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marurun
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Hypothetical forum reorganization: what does it look like?

by marurun Sun Apr 21, 2019 9:15 pm

There has been some talk about how the reduced state of traffic here on the forums causes our expansive topic subdivision to end up feeling a bit empty, with much traffic migrating to a few monolithic threads. So I have created this topic for us to discuss what a more streamlined Racketboy forums might look like, organizationally.

While I do have some opinions on this topic, I do not intend to lead with them. Others proposed this, and they should probably propose alternatives first.

That said, I do want to put out some thoughts about some factors proposals will need to account for. First, do the current forums get dumped into an archived area that’s read-only, do we ultimately merge a bunch of larger sub forums, or does someone have to hand-pick which topics go where under whatever new organization is chosen? We definitely aren’t simply throwing our history away, so what to do with existing sub forums and threads is a critical consideration of any proposal. Second, what is the goal of forum reorganization? Make sure to state this as part of your proposed structure and note how your reorganized forum supports this goal. Finally, when commenting on someone else’s proposal, make sure to be constructive in your criticism. “I don’t like it but I don’t know why,” might accurately reflect your feelings, but it doesn’t help anyone figure out how to improve anything. Is the problem in the goals, how the structure does or does not support the goals, what? Go deeper.

Ok then, this meeting is now in session. Robert’s Rules of Order do not apply.
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Gunstar Green
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Re: Hypothetical forum reorganization: what does it look lik

by Gunstar Green Sun Apr 21, 2019 11:08 pm

Nintendork666 wrote:Racketboy legit has 32 sub-forums.

Do we even have 32 active members?


This was a good point. Is it really necessary to have stuff like the brand segregated sub-forums anymore at this point? We could just cull it to "Retro Gaming" and "Modern Gaming." Where posts should be made should be simpler and more idiot-proof. I think that would maybe help encourage people to make new topics more often. There was a time when the segregation made sense but now it seems silly.

Ziggy587 wrote:We lost a lot of regulars due to hurt feelings and disagreements. But this much we already knew. The purpose of this thread was to point out something that wasn't obvious. And, moreover, to do something about it. To say, "That's just the way it is," is to say, "I'm OK with it." Well, I'm not OK with it. I want to see this forum be more active again.

BogusMeatFactory wrote:Take the time out to compliment folks, bring them up instead of tearing them down. It isn't always about debate and intellectual discourse. That stuff is exhausting and comes off as combative in the end. Sure, those things are important to have, but it seems like any actual talk we have is a debate and two sides just saying their opinion over and over again. It is never about active engagement with each other. It is just people talking to the void.


I'm quoting this in large text because I feel strongly that it's such a great point.


I agree with Bogus on people trying to be more positive and less combative but I'm not sure I agree with the rest of his sentiment. Reasonable debate and more intellectual discussion on gaming is what drew me to Racketboy in the first place over other gaming forums. Maybe we've run out of steam on the whole discussing gaming culture thing and maybe the politicization of literally everything these days has made it harder to discuss those things without people blowing up but those type of discussions were at the core of this forum's identity, from my perspective at least. The politics ban, which I was in support of in regards to non-game related topics, is something I remain split on to this day. On one hand it was definitely pushing people away, on the other hand I feel like a lot of deeper discussions seemed to stop after it was put into place and the people who left were mostly happier not returning.

I know it's a lot to ask of people to be able to disagree without letting their emotions flare up, but we should at least be able to do that about video games and about opinions on tastes in entertainment. Understanding why someone hates something you love is just as valuable as understanding why you love it.

People are going to have opinions and vehemently argue those opinions at brick walls and you can't change that. I believe Maru said it best already in the other thread, which I'm paraphrasing here, be the example of the type of posts you want to see. That's really the only thing you can do if you want to help steer the kind of content found on this forum.

I guess the move towards things like Discord and Slack has also sort of changed my opinion on forums in general. I use them to ask a question that I can't find an answer to but I'd rather discuss things with people in real time where it's easier to avoid misunderstanding and have more enjoyable discussions. This might just be my self-esteem eroding but I've started finding forums more cold and impersonal and I feel like I come off as more of a jerk on them than I do otherwise.
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Re: Hypothetical forum reorganization: what does it look lik

by isiolia Mon Apr 22, 2019 9:35 am

From thinking about it a little, I'd say to back up and look at what the main site is focused on, and base the primary forum sections on that (or revise how articles/etc there are organized). Just for sake of example, articles (and in turn major forum sections) might be organized like so:

Explore & Share
Best X games, news, currently playing, reviews, Together Retro, Games as Culture, etc. It's all, to some extent, expanding your own knowledge of what's out there, or presenting knowledge for others.

Collect
BST, deals, differences in editions, if it's about the process of acquiring and caring for a game library, then that's what goes here.

Connect & Play
All about getting games on a screen. Hardware questions, emulation, hacking, etc.

Strategies & Tips
Something that isn't as formalized right now on Racketboy, though it does come up. Obviously, there's GameFAQs and the like for full-on walkthroughs, but maybe there's room in between for more generalized ways to get better at a game or genre, or just get started on the right foot. Regardless, folks that have settled on a game, and want to get better at it - whether just to get past a level, or to hone their speedrunning times, this'd be the section.

Just an offhand thing that'd need refining, and have subforums hashed out and all.

Any of those are also general enough that "seed" threads could be posted, similar to Together Retro. Figure something that'd be a good reference to have, and start threads.
Or model it after things like HardOCP (RIP), where articles on the main page get a corresponding forum thread created. Could be an opportunity to drive front page content as well, if you go larger - like have articles on how to share (write reviews, put together a Youtube video, etc) or get into various challenge communities for games that maybe aren't part of that content yet.
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Re: Hypothetical forum reorganization: what does it look lik

by dsheinem Tue Apr 23, 2019 6:58 am

Anytime we have these conversations I wish we had some data. Before choosing some random new arrangement that might work better (or not), can we find out monthly/yearly stats on:

-Overall number forum visitors/views
-Forum visitors/views per forum/subforum
-Overall number of posts/replies
-Distribution of original posts/replies per forum/subforum
-Overall number of unique posters
-Overall number of new registrants
-Percentage of new registrants that post (and where)
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Re: Hypothetical forum reorganization: what does it look lik

by racketboy Tue Apr 23, 2019 9:18 am

dsheinem wrote:Anytime we have these conversations I wish we had some data. Before choosing some random new arrangement that might work better (or not), can we find out monthly/yearly stats on:

-Overall number forum visitors/views
-Forum visitors/views per forum/subforum
-Overall number of posts/replies
-Distribution of original posts/replies per forum/subforum
-Overall number of unique posters
-Overall number of new registrants
-Percentage of new registrants that post (and where)


Not without a bunch of number collection and analysis (and I don't have any real access to better numbers than anybody else with public access). Does that really matter when it comes to determining what makes conversation better and more inviting? I feel like this leans more toward art than science. And I'm somebody that actually enjoys spreadsheets.
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Re: Hypothetical forum reorganization: what does it look lik

by racketboy Tue Apr 23, 2019 9:21 am

isiolia wrote:Any of those are also general enough that "seed" threads could be posted, similar to Together Retro. Figure something that'd be a good reference to have, and start threads.
Or model it after things like HardOCP (RIP), where articles on the main page get a corresponding forum thread created. Could be an opportunity to drive front page content as well, if you go larger - like have articles on how to share (write reviews, put together a Youtube video, etc) or get into various challenge communities for games that maybe aren't part of that content yet.


I started doing forum posts for new article posts/updated, but didn't seem like I got a lot of replies so I stopped feeling motivated to doing it. Also felt odd to split conversation between forum threads and native blog comments (and I already had more discussion on Twitter on Facebook when I share on there).
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Re: Hypothetical forum reorganization: what does it look lik

by 8bit Tue Apr 23, 2019 12:24 pm

Just wanting to show face in this topic as I'm interested to see what yall come up with. I continue to lurk through the forums daily and would love to see them get more activity again.

Maybe we just invite Luke and MJMJR back then sit back watch the fireworks? I miss those guys and their antics.
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marurun
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Re: Hypothetical forum reorganization: what does it look lik

by marurun Tue Apr 23, 2019 12:50 pm

I miss them, too, but their antics had a darker side, too, and that also drove folks away.
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Re: Hypothetical forum reorganization: what does it look lik

by Nemoide Tue Apr 23, 2019 3:17 pm

First and most notably, I especially think we need to do away with the Genres subforums and PROBABLY the platform-specific subforums. For me they just cause confusion; for example if I want to make a thread about Phantasy Star IV, I wouldn't know if I should put it in General Gaming where most people would see it, the Sega section since it's a Genesis game, or the RPG section because it's an RPG. I start wondering and end up not posting about it at all.
If nothing else the "Other Genres" and "Other Platforms" really need to go IMO.

I feel like most of the gaming sections could all become General Gaming, but in the interest of splitting out things some people might not care about maybe a Retro Gaming section dedicated to games that are at least a decade old, a modern gaming section dedicated to newer titles, and a Gaming News section, encompassing both the newest of the new tech (ie newly announced consoles or games) and retro developments (eg new Plug & Play systems, new controllers for retro consoles).

All of the Marketplace sections could be fused except maybe Creator's Corner, which could probably safely go away and be spread between Gaming News and Off Topic.

I've always been intimidated by the many sections of The Garage; could those get turned into one or two sections? Maybe three sections: one for Articles & Guides, Hacks, Mods & Tech Help, and one for Emulation & Archiving? Maybe someone who's more active there has a thought?

Game Reviews and Videos could probably go with Articles & Guides without causing much disruption.

Together Retro should probably still have its own space, but maybe it could share space with threads for articles on the site. It's not like there are ever more than three active threads in TR.

So the sections would be:
Retro Gaming
Modern Gaming
Gaming News
Site Articles & Together Retro
The Marketplace
Guides & Reviews
Hacks, Mods, and Tech Help
Emulation & Archiving
Podcast **locked & archived**

So that would only be 8 sections. Maybe it's too dramatic a change, but I think it would make browsing a lot easier and I feel like I'd end up seeing a lot of posts that would otherwise fly under my radar.
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Re: Hypothetical forum reorganization: what does it look lik

by chuckster Wed Apr 24, 2019 10:39 am

I think the forum could work without any sub-forums in reality, and be better for it.E ven if traffic tripled, there would still be no issue following everything in one board. I for one would not be upset at seeing emulation questions or collection pictures next to gaming news. This has the bonus of making everything more visible, so people are more likely to participate.

The strength of the site compared to other retro gaming forums is the articles that serve to draw people in, and the guides that are very useful for people trying to get into or advance in the hobby. I think those should be front and center. If accompanying threads do not see much response, why not make one ongoing thread like "Racketboy Articles and Guides OT - "Insert Most Recent Article Here", so that there is a place to discuss the articles while allowing a broader discussion to take place?

I'm a hardware guy, so I love talking about TVs, video devices, cabling, game rooms (layout, furniture, etc.), and new developments for better gaming video. I think moving something like this to it's own sub-forum leads to lower participation simply because fewer people will seek it out. If these threads are right in everyone's scroll they're doing anyway, they are much more likely to jump in. Ditto for other topics like emulation or arcade collecting.
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