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irbrian

Pondering the Inter-Forum Disease

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You know, I''ve been a member of GameDev for coming up on two years now. I love the community.. its a great place to exchange ideas and learn from others who''ve "been there," as well as occasionally offer advice to the less-experienced. But I''ve been seeing what appears to be a growing disease in each of the forums I''ve visisted: A rampant pessimistic, negativity, and sarcastic attitude seems to permeate every thread. Often, the context of these posts is valid: "I''m afraid you''re making a newbie mistake." "That''s been tried before and has a poor ratio of success." "You may be missing the point." "That''s not entirely accurate." etc. But these comments are frequently phrased in much more negative and even sarcastic ways that, in my opinion, tend to alienate or frustrate the original poster. Furthermore, they aren''t generally offered in a spirit of constructive criticism, which would be considerably more productive, but are left hanging as stinging criticisms. I have even seen a handful of potentially exciting threads brought to their knees, either by the moderator closing the topic or by the negativity scaring off potential posters, causing the topic to drift much too soon into the oblivion of GameDev''s forgotten topics. My question is two-fold: Why, and Can it be Stopped? Why do so many of the frequent visitors to these forums revert to negativity to convey their message? Surely we as game developers are not inherently negative individuals. I like to think that we can be every bit as professional as members of any other industry. What can we do to counter this problem, or do others even find it as disappointing as I do? Can moderators be expected to watch for and handle situations like this as they arise? Or are moderators part of the problem? Is it a problem at all? What do you think? **************************************** Brian Lacy ForeverDream Studios Comments? Questions? Curious? "I create. Therefore I am."

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quote:
Original post by irbrian
Why do so many of the frequent visitors to these forums revert to negativity to convey their message?
Why do so many of the new visitors to these forums fail to search for existing conversations on their topic. I''d be willing to wager a significant amount of my own body that you''re not the first to ask about fstreams, or implementing Win32 window procedures as class methods (make it static), or advice on whether you should roll your own list for "improved performance" (in your dreams, buddy; at most, write custom allocators and traits classes), or...

quote:
What can we do to counter this problem...?
Create robust, flexible FAQs (use a wiki) and relentlessly point obvious newbie questions to them.

quote:
Or are moderators part of the problem?
You''d like that, wouldn''t you? Everybody likes to pick on moderators.

We''ve decided to be a little more formal in terms of moderator policy, for more consistency across the board. Hope that alleviates your concerns. If we''re going to be pricks, we''re all going to be pricks.

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There are two contributers to the problem. Oluseyi ht on one of the problems: laziness on the part of newbies. The other half is the experienced user. When constantly confronted with this laziness they tend to grow quite gruff.

So why does the problem seem to get worse when an internet community grows larger? Easy. There''s an incredible repository of knowledge here. The non-lazy newbie knows how to search for an answer to his question, and therefore never asks anything. Thus, the lazy questions get posted more and more often. The gruff-reply-ratio also grows, as the non-gruff members usually don''t respond to the lazy posts. So after awhile, all you see are lazy posts, followed by flames. Then you start getting threads like this one.

The solution? There isn''t one. This is natural entropy and I''ve seen it happen to every single internet community I''ve ever visited. The only possible recourse is become a police state where the moderators crack down on absolutely everything, but nobody wants that. The only other option is to be the best user you can be. Answer every question politely and to the best of your ability, and if you must reprimand someone, do it politely and through a PM or e-mail. But even this is a stopgap measure to the inevitable implosion of the forum universe.

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It is true, many questions are repeated more times than they are answered - laziness is one of the things that can annoy long-time users. Whilst the newbie may feel that their question is valid - it *has* been asked before and will be asked many times in the future.

A relentless stream of ''trend'' threads are also another source of frustration. For example, how many people have posted with the latest idea for a team to create the world''s best MMRPG / RPG / FPS / Flavour of the month? The problem here is down to inexperience, as many people who have created a game on their own knows that it''s not a trivial matter. Granted, some will flame the newbies into the ground but those that offer criticsm are shunned by the people with the idea. People are very protective about their ''dreams'' and often fail to see that they are in no position to realise it. It''s a fact that the majority of projects will stall after several months because of the goal being over ambitious. I know this because I''ve been there myself. Even my current project stalls occasionally because it all seems to much to achieve.

If I''m honest, I would totally abandom the forums. There''s a huge sense of elitism around on the internet - this site sees it in The Lounge and Help Wanted. It would be great to be able to access a huge wiki of Gamedev information to solve the problems I occasionally hit. This would satisify my way of working, I will exhaust my own research before I ask a question - there''s more satisfaction in finding the answer yourself - but this comes through my experience of University, work, project management et al. All too often newbies are young and are all too used to having the answers handed to them.

I believe that a wiki version of Gamedev would give more to the community than the forums. The forums could still exist, but I think that once a fully populated wiki is in place the forums will be left to the elitists and kids.

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quote:
Original post by downgraded
believe that a wiki version of Gamedev would give more to the community than the forums.


No.

Most people's questions are very unique. I know that if I have any question at all, and I mean any question, the forums are the place to get an answer.

MindEngine Development
http://medev.sourceforge.net

[edited by - neurokaotix on April 6, 2004 6:11:09 PM]

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quote:
Original post by neurokaotix
Most people''s questions are very unique. I know that if I have any question at all, and I mean any question, the forums are place to get an answer.



Do you attempt to research your question on your own first or is the forum your first port of call?

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quote:
Original post by Oluseyi
We''ve decided to be a little more formal in terms of moderator policy, for more consistency across the board. Hope that alleviates your concerns. If we''re going to be pricks, we''re all going to be pricks.


I''m looking forward to that. I think that the forums could benefit from a little stricter moderation.

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quote:
Original post by downgraded
quote:
Original post by neurokaotix
Most people''s questions are very unique. I know that if I have any question at all, and I mean any question, the forums are place to get an answer.



Do you attempt to research your question on your own first or is the forum your first port of call?


Depends on how specific my question is.

MindEngine Development
http://medev.sourceforge.net

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quote:
Original post by neurokaotix
Most people''s questions are very unique.
Hmm. Let''s take a look at, say, the last 100 posts on the Active Topics page.

Actually, ''nuff said.

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