Forum Revival Project

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November 8, 2016 3:43pm
Introduction

Route 50 has been around for many years now, and the Forums are by far the oldest parts of the site. Unfortunately, the Forums are also the least active areas of the site, largely due to the Stream . So as an executive, as a Routian , I want to save our Forums.

Why I care about the Forums

I like the Forums. No, I love the Forums. I like message boards in general: organization of threads, the page layout, the posting interface, being able to restore deleted content, etc. I like being able to continue conversations over extended periods of time. I like the feeling that I get when refreshing and seeing a new post. I like signatures and post counts. I like how our Forums look.

Yeah, I know I sound like I'm lost in nostalgia, like I miss an older era of the site's history or something. But actually, the forums were quiet when I first joined, too. Aside from the RPs. IIRC , when I posted LotE here, I was a little worried no one would read it because people seemed to have stopped using the forums.

The truth is, I've always liked message boards, but I always seemed to miss out on the times when our Forums were active. That's why I want to save the Forums.

Why Forums Matter to Newbies

New members and returning old members have very different perceptions of how active the site is.

See, we active members know that the site is alive because we're following each other's Streams. But what about people who just joined? What about people who are still deciding whether or not to join? They can't see our Streams. They don't even know if the site is alive.
In contrast, returning old members often show joy that the site is still active. They can see the Stream, so they know the site is active. The site is indeed alive. It's just that the Forums don't reflect it.

The Forums were mostly used for the same purposes that the Stream is now. The difference is, newbies and guests can see the Forums. If the Forums are active, they know the site is active even without following anyone's Stream feeds. They know they'll get something worthwhile out of making an account.

Why the Forums still have a purpose

Still, I don't want to make people use the Forums just because I say so.

Some have said that message boards are a dead medium. But this isn't true. Plenty of message boards still thrive across the internet: tech support boards, anime boards, sports boards, etc. Message boards aren't dead; they've just evolved, gained new features, and become more accessible. The Gearbox message boards are a good example here.

Yes, Stream has largely replaced Forums in the last few years. But Stream has many weaknesses that the Forums more than makes up for. Stream posts can't be edited, and they're hard to find again. Forum data is easier to find again. Our Forums can be useful again. They just need to evolve.

So, I would like to ask everyone on Route 50: What can we do to improve the Forums?

Current ideas
  • Recent Threads box on the home page (Possibly as an expansion of the Roulette)
  • Heartable forum posts Implemented. All praise Nav!
  • Forum posts will appear in the Stream feed the way forum threads do now
  • "New account" Stream posts will appear on everyone's Streams.
You do seem to know what is needed. Yes, what a Trainer needs is a virtuous heart. Pokémon touch the good hearts of Trainers and learn good from wrong. They touch the good hearts of Trainers and grow strong... Go onwards! The Champion is waiting!
- Drake of the Hoenn Elite Four

CaRSP aRiEWoVLotE
November 8, 2016 10:55pm
I totally empathise ,man. I wish that the forums would be more active, but I tend to see that new threads often fail to get enough attention to stay alive. In that respect, it often feels easier to create a stream post, knowing that it will be faster and likely receive more attention than a thread would. Take the most recent thread under "Anime and Manga" for example. "Spice and Wolf" created by yourself, is just a thread created to enthuse over an anime and perhaps discuss some aspects of it's composition. It got no replies. Presumably, quite a few people checked it out, though.
In this kind of situation, I myself would find it faster to just make a stream post (and often do) and with the presence of hearts find it more gratifying. If someone doesn't necessarily have anything to say, they can still heart something to let you know that they paid attention to what you've said.

Would being able to upvote threads (like on reddit) maybe help? Personally, I would be less hesitant to post threads if I had a way of knowing that they were getting attention outside of replies.
"Roots starve in gravel, but the dust staves your hunger;
it works its way under your nails and laces itself in your bones.
the stars that watch over you now are strangers - but with time you'll know them, and they you, and
they'll take the compass in your breast pocket
and point it home." - Twiggy, Secret Series
November 8, 2016 11:09pm
But that's the question. Is it really a matter of "no one looks at the forums" or is it just "everyone is too shy to reply"?
To be honest, I don't like Stream posts. They are quite hard to find, and if you delete them, they vanish forever.
Spice and Wolf is also pretty old. So I wasn't expecting a ton of posts on it.

So there's one idea: Allow forum posts to be hearted. Any others?

EDIT: I'm not asking for any major activity. Just a post a day is more than enough.
You do seem to know what is needed. Yes, what a Trainer needs is a virtuous heart. Pokémon touch the good hearts of Trainers and learn good from wrong. They touch the good hearts of Trainers and grow strong... Go onwards! The Champion is waiting!
- Drake of the Hoenn Elite Four

CaRSP aRiEWoVLotE
November 9, 2016 8:08am
Okay, so don't get me wrong. I personally love forums and I feel super nostalgic for them. But I think when we look at general internet culture, we can see that the world has grown bored of forums. Forums are a dead technology. No one gets as much satisfaction or instant gratification out of them as they do with posting into a stream. Everything is too partitioned off. People want to see everything that's being done everywhere all at the same time, and the only way to do that is through a stream.

I totally agree about stream posts being too ephemeral. I love the idea of things being both orderly and vibrant. But in the climate right now it seems like you can only have one or the other.

I wish it wasn't that way but it seems like it's a cultural trend that can't be overcome by mere mortals.

I think kingofpillowland is on to something, though. If we could find a way to have a forum system more like Reddit that combines aspects of streams / aggregation and archived posts, people might engage more.
November 9, 2016 10:35am
I've heard this multiple times over the years, but when I look around, other forums survive just fine. It may be true that our forums are not as accessible as the Stream. But that's different from "no one likes forums anymore".

Back in Eevee's HQ, we had a box that listed the most recent posts on the front page. It was often cluttered with RP posts, true, but it made the forums accessible.

What if all forum posts, not just new topics, produced Stream posts? That would allow for a stream feed thing whatever.
You do seem to know what is needed. Yes, what a Trainer needs is a virtuous heart. Pokémon touch the good hearts of Trainers and learn good from wrong. They touch the good hearts of Trainers and grow strong... Go onwards! The Champion is waiting!
- Drake of the Hoenn Elite Four

CaRSP aRiEWoVLotE
November 9, 2016 11:37am
Really? What other forums? I guess I just assumed they were all gone. I'd love to visit surviving forums just for curiosity's sake if they are out there.

Regarding melding the stream/forums, that could be good... but it would drown out things people want to say just for themselves without a topic. Maybe just forum threads you subscribed to could show up in your feed? Or just forum posts from people you follow? hmm. Either way I cut it, it seems like it would either be too little or not enough.

Maybe the New Threads bar in the forum (or something like it) could just be moved to the front page and be parallel with the stream.

November 9, 2016 11:58am
Sports forums, gaming forums, tech forums, anime foruns, all the same roles as before. And some forums even have a personal status update thing like the Stream, without their threads being crippled.

Message boards might not be as popular, but they are still used. Once again, I point to the disparity in old and new members' perceptions of site activity.

Only posts from people you follow and from threads you follow. would appear in your feed, of course. The "most recent post" box would be an expansion of the roulette and separate from the stream feed. A "most recently updated threads" box seems more useful than a "newset threads" box

This isn't about destroying Stream, just about consolidating the separate areas of the site. I do not want things shut down, which was why I had misgivings about that one plan you and Fro put together a few years ago.

Under what I propose, Stream would still exist in its current form. Forum posts would simply create Stream posts the way Forum topics do currently.

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Okay, let's say we had a radio toggle on Stream. One says "Post to base" and creates a normal stream post. The other says "Post to forums" and automatically creates a thread in the Miscellaneous Chat.

If that made the forums active, we could conclude the issue is accessibility. If not, then it's something else.
You do seem to know what is needed. Yes, what a Trainer needs is a virtuous heart. Pokémon touch the good hearts of Trainers and learn good from wrong. They touch the good hearts of Trainers and grow strong... Go onwards! The Champion is waiting!
- Drake of the Hoenn Elite Four

CaRSP aRiEWoVLotE
November 9, 2016 1:53pm
Do you think it would help if there was a way to connect through the stream? Like, for example, a system that shows random people's stream posts similar to the Roulette we have in place currently - which entirely works, by the way; when I joined the Roulette got me into many things like the old-school RPs (Times of Darkness, The Five, etc) and game threads. You would need to have an option to make your stream post 'private' so only your followers can see it. I would be comparing it to the likes of the sidebar from Youtube, just more random. In general this is how a user can stumble upon a channel, so it would make sense for it to work on the Route as well - new users can stumble upon another user's stream content. While this seems contradictory to what I've pointed out above, I think that having the forums as the sole method of getting into the community might be a bit over-reliant or hit and miss. What if they simply aren't interested in what the forum has to offer on that particular day? Without an active stream to read, they would lose interest.

While I don't think the forum is 'dead' or useless (after all we need a place to roleplay, play games, discuss topics etc and the open nature of the Stream doesn't cut it) I do think that users don't get 'exposed' to other user's content as much; which doesn't sound correct at all, but stream posts are often succinct enough to be read in a few seconds, whereas a forum post, like a youtube video, need to be clicked on and actually read through in order for the user to absorb the content. Additionally one would have to manually search through forum posts (in basic theory a user's interest is inversely proportional to the number of links they have to click), while a stream post is completely 'out there'; unorganized and instant.
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While that solves the problem with user retention, that doesn't solve the forums looking dead.
I honestly think that the issue with the forums is that not enough people post forum posts, as simple as that. There's nothing inherently wrong with the forums (although I'm loving the idea of broadcasting forum posts more readers ayyyy). If you want more forum posts, you need more users.
Otherwise, I really cannot think of any other way to improve the forums. They are literally the perfect forum system - unread thread flags, a 'new content' feed, showing online users etc. They function perfectly as forums.
In a world of war and conflict, an extermination throws the last great bastion of peace into aggression. In the midst of this, a child sorcerer seeks justice for his fallen home. A repentant assassin and a messenger of the future rush to save their last refuge from destruction. The dead return, backed by a forgotten god. Ideals clash. Morals crumble. And it will not end until one half of the world stands in the ashes of the other.
November 9, 2016 2:39pm
When comparing Stream and Forums, Stream seems more suited for personal updates than discussions. Permanent deletions, no edits, comment interfaces, quick posts, etc. While Stream has taken over discussions as well, its design seems ill-suited for that kind of content.

Sure, we could upgrade Stream to optimize it for discussions. But why do that, when we already have a system optimized for discussions? As you say, the Forums work. They're just not user-friendly. If we can just integrate the forums into the front page, they'd be more accessible.

You're right that Stream posts are more accessible than Forum threads. And I unxerstand the need to post stuff without worrying where it goes. That is why I propose making the Forums more like Stream (allow for instantly posting content) not vice versa.

We can always add an option to regulate what types of content appears in your Stream feed. And that would go for all types of stream content--forums, galleries, polls, username changes, etc.

Regarding the Roulette, I've been thinking it should show one thing from each area of the site, instead of one thing from one area. But that'll have to be dealt with separately.

--------

The forums don't need to be bustling with activity or anything. (Sure, newbies might not be interested in what the forums offer. But that's a problem we'd face with any area of the site. I often find entire pages of my Stream feed completely uninteresting.) The forums are just a way for newbies to figure out who is active. And once the newbies know who is active, they know whose Streams to follow.
You do seem to know what is needed. Yes, what a Trainer needs is a virtuous heart. Pokémon touch the good hearts of Trainers and learn good from wrong. They touch the good hearts of Trainers and grow strong... Go onwards! The Champion is waiting!
- Drake of the Hoenn Elite Four

CaRSP aRiEWoVLotE
November 9, 2016 3:34pm
Just to get something straight here:

My goal is not to force people to use the Forums. My goal is just to make the Forums more appealing to use.
You do seem to know what is needed. Yes, what a Trainer needs is a virtuous heart. Pokémon touch the good hearts of Trainers and learn good from wrong. They touch the good hearts of Trainers and grow strong... Go onwards! The Champion is waiting!
- Drake of the Hoenn Elite Four

CaRSP aRiEWoVLotE
November 9, 2016 5:26pm
I've got it! The solution is very simple! You see, first of all, we need to build a great, great, great wall between the u.s.a and mexico...
"Roots starve in gravel, but the dust staves your hunger;
it works its way under your nails and laces itself in your bones.
the stars that watch over you now are strangers - but with time you'll know them, and they you, and
they'll take the compass in your breast pocket
and point it home." - Twiggy, Secret Series

November 10, 2016 4:12am
Please, can we not be political? The election crap is annoying me.
help i have procrastination issues
November 10, 2016 5:02am
My apologies.
"Roots starve in gravel, but the dust staves your hunger;
it works its way under your nails and laces itself in your bones.
the stars that watch over you now are strangers - but with time you'll know them, and they you, and
they'll take the compass in your breast pocket
and point it home." - Twiggy, Secret Series
November 10, 2016 8:31am
That reminds me, I should go close that debate thread
You do seem to know what is needed. Yes, what a Trainer needs is a virtuous heart. Pokémon touch the good hearts of Trainers and learn good from wrong. They touch the good hearts of Trainers and grow strong... Go onwards! The Champion is waiting!
- Drake of the Hoenn Elite Four

CaRSP aRiEWoVLotE
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