It’s obvious that any online community focused on the creation of any product – and especially one so often requiring multiple disciplines – will find members wanting to band together to help each other create bigger and better products than they would be able to make alone. The obvious solution to this is to set aside a forum specifically recruiting and looking for teams. Enter the Help Wanted forum.
Things initially went fairly well for the Help Wanted forum; ads were posted, the occasional member offered their services to others (although this was much rarer in the early days), and lots of feedback was given to those trying to recruit.
It was all very unstructured and a bit of a mess, but a make-shift solution was found with the introduction of a required template that posts had to follow, ensuring that at least in theory all of the necessary information would be presented in a logical and ordered fashion, and that at least some thought (though still unfortunately often just the minimum to fill out the template) went into projects before a topic was posted. The template was a simple text layout provided in a sticky/pinned topic for people to paste into their new Help Wanted ads, and those who failed to use it were pointed in the direction of the topic and instructed to edit their posts.
Then arose the first big problem with the Help Wanted forum – one that seems to pop up anywhere such a service is offered and sees a lot of use – the feedback started getting nasty, and a large portion of it stopped being constructive. Some members visited Help Wanted purely to poke fun, beginners were regularly chased away from the site, and even projects which may have otherwise seen success went down in flames or were buried in the fast moving forum by pointless project-bashing topics. For a time, replies were simply dis-allowed in the forum – a solution other such forums on other sites have stuck with – and were eventually re-introduced in a more controlled manner via a “feedback” section on the end of the required template, where users could specify what type of feedback they felt they could handle.
After all that, the forum had another large problem resulting from its popularity; there was no ability to easily sort or filter the types of content displayed. Projects offering help, paid, unpaid, beginner and advanced projects were all jumbled together, and unfortunately for a lot of users who were hoping to find a good project to join, the much more numerous unpaid beginner projects vastly out-numbered those offering payment or a higher chance of a successful release.
The Help Wanted forum is now closed to new posts, and will soon be phased out entirely in favour of our new Classifieds system. The classifieds section unifies the old careers section and Help Wanted forum so that professional, independent and hobbyist positions all appear neatly in the one section of the site. There is a separate section for contractors to advertise their services, and projects are listed in a number of categories. Jobs can be filtered by whether or not they are paid.
The new section also has a simple form to fill out, eliminating the need to paste in and work with a plain text template, and also allowing new ads to be displayed immediately rather than having to await approval.
By leveraging a properly designed system rather than a simple forum, we open up the option of sorting and filtering content as well as easily providing more exposure elsewhere around the site – as an example of this, you might have noticed that recent and featured jobs now appear in a sidebar in the forums. Developer time is also freed up to work on exciting new features for the site rather than simply supporting basic functionality.
In line with the revamped GDNet+ subscription and the new Marketplace feature (which allows content creators to sell their work), the Classifieds system also represents a move towards supporting the continued operation and development of the site based on offering the community valuable services rather than having to rely solely on advertising. Money raised by the site through the Marketplace and Classifieds sections goes directly towards the site’s operational costs and towards future developments, whilst offering our community valuable services at very reasonable prices.
Personal not-for-profit projects can be listed at no cost in the “hobbyist projects” section, and we’ve done our best to provide great value for our very affordable prices for indie ads, with a 45-day listing costing you less than many take-out lunch options!
Initial feedback on the classifieds section has been very positive, and we’d love to hear your thoughts on how we could continue to add more value to this new site feature.