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The State of the Forums

Discussion in 'Website Feedback' started by ClassN, Nov 4, 2019.

  1. Hello, dedicated Mineplex forumers. I've recently been thinking more than usual about the forums, and unfortunately, how disappointed I've been with them. I know- not the highest note to start a thread on, but for the sake of context, I'll give some background.

    As I'm sure everyone knows, Mineplex used to run its website through Enjin. Enjin had more than its fair share of issues, and despite Mineplex being the number one most popular community on Enjin, Enjin did not bother fixing... anything... at least as far as the general public is aware because nothing changed on our end; Enjin focused more on its cryptocurrency. Though I can't assume all of the reasons for Mineplex wanting to get rid of Enjin, they began work on a new website run by Xenforo (this one). A carefully worded hint that a new website was coming excited the community who was at the time also fed up. It seemed everything was going to work out for the better. On September 13, 2018, the website went into public beta for everyone, though it had been in the works for long before. Groups were a fancy new innovation, and leaderboards seemed to be the culmination of the very long stats transfer process. Any shortcomings, one could assume at the time, were merely a result of the website being in beta. They would come eventually. But the issue is, they did not.

    As someone who used the Enjin forums almost religiously at times, I feel the need to point out in this thread where this Xenforo website went wrong and how it could improve. I'll start with Website Feedback, a sub-forum used for- you guessed it!- feedback for this website.


    I. Website Feedback Sub-Forum

    I've been talking to @Marzie lately about who exactly runs Website Feedback. It used to be @Wanderer , the sole web developer, but he handed it over to Community Management, or CoM, who then has to go through Wanderer anyways for approval/denial of most ideas.

    The issue is that CoM's process of handling Website Feedback, whatever process that may be, has two flaws. 1. It leaves gaps. 2. It is not retroactive.

    1. Firstly, there are huge gaps in the process. Countless Website Feedback threads are left in an "In Discussion" limbo, not denied nor accepted. To post on many of them would constitute necro-posting and then warrant warnings. Those threads are not going anywhere discussion-wise. Many threads don't even have tags, so there's no indication where, if anywhere, they are in the feedback process. It is time these threads got a definitive answer.

    2. Secondly, the process is not retroactive. Basically, CoM is not going back to old threads that were posted before they handled the sub-forum and applying tags to those, nor are they asking Wanderer for his feedback on them. They're dead in the water. Once again, these threads need review and a decisive answer.

    Of course, there is an issue here. Any changes to how Community Management handles these threads is entirely reliant on Wanderer's reply rate, as is the case now. Because the answer has to come from one person, it won't matter what the logistics are because that one person determines the rate at which the whole process moves. If he is accepting/denying ideas quickly in regards to what Community Management shows him, then the process moves fast; if he is accepting/denying ideas slowly, then the whole process screeches to a halt. It is reliant on him. With that being said, I have to believe there is a solution to this that doesn't put too much on Wanderer's plate but still benefits the community by every thread getting a response. I'll spitball some unlikely ideas.

    1. Wanderer gives Community Management more freedom in accepting/denying things. He still has the biggest input, along with Jarvis and the higher-ups if need be, but Community Management can do it itself for the most part. The benefit here is that since CoM is, in theory, closer to community thoughts, any given choice should ultimately be a good one.

    2. Forum Moderators and Forum Ninjas are delegated the ability to accept or deny ideas. This is a smaller sample size of people. The benefit here is that you can probably be sure that these people know what they're talking about regarding the forums. However, the negative is that these people do not represent what the community thinks and are mostly detached from feedback in general. Additionally, they may be really busy.

    3. This one is not ideal, but Wanderer and Community Management buckle up for a long process of going back and answering everything that hasn't been answered and applying thread tags where necessary. Changes are made for the future that mean the same mistake won't happen again.

    It was actually quite difficult even thinking of these, so I kinda understand why it's inefficient now. But like I said, I have to believe there is an improvement to be made. I want to specifically open up this portion of the thread for discussion. Do you have any ideas as to how this process could be changed so Wanderer isn't constantly bogged down with ideas, but threads are answered on time and appropriately? Please leave them down below.

    But before I move on to my next portion of this thread, I want to address a criticism I can see coming: "These threads are not worth answering. If people want an answer, they can just repost it." The truth is that many past threads in Website Feedback offer valuable ideas, considerations, and feedback. I want to make sure our (the community's) end of the equation, feedback, is handled, because that is going to be what determines the direction these forums go in. It's no wonder so little has changed since the website's release- the primary area for discussing changes has been mishandled and underappreciated. Not everyone who made threads in the past can still do that. Not everyone is going to even think to repost, nor are people going to know to repost to begin with. I believe by nature of having a sub-forum dedicated solely to feedback, Mineplex should handle that sub-forum in the best and most sincere way possible. It is not sincere to ignore past threads because it's a lot of work dealing with them. Anyway, I think it's time to move on to... user retention!! Super interesting, I know.


    II. User Retention

    The word "retention" is defined as the "continued possession, use, or control of something"- the "something" in this case being players, users, people... whatever you want to call the community that uses this website. We are what Mineplex should strive to retain. I personally am of the opinion that this website has not retained its players well, so I feel this is worth talking about.

    Retention is achieved differently for different communities. How Mineplex retains players in-game is entirely different to how it retains players on here. Thankfully, retaining a community is achievable, and to insert my own opinion here, it is much easier than finding a solution to the problem of Website Feedback. So how can Mineplex improve its player retention for this website? Here's how.

    For reference, I will be using -unapproved link- article as a resource for my points here.

    1. User-Generated Content- Mr. Shoval from my source says the following: "Through sharing their pictures, videos, articles, and opinions, they feel a greater connection to your brand, while you generate the ability to gain new and innovative perspectives within your content." Believe it or not, this is not something the Mineplex website struggles with. There are countless opportunities here to share things. However, there is, of course, room for improvement: walls! Since day one, people have been suggesting changes to walls that better reflect the homeliness of Enjin walls. Pinned posts, improved commenting, and perhaps most integral to walls, actually getting notifications for wall posts for people whom you follow. I am aware the initial intention for walls was to focus content on the forums itself, but one of the things the community loved the most about the old website was how interactive it was. User-generated content shines brightest on walls, so that is my main suggestion for how to improve here. Here are just a few great examples of wall suggestions.

    2. Interactive Content- "Interactive content gives your users the chance play an active role in your content through taking quizzes, watching videos, using interactive infographics, and more." I'm glad this source brought up interactive content and infographics because another thing that needs work on here and that could improve user retention is improving leaderboards. It's really quite simple feedback-wise. Arcade and Nano Games do not have online statistics/leaderboards, and leaderboards can only be arranged by wins, not any other statistics (such as kills). For how long the stats transfer took, this seems like one incredible oversight.

    3. Importance of Conversation- "Comments promote conversation, and conversations build community. Community gives your users a sense of belonging and a reason to visit your site. Ensure your site has the tools for conversation. Sites such as EW use Spot.IM’s social sidebar to give users the opportunity to speak their mind about content in a manner that is fun, modern, and non-intrusive."

    This is another field Mineplex actually does well on. There are many areas for commenting. They aren't necessarily connected in a natural, intuitive way, as evidenced by the lack of notifications for wall posts, but they exist nonetheless. So what needs to improve here so Mineplex can improve user retention? In my opinion, there needs to be better thread/reply options. Shameless plug of my previous thread...


    ... in which I discuss which options need to come back and how being annoying can be curbed. Basically the main ones that virtually everyone can agree on are alignment, lists, tables, superscripts, subscripts, increase indent, and decrease indent. The controversial ones are font, text size, and text color; the solution I provided was to have font, text size, and text color only be available in threads- they would be unavailable in replies. This is due to the fact that most people don't use them annoyingly in threads, but rather in replies. However, I'd like to take a moment to discuss an alternative option that @Toki brought up in Discord, and that is simply warning/punishing people who use these options annoyingly. People who use them responsibly get to continue to do so because I do think they have some good uses. To be clear, I am talking about font, text size, and text color here- everything else should be added without any strings attached. So yeah- add these back, and people have a way to comment that is "fun, modern, and non-intrusive" as the source puts it.

    4. Customized Experience- So why is ascertaining problems and seeking solutions necessary? What is the value in us asking Wanderer to prioritize something? This is because at the end of the day, forums are meant to promote a sense of community that expresses itself through discussion. There is no sense of community if the users who use the website do not feel at home, nor is there a sense of community if users do not feel comfortable or assured in what they have to say. In simpler terms, community is derived largely from shaping the environment to user's wishes and ideas. It is therefore necessary to "customize the experience" of using the Mineplex website.

    What this means is obviously very subjective. What I want may be vividly different from what you want. Not everyone wants the same things. That is why this point serves solely as a backup to aforementioned points. Why should walls be fixed? To customize the experience to what the community wants. Why should the Website Feedback situation be looked into? To customize the experience to what the community wants. And yes I know not everything the community wants will or should be implemented. Some of y'all have some really wacky ideas. But when people give consistent feedback for over a year and nothing changes on our end, wouldn't you say it's fair that certain things be changed/added?

    Like the namesake of this section, changing the experience isn't just for the sake of the community. It is for user retention and potentially even getting new users, which benefits Mineplex. The article says, "By customizing your site for individual users, you successfully pinpoint their problems, connect to their emotions, and understand what makes them tick. As a result, they are more likely to feel greater loyalty and be more enticed to participate in your site’s interactive content." As someone passionate about forums in general, I don't feel loyalty to this website. I don't feel enticed to use the forums very often. I certainly do not think Xenforo has been a substantial improvement on the community side of things when compared to Enjin. And I know for a fact that others feel this same way.


    III. Conclusion

    In summary, stuff needs to change around here lol. And honestly, this is a surface-level assessment. I haven't even touched on post-boosting or how frequent that's become; I'd even categorize that as larger in severity than anything I've said. But in any case, I believe it's important to make this thread for a couple reasons. One, to compile my thoughts in a single place. Two, to cover bases, so nobody can look back and say, "You guys didn't suggest anything!" Three, to get a response from anyone who has any part in forums-related processes and, of course, the community. And four, to finally get stuff done.

    Speaking of the community, I always open myself up to feedback, so I wanna hear everyone's thoughts on this. I don't expect y'all to read every inch of this wall of a thread (though, it would be nice); skimming is okay. But I do ask that you get a baseline understanding before commenting. Pretty please don't say something like, "The forums are a work in progress!" or, "Be patient!" But thanks for reading, and I look forward to replies!
    Posted Nov 4, 2019
  2. Necro posting doesn't count for this section. You can see that here.

    I started working on this. I had a CoM go through and put tags on most of the threads (praise nolawn). Some still don't have tags because they're in a weird position and we aren't sure what tags to give. Today/Tomorrow I'm hoping to go through and put a lot of the old ones that don't have a card on the board. I've also already done it once where I've gone through all the old threads and got a CoM to put processed, implemented and whatnot onto some + gave a reply to those after I got a lot of responses from wandy.

    Just wanted to clear these two things up, especially the first point for obviouis reason. uwu
    Posted Nov 4, 2019
    Wanderer, nolawn and ClassN like this.
  3. I agree with you. Even half of a year later, many of these problems are still around, and nothing has been done about them.
    Posted Feb 10, 2020
    Jaek and ClassN like this.
  4. Pretty sad to see so little comments on a thread that really needs more attention. Smh.
    Posted Feb 10, 2020
    ClassN likes this.

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