What we like and don't like about the new forums.

I am going to make a list of what I like and don't like about the new forums. Hopefully it will help wizards change it back!


What I like:


  • The groups.

What I dislike:


  • That I lost all my subscriptions & freinds.

  • That it looks like facebook now. (Note to wizards: if I wanted facebook I would join facebook. I wanted I gaming community so I joined the WotC forums. Now the the WotC forums looks like facebook!!!!)

  • That it takes much longer to figure out how to use it.

I'll think of more dislikes later but for now feel free to post your likes and dislikes.

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I don't think it's too bad.  It's different, sure, but on the whole, the change is good.  It may look a bit like facebook, but from what I can tell you don't need to use it like FB.


One thing I don't like that I didn't notice til i replied is that I can't see the post I'm replying to.  That kind of stinks.

I just noticed this on the netbook I'm using to type this post:


The forum's too wide for a netbook's 1024x600 resolution! I don't mind vertical scrolling, but horizontal?

The visual appearance and user interface of this forum is abominable. In particular:


1) Rather than having the old setup with the forums, where each subforum had its own little box explaining what it was about, you have all the forums lumped together in a paragraph. This is bad. It makes it more difficult to find the forum you want and it increases the chances of accidentally clicking on the wrong forum. This is twice as bad for new users, who will be horribly confused and not even know that half the forums exist because they're basically hidden in big ugly piles of links.


2) The visual appearance is terrible. The posts are not distinct enough; in the old forums, it was much easier to distinguish where one post ended and another began. Change it so that alternating posts have alternating color schemes; say, white and gray. This will make it MUCH easier to quickly browse through a thread, and will also make it much more legible.


3) The old section which appeared at the bottom of the screen when you were writing a response is gone; you can no longer read the thread while responding to it. This is, again, awful because oftentimes I will go back and re-read what someone said while responding, or to write a line by line response, or simply in order to copy-paste and quote them that way. This function is necessary and should be ressurrected.


4) The paragraphs are spaced very far apart, which is visually distracting and makes it more difficult to read posts, and again makes it harder to tell where one ends and another begins. It should be changed from being a line and a half apart to being half a line apart.

What don't we not like about the new forums?


Other than being able to display my full custom avatar... this is clearly a downgrade in forum services. All the bbcode is gone; our emoticons are gone; themes are gone. Everything else is very generic. This is a bare-bones forum package, that any number of free packages available eclipse by leaps and bounds. Taking us from the previous level of forum service, to this, one might almost conclude they don't want us using forums. Because this is certainly discouraging to many used to the old services.


I know Wizards will argue, "the forums may be worse sure. But you didn't really need all that, and now you have blogs, and wikis, and personal pages, oh my!" Well congratulations, Wizards. You've only taken what was the best part of your site, made it worse, in exchange for things which we really didn't need/want, and are just as generic as your forum service now is. You are trying to change the platform from a forum, to more of a social network site. (gleemax 2.0?) But there's two major flaws with your plan.


1. The software you have is leaps and bounds behind your competitors. Why would someone want to make a myspace-like page on this site, when they can make a real myspace site? Why would someone want to make a facebook-like page here, when they can make a real facebook page?


2. Which brings us to perhaps the biggest flaw in your plan. Beyond the features, social network sites are appealing because of their sheer size. It is not just that facebook, myspace, twitter have perfected this technology; it's that those sites offer the possibility of interacting with millions of people. This community site cannot hope to compete with that. Anyone who is really interested in social-networking has much much more incentive to join the proper network, not spend their time on here.


3. The fact there are better options, and yet, people still used your site... does NOT mean people were holding out until you got social-network capabilities. What it means is, the people who were coming here were not dissuaded by the forum format, or the lack of those other services. It means they probably cared very little for those missing services and/or didn't want them. You are going to end up losing quite a few people now, that you have downgraded the one thing they really liked about this site.


I suppose you think that price will be worth it, if you can attract more people that never used the site before. But that simply will not happen, because of (1) and (2). Namely, you can't offer those other people what they really want.


To be honest, I don't know how much longer I will post here. Am already making plans to head somewhere else.


 

This is my first (and possibly last) post in this abomination. Since I have no idea how to quote Xeptian (or if I've even botched your name, since I can't validate it as I type), I'll just say that I'm 100% with you on this. This current site is far too clunky and involved for me, and not worth the extra effort, sadly.


I've been a forums member nearly since its inception, and have been pretty active, for the most part. This current iteration is terrible, in my opinion. The reasons for my feelings are almost too myriad to list. Unless the final version is drastically different/superior, I'm likely to fade away. I'm sure few, if any, will notice my absence, but it is still a shame. How many other long-time members will likewise fade into inactivity?


I'm not going to claim that I will cease buying WotC supplements, but I will say that discussions in these forums lead to my spending much more money than I'd otherwise spend. I realize WotC is counting on this increasing their revenue, rather than decreasing it, and I hope it does. Some will inevitably be lost along the way, though, and sadly I might be one of them.


I'm going to bid you all an adieu, for now, my friends. I'm prone to migraines, and this horrific white background simply doesn't mesh with my needs.


I hope to be back soon,


tallric_kruush

What happened to my post count? It seems the more I post, the more it drops. Is that how it's supposed to work?

I can understand why some users won't be interested in the new tools. For me, and for the DDM Guild, the new tools are a godsend. I hope to see improvements in the forum, but the group/blog/wiki/group forum tools are just what we've needed.

Was wondering how long it would take a VCL to tell us how wonderful the new stuff is. Smile


This was a discussion on the forums, which are worse than they were. Granted, there will be some people who like the new tools, nobody is denying that. But ultimately I think you'll find they were a bad move for this community. This because you will not end up seeing a huge increase in participation, and might even see a decrease.


Just because people need gasoline to run their cars, doesn't mean Wizards should use the money they spend here to make a gas-station. Now, that example is emphasized to make the point. But the point stands. There are things Wizards should and shouldn't do. And taking something they did relatively well, and replacing it with something that Wizards has no idea how to run, that is a very risky proposition. Probably, something you shouldn't do. But hey, they want to turn everything upside down for a 1:4 shot of doing something successfully, I guess it's their call.


For me though, and I suspect for many others, this is the beginning of the end. It will probably just get swept under the rug, once Wizards realizes things didn't work out. One day they will just announce they are closing their online community servers and moving to myspace, facebook, etc. And nobody will even care that the decisions being made now, and in recent times, is what led directly to that fate. But yeah, I think that's it for me too. Was good while it lasted Smile

I've honestly lost count of how many "this is the end!" cycles there have been since I've been around.


It's not the end. It's a new beginning.

Show
Of the two approaches to hobby games today, one is best defined as the realism-simulation school and the other as the game school. AD&D is assuredly an adherent of the latter school. It does not stress any realism (in the author's opinon an absurd effort at best considering the topic!). It does little to attempt to simulate anything either. (AD&D) is first and foremost a game for the fun and enjoyment of those who seek the use of imagination and creativity.... In all cases, however, the reader should understand that AD&D is designed to be an amusing and diverting pastime, something which an fill a few hours or consume endless days, as the participants desire, but in no case something to be taken too seriously. For fun, excitement and captivating fantasy, AD&D is unsurpassed.As a realistic simulation of things from the realm of make-believe or even as a reflection of midieval or ancient warfare or culture or society, it can be deemed only a dismal failure. Readers who seek the later must search elsewhere. - Gary Gygax. 1e DMG.


I've honestly lost count of how many "this is the end!" cycles there have been since I've been around.


It's not the end. It's a new beginning.




No, not a new beginning, just another beginning.

But I'm just a skull on a stick and don't really know about such things.

Batteries not included.

You can't have a beginning without an end - though you can have an end without a beginning.

Hey, this is cool. I get to say whatever I want because my opinion will immediately be discounted due to my VCL status. It's very freeing.


Okay, I'll stick to the topic (despite the fact that the very first post in this thread mentions the groups function). I've never subscribed to anything, so the temporary loss of that function means nothing to me. I can see, though, that it would be very annoying to people who subscribe regularly. I'd like to see the subforums separated, rather than being lumped in one paragraph. The appearance of the forums works fine for me, and the site width isn't a problem on any of my computers. I'd like to be able to see the last few posts to which I'm responding. I'm looking forward to the reinstatement of bbcode, which is in the works.


As for using the "real Facebook" instead of The Wizards Community, not only does the latter have greater functionality to meet my needs; we've already increased participation in our group beyond what we're getting from our Facebook group. I'm happy to have both.

I'm not operating under the illusion that my opinion will sway anyone else's. Opposing experiences are equally legitimate. I guess I just thought this thread was a place where people could say what they thought about the new setup.

I've honestly lost count of how many "this is the end!" cycles there have been since I've been around.


It's not the end. It's a new beginning.





Yeah, poke fun :p
But I didn't say it was the end; only the end for me, and likely for some others. To illustrate the gravity, I've been posting on these forums for six years. Within that time I've done a few things, through mups and stuff This place was like a home. But now the only reason I'm still here is because of a few friends. The saddest part is, I still like Magic, D&D, etc. But this place simply does not do those games justice.

I know you're a loyalist, Webster. No matter what King George does, he's your king But what you should understand, is that when Gleemax was being set-up CMs, CMs bosses, VCLs, FLs, random posters... they were all saying how wonderful Gleemax was going to be. How it was going to be the best thing since sliced bread, how we would all see it in the end. Some of us didn't think so. Some of us even posted why Gleemax wouldn't work, and where its shortcomings were. Well, what I wrote was mostly ignored, if not met openly with hostility and disbelief ;p But it does not change that most of it came to pass. And you know what, everyone who was saying how wonderful Gleemax was going to be, except for maybe Randy Beuhler, few have acknowledged the truth. How wrong they were, and how they should have listened more to the critics, because they had a better sense of things.

Yeah, my prediction is this change-over will make things worse. (Actually prediction is too strong a word, most of this seems obvious to me)

* things are worse. There used to be 60,000+ posters when 4th edition was released. At last count there was around 1/3rd that many still posting. There's also no new editions being released anytime soon to draw in more members.
* Of the 20,000 core members who remain, most of them liked things as they were. While some may like the new features more, in the end, the new features are mostly just compensating for whatever was lost. This group wasn't going anywhere before; but now you've given some of them a reason to be dissatisfied. You may be able to keep say 80-90% of these core members, but some won't feel the new features are sufficient replacements, and they will leave.

So far that's nothing positive about this change :p Your main hope is this:

* That by changing the platform, you might attract new posters that were never interested in this community before.

But I already explained why that won't work. 1) Pardon my french, but what you are offering is garbage. Watered-down versions of existing social network software; all of which is freely available. 2) You don't have the membership, and have no way of attracting the membership, that would make this place popular. Social network sites are primarily driven by popularity: the more people that use them, the more appealing they become. Afterall, if you are into social networking, and you have a choice between a site of 50k members and a site with 5 million members, it's not really a choice at all. Social networkers want to be on the site that will get them the most friends, comments, views, etc. So ultimately, it seems inescapable this site isn't prepared to attract social networkers in any large numbers. I'd honestly be shocked if you even get 50k active members within the next two years, especially with a beta community. (Is that "beta" for, "we're testing the waters to see if there's enough interest to make a full version". Or is that "beta" for, "we know there's things missing, so we'll call it a beta and promise to fill the rest in. but please don't go anywhere!")

And then, someday down the road, Wizards will realize that no one is really using the new tools. And they will question whether it's really worth it continuing to support an online endeavor of this sort; that few are really interested in. What made the old forums so great, is that it was low cost for high gain. Wizards has now turned this into higher cost, for lower gain. Eventually, some higher-up is going to realize this is a bad idea. But by then, it'll be too late to go back. Can't go forward, can't go back; you do the math where things will go.

Likes:


The Wiki and Blogs are especially nice. 


The way each group has their own forum and wiki and other feature set is great.


Being able to select my own avatar is also good.


 


Dislikes:


The inbox 'new mail' icon always takes me to the mail box, even if the new message isn't in the mail box.


Can't see the original thread text when typing a reply, or when editing a post.


Lost quite a few of the nicer Forum oriented features when we left vBulletin.  Hoping to bring those back. Specifically, when a VCL has a thread moved, it was possible to leave a 'shadow' link, which directed to the new location. This would have been useful earlier today.


Don't like the social-style status updates.  I use twitter/facebook for that.  Don't want to use it here as well.


The organization of the old forums was not great, but it was better than this. Everythign is all jumbled.

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I am going to make a list of what I like and don't like about the new forums. Hopefully it will help wizards change it back!



Are you talking the forums specifically or the community site in general. your say one thing in your thread title but post another in the content.



What I like:


  • The groups.



What is it about the groups you like? you go into a bit more detail about the things you dislike, I'd like to know more about why you actually like this. Is there anything about the boards you think are a good idea, but current functionality makes them a neutral topic (perhaps the wiki?)



What I dislike:


  • That I lost all my subscriptions & freinds.

  • That it looks like facebook now. (Note to wizards: if I wanted facebook I would join facebook. I wanted I gaming community so I joined the WotC forums. Now the the WotC forums looks like facebook!!!!)

  • That it takes much longer to figure out how to use it.

I'll think of more dislikes later but for now feel free to post your likes and dislikes.




I'm not going to discuss your dislikes (I'll likely just be accused of being a fanboy anyways)... But why is it your willing to think of more dislikes, but not likes?


 


As to myself:


Likes:


  • I like the wiki, it gives a very nice ability to create guides and index's for the community, that can be maintained by the community. Still needs work on it's functionality, but has potential.

  • Groups appear to have a very positive impact on the community. While I personally don't have a use for them, they are definitely a good move.

  • Blogs offer a nice method of keeping web accessible character builds, ether kept privately for personal use, or kept open for critiques.

Dislikes:


  • Still lots of bugs and features to be worked out all across the site (a link to a list is provided in my sig, links to my blogs if your sig's are turned off).

  • Feedback is currently very limited. mostly in the way of VCL's and guides, who aren't necessarily privy to accurate information.

  • Video's. I don't see the point of them. It seems more that they were added here just for someplace to put them, rather then creating an appropriate location on the appropriate sites. As it stands, the video's section is largely a M:tG thing, with any DnD/other (if any) video's quickly and quietly being buried under the onslaught and becoming lost. These should likely have been an added section to the M:tG home-site, not so much this community (we can't upload video's anyways).

I know I come off as Hostile and abrasive. It is not my intention to do so, I am just a very emotionally driven individual. I apologize if I come off as such to you and ask that you please don't take it personally, as I can assure you, it is not intended as such. ---------------------------------------------------------
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I think most of the new feaures are great.


 


Groups: WotC has a great and very large community. I love that we can now splinter off into smaller groups, yet still be a part of the larger community. Instead of being stuck using a single or couple of forums for your Homebrew stuff you can now make an entire group dedicated to your own campaign world. Complete with its own forums, galleries, add you own moderators. We don't have to worry about our stuff being buried.


Wiki: The wiki's are a friggin godsend and once more people learn to use them it's going to be even better. Look, I love that we as a community were able to archive everything in just a forum using stickied topics and linking t relevant information. But the wiki's make it just that much easier and neater. I love that our group wiki's ar separate and their own little site, but I also love that others can find the pages as well.


  • Suggestion: Add a catagory dropdown menu if at all possible sometime in the future. Feats, Race, Class etc. That way searching the wiki's will be that much easier.

 


Forums: I do have to agree the forums are a steaming pile currently. I realize that the forums had to be done over so that it would integrate more seamlessly, I am glad it was not just attached, but instead all works together. However, I hope overtime that you will be able to restore functionality to the forums.


 

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This is not so much a technical issue with the community site and in fact it might not be new (I don't know how long it has been in effect).  It came up in the chat a day or two ago and I thought i'd re-iterate it here:


If you go read the WotC website terms of use and scroll to the bit titled "User Content" you'll notice that the moment you post/transmit any content on or over the Wizards website (wiki, blog, forum, something you say in chat) Wizards have carte blanche to do whatever they want with it, without giving you any credit or royalty.


In other words:  You post it, Wizards own it.



Actually, you still own it and can do with it whatever you want. By posting it here, you are also giving WotC the rights to use it, should they desire. However, I am sure that WotC employees have better things to do than to troll the community site looking for things to steal.


My personal recommendation here (unless WotC are willing to change the terms of use to something less hostile) is to use a third-party blogging/wiki/video/file hosting service with more friendly terms and at most link to it from the WotC's website.  If it's not hosted on WotC's website (and you have only linked ot it) then you're not giving your stuff away to Wizards for free.


A much better suggestion, should you think of potentially trying to sell/publish your stuff in the future is to not post it online, anywhere. Once it is posted online, publishers have lost that which they covet the most - First publishing rights.


I am anticipating a counter-argument saying: "but they wouldn't take your stuff, they only need permission to reproduce it so that they can transmit it to others as part of a community site" - which of course is reasonable - BUT if that's all they intend to do with out content then they should ammend their terms of use to reflect that - actually say that they only have these (rather liberal) rights for the purpose of sharing with the community and not "ripping your stuff off and printing it in a future product".


As I mentioned above, the chances that WotC employees are spending their valuable time sifting through the mounds of posts on these forums looking for the gem that they can take and pass off as their own is so small as to be non-existant. Their time is much better spent building and creating their own original ideas.


There is a much better reason for having things like that in there. It protects WotC from potential lawsuits should WotC publish something that is similar to something that a formum-goer posted on the WotC community site (be it a blog, forum or group).


There is a reason why most publishing houses, and movie production studios will return unsolicited manuscripts unopened. Tehy do not want the risk of a lawsuit.

Mudbunny SVCL for DDI Before you post, think of the Monkeysphere


I know Wizards will argue, "the forums may be worse sure. But you didn't really need all that, and now you have blogs, and wikis, and personal pages, oh my!"



No, they won't, because they know that if they try, I will personally shoot them. With a hammer.

The actual argument is more along these lines: "Yes, we know that the forums are worse than they were on the old system; we know very well that you really don't like that, and to be honest we don't like it much either, so we're working on restoring the old functionality as much as possible. However, it will take time to do that, so please be patient; we know it's hard to wait, but we're working as hard as we can on it, and will roll it out as soon as possible."



Was wondering how long it would take a VCL to tell us how wonderful the new stuff is.


Join us, Xeptian... we're all so happy here in the collective. Don't you want to be...happy? Don't you want to be...friends? Join us... join us... 1549e1791ff775d2a846662fd3480a48.gif?v=225

Come join me at No Goblins Allowed


Because frankly, being here depresses me these days.

well, the problem is not only that the forums suck. the other community features have various issues as well, and that's from a company that's supposed to be worth their money. if it were me buying this community site, i'd have my lawyers on the phone by now.


you've got new mail. or not? probably not. hey, a second grader could probably program this better. the new mail icon probably never disappears from my inbox.


blogs - basic functionality is missing, like nested comments, proper paging if you have more than three blog entries, html comments, or even to be able to see how many people visited your blogs WITHOUT searching for them in the central blog area.


groups - you can't even leave every group you join, as there's no paging on the group-display-page and it's amount is set to 5. not to mention that no updates from the groups forums ever reach your "home" page,  or the forums are as broken as anywhere else...


photos+videos - i have to admit, this is one of the better working parts.


wiki - again, basic functionality is missing. like, making tables without knowing html - which brings me to the whole


html parsing issues - either allow certain html, or don't. but this is currently really madness, especially with the tinyMCE editor used. it can do much more than you allow, and thus pretty much every user will repeatedly run into problems if he just uses what is in there, visible for everyone.


chat - let's talk history. well, when it actually works someday, that is.


crosslinking - you want a multimedia portal? you'd better make sure your content can be mixed with ease. i want to be able to link to the wiki from the forums without copying the whole community.wizards.com stuff in front of it. i want to be able to link from the wiki to the forums without needing to copy the whole stuff again.


layout - let's talk 1990ies. fixed size is bad style, as are background images that do not resize, as is pretty much everything with the current layouts. contrasts? search for them in vain. this page is really not made according to WAI, section 508 or whatever you want to use as standard.


forums - let's face it - this is the worst part of the site, and this is what most people here came for in the first place.


counting - threads 0 views, 50 replies. really? profile views: today, once again, 20 less than yesterday. the whole math here seems broken. tomorrow might be 1000 more, one never knows.


delays - pretty much every change you do is not instantaneously visibly to others, with the exception of forums and wikis.  upload an image or write a blog? 20 minutes+ of waiting time till it's publicly visible. want to see what a friend is currently posting? NO WAY!. does not work. the "home" page lists everything, but with a 20-30 minute delay.


so, if this was a car, we probably would have no tires, no battery, no fuel and worst of all, no wheel to steer it. that the radio's broken and the doors are missing as well, well those are minor additional complaints, like the missing backseats.


if this was a car, and had that many flaws, noone would ever buy or use it. somehow, when it comes to software, people turn off their brains. inferior quality is acceptable, if it just costs little enough, or the people producing it are hip enough (which, in this case, might be part of the problem, as wotc once again hired a company they knew from gaming...)

Here be dragons: IMAGE(http://tinyurl.com/cydyvkj/.gif)IMAGE(http://tinyurl.com/c54g6ac/.gif)IMAGE(http://tinyurl.com/csw6fhj/.gif)IMAGE(http://tinyurl.com/cbxbgmp/.gif)IMAGE(http://tinyurl.com/cz7v5bd/.gif)IMAGE(http://tinyurl.com/ccg9eld/.gif)IMAGE(http://tinyurl.com/c8szhnn/.gif)IMAGE(http://tinyurl.com/cp68b5u/.gif)
56767308 wrote:
Sadly, I don't think this has anything to do with wanting Next to be a great game. It has to do with wanting Next to determine who won the Edition War. [...] For those of us who just want D&D Next to be a good game, this is getting to be a real drag.
57870548 wrote:
I think I figured it out. This program is a character builder, not a character builder. It teaches patience, empathy, and tolerance. All most excellent character traits.


you've got new mail. or not? probably not. hey, a second grader could probably program this better. the new mail icon probably never disappears from my inbox.




Found a work-around for this one.  If you are getting a false-positive for new mail, you can go to the Broadcasts area, open up one of those, and it will clear the icon.

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i don't even HAVE a broadcast there. maybe the workaround works, maybe not. can't tell like that.

Here be dragons: IMAGE(http://tinyurl.com/cydyvkj/.gif)IMAGE(http://tinyurl.com/c54g6ac/.gif)IMAGE(http://tinyurl.com/csw6fhj/.gif)IMAGE(http://tinyurl.com/cbxbgmp/.gif)IMAGE(http://tinyurl.com/cz7v5bd/.gif)IMAGE(http://tinyurl.com/ccg9eld/.gif)IMAGE(http://tinyurl.com/c8szhnn/.gif)IMAGE(http://tinyurl.com/cp68b5u/.gif)
56767308 wrote:
Sadly, I don't think this has anything to do with wanting Next to be a great game. It has to do with wanting Next to determine who won the Edition War. [...] For those of us who just want D&D Next to be a good game, this is getting to be a real drag.
57870548 wrote:
I think I figured it out. This program is a character builder, not a character builder. It teaches patience, empathy, and tolerance. All most excellent character traits.

Is anyone else having the problem of not being able to delete messages out of your sent messages folder?


I can't do it from in the message, or in the folder. I tried selecting one, all, and just some and not a one is deleted yet. When I try all it says "We are sorry and error has ocurred".

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I know Wizards will argue, "the forums may be worse sure. But you didn't really need all that, and now you have blogs, and wikis, and personal pages, oh my!"



No, they won't, because they know that if they try, I will personally shoot them. With a hammer.

The actual argument is more along these lines: "Yes, we know that the forums are worse than they were on the old system; we know very well that you really don't like that, and to be honest we don't like it much either, so we're working on restoring the old functionality as much as possible. However, it will take time to do that, so please be patient; we know it's hard to wait, but we're working as hard as we can on it, and will roll it out as soon as possible."



Was wondering how long it would take a VCL to tell us how wonderful the new stuff is.



Join us, Xeptian... we're all so happy here in the collective. Don't you want to be...happy? Don't you want to be...friends? Join us... join us...



So. How long did Wizards say it was going to take to restore the forum functionality? Smile


I was just on today out of curiosity/boredom, and found this comment as the last little nugget before I stopped posting.

Now to be serious, first I want to applaud you zammm. For sticking with this community through these rough times. It couldn't have been easy, and your dedication is simply amazing. Beyond amazing actually. I mean, you and people like you are the very reason why social networks exist. People who are talented, passionate, commited, and who actually care about other people. And you don't even make money from it!


This -- in sharp contrast to the Wizard of the Coast overlords. God I hate saying this; because I used to be one of those people who loved Wizards. I loved the products, still do, I adored the creativity of the game designers. I was in awe of what this community was and was aspiring to be. But the truth is, Wizards took their wonderful growing little community and ran it over with a bus. Took good people like zammm, and the dozens of other regular contributors, Wizard's own highly-qualified original wizo moderators among them, and just ran them over. For what? For some low grade site? Some not-even-half-baked myspace/facebook wanna be? I would roll my eyes, but honestly, I can't even do that because I was here as it was happening. It was like being on the bridge, watching captain valdez ram the Titanic full-throttle into an iceburg. Seriously.

I tried with every ounce of my reason and breath to get Wizards to stop the madness they were on before it led to a disaster. Only to be marginalized, mocked, dismissed, insulted... And then after things did tank, after things went south, and I would ask Wizards to at least ackwoledge their mistake so that hopefully we could get back on track; all I received in response were excuses. "We're working on it" "It's still in alpha. Beta will be great!" "-insert random reason here-" None of this surprises me to be sure. I expected Mike (aka gamer zero) to hightail it as soon as things didn't work out. I expected everyone responsible for Gleemax to find themselves another job after it failed. And I fully expected an ecological mess to be leftover for everyone else to clean up. Which Wizards management would then just try to sweep under the rug, marginalize and trivialize, just like they had the whole run-up to the disaster.

It's been two years since my last criticism, and to be honest, I don't really see many great changes around here. In 2011, this community still looks worse than it did in 2006. Yeah, "there's blogs, and wikis, and personal pages, oh my!" But like I've always said, and like I don't think Wizards has ever really understood, is that no one, really no one -- is going to give up using facebook, twitter, youtube, wikipedia, blogger -- to be a part of this community. It just is not going to happen, and was never going to.  If I had time I could explain it, but I don't :p Well, briefly 1) those sites are more specialized re: better at what they do. You are never going to have better blog software than a dedicated blog social media site, or better video software than a dedicated video site, etc. So these services here will always be substandard, especially if you insist on doing it yourself rather than using competitive third party software. (for example, BBbulletin) 2) No one from those other social sites wants to use anything substandard, because they are already accustomed to what they have. So forget about trying to attract them to this community via similar service offerings (blogs, wikis, personal pages) The best thing you can do for them actually is what most other sites do: they provide links to facebook, youtube, twitter, etc. That way people can post here, but still be wholly connected to the other social media. 3) Which let's face it, if you're on social media to begin with, you are there to socialize, right? Most users want their stuff to be where it's going to be seen the most (ie. the big high-profile sites), not some little quiet community like this one. At a time where everyone wants more attention, to be a part of something bigger, Wizards decides that instead the best thing to do is create little isolated "groups", where only the members of that group can contribute. I mean what genius decided it was better to have private groups than public forums? Did they not get the concept of a social network? The forums was the best social thing this community had. And instead it was replaced with blogs and groups, which are all much much more isolated. 4) What really set this community apart -- what sets all blogs apart from one another, what sets all youtube channels apart from one another -- is not the software. It's nice and all, but it's not what drives traffic. What drives traffic is content. ie. what people are actually posting, talking about, uploading, etc.

In 2006 before Gleemax, this community had great content. One of the primary reasons was that it was pretty much all content-driven. There was no fancy blogs, wikis, etc... so if you wanted to get anyone's attention, you just better have had a great post, thread, game, guide, whatever. The scribes, wizos, GMs, regulars here were fantastic, amazing, at generating content -- people like zammm. They would write things that were well-worth reading, all the time. All they needed extra was an easy way for them to share those threads with others. (like for example, a link to post it on facebook, twitter, etc) Another major factor improving content was that the moderation staff here was awesome, one of the absolute best on the internet. This is what really set the community apart from other places like youtube, wikipedia, etc. Those sites are all more democratic in their moderation, and it works for them. But there are few really well-moderated game sites out there, in fact, I think now there's none. Or at least, no really big sites. So there, that was Wizards niche, really great game content. But instead of rewarding such content, that content and the community producing it was systematically dismantled. No more community magazine, no more uncon, no more forums! At least not good ones anyway. And to top it off, the moderator staff was gutted so that instead of doing community building and management, helping to drive the content, they were now delegated to simple clerical tasks such as deleting spam, etc.

As much as I love zammm, the whole VCL thing is a joke, to be honest. The main purpose it exists is because it was decided there's such a thing as content moderators, and another thing as rules moderator. So the Wizos were stripped of their discretion to guide content as community managers, and assigned to new VCLs instead. And to be quite honest, I think the main reason that was decided is because some didn't want the wizo moderators to have power over content anymore because they weren't all behind Gleemax. Many of them realized that was being proposed, as far as forum restructurings etc, would be detrimental to the community. So they were always against those changes, and of course most of the original wizos left in short order. (to be replaced by ORCs, which are not the same)

That said, where does that leave us now? Well, for me personally (I forgot who said this but it's very true) I'm like an old grognard. In the original sense. I remember the great old times, before our fearless leaders led us to Russia, and most of my co-patriots froze to death ;p I probably will never stop gripping about that greatness. Because a) I know it's possible b) I know what it takes to do it and c) I know it's still possible to do it now, if people will only do what it takes. But to be a realist, I also realize that ship has sailed, that what's done is done and we're not going back. All we can do now is what they did after the 1906 san fransisco earthquake: namely rebuild. I highly doubt I will be a part of that process in any more capacity than I've been. But for those who remain, I hope they take history to heart, and all that I've tried to relay. It is not now, nor has it ever been, my intention to harm this community. I only wish the best for you guys. And I know some people like zammm, fit the bill, and are quite capable of helping make things better. If I had to make one recommendation, I would say you need more people like him. And you need more people like him in the positions that can really make a difference ie. community management, etc. Because they're the ones with the talent, will, and drive to restore this community to where it needs to be. And until, and unless, you have a whole group of managers like that backing up the community; any other building efforts are unlikely to get much headway. In any case thanks for reading, and I wish you all very well.


So. How long did Wizards say it was going to take to restore the forum functionality?

They didn't. And apparently not all of it can be restored, due to limitations of OneSite's software platform and whatnot.

Hey, Xeptian; good to see you again. Thanks very much for the kind words, but you're lucky I search for my name every now and again, or I might not have seen this post for months.

In many ways I agree with you--the site and community was pretty much run over with a tank, despite plenty of warnings that that's what Wizards was about to do. However, I tend to take it with a couple tons of salt, because sadly, that's the kind of thing that happens when you're dealing with a large company, especially one that's a subsidiary of a massive legacy corporation like Hasbro. Most large corporations are simply not capable of the kind of flexibility and responsiveness that makes social communities thrive--not in their thinking, and sure as hell not in their actions. They're almost scarily efficient at doing the things they know how to do, and catastrophically inept at doing much of anything else, or even doing the old things any way other than the way it's been done before.

As much as I love pretty much all the people I've ever met who work at WotC and know they're working as hard as they can to make things as awesome as they can, at the end of the day they're still bound and gagged by that massively unwieldy corporate structure. So, because we sure as hell can't alter the corporate structure, nor free ourselves of it, we're forced to work within it, doing the best we can to nudge things back on course. Yes, sometimes we're going to be run over by it and there's nothing we can do about it. Sometimes we're going to have to sit and watch as the company shoots itself in the foot with a bazooka despite massive neon "No Bazooka" signs and a warning screamed into their ear at point-blank range. But that's the price of doing business with a big company. You do the best you can.

And I know some people like zammm, fit the bill, and are quite capable of helping make things better. If I had to make one recommendation, I would say you need more people like him. And you need more people like him in the positions that can really make a difference ie. community management, etc. Because they're the ones with the talent, will, and drive to restore this community to where it needs to be.

Sadly, I'm not a US citizen, which as far as the US government is concerned means I'm about as desirable to have working for a US company as a flea-ridden dyslexic hobo who believes his socks are plotting against him.

Come join me at No Goblins Allowed


Because frankly, being here depresses me these days.

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