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Author Topic: The State of the CBG: An open invitation to your comments  (Read 6898 times)
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« on: October 18, 2010, 11:23:50 PM »

Well it's been a few days since the great turtle handed over the reigns. Other than a leadership name change I'm sure things have seemed rather uneventful which is what I was hoping for as I still want this to remain the same site as it has always been. Now however that I've had time to consider things I would like to open up a discussion for anyone who would like to comment on the future of The CBG. As I've already said The CBG 2.0 is still in the works and I'm talking with Ishmayl about getting access to the Drupal code, though I'm also considering other options. The most important thing beyond keeping things running smoothly I think is cleaning up the site as there is alot of old stuff clogging the place up, I plan to fix this with CBG 2.0.

The concept is pretty grand and I hope that it is eventually realized but the core aspect of getting us into a fresh setup is the most important thing and so alot of the extra things that were considered are getting put on the back burner in favor of getting the main forums and other vitals running. So then I'm asking you all as fellow members of the community to voice your opinions on the direction the site is taking. I'd really like feedback on what you think is vital for The CBG 2.0 beyond just the forums and less vital things you'd like to see added in later on. Any other comments on the future of the site and where we're currently heading is also appreciated and I'll also be happy to answer questions as best as I can. This whole thing is still very new to me and I think that if we share our collective knowledge it will go smoother for me as well as you.

Fellow CBG Member and Turtle Fan,
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« Reply #1 on: October 18, 2010, 11:36:12 PM »

As far as my own thoughts, I'd like to see an integrated system in the CBG 2.0 for posting clean, nice-looking system information without having to know html; sort of like the forums, but with more options regarding layout. That's just me, because I'm too lazy to learn html.

I'd also like to see more outreach; I don't know how much advertisement goes on in the D&D forum, but I don't think we're big enough yet to grow via word-of-mouth alone. More is, hopefully, better. Long term, I'd love to the the campaign builders magazine start back up, and maybe an organized collaborative effort for review groups (most attempts have been DOA, unfortunately).

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« Reply #2 on: October 18, 2010, 11:45:57 PM »

Personally, I'd like to see a live chat integrated with the main page. mRIC is all well and good but I think we'd see more chat interest if it were integrated.
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« Reply #3 on: October 18, 2010, 11:48:21 PM »

Stargate525


I'd also like to see more outreach; I don't know how much advertisement goes on in the D&D forum, but I don't think we're big enough yet to grow via word-of-mouth alone. More is, hopefully, better. Long term, I'd love to the the campaign builders magazine start back up, and maybe an organized collaborative effort for review groups (most attempts have been DOA, unfortunately).

Personally, I'd like to see a live chat integrated with the main page. mRIC is all well and good but I think we'd see more chat interest if it were integrated.
[/quote]

Noted. For my part I agree this would be good and I'll consider such a thing, possibly as an IRC aid, possibly even as a replacement for the tavern itself.
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« Reply #4 on: October 19, 2010, 12:01:45 AM »

Moar contests.

Lots more contests.

(they don't even need prizes. Just, y'know, more contests)
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« Reply #5 on: October 19, 2010, 12:14:17 AM »

Nomadic


Noted. For my part I agree this would be good and I'll consider such a thing, possibly as an IRC aid, possibly even as a replacement for the tavern itself.


I wouldn't remove the Tavern, its great for posting bulletins that don't require a thread but need to be seen.
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« Reply #6 on: October 19, 2010, 12:24:27 AM »

Elemental_Elf


I wouldn't remove the Tavern, its great for posting bulletins that don't require a thread but need to be seen.


Very good point, just an on-site IRC connection to let members chat in real time without needing any IRC knowledge then.
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« Reply #7 on: October 19, 2010, 12:42:24 AM »

Nomadic

As for that last part I think a return to the cbg magazine would be a welcome addition. I'm not sure what sort of time I could commit to something like that but with the help of some committed campaign builders I'm sure that such an undertaking would be within our grasp.


For our newer members who aren't privy to what this was, the CBGuide was a small, irregularly-released zine that featured articles by members of the site. The articles focused on various aspects of world-building.

I had the proud distinction of being a coordinator and editor for part of the Guide's history, and I can say this much: If people genuinely want to revive the Guide, then I encourage it, but I have to warn that it's a lot more work than it might seem at first. Even when I had volunteers for much of the leg work, coordinating content and setting the agenda was a huge task, and the Guide collapsed in part due to a lack of quality submissions from users. The Guide also caused minor ripples of drama once, and a member left in part because he felt his criticism of the Guide was unwelcome and that the community had become sycophantic.

I maintain that he was wrong. But I caution any prospective candidate who wants to take up the mantle of the Guide's editor- your responsibility will be to produce a quality product that both enriches our community and represents us to the web at large, and you will need help and innovative methods of recruiting writers. You will have to reject work from people you've known for years if you feel it is inadequate, and you will have to dedicate serious amounts of time and energy coordinating artists (either public domain art arranged by a graphic designer, or artists who grant permission to use their pieces), contributors, and editors- although you may be able to take some of these other tasks on yourself if you have the appropriate skills (thus eliminating the number of people you'll have to rely on), that will be all the more personal time you will be devoting to the Guide on a regular basis.

Just my thoughts, and I hope I didn't scare anyone away from the idea. Best of luck.
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« Reply #8 on: October 19, 2010, 08:16:08 AM »

Are we planning/wanting to grow?

Seriously, this has a huge effect on everything said so far or anything that will be said. The CBG has been, in my tenure here, mainly made up of 15-20 core members and maybe the same amount of marginal members (new/returning/bopping in &out--Snargash, I'm talking to you...)at any given time.  Even in terms of critical population mass, we seem to stay about the same size.

I love being niche and edgy and all that, but I have always believed that a little membership boost will solve many of the little issues we have about thread interest, etc.  (Not to mention my reading on the effects of group size to brainstorming and productivity) Not a lot, just changing the critical population point up a few notches.  I think that some outreach and a progrowth agenda will do us a lot of good.  

Secondly, I concur that a closer and easier access to chat/gaming chat will help us out.  For the first time since I have been here, we have a few people running semi-regular online games, perhaps aided by certain members monomaniacal tendencies, but it is still an important point.  
Understand this has a synergistic effect onto the group-size building agenda.  Gamers like to game.  Many don't game as much as they'd like.  A site that is known for Campaign Building and online playing of said campaigns will attract some more posters.  I point to Skofflox/Vermortis as proof, not to mention Jomalley and others who show up in #celtricia (which I consider the subgroup to #thecbg) just to watch players cry...I mean, watch us play.  Yeah.  Sorry about that.

Many of us also check in from work regularly, and can't run IRC from company-owned mcahines.  So a more integrated chat would also enable that feature more use.

Thirdly, a way to create sub-thread groups would make those of us who tend to create sprawling stream of consiousness thread groupings would probably be useful.  I've been trying to stay consistent with my thread creation, but if a reader could browse by a created grouping, it might enable a little more feedback.

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« Reply #9 on: October 19, 2010, 09:11:58 AM »

Nomadic


I sort of see where you're going with this but perhaps some elaboration. What sort of things would you like to see in the form of bbcodes and such for that sort of layout? Tables? More styling options?

My biggest complaint currently is the lack of wrapping for images, and the lack of a wrapping sidebar that isn't that atrocious yellow (useful, but glaringly annoying if I want to put a chart or something in there).
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« Reply #10 on: October 19, 2010, 10:38:41 AM »

Nomadic


I'd like to start running some semi-regular contests and advertise them on our sister site. The cartographer's guild has a very large and active membership pool and getting some of them to check us out here more regularly would be awesome.

We could run joint contests with CartoGuild, with maps created based on contest-winning descriptions or vice versa.
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« Reply #11 on: October 19, 2010, 01:02:43 PM »

Congratulations again and good luck, Nomadic.

I again echo what Vreeg says (he has a great idea)- the projects and everything can be much easier to do if we have more members. If you post at other forums, advertising the CBG in your signature will attract people.

I think the CBG gets a lot of views, but few posts currently... If you look at the Effie the Wyrm's top site list, the CBG consistently ranks highly in views in-- but these people don't post.

One simple fix on that is to correct something weird about these boards- the POST REPLY button doesn't appear if you aren't registered. You have to go back to the front page to register. If POST REPLY or NEW THREAD was on every page (and it took you to a please register page); then people might be more tempted to register b/c it would be easier to just drop in and make a comment.

Integrated chat would be a nice idea- but probably too difficult to code. I'd support it though- also, I'd support more obvious links on the FRONT page to get to MIRC. I try to follow the forums information on that and it's a bit confusing.

Making the Chat and running games 'our thing' may get people-- Advertise 'run games in your world'... make it really easy to get into the IRC- like links to mIRC or mibbit - simple programs on the front page... Encourage people to integrate forum posts with the wiki and the chat.

Many sites support running PbP DnD games- if we focus on supporting IRC DnD games we'd be unique. Or at least we could provide a very easy in-platform for people looking for these IRC games. There could even be a schedule posted somewhere- in a thread at first; then after CBG 2.0 a dynamic calendar with game times and people-checkin lists. I find it a bit difficult to know when Steerpike's games are gonig to be sometimes (since there's about 3 or 4 threads that he has on his game.) If there was something central, it might be more attractive for new people to drop in.

Also maybe useful for steerpike at least is w/r/t the chat logs I think he has to currently format it from "<<Nomadic>> to Bold nomadic and delete the <<s. What if we could hack up a CSS forum script to auto-change The IRC crap and substitute in our own style sheet. Recalling back to my web-design days (haven't coded for a salary in 8 years; haven't coded in 6), I'm pretty sure it's possible.

The best feature the NEWEST POSTS crawl on the front page should be maintained-- I only look at that to see the newest posts b/c it's the most efficient way to see hwere to contribute.

I think that Sarisa, Steerpike and myself had some things to say on attracting new people to the CBG in an old Dragon's Den thread.

I also think that I had an old thread where I commented at length w/r/t an easier time-managed restart of the magazine. I don't think I have the time to restart it even in the scaled-down version that I suggested, but the proposed structure is there in an old thread. (Basically, republishing our contest-work and other information and distributing through the gaming blogs-- the big work would be in 1. assembly/permissions and 2. promotional work ; rather than trying to hunt down submissions.
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« Reply #12 on: October 19, 2010, 01:07:30 PM »

So I guess we have 2 possibly 3 points of differentiation and one good connection.

1. I love our coding here with the IC and the OOC and Note shoutouts  on the forum- it's why I registered and posted my settings here.

2. We can focus on being the IRC place to host your setting on Wiki or the Forums and to attract players. (Maybe attract some people from the GiTP forums or the DnD online crowd)

3. We can use Magazine releases on blog sites that focus on gaming to increase buzz. No one else does the magazine-- although on Paizo's forums the Wayfinder project basically is what the CBG did.

4. We have a good relationship with Cartographer's guild- we should use that connection.

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« Reply #13 on: October 19, 2010, 01:35:50 PM »

Stargate525


As far as my own thoughts, I'd like to see an integrated system in the CBG 2.0 for posting clean, nice-looking system information without having to know html; sort of like the forums, but with more options regarding layout. That's just me, because I'm too lazy to learn html.

Have you played around with the Wiki at all? It's versatile and fairly painless to learn, and I'd be glad to give some pointers or help with troubleshooting (and there are plenty of folks around the site who are similarly helpful, only more technically proficient, too!)

Back to the original topic:

I think Vreeg is right on, re: focusing on games. Games can be a huge draw for the community, and one of the things that I'm thinking about is the fact that most of the games we organize through the site are run through IRC, which is sort of a "had to be there" medium. Somebody usually ends up with chatlogs afterward, but if I log on to the CBG on a Tuesday afternoon and I'm curious about what's been going on in the local games for the past week, it's often pretty hard to find that information unless somebody's posted the highlights and has taken pains to make them easy to find and well-organized. (Vreeg's pretty good at doing that sort of thing for his games, but still.)

I'd love to see features that make it easier to post information about games that we're running through the site, and to browse/read/play them. What I'd really like to do is to create subforums for this purpose.

Say, for example, I start running two games here on the site (if only!): a Tuesday-night Jade Stage game in IRC, and a play-by-post. What if we have a PBP forum where I could create a separate subforum for each game-- threads for each character, with their character stats, bios, in-character journals, comments on crazy stuff that's happened to them during the game, etc. Threads for big events ("The Council of Five's Start-of-War Meeting"), for Q&A on important setting aspects related to this particular game ("Who's Who in Yolek-Ja"), and so on. Players from one game can easily browse the stuff that's happening in the other game, to see how their counterparts are affecting their shared world.

I mean, I know this is all possible to do on the wiki, and if I had the time to run two games, I'd probably do it. But in a forum, a lot of the setup is already done for us, and it's become clear that, right now, a lot of people just don't bother with the wiki anyway.

There's another thing that I think could be changed-- we ought to find a good way to pimp the wiki some more. Would it be possible to put some kind of wiki analogue to the "recent threads" window on the front page? (Maybe not a direct link to the Recent Changes code, because a lot of that stuff-- mostly mine-- is repetitive and boring.) Maybe some kind of weekly or monthly rotating "here's a cool thing on the wiki", or a few links to heavy-hitting Wiki projects like Clockwork Jungle or Asura that are right in a sidebar on the main page of the site. Something to get people to head on over there and see that it's pretty cool and minimally scary.

All in all, I'm pretty happy with the state of things around here. I'm excited about 2.0, and I'm sure we'd all have more fun with an infusion of new blood to speed up the activity around here, but I'm patient and content with our current setup. I think Nomadic's a prime choice to hold the reins of power around here, and I'm confident we'll continue to prosper under his savvy leadership.
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« Reply #14 on: October 19, 2010, 03:08:41 PM »

In addition to IRC games, we should also see if we can improve our PbP traffic. We could market the CBG as a place where you can reliably and easily run PbP games in your own homebrewed world.

As for places we could try attracting new members, we should try the Giant In The Play Ground Forums. That forum is constantly active, especially they're PbP and RPG sections.
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