On forums, social media, and the future

TerlObar's picture
TerlObar
March 5, 2019 - 3:55pm
Contiuing the off-topic discussion from this thread:

I, too, prefer this site (and forum sites in general) for many of the reasons already mentioned: organization (mostly - current side discussion not withstanding), depth of discussion and ability to format responses instead of a single large paragraph, search ability, visibility, and most of all permenance.

And I also like the other platforms for their rapidity of communication, and ease of connection.  Network effects are not to be discounted.  The Facebook group is steadily growing by about 2 new members every day, it's easy to find and join.  In fact, I now think there are more members there than on this site.  Definitely more active members.  Discord is nice for the various channels that allow you separate the discussions somewhat but both are very fleeting and more ephemeral.

The truth is we have to evolve if we want to stay engaged with the community.  I'm also on Twitter and more and more I'm seeing people mention Star Frontiers there as well.  Shold we recuit people here? Definitely.  Will they come?  Who knows.  If we want to talk with the widest audience, we need to go where they are.  I also think the pendulum is swinging back as well.  The closer of G+, which was a bastion of the RPG community if not specifically Star Frontiers, has sent people scattering to the winds.  A lot of people ended up on MeWe. but a lot of people also went back to blogging and sites more like this and posting links to the social media.  This has also been compounded by the increasing lack of trust in social media sites in general.

This site does have issues.  It's almost a teenager (was started in 2007) and is basically running the same code base which was a hack that Bill put together as his first ever attempt to build such a site.  He freely admits it has issues.  I have tried a couple of times (since it was passed off to me) to update it and fallen flat in the attempt.  It cannot be updated as is, at least not easily.  To upgrade and keep all the content requires a completely new site and then converting all the data to the new system.  This is a project that a company would normaly spend tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars on. I could do it if I had the time but I'm spread pretty thin.

One of the problems with it is that it requires such an old version of some of the software that you can't host it on an on-line hosting service.  Thus it runs on a virtual machine on my home server running an OS that hasn't been supported for several years.  It is limited by the hardware I can afford and my home internet connection.  Which aren't that bad but not as good as a hosting service (at least the internet speed).

More and more I considering just building a new site and archiving this one.  It would still be on-line, slow, and searchable but no new content could be added. The newer portion of the site could be faster and more modern.  And over time I could convert all the old threads here to static HTML pages that could quickly accessed and searched on the new site.  Or build software to do so.  As always, it's the project functionality that is the hardest to replicated and transpose.

I would love to see the site used more, and want to fuse it with the wiki aspects of the starfrontiers.info site.  It won't go away but maybe it has to evolve to stay relevant.  Anyway, that's my thoughts on the matter.
Ad Astra Per Ardua!
Webmaster - The Star Frontiers Network & this site
Founding Editor - The Frontier Explorer Magazine
Managing Editor - The Star Frontiersman Magazine
Comments:

Shadow Shack's picture
Shadow Shack
June 5, 2019 - 5:23pm
Not belittling anyone or anything, it's a simple fact that forums on the whole have seena huge decrease in traffic. If this was the only forum I ever visited, I'd be lacking in my observation...but I participate in a couple dozen motorcycle boards alone (outside of gaming) and the pattern is the same: very little if any traffic. As I said, social media is fuel injection while forums are carburetors. I'm a crotchety old grognard so I happen to enjoy both forums and carbureted vehicles, but I assure you that we forum loving/carburetor driving enthusiasts are the vast minority.
I'm not overly fond of Zeb's Guide...nor do I have any qualms stating why. Tongue out

My SF website

JCab747's picture
JCab747
June 5, 2019 - 7:27pm
For this forum, I believe there was a noticeable drop off of participants when the magazine went away. Now that Tom Stephens has his blog, his items don't show up here either.
Joe Cabadas

jedion357's picture
jedion357
June 6, 2019 - 7:43am
I have a feeling that the best course is a evolution trying to strike a balance between forum and social media.

potentially something like discord server but with the projects of this site?

although I'd hate to lose the ability to start a thread in the regular forums that could be searched for later on. the endless scroll of social media tends to isolate material and lose it.
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

Shadow Shack's picture
Shadow Shack
June 6, 2019 - 5:32pm
jedion357 wrote:
although I'd hate to lose the ability to start a thread in the regular forums that could be searched for later on. the endless scroll of social media tends to isolate material and lose it. 

Despite everything that folks love about social media, THAT is the one feature I wish they could wrap their heads around. On a really active facebook group, you would be hard pressed to find a discussion from this morning let alone last week. Last month? Not happening.

Which is why they get repeat questions and the impatient "oh no, not THAt question again" answers. For the prior claim of "toxic", I've seen more crap slung at a facebook group in one post/discussion than I could ever be interpreted as hoping to spread over a decade. Seriously, it gets downright hostile at some of the groups I visit...and that hostility makes my interpreted toxicity angelic by comparison.
I'm not overly fond of Zeb's Guide...nor do I have any qualms stating why. Tongue out

My SF website

JCab747's picture
JCab747
June 6, 2019 - 7:17pm
Shadow Shack wrote:
jedion357 wrote:
although I'd hate to lose the ability to start a thread in the regular forums that could be searched for later on. the endless scroll of social media tends to isolate material and lose it. 

Despite everything that folks love about social media, THAT is the one feature I wish they could wrap their heads around. On a really active facebook group, you would be hard pressed to find a discussion from this morning let alone last week. Last month? Not happening.

Which is why they get repeat questions and the impatient "oh no, not THAt question again" answers. For the prior claim of "toxic", I've seen more crap slung at a facebook group in one post/discussion than I could ever be interpreted as hoping to spread over a decade. Seriously, it gets downright hostile at some of the groups I visit...and that hostility makes my interpreted toxicity angelic by comparison.
 

I agree.
Joe Cabadas

KRingway's picture
KRingway
June 7, 2019 - 12:07am
Forums still have a place for discussion, and they're searchable, and you can pin an FAQ for a various oft-asked info. Articles etc could be placed elsewhere on the site, even if they originally appeared in some form of forum post.

Essentially we could have the same sort of system we have here already, just with all of the kinks ironed out as much as possible. I think the problem with trying to make it fit a social media-type platform is that that kind of system is not designed to be any form of database. Facebook certainly isn't, and wasn't designed to be, which is why it's not particularly searchable.

So a new site would have to be more of a database, with some social features (i.e. a forum). This would have to be more approachable than the current site actually is. By that I mean it has to be a bit more useful than it is now - or at least present the information it holds in a more approachable way. I think a good template is the Yog-Sothoth site.

Possiby to pull in the FB posters from the SF group there, logging in to a new site could be done via a Facebook login. That way the crossover is easier.

Shadow Shack's picture
Shadow Shack
June 7, 2019 - 6:05am
The irony about this entire discussion is that most (if not all) forums have always had a feature that is equivalent to modern social media: the chat room. It's what people did even before forums evolved from the old tree-branch format. For whatever reason, MySpace, facebook, twtter, and all the other incarnations are "better".

My guess is "better" translates to "newer".
I'm not overly fond of Zeb's Guide...nor do I have any qualms stating why. Tongue out

My SF website

jedion357's picture
jedion357
June 7, 2019 - 7:07am
Shadow Shack wrote:
The irony about this entire discussion is that most (if not all) forums have always had a feature that is equivalent to modern social media: the chat room. It's what people did even before forums evolved from the old tree-branch format. For whatever reason, MySpace, facebook, twtter, and all the other incarnations are "better".

My guess is "better" translates to "newer".


Problem 1: these forums must evolve or die

Problem 2: old style forums are seen as old and province of grognards and new style of FB and twit are seen as new

recommendations:
1. fix speed and other detraction issues with this site but keep the projects
2. fewer forum tabs and replace Open Talk forum with a face book style scroll social media. and even allow the likes emoji, maybe there is just two divisions Game Talk/forums and Open/Social talk?
3. allow for face book log in to post here smoothing the transition from FB to here.

what's new feature might be complicated in that case but maybe it could be 2 different whats new features: whats new Game talk and whats new social talk

edit: and the current forums would be archived by fully search able.
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

KRingway's picture
KRingway
June 7, 2019 - 7:42am
jedion357 wrote:
Problem 2: old style forums are seen as old and province of grognards and new style of FB and twit are seen as new

Hmm. Has that actually been proven? Or is it an assumption? I ask as forums still seem to be out there and healthy - this is why I gave Yog-Sothoth as a good example.

My concern would be that if a new site mimics the current social media norms of FB and Twitter, it won't actually be very useful as those norms are not desined to be anything but 'new' for more than, say, 24 hours. This excludes from any form of longer discussion of the kind we will need.

Shadow Shack's picture
Shadow Shack
June 7, 2019 - 5:21pm
KRingway wrote:
jedion357 wrote:
Problem 2: old style forums are seen as old and province of grognards and new style of FB and twit are seen as new

Hmm. Has that actually been proven? Or is it an assumption?

If you really need proof, just post a forum related question at a facebook group. Note how quickly folks jumped onto the grognard bashing bandwagon when I did so:


Also noteworthy, it was that very facebook group that recommended the CotI forum to me (I'm Richie Vegas on FB).
I'm not overly fond of Zeb's Guide...nor do I have any qualms stating why. Tongue out

My SF website

KRingway's picture
KRingway
June 8, 2019 - 12:33am
Well, a few people were a bit dismissive. That's not really what I'd call damning evidence Wink

The thing is, there is no real alternative to a forum if you want to look through previous discussions on any given subject, have an article database, etc etc. Like I said, Facebook and Twitter aren't really built for that - although FB is essentially pretty much a forum with a restricted memory function. It has all the trappings of the forum - it just looks different and has a limited set of functionalities. If you look at Reddit, that's pretty much a bunch of forums where FB-like discussions take place. It straddles the formats.

IMHO a forum is still the best option but it would need to be part of a wider, more functional site. This is why Yog Sothoth is a good example.

There's also the FB alternative called MeWe That works pretty similar to FB, but you can tag a post using certain hashtags so that it's easier to find discussions. Perhaps that's a more useable option.

Shadow Shack's picture
Shadow Shack
June 8, 2019 - 5:53am
Well that's merely a recent example I was able to find. Don't ask me to find older ones on other boards...I mean I really could but it would be pointless as that's the only public board I could link to that others can see without joining.

Still, the fact that folks jumped right in with "People still use forums?!?" remarks --- on facebook, remember FB is the "dinosaur of social media" these days with predecessor MySpace being the extinct version --- is certainly damning enough.
I'm not overly fond of Zeb's Guide...nor do I have any qualms stating why. Tongue out

My SF website

KRingway's picture
KRingway
June 9, 2019 - 12:46am
But then again the same people would be hard-pressed to name another way of having discussions in a way that's less disposable than FB etc. If there is actually some other way, it'd be nice to know - but I suspect that there isn't.

I still think a new site will need one. A new site would have to be a database first, then everything else is secondary to that. It would be cool if it's a one stop shop for all things Star Frontiers.

Shadow Shack's picture
Shadow Shack
June 9, 2019 - 5:49am
KRingway wrote:
But then again the same people would be hard-pressed to name another way of having discussions in a way that's less disposable than FB etc.

Twitter, SnapChat, & MeWe to name a few. Remember the mantra I mentioned earlier, "newer = better" Tongue out
I'm not overly fond of Zeb's Guide...nor do I have any qualms stating why. Tongue out

My SF website

KRingway's picture
KRingway
June 9, 2019 - 6:40am
Twitter and Snapcat are, by their very nature, limited in scope and thus IMHO can be excluded from consideration Wink  MeWe seems to have functionalities that might be more useful (i.e. hashtags for subjects).

So if we're looking for ways to have any form of lengthy discussion which can then possibly be cross-referenced, archived, etc these newer forms of forum are pretty lacking. Facebook is still essentially a kind of forum - it just has a short attention span and limited recall. Because of these factors it's funny that people think that 'old' forums are somehow a poorer means of discussion.

Shadow Shack's picture
Shadow Shack
June 10, 2019 - 7:37am
I'm only familiar with facebook & Twitter and have to say I can't fathom why the younger crowd thinks Twitter is better. Everything that I dislike about historical searches on facebook is amplified a million-fold on Twitter.
I'm not overly fond of Zeb's Guide...nor do I have any qualms stating why. Tongue out

My SF website

KRingway's picture
KRingway
June 10, 2019 - 11:18am
Twitter is interesting because it's like a giant on-going conversation. But it's not a conversation that's easy to go back through - there's too much signal to noise ratio. This means the conversation going on is a bit like wandering around a very big party and listening in and taking part occasionally in various chit-chat. It also means that occasionally there's a ripple in which various bits of the party point to other party-goers and make them go stand in the corner.

Also, one thing to bear in mind is the decline of TV. Twitter etc are now TV, in terms of providing entertainment. So in the past TV and various shows would have been the topic of real-life conversations, discussion, etc. Now this mostly happens on-line with social media. It's also a lot more immediate than TV and is interactive, of course.

Tchklinxa's picture
Tchklinxa
June 10, 2019 - 1:34pm
I really like the forum. FB and Twitter have there place, but for research, idea bouncing and project work it’s forum that works best.
 "Never fire a laser at a mirror."

iggy's picture
iggy
June 11, 2019 - 12:07am
I'm not a FB fan and prefer these forums.  One big thing that hinders me posting here is my cell phone use.  Once I got a smart phone I started reading the site on the phone but not posting back because the cell phone lacks a proper keyboard.  I hate typing long messages on a cell phone.
-iggy

JCab747's picture
JCab747
June 12, 2019 - 7:32pm
iggy wrote:
I'm not a FB fan and prefer these forums.  One big thing that hinders me posting here is my cell phone use.  Once I got a smart phone I started reading the site on the phone but not posting back because the cell phone lacks a proper keyboard.  I hate typing long messages on a cell phone.


I was wondering why I haven't seen any posts from you recently.
Joe Cabadas

Shadow Shack's picture
Shadow Shack
June 13, 2019 - 7:04pm
Here's a feature that most forums have but this one lacks: how about a "remember me" feature so we don't have to log in with every visit? Even the pre-Y2K "tree branch" forums had such a feature...
I'm not overly fond of Zeb's Guide...nor do I have any qualms stating why. Tongue out

My SF website

JCab747's picture
JCab747
June 14, 2019 - 6:54pm
Shadow Shack wrote:
Here's a feature that most forums have but this one lacks: how about a "remember me" feature so we don't have to log in with every visit? Even the pre-Y2K "tree branch" forums had such a feature...
 

Hmm, it usually seems to "remember me" even though I have a clunky, nearly 10-year old computer. Though, I have noticed lately it does want me to log back in every so often.
Joe Cabadas

jedion357's picture
jedion357
June 15, 2019 - 2:54pm
JCab747 wrote:
Shadow Shack wrote:
Here's a feature that most forums have but this one lacks: how about a "remember me" feature so we don't have to log in with every visit? Even the pre-Y2K "tree branch" forums had such a feature...
 

Hmm, it usually seems to "remember me" even though I have a clunky, nearly 10-year old computer. Though, I have noticed lately it does want me to log back in every so often.


same here, periodic re log ins on both home computer and phone but not every time.
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

Shadow Shack's picture
Shadow Shack
June 15, 2019 - 8:12pm
Perhaps, like the multi-quote and link bugs, I'm just the "lucky one"...
I'm not overly fond of Zeb's Guide...nor do I have any qualms stating why. Tongue out

My SF website

KRingway's picture
KRingway
June 18, 2019 - 12:06am
This site generally seems to have periods where either it completely times out, or forgets who I am, or doesn't let me do quotes etc properly Foot in mouth

Shadow Shack's picture
Shadow Shack
July 4, 2019 - 4:59pm
I said it before and I'll say it again. In this modern age of instant gratification, if this board is to have any hope we need to get off the dial-up speed and at the very least catch up to late 20th century forum software features like "Remember me".

After all, when people go to facebook they don't have to log in, quickly click on their group and BAM! they're instantly reading the discussions.

Come here and it's wait, wait some more, still waiting for the front page to load, finally...there it is! What, really? I have to log in again? I just logged in this morning, why am I logging in again? Log in, wait...wait some more...still waiting...

That kind of time killer is enough to drive anyone off these days, newer or older generation.
I'm not overly fond of Zeb's Guide...nor do I have any qualms stating why. Tongue out

My SF website

TerlObar's picture
TerlObar
July 8, 2019 - 5:58pm
Sadly, unless someone from the community steps up and volunteers to rebuild the site, it will be a long time in coming.  I just don't have the time, energy, or desire to tackle the upgrade.  A good part of the issues come from the fact that we're running 12 year old code that was Bill's first (and very good for the day) attempt at a website.  But because its so old, it's running on a server at my house which occasionally reboots itself (hence some of the issues).  It can't run on a modern hosting service as the technology it needs is too old.  And some of Bill's design decisions cause it to get more and more cumbersome the more posts there on in the system.

A new site with just forums would be easy.  It's the project functionality that is not really easy to replicate and that seems to be one of the more popular features.  If someone wants to take ownership of the site and tackle it, I'm more than willing to pass it off to them.  But otherwise, it will be stagnant for many months to come.  Working on it tickles my brain every once in a while but I just can't seem to find the time to give it the focus it needs.
Ad Astra Per Ardua!
Webmaster - The Star Frontiers Network & this site
Founding Editor - The Frontier Explorer Magazine
Managing Editor - The Star Frontiersman Magazine

KRingway's picture
KRingway
July 9, 2019 - 2:55am
Are there enough savvy people here to figure out how to do it? I can help with some things but I was wondering if anyone else know how to tackles problems such as the project functionality. And is there perhaps some other way of doing it? I mean, could a project become like a pinned thread in a forum?

Shadow Shack's picture
Shadow Shack
July 16, 2019 - 4:14pm
I realize there's a lot of nuts & bolts behind it. Is there at least a "remember me" feature that can be enabled though? Being the last to convert from dial up, I am a patient man (as I inferred earlier, most folks aren't)...however the past few years of high speed has spoiled me a bit. ;) 
I'm not overly fond of Zeb's Guide...nor do I have any qualms stating why. Tongue out

My SF website

Sargonarhes's picture
Sargonarhes
July 16, 2019 - 6:27pm
It's funny as I always come here for ideas, never even tried the facebook group. And FB is problems all of it's own.
I have no useful ideas, but trying to follow this got me thinking on 4chan in /tg/ I've seen never ending threads for many different games, but have never seen one for SF. Guess it's because the game was before most 4channer's time.
In every age, in every place, the deeds of men remain the same.