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Offline TribalTroubleTopic starter

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EC's Direction - What Should It Be? http://elementscommunity.org/forum/index.php?topic=66101.msg1277472#msg1277472
« on: June 28, 2018, 05:29:53 AM »

Posting as a doc due to the forum's love to mess with my formatting. Posting in General Discussion so it's easily seen and so the community can discuss it, rather than just Council.
https://docs.google.com/document/d/1W72I1JyAvIaTGP8Qf08Q2U1cb7joeYe7UisksfEI9n4/edit?usp=sharing

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Re: EC's Direction - What Should It Be? http://elementscommunity.org/forum/index.php?topic=66101.msg1277481#msg1277481
« Reply #1 on: June 28, 2018, 04:51:24 PM »
A logical first step would be to unite the elements players already here. There is Kongregate where new players continue to stumble upon Elements, as well as the official Elements blab chat that people may visit when running into the game from anywhere else. And on top of that, there's some other... thing you seem to promote users to abandon the official chat for.

Kongregate likely has the most members, all players playing elements. They may not all be frantic about the forum, but they are still fellow Elements enthusiasts. They almost definitely do not care about forum politics, rules and regulations.

The council was established to help the admins manage an increasingly bulky community, with hirings to give its members a fair chance to contribute to the community for staff positions. The fact that there are not that many applicants, the fact that admins do not have time to interact with council as much as one would like, perhaps now is the time to ask: how much is the council still needed? Are they still helping the admins as intended?

Perhaps instead people should be assigned staff positions based on their activity in that section. Someone hosts a lot of tournaments? Make them TO. Someone is offering to help update league standings and doing a good job? Make them LO. One should not have to wait for hirings, right? Give the people that want to help the tools to do it, rather than trying to shove it onto someone.

As a result, it may come to pass that there will be no organizers left for certain events. So be it, such is the result of a forum infrastructure that has become too bulky for the current community to lift. Reducing the size does not necessarily mean the end.

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Re: EC's Direction - What Should It Be? http://elementscommunity.org/forum/index.php?topic=66101.msg1277493#msg1277493
« Reply #2 on: June 29, 2018, 11:32:23 AM »
I agree that abolishing council could help fill other staff positions, but to do that the admins would need to be more active then they currently are, and able to hire reliable coordinators for long events like trials and war. The lack of applicants is not a problem I can see solving itself in the future, so it's probably best to put those willing to do council work into a staff role relating to their strengths/preferences rather than having them all doing the admins job while core forum events get delayed by weeks, even months. (Events which attract and retain new members, I might add).
I don't mean to bag out the admins. I appreciate the work they do and understand they've held the responsibility for a long time. That said, their current activity level isn't enough to support disbanding council in my opinion.
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Re: EC's Direction - What Should It Be? http://elementscommunity.org/forum/index.php?topic=66101.msg1277579#msg1277579
« Reply #3 on: July 03, 2018, 12:26:18 AM »
I very much agree with what has been said by TribalTrouble, TheonlyrealBeef, and CactusKing.  I would like to contribute to the discussion by saying a little about my recent experience as a recently active member. I'm primarily being open about my experience not to vent, but to give a case study example of the forum community's environment and the impact it may have on one's growth.

About my recent experience:
After many years of grinding PVE, I decided to check out the community forum around December 2017.  I participated in what I could - tourneys, league, Sideboard, and non-PVP competitions.  I asked questions in chat, read many forum articles, and observed War as a spectator.  I tried to learn about how things work administratively, such as what is Council?  I learned a lot, for sure.  I also experienced what it was like to be involved in community events.  From Dec '17 to March 18, I was active daily in chat and the forum.  As you can see from my league record, I was really active. I also was excited for my first PVP event - Sideboard.  I didn't care if I won or lost.  I just wanted to play and learn. 

After consecutive days of not being able to find league matches, I became discouraged.  I wanted to continue learning and improving.  I was willing to lose a lot in order to get that experience.  I also noticed many active, pvp-skilled veterans were not participating in leagues but were on the forums/chat daily.  So, I asked why.  The answer I got was that leagues was basically viewed as lame and not worth their time.  I felt (a) disappointed about that attitude and (b) dumb that I was so enthusiastic to put energy into this "lame" event.  What is lame about being active with a community?  One league PVP match  every few days is not so much time.  Some folks spend more time in chat rolling dice.  If an event, like leagues or forum games, is really struggling, perhaps it does need to die out.  Sometimes, old growth in the forest needs to make way for new growth.  There were positive attitudes encountered, too.  One positive experience was with Afdarenty.  She/He offered to play a league match even though she/he didn't really do leagues.  Afda was willing to spend time helping me have that experience.  We ended up not playing due to my constraints, but that kind of attitude was encouraging.  There were many others that were willing to spend their time even if leagues was not their jam. But, the negative experiences kept mounting. The lack of activity for leagues overall (staff + participants) is but one example of discouraging experiences one can experience in the community. 

I also attempted competitions because I like creative tasks.  Keep in mind that I was involved with the community for 3 months at that point and still not knowing much of the historical contexts, and what works/what doesn't, and the nuances of some of the competitions.  What I remember was that I won two of the events and for the first one, no one seemed to care much.   With the second event I won, the most prominent comments were essentially complaints and disapproval of my winning entry.  A young sprout was squashed. With overall frustrations mounting, I withdrew from the third competition that I had entered even though I spent hours to finish my entries.  I also rescinded my brawl application, which is probably an event I would have enjoyed very much in theory.  I sensed in reality my frustrations would continue.  There is much more that I was hoping to experience, like trials and a war.  I was even thinking I'd learn enough to volunteer as staff at some point (perhaps after 6 months).  But all these activities are a time and energy commitment. After a few months of observing consistent lack of leadership, fragmented cooperation throughout the community, and inactive staff/administrators, I believed (intuitively) that the risks (of frustration) outweighed the rewards (of satisfaction). 

Since March, I've been on Elements almost every day.  But I went back to my PVE roots and stayed off the forums until recently.  Yes, I get annoyed at the false gods' permanent control. But, at least, I don't feel like they are judging my deck ideas.  They are kicking my butt and teaching me lessons.  My involvement in the community moving forward, I've decided, will largely depend on how the community responds to TribalTrouble's thread.  I don't know Tribal well, but I suspect she/he got increasingly deflated about the continuing decline of the community. I see many members, like TribalTrouble, that leave the community, but can't seem to move on for good.  Like myself, there's still this attraction to the game.  It's seeped into our souls somehow and we can't remove it. 

If the administrators are following what's going on, now is the time to be vocal.  Please, help.  Please comment on the state of EC.  If you cannot do that, perhaps it is time to pass the baton to others that maybe care more or be able to marshal more positive growth. 

Whether you're an old soul or a young sprout, please share your ideas. 

Thanks for your consideration.



« Last Edit: July 03, 2018, 12:48:40 AM by Kalinuial »

Offline ddevans96

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Re: EC's Direction - What Should It Be? http://elementscommunity.org/forum/index.php?topic=66101.msg1277582#msg1277582
« Reply #4 on: July 03, 2018, 01:38:02 AM »
Preface: I will probably be blunt in this post. I've also been a large part of some of the issues I'm going to address. I apologize on both counts.

Quote from: TribalTrouble via Google Doc
Admins are busy, prioritizing life over EC.

Admins have not been perfect, I'll admit. However, I do have an anecdote I want people to consider: I messaged two Admins (making the decision to bypass Council, as I've been unhappy with the activity lately) about a small matter recently and got replies from both within an hour. I've done so multiple times and always got a reply within 24 hours.

I think Council activity is currently a bigger issue than Admin activity.

Quote
Admins' previously promised changes have been pushed back indefinitely.

Please elaborate. The major changes I'm aware of required Council discussion that didn't happen - primarily Overhaul (see below)

Quote
Council is scrambling to fill positions. Constantly getting 0-2 applicants.
Those applicants are largely filling those positions because no one else will.

Council is generally taking all positions and giving it to a very small number of people out of necessity.

These are related issues. Personally, I've never been a fan of stacking positions - that person generally just burns out and then we lose much more than if we had just hired a slightly less qualified candidate, but one who could focus on the one role.

The bigger issue is we have too many staff positions right now for a small group of active members. We don't need the amount of people we have on PvP Staff right now, for example.

Quote
New active member acquisition is essentially at 0

This is kinda true - we're definitely losing members overall, but it's because more older members are fading away than new members are joining. We do have some of the latter, however.

Quote
As far as I can tell, this place is now actually at a standstill. Two routes to take:
Admins invest time, effort etc. to work with Council to revamp/reinvent EV. Overhaul.

Failing that, as has been the case thus far...
Council begins cutting/reworking old programs the current community can't support. Ideally while adding reliable member acquisition paths.

These should bother ultimately be done. For the public - Council was discussing Overhaul, the details of which were never set in stone, but would likely involve things such as cutting back on the massive amount of subforums here, expanding the scope of the community to include non-Elements gamers, changing providers, and utilizing other external resources such as moving the official chat to Discord.

Quote
Leave it relatively as is, idle, 'maintained' with no end-goal in sight,
Reworked so it may grow [Many ways to do this],
Reduced to just redirecting to the Discord,
Taken down entirely.

The only realistic option, in my opinion, is really the second. You're correct that there's different ways to do that - the primary one being Overhaul.

A logical first step would be to unite the elements players already here. There is Kongregate where new players continue to stumble upon Elements, as well as the official Elements blab chat that people may visit when running into the game from anywhere else. And on top of that, there's some other... thing you seem to promote users to abandon the official chat for.

I assume the 'other thing' is Discord - while I'm not the biggest fan of Discord as a chat service, the fact that it's the de facto official chat currently makes it strong candidate to completely replace Blab, which Council has discussed. That'd consolidate a little.

There's also Reddit, which two (of three) Admins agreed to enable the expansion of - the small matter I addressed above. I personally feel that the key to all of this isn't necessarily limiting the community to one place, because people prefer different things, but doing everything we can to keep them interconnected, such as with cross-promotion and power members active on multiple platforms. I think forums, Reddit, and Discord can be pretty easily intertwined.

Quote
The council was established to help the admins manage an increasingly bulky community, with hirings to give its members a fair chance to contribute to the community for staff positions. The fact that there are not that many applicants, the fact that admins do not have time to interact with council as much as one would like, perhaps now is the time to ask: how much is the council still needed? Are they still helping the admins as intended?

Council itself is likely outdated, but I think hierarchy in some form is needed, particularly where hiring is concerned - whether that be additional Admins, the return of Global Mods, or some other replacement for Council, I'm not sure.

Quote
Perhaps instead people should be assigned staff positions based on their activity in that section. Someone hosts a lot of tournaments? Make them TO. Someone is offering to help update league standings and doing a good job? Make them LO. One should not have to wait for hirings, right? Give the people that want to help the tools to do it, rather than trying to shove it onto someone.

I agree. The current hiring process doesn't work without a high-activity community. Hiring in the present day should be closer to what it was pre-Council - notice someone contributing to a section or actively express ideas to improve a section, and take action to enable them. Essentially, I think the community needs to become more organic moving forward.

Quote
As a result, it may come to pass that there will be no organizers left for certain events. So be it, such is the result of a forum infrastructure that has become too bulky for the current community to lift. Reducing the size does not necessarily mean the end.

This is a great summary of your post, and a very important point.

After consecutive days of not being able to find league matches, I became discouraged.  I wanted to continue learning and improving.  I was willing to lose a lot in order to get that experience.  I also noticed many active, pvp-skilled veterans were not participating in leagues but were on the forums/chat daily.  So, I asked why.  The answer I got was that leagues was basically viewed as lame and not worth their time.  I felt (a) disappointed about that attitude and (b) dumb that I was so enthusiastic to put energy into this "lame" event.  What is lame about being active with a community?  One league PVP match  every few days is not so much time.  Some folks spend more time in chat rolling dice.  If an event, like leagues or forum games, is really struggling, perhaps it does need to die out.  Sometimes, old growth in the forest needs to make way for new growth.  There were positive attitudes encountered, too.  One positive experience was with Afdarenty.  She/He offered to play a league match even though she/he didn't really do leagues.  Afda was willing to spend time helping me have that experience.  We ended up not playing due to my constraints, but that kind of attitude was encouraging.  There were many others that were willing to spend their time even if leagues was not their jam. But, the negative experiences kept mounting. The lack of activity for leagues overall (staff + participants) is but one example of discouraging experiences one can experience in the community. 

I also attempted competitions because I like creative tasks.  Keep in mind that I was involved with the community for 3 months at that point and still not knowing much of the historical contexts, and what works/what doesn't, and the nuances of some of the competitions.  What I remember was that I won two of the events and for the first one, no one seemed to care much.   With the second event I won, the most prominent comments were essentially complaints and disapproval of my winning entry.  A young sprout was squashed. With overall frustrations mounting, I withdrew from the third competition that I had entered even though I spent hours to finish my entries.  I also rescinded my brawl application, which is probably an event I would have enjoyed very much in theory.  I sensed in reality my frustrations would continue.  There is much more that I was hoping to experience, like trials and a war.  I was even thinking I'd learn enough to volunteer as staff at some point (perhaps after 6 months).  But all these activities are a time and energy commitment. After a few months of observing consistent lack of leadership, fragmented cooperation throughout the community, and inactive staff/administrators, I believed (intuitively) that the risks (of frustration) outweighed the rewards (of satisfaction). 

I'm sorry you had multiple negative experiences - I had some as a newer member even when the community was high-activity, so I can understand. I think activity is probably the biggest issue, but there's also this massive wave of indifference, and sometimes pessimism and derision, that's prominent in a lot of the veterans, primarily because of years of no development and watching people (often friends) come and go. And I think part of why our current low activity is really bad is because these behaviors accent that negativity.

If by any chance you feel that I contributed to any of that negativity where you were concerned, I'm very sorry - please feel free to PM me so we can talk about it. If you want any part of your post specifically addressed in more detail, feel free to let me know that too.



I'll be attempting to create a lot of discussion in Council in the last month of our term, and set a good foundation for the next one, whether I'm in it or not. If anyone wants something specific brought up, please let me know.
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Offline TribalTroubleTopic starter

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Re: EC's Direction - What Should It Be? http://elementscommunity.org/forum/index.php?topic=66101.msg1277583#msg1277583
« Reply #5 on: July 03, 2018, 02:06:25 AM »
Council activity slowed to a halt due to the very issues discussed here. Cause and effect.

To answer your question ddevans, in Discord we discussed overhaul of the forums starting with April being 'development/overhaul month'.

Plans included but were not limited to:
Discord officially being endorsed to unite the community, Chat link would send people there instead of Blab if I recall correctly.
An Oracle bot made, implemented to add some additional functionality to Discord and make the transition smoother overall.
A software upgrade for the forum to update it to a modern design that isn't from the early 2000's.

Overall, Admins were meant to provide more of a direction for the community and give us all a reason to be excited. This was why I worked with Council to start the 'This Month in Council' in the March Newsletter to help with the transition. Unfortunately, due to the Admin's delay on the above, I never continued it in following months.

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Re: EC's Direction - What Should It Be? http://elementscommunity.org/forum/index.php?topic=66101.msg1277584#msg1277584
« Reply #6 on: July 03, 2018, 02:15:31 AM »
To answer your question ddevans, in Discord we discussed overhaul of the forums starting with April being 'development/overhaul month'.

Plans included but were not limited to:
Discord officially being endorsed to unite the community, Chat link would send people there instead of Blab if I recall correctly.
An Oracle bot made, implemented to add some additional functionality to Discord and make the transition smoother overall.
A software upgrade for the forum to update it to a modern design that isn't from the early 2000's.

Overall, Admins were meant to provide more of a direction for the community and give us all a reason to be excited. This was why I worked with Council to start the 'This Month in Council' in the March Newsletter to help with the transition. Unfortunately, due to the Admin's delay on the above, I never continued it in following months.

Would have loved to see that discussion shared in the Overhaul thread - this is related to what I said about needing to put effort into making all these small communities we have interconnected. Glad to know it was being discussed, at least. I was planning to kickstart that discussion again soon anyways, I'll be adding my thoughts and then attempting to solicit input from Admins.

Council activity slowed to a halt due to the very issues discussed here. Cause and effect.

Really? Because I had a ton I wanted to do, and was very confident we could do, before health issues intervened. Instead, I'll be doing it in the last month. The activity level of this Council (and many recent ones) was a choice, not forced by the admins, not forced by the lowered activity of the community as a whole, there were things we could have done, and we didn't.
« Last Edit: July 03, 2018, 02:26:09 AM by ddevans96 »
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Offline Manuel

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Re: EC's Direction - What Should It Be? http://elementscommunity.org/forum/index.php?topic=66101.msg1277587#msg1277587
« Reply #7 on: July 03, 2018, 03:46:07 AM »
i feel like u (intended to all past and present council/admins/to etc) did the best to keep this community alive so much

overall, i have never understand why some council members after x times in the council didn't move to admin (ofc after a vote or something, idk)

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Re: EC's Direction - What Should It Be? http://elementscommunity.org/forum/index.php?topic=66101.msg1277588#msg1277588
« Reply #8 on: July 03, 2018, 03:51:11 AM »
i feel like u (intended to all past and present council/admins/to etc) did the best to keep this community alive so much

overall, i have never understand why some council members after x times in the council didn't move to admin (ofc after a vote or something, idk)
Afaik, admins are handpicked by Zanz, Higurashi was after helping out massively with a forum move, Anti was also due to massive help during forum downtime, not sure how the others did, but I'm almost certain Zanz picked them all.

Global Mods could help alleviate this issue though, since they wouldn't have specific admin privileges, but are more flexible than some things now
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Offline TribalTroubleTopic starter

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Re: EC's Direction - What Should It Be? http://elementscommunity.org/forum/index.php?topic=66101.msg1277589#msg1277589
« Reply #9 on: July 03, 2018, 04:05:31 AM »
I understand and am glad to see that you are doing better and still filled with passion yourself. That's great! However, to other Council Members that slogged for months, years, etc. with the hope of improvement in mind...
...To see the admins give them more hope just to take it away as they end up not fulfilling previous promises...
...It's a serious morale killer. Makes those Council Members question whether it's worth anything to continue putting in their own time. Question how valued they, and this community, truly are in the eyes of their superiors. Thus results this Council's decreased activity.

As for the discussion not being shared, it was multiple discussions, usually started by the admins themselves, and often discussed in the most public part of the Discord. Unfortunately, I believe the community has largely left the forums inactive in favor of maintaining the activity of the Discord's modern design and ease of accessibility.

I empathize with your frustration. However, I'd like to re-emphasize for everyone following this topic, no one group is responsible. As ddevans mentioned earlier, we're all to blame in our own ways.
What you can do is learn from past mistakes and choose a different, improved direction. That's the purpose of this topic, after all. :]

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Re: EC's Direction - What Should It Be? http://elementscommunity.org/forum/index.php?topic=66101.msg1277594#msg1277594
« Reply #10 on: July 03, 2018, 07:53:27 AM »
Afaik, admins are handpicked by Zanz, Higurashi was after helping out massively with a forum move, Anti was also due to massive help during forum downtime, not sure how the others did, but I'm almost certain Zanz picked them all.

Higurashi was already Global Mod and was the natural successor to Scaredgirl when the latter vanished, and antiaverage offered to provide servers for the forum and the standing Admins appointed him to the same position in exchange. I wouldn't say either was really picked by Zanz himself.

However, to other Council Members that slogged for months, years, etc. with the hope of improvement in mind...
...To see the admins give them more hope just to take it away as they end up not fulfilling previous promises...
...It's a serious morale killer. Makes those Council Members question whether it's worth anything to continue putting in their own time. Question how valued they, and this community, truly are in the eyes of their superiors. Thus results this Council's decreased activity.

As for the discussion not being shared, it was multiple discussions, usually started by the admins themselves, and often discussed in the most public part of the Discord. Unfortunately, I believe the community has largely left the forums inactive in favor of maintaining the activity of the Discord's modern design and ease of accessibility.

I don't care if Discord is more active than forums. I wasn't offered an invite to the Council and Mod channels on Discord when it was brought up. You could have kept me, and anyone else on Council not comfortable with Discord, involved via forums. And I don't care if it was multiple discussions, you can post one or two sentences on forums summarizing a discussion in chat whenever it happens, and others can build off that.

Admins probably haven't done everything they could, I'm still not denying that. Some of this is on them. And a lot of this is on me: I backed away early in this term because I was uncomfortable and insecure at the time. Then I suffered some health issues, but I didn't return when I could have comfortably spent my time on Council. For that, I'm sorry. I didn't do this community justice the last six months.

But I want to reiterate: You made a choice not to connect Discord and forums communication. For my part, I have always been comfortable going to UTAlan and antiaverage directly for important forum matters, and also speaking to the public about Council matters, even those deep in development. I thought all of that was public knowledge. This machine could have kept turning if the pieces were connected.

Next Council needs to learn from this, whoever is on it or however it takes shape. This should be priority one: actively attempt to connect subcommunities.
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Re: EC's Direction - What Should It Be? http://elementscommunity.org/forum/index.php?topic=66101.msg1277646#msg1277646
« Reply #11 on: July 05, 2018, 03:38:00 PM »
This is a fantastic thread, Tribal. Thank you for creating it and thanks for everyone who has contributed so far.



Allow me to follow the example dd set: I apologize for any and all commitments I have made and not followed through on. If I have personally offended/insulted/harmed anyone in any way, please reach out to me (forum or Discord PM, email, whatever) so we can talk about it.

Part of my lack of activity over the past year has been not prioritizing this community over other things I can do in my free time, and I do apologize for that. While I do have the freedom to use my free time as I will, I also have an obligation to this community as an Admin and have not always fulfilled that. I can excuse some of my time away due to personal/family matters, but I also can't deny that some of my time away should have been spent here.



I think our absolute priority-one task as a community is to consistently maintain positive relationships with each other. We cannot build a positive community from where we are if we can't/don't have a positive core group. I think this thread is a great example (so far) of how we can do that. Open discussions. Willingness to point out hurts, willingness to apologize, and willingness to forgive.

From there, we can use the passion for this community and desire to see it succeed to help find the right infrastructure for growth.



Regarding Council:

I agree with dd that we still need Council, but we can definitely re-evaluate their tasks/goals. I really like the idea of rethinking Hiring. Reducing the time/effort required for this opens up Council for other tasks that tend to get forgotten/ignored. I've seen multiple Council terms go by with little to show outside of staff hires.

I like the idea of Council having a thread to discuss possible candidates for a staff position, then reaching out and offering the position to that user (who is probably already active in that area). However I am definitely open to other ideas.



Regarding Overhaul:

Discord: We need to have some sort of formal discussion about this. So far I've seen comments from multiple people on both Discord and in random threads on the forums. I'll probably create a thread (General Discussion?) where we weigh the pros and cons. I don't think a vote should be taken and I don't think it is a Council decision. Ultimately it will be up to the Admins, but we want to hear everyone's opinions and have as much information about this as possible before making a decision.

Forums: This is not a simple task. antiaverage first brought up the great idea of moving off SMF (the current forum software) and on to nodeBB. This, however, is not a simple task. Creating a fresh, new, and empty forum is fairly trivial, but migrating all our data (legacy posts, users, everything) and having it look nice (integration with dek.im, functioning iframes, etc.) is a large undertaking. Unfortunately anti entered a super busy season at work right after bringing up this topic to the community. (Note that he and I have been discussing this for much longer, starting some time probably last year - and he had been brainstorming about it even before that.) That said, I decided last week to see what I can do to get a development environment up and running so we can see exactly what steps will need to be taken and how difficult it will be. If desired, I can create a thread or post on Discord or whatever is needed to provide updates on my status.



I'll keep a close eye on this thread. Please let me know if you have any questions for me or if there is anything I can do that I'm not already doing.


Thanks to everyone. I'm looking forward to seeing how the community evolves and grows in the years to come.

 

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