GxB Forum Separation (was: Post to Topic Ratio)

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Re: Post to Topic Ratio in The GxB Forums

#31 Post by mysterialize » Thu Nov 11, 2010 6:12 pm

Due to the topic change, I might change the thread title again, if people think that's okay.

Unfortunately, I don't really know what I could add to the discussion, since I came back from forum hiatus after the change was made, and didn't have much previous experience to base what I thought of the move on. Though, if I had to say anything, it's that I agree with Deji that is just seems a little silly and unnecessary unless other genres are being categorized as well. GxB is popular, but it doesn't seem like it's quite to the point where completely isolating it seems necessary. It at least wasn't to the point where they were flooding the WiP forums before, and I just don't quite get what this accomplishes that tags in brackets don't.

It also probably doesn't mean anything, but count me into the group of people who looks at both forums equally, anyways, despite not having much of a personal interest in GxB, or really romance focused games at all. I just go off of the assumption that, even if I'm not usually a fan, I may still find a diamond in the... fluff. If you'll excuse the terrible pun. I found myself quite liking Rock Robin, for example. That's kind of what I liked about the mixed WiP forums. It encouraged people to maybe look outside of their interests every once in a while, giving everything as a whole more attention.

Also, apologies if I'm just repeating something that was already said.

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Re: Post to Topic Ratio in The GxB Forums

#32 Post by Ren » Thu Nov 11, 2010 6:34 pm

I'd say what possibly makes a difference is how people use the forums: I usually click on "View new posts", so I'm not affected by the split at all. To be honest, I don't even look for tags in the title, so I just get an idea of the genre by reading the post. It's also true that a lot of the otome/GxB threads were differentiating themselves with tags to begin with, which is something that I found a bit puzzling personally (mostly, for me stories are divided by genre, not by pursuable gender... I'm not sure whether it's a VN thing or just a habit started by someone that most people picked up).
But if a lot of people who aren't interested in GxB games feel that they have to skip way too many GxB titles - and I disagree with the idea that the amount of GxB wasn't overwhelming - then it becomes a problem.

Conversely, if you're particularly interested in the genre, you know exactly where to go, and some people did express this opinion.

Lastly, and more importantly, it doesn't seem to me that PyTom's head is made of stone: I think I recall him saying this was something akin to an experiment. If it doesn't prove to be successful, he'll most likely try something else.

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Re: Post to Topic Ratio in The GxB Forums

#33 Post by sake-bento » Thu Nov 11, 2010 6:57 pm

mysterialize wrote:Due to the topic change, I might change the thread title again, if people think that's okay.
Please do. You've actually managed to trigger a very important discussion at a point in time when we should be having it.

Any and all ideas and thoughts are welcome right now. The forums will be undergoing changes within the coming months, and we would like your input.

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Re: GxB Forum Separation (was: Post to Topic Ratio)

#34 Post by Ren » Thu Nov 11, 2010 8:25 pm

Are we allowed to express again our ideas of how the forum could be split more effectively (in our opinion, of course)?

Discussions on why and how the GxB forum was split don't seem to be all that productive, and if most people aren't affected by it (like I said, I read the forums by looking at all the new topics, and I know a lot of other people do) you may as well think it was not a good idea after all.
Personally, for example, I'd have separated the "Recruitment" bit from the "I'll tell you what my game is about without posting any progress" part if I really had to separate something.

To be horribly blunt, what I personally have a bit of a problem with are threads of people who seem to only want their mistaken conception of feedback - an easy way to get an ego stroke without actually producing even a small thing in the great majority of the cases. Regardless of the genre. Someone else said that the social aspect of these forums, for example, distract people from actually working on something in favour of an easy way to get compliments on their embryonic concept. What would seem useful to me is to limit at least a bit the ability to just come here, get some compliments and go in favour of actually either producing even small games, or trying to help others by giving advice and critique.
Last edited by Ren on Thu Nov 11, 2010 9:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: GxB Forum Separation (was: Post to Topic Ratio)

#35 Post by sake-bento » Thu Nov 11, 2010 9:01 pm

Ren wrote:Are we allowed to express again our ideas of how the forum could be split more effectively (in our opinion, of course)?
Yes. Such conversation is most welcome.

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Re: GxB Forum Separation (was: Post to Topic Ratio)

#36 Post by Adorya » Fri Nov 12, 2010 7:22 am

*snip*
Open bookmark "Lemma Soft Forums"
Hit "new posts"
Skim through 4~ pages looking for gold name or technical thread
Close tab
*snip*

Still can't advance in my main project script even though only 10 min were "wasted" T_T

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Re: GxB Forum Separation (was: Post to Topic Ratio)

#37 Post by Crocosquirrel » Sun Nov 14, 2010 6:38 am

I came in after the GxB split, and I personally think it might not have been a horrible idea, even if it ruffled a few feathers and didn't quite get the hoped-for results. Some will simply tag things like that in their minds, and won't go further along to work with it. Such is the way of things.
I'm going to get off my soap-box now, and let you get back to your day.

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Re: GxB Forum Separation (was: Post to Topic Ratio)

#38 Post by Jake » Sun Nov 21, 2010 5:03 pm

sake-bento wrote:Yes. Such conversation is most welcome.
In that case…


In order to discuss how the forum should be split more effectively, I think we should first have an idea of what the objective of the split is. And to do that, we need an idea of what the objective of the forum is.

The last two times this topic has come up, there were three things people brought up: too many WiP topics without any content about the game in progress or evidence of work; too many comments on WiP threads without any actual content, and GxB games overwhelming other games in the WiP forum.

The latter of these I think is a non-issue; it was simply the case that there were more GxB projects on the go at that point than non-GxB projects, and it's pointless to try and separate out whatever the latest popular game type is from the others. The other two, I think are actually symptoms of another problem entirely - that is, the way this forum deals with critique. The problem with content/productive-work-free WiP threads is precisely that there's nothing to talk about; they only have any value to anybody if the goal is to advertise the game, not to talk about it.



So the question I have is this: leaving aside Ren'Py support (which is kind of separate) do the administration of this forum want this to be a creative community, or an advertising forum?

By 'creative community', I mean a community where people help other people create things and get better at creating things, where the primary discussion is analysis and advice. For an example, look at the conceptart.org forums - its no EatPoo, everyone's perfectly polite and friendly, but conversation - especially in their critique threads - is primarily about people getting better at drawing.

By 'advertising forum', I mean a place (I wouldn't use the word 'community') which is mostly about displaying your works, getting praise and building interest in a project or a person. For an example, just look at DeviantArt - its primary use is for people to post their stuff and collect praise. The site encourages this by giving you a running total for how many people have looked at your thing, favourited your thing, viewed your profile, etc. - and that's fine, DA keeps its visitors happy and makes money and some of its inhabitants use the advertising-oriented tools to make money on commissions, and good for them doing so. But frankly, DA is not the first place one would go if one was looking to get useful feedback on their drawing. The advertising approach has earned them the reputation as a 'circlejerk' site, and not unfairly - they've realised the reputation and tried to counter it by introducing critique tools, but they don't really get used. Advertising people tend to actually dislike critique, possibly because they worry that the more problems are pointed out in their thing, the fewer people are going to be interested in it.

Now, it seems to me that right now, LSF is far more of an advertising forum than a creative community forum. It used to be the other way around, but it's slipped towards the self-promotion end in recent years, and this naturally produces the problems people have been concerned about - the content-free WiP threads and pointless comments.






So, I'm working on the basis that LSF should be a creative community with a culture of critique - and here's what I'd try:
  • Merge the two WiP forums, and rename it 'Work-in-Progress Project Critique', then rename 'Skill Improvement' as 'Art/Music/Writing critique'; create a separate 'Recruitment' forum, noting that it absolutely isn't for posting running progress. (I get the impression a lot of people mis-read 'Skill Improvement' anyway, otherwise we wouldn't see programming threads in there; it was a well-intentioned name change, but I don't think it worked in the end!)
  • Put a note on the above forums that if someone doesn't want critique on a particular part of their work, they should say so when they post it. So if you're a writer and you don't want people commenting on your drawings, that's fine - there's no reason you shouldn't still get feedback on your writing. But conversely, it's pretty rude to let someone waste an hour of their day writing out suggestions on how you can improve your art and then dismiss it with "I'm not really trying to improve my art".
  • If the feeling is that it's fine to have advertising on the forum as well, then create a 'Promote your Game' category for such people; just keep it separate from the 'Critique'
  • Encourage moderator/s to treat people discouraging critique similarly to trolling or any other activity which damages the community.
  • People who say 'tl;dr' or post the blood type of their characters before any tangible work should be banned on sight. ;-)
LSF is presently really bad at critique, by the standards of any healthy creative community. And from previous discussions, I get the impression that a lot of people here misunderstand how it should work, and what does or doesn't constitute critique. Critique is just that set of comments which points out things that the creator could improve, preferably with suggestions as to how it could be improved. Critique is not just an excuse to insult someone or their work for no reason - that's still trolling or bullying, and needs to be dealt with as such. It can include positive comments as well, and there's no reason that critique shouldn't include encouragement - it should just really be encouragement to improve, with reasoning behind what you're saying, not just encouragement for the sake of it.

Presently, LSF discourages critique - both actively and passively. The active problem is obvious; someone comes along and criticises something held dear by the LSF majority - be it a popular VN or a popular artist or writer - and many forumites jump on them and 'helpfully explain' that they're not allowed to say bad things about X. The passive discouragement is more insidious and harder to deal with, because it includes all the blind praise this forum regularly throws around. A lot of people, upon seeing a thread with twenty "it looks great!"s, will be reluctant to point out problems and suggest improvements. Maybe they worry that maybe they're being too picky, maybe they wonder (and rightly so!) whether critique is really accepted on this forum, or maybe they just worry that next to all the praise, they'll look like a dick. The praise may be meant well, but it will sometimes actually deprive the creator of useful feedback.





(And I should point out that when I say 'advertising', I'm definitely not just referring to Jack Norton and Papillon and other commercial authors; nor do I mean to suggest that they're necessarily a problem at all. I'm mostly referring to people who aren't after improvement or advice, but praise or a following.)
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Re: GxB Forum Separation (was: Post to Topic Ratio)

#39 Post by Deji » Sun Nov 21, 2010 7:48 pm

I agree with Jake here, especially about dividing the Wip and Recruitment forum into WiP critique, Recruitment and Hype (or promotion).

I personally think having a separate forum for critique and one for hype would make possible for people needing the critique to actually get it without complaining or being dissapointed because they only get critique-free encouragement and hype from the community; and people only wanting encouragement, or just to raise interest or even maybe create a fanbase of sorts on a project that is still on the making can also get it without getting critque they may not want or even be ready for in the first place. Or if they have both, they can just go and post on both places, one saying "Hey, I need help with this story/art/programming here..." and the other saying "Hey, I'm working on this cool project now...! :D "

Also having a separate recruitment forum would make it easier for both the people looking for help and for the people looking to help, because they woulnd't have to go through a lot of other threads to find what they're looking for.


--------------------------
On a side note, I personally think if we ever have a separate recruitment forum, it would be nice to have some sort of a template for people to fill in, so people looking for projects to help with can take a quick look and see if their skills are needed at all.

Maybe something like this for people looking for help
Looking for artist/programer/composer/writer/project manager/etc...
Paid/Unpaid
Length of the project
Genre of project

Free talk (including whatever info about the project and the background of the project the OP thinks necessary to share, and the actual work needed from the people they're looking to recruit).
And something like this for people promoting their services/skills to work with/for others:
Willing to work as artist/programer/composer/writer/project manager/etc...
Looking for Paid/Unpaid projects
Length of projects they're interested in
Genre of projects interested in
Previous experience / portfolio or samples link

Free talk (including any information the OP thinks relevant to share and the terms and conditions they're willing to work under, including the amount of work they're willing to do)
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Re: GxB Forum Separation (was: Post to Topic Ratio)

#40 Post by fortaat » Sun Nov 21, 2010 8:43 pm

Although I agree with you both on the necessity of quality feedback, I'm not sure the lack of it on LSF is a problem. Most users here don't want critique, and those who do can post in other, more "professional" forums.
If LSF is meant to encourage people to create quality VNs, than we can split that target into two parts:
1. Make more VNs.
2. Make better VNs.

For the first to happen, it's enough to say 'yay' to everything, which certainly increases the number of people who take a shot at VN making. LSF does that very well, and that's not a negative thing.
Out of the first timers, only a selected few will create another VN, and they can easily find more useful feedback in other places (art critique isn't hard to find, writing is covered by The Teacup and Intfiction). If they don't know about it, tell them.

It's been more then two years since this discussion, and nothing changed, which is fine. LSF doesn't have to be about improvement, it can be about encouragement. While I don't find that very useful, the teenagers who compose the majority of the user base need it in order the create their first VN. Segregating them to a critiques-less board, where you tell them no one cares what they do, won't encourage them. Meanwhile, moderating a critique board so it will suit its name means you'll have to delete many of their posts, which will certainly reduce their motivation.
I don't think you can play both roles, and don't see a reason to try to balance between them when LSF does the first well, and there are alternatives who do the second.

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Re: GxB Forum Separation (was: Post to Topic Ratio)

#41 Post by Jake » Sun Nov 21, 2010 9:07 pm

fortaat wrote: LSF doesn't have to be about improvement, it can be about encouragement. While I don't find that very useful, the teenagers who compose the majority of the user base need it in order the create their first VN.
Something I cut from my earlier post because it was getting too long already, but figured I'd have to write sooner or later: critique doesn't have to be hardcore rip-your-thing-to-shreds critique. That kind of critique is really only for people who have already made some things, have developed the thick skin necessary to take it and are asking for no-holds-barred feedback... and I doubt most people on this forum would ever think to give feedback like that anyway.

The fundamental point of critique is to encourage the person receiving it to improve, and if you're at the stage where you've not finished your first thing yet, then finishing-your-first-thing is probably the thing you most need to do to improve, and suggestions and constructive comments towards that end would still fit into a critique forum, IMO. I would say that I'm more concerned with the active discouragement of critique than anything else that I wrote about.



(Not to mention that equally, if you finish your first thing and then look back on it a week later and think "this is the most embarrassing thing I've ever done in public" and "why did all those people tell me it was so great", all that's going to do is a) put you off doing it again, and b) put you off trusting anything those people ever say. And to be perfectly frank, a high proportion of these teenagers don't actually ever finish their first VN anyway.)


Also:
fortaat wrote: those who do can post in other, more "professional" forums.
Can you suggest any other, more 'professional' VN forums, which are more critique-oriented and actually active?
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Re: GxB Forum Separation (was: Post to Topic Ratio)

#42 Post by Aleema » Sun Nov 21, 2010 10:53 pm

I don't see an adversity to critique; where is it? Am I missing it? Does one "I like your game" post negate one "here are some tips" post somehow?

I think fortaat has gotten something correct: you can have more VNs or better VNs. It's a shame that that decision rests in this forum alone, but we all regret that there isn't a bigger OELVN community. Maybe we should make two forums. Maybe we should do the LSF Annex. There should be at least one place on the internet where people who mutually enjoy VNs can get together and discuss VNs freely without ridicule. Not lawless discussion, but no laws on the "quality" the discussion should be, however relevant.

I think the seriousness of indie VNs is inflated. I don't know how long it has been like this, but obviously for quite some while. But of course it is: we're the developers, and what we do is extremely important -- to us. Artists are stereotypically up their own ass. The art most of us are creating is writing, storytelling, drawing, programming ... Very serious subjects! I agree. But to what end? Let's be real: most are romance stories. Isn't that ridiculous? We're twisting ourselves silly over date sims, or at least what is traditionally a date sim media. Why do silly "girl/boy chasing" stories need thorough quality control? If you allow it in the "completed games" section, and damn it, everywhere else, why not the WIP forums? Let's laugh it off. Come on, everyone. Let's try to laugh just once at how seriously we're taking ourselves. Okay, now we can proceed.

Yes, I would love for the development of VNs to be a measure of our human worth and each one made inflicts a mighty consequence that will echo through society for ages to come, and therefore we must be damn sure we're ready before we do it.

But this is a hobby. Outside of the few that do produce VNs for profit and for a living, this is a hobby. Something to do on the weekends and to fill time. Something to consume you when you need to be consumed. It makes life worth living. But it's like knitting. Or collecting coins. Not failed campaign promises or losing a war. It's fun. That game creator had fun thinking up a name, characters, blood types, and what have you. Ren'Py endowed fun. At what point did that become not enough? At one point did signing up on this forum become a contractual obligation of some sort? When was making a thread in WIP an oath of fealty? And when did a "good game" post become a mark of treason?

This forum is currently generating both developers and consumers. And consumers who become developers. And definitely developers who are consumers. There's barely a distinction anymore. Do not try to separate them anymore, because you simply can't. And any attempts to do so will split the support and do more harm then good.

Ren'Py (the flagship of this forum, however modest PyTom might be) wouldn't have been released publicly or for free if it wasn't meant for everyone to download and try; if it wasn't meant for the difficulty of producing games to be reduced to the ease of a hobby; if it wasn't a public tool to encourage the development of OELVNs. But PyTom seems to have been fighting an uphill battle for a while: less encouraging, more collegiate atmosphere. Perhaps an entrance exam should be required before download? Because we seem to have forgotten the importance of support and exposure. The VN genre has not reached its goal. The GxB genre is only a few months vibrant, and there are many genres still barely touched. Ren'Py's job is not done yet. Some people still have no idea what I'm talking about, even when I describe what I do in full detail.

As people who play and appreciate VNs, we deserve quality games. Everyone deserves quality, if it can be given. That's why the power to create them was put in our hands. So that we might be the instrument to the media's success. But we don't deserve to tell other people how best to develop them, for it is their game. Not ours. If there was money involved, that would be different, but these aren't just indie games. They're free games. The least critique-able form there is. There can be little expectation for the developer to listen to you as it is clear they're doing it for reasons outside of winning you over (otherwise, they'd ask for money, too!). They're doing it for a personal motivation. For their own hopes of seeing on more VN make it across the finish line. The quality of the game they're producing should be chosen by them, and at their discretion. Why is policing them suddenly important when it's been this way for a long time? Forcing this forum to be critique only would see a sharp downturn in the number of free games as the sport of the development has been turned into a obligation/a chore/a lecture/homework.

Furthermore, forcing a split between critique-only and dev blogs WIPs would see to more people choosing the "safe" route thus making giving critique less opportune. The non-Critique forum will become implicitly "no critique allowed." And this will also heavily encourage the duplication of threads (and I thought less posts is what you guys wanted?). By that, I mean people will post in the Recruit forum for help, the Non-Critique WIP to establish their game, the Critique WIP if and when they have something to be judged, and then in Completed Games once it is polished. So 4 threads for one game. A just sarifice you might say? Then why is a few "good game" posts not a justifiable sacrifice as well?

Do unfinished game threads make you ANGRY? Like, VERY ANGRY? If so, you may need to reevaluate your sense of entitlement. Why do these hobbyists owe you something? The only person I can think of deserving finished games once established is PyTom, because of the hardwork he put into the engine most of them use and because he mods the forum they use. But wouldn't you agree that punishing developers would discourage new ones? Wouldn't you agree that the purpose of the Ren'Py and this forum is to foster a community and support for VNs? Sure, it's disappointing to see games dropped, but that happens in professional game development, too. Shit happens. We hate it. We live. Somehow. And those are games we had to pay for.

How about .... instead of judging the worth of people by how many games they've finished, instead of scorning the creators of now-dead WIP threads, instead of deleting posts that are not critique -- how about we treat these new users as who they deserve to be treated as: people no less than you or me. Artists. Hobbyists. (Do you flinch at being called a hobbyist? Perhaps you should reevaluate your main source of income.) Someone who is in love with storytelling and VNs in general. People we should be supporting, be it by offering our services, constructive help, or encouragement.

All these threads about the importance of critique and how to better the forum ... barely anything has been done. As fortaat pointed out, it's been two years since that thread and nothing significant towards the betterment of posts has happened. We've split the GxB threads in prepartion of a passive movement that never really executed. What has been done? We've bitched about it. Oh yeah. We all got our soapboxes. Maybe nothing changed because nothing needed to be fixed? Maybe we realized that we were making a mountain out of an anthill? If this forum was truly in such dizzying chaos that warrants twenty page discussions, wouldn't something have been done? The phrase "don't fix what isn't broken" is because you risk actually breaking it.

If you're prepared for whatever consequences it may have, then do something. Just freakin' do it. Make a recruitment forum and see what happens. Start deleting posts and watch. Theorizing and romanticising the results in our head does nothing but divide our community either for or against it. Let's talk about actual, tangible progress instead.

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Re: GxB Forum Separation (was: Post to Topic Ratio)

#43 Post by sake-bento » Mon Nov 22, 2010 12:08 am

I am currently encouraging this discussion of the theoretical because there ARE plans to change the forum setup, and I'm keenly interested in hearing peoples thoughts and suggestions before I move forward with the changes.

There will be changes, and they will be soon. Until then, ideas and open talk are encouraged.

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Re: GxB Forum Separation (was: Post to Topic Ratio)

#44 Post by Deji » Mon Nov 22, 2010 12:30 am

Aleema wrote: Furthermore, forcing a split between critique-only and dev blogs WIPs would see to more people choosing the "safe" route thus making giving critique less opportune. And this will also heavily encourage the duplication of threads (and I thought less posts is what you guys wanted?). By that, I mean people will post in the Recruit forum for help, the Non-Critique WIP to establish their game, the Critique WIP if and when they have something to be judged, and then in Completed Games once it is polished. So 4 threads for one game. A just sarifice you might say? Then why is a few "good game" posts not a justifiable sacrifice as well?
I see no harm on having 3-4 post per project on 3-4 different subforums catering to different needs.

A Critique/Advice/Improvement WiP forum for the need to improve your project on the making when you feel your skills may need some work or if you're stuck or unsure about how you've done things so far, or maybe to beta-test your game to see if there are things you may have overlooked.
^ The 'serious' board. 'Serious' as in wanting to make an effort to do the best you can, and actually get things done.

A Hype forum for the need of exposure. Basically just to tell everybody about this cool/fun/interesting/groundbreaking project you're working on, tell them what you've been doing with it and have people ask you questions and show them sneak peaks, etc.
^ The 'fun' board, to talk with other people and fangirl/fanboy about projects. Not necessarily critque/advice-free, though.

A Recruitment forum to gather other people to help you with this project of yours, since you can't do it all on your own and you need extra hands, or your skillset is limited.
^ The specific and concise board; 'I need this', 'I offer to do this'.

And a Completed Games forum where you post the link to the finished game, fruit of all your effort!

You can always link all of them, so people lookign at your Hype thread knows you need more people and can go quickly to your recruitment thread, and that maybe you need some help untangling your plot or improving your character sprites and go help at your Crit/Advice/Imrpovement WiP thread. And then when you complete a game, you can link to your old Hype thread, and so on.

Personally, this is what I think of when I see Jake's idea, and I think it is a good thing C:
Different forums for different needs that are relevant to VN production, imo.

About critque, I seriously don't think critique should be discouraged in any way, and I don't think it should be forced on people not wanting it either.

If we make LSF a critique-only board, we'll put off the people that do this for fun, like Aleema said. And if we do it critque-free, it'll put off the people that take it seriously, like it seems to be happening for a while to the LSF veterans.
Like fortaat said, it seems we can only have one or the other...

... but I think actually organizing subforums better could help having both. Idk, that's what I think, at least =/
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Auro-Cyanide
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Re: GxB Forum Separation (was: Post to Topic Ratio)

#45 Post by Auro-Cyanide » Mon Nov 22, 2010 4:57 am

Reading through all the posts, this is actually quite a complex issue. I wouldn't have thought it would be so hard to figure out how to separate a forum, but I am at a bit of a loss.

I was never bothered by the GxB separation because it segregated that particular demographic. It DID bother me because it went against my OCD nature of organisation and seemed a little out of place. Plus there are issues with definition like games that are GxB, BxG, GxG or BxB mixes or games that are more something else and only contain elements of GxB.

I generally agree with what Deji and Jake said (that kind of massive reorganisation will probably be a pain though. Worth it in my opinion, but a pain)

I think you need to cater to a range of people here. The VN community is small as it, it can't really afford to be discouraging either side. Sure you may end up with less WIP threads that go no where, but it won't actually increase game output. All it would do would make the community smaller, discourage newbies that MAY have a chance of succeeding and lower the chance of the community gaining the interest of much needed creative and technical personnel. So having both a place to have fun and talk about projects as well as places for more serious critique could be good. Everybody has to start somewhere after all, you don't want to discourage too many people from becoming involved because their projects might not be finished.

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