead of 30 forums you get half that.. and it's going to be extremely easy to access not only forum posts, but everything related to that topic.

We're also going to be combining all the different resources you can use into one area accessible from the very forum you are used to using now. As you can see in the following picture, it is possible to post a new article on the very same page you can post new topics just by clicking a different tab. While this page is still heavily in development, you can begin to get an idea of what we are shooting for here.

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Note: Resources shown above are for testing purposes only and do not reflect the DirectX and XNA category just yet

Lesson learned?
Allow members to easily find information by providing a very focused number of topic areas





We have a very large base of moderators actively patrolling the community and making sure that our community maintains a high standard of conduct. This has been great and has really worked well to reduce the amount of negative community interaction.

One of the staples of more modern websites though is how much the community is allowed to take ownership of their own identity. Sites like Wikipedia have pushed this idea to the extreme, allowing anyone to contribute to the site for the better good. Being more open makes it extremely easy to publish information, and that's awesome. While complete openness also makes abuse a bigger potential threat, we strongly think that their are more benefits to allowing members to easily publish.

So this next lesson learned ties in with two of the previous lessons. By opening up some moderation responsibilities, community members will have an easier time policing the community and promoting great content. The amount of responsibility you are granted is largely going to be based on your site reputation - which will take on a whole new meaning as our site moves forward.

Lesson learned?
Allow trustworthy members beyond elected moderators to take ownership of information and participate in the moderation process



There is one more core principle we will be working on, and that is to allow employers and team leaders to connect easier with potential employees or contractors. "Help Wanted" continues to be one of our most heavily visited forums, so we're going to greatly expand the number of job listings we make available by tapping into every resource we can find to obtain job listings. We will also make it easy for contractors to post advertisements with high visibility detailing their own needs so others can take advantage of their services.

In summary, these lessons have established our new set of core principles for 2012.. and it's with these items that we will move forward and provide the kind of site that can help you become a better developer.

GameDev.net will:
  • Provide an environment that makes it easy for members to publish information on game development
  • Encourage members to communicate and share information with each other and recognize those who take the time to contribute
  • Allow members to easily find information by providing a very focused number of topic areas
  • Allow trustworthy members beyond elected moderators to take ownership of information and participate in the moderation process
  • Allow employers \ team leaders to connect easier with potential employees or contractors





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