Exodus of the Faithful
I've found that my usage of GameDev.net has slowly but steadily decreased over the past few months. Certainly the new forum software has a small and indirect part to play in this, but the real reasons run much deeper than superficial UI annoyances. To put it succinctly, the quality of content I used to expect from GDNet has fallen sharply since the precipitous leap to the new software; I place the blame for this almost entirely on the decline of activity by other iconic members who have since moved on to greener pastures.
GDNet will always hold a special place in my heart as the forum where I cut my teeth on programming. I would not be the developer that I am today without it. It's important to make a distinction here though; the forum became the resource that it was almost entirely through its amazing user-base, one that was both deeply knowledgeable and willing to answer questions, as well as willing and able to ask good and insightful questions. Even with an overabundance of brilliant gurus, without those of the latter group asking good questions, the information doesn't get out there for others to absorb. It's my experience that the best learning comes from answers to questions that you might never have even known or thought to ask yourself. Indeed, one need only look at one of the myriad of examples of this principle in action.
You need both halves of this whole in order to wring the most wisdom you can from your collective user base. While the gurus have been slowly moving away, I think the really troubling loss is that of the "intelligent questioner". While I doubt that we have any less of them today than we did years ago, the new site design seems to invite an overwhelming amount of noise and inane questions that trample and drown the good questions before they even get off the ground. That's not to say that the loss of the gurus is any less devastating; I've made my way into the games industry now, and haven't asked direct questions in years, but even so many of the users I looked to for compelling technical content, both in the forums and in the personal journals have gone silent and missing.
Examples? ToohrVyk, Ysaneya, dgreen, and Drew Benton, some of the top rated users on the old site, all have only a handful of posts since the change over. What's even more troubling is the disappearance of moderators. Promit, Ravuya, and Oluseyi are hardly around anymore, mittens and jollyjeffers have dropped off the face of the Earth, and I know that jpetrie, moderator of For Beginners, hasn't even logged in in several months, and is currently close to achieving moderator status on the GameDev StackExchange site.
So yes, the site is losing users and the general quality level of posts has fallen. That, coupled with the decline of the journals and the bizarre and unwelcome direction the staff are taking with the site, are enough to turn me off for good. It's their site and they're welcome to do with it what they will, but it's become clear to me, and from the evidence several others as well, that it's not a direction that good for the site long term.The insistence on political correctness and "play nice" attitude being forced down our throats is particularly puzzling, especially for a community that once prided itself on having a no-nonsense, blunt, and straightforward response to any and all questions.
As I mentioned, my forum usage has already been gradually decreasing itself over the past months, changing from "several times a day" to "once or twice a week" to "meh, whenever I'm bored." I unsubscribed from the mailing list after they started using it to spam advertisements, and my GDNet+ subscription runs out some time in August. That leaves only the journals as a resource I use regularly here on GameDev.net, and now I've got my external site to take care of that as well. So what's going to change? Not much. I'll still be around from time to time to look at any SlimDX questions, and I'll probably cross-link any blog entries here, but in my mind this marks the end of GDNet as my "home" on the internet; I'm leaving and headed for a new promised land.