[Level 3: Humanoid]
Destructoid meta-question about threads
I visit a lot of message boards, and I've noticed that they tend to fall into a few different categories. Destructiod falls into the one I'm least comfortable/familiar with, so I thought maybe y'all could explain the appeal of this style?
I'll begin by describing the styles I'm familiar with:
1 - Question-based boards. These are places like gameFAQs, or game-specific boards run by publishers/developers. These tend to have 5-20 posts per thread, and new threads pop up at a rate of 10+ a day. People are often hoping to get authoritative answers to questions, though sometimes it's just a discussion of some relevant topic.
2 - List-based boards. BoardGameGeek is the best example here. Each thread is a list of something - defined by the topic of the thread. (The destructoid thread "I've never owned a SNES - what games should I play" is a good example)
3 - Long threads. (Destructoid seems to be in this category, as is Penny-Arcade) Thread topics are tremendously wide, and posters are discouraged from creating a new thread which infringes on an established topic. As a result, threads go on for years.
I guess I don't quite understand the appeal of #3 - when I post into a topic with 500+ pages of posts I'm not sure what I'm really doing - should I read the OP? Am I just responding to the last 3-4 posts? This style can also lead to really heave moderation (Penny-Arcade an Shoryuken suffer from this) where 50% of the time any new thread I try to create is deleted immediately.
I really respect the fact that Destructoid seems to kill threads by ignoring them. Being struck down by a mod feels arbitrary, but being ignored by a whole community sends a pretty clear message.
So - can anyone explain to me how and why Destructoid's forums are the way they are? Was there a specific plan? Do these styles just evolve independently? Is anyone trying to change the style? I love a good meta-discussion.
I think it has to do with the purpose of the forum. The purpose of GameFAQs is to help people who are having trouble with or have a specific question about a particular game. As such, each game has its own board, in addition to the many general boards that exist there.
BoardGameGeek is largely similar to GameFAQs, in that a lot of people go there for specific rules or strategy questions, and each game has its own forum. However, there is also more going on there, with play-by-forum and game design discussion. I would argue that BoardGameGeek fosters a community like GameFAQs never could. Sure, there are regular contributors to GameFAQs, but I'd expect a huge majority of its users are strictly there for help on games.
Destructoid's forum is not as segmented as either of the two previously mentioned sites. There are not separate forums for each game we discuss. Heck, when this place first started out, there were probably only like three sections in the forums. We've grown from a small community to a much larger one, though the forum here still resembles that of a smaller community. Since there isn't that segmentation that you see elsewhere, people get a little miffed when you post a new thread about Mass Effect when there already exists a thread for Mass Effect discussion. The reason behind this is that fans of that particular game already have that thread to follow and they don't need another one, while non-fans just have more clutter to have to ignore.
I don't necessarily think that the way the forums are here are any better or worse than, say, BoardGameGeek's, but I think it stems a lot from the function of them. While they have a pretty thriving community over there (which I am part of), the purpose of that website is still largely to educate people about particular board games. Here, we just want to talk about them with others who share similar interests.
[Level 3: Humanoid]
Hmmm - do you mean that subscribing to threads is a primary way that people follow discussion? I generally just hit "What's New" and scroll through that list.
Actually, I don't care much for Destructoid's "What's New" function, since it shows me individual posts - what I really want is a list of THREADS which have new content, and the ability to jump to the last point I read within each thread.
I see now that Destructoid has "daily digest" style reports you can generate, which is how I follow a few yahoogroups - they have actualy boards now, but I just read the digests. For that sort of long-term discussion, I can see "thread subscription" being a more useful paradigm.
Use the "New Posts" button. That's the way I like it.
Originally Posted by Simon Strange
I used to do that, when the site was smaller. Now, I just follow a few core threads and click on anything that piques my interest.
Originally Posted by digtastik
Yea, I still do it and go back no more than a day or 2 in pages.
Pow! Right in the kisser!
All day, errday.
Originally Posted by digtastik
Dexter pretty much nailed it, the Forums primary purpose is for the Destructoid community to talk about whatever interests them. That's why the people here push new members to introduce themselves in the Meet & Greet section, we want to know who you are, what you like, and make you part of the community. You've also seen how new users who repeatedly ignore that step and post only to promote something cause the older members to break out the torches and pitchforks.
Our moderation philosophy is to keep the various forums as condensed and uncluttered as possible while doing the best to preserve "historical" threads as long as possible. Because of server limitations the engineers make us cap threads at 1000 pages, but if we could we'd keep them going forever. One big thread about "Favorite Video Game Music" is going to have more responses, be easier to find, and be more active than if that topic was covered over a dozen separate threads. If a duplicate thread pops up, we'll usually merge it into the original thread to keep everything together. However, if someone made a topic of "Favorite Music From the Legend of Zelda Series", that's different enough to warrant its own thread.
For long-running threads the best tactic is to just jump to the last few pages to catch up and then join the conversation. Reading the OP is generally a good idea, but threads sometime shift from the original vision over time. If you want to view the most recent threads with unread posts, the New Posts button on the grey bar is the way to go. None of us like the What's New / Recent Activity feature, but unfortunately it's built into the new version of vBulletin and we're kinda stuck with it.
That's actually my favorite feature. It's a great way to gauge the community's collective mindset.
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