XYZZY Awards: alternatives to ifMUD for the ceremony

From :

Slack would be perfect except it’s set up for small teams. New users have to be invited in, so it fails the easy-to-use test for a public event.

(I see, but that requires a paid Slack account.)

The “no IRC” requirement is based on not wanting people to have to download and run irc clients, right? Or is it more than that? I ask, because there are free web clients that might fit the bill. E.g. and all we’d need to do would be to run an xmpp server.

I’ve tried running an XMPP alternative for IF events. It got maybe one user ever. But I was advertising “you can use any chat client”. If a system offers a web app to users, I’d think XMPP or anything else would be fine for the back end.

Yeah, Slack was one of the things on my radar, but a system that doesn’t allow drop-in visitors is not going to work.

Partly, but also because in my ventures into IRC (which, admittedly, were brief and several years ago) I’ve found it every bit as crusty and opaque a system as the MUD. But it’s plausible that it has improved a lot since!

Candy looks promising at a quick look.

There’s an open-source Slack-like Rocket that fits a lot of the requirements and could be modified where it doesn’t. (Not volunteering though.)

I created a Textfyre slack account and onboarding people can be made easy with email addresses, which we could just send to people or make it really easy to get one.

Or a similar slack account can be created with a domain associated and people onboarded with domain email addresses.

There is an open source Slack knock off called MatterMost, but I couldn’t get it installed on my linux box. It uses Docker and to me, that thing is a mess. But if someone can get MatterMost up and running, the onboarding could be open. And it would be a put up/tear down event anyway, so even if a few trolls got in, that can be managed.

David C.

As someone who is rarely able to make it to the ceremony, I do like to skim the transcript afterwards. I noticed and was sorry that no transcript was posted this year, but it didn’t occur to me to ask for it.

Transcripts please! I only could log in last time via a dodgy phone connection, missing the relevant portion for my own nomination. I still haven’t seen it.

I am also in favor of moving them, though I don’t have a great answer as to where they should go. ifMUD has a lot of quirks, and even when people make an effort to help newcomers, it can still feel like an uneven playing field.

I’d add “accessible” to the goals, though – some system that is compatible with screen readers would be a good idea.

Good point - editing that in.

I’m familiar with muds, but only in passing with ifMUD. Does anyone have time to explain some of the UI quirks that make it difficult for people not familiar with it?

How possible would it be for a special instance of Seltani to host the ceremony?

Moving around, joining channels, talking on channels, speaking, and emoting require a mix of IF-like commands, CLI-like commands, and funny punctuation prefixes on commands. We ask newbies to master all of these skills, more or less, to take part in the award ceremony.

Re Seltani: I’ve thought about it but it doesn’t have channels or moderation. Also, it’s never been tested at that scale.

Here’s a quick first pass:

  • It takes parser-lite input and has a parser-IF world model. Not everyone in the IF world is a parser native.
  • The web interpreter is sub-optimal; the ideal experience involves downloading a client (and there is not always a clear answer about which client will work best for your OS, and often they require some customisation for a really good experience.)
  • It has a great many rooms, very few of which are ever used.
  • It uses channels - thousands of them - for conversations about specific topics, several of which can be going on at once. Navigating several threads of conversation simultaeneously is a core part of ifMUD experience.
  • It has its own notation for speech commands, (speak, speak to, pose, whisper to, page, speak on new channel, continue speaking on channel) and this takes a little while to internalise.
  • Because it has so many custom-built affordances and commands, it can take a while to figure out which ones you actually need. I’ve been on ifMUD for 15 years and I’m an admin on it, and I still don’t know my way around many of the commands.

The UI issues blend into the cultural issues quite a lot, too; often it’s not just ‘how do I learn the correct notation for channels,’ it’s ‘how do I learn the correct notation for channels and how they should be used to be polite, argh.’

I’ll admit I did entertain a thought of whether it’d be possible, and then realised that that way lay an unending road of Pestering Zarf for Features, and we already have quite enough of that, thank you.

IFMud is weird even among muds, since it’s a custom codebase that doesn’t really stick to MUSH/MUD/MOO/MUCK standards, being rather a mishmash of all those different environments. So even people coming from the (rather arcane) MUD world aren’t going to find IFMud familiar.

So yeah, moving it to a different venue makes a lot of sense.

This bullet is surprising because I think it’s one of the biggest usability hurdles in participating in the XYZZY ceremony: there are too many ways to talk, and it’s not clear which one is the right one for the current situation.

It’s especially challenging because people accepting awards are initially just part of the audience, but then all of a sudden they’re Officially Accepting an Award, and then they’re back in the audience again.

If I were trying to clean up XYZZY’s usability, I’d want to have a page that anybody could visit (without logging in) and watch the transcript in two panels, like the official transcripts. If they chose to log in, they could type anything they want in the right-hand panel. Moderators could elevate people to the left-hand channel, where they could say Official stuff, until moderators demoted the speakers to the right-hand channel.

Don’t make the user choose between multiple channels.

I guess Habitat isn’t ready for prime time again yet?

And the Imagination Network wouldn’t be any more on-point:

nor… the AGI Sierra game environments at