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Alpha_ProgDes

I'm new subforum in the For Beginners forum

25 posts in this topic

There's seems to be SO many of these through the years. It's seems rational to make an "I'm new" subforum where brand new people can introduce themselves, lay out some whatever their thoughts are and have right there an "I'm New" FAQ. It could be like the "Welcome" door to GD.Net for fresh from the womb beginners.
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We already have the For Beginners FAQ that they don't read. Hiding it in a subforum seems like it'd just make things worse. I'd rather see these stupid daily newb posts closed with a FAQ link (though understand that might not be the nice friendly welcome newbies should get).

Or perhaps a sticky to make the 'stop asking what language to start with' hint more prominent.
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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.
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Frankly, the majority of people who come in with the 'I don't know anything, but I want to make games' post won't ever amount to anything because it's their flight of fancy this week/month. They don't really want to program, and they don't really want to make the art. They want to mash features together since that will be awesome. I suspect that the majority will fail regardless of what we do.

Certainly some are beginners that need a push in the right direction, but I question the benefit of welcoming a handful more beginners at the expense of losing a handful more veterans who tire of trying to help people who will never benefit from the help; all the while not getting discussion on their advanced questions because the community is so weakened.


Sorry that this isn't so constructive. I think that a sticky in the forum would be good to make the good content that exists easier to find.
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[quote name='swiftcoder' timestamp='1322890537' post='4890050']
[quote name='Michael Tanczos' timestamp='1322883536' post='4890020']
Part of teaching beginners involves making them aware of how to solve their own problems in a thoughtful and constructive way.[/quote]
Since when were we (in an individual sense) in the business of teaching? I appreciate that GameDev (as an entity) may regard teaching as a prime directive, but individual users probably don't regard that as their function.

Some of us have background in teaching, and plenty have a technical background, but my impression is that most of us come to GameDev for discussion (and occasionally, help), but not to teach. And one of the largest barriers to interesting discussion is the number of cruft threads around. Look through the last few week's posts, and see how many familiar debates you spot - just browsing I have seen the Singleton debate, the C++ vs C# debate, the vsync debate, the resolution change debate, the parody vs copyright debate, oh, and the infamous 'what C++ book' debate.

I have contributed to answering all of those debates, over and over and over, in the 8 years I've been here. And yet they are still being asked. Either because no one is motivated to google for the old answers, or because the old answers are too hard to find - both of which are issues we could attempt to remedy.

***

In my first 5,000 posts on GameDev, I posted less than 10 of those in the lounge, because the lounge back then was a no man's land. Now I spend about half my time in the lounge, because the discussions there are more interesting...
[/quote]

What if instead of the word "teaching" I use the word "helping"? We may be splitting hairs here. I think whenever another user steps up to write a tutorial, link to a blog or other resource, or help answer someone else's questions they are engaging in a process of helping other users learn. I think there are different segments of users who want different things out of the site - but for the beginners they need to have a sense of self responsibility when it comes to their own learning. For these guys they are sometimes so far in the unknowing camp that they don't even remotely know where to begin..

For the beginners though I'd almost want to say to them before they post:
Be humble, you don't know everything and that's why your here. Be thankful, others will spend their time trying to help you out.. make sure you recognize that. Work as hard as you can to be successful and don't give up.

Your post brings up two additional problems - that we should probably still retain a google search on the site somewhere, since google does index far older posts than our own indexer does (which only does the last year's worth). Two, perhaps we're not seeing enough interesting new stuff to talk about in the existing forums.. hopefully putting more resources and making tutorial sharing easier is going to help alleviate that problem at least.
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What we really need is to point beginners to the FAQ [i]right away [/i]after they register. Something like "Beginner? Start here!" button. Point is, most won't go looking for the FAQ -- shoving it in their face is just about the only thing that can be done to make sure that they absolutely have seen it. Some will of course start these pointless threads again anyways, but at least we'll have done everything that [i]can [/i]be done first!
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[quote name='swiftcoder' timestamp='1322890537' post='4890050']
I have contributed to answering all of those debates, over and over and over, in the 8 years I've been here. And yet they are still being asked. Either because no one is motivated to google for the old answers, or because the old answers are too hard to find - both of which are issues we could attempt to remedy.
[/quote]
Yup. This is something I've been talking about more and more myself lately. I think it's more the former than the latter, but these are both issues we're looking into on an ongoing basis
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[quote name='Telastyn' timestamp='1322888233' post='4890042']
Frankly, the majority of people who come in with the 'I don't know anything, but I want to make games' post won't ever amount to anything because it's their flight of fancy this week/month. They don't really want to program, and they don't really want to make the art. They want to mash features together since that will be awesome. I suspect that the majority will fail regardless of what we do. [/quote]
I agree that many will just move on, but others wont. Others really will put in the effort, and it's very hard to tell which is which from a single post. Some come in with crappy spelling, horrible grammar, and not a clue where to start... but are willing to learn. Others come with with properly-punctuated posts, but want an easier 'Make a Halo MMOFPSRPG in 5 Easy Steps' shortcut.

I think a better solution then a "READ THIS FIRST! REALLY! PLEASE! I BEGGETH THEE!" sticky, would be a "How to make games" sticky, that goes through the difficulties of game programmer, offers helpful starting points (Python, for example), suggests small projects (Pong, etc...), and openly explains that it's difficult and it'll take you 5-10 years to get to make the game you want, but that if you stick with you, you wont regret it in the long haul.
Something like [url="http://www.gamedev.net/index.php?app=forums&module=forums&section=rules&f=31"]For Beginners FAQ[/url] but touched up some more (for example, making the C# and Python language suggestions be actual hyperlinks, perhaps adding a picture or two to minimize the "Wall of text? Forget that, I'll just spam the forums for help instead" idea.

Then, when any newbie posts an illogical post without reading the sticky, forum members can just use a [starthere] tag, that the forum software will automatically covert to the proper hyperlink, thus not "wearing out" the veterans like you mentioned.

I forget... does the forums manually force you to the For Beginners FAQ when you sign up for the site? I know that's been suggested a few times, but I don't remember if it was ever implemented.
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[quote name='Servant of the Lord' timestamp='1323119105' post='4890826']
[quote name='Telastyn' timestamp='1322888233' post='4890042']
Frankly, the majority of people who come in with the 'I don't know anything, but I want to make games' post won't ever amount to anything because it's their flight of fancy this week/month. They don't really want to program, and they don't really want to make the art. They want to mash features together since that will be awesome. I suspect that the majority will fail regardless of what we do. [/quote]
I agree that many will just move on, but others wont. Others really will put in the effort, and it's very hard to tell which is which from a single post. Some come in with crappy spelling, horrible grammar, and not a clue where to start... but are willing to learn. Others come with with properly-punctuated posts, but want an easier 'Make a Halo MMOFPSRPG in 5 Easy Steps' shortcut.

I think a better solution then a "READ THIS FIRST! REALLY! PLEASE! I BEGGETH THEE!" sticky, would be a "How to make games" sticky, that goes through the difficulties of game programmer, offers helpful starting points (Python, for example), suggests small projects (Pong, etc...), and openly explains that it's difficult and it'll take you 5-10 years to get to make the game you want, but that if you stick with you, you wont regret it in the long haul.
Something like [url="http://www.gamedev.net/index.php?app=forums&module=forums&section=rules&f=31"]For Beginners FAQ[/url] but touched up some more (for example, making the C# and Python language suggestions be actual hyperlinks, perhaps adding a picture or two to minimize the "Wall of text? Forget that, I'll just spam the forums for help instead" idea.

Then, when any newbie posts an illogical post without reading the sticky, forum members can just use a [starthere] tag, that the forum software will automatically covert to the proper hyperlink, thus not "wearing out" the veterans like you mentioned.

I forget... does the forums manually force you to the For Beginners FAQ when you sign up for the site? I know that's been suggested a few times, but I don't remember if it was ever implemented.

[/quote]

One of the things we'll be doing with the next update is putting a series of blocks next to the individual forum topic listing itself. One of the most important new additions is a customized block controllable by the moderators of each forum that contain "Getting Started" material. This will include some of the top must-have goto resources for the forum. Another block that you will most likely see is one listing developer journals of only the members who have "joined" that particular forum, allowing you to get to know one another a little easier.

We're still nailing down the final details of what blocks we want there but here is what it will look like:

[attachment=6326:ForBeginners.png]

We're also working on the design of the resources tab, but what we did over the past few months (in addition to reorganizing our forums) on our existing site was to collapse all the article categories down to match up exactly with the forums. Likewise, we did the same for books along with a number of other resource areas.

What you will see in that tab directly are the newest articles, books, job offers, marketplace items, etc. that match up with that forum. Articles posted will be moderated AFTER they are posted just like forum posts - so we'll be largely looking to make posting tutorials for your fellow member very easy. We also are experimenting with a possible "Promote to Article" link on every forum post that will allow members to quickly create an article from an existing post.

The other thing that will be cool is this. Let's say you find a link to a cool resource you think fellow gamedev members should know about.. We created a simple bookmarklet you can put on your toolbar that will allow you to quickly share that resource directly into the resource tab of a forum you like. We'll deal with abuse just like we deal with it in the forums since topic posting is open to members as well. Sharing solid, useful information is going to be absolutely simple.. and that's the core idea behind Gamedev.net for the start of 2012 onwards.

[attachment=6327:LinkSharing.PNG]
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Those sounds like several really good solutions. I suggest allowing the moderators to also customize the coloring of the "Getting Started" block separately from the other blocks, to draw attention to it on the forums that need it ('Help Wanted' (because of the mandatory template) and 'For Beginners' (the Start Here FAQ) specifically). Coloring it differently from the other blocks will draw eyes to it that haven't seen it before.
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[quote name='Servant of the Lord' timestamp='1323193483' post='4891139']
Those sounds like several really good solutions. I suggest allowing the moderators to also customize the coloring of the "Getting Started" block separately from the other blocks, to draw attention to it on the forums that need it ('Help Wanted' (because of the mandatory template) and 'For Beginners' (the Start Here FAQ) specifically). Coloring it differently from the other blocks will draw eyes to it that haven't seen it before.
[/quote]


That's a great idea actually. Since every forum will have the Getting Started block it should stand out a little. Special coloring could be just enough to pull that off.
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Hello,

I'm a newbie myself regarding game programming, but I too get annoyed with the storm of repetitive posts about "Which language should I choose" "I'm new How do I start" type of posts. Some years ago when I've first got interested in game programming I found this article here on GameDev:

http://www.gamedev.net/page/resources/_/technical/game-programming/how-do-i-make-games-a-path-to-game-development-r892

I think it summarizes almost everything that a beginner needs to know to start learning game programming. This year, when I came again to GameDev, I was looking for this article and didn't find it so easily.

I think something like this is missing on the site, some direction, even before the user registers himself on the forum. They probably have a mindset like I had "These guys are pros, they make games, what are their advices?" Well, you just need to put your general advices somewhere for all the beginners to see.

Maybe it's not that simple, only my 2 cents.
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[quote name='JSeven' timestamp='1323376006' post='4891922']
http://www.gamedev.net/page/resources/_/technical/game-programming/how-do-i-make-games-a-path-to-game-development-r892

I think it summarizes almost everything that a beginner needs to know to start learning game programming. This year, when I came again to GameDev, I was looking for this article and didn't find it so easily.

I think something like this is missing on the site, some direction, even before the user registers himself on the forum. They probably have a mindset like I had "These guys are pros, they make games, what are their advices?" Well, you just need to put your general advices somewhere for all the beginners to see.

Maybe it's not that simple, only my 2 cents.[/quote]
I think it is pretty much that simple (at the very least, that approach couldn't make things any *worse*). The article you pointed to is obviously pretty dated, and doesn't tackle some of our perennial problems (i.e. starting language), but a new article along the same lines, prominently placed... It could have a lot of impact.
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[quote name='swiftcoder' timestamp='1323379111' post='4891942']
I think it is pretty much that simple (at the very least, that approach couldn't make things any *worse*). The article you pointed to is obviously pretty dated, and doesn't tackle some of our perennial problems (i.e. starting language), but a new article along the same lines, prominently placed... It could have a lot of impact.
[/quote]

So... who's gonna write the updated article? I'm willing to contribute, given the fact that I too think one resource that tries to tackle many of the repeatedly repeated questions would help a lot.
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[quote name='Cornstalks' timestamp='1323379454' post='4891944']
So... who's gonna write the updated article? I'm willing to contribute, given the fact that I too think one resource that tries to tackle many of the repeatedly repeated questions would help a lot.[/quote]
Preferably, someone with solid enough credentials that their article isn't ignored, or overwhelmed by a flame-war. An industry veteran, ideally, or at least one of the senior moderators.
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[quote name='swiftcoder' timestamp='1323381004' post='4891958']
[quote name='Cornstalks' timestamp='1323379454' post='4891944']
So... who's gonna write the updated article? I'm willing to contribute, given the fact that I too think one resource that tries to tackle many of the repeatedly repeated questions would help a lot.[/quote]
Preferably, someone with solid enough credentials that their article isn't ignored, or overwhelmed by a flame-war. An industry veteran, ideally, or at least one of the senior moderators.
[/quote]
I agree. Is this where we start nominating people and bugging them until we get someone to give in?

[size="1"](let me clarify my willingness to contribute: give feedback, find grammar/spelling mistakes, etc.)[/size]
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Well, I offer myself to give a newbie view for these future-canonical-beginner-prowritten article. =D

Something with a big title, pretty pictures, with lots of acronyms.. specially with symbols like ++ and #.
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[quote name='Michael Tanczos' timestamp='1322883536' post='4890020']
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. [/quote]
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 :)
[quote]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.[/quote]
I agree.

[quote]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.[/quote]
Obviously, I'm biased. But I like my idea..

[quote]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.
[/quote]
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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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.
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[quote name='Michael Tanczos' timestamp='1323395706' post='4892026']
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.[/quote]
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...

[quote]We used to accept articles from anyone.. but now people use blogs to do the same thing with zero hassle.[/quote]
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 [b]trust[/b] 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.

[quote]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.[/quote]
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?
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[quote name='swiftcoder' timestamp='1323410293' post='4892086']
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 [b]trust[/b] 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.

[/quote]

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.
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[quote name='Michael Tanczos' timestamp='1323925476' post='4894082']
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...[/quote]
Ok, that's a definite plus. I'll have to look more closely at that.

[quote]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.[/quote]
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?
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