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  • Jedi Knight Muse
    Jedi Knight Muse

    Forum Update: Feedback Needed

    Members,

    With the end of the year approaching, the staff members and I have been discussing making some changes regarding the forum and the Discord server.

    The forum has existed for almost four years now, and from the start we've seen a lot of dips and spikes in activity, mostly due to the fact that forums just aren't as popular as they used to be. There's not a whole lot that we can do about that. However, what we can do is accept the fact that the forum will never be as busy as it once was, and take advantage of what we have with Discord.

    For those of you who've been around for the last four years, you know that this is something that we've discussed in the past, and at the time we decided against it. Since then, not a lot has changed as far as forum activity goes, and in order to keep the community running, we need to make a big change. We are now seriously considering completely shifting everything onto Discord and no longer actively use the forum. The forum would be turned into an archive, and all of our activity would be on Discord. We would continue to offer writing challenges and the opportunity for giving each other feedback on writing, through the use of Google docs.

    If we decided to do this, it likely would not go into effect until January 2020. Making this change would mean the potential for a more active community. It would also mean having everything in one place, rather than trying to balance everything out between both the server and forum. We would also be condensing some of the channels and adding others, and making any necessary updates to the rules.

    We would like to give everyone enough time to acclimate to the idea, in addition to also giving us honest, constructive feedback regarding making this change, so we invite you to give us your feedback. Whether you have been a member of the community since the beginning or only a few days, we encourage you to provide feedback and express and potential concerns you may have regarding this decision.

    Please respond to this post by this Saturday, November 23rd, with your feedback.

    Thank you,

    The Worldsmyths Staff

    Edited by Jedi Knight Muse



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    I like this idea. I use Discord way more often than the forum. And I write in Google docs so that's handy too. 

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    Being relatively new having two places to keep up with was very difficult for me.  I eventually left the discord because I couldn't keep up with both and felt if I wasn't participating here I would be left out of other things.  It wasn't that I didn't want to be on the discord server I just felt overwhelmed.  But with only one place that would be a lot less daunting and I'd rejoin.  I always like having people to talk to about writing.  

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    Oddly enough, I'm on Discord a lot and don't use the forums on the website, probably because I have a family member on Discord so the app is open all the time ... and I follow the conversations for Wordsmyth there. Thus, probably more on the Discord side than the website for now. This change would not bother me.

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    48 minutes ago, AJ Hunter said:

    Being relatively new having two places to keep up with was very difficult for me.  I eventually left the discord because I couldn't keep up with both and felt if I wasn't participating here I would be left out of other things.  It wasn't that I didn't want to be on the discord server I just felt overwhelmed.  But with only one place that would be a lot less daunting and I'd rejoin.  I always like having people to talk to about writing.  

    That's a totally understandable feeling to have! We'd be happy to have you back on the server. 🙂

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    While having the community spread across two platforms definitely seems bad, I feel like discord is too much of an instant messenger. Posts can easily get lost when things go slightly off-topic and it just doesn't seem to fit in general with content that is based on larger posts and possibly just a large feedback.

    I think things will get messy.

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    2 hours ago, AlexanderN said:

    While having the community spread across two platforms definitely seems bad, I feel like discord is too much of an instant messenger. Posts can easily get lost when things go slightly off-topic and it just doesn't seem to fit in general with content that is based on larger posts and possibly just a large feedback.

    I think things will get messy.

    This is definitely a valid concern, and something we have already discussed as being a potential issue. However, we honestly don't have much in the way of an alternative. If the activity is naturally shifting over onto Discord anyway, the forum is basically otherwise useless due to no longer being used and generating activity. While we generally don't like to strictly police the channels in our server, if things get to be too off topic in a specific channel, we do remind people to move conversations to the appropriate channels if necessary. As far as giving each other feedback is concerned (assuming that's what you're talking about, is feedback for our writing), people have already been using one of the channels to share Google doc links and it's worked well enough.

    We're always open to suggestions for possible alternatives that make sense for us, especially since we're not planning to put this into effect until January, but right now this seems to be the best choice for us. There are also plenty of other writing groups that are specifically only on Discord that are very successful.

    I've said this in the past - members are the beating heart of a forum. Without them generating activity, the forum dies. Unfortunately, there's just not much of a point in trying to pump life back into it, which is something we've tried to do a lot in the past already. Instead, we can take advantage of the fact that the Discord server is still providing an active community. We really feel that this is the best option for us.

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    I haven't really been active lately, because I wasn't able to keep up with the Discord server much for a while (I do still lurk there, though!) and like @AJ HunterI eventually started feeling a bit overwhelmed. Like I should either be active in both or neither. If things get entirely moved to Discord, I might still have periods of lurking silently, but I actually think I'll participate in stuff more. I'll be sad to have this forum go, since I'm old-school and really like forums, but I 100% understand the reasoning behind this.

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    5 hours ago, Sam said:

    I haven't really been active lately, because I wasn't able to keep up with the Discord server much for a while (I do still lurk there, though!) and like @AJ HunterI eventually started feeling a bit overwhelmed. Like I should either be active in both or neither. If things get entirely moved to Discord, I might still have periods of lurking silently, but I actually think I'll participate in stuff more. I'll be sad to have this forum go, since I'm old-school and really like forums, but I 100% understand the reasoning behind this.

    I'm sad that you and even some others have gotten the feeling that you have to either use both the forum and the server or neither - that was never our intention, and I hope we never gave a specific impression that made you think that. We've always encouraged people to use the forum, because while Discord is great for things like fast-paced discussion, we've always wanted the forum to be where the activity is mainly generated, especially for things that require longer discussions, because it's so much easier to write a longer post on the forum and have it get read (generally) than it is on Discord where it can get lost a little more easily, but it hasn't really been a requirement, not since before the Discord server was made and it started getting more active. I can see why it might have been thought that you still had to use both, though, because of the fact that we had the challenges and such here on the forum. We've always tried to balance things out between both platforms, but it's gotten to the point where it's just not working any more and the forum is just sitting here because no one is really using it. Even I am finding that I'm not visiting it on a daily basis any more, though that's probably mostly because I know that I won't find much going on here.

    And even without the Discord, I mean...there really wasn't much for discussions taking place. People would start posts, people would reply, and that was it. No actual conversations really took place. As someone who is also an old school forum user - which is why I tried so hard to keep the forum for so long - it was one of the most bizarre things ever, because I've seen other forums where people generate conversations all the time and there's a lot of back and forth, but for some reason that was just not happening despite our best efforts. There's only so much we can do and say to basically tell people that they need to post and not rely on the staff to do it for them. This is unfortunately a long time issue that we've had since the beginning, and we've wracked our brains trying to figure out how to fix things, but nothing really worked.

    I do hope that you'll be active in the server more, and can feel less overwhelmed about participating. If you have any questions or concerns about anything happening in the server, or you just want to chat about writing or whatever, you are always welcome to message me. I definitely don't want people to feel like they're not being included, or like there's cliques being formed or anything like that and that they're unable to participate.

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    On 11/20/2019 at 1:05 PM, AlexanderN said:

    While having the community spread across two platforms definitely seems bad, I feel like discord is too much of an instant messenger. Posts can easily get lost when things go slightly off-topic and it just doesn't seem to fit in general with content that is based on larger posts and possibly just a large feedback.

    I think things will get messy.

    That is exactly how I feel about it as well. Discord chat in some of the channels moves too fast for me to follow it, and it's extremely unconvenient to scroll back searching for the beginning of a discussion. That's why I've given up on using the Discord. I haven't been very active on the forum either recently, but especially for casually active members like me, I think forum discussions are easier to track back than Discord discussions are. Discord is great for real-time chatter and getting quick answers or reactions, but it's not ideal for in-depth discussions in my opinion, especially if so many different time zones are involved like it's the case with this community.

    That being said, if most of the community has already migrated to Discord, there's not much anyone can do to enforce forum activity.

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    1 hour ago, Manu said:

    That is exactly how I feel about it as well. Discord chat in some of the channels moves too fast for me to follow it, and it's extremely unconvenient to scroll back searching for the beginning of a discussion. That's why I've given up on using the Discord. I haven't been very active on the forum either recently, but especially for casually active members like me, I think forum discussions are easier to track back than Discord discussions are. Discord is great for real-time chatter and getting quick answers or reactions, but it's not ideal for in-depth discussions in my opinion, especially if so many different time zones are involved like it's the case with this community.

    That being said, if most of the community has already migrated to Discord, there's not much anyone can do to enforce forum activity.

    We totally get and understand the concern regarding the fact that it can be hard to keep up with the conversations going on in the Discord server. In fact, this is one of the things we discussed as being a downside to do this. Unfortunately, there's not a ton we can do about that. People are in weird time zones, and have crazy schedules, and we get that. We have tried to be as accommodating as possible to that fact for the past few years by keeping the forum open for as long as we have.

    Unfortunately, things haven't changed as far as the forum's activity goes, and we really can't justify keeping it open on the off chance that a few people are possibly going to be active, not when we have an entire community of people on the Discord server who are actively using it. I realize how frustrating this might be, but I'm...not entirely sure what else we can do at this point. What's the point of keeping a forum open for a few people who might make posts and might respond, only to not get any responses back due to the larger community not using the forum any more? It just doesn't make sense. We've tried long and hard to keep the forum afloat, but it's just not working any more. The Discord server IS floating, though, and that's what's important.

    I don't know if this will really, truly help, but one thing we could possibly consider doing is something I've seen in the World Anvil Discord server, which is an end of the month "newsletter" where they do a tag for everyone in the server and let people know about things going on in the server, though that won't really help with actual conversations. I'm not sure what, if anything, can really be done about that, though. I think it just kind of...is what it is. 🙁

    We have to do what's best for the community as a whole.

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    On 11/24/2019 at 2:26 PM, Jedi Knight Muse said:

    I'm sad that you and even some others have gotten the feeling that you have to either use both the forum and the server or neither - that was never our intention, and I hope we never gave a specific impression that made you think that.

    Oh no, it's definitely not anything in particular anyone did or said! Mostly just a "me" issue: I'm pretty socially anxious and often nervous on the background about not being aware of something or doing the wrong thing on accident or whatever. There were just some small things, like someone posting in the forum and mentioning stuff like "so we talked about it on Discord", or me lurking in one of the Discord channels and seeing people mention the forum there. And there's naturally nothing wrong with either! But with this spread/overlap, it just made me a bit anxious, like what if I post something in the forum and it turns to be something everyone has already discussed in Discord, or vice versa. Like I said, totally a "me" issue.

    On 11/24/2019 at 2:26 PM, Jedi Knight Muse said:

    And even without the Discord, I mean...there really wasn't much for discussionstaking place. People would start posts, people would reply, and that was it. No actual conversations really took place. As someone who is also an old school forum user - which is why I tried so hard to keep the forum for so long - it was one of the most bizarre things ever, because I've seen other forums where people generate conversations all the time and there's a lot of back and forth, but for some reason that was just not happening despite our best efforts. There's only so much we can do and say to basically tell people that they need to post and not rely on the staff to do it for them. This is unfortunately a long time issue that we've had since the beginning, and we've wracked our brains trying to figure out how to fix things, but nothing really worked.

    I totally get that. Apart from that feeling of "maybe I should be keeping up with both spaces," a bigger reason that sometimes prevented me from posting was that feeling of no conversation. I would log in and search for new topics and new discussion to participate in, and often the activity feed for days or more would be just people sharing word counts for the challenges and such. Nothing to respond or add to or get inspired to start my own topic on a related yet separate issue and expect to actually get responses, etc.

    It's weird how this sometimes happens: I've managed a few forums in my time, and some just took off, while others eventually died out without ever showing big surges of activity, no matter what I did. I think it maybe comes down to having a core group of users who always generate some amount of activity independently of the staff. You're either lucky to get a group like that, or you run into trouble. If it's only the staff who constantly generates the activity, I think people often risk perceiving it (maybe unconsciously) as "only the staff gets to start new topics and such," even though the intention is usually completely the opposite. I currently run a small roleplaying forum, and I'm lucky that there are about three people, just regular users, who are always around, starting new short games, being creative enough to somehow naturally facilitate activity in the game feedback threads from other, more casual/occasional users, always chatting about something in the off-topic threads and such. I know that if I neglect that forum for a week because of business, I'd probably come back to at least some measure of activity. I sometimes think I should finally give at least one of those users the mod priveleges, but because of some of the previous experiences I'm wary that it would lend the forum into the trap of being perceived as "a place for staff's entertainment" or something. 

    Anyway, sorry for the digression. 😅 I'll definitely do my best to be more active on Discord, especially if it's okay to just randomly jump into conversations when I have something to say instead of being present semi-constantly  🙂

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