Over the years, these forums and this community (and the IF community at large) have evolved from their original conception. We’ve made the existing forum categories work for us, because we are adaptable people, but I think we could make the forums easier to use by restructuring the categories.
Here’s a proposal for restructuring the forums. The goals of this proposal:
Maintain appropriate places for all existing discussions
Give “IF community” a place to be discussed, and differentiate it from “intfiction forum”
Separate “announcements” from other discussion, as people may be interested in announcements even when they don’t want to read discussions
Clean up the muddiness of “general” - many recent threads could be on-topic elsewhere
Separate the authoring folders into categories based on whether or not they are technical
Introductions and Welcomes - Just got here? Come say hi!
Forum Announcements - Announcements from the administration of the IF Forum.
Forum Feedback - Here you may post feedback on these forums.
Community Announcements - For announcing non-competition events, new IF-related websites and blogs, articles about IF or IF authors, and other topics of community interest.
Community Discussion - For discussing all of the above.
Game Announcements - Tell everyone about your newly released IF work.
Beta Testing Requests - Request beta testers for your upcoming IF work.
Help Finding and Playing IF - Where to ask for help with setting up software, tracking down that game you can only half-remember, or recommendations for new games to play.
Discussion, Hints, and Reviews - Discussion on playing IF and on specific hints and stories. Please use the “spoiler” tag appropriately.
Competition Announcements - Announcements of IF-specific and IF-friendly competitions
Competition Discussions - General discussion relating to IF-specific and IF-friendly competitions
IFComp YYYY Public Discussion - Discussion of the IFComp YYYY entries is welcome here. Please keep spoilers out of the subject lines, and be courteous when posting spoilers in the message bodies. Opinions are fine in messages, but please don’t post topic headers that might force an opinion onto others who haven’t played them yet (at least during the judging period). Thanks.
IF Design Discussions - Discussions about story, puzzles, writing, and game design belong here. If you have a question about a specific development system, please write in that board instead.
Looking for IF Collaborators - Here you can look for collaborators on a project, be they writers, designers or programmers.
Technical Questions and Development
Technical Announcements - Announce your new IF platform, interpreter, tool, or other utilities here.
General Technical Discussion - Discussions about IF platforms, interpreters, tools, and the nuts and bolts that make interactive fiction possible belong here.
Inform 6 and 7 Development - Questions and discussion relating to authoring IF using Inform 6 and Inform 7.
Inform 7 Extensions - Questions and discussions about Inform 7 extensions.
TADS 2 and 3 Development - Questions and discussion relating to authoring IF using TADS 2 and TADS 3.
Choice-based IF Development - For technical development in choice-based systems such as Twine, Undum, Inklewriter and more!
Off-Topic - Everything is on topic in “off-topic”, so long as it’s suitable to the intfiction.org Code of Conduct.
Adopting this restructuring would involve updating the directory structure and adding some new folders. Nothing would be deleted and all content would remain available.
These forums exist to serve the interactive fiction community, and specifically the existing intfiction.org community. We’re not going to make any changes if our existing membership isn’t on board.
I’m always wary of over cathegorising; of having too many boards.
I’m not sure how your proposal can achieve this, since it’ll still be the intfiction forum that the IF community will be gathering around in this site. It’s kinda inevitable.
So many announcement boards turn my head. I tend to be intimidated by places with so many boards. They speak to me of people who are a bit too cathegorical, and expect me to know exactly where my post should go.
General is supposed to be muddly, isn’t it? Doesn’t this place need a board where people can go wacky once in a while, while at the same time discussing relevant things? It doesn’t all have to be perfectly neat and straight does it?
Despite what I’ve said, I’m not against the idea. I’m wary of it, yeah, but that’s all. As a user, I’d be ok with giving it a go, if other people were too - it’s true that “this community (and the IF community at large) have evolved from their original conception”, so it does make sense to redesign things. I don’t see where that redesign is currently necessary, and I don’t see that “the clarification/splitting up of the General forum and the disambiguation between intfiction and the IF community” will do anything but promote the boundaries we’re all so ostensibly trying to break down… but hey, what I see is not as important as what everyone as a whole sees, yeah?
@Peter, and in general - I think the splitting of the General section intends to shunt social posts (announcements for meetups… well there doesn’t seem to be a huge amount of social, just chillin’ type of threads) into Off-Topic so that more “is this idea cool”-type discussions can hold centre stage. I think.
@cvaneseltine - could I ask why the split between announcements and discussions? I’d just personally find it easier to follow a discussion about a topic in the same place where I could find information about that topic.
(I’m all for muddiness btw; personally I wouldn’t mind less specific categories but also being able to tag threads so that one could search for specific tags. But this is a technical thing not quite suited to this particular discussion.)
One difficulty about separating announcements from discussion is that it seems natural to discuss something / ask questions about something in the same thread where it’s been announced (for example, competitions). I’m also wary of having too many categories, just because it’s harder to enforce, and some topics may be difficult to keep separate. I’m not saying I’m against restructuring altogether, just that I think it’d be good to limit the splitting of categories to areas of discussion that are easily kept separate.
I would, however, be in favor of a more searchable, taggable forum structure, as verityvirtue mentioned.
Announcements for IF-related meetups and so forth would be appropriate to IF Community. Off-Topic would embrace the rare threads we get that are completely off-topic, like the threads about non-IF literature, politics, or “here’s an update on my life”. (Though nothing is really off-topic in Off Topic. Because that would just be odd.)
Discussion about a topic could still happen in the announcement thread (just as we do now with game announcements). The problem this seeks to solve is when announcements are lost among discussion and spinoff threads. For an example of this problem, check out General: Interpreters, Add-Ons, and Tools.
The announcement/discussion split would most benefit competitions like ShuffleComp, where the original “Hey, ShuffleComp exists!” was one thread, and then a number of other threads (review, discussion, musical debates, etc) spawned off it. Also, as noted above, it’s fine to hold discussion in the announcement thread.
Right now, the only “community” folder we have (Community Announcements) is for announcements from the forum moderators.
This would take the existing community discussion (currently showing up in “General/Off-Topic Talk” and “Competitions”) and give it a centralized location.
IMO, this forum’s categories are too specific already. Categories, IMO, are about ignoring stuff in which you’re not interested, but except for the technical stuff, I think pretty much all of the stuff in all of the other channels are of general interest to everybody, or are low volume enough that you can just skim over them.
Announcements and Introductions (no mods-only channel required; mods can pin important stuff)
I don’t typically browse the forum category by category anyway, so for me personally, it doesn’t make a huge difference one way or the other. Unless I’m trying to find a particular post–in which case the number of possible places that post could be might make it easier or harder to find.
I don’t think we should introduce a free-for-all forum specifically for drama. That strikes a negative cord in me, and seems to be asking for people to have problems with each other. If you need to work something out, you can always move things to PMs. There’s no reason to have a public showdown of your issues with another person in a public forum.
I also don’t think we need to do much with restructuring. If people want to, then I don’t have any objections, but I browse the forum exclusively through the “view unread posts” button, so I bypass the categorization system entirely. I don’t make threads, but if I did, I’m sure I could find the right place for what I’m posting (either now, or post-restructuring) so it’s not a big deal. I’m not a fan necessarily of splitting forums over and over until there are only a few active threads in each. It doesn’t really do much for cutting down clutter, and it makes me feel wary I’m posting in the right place. It also makes threads difficult to explore outside of the rigid guideline of the forum it is inside. I think that keeping people on topic is important, but I’ve been on forums that have been too heavily moderated before and the end result is a really uncomfortable, stilted, uncertain conversation. The structure of the forum shouldn’t be something I’m actively worrying about while drafting a post – not saying it will be this way, I have plenty of faith in this community.
I’m just really against a drama/call-out board that was just proposed above. I can’t think of a quicker way to grease up a slide to a toxic community. We are all adults here, we can settle things more civilly than a playground brawl behind the school.
I don’t remember where it was, but I was on a forum once that had a board specifically for archiving (i.e., non-moderators couldn’t make threads in it) those kinds of discussions - drama, callouts, that sort of nonsense. I don’t know if this forum needs one of those either, but I just thought I’d mention it impartially.
I can’t say I really see the point in adding so many additional sub-forums - if anything, there are too many already and a good few could probably be removed - but as I never browse by sub-forums anyway (only by unread posts), it won’t affect me much in the long run. So long as the forum isn’t “upgraded” in the same way the Quest one has been - i.e. removing all the functionality and upping the bland factor to the max - I don’t have any great problem with it.
I agree that it looks like there will be too many sub-forums from which to choose. If anything 1 or 2 of the existing ones could be merged but that’s just me. I’ll still be able to find the unread posts (I hope) no matter where they are.
However, unless something is glaringly out of place in the existing structure, then leave it alone. It will only create more angst with everyone who didn’t get it to look “their way”.
I think they don’t, in some ways. I’ll use the Texture release announcement as an example: it’s in Playing/Announcements and Beta Testing, because that’s where people will see it. Also because the folder name that says “announcements”.
But if you look at the Playing/Announcements description, it reads: “If you’ve completed a story or game, or wish to get beta testers for one, let us know here.” Texture is tech, not a game, so it’s technically off topic, but there’s no tech announcements folder and forum regulars routinely use that folder to post announcements of all kinds. We’re not going to enforce the letter of the forums against the spirit of the forums, but we could hypothetically bring the two into alignment.
And yet: I saw the Texture announcement. Most people interested presumably saw the Texture announcement (and the Inform library update announcements, and the IFTF announcement, and the IF survey announcement, and so forth). And it looks like very few people think this is a problem. So… good enough?
(Texture people: sorry to pick on you! It was just such a convenient example.)
I think maybe the question is, ARE there people who are only interested in certain boards and just stay out of others? I mean, sure, the Tads and Inform boards are very specific, and people not interested in choice-based systems AT ALL won’t go into THAT board either. But on the whole, since this place doesn’t see THAT much activity, are users really picking and choosing that much? I thought most people just read whatever new posts are around. Then again, you know what they say of “assuming” (AFAICT, it makes a donkey out of you and some chinese stereotype person called Ming. I never really understood it).
Maybe there’s a simpler solution: make a secondary “Announcements” board. One for announcing everything tech. A number of new experimental choice-based systems have been making their appearances - they could go there. Ink could go there, and so could Lacrote, and new releases of REalNC’s excellent TADS terp. Texture could go there, and even new releases of I7 could go there. Announcements about updates to I6 and Windows Frotz or Git and Glulxe. Theoretically, even new extensions. And new IDEs.
Y’know, the more I think about it, the more I think it might be a good idea.