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I'm new subforum in the For Beginners forum


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#21 Alpha_ProgDes   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 4688

Posted 08 December 2011 - 05:45 PM

Perhaps all the "I'm new" posts is more indicative of what beginners want to get out of the site - It seems as though they are looking for more than just answers, but some type of social interaction with fellow newbies as well.

I think this is true. Granted, the suggestion was more of a handholding, kiddy-gloves forum where Beginners, true beginners, can just talk without the unmerciful hammer of "NO N00B! RAWR!". It's pretty obvious that this is the place where real beginners go and help each other, ask questions in a comfortable manner. When they get to the "real world", ie. anywhere outside the "I'm new" forum, then they can get the harsh truth :)

I think the more advanced you get, the more you just participate in answering questions or asking them.. and on the highest levels you typically ask hard questions that you already have done some research on. These guys aren't there yet.. they want to find common ground with each other. The tough part is dealing with the arrogant know-it-all types though who ask for help and give advice to more experienced folks in the same breath.

I agree.

I don't know offhand what a good answer to this is.. but perhaps we need to do something to help the beginners share stuff with each other easier. Hell, maybe we need that everywhere really.

Obviously, I'm biased. But I like my idea..

I think what bothers me the most though is the beginner that comes here and gets quickly discouraged because they feel mistreated - even if their behavior is a violation of our faq. It seems as though these guys need more kid gloves in terms of how we welcome them into our community. These are the same folks that grow up and if they remain active go on to help other beginners like they once were. I know as a high school teacher that it isn't necessarily that these are dumb kids - but that they just don't know how to conduct themselves yet or even necessarily have the skills they need to do proper research. Part of teaching beginners involves making them aware of how to solve their own problems in a thoughtful and constructive way.

Well of course we all (and yes I'm including in this) get a bit frustrated or numb to the " I want to program my great MMORPG HALO 3-D game in HTML in variables! ....So what's a pointer?" However, that just means we need a break and should go to the Lounge or some other forum for awhile before venturing back to the Beginners section.
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#22 Michael Tanczos   Senior Staff   -  Reputation: 5164

Posted 08 December 2011 - 07:55 PM

I think the other challenge is figuring out who is qualified to write articles. I think it's extraordinarily easy on this site in particular to put such an emphasis on experience and professionalism that people find it easier to avoid the hassle of opening themselves up to criticism when deciding to contribute articles. We used to accept articles from anyone.. but now people use blogs to do the same thing with zero hassle. The truth is, I think even a beginner who was around this site long enough could write that article on what beginners should do.. because all they're looking to do is get started. If they've managed to stick around this site and run the gauntlet they'd know the importance of tempering your expectations, doing your research, and tackling achievable projects. What's awesome with beginners is that they still have all that same newfound joy when they do something for the first time that we might consider simple.. it's like they're in this gamedev MMORPG where they are leveling up quickly at first. They have a spark of enthusiasm that makes them want to share the stuff they figure out. They're great candidates to share with each other.

If we all wait around for just the most experienced people to write articles, we could be waiting a while. This is purely a culture issue here, but just like wiki's we have to encourage people to just get something started.. and then the rest of us help to fix it and make it better and correct the errors. That way one person doesn't have to burden themselves entirely with figuring everything out. That's entirely different from waiting for people to produce something, then tearing what they did down..

I know as a teacher if I want to get kids to stop contributing, I ask a tough question. The first person that answers incorrectly I berate them, belittle them, and make them feel plain awful for not knowing the answer. The rest of the class shuts up pretty darn quick. Now I don't actually do this.. this would make me a terrible teacher. But it's shocking how easy it is to cross the line when you are dealing with peoples egos. People need to be built up in order to feel comfortable.

This beginners article could get a serious headstart if one person takes up the mantle of starting a new topic and starts to figure out a framework for the article first. Like "Hey everybody, I need all your help to put together an article for beginners. What do you think is important for them to know when they first get to the site? Here's what I think should be included.. " Then from there just call for volunteers to write a paragraph or two on each of the elements included. Just keep updating the main topic with changes.

#23 swiftcoder   Senior Moderators   -  Reputation: 9761

Posted 08 December 2011 - 11:58 PM

I think the other challenge is figuring out who is qualified to write articles. I think it's extraordinarily easy on this site in particular to put such an emphasis on experience and professionalism that people find it easier to avoid the hassle of opening themselves up to criticism when deciding to contribute articles.

That's all well and good, but my point was that criticism should be avoided at all costs for this particular article - when you are propounding the One True Path to Game Development, you really don't want a very visible bunch of heretics squabbling over the details...

We used to accept articles from anyone.. but now people use blogs to do the same thing with zero hassle.

I'm probably getting a little off topic here, but that 'zero hassle' is exactly what makes the blogs useless to me. Information is only useful to me if I can trust the source.

Under the old system, articles were (at least in theory) peer-reviewed. At the very least, Drew had run a spell-check on them - this granted articles a certain level of trust. Blogs, on the other hand, only have whatever trust has been established by the particular author of that blog. And there are only handful of users on GameDev who's blogs have gained my trust, largely because gaining that level of trust takes a significant amount of time and content: Drew, ApochPIQ, Ysaneya, Danny Green... maybe a couple more.

This is purely a culture issue here, but just like wiki's we have to encourage people to just get something started.. and then the rest of us help to fix it and make it better and correct the errors.

I keep hearing the phrase 'user generated content' thrown around in connection to GDNet's current direction, but the fact is that user generated content only works in a moderated environment - and we don't have that, at least not in the right sense. Our software doesn't support arbitrary edits, change notifications, versioning of content - I can't just go in and fix factual errors in content posted by another user (well, as a moderator I could, but that's not the point). I am not quite clear why we think that wiki-style content generation will work without the infrastructure of a wiki?

Tristam MacDonald - Software Engineer @Amazon - [swiftcoding]


#24 Michael Tanczos   Senior Staff   -  Reputation: 5164

Posted 14 December 2011 - 11:04 PM

I'm probably getting a little off topic here, but that 'zero hassle' is exactly what makes the blogs useless to me. Information is only useful to me if I can trust the source.

Under the old system, articles were (at least in theory) peer-reviewed. At the very least, Drew had run a spell-check on them - this granted articles a certain level of trust. Blogs, on the other hand, only have whatever trust has been established by the particular author of that blog. And there are only handful of users on GameDev who's blogs have gained my trust, largely because gaining that level of trust takes a significant amount of time and content: Drew, ApochPIQ, Ysaneya, Danny Green... maybe a couple more.


What's funny is that Game Developer magazine has scooped blog posts from our site to post in their mag. I think most people can discern when somebody is talking out of their ass and when they seem credible and have something genuinely insightful.

Also, most parts of the site have the ability to save revisions - articles can easily be turned into a wiki-style system. It's literally one click of a setting.. Down the road editing posts may be opened to more than just defined moderators but people of reasonably high reputation (with revision tracking turned on). And if we have six people who can generate quality articles right now that entirely explains our problem - there is no reason that we should assume that only the most seasoned veterans have any worth in terms of what they bring to the table. That's just not how we were founded.. the editorial review board served it's purpose but at this point is a failure, plain and simple. If nobody submits articles to it then something is clearly not working with the system and we need to adapt. This approach we're taking moving forward is more like open source, where there aren't a lot of barriers to make your work freely available.

Moderation can be done just like it is now with forum topics - by adding commentary that exposes flaws and helps the author to fix them. In 2012 we are making recognition of members a priority, since those that do take the time to contribute a lot deserve something positive in return.

#25 swiftcoder   Senior Moderators   -  Reputation: 9761

Posted 14 December 2011 - 11:37 PM

Also, most parts of the site have the ability to save revisions - articles can easily be turned into a wiki-style system. It's literally one click of a setting...

Ok, that's a definite plus. I'll have to look more closely at that.

And if we have six people who can generate quality articles right now that entirely explains our problem - there is no reason that we should assume that only the most seasoned veterans have any worth in terms of what they bring to the table.

We likely have hundreds of members who could generate worthwhile articles. On the flip side, we have a small handful of users who generate interesting blog posts (from my perspective). Part of my issue with the current direction is that I'm not sure there is much intersection between 'worthwhile articles' and 'interesting blog posts'.

Now, that's probably as much an education issue as anything. But there is a a certain (partially stylistic) gulf between articles and blog posts: blog posts assume you are familiar with the context of the rest of the blog, they tend to be written in an informal style, and most importantly, they rarely claim to be 100% correct.

I guess my question is how we go about encouraging people with interesting blog posts to expand them into full-length, stand-alone, peer-reviewed articles?

Tristam MacDonald - Software Engineer @Amazon - [swiftcoding]


#26 Michael Tanczos   Senior Staff   -  Reputation: 5164

Posted 15 December 2011 - 06:51 AM

I guess my question is how we go about encouraging people with interesting blog posts to expand them into full-length, stand-alone, peer-reviewed articles?


That's an important question actually.. very important. What we can do on this side is try to make it as easy as possible to start to get information out there, but there is a whole psychological side to the equation. Why would one go about going through the effort to create such an article? We are looking to do our best to switch to more of a community-funded effort (hence things like the marketplace) so we can focus on just being a great place for game developers to actually have a sense of community and share information - but it also means paying people for articles isn't even a possibility. So what motivates people to create articles and share information to begin with? Truthfully, for some it's just recognition of their contributions and feeling like they are part of something bigger than themselves.. which is the feeling we all had the first few years of GameDev.net's existence when we had site traffic growing like crazy.

In my latest staff blog post I boiled our effort in 2012 to just these core things:

  • 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
Remember, this isn't necessarily where we are now - in fact we are hardly where we want to be - so in some cases it will require shifting the way things work on this site. But we can have goals that we want to work towards.
#4 actually has a relation to a previous comment of yours, which is probably good that we picked it as an area to focus on then - because we DO need to identify members that can be trusted. The old reputation system actually did a pretty good job identifying the people who have worked the hardest because getting a rep anywhere near 2000 took a ton of work and it was the community that had to get you there. I actually do miss though being able to see who the top repped people were on the site but that's a bit off-point.

One of the things I do like about Stackoverflow is that people who gain a certain amount of reputation are allowed to increasingly take place more in the moderation process - but for us we'll be looking to do a pretty major overhaul of our reputation system. Personally I want to see ways for people to gain reputation by both being uprated by others, but also more directly by what they are able to contribute to the community. Get a blog featured? Your rep goes up.. your IOTD makes it to the front? Your rep goes up.. An article you write gets a lot of views/favorable reviews/comments? Your rep goes up. Likewise, we need to identify responsible reasons for reputation to go down as well. And unlike the owner of Stackoverflow, I do like the idea of higher rated individuals having more influence when rating than lower rated.. or at least using the difference in ratings as a measure of influence. (ie. high rated users can bring up low rated users in rep quicker than low rated users can bring up low rated users.. where likewise high rated users have a smaller impact on other high rated users)




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