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)
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.
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 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 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..
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.
Ya know, it's not entirely necessary that everyone learn best practices to do game programming.. beginners can share what they know with each other perfectly fine and be happy doing it. It really depends on the needs of the individual.. some people just want to do it for fun, so they treat the learning process that very same way. GameDev.net started out this way.. we were all college kids figuring this stuff out and getting a ton of indie articles along the way to make it easy for people to learn. Now Dave and Kevin do this professionally, but I opted to become a teacher (and now teach high school kids to program).
Learning is a process that shouldn't be weighed down too much in the "don't do it this ways" from the start. People have a tendency to pick that stuff up as they learn more background CS material.
Glad to know you get so worked up over anecdotal evidence. I have plenty anecdotal evidence to the contrary. Teachers who put in a lot of extra hours are the exception, not the rule. Just like employees in all fields. Most teachers work their required hours and that is all. They write lesson plans once and re-use them year after year. I'm am not, and have never said there are not exceptional teachers, I'm saying the majority of them are not and unions force the exceptional teachers to the middle where they cannot get the recognition they deserve.
It's just like people I have encountered in all professions. The vast majority of programmers I know are mediocre. Very few spend the time and energy to become excellent at their craft. Should all developers be recognized and paid the same regardless of their quality? How about Doctors? Should we put as much money into supporting bad doctors as we do the exceptional ones? Of course not! Why the hell is this the accepted practice for teachers?
I am a public school teacher. I teach computer networking and programming and have been doing so for the last 10 years. I belong to a teacher union and I know what teachers do day in and day out.. which is why I can say you don't know what you are talking about. I would love to go two years in a row with the same lesson plans.. preparing for 4 separate 50 minute presentations per day takes a ton of work.. but pressures of NCLB leave us rewriting our plans in increasingly complex formats with much more detail. In my school almost 75% of the staff has at least a M.Ed.. largely because continuing education and professional development is a requirement. I've spent countless hours aligning my curriculum to state and national standards. I've seen the entire Math and English departments go through idea after idea to help our students out.. including small classes, co-teaching to give students more one-on-one time, and even in-school and after-school tutoring sessions (for free).. though it's no surprise that few students take advantage of after-school tutoring. Teachers in PA often put hundreds of hours in each year to improve their craft through inservicing and graduate degree programs.. in fact, it's required that all teachers do.
I've seen plenty of good teachers take abuse from students who have zero desire to do anything purposeful. I've seen teachers who have had a half dozen or more kids each year or more whose parents get irate when you have the gall to call them on the phone and bother them why their kid isn't doing their homework, is failing tests, is breaking rules left and right..
And then there's the newspapers.. because all these teachers who are accountable for these kids who we can't do a thing to to compel them to work are made to look like absolute failures. What type of parent raises a kid with zero work ethic and no respect for authority figures? I have a son myself.. 1 1/2 years old, and I can tell you that he copies everything I do. By the time they hit kindergarten they've learned a lot about how life works.. and that is reinforced every day they go home.
There are great teachers, there are good teachers, and there are on occasion a handful of teachers that find their way out the door. I've seen professionals from industry in the last 10 years come in thinking it would be awesome to teach.. only to wash out in 2 years and then go back where they had an easier time.
Teaching isn't what it used to be.. we don't have the same degree of control over our lessons and classroom as teachers once had. A typical day for me I get up at 5:15 and get ready.. get to work by 6:50, then work at the school until 3:45-4:00ish.. come home and make dinner for my family and spend some time with them, and then work for another two hours from 8-10 on lesson planning (sometimes more) and then 10-12 on gamedev.net.
If you have a development journal, your 'Views' count is broken. 'Entries' and 'Comments' count might be broken too, but I'm not sure, I wasn't paying attention. I do however, watch my View count, and it hasn't gone up since I posted my most recent journal, despite one person commenting and a dozen people viewing it. (The Journal software tells me my "Latest Visitors" and the time of their visit)
Whoa, you are indeed correct. Good catch.. there was a lot more "automated" stuff that wasn't running besides that. Check your journal stats again, are they now up-to-date?
We're getting old people.. Can you believe it's been over 11 years since we started? Some of you guys date back to when it was Sweet Oblivion / GP99. Hopefully we can get this site fixed up soon.. it's in bad need of some re-organization and simplificationizing.
Looks good for the most part. I'd say the ocean surface still looks a bit too smooth and plastic-like yet to be realistic but I can certainly appreciate the degree of difficulty involved with what you have pulled off so far.