Charting Our Course - Member Input

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06 Jul 2019 12:07 - 07 Jul 2019 10:52 #299307 by ubarose
Hi Everyone,

So it's been a little over a year since we rebranded. It's time to refine and adjust our course.

We have piloted several new columns, and removed others. Now we need your feedback and advice.

What do you like best on the site?
What kind of content do you want more of? What kind of content are we missing that you would like to see?
What do you think of our new columns 5-Second Reviews & Flashback Friday?
How do you feel about our blogs which allow our staff and members to write in a more personal and more informal manner?
Do we have too much news? Not enough? What coverage is missing?

What overall direction do you think we should take?
Last edit: 07 Jul 2019 10:52 by ubarose.
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07 Jul 2019 14:14 - 07 Jul 2019 14:30 #299334 by Gary Sax
Alright, I'll go first, maybe it'll make others come out of the woodwork.


What do you like best on the site?
What kind of content do you want more of? What kind of content are we missing that you would like to see?

I know it isn't a significant traffic driver, so it needs to be part of a bigger mix, but I like older games content and strategy/mechanics columns. I'm the guy who reads long deep dive threads on board games I haven't played! I have been happy that we brought on more new game reviewers but I am always hungry for content deep diving on existing games. I crave a place to talk about those games that a critical mass of us have actually played. It's why I'm the forum moderator but not the editorial person---discussions between multiple members whose opinions I trust on games and *who have all played the same game.*

The site is a lot of things, but that is a big part of what I'm here for.

What do you think of our new columns 5-Second Reviews & Flashback Friday?
How do you feel about our blogs which allow our staff and members to write in a more personal and more informal manner?


Happy with both. Would be disappointed if we only did 5 second reviews but like the mix as is. Would like to see our community submit some of the amazing shit they write on games in some of the threads as blogs/five second reviews but what can you do.

Do we have too much news? Not enough? What coverage is missing?

I have found out about a couple things I didn't know were coming because of the site, so it's working. I can't even follow the general trend of what's going on in the hobby on BGG, it's just too big. The a curated feed works ok even if it's not a huge deal for me.
Last edit: 07 Jul 2019 14:30 by Gary Sax.
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07 Jul 2019 21:55 #299344 by Shellhead
I enjoy all the new content, but my favorite section is still the discussion forums. Sometimes the ongoing conversations here have produced some interesting insights, and I have made some new friends here.

In answer to various questions, I like the 5-second reviews and the Flashback Fridays. I also like the blog feature and the featured articles. The news coverage is great. I'm glad to hear that a lot more people have been visiting the site in the last year, but I wish there was some way to get more of them to engage in the forum discussions.

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07 Jul 2019 23:17 - 07 Jul 2019 23:18 #299348 by ubarose
@Gary Sax
Re: Older games content and strategy/mechanics columns.

Marc having to leave was a major blow in this area. Sag, however, has committed to submitting articles on a semi regular basis.

It's hard to find people to do those kind of articles. It's writing out of a passion for games and the enjoyment of writing about them. Now everyone wants to do reviews as a side hustle to either get free games or to break into doing paid previews.

Another issue is that our members are some of the most knowledgable and experienced gamers around. They are a very demanding audience. What they have to say in the forums is often better written and more enlightening than the writing of the board game bloggers who have approached us about partnering with the site but have only been playing games for 3 years and have never played any game more than 3 times.

@Shellhead

The forum is a hard nut to crack. There is no easy or obvious opening for a new person (or even an old member) to jump into a conversation. Other than the article discussions, it looks pretty dead because most people just post to the "What have you..." thread. And that thread is pretty disjointed and difficult to sustain a conversation in.

If people want to talk about something, they need to have the courage to start a new thread.
Last edit: 07 Jul 2019 23:18 by ubarose.
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08 Jul 2019 10:03 #299359 by Sagrilarus

ubarose wrote: It's writing out of a passion for games and the enjoyment of writing about them. Now everyone wants to do reviews as a side hustle to either get free games or to break into doing paid previews.


Clarification -- I'm more than willing to accept free copies of old games on my wish list.

Although I just cracked out my wooden box copy of Carc the City (about as sweet a German printing as you're going to see -- suck on THAT Kickstarter backers!) because it was requested by a buddy of mine. So that's next for review and Carc the City is different enough from Carc to make it worth finding time to play. It was declared a "keep in the trunk of the car" game after this most recent play.
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08 Jul 2019 12:28 #299361 by jeb
I literally take a picture of CARC THE CITY after every game I play. It is the most gorgeous game on the table I have ever seen.

I like how the site is going. I'm old guard, so, like Shellhead, I am here for the Discussion Forums. As for folks leaving vs being driven off or whatever, that happens. It's not like robartin is dropping knowledge here on the daily. Folks move on with their lives, let them. Keeping the site tidy and welcoming is important, so asking some folks to hem it in is okay too, even if they get ruffled. I've gone too far a couple of times, but this is still the best place on the Internet to have conversations. You can exchange one-liners with 10,000 redditors, you can yell into the darkness with a Tweet, and you can all nod heads simultaneously on BGG, but here is where you can actually talk about this hobby in a meaningful way, personal to yourself.*

I don't have a ton of input on the new articles, I rarely read them in all honesty. The news has been good though, and I have used that to learn more about what's coming. So keep that up.

*FB is a criminal enterprise I do not truck with.
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08 Jul 2019 12:47 #299362 by ubarose
Thank you Jeb

I may steal your quote and use it as a description for our forum.

Yes, sometimes we have to set boundaries with people, and sometimes that makes they stop posting as a result. Many of them still lurk as do many of "The Old Guard."
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08 Jul 2019 13:37 #299365 by dysjunct
I am also happy with the current state and direction of the site and don't feel like much needs to change.

I am also old guard (from back when it was a blogspot site!) and mostly use the forums, although I typically read the front page stuff too. I think it is good and well-written.

The forums used to have a super-chummy boys' club feel but that seems to have lightened up.

One thing I'd like to see is a time limit on the "What X are you...?" threads. E.g. change it to "What board games are you playing, July 2019". Then lock at the end of the month. I think that would make the various threads more welcoming to new users. The main board game thread is ten years old and hundreds of pages -- no one is going to read all that old stuff anyway but they might feel like they have to.

Re: board culture. I agree that it's changed. While I am sad to see some of the old guard disappear, the change is positive and I don't miss the "hurr hurr bewbs" posts. The more active moderation is good -- inevitable and necessary as the site grows, but y'all are also striking a good balance between fostering discussion and keeping asshattery to a minimum.
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08 Jul 2019 14:28 #299367 by ubarose
@dysjunct

Thank you.

We tried locking the "What have you..." post and starting a new one when it got to a certain length, but people kind of freaked because they either had the thread bookmarked or they got cut off in the middle of a conversation.

When we notice a recent comment in that thread that is about a single game, we sometimes split it out and add it to the thread associated to that specific board game, or into it's own thread. For example, we split out the Cosmic Frog comment into it's own thread, and a couple comments on Fury of Dracula, & Root got split off and merged into the appropriate game threads.

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08 Jul 2019 15:14 #299374 by mezike
I’m fairly new in terms of actively contributing posts, but have been lurking since the days of the original blog. It’s weird because I feel a sense of familiarity with people who don’t know me from Jack. Anyway, part of why I’ve become more active is due to the change. The site in general and the attitudes expressed on it are more welcoming, less of a frat house vibe. People are debating with more openness and less toxicity which is great to read given how articulate and clever so many of you are.

I hate to say it but one of the barriers to joining in on the old site was an aire of condescension that permeated the place, new posters were often flat out ignored or judged by “The Regulars” and there was an element of derision for anyone not deemed worthy of being in the hallowed halls. That may not have been the intent, but it’s how it looked from the outside. There used to be posts saying things like “finally a new person with something worth listening to” which is about as overt as a passive barrier can be made.

I see a fair few people who have started posting at around the same time as me who have made purely positive contributions so I guess you are attracting the crowd that you want. There is a lot more feature content and it appears more frequently, I feel like it’s worth checking in on a daily basis even if I don’t feel like catching up on new posts.

Regarding new site members the best thing you guys can do is interact and encourage with new users. Give some feedback or gratitude via pm if you prefer not to thank them in public, you’d be surprised how much it matters when coming into such a daunting environment. Even just giving Thank-Yous on posts when you read something you liked is supportive. Talk to people directly, they’ll appreciate it. Otherwise this site will retain the artificial divide between elite contributors and, well, a bunch of others. One user in particular gave me some motivation to keep posting after I finally decided to take a more active part and it meant a lot to me. Then there’s one or two others who have talked around me like I wasn’t there, which almost made me stop and give up altogether on a couple of occasions.

Overall I think the change has been a positive one. I’m sorry that some people felt it was easier to walk away than to adapt, there are contributors whose work I miss if maybe not so much the attitude that went with it.

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08 Jul 2019 15:34 #299378 by ubarose
@mezike

Thank you. That is very insightful. I hate being talked around too. It is so demoralizing.

Also, I feel like you have been here forever.
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09 Jul 2019 08:20 #299425 by Jexik
What do you like best on the site?
Hard to pin on one thing but I think it's the conglomeration of opinions. I prefer to find a few great games rather than a lot of mediocre ones, and you've collectively pushed me over the edge on games like Slay the Spire and Root. I was waiting for Into the Breach ever since I heard about it though. ;)

What kind of content do you want more of? What kind of content are we missing that you would like to see?
I can't think of anything offhand. Maybe see if we can get more industry folks to write occasionally. I get a lot of random twitter news and beefs from following Jon Gilmour on facebook, and these guys are already busy. You might have to be careful there to avoid looking too preferential or something... I don't know.

What do you think of our new columns 5-Second Reviews & Flashback Friday?
I like both even if I've not played the games and don't actively contribute. I still need to play Wiz-War.

How do you feel about our blogs which allow our staff and members to write in a more personal and more informal manner?
I like these.

Do we have too much news? Not enough? What coverage is missing?
Maybe something like back when Pete did the whole exposé on Mayday on his own site. Someone covering "news" items outside of what was played, bought, released, or whatever could be interesting.

What overall direction do you think we should take?
Not sure. I've posted less lately, but that's largely because I got a new job, now with overtime, a few months ago.
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09 Jul 2019 11:33 #299444 by ubarose
@Jexik

Thank you.

Good suggestion re: Industry folks. I will definitely act on this suggestion.

If you are looking for news you should check out our new associate podcasts. Today we have Brainwaves. We will also be running Tank & DPS and Unlucky Frog. So keep an eye out for them, and after you listen give them a comment or click the little heart at the top of the page so they know folks are listening.
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11 Jul 2019 12:04 #299557 by Josh Look
I know I’m technically staff, I haven’t been very active lately and that’s unlikely to change, but my $0.02:

What do you like best on the site
What I like most is something that hasn’t changed since the re-branding, and that’s that you don’t get this kind of discussion about games on BGG. That is the core of what makes this community special and is what inspired me when putting ICFTT together.

What kind of content do you want more of? What kind of content are we missing that you would like to see?
Content is generally fine. I don’t read everything that goes up, but what I do read ranges from good to great. I would more be concerned about putting content out just to have it. Quality over quantity goes a long way. I’d like to see content remain focused on games themselves as I find broad takes on hot button topics to be boring. Not saying I disagree with anyone, but I’m a firm believer in showing not telling, guiding someone to something of a halfway point rather than hitting them with YOU’RE DOING SOMETHING WRONG, which does not solve anything. I know there’s a lot of divide out there these days an many of those fights are worth fighting, but like it or not, you gotta play the long game.

What do you think of our new columns 5-Second Reviews & Flashback Friday?
I like the 5-second reviews, I’m bored with Flashback Friday. One of the things really pushing me away from the site are people who get on here, start talking about a game and go on to say, “No one really talks about ________ anymore.” Yeah, here they don’t because this forum, great it might be, is still an echo chamber. I dunno, just irritates me (especially when it’s a game I love and still play). Maybe it’s that I feel someone new to the hobby might come on here, see that no one talks about something and they interpret that as it being something not worth seeking out. Flashback Friday is where this happens most.

How do you feel about our blogs which allow our staff and members to write in a more personal and more informal manner?
They’re fine. Michael’s D&D content is what interests me most on the site at the moment.

Do we have too much news? Not enough? What coverage is missing?
Here’s where things get dicey. I don’t care about industry stuff, so no comment there, but upcoming releases leave a lot to be desired. There is far too much attention given to licensed things and Kickstarter projects. It feels selective and too married to the idea that we still only talk about “Ameritrash” games. Aside from the rare exception, that kind of game doesn’t really exist anymore. Everyone wants to call me a heretic for saying so, which fine, let’s joke about it, but dead fucking serious, it’s over and everyone needs to get over it. If we’re going to run news on upcoming/new releases at all, we need to broaden the horizons. Problem is, tracking down the truly exciting stuff is a full time job. I get why it is the way it is, but I’m at a point where I’d prefer not doing it at all over giving a platform to dumb shit like Batman Talisman.

What overall direction do you think we should take
I don’t know, but I’m frankly finding the site stale. That’s not a knock against the writers at all, the work you’re doing is good. It might just be me, but I’m bored here. There’s been some site identity missteps for sure (though booting out the troublemakers was not one of them) but I’m not sure what could be done to fix it for me. And you know, nobody has to. Maybe I’ve outgrown it.
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11 Jul 2019 13:22 #299558 by fightcitymayor
It's disappointing to see so many press releases serving as front page news. Especially when there are dozens of other sites that already do that same thing. I'm not sure it would be any better if this news were briefly summarized in a paragraph followed by a link, rather than just a word-for-word copy/paste with photos. It creates an odd tone for this place, since so much of the original writing here comes from a very cynical hipster place, but then interspersed are moments of pure unvarnished corporate advertising. It makes me eyeroll.

I would like to see more cats, and cat-related information. This is relevant to my interests. ;-)
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