Forum Suggestions - Topic Categories


Bill Tarling

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With posting activity quickly growing (and it's not even out for the general public yet), I'm really starting to find topic threads harder and harder to find and follow.

Years ago, I ran a forum which received between 5000 to 10000 posts daily -- which may not seem like much, but it was just on my personal site. One thing I learned (luckily) right from the start was that I had to plan ahead for various topics and categories -- otherwise the forum would have become impossible for me to manage and maintain.

I know Vanilla has quite a few different modules to handle categories [though I have no idea which are best since I've never used Vanilla previously], and it may be wise to install one now since the forum is just getting started... Once traffic and posts picks up, it's nearly impossible to re-organize afterwards if Categories aren't in place already.

I came up with just this initial Hinterland TLD Forum Categories Guideline (I stored the file on one of my own sites so I wouldn't use up all the space here) -- it's not a perfect listing, but may give a good starting point.

Hopefully it may help to make tracking the conversations and discussions easier.

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I agree completely 100% @BillTarling.

Im already lost and going back and forth trying to find what i have posted in.

Im confused at to what the "Best of . . . . " is all about too, if someone could explain.

As a suggestion to @Pablo is it possible for you to implement some sort of Icon next to each thread if you have Posted in it ?? Im getting lost, and can't remember which thread i have posted in, and without going o my activity, another step, you could implement a Icon to let us know if we have posted there or not.

This way, its easy to keep track of and keep going back to those threads, and continue to conversation . . . Yea ?? It makes a lot of sense to me, but i suppose I'm used to it, because i have it in most of the forum i am on, and the one i Moderate. This way i can fly through the threads and answer if need be, or onto the next one :)

Cheers

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Thanks for putting this proposal together, Bill. We'll have a look.

At the moment, my gut tells me a few things:

1) we need some more structure to help keep things organized, but the way our forum is setup right now, everything appears in a single column anyways, so in order for more categories to be an effect way to sort things we'd need to look at a different theme/structure for the main forum

2) I would prefer not to segregate the community around backer type. The backers will get special access to information about the project through the Updates system -- at least this is the current thinking. When it comes time to do Alphas and Betas, of course we'll have appropriate forums set up for that. Might be here, might be elsewhere, depending on how we handle our Alpha/Beta distribution(s).

I think the Participated category will help somewhat in tracking conversations you're part of, and I think you can flag certain topics or threads as well.

We'll keep working on things to improve them as we go. Thanks to everyone for the great feedback.

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2) I would prefer not to segregate the community around backer type. The backers will get special access to information about the project through the Updates system -- at least this is the current thinking. When it comes time to do Alphas and Betas, of course we'll have appropriate forums set up for that. Might be here, might be elsewhere, depending on how we handle our Alpha/Beta distribution(s).

There is actually a marketing reason for the [seemingly] segregated areas for starting out...

Using the example structure previously posted, users not included in the Group members settings [public, backers, founders, admin, etc.] wouldn't see the other categories listed.

For instance, the general public wouldn't even see a listing of categories assigned to just those with a Backers group status -- they would just see the Hinterland, TLD (Public), and Forum Help sections.

Here's some of the "marketing" logic for this approach:

Since the backers section will often contain discussions, links, or notices regarding TLD updates -- you would want to be very selective as to which 'announcements' the general public learns about [and you would post those where they have read access in the public section]. You don't want to give away all the secrets before the game is ready for retail, otherwise there won't be as many surprises when they buy the game.

However, backers [such as the alpha and beta testers] can respond to some questions in the public area:

e.g. Q: "Are all the areas to explore just snow fields?" Backer Response: "After going through the Alpha/Beta version so far, there is a great variety of terrain. The graphics are really amazing since the first pictures. You'll love it. There's so much to do!"

That also builds excitement and anticipation [everybody secretly loves feeling like they're getting a bit more inside information before others] -- so there's a good chance they'll want to jump in and back a tier so that they get to play TLD sooner too. If Alpha responses catch their attention, they may back a Beta tier. When beta is released, they may back a pre-retail release tier.

Likewise with the backers section -- you don't want to give away spoilers from the alpha/beta versions before they can try it themselves [or perhaps upgrade backing just to get in on the fun after hearing initial responses]... so the postings they see are like teasers (which also renews excitement and buzz.

Same thing happens with keeping Alpha tests and feedback hidden from Beta players... they'll see impressions posted in the section they can read, but won't know all the spoilers already discovered. In the meantime, the Alpha players can discuss bugs, try replicating them, talk about likes/dislikes, (etc.) in their private section without worrying about giving away spoilers.

The "Founders" private/hidden section is so that you can all discuss future items and notices (that aren't public yet) as needed -- it's also a courtesy since the Founder status of backers really stepped up to the plate big time [i bow down to all of you in gratitude, and wish I had been able to do the same].

MARKETING: again, the whole reason for the structure is to generate continuing buzz and excitement. It also refreshes the "Damn, I can't wait now - I'm getting it!" excitement to bump backing or back for the first time. It renews the excitement with every version release.

That in turn really cranks up public retail buzz and anticipation.

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