On moving WRTL to a new platform

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On moving WRTL to a new platform

Post by Conundrumer on Sat Oct 29, 2016 7:14 pm

Here are my thoughts on the problems we've been encountering with this website.

Forumotion is not a reliable service


Last Tuesday, Forumotion's data center had significant downtime. It's 2016, this is unacceptable. This makes me worry that they may eventually lose our data, causing a repeat of what happened with IRTL. I think this is the biggest issue. I'll be working with OTDE to make backups, when we find time.

phpBB is dated forum software


It's been doing the job, but the design is based on the traditional forum/BBS, which assumes members will have lengthy and on-topic discussion. By now, we should all know that the vast majority of internet users behave more like normal people, speaking briefly, spontaneously, and frequently going on tangents.

For WRTL in particular, I've noticed five types of threads:


  1. Track threads

    One person posts a track, and people give feedback. Most of the time, the feedback is very short, or a bunch of filler. It would have been better to just upvote or press a like button. Sometimes, it breaks into a discussion or argument, but this doesn't happen too often.

  2. Progress threads

    One person posts tidbits over some lengthy period of time. Sometimes, people give feedback, similar to above. On rare occasions, discussion will break out. But most of the time, we here to watch tracks, not look at screenshots of in-progress tracks. It's nice to know that there are things happening, but it'd be more suited to, say, a personal blog.

  3. Announcement threads

    This is news stuff, like the newsletters or a meta post. There usually isn't even feedback, other than expressions of gratitude or criticism. On occasion, there's some discussion or arguments that happen.

  4. Discussion threads

    With discussion, comes conflicting points of views, comes arguments, and, if the participants aren't mature, nonconstructive posts. This is one of the hard problems of internet communities (the other is how to make new members make constructive contributions).
    This is also where it makes sense to have forum-style threads, given that participants put in time and effort to make a meaningful point in their post, like what I'm doing right now. But we don't have these kinds of threads very often?

  5. Offtopic/banter/shitposting

    this should go into group chats. still important for a community, though, since this is how we connect and be friends (this is why we've been wanting a chatbox)

The reason we've stuck with forum software is that we're just really used to forcing these types of interactions into a forum design.

A few more criticisms of the design of this forum:

  • Single comments are visually too large, and signatures shouldn't even be a thing, since we're here to read comments, not look at other people's ads.

  • Only the most invested members will regularly visit a website separate from the main social media channels. For the kinds of players we'd like to have, this is actually good. But this also makes the community inaccessible.

  • The visual design isn't attractive. It's possible to change it (I do this for a living), but it takes time and it'd be better to have a nice default.

  • Private messages are really cumbersome to have private conversations

  • (minor) Markdown is more elegant than BBcode (and the formatting of my posts keep getting screwed up!) (also I want emojis)

These are the things we need to consider when we want to choose a new platform to move to.

If we want to move to another forum, I'm not sure what would be best, because I don't have a point a reference for a better forum (besides Discourse).
These days, none of the online communities I participate in are on forums, besides WRTL. They’re all in Facebook groups, group chats (fb, skype, slack), Reddit, and other social media websites that aren’t as community focused.
(I'll note that I'm participating in an IRL program for programmers where some of the interactions take place on custom forum software that we maintain, but this is a very different scenario)
Personally, if it were my decision, I'd move us to a Facebook group, because:

  • It's suitable for a community of our size
  • Very small barrier to entry for newcomers (just click join)
  • Posts and comments are all really lightweight, and media is embeddable/first class
  • BUILT-IN LIVE STREAMING!!!!!
  • The above posts/comments/media/live-streaming appear on all of our newsfeeds
  • The above, we can also share on other groups/pages, and maybe make it go viral
  • Built-in private messages and group chats
  • We don't have to deal with spambots and dupe accounts (most of the time)
  • It's easier to empathize with fellow members if we're attached to our real faces and identities
  • The disadvantages of a FB group are manageable because we're a small community

However, the biggest issue is that I don't think all of us are active Facebook users, and there may be qualms about using proprietary software (which I totally agree with).
I think we should seriously consider the pros and cons of Reddit, as well.

Whatever the case, I don't see a reason to move to paid software, right now. We're too small, and having a higher quality forum is unlikely to solve our problems.

"this forum attracts no members"


This community attracts very few players, because there are very few players to attract in the first place. However, even if there were players to bring into this community, we need to think about what exactly would compel them to want to be part of a community. We need to consider how to make the community more accessible, welcoming, and inclusive. In its current state, I wouldn't even recommend my own friends to join (because the members of WRTL don't understand newcomers + aren't nice to each other).
But, right now, none of this matters because:

There are very few Line Rider players


We need to improve the Line Rider software itself, to (re)build a user base. This will be in the hands of the developers. I have some ideas. I'm going to write a big post on this, in a week or two.


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Re: On moving WRTL to a new platform

Post by TheRevTastic on Mon Oct 31, 2016 1:14 am

Ew facebook groups

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Re: On moving WRTL to a new platform

Post by rich on Tue Nov 01, 2016 7:35 pm

Conun makes really good points, as the community is not gaining much from staying on this site. I think the value from moving is well established in his post, as is the value of where to move. Facebook is probably a great place to move. Facebook makes everything easy. The skype and /r/linerider options are great as well, with the option of the discord. The /r/linerider seems to attract many users, while it looks simple and good; it is easy to subscribe to and gained 60 users last week. The amount of commitment to join is low and that brings more users. This website is definitely out of style. As a community we should expect to not gain users while supporting this format, so if that is the goal then we must move. If the goal is to make it easier for the current users to integrate the community into their daily activities, then we should also think about moving.

The game needs to be worked on. Consumers of this game are only people who are very in-tune with its quirks and features, even I'm not the best of track makes but I know more about this game then the average gaming consumer, so I spend my time on this game, when I have time. The game is niche and people aren't looking for a game with Line Rider's current features. Conun raised great points about this as well. He is right when he states,
Conun wrote:We need to improve the Line Rider software itself, to (re)build a user base. This will be in the hands of the developers. I have some ideas. I'm going to write a big post on this, in a week or two.

This place needs a lot of work and by keeping this site we are actually probably making more work than is needed to do.
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Re: On moving WRTL to a new platform

Post by TheRevTastic on Fri Nov 04, 2016 1:43 am

I think a combination of reddit and discord would be nice.

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Re: On moving WRTL to a new platform

Post by OTDE on Fri Nov 04, 2016 1:53 am

Thing to consider:

Threads for open collaboration: Reddit is not particularly great for these, since new posts push old ones to the bottom. Stickies and pinned posts on facebook are thing, yes, but it's tough to do multiples.

Categorization:
WRTL as it is now allows us to see new threads in multiple categories, rather than scrolling through uncategorized lists to find things. Reddit and Facebook don't have these.

Archival:
I don't know our options here for reddit and facebook. If someone's got that info, I'd be pleased as punch if you could let me know.

As platforms, facebook and reddit feel a lot more temporary, so I'm very hesitant to move, even though you make some interesting points. I hope we find a solution here. Forumotion is abysmal, but it's kinda what we got for now.

Thoughts?

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Re: On moving WRTL to a new platform

Post by anton on Fri Nov 04, 2016 4:02 am

We NEED to be able to speak to each other.
every other succesfull community I partake in, use some sort of voice-chat with rooms you can jump between. it is 10^1000 times more effective than a chat bar.

No matter what we end up doing with the forum, communication is still key. I'd much rather speak to y'all than use but words.

my 2cents anyway

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Re: On moving WRTL to a new platform

Post by ScrungleBlumpkus on Thu Jun 22, 2017 6:02 pm

I only just read this and I completely agree that a facebook group would be far more conducive to the longevity and growth of the community, as well as making actually interacting with other players far more convenient for me.

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Re: On moving WRTL to a new platform

Post by Opal Rider on Fri Jun 23, 2017 6:41 pm

My two cents on the issue: We already have a facebook group and absolutely no one uses it. That might be because we're so used to stuffing our posts and comments here without thinking about it, but if we make the jump and find out everyone stops posting because the platform isn't as conductive to what we're trying to do then we've made a dangerous mistake. Maybe we could try to revamp the facebook page and see how it works after this discussion, making minor tweaks to the page to make it more user friendly, but I'm personally skeptical.

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Re: On moving WRTL to a new platform

Post by anton on Fri Jun 23, 2017 8:30 pm

@Opal Rider wrote:We already have a facebook group
didnt know this tbh

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Re: On moving WRTL to a new platform

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