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Bugs: Recent Topics Paging, Uploading Images & Preview (11 Dec 2020)

Recent Topics paging, uploading images and preview bugs require a patch which has not yet been released.

× Talk about whatever you like related to games that doesn't fit anywhere else.

Rodney Smith discussing Paid/Unpaid reviews

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25 May 2019 01:22 - 25 May 2019 01:24 #297655 by ubarose
I don’t think people are really grasping what the crux of the issue is, so I am going to give you some concrete examples.

A while back one of our reviewers blogged about his most anticipated games for 2019.

therewillbe.games/blogs-by-staff/6457-sh...king-out-for-in-2019

This is not a review. This is content. He also writes reviews for the site, but on this particular week he had nothing to review so he tossed this blog up.

Let’s say you have a certain amount of respect for this reviewer’s opinion, and feel that you usually like the same games. So you see this list and think “I should keep an eye out for these game too.”

But what if that author had been paid by each of the publishers of those games to mention it in that list. Maybe they each just paid him $10. Or maybe not even all of them were paid mentions. Let’s say only 5 of them were. Would that be okay?

Would it be cool with you if we then did interviews with the designers of some of those games for a fee. And of course posted a Coming Soon news items for the games for a fee. Those aren’t reviews. No need to disclose anything, right?

Or what about the Flashback Fridays. Would it be okay those were paid for? They’re not reviews. Maybe I could even offer a package deal. They get a Flashback Friday, a “What’s on the Table” mention in Michael’s blog, and two posts in the “What Have Have You Been Playing Thread” and a tweet by Matt (he’s got nearly 3,000 followers so that alone has got to worth something). Of course we don’t need to disclose that any of this is paid. You all are good with that, because these aren’t reviews. Right?

And of course you are all on the ball enough that if Matt started doing paid previews along with his reviews, that we could just tag them on the front page as a preview instead of a review, and you would know which were which.
Last edit: 25 May 2019 01:24 by ubarose.
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25 May 2019 07:33 #297660 by Michael Barnes
That is EXACTLY what people aren’t grasping.

“Well, Rodney is very clear that he is not giving an opinion”

Doesn’t matter. He is paid to promote and endorse, even if it isn’t a review.

This is where it gets deliberately obscured and sneaky. It’s not content labeled “a review” that is really the issue. There aren’t really many paid “reviews”. But all the other stuff...

Raf sent me an interesting thing written by a KS...it contained direct quotes and video from unboxing/how to play preview videos such as as:

"This theme does it a lot of justice. It's adorable. It makes me want to play it with my family, and it helps you make sense of the rules a little bit."

"I also really appreciate the four different type of cards they have. I like that it helps skew the age range so that you can either play very young and simplify the rules or make it a little more complicated. And also it helps with replayability a lot."

"The strategies are different every time."

"That's what this game does best, is keeping you engaged."

"Engaged on off turns, and reading/reacting the entire time. ... Strategy, strategy, strategy. And more than meets the eye type strategy."

Delivered by smiling, well known board game personalities in front of their shelves. And these are not billed as “reviews”?

The reality of it is that practically all of the material content creators are making is INFOMERCIALS.
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25 May 2019 08:15 #297661 by DukeofChutney
boardgame 'influencers'
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25 May 2019 10:24 #297663 by Sevej
If you can get paid for those, please do. I'm okay with that.

For me, and I strictly speaking of myself, getting paid does not erode a content's integrity _automatically_. Again, review the reviewer, or in this particular case, the content creator. Giving a positive review every time you get paid is a surefire way to get your reputation tarnished. And thinking all those "infomercials" are accepted just like that by all audience? No way! Even in TOS they can be critical about it.

For example, if someone paid you for a Flashback Friday a game we've never heard of, what's the worth in that? Or a game we don't like. It will simply get trashed.

This is an extension of what you (Uba) said about review copies. No, they will not sway opinion.

Again, players finally will play the games, and when they get duds multiple times from your reviews, they will no longer heed your content, whatever form is that.

Here's the thing:
TWBG has been complaining about paid reviews, review copies, etc. I get it. Please don't think I'm being a jerk because I'm messing up with you guys (or may be I am).

But, really, what are you going to do about it? What are your plans on this? This is something I haven't heard from TWBG team.
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25 May 2019 12:34 - 25 May 2019 22:30 #297667 by ubarose

Sevej wrote:
Here's the thing:
TWBG has been complaining about paid reviews, review copies, etc. I get it. Please don't think I'm being a jerk because I'm messing up with you guys (or may be I am).

But, really, what are you going to do about it? What are your plans on this? This is something I haven't heard from TWBG team.


We aren’t complaining. We are struggling with murky issues in a rapidly changing landscape. And we are not alone.

As I said earlier, there are discussions going on with groups of industry folks to try to codify best practices. We are discussing issues among our administration and staff regarding policy specifically for our site. And we are having these discussions here publicly with our readers to inform them as well as understand their feelings about these issues.

Furthermore we are dealing with not only what is and isn’t proper, but also the appearance of impropriety and how to avoid it.

For example, it has been our policy for many years not to review prototypes, because we felt that prototypes often did not accurately reflect the final retail product, and therefore a review would be a disservice to both the publisher/designer and to out readers. However, the production cycle for producing games has changed, and it has become commonplace for publishers to offer prototypes or production samples that are well produced and accurate representations of the final product to be reviewed.

Furthermore, as many games are coming to market via Kickstarter, we felt it would be helpful to our readers to have actual reviews of the game from our reviewers to help them make decisions regarding the games, rather than just the paid content that appears on the Kickstarter pages.

However, we also have to address the fact that if we were to review a prototype for a KS, it might gives the appearance that we endorse it and trust that it will be fulfilled as promised.

And then there is the issue that if a quote from the review of a prototype was used on the Kickstarter campaign page jumbled up with paid content, it might give the appearance that the author was paid for the quote, and possibly tarnish their personal reputation.

And this only one small decision point. We have t consider the fact that we have open blogs here, so any member could potentially use them to post paid content without us knowing it was paid content, and then it could be attributed as an TWBG endorsement on a Kickstarter page.

And since the on-site banner ad is dying as a revenue source, and most sites are now offering packages that include releasing social media ads, should we follow suit do the same?

So the bottom line regarding what we are doing is: We are giving everything careful consideration, doing a lot of talking and listening, and moving rather slowly and deliberately regarding any editorial policy changes we make.
Last edit: 25 May 2019 22:30 by ubarose.
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26 May 2019 01:16 - 26 May 2019 05:51 #297682 by Sevej
Good luck getting that done, and I'm saying this sincerely.

Creating, implementing, and enforcing a standard, a "best practice", is difficult as hell in an environment where standard breach could mean legal charges or tangible reputation drop. I've been working for the Indonesian branch of one of the biggest pharmaceutical companies in the world for 7 years, and I can say the industry is still struggling at it. And that's with companies capable ($$$-wise) of making everything proper, and trackable with audit trails.

EDIT: But my advice is, grow first, then do this. Not the other way around. The best way to do this is you do your own standard, get massive audience, _then_ others will follow suit.

EDIT 2: I just think that you're being extremely idealistic. Reviewing a prototype copy of KS, not wishing it to be seen as endorsement, not getting paid, AND not wanting your words as blurbs... that's a LOT of expectation. I'd be amazed if you find a way to do this before the age of KS ends.
Last edit: 26 May 2019 05:51 by Sevej.

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26 May 2019 08:35 - 26 May 2019 08:36 #297685 by Erik Twice
For me, there's nothing difficult about this. Just don't take money or other forms of payment for publishers. Everything else is minor.
Last edit: 26 May 2019 08:36 by Erik Twice.
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26 May 2019 08:38 #297686 by Msample

ubarose wrote: @Sag



The biggest issue is that there is NO signifiacnt ad revenue for any board game sites or channels anymore. All the marketing money is going to Facebook and Google. Even large well-established sites and channels can no longer attract advertisers.

.


BGG excepted I'd think.

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26 May 2019 12:40 #297690 by ubarose
We are growing. Our number of unique viewers has increased by 80% over last year at this time. You might not realize it because 99.998% of our audience is silent.

We have now arrived at a point where further growth requires that we create a more defined strategy. This requires us identifying our strengths, and making choices that play to those strengths. It also requires that we make decisions regarding the issues we have been discussing; but we need to do this in a way that builds on our strengths and our reputation without undermining it.

Our greatest growth has come from venturing into under-served markets. Folks here may not have much interest in Jonathan’s articles or Andrew’s RPG coverage, or Michael’s Warhammer reviews, or the wargame coverage, but those have been hugely instrumental in our growth.

Matt’s work, specifically his non-traditional reviews, is our site’s anchor and a crucial part of our identity. “It Came From The Tabletop” builds off of that. As does the contributions of things like GG’s blog series, and Sag’s current series.

Mason’s short reviews are a key piece in our social media strategy. Our social media strategy also include coaching our writers on how to take well framed, engaging photos of game components without some dude’s hairy arm being the only thing in focus - well let’s just say we are not quite there yet.

Video is not off the table, but as of right now, Josh and Al are the only members of our staff with the necessary technical skills to produce video, and neither of them have the time or the interest in it. Particularly as they are focused on the podcast and growing that audience.

As I said above, we are moving into reviewing Kickstarter prototypes.

Of the vocal minority, a good chunk of them just use the forum and never even read any of our reviews or content. Also forums are really old clunky technology. While our core forum users skew older and are most comfortable with it, growing it really requires bringing in a new community/discussion platform which might alienate our core users. We may be piloting a new platform in the future alongside of our existing one.

There are a some other ideas that are Kicking around as well, and will probably roll out over this summer.

And of course there is the challenge of keeping all these balls in the air while still delivering traditional game reviews and news, and pursing revenue streams to cover the server bill (which keeps increasing as the traffic increases) and the podcast hosting fees.
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26 May 2019 14:09 #297692 by mads b.
I guess for many newpapers and their clear distinction between adds and editorial content are the gold standard. However, especially when it comes to the business section of newspapers, buying adds will buy you editorial content as well. This is not something I guess a lot of editors will talk about, but I can't see why it should be different in the US from how it is in Denmark.

However, to me the difference is that while you can probably ensure *that* they write about you, you can't control *how* the story is told. And maybe that could be way for getting a bit of cash for producing content.

Specifically I know that as a designer I would gladly pay to have some competent reviewers from for instance this site play my prototype of a KS game and then say what they thought. Not to pay for a positive review, but simply to pay them for the time spent playing it. And in fact the word review is the wrong one to use. It would more likely be a session report or some such saying what the game feels like.

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26 May 2019 15:13 #297694 by themothman421
Gotta give Rodney credit - that's some Grade A gaslighting.

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26 May 2019 18:15 #297697 by DukeofChutney
Its common for the readership to be an order of magnitude greater than the commentator community but 80% growth is a surprise.

People come here for wargame material? Perhaps I should actually post and write about this stuff more, as this is mostly what I play really.
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26 May 2019 19:35 - 26 May 2019 19:40 #297698 by ubarose
The wargame review field is far less crowed, so the ones that we have typically show up on the first page of google search due to the simple fact that there are often only one or two other reviews out there, outside of BGG. Also there doesn’t seem to be as much cult-of-the-new/churn in wargames. So we have reviews that are 5 or even 10 years old that are still pulling in traffic.

Plus we have a top rated wargame page.

Also when we first established the site, one of the founding members was pretty exclusively a wargame reviewer, and we used to have a dedicated wargame news person, as well as a strong relationship with GMT and DVG. So expanding our wargame coverage back to past levels is definitely a goal.

So articles, reviews or news for wargames is always welcome.


With regard to growth, our number of unique visitors is up 80%, but our traffic has more than doubled. Our better performing articles are getting 2,000 - 3,000 hits in the first 24 hours. A year ago it was more in the range of 500 - 700.
Last edit: 26 May 2019 19:40 by ubarose.
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27 May 2019 09:39 #297712 by Gary Sax

DukeofChutney wrote: People come here for wargame material? Perhaps I should actually post and write about this stuff more, as this is mostly what I play really.


You should!

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28 May 2019 12:38 #297734 by rafcordero

However, to me the difference is that while you can probably ensure *that* they write about you, you can't control *how* the story is told. And maybe that could be way for getting a bit of cash for producing content.


I don't know the details, so this may be off in small or large ways, but this is a bit how Geek & Sundry works. Companies can talk with the business/marketing department to purchase bundles of content. If any of that work is written content the editor assigns articles to the writers, however the content of that written work is not dictated by the marketing agreements. I wrote a number of articles to satisfy those requirements and never felt like I was doing anything dirty. My editor was clear with the requirement, and I'd use the opportunity to write about painting minis or something that wasn't editorialized content. G&S used a boilerplate disclaimer any time we wrote about that company within the marketing agreement.

G&S pays well below the market normal for freelance work. I have no idea how any outlet, in this industry or not, could pay employees without accepting funding from a person or company that could potentially create a conflict of interest if it wasn't managed correctly.
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