Reducing Noise

Discussion in 'Indie Related Chat' started by svero, Aug 3, 2004.

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  1. svero

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    Before the Dexterity forums shut down there were long discussions in the private moderator regarding the direction of the forums and what to do about certain perceived problems. In the end Steve decided to shut them down.

    Now that the forums have moved over here we still have to deal with the same problems. One of the main problems is a general degrading of the quality of posts over time. As time has gone on there are more "noise" posts. That has the effect of driving away the more thoughtful posters, and so eventully your noise to good post ratio greatly favors noise and the forum is essentially dead as a good resource. So the question is. How do we keep the noise at a minimum?

    Various things are being considered already but we thought we'd put the question to the members. What would you suggest we do to keep the quality of posts as high as possible thus extending the usefullness and life of the forum?
     
  2. Jack Norton

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    I think the only way is to report any "stupid" post to the moderator (unless it is general chat, that forum really should be open to anyone). If a user has been reported lot of times (10 times or 5 times in a day for example), I think it should be enough to ban him from forums... after all you can't think of going around putting bullshits post everywhere and then get disappointed if you get banned :D
    I don't want those forums to shut down, and I realize that the "noise" posts are a real problem for someone that is looking for useful things.
     
  3. Straightarrow

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    I guess we'd almost certainly end up with some sort of user-driven feedback sceme, like so many other sites have. In that case, my answer would be: None!

    If you set up metrics by which posts will be judged, posting will be optimized for higher scores in those metrics. Trouble is, it takes diversity out of posts, and really removes a few freedoms from the poster: you write with the metrics in the back of your head. Also, trolls get a platform to operate from. Karma-whores abound.

    Secondly, this brings in a lot of meta-discussion which is MUCH worse than no discussion at all. You'll start seeing threads and posts like these: "Is the voting system adequate?", "Mod parent up!", "Is such and such a troll?", &etc to infinity.

    On the dexterity forums, a yearly fee was once suggested, alá the ASP. I humbly suggest to the community that this solution be given some consideration. Yes, it does present some problems (where does the money go? wouldn't that keep out valuable contributors? how do you attract people in the first place?), but the obstacles to overcome are no bigger than a user feedback system.
     
  4. Jack Norton

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    Maybe I found a better solution: make the forums available to all to reading, but limit posting only to trusted old members, and new ones must ask permission. Since we have lot of moderators I think that should be a viable option.
    I don't want to see the same thread "which vendor you use?" or "new great indie publisher" again. Allow only people with real websites and real projects going on to post, all the newbies can just read and stop the noise... :)
     
  5. MiCo Games

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    Rather than the technical "user-driven post-scoring" approach, and the somewhat elitist "only people we approve of can post" approach, I'd much rather see moderators lock all threads that are not appropriate. Simply locking threads that are considered not to be useful with the short comment "This topic have been discussed before... search the previous threads" or "This topic is not considered to be useful to indie developers" would be a good way to go, in my opinion. And I think even the General Chat forum should be moderated, but maybe a bit less strict.

    Also, I wouldn't mind paying for access to the forum, and it wouldn't be a big deal where the money went. Give it to charity or split it between the moderators.

    The signal to noise ratio IS a big problem, and my only fear is that it is already too late to do something about it...
     
  6. Jack Norton

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    that is much work for moderators, if thread should increase to a great number daily. Preventing them from posting is the best way, the moderators shouldn't even look at the threads :)
    Also even if a thread is locked, is still shown in the "new posts" search: honestly after I see 2-3 crap useless posts in the forums, I'm tempted to go away... :mad:
     
  7. MiCo Games

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    If it is too much work (which I doubt) we might need more moderators. I mean, it's really just about clicking Lock whenever they come across a "bad" post.

    so... what should they be doing? :confused:

    yes, buy it'll have a padlock next to it, which means it is easy to avoid, if you trust the moderators judgement (which I do). Also, it being locked means that it will soon go away from the new posts list anyway.
     
  8. Rod Hyde

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    That is a tricky question.

    Someone suggested a yearly fee for posting. If that has been shown to work in other forums then I'm in favour of it.

    One idea is to separate the forums into a "General Chat" area, open to all, and other areas where posts are allocated by quota. Here are a couple of suggestions for how the quotas could work in these areas:

    Free Monthly Quotas:
    Each member gets a quota of n posts per month. If a member's posts are judged to be of sufficient quality, then their quota can be increased.

    Free + Paid Monthly Quotas:
    The first n posts each month in are free, but posting beyond the limit must be bought and paid for with micropayments, eg, $1 buys 10 posts.

    I'm also beginning to warm to the idea of a Wiki, as suggested in another thread. One of the problems with the forum format is that it is (perceived as) difficult to look for old posts. A Wiki would be a great place to capture good information, such as the meat of the discussions as to which 3d engine to use.

    --- Rod
     
    #8 Rod Hyde, Aug 3, 2004
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2004
  9. Wayward

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    What's the noise.

    Personally, I think the noise levels here are very low, but I was never around for the forums golden era a few years ago. Maybe we have a different idea of what 'noise' is. For me, noise is:
    • Newbie Posts are questions and opinions by amateurs that fall below this boards general level of ability. The pros here don't have the time to help a kid fix a bug in his blitz scroller. Newbie posts are thankfully rare, but when they do make an appearance the members here are very polite, professional, and helpful. Now all that great help will just encourage newbies. Perhaps we should ignore them or send them to GameDev.
    • Repeated Threads are posted by people too lazy to search the archives first. They asks questions that has been asked and answered before. We can help alleviate this problem by naming threads are clearly as possible for searching, and creating a table-of-contents/index for each forum. I also think a complimentary wiki would help.
    • Repeated Replies are those same responses that keep popping up in the middle of any thread. Examples include: but Java doesn't work, Alien Flux control, how's Katsu going?, etc. Sometimes these casual remarks can throw a thread off course. At other times the banter can be funny (but often we're getting the same old jokes). No-one wants to ban jokes.
    • Off-Forum Posts are those posts which would be better handled by another forum. For example, Blitz technical questions should be sent to the BlitzBasic Forum, DirectX problems should be sent to the DirectX mailing list archives, OpenGL problems should be sent to the OpenGL forums, newbies should be sent to GameDev, and gamers should be sent to Rllmuk.
    • Marketteering posts are those unwelcome salespeople who drop by to promote a product that few of us are interested in. These marketteers are quite different to those members who offer a genuine service because they think it might be useful to other members. You can tell a marketteer because their post is the first and last time you'll hear from them.
    Some suggestions from myself and other members:
    • Who are these forums for? Svero remarks (later) that he believes these forums are for indie game developers to share ideas and help promote their businesses. They are not meant for newbies learning to program games. We should advertise clearly what this forum is about and who it is for, especially now its called 'indiegamer'.
    • Publish Posting Rules for new members. Tell them what kinds of posts are accepted, and which are not. Point them to other forums that may be more appropriate. Give recommendations as to what constitues a good-quality post.
    • Provide all members with guidelines for dealing with the noise. Onyx suggests: 1) Write good posts, 2) Encourage good posts, 3) Ignore the noise. The idea of simply not replying to noise posts is liked by BongPig and others.
    • Maintain a Table of Contents/Index/FAQ for each forum to facillitate finding stuff in the archives. This idea is popular with just about everybody, we just need someone to do once the archives have grown.
    • Worthless threads should be deleted, not locked. If the archives a littered with worthless posts then searching is less useful.
    • I think a wiki (I'm sorry if this is starting to sound like noise) could help reduce the noise here and improve the quality of the posts. A wiki can be viewed as a bulletin board where anyone can edit any post. Imagine that, (Dan), having 200 editor to fix your spelling mistakes :).
    • Old threads could be reposted after editing (summarized, cleaned-up). Then the old thread could be deleted.
    • Perhaps people should get into the habit of deleting any of their own posts that are no longer relevant. For example, if you respond to a post with 'the url you posted is broke' and that url gets fixed, you can delete your response instead of contining a conversation about broken urls.
    • Paid Subs might filter out anyone not serious about the indie game business. Quite a few members are in favor of a modest annual subscription. A few aren't.
    • Forced Lurking - New members are forced to lurk for a few weeks, in which time they can learn from the archives and make better quality posts when they do start posting. Forced lurking would also put a stop to drive-by marketteers.
    I'd be interested to hear other peoples thoughts on what they think constitutes 'noise'.
     
    #9 Wayward, Aug 3, 2004
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2004
  10. Reactor

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

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    The problem with killing all the 'noise' is that you kill a lot of the community aspect of this board along with it. You can't expect everyone to know what has been said before, or to be able to judge with perfect accuracy if their post is classed as noise or not. Also, just because something has been discussed before doesn't mean it shouldn't be discussed again, because as we all know, people and things change over time. Do you guys honestly expect to encourage new indie developers by putting a price on posting, or by locking their threads every time someone thinks it isn't a groundbreaking new topic? What if I guy doesn't know what to ask, but he's the greatest and nicest indie developer in the world? You can't just ban him from posting. That'd be a loss to everyone!

    People will always post lame topics- it's part of the process of coming to a better understanding of topics that have no clear-cut 'written in stone' answer. And, to be honest, I find it pretty strange people think the majority of indie development is a bunch of 'do this' and 'do that' statements that could be archived in a wikipedia. Some things can, yes, but you won't eliminate the need for people to probe for a fuller understanding of something, by posting imperfect questions.

    Anyway, I like the 'vote for the thread', idea. That way, someone can search for popular threads in amongst the noise, and even unpopular threads can be deleted after some period of time.
     
  11. Reactor

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

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    Also, I agree with Wayward that there really isn't much 'noise' on this forum at all.
     
  12. Linusson

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    Couldn't we have a rule, that when people want some feedback, the game must be in at least beta stage, it's quite annoying when people want some feedback on an early demo, or just some feedback on some graphic that they don't even have a game for, or even worse, when they want feedback on an idea.
     
  13. princec

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    Another noise post from princec:

    - Ditch Game Dev & Technical, there's plenty of better places to research trivial programming problems and argue about how l33t Java is

    - I know it's a lot of work but a sticky FAQ at the top of each forum would be handy. You could start with a set of links to Dexterity's articles in the Indie Business forum.

    - Some posts are cameraderie, banter, jokes, and silly. There's no need to be all gesthapo on them. They build the community, cement friendships, and keep the tone light. The real problem is when threads wander off topic, or worse, never had a useful topic in the first place.

    - I'm still in favour of paid subs to allow posting. Just $20 a year. A very effective filter for serious indie business.

    Cas :)
     
  14. Jack Norton

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    I bet, is online just since 1 week! :) but I remember lot of noise posts lately on dexterity forums. A quite good example is that one:

    http://forums.indiegamer.com/showthread.php?t=92
     
  15. Chris Evans

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    I also would like for someone (preferably a mod) to exactly define the "noise". It seems everybody has their own definition and it's hard to come up with a solution when the problem isn't clearly defined.

    I pretty much agree with Reactor. If you kill all the noise, you basically kill the growth of the community. With the exception of the people who actually setup the board, everybody here was a newbie at some point. I'm sure at some point everyone while they were a newbie asked a stupid or redundant question. How would you feel if you got instantly chastised or worse, banned? Most likely you would leave bitterly and this forum would get a reputation for having elitist pricks, instead of being a great resource for aspiring indies.

    I also dislike the idea of making the forum read-only to newbies, so only "old members" can post. That set of rules assumes that just because someone is a newbie to this forum, it means they are a newbie to being an Indie. That's simply not the case.

    Look, I don't want to be rude, but it annoys me to see the moderators complaining about "noise" and they haven't even done the basic things such as posting forum rules, guidelines, or a faq. How on earth is a newbie suppose to know what is acceptable and what is not? We might as well close the registration because a newbie is bound to step on someone's toes if no rules or faq is posted. With our archive basically back to square one, it only makes matters worse.

    I've said this before, but I really liked the FAQ Gilzu posted in the Indie Life board on the old forum. I think every sub-forum here should have a similar FAQ. If after having a FAQ, there are still substantial "noise" problems, then it may be time to entertain more drastic measures.

    I've participated in a lot of message boards over the years and I've seen this situation countless times. It always happens when a message board and community grows. The forums that spiraled downwards were often too concerned with "satisfying" the old members. Yet the old members didn't contribute anything and instead just complained until they no longer posted. Whereas in the successful forums, the old members remained active and helpful, and steered the discussion to more productive topics by being an example to newbies.

    So yes I understand that excessive noise can scare away older members, however the best way to preserve the quality of the forum and the overall goodwill is not to scare away newbies or treat them like idiots. But instead give them some direction (via a FAQ) and be a good example by posting quality topics yourself.

    I guess it all depends on what the purpose of this forum is. Is it only a place for people who are already successful Indies? If so, kick out 95% of us and we'll just read the conversations of a chosen few. However, if this is a place where aspiring and professional Indies alike come together (which seems the way SteveP intended it to be), then the community should remain open for all who share a common interest, which is the Indie lifestyle.
     
    #15 Chris Evans, Aug 3, 2004
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2004
  16. Gmicek

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    My position is that there wasn't a lot of noise on the Dexterity forums. Sure, there was more than a lot of forums, but the whole idea behind the forum (in my mind at least) was for people to brainstorm with, criticize, and support one another. By its very nature the forum will lead to a lot of newbie type posts, and isn't that the point? You're going to have a lot of people asking what the 'old timers' feel are dumb questions, but move along, it's not like there was ever more than a page worth of topics with new posts in them on any given day. Shutting down threads a couple hours after they've started because someone proclaims that everything that can be said on the subject has been said is an insult to the maturity of the users. In the thread cited above, for example, yeah, the art sucked, but it wasn't even there long enough for people to give meaningful feedback. I didn't see it devolving into personal attacks, just some very honest criticism that could have become more detailed.

    The closure of threads that have not become flame wars is an example of moderators over stepping their authority, in my opinion. When i post something about DIY I expect people to lay it in to me and tell me all the things that are bad, why would I want someone to blow smoke and tell me that it's better than it actually is?

    Anyway, now that I've rambled on a bit.... All this talk of how to keep things in line with what people feel is an acceptable level of noise after the forum has only been up a few days, and having threads closed (counting the final days of Dexterity as well) for seemingly inane reasons is doing a great job of driving me, and other's i'm sure, away. With the way things are going I doubt I'm going to last a week. And those that are left can happily police threads to their hearts content while watching the forum evolve from a great resource for people wanting help to a place for experienced guys to stomp around and the newbies to lurk and walk on eggshells. YAY!
     
  17. Wayward

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    I was including Dexterity too, but the fine example of a terrible post you provided reminded me of one or two others that were bad enough to get closed. I forgot to include Unwelcome Tradesmen and Flame Trolls on my 'list of noises' above. Yes, there is noise. I'm just not sure whether it's enough to worry about.

    PrinceC suggests ditching 'Game Dev & Technical'. I find myself (uneasily) agreeing with this, despite how contraversial it sounds.

    Chris, great post. In my experience it takes next to no time for a newbie to get up to speed and learn the flavour of this forum. Surely we can forgive one or two lame posts.

    I get the feeling the mods fear that one day the forum will be overwhelmed by newbies and become totally useless. I've personally only seen this happen to one board. Maybe we should only worry about the problem if and when it happens.
     
  18. Rod Hyde

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    Out of interest, what is under consideration?

    --- Rod
     
  19. BongPig

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    I guess we need to decide what we consider noise before moving on.

    Any post that is in anyway interesting to the current community cant be considered noise, regardless of topic.

    In my ( not very extensive ) experience with the Dex forums, nearly all of the un-interesting posts came from people who havent actually got thier games/business off the ground yet.
    We need to ask, are we as a community interested in these people at all?

    Is the main point of this forum for existing devs to discuss the ins and outs of our buisiness, or as a good starting point for people who want/plan to become indies to get help?

    Its a tricky one. To specialise in trading devs only would certainly remove alot of the noise, but also alot of the posts full stop.
     
  20. bantamcitygames

    Administrator Original Member Indie Author Greenlit

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    If this post was still over at Dexterity I would say to limit new members from posting until they've been a member for a certain period of time (this would cut down on the New Release posts from members that only signed up for that purpose). Seeing as how we are ALL new to THIS forum however, that obviously wouldn't work. With that being said, I would opt for a paid listing in the range of 20 bucks a year or so. This, without a doubt, will cut the amount of noise posts.
     
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