Author Topic: Board Consolidation  (Read 2220 times)

Offline Carl

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Board Consolidation
« on: March 31, 2016, 04:33:58 PM »
Forums can be clunky, and it gets worse the more boards you have. It is excellent for organization but has the opposite effect on usability, especially for members who are new to the entire concept of using our Forum. The more boards you have, the less active a community becomes.

MrsFlynn and I came to a discussion about improving the usability of the site, and the biggest thing that came to mind was our number of boards - some of which can go weeks without posts. We have talked this out with staff and it's clear something will be done, thought things are not 100% ironed out yet and we're waiting on more opinions. You can share them here, and all will be considered.

The main thing we do not want to do is confuse people by making radical changes overnight. So, over coming weeks things may be moved around a bit but primarily merged. Links will stay the same though changes I make here are irreversible, so we're proceeding with caution. Some boards will get merged into one board 'Sims 4 (or 3) General Discussion & Gameplay Help'. Our search would facilitate finding something on specific emotions or skills, as these moves will not alter search in any way. We are not going to merge Expansion boards into this, though we may do something later.

I will update this post with changes so that people know where things are going. Later in the month if you find something under General missing, you can check here to see where I've placed it or do a search. For now, the only thing changing is miscellaneous help has become a part of general discussion. This seems less confusing, as many posts could fit into either/or. It is one simple, obvious change to make. Technical help is the place to go for computer/origin/crash issues, while anything gameplay-related goes into the main board.

We would like to have most topics about the base game as part of this one board, with more specific discussion taking place elsewhere. A more active general board is better for everyone. Questions are more likely to be answered (misc help) and posts will be seen more often. That, along with reducing confusion for new members, is our main goal.

Challenges and stories boards will not be touched, in case anyone wonders.

Offline Deklitch

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Re: Board Consolidation
« Reply #1 on: March 31, 2016, 05:33:20 PM »
Thanks @Carl and @MrsFlynn for not only telling us about these changes, but explaining the need for them.

Also thank you for not making the changes overnight without telling us about them. There are forums on which administrators make changes overnight, without warning or explanation and who basically tell their membership "take it or leave it" or that the reasons are for unspecified 'technical issues'.

The friendly way you administer this forum is greatly appreciated!

May I also thank the staff who help out with topic maintenance, you guys don't get thanked enough, but I know your work behind the scenes is appreciated! :)



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Online MrsFlynn

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Re: Board Consolidation
« Reply #2 on: March 31, 2016, 06:48:32 PM »
Along with board consolidation, we're trying to organize some of the stickied threads.

And you're welcome. We're trying our best to have our forum be a user-friendly forum for both us long-time members and newbies. :)




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Offline _Annika_

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Re: Board Consolidation
« Reply #3 on: March 31, 2016, 07:44:20 PM »
I don't think anything looks cluttered or confusing - it's more that we have two pages smooshed into one - Sims 3 and Sims 4. If they were separated, it would look easier to navigate.

Personally I use the recent unread topics links at the top of the page under my profile picture, more than anything else.

I know the forum has seen a lot less traffic than it used to. Gone are the days when we'd argue about coke or pepsi in the Babble thread. I don't think we'll see that kind of activity again, but it would be good to improve the use-ability of the forum for new members so that we can welcome a new generation of simmers.

Offline KRae

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Re: Board Consolidation
« Reply #4 on: April 01, 2016, 12:45:40 PM »
Like Annika, I use the recent unread topics and update to posts tabs at the top of the page more than anything. I miss them already.

Offline Carl

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Re: Board Consolidation
« Reply #5 on: April 03, 2016, 12:01:47 PM »
@MrsFlynn had proposed that we do something to help new members understand how Forums work during the registration process. Get them directed at some of the info threads we have here that help with using the boards. This is something I will look at when I am back from a break from development that I am taking.

@Deklitch thank you for that. Have always tried to get the community's opinion on things, because it affects a lot of members when we make big changes. We're not all knowing and cannot even pretend to be. Making sure plenty of people think something is a good idea is important. Without the community this would be pointless :)

@KRae Definitely won't do anything to affect the recent topics and replies areas of the Forum. I think those will be completely unaffected by this. Honestly if everyone knew to use those, it wouldn't matter where things were.

@_Annika_ Yes we certainly have seen a reduction, and it really should've been more expected. When I started the Sims 3 site it actually grew popular pretty fast, but yet we had a somewhat slow Forum for quite a while. The boards really exploded around mid-2012 I expect it to be somewhat cyclical and that things may pick up a bit more over time, but that it may never see such a level of popularity due to the spread of other social media types. It is likely to do the same thing with the next Sims game.

One issue I see (and I admit I was wrong on) was in the creation of the Babble Board. When we had dozens online at a time, it made more sense. Now it's slower, and may be too much. I've realized this for a while now. It was not as bad when we didn't have organizational issues (Babble was right there in the Sims 3 section on general discussion). Now it's in the middle of the member zone and kind of missable, and really the one thread is the main attraction for discussion there.

It definitely posed some problems to have two game forums in one, but I think things may have been much worse in terms of membership and moderation duties if we had split them.

We know that from a technical viewpoint, too many boards can apparently cause some sluggishness in loading, but it is more a concern when we have more people actually online.

Hopefully if I can find a new design, the line between Sims 3 and 4 categories on the forum are more obvious. I wonder how many people know to collapse the other section using the minus sign to the right (inside the green bar) if you're only here for one game! It even persists when you reload the site.

Offline Deklitch

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Re: Board Consolidation
« Reply #6 on: April 03, 2016, 04:57:03 PM »
I use that functionality and collapse Sims 4. However the problem comes for me with the building competition. By collapsing Sims 4, I tend to forget it as being for Sims 3 with it sitting in the Sims 4 boards. It is an issue for me to solve, however.



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Offline Tigerskin

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Re: Board Consolidation
« Reply #7 on: April 03, 2016, 06:56:22 PM »
In regards to the babble board: the one topic that always seems to have the most recent topic is the birthday thread and might be overshadowing other topics?

I know it's always showing as a new topic when I'm on the board....admittedly I ignore the birthday thread myself.

But because I go via the main board it's the topic that shows as a new topic, so I don't tend to go into the babble board.

I hope that makes sense and I'm not... Babbling!  ;)

Offline oshizu

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Re: Board Consolidation
« Reply #8 on: April 03, 2016, 09:29:08 PM »
I think board consolidation is a great idea if it makes the forum friendlier to new members.
Personally, I've never really found the forum organization confusing--just look through the main categories and there's always Google search.
Like the other members, I always start out at "Replies to your posts" followed by "Unread posts," then my bookmarked threads.

I really love the way @MrsFlynn has been creating indexed links of the most important board topics--organizing all that information into a few posts is helpful to all forum members, I think.

I'm not sure how I feel about a harder separation between Sims 3 and Sims 4, since I follow several really great TS3 story threads even though I don't play TS3 myself. But since I've bookmarked them, I guess that wouldn't be an issue.
Regarding the number of threads, I'd like to apologize for adding to the confusion surrounding the Spring Challenge. Since I've always regarded the Member Zone Announcement boards to be for, well, announcements, I created a new topic about the Spring Challenge growfruit and we ended up with multiple threads repeating some of the same information. Just for future reference, may I ask whether I should have posted on the Announcement thread?

I spend most of my time on the forum reading gameplay questions and story threads. I've only peeked at the Babble thread a few times. And although forum participation may have dropped, I typically see 250+ people online at this forum during my daylight hours. I was mentioning that for a reason but I forgot where I was going with that.

Just wanted to chime in other members posting in this thread to say that I appreciate all that Carl and MrsFlynn are doing behind the scenes to improve the forum experience of all.

Offline _Annika_

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Re: Board Consolidation
« Reply #9 on: April 03, 2016, 10:20:32 PM »
@Carl  Yes, I think the member's zone could be consolidated, and remove the babble board. You could move the individual babble thread and birthday thread to the member zone, and send the other threads to the graveyard.

I hadn't actually seen that board collapse button on the RHS (right hand side), so that's a great tip! I use both though, so I won't likely use it.

The Sims 4 packs could all be combined into one board, too, I think.

The challenges and contests could go in the member zone - you do have to be a member to participate, however keeping them on their own board could be good too, because they could attract more simmers. Every time it has been the challenges that have renewed my interest in the game. (Do we have a guide page that points to the challenges? That could help improve traffic)

Offline Carl

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Re: Board Consolidation
« Reply #10 on: April 08, 2016, 06:03:58 PM »
Today I just did something simple that will help performance going forward. Only our Moderators can see the graveyard. Discontinued stories are still stored there so that they can be resurrected should someone wish to, it is our recycle bin, since anything deleted on the Forum is gone forever. However with those situations being rare, we will rely on a person just asking us to bring the story back rather than having that board visible and showing 'new' posts.

People writing stories can still request stories be moved to the graveyard in case they'd like to pick them back up later.

Offline Magpie2012

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Re: Board Consolidation
« Reply #11 on: April 09, 2016, 08:44:38 AM »
@Carl but what about those of us who want to read the "prequels" to some of the stories? I've only just started reading about @Nettlejuice's Kessy and I would really like to go to the Graveyard and read the failed stories...
because... Math *Pippin The Most Tenacious Simmer*

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Re: Board Consolidation
« Reply #12 on: April 09, 2016, 09:07:53 AM »
@Carl but what about those of us who want to read the "prequels" to some of the stories? I've only just started reading about @Nettlejuice's Kessy and I would really like to go to the Graveyard and read the failed stories...

I have a lot of stories bookmarked. Even some that are moved to the graveyard and I still have access to them. I love the bookmark for all my favorite stories active or not. Thank you Carl for taking my suggestion on that one a few years back.

Offline Magpie2012

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Re: Board Consolidation
« Reply #13 on: April 09, 2016, 11:33:04 AM »
But what if I didn't have them bookmarked before the big move *sobs*
because... Math *Pippin The Most Tenacious Simmer*

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Re: Board Consolidation
« Reply #14 on: April 09, 2016, 04:30:42 PM »
@Magpie2012 sent you a messege

Offline Carl

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Re: Board Consolidation
« Reply #15 on: April 09, 2016, 05:05:11 PM »
I just flipped the switch so that regular members can see it, but guests cannot. This is a solution until we sort things out :)

Offline Magpie2012

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Re: Board Consolidation
« Reply #16 on: April 09, 2016, 11:52:22 PM »
Thanks @sdhoey

Thanks @Carl I feel bad whining about it, but half the fun of some of the stories is finding out the background behind them, which often comes from failed challenges! Maybe you could give us an "opt-in" option? Like we could PM you or the Team to get access, and the rest of the time it's hidden for everyone else? Or is that too labour intensive?

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Re: Board Consolidation
« Reply #17 on: April 10, 2016, 12:23:38 AM »
@Magpie2012

I absolutely love the "opt-in" option idea!! And then remind writers to link to their older stories. Just in case others want to still read their previous stories.

I don't think it would be to much to ask.

Great idea!! :)
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Offline Magpie2012

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Re: Board Consolidation
« Reply #18 on: April 10, 2016, 02:53:23 AM »
Cool ;-D it would cut down I think because most of us have been around forever and read some of the back stories, and we could also have an opt-out option too. So that when we're done, we don't clutter up the servers (or whatever, tech stuff is over my head lol) by having too many people having access to it. I know I'd probably only use it for Kessy, and then maybe not need to use it for months. Would seem a bit silly to retain my access in a case like that!

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because... Math *Pippin The Most Tenacious Simmer*

Only 2 things are infinite... The universe and human stupidity. And I'm not sure about the universe. *Albert Einstein*

Don't believe all the quotes that have been attributed to me. *Albert Einstein*

I can't ignore ALL of the voices in my head - Some of them actually make sense! *Blayzen*

Offline Nettlejuice

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Re: Board Consolidation
« Reply #19 on: April 10, 2016, 06:47:01 AM »
I love the opt-in idea and I'll link my failed stories to my current one too ^-^ Thank you @Carl !
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Offline KRae

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Re: Board Consolidation
« Reply #20 on: April 12, 2016, 10:58:43 AM »
I've just read all of Rica's failed Artie dynasties in order to be up to speed on her current one. So, yes, I too think opting in would be good.

Offline Carl

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Re: Board Consolidation
« Reply #21 on: April 12, 2016, 01:09:37 PM »
While it makes me a liar for saying we weren't thinking of stories in the OP, something that came up in Moderator discussion to give stories more visibility while cutting down on number of boards is to make boards for: in progress stories of two types: Challenge/Legacy Stories and Misc. Stories and Projects, as well as Completed Stories for those who prefer to read only those that are done. We could let authors indicate the type of challenge they're pursuing in the title and/or first post. I personally like the idea, and a few Moderators have indicated they agree. As we get more challenges, it will just grow and grow and this would prevent that.

Additionally, with people posting on only three boards, and browsing only three boards, the hard work that story authors put into their creations would be more likely to be noticed.

At the moment we have 2 boards for every challenge type. Titles could be like, "Name of story - an Immortal Dynasty Challenge" if desired, or just noted in the posts. A lot of people are interested more in the stories themselves, but also to see how people completed certain challenges so it could appease both crowds.

Since this affects members most, I do not want to do anything without hearing people's thoughts.

Since the Stories Graveyard is already separate from the other graveyard threads, we could add an additional board: Stories graveyard, that way the backstories are right there, and the remainder of the graveyard could be off-limits.

This process is moving slowly as I'm taking time off from development and spending time with my loved ones, but I wanted changes to happen gradually anyway in order to avoid confusing people with too much at once. Please share your opinions one way or the other, we kind of assume people who hate an idea are more likely to speak up but would love to see some feedback from both sides. Thanks, gang!

Offline Shewolf13

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Re: Board Consolidation
« Reply #22 on: April 12, 2016, 02:40:09 PM »
I think that idea is a great one, as far as only having a couple of story boards.  It would definitely cut down on the type of boards, plus having just a stories graveyard would solve the backstory problem as well.

Just wanted to pop in and say thank you to you, @Carl , of course, but also all the Mods for all the work you do!

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Re: Board Consolidation
« Reply #23 on: April 12, 2016, 03:16:19 PM »
I like the idea of the Story Boards @Carl and most certainly enjoy your time with your loved one's.

Offline Deklitch

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Re: Board Consolidation
« Reply #24 on: April 12, 2016, 04:04:57 PM »
Great idea @Carl and team. I see why we pay you the big simeloens! :)