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Moderation issue - open discussion

Started by Ron Edwards, March 12, 2003, 09:29:29 PM

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While a new member, I agree that a General Discussion Board isn't what the Forge needs. There are plenty of other sites that serve that purpose. A GD board builds community, but tends to dramatically increase the ratio of chaff to wheat.

That being said, I believe that the relatively strict moderation on threads such as arkcure's cuts down significantly on the creative brainstorming process. I could easily see that thread having become a useful discussion of methods for reawakening creativity when stalled; instead, it's stopped dead in its tracks. That's not necessarily a bad thing if you want to stick to a more strict "ask a question, get an answer" approach (as I believe the Forge does), but it does eliminate potentially useful exchanges before they reach the stage where they actually have value to most people. Even if the original question is not necessarily perfectly phrased, I'm not sure that entirely mitigates the value of the subject being discussed.

On another thread on this forum, the question of why there are so many low-post members is posed. I'd posit that reluctance of getting rebuked for not meeting fairly nebuslous posting criteria is one of those reasons. Mind you, I know that one develops a feel for "appropriate" threads when one has posted here for some time, but even after reading the various FAQs it's quite difficult for new members to know the moderators' requirements. I know that I would have assumed that discussing "writer's block in game design" was a valid topic, as well.

I'd also like to add my request for the Admins to please consider labelling their position in their Titles, perhaps underneath the company name. This tripped me up the other day.

Many thanks,
- Kevin Kulp
Admin, EN World

Jack Spencer Jr

On the topic of a general discussion forum, I would like to point out the recent trouble over the Tangency forum on RPGnet. The idea of a "not hi-volume OT chatter" just won't work. Tangency was originally meant to take all the off-topic posts from Open so that you didn't have to wade through a bunch of threads anout movies or books or whatever to get to gaming discussion. But given a place to discuss non-gaming interests, the members have done so and it's grown from being a small forum to catch the occasional off-topic post to a jiggling, thriving community.

But you're not talking about something on the order of Tangency. That is, the topics will be more tangelical, for lack of a better word. They would relate more to the creation of RPGs than posts of pictures of your kitties.

Personally, I think that a general discussion forum would just make more work for the moderators than it would contribute to the level of discussion we've come to expect from the Forge. But that's my opinion.

Jack Spencer Jr

Quote from: Ron Edwards- Do voice your objections to me privately. I have been known to retract moderation when convinced - but not based on public challenge.
I just noticed this part of Ron's original post. It seems to back up my original reply to this thread.


Probably this has gone on too long already.  But, here's my take:

The strength of The Forge is focused, on-topic discussion. The moderation techniques used weren't optimal, and some good alternatives have been suggested.  I also think that Ron was caught in a moment when he wasn't at his peak; his post wasn't as good at guiding the discussion as they normally are.  The thing to do is probably move on and make a point of -not- responding to the flame-bait that was posted in response to the moderation.
Clay Dowling - Online Campaign Planning and Management

Tar Markvar

Perhaps a "Writer's Experience" or similar forum would do the trick?

For what it's worth, I also agree with the idea of using PMs for this type of moderation. For someone new to the site, it's easy to take that sort of terse response personally, and that sort of comment is easier to take in private than in public, especially when it accompanies the closing of a thread which, while it was decidedly off-topic, still contained discussion that would have been helpful to a number of RPG writers.




Speaking as an mod - social forums are hell. Tangency generates an awful lot of headaches.

Ron Edwards

Back from GAMA!

Thanks to everyone who's posted. Here are some quick points.

1. I think it's probably fair to say that the Forge isn't going to have a General or Tangency type forum of any kind.

2. Certain topics set up red flags for me in terms of writing and publishing. When someone says, "How can I manage my day job and my publishing better," I consider it a valid Publishing topic. When someone says, "I can't seem to write," I don't. These and related issues about what is or isn't on-topic are not always easy to lay out ahead of time, or rather, they can't be laid out ahead of time in many cases.

Kevin (Piratecat) and Nathan (Paganini), I definitely see your point. I think the only solution is a certain amount of adjustment on everyone's part is definitely an ongoing thing at the Forge, me included.

I'll be happy to discuss this more later (back from GAMA, as I say; time is tight for the next few days). For now, I think that links to writing sites would be a good alternative - we can just point to the link when things like that come up.


Andy Kitkowski

Sorry to say "me too", but I agree with just about everyone who posted here. I'd even suggest that Ron reread all the comments, even, because they really are excellent suggestions and discussions, all. :)

Having said that, though, I must say I am in favor of a New Forum.  Again, no one here is saying "General" or "Social", but many people realize that there are topics, or round pegs, that they have that just don't fit in the current square holes. Questions that would otherwise be considered "focused", if only they had their own Indie Forum of Focus.

My own examples are those Indie RPG Awards posts I started.  Each time I started a major post on that topic, I went to the forum index, and spent (No Lie) at least 5 minutes debating in my head, each time, where such a topic should go.  Nothing matched.  So I just narrowed it down to Which Topics it Has Nothing to Do With, and dumped them into one of the two to three others, almost at random.

So call me in favor of a new forum. Just don't call it general or social. Maybe some thought as to the direction of the new forum?  Maybe we can have a forum with a new field of vision other than "Everything Else", "General Indie Gaming", or "Tangents".

Or maybe redescribe one of the existing forums: "RPG Theory" could easily become "Indie RPG Issues", and that title not only again supports theory-talk, but practical-talk as well...

As an aside, Ron might not think much of this suggestion because it again would allow threads to exist by the user whose thread started all this. But again, with the redescription/restatement of his question into a more "on topic" format, I think such a question (again, directed and restated) is on topic for a lot of us. It just needs a forum to be "on topic" in. :)

The Story Games Community - It's like RPGNet for small press games and new play styles.

Clinton R. Nixon


Hard question time, because I, as admin, tire of this New Forum talk.

What's missing? Seriously, what actual category of discussion is lacking here? Answer that, and the forum will be considered. I can't think of one, even the thread that started this thread. (Stated well, it'd fall into Indie Game Design.)
Clinton R. Nixon
CRN Games



That's a tad hard on Andy, since it was actually I who proposed adding or altering a forum.

The discussion that I see lacking a place here is two-fold. On the one hand are specific personal issues that are not related to the design process of a specific game. Discussions about inspirational material, discussions about grammar, discussions about writing technique, and so on, don't really fit into any of the current boards.

On the other hand, there's no real place to discuss general industry concerns, like Andy's RPG awards. For example, last week Greg Costikyan had an extremely relevant and somewhat controversial blog up on his website that would have seen some great discussion here. But I didn't feel that there was any forum appropriate to posting a link in. Not Publishing, because Publishing is for specific publishing concerns, the way Indie Design is for specific game concerns. RPG-Theory? GNS Discussion? Connections? Obviously not. Where then?

As for a name for the forum, I suggest Indie RPG Concerns (or maybe Indie RPG Issues). Obviously, these are *not* OT chat forums. They're for topics related to Indie RPGs that don't fit into the specific scope of any of the other forums.


Personally, I wouldn't mind seeing an "Industry" forum, where threads like Ron's GAMA posts, plans for Forge con presence, discussions on distributor relations, indie advocacy in game stores, etc could find a home.

But then I'm a hierarchal kind of guy.  My PC has dozens of folders within folders within folders so that everything has its place.  Even my Favorites list is 3 or 4 layers I like having more categories rather than fewer.

Andy Kitkowski

Quote from: PaganiniThat's a tad hard on Andy...

Not at all- Just a hard question: Since some people see something, and others don't, it's a good call to be as specific as possible. I couldn't at the time, too (save for the "forum name change" idea).

Quote from: ValamirPersonally, I wouldn't mind seeing an "Industry" forum, where threads like Ron's GAMA posts, plans for Forge con presence, discussions on distributor relations, indie advocacy in game stores, etc could find a home.

Actually, on further thought, this is exactly the kind of thing I was aiming for. GAMA/GenCon/Con posts, advocacy, issues related to the industry as a whole (and advocacy, which we spend a lot of time talking about) would probably fit nicely into such a category.  They don't seem to easily fit well into one of the other main topics as they are currently described (unless you went to advocate a particular game, like TROS, at which point it would fit in that game's designers' forum).

All in all, I wouldn't lose any sleep, put down as "ineffective", or rebel or even speak out if such an option were put down here by Clinton and Ron. It just seems like something worth trying out, even just as an experiment: Say, if it doesn't contribute to the overal forums or creator/publisher experience in a certain amount of time (x weeks or x months), it can always be removed (or exiled to "Inactive Forums").

But again, I defer to the judgment (and especially experience!) of the admin- I'm not the kind of guy who gets all pissy or anything if it doesn't work out, I'm just glad to have helped with some ideas. I'm not in it to make anyone's job harder, I'm just throwing out stuff that, I think, would improve the Forge experience for me, and hopefully others too.

Just checking to see that I'm still on topic here: Moderation. Feedback. Suggestions. Check, check, check. Cool. I have a bad habit of going on tangents...
The Story Games Community - It's like RPGNet for small press games and new play styles.

Jason Lee

Quote from: Clinton R. NixonWhat's missing? Seriously, what actual category of discussion is lacking here? Answer that, and the forum will be considered. I can't think of one, even the thread that started this thread. (Stated well, it'd fall into Indie Game Design.)

What's hard about this question is that everyone here may not have the same opinions on what belongs in each forum.

Obviously, with the indie game design forum this has been a real problem in the past, because now it has a policy sticky telling you what to post and what not to post.  Aside from future moderation, I think you've done all you can by posting the policy in the forum.

The indie forum is the only one with such a sticky.  RPG Theory has always seemed like a sort of dumping ground to me.  A lot of fuzzy topics appear in there that I would have put in GNS, Actual Play, or Publishing.  Whether or not I'm wrong about my perceptions of the fora I don't know, but a policy sticky in each forum would certainly make it clear to me (and maybe even others as well).  Besides, in writing the policy stickies you'll probably answer your own question about whether anything is missing - once everything is all down on paper, so to speak

I would have put the topic in Publishing if I'd posted it.  I've been thinking a lot about user interface in my design recently - how a person's eye in likely to flow across a character sheet, tone of the text, isolating number heavy text from concept heavy text, how to break apart dry sections of text while keeping them concise, and other such issues.  These are writing and layout issues yes, but very focused on how to present an RPG.  I don't think general writing advice applies anymore than understanding GNS applies to designing your specific game.  The general knowledge is important, but it isn't the end of the road.  

I haven't had need to ask any questions in this vein yet, but if I did they'd probably end up in Publishing.  If you (Ron, Clinton) think this is the wrong place, then maybe the policy stickies are needed.
- Cruciel


I got to this one first and assumed the guy (original poster) had really laid into Ron--he didn't (defensive, sure--he got his thread locked).

This is hardly a major breach (and I *do* think asking for support from fellow artists is a worthy goal that is within The Forge's charter to a degree--the answering posters certainly didn't send him packing).

Other than some basic stuff (PM first) I had two thoughts:
1. The thread probably would've died (someone's HELP, I'm making Warhammer III the RPG did, didn't it? I saw it just go down with 0 replies). If the thread *doesn't* die then maybe that's a signal that it should continue a little more (I mean, he was talking about writiers block for an RPG not ... ahem ... the evening news).

2. My major contribution is Get A Second Moderator (tm). There's plenty of people to choose from here. Find someone with a good track record (but it doesn't need to be perfect--my experence with shows that folks seem to take it seriously). Take applications, make a call, and let them handle it.

It'd take some of the burden off you (Ron) and allow for a varitety of voices in the moderation (which could also help).

JAGS (Just Another Gaming System)
a free, high-quality, universal system at:
Just Released: JAGS Wonderland

Ron Edwards

Way ahead of you, Marco - but the fun part of trying to set that up was that people all agree with you (and me, and Clinton) and then no one wants to do it. Compounding this - only compounding, not defining it - is the tendency that the people who do want to do it might not always be well suited for it.

But in fact, I am going to re-initiate that effort from last year. It won't be a public process.