LSF Forum Mandates - Introduction

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LSF Forum Mandates - Introduction

#1 Post by PyTom » Mon Dec 19, 2011 10:38 pm

After the events of the past week or so - events that have been rooted in things that have been going on for the past few years or so - I think it's obvious that we've lost our way as a forum, at least somewhat. In order to help us find ourselves again, I think we need to go back to basics - to decide what the forum is about, and what each sub-forum should be about. So I'm going to start off a series of threads in order to help us focus on what we want to be as a forum.

Let's start with the basic mandate of the forum - why it's around at all. I see the purpose of the forum - based on what the Lem'Ai Ren'Ai Development Center turned into - to be something like:

To promote the creation of visual novels and story-based games by providing a place for the creators of those games to teach each other, improve their skills, forge collaborations, and promote their work.

So now, the question is, how do we as a forum try to meet our mandate. I think the best way to do this is to make LSF a community of creators of all skill levels. We need to welcome new creators, as _everyone_ was a new creator once. We need to keep around more advanced creators, so that the state of the art will keep advancing, to mentor our new creators, and to provide an example to look up to.

People who are not creating - or people who aren't creating visual novels and story-based games - are less important here. That includes myself, except insofar as what I do supports the interests of the creator community. People who use this place as a mere social area will find in the future that it's harder to do so - unfortunately, that will be part of getting back on focus.

So how will we make the LSF better for creators? I have some ideas on how we do that.

The first is to focus on keeping the forum civil. We've tried and failed to do this in the past - it's time for a new approach. We're going to start addressing the problem of people being borderline uncivil by asking them to shape up or ship out. This forum has community norms, and there is no person who is so essential that they can avoid those norms. There is no point that is so worth making that it can't be made civilly. Avoid criticizing other people directly - that's never constructive. You're encouraged to comment on their work, but if you do so, do so respectfully - and if you can't, then don't post. The same admonition goes to the creator being criticized, accept it and try to come to common ground, or just move on.

(We'll be recruiting moderators in the next few weeks - people that share our goals - to help with this.)

The second is to realize that the most valuable resource we have on this forum is people's attention. We've been wasting it, on things like forum games, "works in progress" that are neither "works" nor "in progress", skill development that doesn't lead to game making, off-topic forums, and so on.

An individual off-mission thread isn't a big deal - but we have enough of them that they're really hurting the forum. People's attention is diverted from the creators that matter - and that's problematic.

I think the way forward is to decide what each of the individual forums on LSF should be about - what's on topic on each forum, and how that helps us advance the overall mission. We may decide that some forums can't be saved - so those forums will be going away (really, archived, since I hate deleting content from the Internet). For the rest, we're going to develop a charter - as a community, we'll decide what is and is not on-topic. This will let us - the forum admins (and mods, once we have some) keep discussion on focus.

Over the next week or so, I'm going to be making several proposals on how we can return this forum to its mandate. As a community, we'll discuss them - I look forward to feedback from interested parties, especially creators - but the discussion will not be completely open ended.

I want us to adopt charters for each forum by the end of the year. This will work by a consensus process - where the bulk of the community will agree with what we come up with. I'm thinking that I will make an initial proposal, which people can work with - and at the end, we'll have something that both the admin team and community agrees on.

This will start with the development section, since that's the core of the forum - and will work outwards from there.

Despite the length of this message, I'm actually not expecting this to turn into a huge program. I don't want to massively change the forum, just get it focused again - so that going into its second decade, the LSF remains as good as it always was.
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Re: LSF Forum Mandates - Introduction

#2 Post by Fawn » Mon Dec 19, 2011 10:51 pm

I'm so happy to hear that you are working on getting the forum focused again. It's really bothersome to try to find actual game projects in the current clutter. Even though social interaction can be fun, it really should be focused on game making. Thank you for all your hard work so far and in the future :)

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Re: LSF Forum Mandates - Introduction

#3 Post by Rewritten Ennui » Mon Dec 19, 2011 11:10 pm

PyTom wrote:People who are not creating - or people who aren't creating visual novels and story-based games - are less important here.
I will agree and disagree with that to a certain degree. Users who aren't necessarily involved in developing a game are the people who play the games that are made. The creators are the suppliers, and the non-creators are the demand. Still, I would like to say that these users could learn to at least take more of their time providing more helpful critique and reviews.
PyTom wrote:The second is to realize that the most valuable resource we have on this forum is people's attention. We've been wasting it, on things like... "works in progress" that are neither "works" nor "in progress"...
This is very subjective, PyTom. A project you may consider "neither 'works' nor 'in progress'" may simply be a project in its very early planning stages. Having a lot of pretty pictures and text doesn't guarantee that a game will ever be completed, so can you define objectively what a WIP thread should have?

I get the feeling that this won't be a pretty process, but it is important for LSF to serve and continue serving its purpose. Still, I hope this discussion doesn't get too heated.
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Re: LSF Forum Mandates - Introduction

#4 Post by ririruetoo » Mon Dec 19, 2011 11:12 pm

I agree with Fawn here. Yes social interaction is fun and an essential part of making and getting feed back on visual novels, but there really is a lot of clutter in the Work in Progress section. It will be sort of sad to see the forum change, and it may turn some people off altogher, but in the long run I believe it is for the best.
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Re: LSF Forum Mandates - Introduction

#5 Post by Sapphi » Mon Dec 19, 2011 11:15 pm

PyTom wrote: People who use this place as a mere social area will find in the future that it's harder to do so - unfortunately, that will be part of getting back on focus.
So, I'm guessing General Discussion is going to find itself undergoing some big changes, huh?
While it's kind of sad, I think it's probably for the best. I love the generally friendly atmosphere here, but like in a classroom, too much socialization leads to little work being done. >_>

As for the development section of the forum... I'm not too sure about this idea, but for awhile I've been wondering if it might be helpful to have a split between art, writing, and music. That way, people who were looking for help with writing wouldn't have to wade through all the art threads, for example.

Along those lines, I have seen some really helpful posts by members recently along the lines of skill development that made me think "Why don't we have stickies in this forum?" I'm guessing there's a reason for this... (too cluttered? or we already have the OELVN wiki?) but I personally wouldn't mind some stickies at the top of, say, a writing-focused skill development board, with links to various writing sites.

Also, a question... are threads like "Susie's Art Thread" going to be considered off-topic socializing or skill development?

Edit: And by the way...
PyTom wrote: The first is to focus on keeping the forum civil. We've tried and failed to do this in the past - it's time for a new approach. We're going to start addressing the problem of people being borderline uncivil by asking them to shape up or ship out. This forum has community norms, and there is no person who is so essential that they can avoid those norms. There is no point that is so worth making that it can't be made civilly.
I wholeheartedly agree with this new approach, and especially the last sentence. I'm in favor of more moderator action being taken rather than letting people get away with their 'freedom' to be snarky.
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Re: LSF Forum Mandates - Introduction

#6 Post by Camille » Mon Dec 19, 2011 11:25 pm

Rewritten Ennui wrote:This is very subjective, PyTom. A project you may consider "neither 'works' nor 'in progress'" may simply be a project in its very early planning stages.
Exactly? I think if a project is in its very early planning stages, it shouldn't be posted to WIP yet. Sure, projects with more text, screenshots, and pictures may not be completed, but I'd say that those things are at least an indicator of the creators' dedication to the project. If a project is still just an idea (and many "projects" in the WIP forum right now are like that) but the creator wants feedback on it, they can just as easily post about it in Recruitment or Skill Development, right?

That said, I do think there needs to be more emphasis on being civil and constructive. No personal attacks. There's some members of LSF where almost everything they say is a personal insult to someone and that's just not cool. D: But if you ask for critiques on your project/art/whatever, you should actually be open to critiques. If, when you say "comments and crit, please!", you really just mean "praise me more and tell me how awesome I am!" then don't ask for crit. There are people here who just do VNs for fun/don't care about improving and I respect that, but then don't ask for crit and then get offended and defensive when people give it to you.

Finally, I'm tired of all the complaining about this and that project getting too much attention (recently someone even said that these days EVN projects focus too much on nice-looking visuals and efficiency! since when were those bad things???) or there not being enough BxG games and such. You can't force people to be interested in or respond to something and this forum is about the creation of visual novels, not specifically BxG visual novels. I think it'd be nice for there to be more respect and acceptance all around.

I really do hope these discussions will help make the forum better for creators and PyTom, I think this is a great step in the right direction. I applaud you for your dedication in the past and now in trying to make LSF a great place to be. Yeah, some things might drastically change and there might be some people unhappy with that, but change—even good change—is always somewhat painful.

edit;
Sapphi wrote:Along those lines, I have seen some really helpful posts by members recently along the lines of skill development that made me think "Why don't we have stickies in this forum?" I'm guessing there's a reason for this... (too cluttered? or we already have the OELVN wiki?) but I personally wouldn't mind some stickies at the top of, say, a writing-focused skill development board, with links to various writing sites.
I think stickying everything important might get cluttered, but maybe there should be one sticky post that's sort of like a link database that lists all the helpful tutorials or other really helpful posts in each forum. I think this would be great if we had a few mods that were dedicated to keeping track of that sort of thing.

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Re: LSF Forum Mandates - Introduction

#7 Post by sake-bento » Mon Dec 19, 2011 11:32 pm

Rewritten Ennui wrote:
PyTom wrote:The second is to realize that the most valuable resource we have on this forum is people's attention. We've been wasting it, on things like... "works in progress" that are neither "works" nor "in progress"...
This is very subjective, PyTom. A project you may consider "neither 'works' nor 'in progress'" may simply be a project in its very early planning stages. Having a lot of pretty pictures and text doesn't guarantee that a game will ever be completed, so can you define objectively what a WIP thread should have?
This is actually one of the things we'll be going to the community to talk about. The WiP forum is filling up pretty quickly, and some of those threads are little more than an idea and some character descriptions. While that doesn't guarantee the project will never be finished, many of these threads open with, "I know, I know. Another project!" What we're getting is a bunch of threads about ideas that are shortly abandoned after the creator comes up with a cooler idea (something I am very much guilty of). If someone's super cool idea is going to become a reality anyway, then asking the creator to wait until he or she has made actual progress isn't a very large barrier to entry, and it allows us to give meaningful feedback beyond, "Sounds interesting. Can't wait!"

There are several game making communities that require a number of screen caps before allowing a game to be listed as "in progress." I assume we'll have a similar set of requirements, as suggested by members of the community. In the past, we've been more lenient about this because often times the thread was a recruitment thread asking for team members. Since we've opened up the Recruitment section, the WiP forum no longer serves this need.

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Re: LSF Forum Mandates - Introduction

#8 Post by PyTom » Mon Dec 19, 2011 11:33 pm

http://lemmasoft.renai.us/forums/viewto ... 23#p173423

Is a more specific post to what we should do with the creator's corner forums.
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Re: LSF Forum Mandates - Introduction

#9 Post by Auro-Cyanide » Mon Dec 19, 2011 11:44 pm

*whistle* My, things are moving fast recently.

I say go for it and I look forward to the changes. People will whine about this and that no doubt, but they will forget what they were complaining about in a couple months. It happens everytime a web site design changes XD So I'll support whatever changes are made.

I think it's a good idea to put entry requirements on WiPs for many, many reasons. It's just a good idea. There technically is a rule I believe, but it's never been enforced. Just stopping people so they sit back and think for a moment about what they want to do is probably helpful. It's not going to mean every single project is going to be finished, but it would help. I think maybe somewhere beyond the outlining and basic character sketch stage would be good? That period is pretty easy and your motivation is high. If you can get passed that and start on the real work you will have a better chance of knowing what you are getting yourself into.

Apart from that, I like the sound of everything. Also I think we should encourage OPEN DEVELOPMENT (yes, here she goes again :D). I think it should be very much encouraged for people to talk about process and actually show their development (whether with or without spoilers) to promote discussion, learning, feedback and interest. I really, really do think it would be a good thing for the community to share this kind of information.

So yeah, any steps towards allowing creators learn and develop and push boundries is a good move in my opinion :)

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Re: LSF Forum Mandates - Introduction

#10 Post by Pugfarts » Mon Dec 19, 2011 11:52 pm

Sounds great. It's like you're trying to shape the forum into exactly what I wanted it to be when I signed up! Full support from me.

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Re: LSF Forum Mandates - Introduction

#11 Post by DrakeNavarone » Tue Dec 20, 2011 12:11 am

Camille wrote:Finally, I'm tired of all the complaining about this and that project getting too much attention (recently someone even said that these days EVN projects focus too much on nice-looking visuals and efficiency! since when were those bad things???) or there not being enough BxG games and such. You can't force people to be interested in or respond to something and this forum is about the creation of visual novels, not specifically BxG visual novels. I think it'd be nice for there to be more respect and acceptance all around.
This. This. This. This. This.

I think it's very important that any divisions that do take place within the forums should not be pandering to any person's or group's specific tastes. The forums should be a place where all vns are treated with the same respect, and arbitrary divisions -- especially those based on the protagonist's gender -- fail to do this on so many levels. Sweeping a genre or category under the rug just because it isn't to your tastes is unjust, and because you're disinterested in something doesn't entitle you to be so egregiously disrespectful.

On the attention issue specifically, complaints about a lack of it are completely unnecessary. As much as it may hurt to be ignored or forgotten, this isn't a popularity contest, it's a creator community. You cannot blame another person for not giving you their attention. It is your responsibility to do your best to present your project, and if even that fails to gain views, it is your responsibility to not take it out on others. Be as upset as you can bear, but don't lash out. I've seen people hold their WIP threads hostage (though, thankfully not recently), threatening to quit if the thread didn't get more posts. There are forces in this world that you cannot control, and what other people like is one of them. You can be upset, you can even be bitter and jealous, but you don't have the right to lash out.

The important thing here is, and what really relates back to the topic at hand, is that the EVN Scene is just that, a scene. A whole community. It is more than any one person, and you have to realize that all it owes you is equal respect, not equal attention. It should give everyone equal availability, but it does not owe you automatic admiration. And this needs to be applied across the board entirely. To the household names, to the bright-eyed newcomers, to the now cranky veterans, and even to the moderators themselves. This reform needs to ensure equality to all and pandering to none.
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Re: LSF Forum Mandates - Introduction

#12 Post by PyTom » Tue Dec 20, 2011 12:15 am

Rewritten Ennui wrote:Users who aren't necessarily involved in developing a game are the people who play the games that are made.
But the question is - given the finite attention to the forum, how much of it do we want it to devote to players opinions? I wonder if we don't want to become a forum of creators, where we comment on each others works - and have the player commentary be elsewhere.

By forcing people to reach out from LSF, we'd also be growing the EVN community.
This is very subjective, PyTom. A project you may consider "neither 'works' nor 'in progress'" may simply be a project in its very early planning stages. Having a lot of pretty pictures and text doesn't guarantee that a game will ever be completed, so can you define objectively what a WIP thread should have?
I'm hoping the community can. There's an opportunity cost to a WIP thread. Too many, and none of them get the attention they deserve. At the same time, we don't want to crowd out productive new creators.
Sapphi wrote:So, I'm guessing General Discussion is going to find itself undergoing some big changes, huh?
I think so, but it's important that GD keeps up a friendly atmosphere. I want to try to focus it on forum-relevant issues, and on forum members, while getting rid of the more open-ended poll threads and the forum games. At the same time, I think threads like the post your photo one are great to have.
Along those lines, I have seen some really helpful posts by members recently along the lines of skill development that made me think "Why don't we have stickies in this forum?" I'm guessing there's a reason for this... (too cluttered? or we already have the OELVN wiki?) but I personally wouldn't mind some stickies at the top of, say, a writing-focused skill development board, with links to various writing sites.
Nobody uses the forum wiki. So more stickies could be a good idea, if people would volunteer to maintain them.
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Re: LSF Forum Mandates - Introduction

#13 Post by PyTom » Tue Dec 20, 2011 12:23 am

DrakeNavarone wrote:On the attention issue specifically, complaints about a lack of it are completely unnecessary. As much as it may hurt to be ignored or forgotten, this isn't a popularity contest, it's a creator community. You cannot blame another person for not giving you their attention.
At the same time, I think we can kind of focus the forums attention a bit more. The way I see it, a person with a finite amount of time to spend on the forum (and who doesn't) might make n posts a day. If they all go into timewaster threads, like forum games, they're not helping us meet our mission.

If they're spent on WIPs, or Skill Improvement, or something, that's useful - and ultimately more satisfying, I think. That doesn't mean any game is entitled to attention - people will chose what to play. But the more people focus on the on-topic stuff, the more attention games as a whole will get. And that's good.
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Re: LSF Forum Mandates - Introduction

#14 Post by Kura » Tue Dec 20, 2011 1:06 am

PyTom wrote:At the same time, I think we can kind of focus the forums attention a bit more. The way I see it, a person with a finite amount of time to spend on the forum (and who doesn't) might make n posts a day. If they all go into timewaster threads, like forum games, they're not helping us meet our mission.
I don't know it really works that way. A person posts in "timewaster threads" because they're getting something out of it, which is probably different from what they get out of posting in WIP threads, skill development, etc. Taking away the timewaster doesn't really mean they'll spend more time on threads with a different purpose. If they usually make n posts in timewaster threads and m posts in development threads, chances are now they'll just make m posts and call it a day.

I certainly won't claim to know as much about how forums work as you do, but you're perhaps being too hasty to consider attention a quantifiable resource.
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Re: LSF Forum Mandates - Introduction

#15 Post by LateWhiteRabbit » Tue Dec 20, 2011 1:44 am

PyTom wrote: At the same time, I think we can kind of focus the forums attention a bit more. The way I see it, a person with a finite amount of time to spend on the forum (and who doesn't) might make n posts a day. If they all go into timewaster threads, like forum games, they're not helping us meet our mission.

If they're spent on WIPs, or Skill Improvement, or something, that's useful - and ultimately more satisfying, I think. That doesn't mean any game is entitled to attention - people will chose what to play. But the more people focus on the on-topic stuff, the more attention games as a whole will get. And that's good.
I could not agree more. More attention needs to be focused on the purpose of the site, and directing people to make useful posts, whether it be in game design and creation strategies, WIPs, or Skill Improvement.
Kura wrote: I don't know it really works that way. A person posts in "timewaster threads" because they're getting something out of it, which is probably different from what they get out of posting in WIP threads, skill development, etc. Taking away the timewaster doesn't really mean they'll spend more time on threads with a different purpose. If they usually make n posts in timewaster threads and m posts in development threads, chances are now they'll just make m posts and call it a day.

I certainly won't claim to know as much about how forums work as you do, but you're perhaps being too hasty to consider attention a quantifiable resource.
But "timewaster" threads encourage just that. There are other places on the internet to waste time with discussion of mundane things or even anime in general. We don't want people coming to Lemmasoft and then getting distracted for 30 minutes posting on their favorite anime shows and then finding they have to go to work or bed, instead of coming to Lemmasoft to specifically discuss game creation.

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