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irbrian

Pondering the Inter-Forum Disease

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my few cents ... for one, I feel the moderators have been shutting down way to many topics lately, and I''m a long time user ... I only ever posted 2 questions of my own, but I read and answer many every week, and more and more lately the moderators are becomming the assholes ... it scares me.

2, people like us who are PART of an existing community, ANY existing community, have standards and expectations, but remember, every person who''s posting during their first few weeks is just like a child, they have not been politely taught and guided into being a member of the community, they are arriving for the first time, and doing WHATEVER seems most obvious to them, from their previous experience. Honestly, this forum is made up of as many minors as adults, and even the adults are often non professionals, so why do we expect BEFORE the first post, them to understand the arbitrary rules of our community (some of which we don''t even agree upon).

I feel part of the solution must be to identify the common mistakes, and take user interface measures to make them less common ... here are a few off the top of my head suggestions:

1 - when someone hit''s NEW POST, make the page have a VERY VERY prominent search feature right in the middle, and a blurb about checking to see if the answer is already on the forum ... there is already a very small note to this effect, that I had NEVER SEEN before today .. so it isn''t doing it''s job. Make it BE THE PAGE, and they click a small button to make the post in a section marked something like "if you still have not found the answer _create a new post_"

2 - experiences searchers can really help newbies by TELLING THEM HOW to search .. us google experts know which combinations of keys yields usefull information and how to skip the fluff, but many people suck at searching ... and are much better at asking ... so we need to teach them ... for instance we''d say ... "Did you try searching google for ''OpenGL 1.4 extension Windows''" instead of "try google".

3 - the forums WILL CHANGE / EVOLVE, or DIE ... there is no way around this ... when a community creates a forum to help find answers, they have a certain status ... as those answers are found, the state changes ... more and more questions become repetitve, less new and original area exists in the original topics, the old guard becomes more sophisticated (or simple more set in their ways) ... this means eventually, EVERY QUESTION that a person would have asked here in year 1, will be a tired old FAQ post ... and hence this site will no longer have the sense of community it once had for that level of developer, it will become just an encyclopedia for them, dead and cold, but still usefull. The group of people who will feel at home with GameDev will constantly change, as the areas of knowledge and inquiry change. But children are never born with knowledge, and newbies are created faster than experience ... hence eventually, the number of new members who feel at home on gamedev will drop, as more and more they have no active connection to the existing members ... this is the way of generations ... the way of all life ... either a community guides young blood into its fold as part of the natural order, or it shuns them, and if it shuns them, it dies with it''s current generation.

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quote:
Original post by irbrian
Dunno if you looked at the active topics page, but right now, there are a remarkable (and surprising, even to me) number of threads that strike me as very interesting and unique (at least within the list).
Please, enumerate them and allow me to rebuff you.

quote:
In the meantime, the Search feature on this forum SUCKS and everyone seems to be in agreement on that point, and yet I see sarcastic comments about using the search engine in virtually every post made by an inexperienced user.
Works for me. Of course, I know how to search. It''s like the comment Xai made about Google pros: we should give tips on how to search (skip conjunctions, prepositions, etc; focus on "power terms").

It also helps if you know which board to search - which only works if people post in the appropriate forum.

quote:
...I''ve seen circumstances where a new member of the forum is told off for making some newbie mistake as if they''ve done it a hundred times before. You can''t just lump everyone into one group and tell off Newbie Y for something Newbie C did a year ago.
Depends on how stupid it is.

There used to be something called netiquette. It went, roughly, like this: When you joined a new community, regardless of your skill level, you lurked first, getting a feel for the community - the sorts of questions asked and answers received, the informal "rules" in effect, etc. That way, when you began to post, you knew where the boundaries are.

Netiquette is dead. With netiquette dead, the ''net becomes a sort of Wild West frontier. Newcomers get shot along with old hands.

*shrug*

quote:
Original post by Xai
...I feel the moderators have been shutting down way to many topics lately, and I''m a long time user ... more and more lately the moderators are becomming the assholes ... it scares me.
Vague allusions to heavy-handed behavior don''t help. It''s effectively FUD. Give examples, be specific, and maybe something can be done about it. Saying "the moderators are becoming the assholes" profits noone.

quote:
...remember, every person who''s posting during their first few weeks is just like a child, they have not been politely taught and guided into being a member of the community, they are arriving for the first time, and doing WHATEVER seems most obvious to them, from their previous experience.
So we just put up FAQs and rules for fun? We should instantaneously contact every new member and give them "hands on" guidance?

Here''s an unusual idea: People on the ''net today feel too deserving. When you join a community, believe it or not, the onus is upon you to find out what is appropriate and what isn''t. Contact someone if you can''t find any indication of rules. Actually look around the site.

I agree that we have a huge problem in terms of making things obvious, and I''ve raised the issue (and others have rallied) on the moderator-staff mailing list. Bigger FAQ buttons. Help and tag quickref at point-of-post. More central search, along with tips on the search page. But all that won''t cure root idiocy.

quote:
Make [the suggestion to check the FAQ or search] BE THE PAGE, and they click a small button to make the post in a section marked something like "if you still have not found the answer _create a new post_"
...And piss off the people who really know what they''re doing every time they try to post.

The purpose of a forum is for people to post. The secondary goal is to make the posts as unique as possible. Never occlude the primary goal for the secondary. We need to find a way to make the secondary (FAQ, search) extremely viable, but not offend/disrupt those who are legitimately engaged in the primary. We''re thinking about a lot of options; we just don''t come around here posting them all the time. For instance, I''ve suggested turning the FAQs into stratified site-wide FAQs. That way, you can go straight to info relative to your question, but also scroll up or down to see related info from other fora. Another suggestion is to match search terms agains the FAQs and present that as an additional result.

That last paragraph of yours was one hell of a pointless rant, though.

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Well for one, there is a reason why we call them newbies, because they are new to the forums, and the search is not very obvious to anyone new, and neither is the FAQ''s. Plus it could use some improvements. And some people are not good at using google to find what they look for, or don''t know the right keywords.

Being rude does not help anyone in any way, it just scares people away from the boards.. I know I wouldn''t stay anywhere where I would ask a question that seemed relevant to me, and people were being rude back calling me a newbie and whatnot.

So I think promoting the search and FAQ''s by making them more noticeable would be a good start to remove some abundant posts. I''m sure people would use the search if they knew it was there. And a change in attitude to keep people at the boards, there''s really no need to treat people bad just because they ask a question that has been asked a month ago, or something that seems obvious to you. A simple redirect to the relevant thread is enough (if you are going to bitch about them not using the search you could as well spend the energy using it yourself to give them a push in the right direction instead).

Just my 2 cups o'' coke

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I agree the problem is on both ends. People should check to see if there have been similar posts made in the past and people responding should be patient and respectful. However, I do believe of the two it is the latter that plagues the forums more.

I often get the impression that some individuals check the recent forum posts only for stuff they can get away with flaming. Whether they feel they are doing some good by persecuting what they feel must assuredly be an act of laziness or maybe it just makes them feel better about themselves. I honestly don't know.

What I do know, is that I often see (and I myself have done this several times) posts that have a preliminary paragraph justifying their post by explaining all that they've done before posting. "Don't yell at me, I've already looked on google, check the articles, did 3 or 4 searches on the forums, bought and read 2 books...." just so they are allowed to ask a question without fear of verbal abuse. In a mature, intellectual community such as this, on this wonderful site based on sharing information, this should not be necessary. Can we, as adults, not maintain a civil tongue and give the person the benefit of the doubt that they did do preliminary research before they dare occupy your precious time by writing a post you voluntarily read?

And while we are on the topic, what exactly is the logic in flaming these supposed "n00bs"? If you are merely trying to let them know the rules of the forum since they are new then can you not do it respectfully. They are, after all, new to the site, so direct them (as I've seen many people do) nicely to the forum faq or beginner's guide? That actually helps. It helps those new to the site by educating them on the rules of the forums and it helps the rest of us by eliminating future posts of a similar nature. It's true, a person is less likely to post a "stupid" or "lazy" post after you shove a ball of hate down their throat, but they are also less likely to come back to the forums in the future, perhaps even abandoning the entire site (who would want to be a part of a community that feeds off their ignorance and makes them feel bad about themselves just for trying to learn? Not I). This helps nobody . That is one less person who may one day possess the answer to your question, oh might flame master. It is one less person to positively contribute to the cause. And more importantly, one less person that will achieve their dreams.

So the next time that ball of frustration wells up in your throat when you see "How do I make an MMORPG? Should I use openGL or DirectX? w0rd 2 ur l337 m0th3r!", take a deep breath and remember we were all there once (heh, although as a child I'm sure I would have rather been caught dead than caught leak speaking). And if your flames originate not from the repetative questions of bright eyed, newbie game developers, but rather from the raging furnaces of your personal self-inadequacy, cast off your "My other shirt is a +3 mithril breastplate" T-shirt and deal with your own issues before you lash out at others.

(/rant)

When you find yourself in the company of a halfling and an ill-tempered Dragon, remember, you do not have to outrun the Dragon...

[edited by - CyberSlag5k on April 7, 2004 4:48:28 PM]

[edited by - CyberSlag5k on April 7, 2004 5:56:03 PM]

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quote:
Original post by Christian R
Being rude does not help anyone in any way, it just scares people away from the boards.


The second part of that sentence contradicts the first part.

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quote:

There used to be something called netiquette. It went, roughly, like this: When you joined a new community, regardless of your skill level, you lurked first, getting a feel for the community - the sorts of questions asked and answers received, the informal "rules" in effect, etc. That way, when you began to post, you knew where the boundaries are.



Well, if someone has a question and come here for help, I don''t think they''ll want to wait a few days before they ask. But I agree with you on the netiquette, not to lurk around, but to use common sense when asking. For instance making an effort to make the text understandable, of course not everyone has english as their primary language, or even secondary, but at least try to make sentences understandable by using a translator or similar. And for sake disable Caps Lock and go easy on the "1337"-talk =)

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quote:
Original post by Arild Fines
quote:
Original post by Christian R
Being rude does not help anyone in any way, it just scares people away from the boards.


The second part of that sentence contradicts the first part.



Hehe, well ok, sometimes it might be a good thing, good ridance of bad rubbish =)

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Oluseyi, if you read that paragraph as a rant, you didn''t read that paragraph ... useless maybe (from your point of view), wrong maybe, a waste of valuable time and space maybe, but not a rant.

more importantly, you completely missed the point of the "like a child" paragraph in your response to it ... I am not saying we have some sort of obligation to do any particular thing we are not doing ... what I am saying is - starting from esentially what you said when you said "Netiquette is dead", you we''re saying the basline cultural assumptions about net users no longer holds up, people don''t follow your expectations about appropriate net behavior ... I''m saying this is true, because the net is growing, and being adopted by ALL people, not just the adult, professional, or technical people, but the children, the liberal arts majors, the elderly, the computer illiterate, even the blind and deaf ... so while you can choose to keep the view that the world should conform to some level of beavior, the fact is that it does not ... and what that paragraph was about was NOT about complaining about gamedev or this forum, it was about suggesting that we abandon our assumptions, realize that these people do not have ANYTHING in common with each other, other than that they turned up at a site called gamedev.net, and therefore we should treat them with as much guidance and help as you would an innocent and ignorant child ... that the productive thing to do if not enough people read a FAQ is to figure out why, and do more to get them to read the FAQ, but apparantly bitching about people not reading the FAQ, doesn''t work very well (cause we''ve done it a lot, and the number of non-readers is still increasing) ...

I''m sugesting that the "original idea" that we EXPECT anything at all from the world beyond our control is the problem ... and instead should use simple science and logic and decision making skills to identify the behvior we want to encourage, and do what REALLY WORKS to encourage it

... my initial suggestions are simply for a slightly clearer presentation of search feature on the new post page ... as for it bothering people who post a lot, would it really ... A) how often does any 1 person start a NEW POST ... and if they do it enough to be bothered, maybe THAT''S the problem ... cause we want them to be searching more, posting less. B) people have no problem skipping right past the ICON section of the post, or ANYHTING ELSE that remains static for long periods of time ... the brain only notices things that change, so the new posters would more often notice the search, and the old posters would ignore a bigger section of the screen ...

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the problem with making things like the FAQs clearer or the search clearer is that i have this feeling it just wont work.
The majority of the time if someone is going to search for infomation they will have done so before asking, thus we never see the repeated posts from those people, however out of those who are left the ones which do post the question are either lazy and/or simply want an answer without doing any work, thus increasing the clarity of the options wont work, we''ll still get plauge with ''lololz omg, whats better OpenGL or DX for my leet game'' style questions from people who dont search, wont search and will probably give up anyways in a couple of months time.
It just seems to be a symption of the rise of the internet that ''common sense'' and ''maners'' have been left behind, which is shown up in the way people refer to things which you say/do on the internet as somehow ''not real'' (something i''ve never understood), and thus as its somehow ''not real'' it doesnt matter what they do, how they say it, or how they act.
(lack of respect, common sense and maners is also a common thing in the world at large as well it seems).

quote:

Can we, as adults, not maintain a civil tongue and give the person the benefit of the doubt that they did do preliminary research before they dare occupy your precious time by writing a post you voluntarily read?



But thats the point, by writing a post/question which has been answer 1.4billion times before they are wasting my time, regardless if i voluntarily read it or not. So what makes their time more important than my time that they can skip the whole searching thing and just ask a question?

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