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Feed the back. om nom nom.
Xhin is listening.

@Everybdoy!!! And especially Xhin though.

I wanted to post in my capacity as Ad Committee member, but wanted to do so here because I feel like no one in our committee is left, and because why shouldn't anyone-who-wants-to chime in?

I've had a lot of thoughts about this site and things I've wanted/been planning to do as a staff member, but I've been really busy in my personal life lately. Xhin's post about planning a week-long party finally moved me to action, and since I don't have to work today, I'm just gonna share some of what I've been thinking.

I haven't wanted to do any advertising until as least some of this stuff gets addressed.

Clean Up

My fellow GTX0ians... you don't realize for how long I've been wanting to do a deep and thorough cleansing/re-organization of this site. One day I thought I would get started on this process so I spent a couple hours clicking around and taking detailed notes of exactly what I wanted cleaned up and moved around. I realized that in order to make my notes comprehensive, I would need more time, so I set the project aside for a while, and now I've lost my notes. D: So I guess I'm just gonna type up what I can remember off the top of my head, and crowdsource the rest to all of you. Leave comments if you've seen anything that needs to be fixed up!

Home Page & About Page. Listen I want to be delicate but I just gotta say that I don't like the home page. It isn't inviting. It looks pretty low-tech with all the HTML-looking links and lists. A lot of its links and descriptions aren't worth sharing there/aren't really in the spirit of GTX0 currently/would belong more in an About page. It doesn't feel like a gateway to the site, it just feels like an obligatory placeholder. Xhin, have you ever Googled "how to make a good Home Page" or "best Home Pages"? I made myself a website when I was doing my freelance editing, and Googling stuff like that was a huuuuuuge help.

Same applies for things like About Us pages and the like. I think GTX0, if it ever wants to attract more members, needs some good pages like those. And our facade just needs a facelift so it doesn't look like it was coded in the 90s.

Site Documents, Stickied Threads. This was the bulk of the notes I had taken. We just need to go through these with a fine-toothed comb, deleting the ones that are taking up space and editing the ones that could be helpful. I think some stickies should be made into documents (my rule of thumb is that if it's a permanent fixture and there's no reason for people to be commenting on it, put it into a document). Also, I think many of the stickied threads/documents in "Help" could be merged. All that involve site features, for instance, should probably be a single document. Comment if you know of anything that needs cleaning, moving, deleting, merging.

Some documents need to be more readily accessible. Like, put them where they are going to be convenient. Maybe some should be fixed to every forum somehow, or to the top of GTX0. Threads/documents that come to mind for this are: Site Rules, Staff Lists, All Formatting, and maybe some other user/feature guides. Some of these are always at the bottom of the page. Good thought, but they're hard to find down there IMO. Comment on when/where/what you need accessible.

Duplicates, Dead Links, and Broken Things. Just gonna jump into a list here. First, there are two hyperlinks called "Help." Yeah, maybe I'm just too dumb to notice which is filed under GTX0 and which is filed under NIFE, but I keep clicking the wrong one, and it's kind of a pain. Someone recently posted in the wrong one too, I think. Give one of them a better name. Second, the document called "Site Disclaimer" is in both Announcements and Help. Not sure if that's necessary. I think it's the only document in more than one forum right now.

Third, there are some broken links. The ones I remember are in the Site Rules document. I feel like there were others, but I can't find them right now. Comment if you know any.

Fourth, I'm testing out some of the toggles above this text-field. The in-site link one just did something weird; I don't think it works? Does the Youtube one work? I know the "Preview Message" thing doesn't work for all of the formatting I've used/tried to preview on GTX0. Fifth, [In-site Links and GT Terms and Acronyms] looks messed up. Sixth, I've had problems using quotation marks under the [hide[ tag. I don't remember exactly what, but it's something like, if you end a paragraph with " then the rest of what you have under that toggle disappears, or something. Uhhh.... I don't know. Any other broken stuff that you guys know of right now?

P.S. some forum headers are missing stuff. Like they'll say "Moderated by: [blank space]."

Make GT User-Friendly Again

Look, I'm an average guy with average intelligence. But I'm pretty sure that, as a newcomer, I wouldn't be able to figure out how to use this site's features without reading a lot of miscellaneous documents/stickies, which are stored in locations unknown to me (OK, to be fair, they're mostly stored in Help, which is intuitive enough). Like yeah, making and commenting on posts is the easiest thing. But beyond that, figuring out GTX0's features is kind of a mess. It's easy if you've been coming here a long time and were there when the features got implemented. But I'm really doubtful that this site is at all user-friendly to an outsider.

Making an Account. I just tested this out and it actually worked fine, both using the link at site's top and using the link that appears when you try to comment while unregistered. Sorry for being surprised, I just thought this system was still that whole messy deal where like an Admin had to manually register you or something? Anyway, looks good! Good job!

Usernames. The "Primary Username" vs "Account Username" thing is confusing. Also I'm pretty sure I'm still not receiving notifications when people tag Cetasaurus instead of KM8. Not sure if I receive messages either. When I send messages, not sure if people are receiving from KM8 or Cetasaurus. It's such a weird system IMO. I should just make a new account so that my Primary Username and Account Username are the same, and then never change names again. Or the system could be a better, different one.

Private Messaging. Nobody new/returning ever knows how to work this system or if we have one. It isn't clear that "Alerts" equals "Private Messaging," and once you realize that, the system still kinda sucks. Messages aren't stored, text field is tiny, and you have to manually type people's usernames with the correct spelling for it to work (heaven forbid, right? But seriously there should be a drop down menu when you type in that field or links on people's usernames when they comment or something).

Make a clear, single list of all features. Do we have this anywhere? I don't even know what all features we have. They get announcements when they're made and then we just remember them? Would like a list/guide of some sort. [Features] exists but needs editing and updating. I'd be willing to try to compile a Features Guide, maybe, if I have time. Or we can all collaborate too; that would be nice. I could volunteer to do any final editing.

Clean up tutorials. We have some tutorials that are helpful. Moonray's User CP Guide. LLight's All Formatting Guide. Let's make them into documents and keep them up-to-date, I think. And we need to merge some other things into them. The In-Site Links part of [In-site Links and GT Terms and Acronyms] should be merged into "All Formatting," along with [Text Tricks] and [Posting Images] and the bottom of [Features]. Maybe others need merging too – I'm too tired to be thorough today. [Edit Mode] should be put in the Features guide, once we have one. I'd be willing to make all these changes and more, but feel like I need some kind of permission or something.

Some of these tutorials should be accessible no matter where you are on the site... I'm thinking of "All Formatting" in particular. I know we have the "Posting Help" toggle above this text field. It's an OK solution once you figure out what all those hieroglyphs mean. It isn't comprehensive though. Earlier I had to open a new tab, go to the Help forum, click on a stickied post I happened to know was there, and scroll down to find out how to use the "bigger text" formatting that I also happened to know existed.

Also the "Complaints Process" and "Register Complain" links should probably be in the Help forum too. They are hard to spot at the bottom of the site.

Why do we need tutorials. Why aren't GT's features more intuitive. I know diddly-squat about computer programming and interface, but it seems to me like using GTX0 is a bit too unintuitive. When I visit a site, I don't usually end up reading long documents on how to use it. Sometimes FB will introduce a new feature and give me a little step-by-step run-down on how to use it, but it only takes, like, a few sentences to explain and then it makes sense forever. Does anyone with a background in website development have any info on what makes an interface easy, good for consumers, etc.? This should probably be researched and accounted for whenever a new GTX0 feature is introduced.

Speaking on the consumer side of things, without that development background, there are certain features that I just expect modern sites to have. For starters, why do I have to code my own formatting? Where's the button that just says "Bold"? "Size"? "Color"? "Bullets and Numbering"? "Insert image"? And why can't I make hyperlinks? And where's the "My Posts" button, or like a "My Activity" (yes, I know about the Filter feature).

Navigation and Aesthetics. GTX0 is a real chunky cat no matter where you go. It's makes me think of a bunch of bricks stacked on top of each other. In some ways it's convenient. Most of the time I like that I can load a page (like a forum, thread, or document) and still have the navigation bricks stacked on top of it. But it's kinda ugly. I really don't know. I need someone with more of a background in design to draft some thoughts on this, I think. Maybe it doesn't need changing. But I do feel like navigation can get clunky sometimes, especially when you're looking for those documents that should be readily accessible. And like, not everything needs to be a rectangle in a horizontal stack. We could put a rectangle in more of a vertical stack, just a real neat little menu, if we're thinking about adding to the navigation bricks. And hey, maybe not every page needs the navigation bricks on it. I am undecided. A Home Page/Portal page without the bricks could be nice.

Advertising/Getting New Members

This section is gonna be less about advertising and more about how to get anyone who may drop in to stay. We need to have a framework for retaining the members we attract in place before we attempt to attract them. But definitely comment if you have any good advertising strategies to share!

Action Begets Action. Part of the problem with getting the people to come here is that they see it is dead and then they leave. Meanwhile, threads that are the most active will tend to snowball, with people becoming more attracted to them the more they see that they are active. So my proposal is that we need a team of people are just gonna comment whenever they see a new or returning face. A Welcome Team, so to speak. It could be the Advertising Team, or it could just be literally all of us on the website currently. Comment even if it's not a forum you usually comment on. Like, if someone pops into Roleplaying, just greet them. "Hey, I don't usually visit this forum but welcome (back) to the site! Good to have you (back)!" Or even strike up a conversation. "I don't usually visit this forum, but it's good to have you on GTX0. What do you like most about [something pertaining to the forum they're in]?" Even commenting to argue against something they said will keep them invested. We should just have a group of people ready to engage any new faces that might show up. I think it would even be fine if their comments were slightly off-topic. A new face posts some discourse in Politics? Someone could jump in and say, "Hey [name] – don't think I've seen you around before! Welcome! Let me know if you ever want to talk in the General forum." "Feel free to make an introduction post to tell us a bit about yourself in the General forum!" I don't know. Be creative.

Rating System. I think a big reason Mike's GT had any success, other than fitting its zeitgeist, was that we could rate each other's tips, and the best-rated tips got moved to a special forum. There was competition involved, as well as reward and social recognition. That's what social media is really all about: judging and being judged. Plus the tips that got highly-rated would also be able to snowball activity. I found GT because its high-ranking tips kept appearing in my Google searches. I advocated for GTX0 to bring back tip-ranking ages ago, and I still think this place could be more successful with some kind of rating system.

Personal Bios. This could also be a helpful feature. Judging and being judged, or simply knowing and being known. That's what people tend to seek online, whether they think so or not. People like making bios and talking about themselves. Plus, once they've invested the effort into making a bio, they will be more likely to stay on the site. It's the foot-in-the-door effect in action.

Would love to hear any other ideas for retaining users.

Conclusions

Please comment. Please please.

settingsOptions
There are 15 Replies

I agree with all of your points, especially the technical issues and the fact that a lot of the mechanics behind things like account creation and whatnot are not very clear.

I recently changed my primary username and some real weird shit happened.

Posted July 4th by Cruinn-Annuin

gotta fix the search engine tags too seriously

Posted July 4th by poptart!

I'll do a full read-through of this soon, but I just want to point out that the lack of feature documentation is so bad even *I* don't know what features we have anymore.

I think the biggest problem with gtx0 is that almost all of it still runs on a base codebase that's 9 years old, back from when I barely knew how to code. Making changes to the newer code is easy; making changes to the core takes a lot of work. I don't have a solution for this, I'm just pointing out that's why some complex features come in fast while things like newpost improvements take years.

Posted July 4th by Xhin
Xhin
The planets are aligned







it probably won't help to attract new members since you need to actually show up in peoples' search results first but i'm going to rewrite these for you to make your site look nicer, xhin. and then i'm going to selfishly put that shit in my portfolio.

also, i'm the guy for the job because this is literally my day job

Posted July 4th by poptart!

@Xhin:

forgot to @ u

Posted July 4th by poptart!

what this stuff should look like:



Posted July 4th by poptart!

Moonray's User CP Guide.


I think the images for that stopped work ages ago and it's probably a little out of date as a couple of new things got added since then.

Posted July 5th by Moonray
Moonray
 

Personal Bios. This could also be a helpful feature. Judging and being judged, or simply knowing and being known. That's what people tend to seek online, whether they think so or not. People like making bios and talking about themselves. Plus, once they've invested the effort into making a bio, they will be more likely to stay on the site. It's the foot-in-the-door effect in action.



I would like this to be implemented. Mostly to satisfy the Narcissist in me. And secondly because weve been asking for this for years. While the original game talk did not have this for regular users. Moderators did have Personal Bios/ Profiles.

Posted July 7th by S.O.H.
S.O.H.
 

TGT members did too.

Posted July 7th by Vandy

So I just want to point out I've read most of this and like what I see. I still can't really give you the reply you deserve, but it'll happen Monday or Tuesday

Posted July 7th by Xhin
Xhin
The planets are aligned

Home Page

While members of classic GT probably love that long dissertation of this site's history, how we got created should not be what people see first when they open the home page. You don't go to Walt Disney World's homepage and find 4 paragraphs of how Walt Disney started his company with Ub Iwerks making Alice in Wonderland cartoon shorts: that's saved for a special page, or an "About Us" page.

Our home page should describe what you (Xhin) hope this site is and what it should be used for.

The only requirement I think we should have is keeping the famous last line: "So pull up a chair, pour yourself a glass of your favorite fizzy beverage, and make yourself at home." That line is legendary.

Miscellaneous

I don't want to be "that guy," but most of what you mentioned are small things. Forums that lost mods but still have "Modded By:" could be cleaned up, but that doesn't necessarily make the site more user-friendly or engaging. A design that encompasses Gametalk from page to page needs to be agreed upon, and that style needs to be consistent. This site lacks design fundamentals all over... Things range in complexity and aren't quite clear. The buttons over replies? I never use them. Only emoticons, and even then, rarely. I wish posting Youtube videos was automatic from the link, like Facebook.

Ratings

I agree it would be nice to have more interactive elements here. But ratings shouldn't be other people rating threads. Being able to post a review and get a different icon/color based on the review rating, seeing what's trending, thread view count, a list of games recently mentioned, stuff like that would be awesome! But we've already gotten into details. We need to step back and look at the site as a whole: what is it's purpose, and start figuring out our design from there.

Posted July 10th by mariomguy

Home Page & About Page. Listen I want to be delicate but I just gotta say that I don't like the home page. It isn't inviting. It looks pretty low-tech with all the HTML-looking links and lists. A lot of its links and descriptions aren't worth sharing there/aren't really in the spirit of GTX0 currently/would belong more in an About page. It doesn't feel like a gateway to the site, it just feels like an obligatory placeholder.

The homepage is terrible, I agree. I think one of the problems is I don't know what to actually put there since GTX0 is still in a transitional period. Any ideas?

Site Documents, Stickied Threads. This was the bulk of the notes I had taken. We just need to go through these with a fine-toothed comb, deleting the ones that are taking up space and editing the ones that could be helpful. I think some stickies should be made into documents (my rule of thumb is that if it's a permanent fixture and there's no reason for people to be commenting on it, put it into a document).

Agreed.

All that involve site features, for instance, should probably be a single document. Comment if you know of anything that needs cleaning, moving, deleting, merging.

We should overall have a place where site features are documented in general. I'm thinking about making it something where anyone on staff can edit it so we can roll this out faster.

Threads/documents that come to mind for this are: Site Rules, Staff Lists, All Formatting, and maybe some other user/feature guides.

My input is that the staff rules and all formatting guides should be on any page where people are actually posting (new post, new reply), or there should be links or otherwise access to them.

First, there are two hyperlinks called "Help." Yeah, maybe I'm just too dumb to notice which is filed under GTX0 and which is filed under NIFE, but I keep clicking the wrong one, and it's kind of a pain. Someone recently posted in the wrong one too, I think. Give one of them a better name.

Good idea.

Second, the document called "Site Disclaimer" is in both Announcements and Help. Not sure if that's necessary. I think it's the only document in more than one forum right now.

Also yeah, one or both of those I should probably just remove.

Fourth, I'm testing out some of the toggles above this text-field. The in-site link one just did something weird; I don't think it works? Does the Youtube one work? I know the "Preview Message" thing doesn't work for all of the formatting I've used/tried to preview on GTX0.

The toggles are a mess and look awful. I'm thinking that just totally rewriting those sections are code are probably the sanest option (and that's sad)

Fifth, [In-site Links and GT Terms and Acronyms] looks messed up.

Yeah, the backslash thing is an issue I need to fix. Also there's a lot of broken in-site link features as well. Also in-site links are kinda pointless in general now that we have useful /read/ links.

P.S. some forum headers are missing stuff. Like they'll say "Moderated by: [blank space]."

That should be an easy thing to fix. For me anyway (I can just scan the database)

Continued


Posted July 29th by Xhin
Xhin
The planets are aligned

But beyond that, figuring out GTX0's features is kind of a mess.

To be fair, GTX0's features themselves are a mess.

Making an Account. I just tested this out and it actually worked fine, both using the link at site's top and using the link that appears when you try to comment while unregistered. Sorry for being surprised, I just thought this system was still that whole messy deal where like an Admin had to manually register you or something? Anyway, looks good! Good job!

Yeah I tried to make this as intuitive as possible as one of the tasks for NIFE. The whole site needs to be made like this (or the user/name section, which is nice and intuitive too)

Usernames. The "Primary Username" vs "Account Username" thing is confusing.

Agreed. It made sense back when accounts were first being implemented, but there's no reason to keep it how it is now that the existing users can adapt to new changes and we're trying to get newcomers.

I think what I'll do is make the primary username thing happen automatically when you register, hide the prompt for it in the User CP and grandfather in whatever everyone's current settings are.

Also I'm pretty sure I'm still not receiving notifications when people tag Cetasaurus instead of KM8

That should be fixed now.. Maybe test it yourself?

Private Messaging. Nobody new/returning ever knows how to work this system or if we have one. It isn't clear that "Alerts" equals "Private Messaging," and once you realize that, the system still kinda sucks. Messages aren't stored, text field is tiny, and you have to manually type people's usernames with the correct spelling for it to work (heaven forbid, right? But seriously there should be a drop down menu when you type in that field or links on people's usernames when they comment or something).

Also agreed. I had a bunch of plans for this, but like many other projects they all became too complex and nothing happened, so I'm thinking a good solution is to just make something simple and expand on it over time. Same deal with some of Count Dooku's suggestions.

Or we can all collaborate too; that would be nice. I could volunteer to do any final editing.

This is looking like the best solution (see my point above, somewhere).

Clean up tutorials. We have some tutorials that are helpful. Moonray's User CP Guide. LLight's All Formatting Guide. Let's make them into documents and keep them up-to-date, I think. And we need to merge some other things into them. The In-Site Links part of [In-site Links and GT Terms and Acronyms] should be merged into "All Formatting," along with [Text Tricks] and [Posting Images] and the bottom of [Features]. Maybe others need merging too – I'm too tired to be thorough today. [Edit Mode] should be put in the Features guide, once we have one.

My idea is to instead kind of exhaustively go over the site and map out a list of all features, organize them and then we can edit those documents at our leisure. This should honestly be GTX0 priority #1, or at least getting the process started.

Earlier I had to open a new tab, go to the Help forum, click on a stickied post I happened to know was there, and scroll down to find out how to use the "bigger text" formatting that I also happened to know existed.

Some point that you haven't brought up is that our text formatting itself isn't particularly intuitive. It's damn fast though, so I really don't want to change it. Best compromise is to have an all-formatting guide somewhere.

Also the "Complaints Process" and "Register Complain" links should probably be in the Help forum too. They are hard to spot at the bottom of the site.

Having a "register complaint" link is redundant these days because of the "report" button.

Does anyone with a background in website development have any info on what makes an interface easy, good for consumers, etc.? This should probably be researched and accounted for whenever a new GTX0 feature is introduced.

It's surprising, but I'm actually pretty good at making intuitive features.. the issue isn't my skill but the fact that GTX0 is a giant amalgamation of 9 years of fulfilled feature requests with very little streamlining or feature pruning. I'd certainly like to fix things.

Where's the button that just says "Bold"? "Size"? "Color"? "Bullets and Numbering"? "Insert image"? And why can't I make hyperlinks? And where's the "My Posts" button, or like a "My Activity" (yes, I know about the Filter feature).

Good points. Some of these were planned a while back but never implemented due to site coding issues. (which again is why it's probably just a good idea to burn newpost/newreply down and start over).

GTX0 is a real chunky cat no matter where you go. It's makes me think of a bunch of bricks stacked on top of each other. In some ways it's convenient. Most of the time I like that I can load a page (like a forum, thread, or document) and still have the navigation bricks stacked on top of it. But it's kinda ugly. I really don't know. I need someone with more of a background in design to draft some thoughts on this, I think. Maybe it doesn't need changing. But I do feel like navigation can get clunky sometimes, especially when you're looking for those documents that should be readily accessible. And like, not everything needs to be a rectangle in a horizontal stack. We could put a rectangle in more of a vertical stack, just a real neat little menu, if we're thinking about adding to the navigation bricks. And hey, maybe not every page needs the navigation bricks on it. I am undecided. A Home Page/Portal page without the bricks could be nice.

I think things are okay as far as this goes. Less forums helps, it'll help even more once the Site and NIFE forums are integrated better. We could probably make incremental improvements as well.

Continued


Posted July 29th by Xhin
Xhin
The planets are aligned

So my proposal is that we need a team of people are just gonna comment whenever they see a new or returning face. A Welcome Team, so to speak

I like this idea a lot.

I found GT because its high-ranking tips kept appearing in my Google searches. I advocated for GTX0 to bring back tip-ranking ages ago, and I still think this place could be more successful with some kind of rating system.

To do this, we'd first need to bring back Tips. Any ideas on that?

Also, GTX0 does have a Post Like feature.. I could make this a normal feature and have an option to disable it rather than the other way around.

Personal Bios. This could also be a helpful feature. Judging and being judged, or simply knowing and being known. That's what people tend to seek online, whether they think so or not. People like making bios and talking about themselves. Plus, once they've invested the effort into making a bio, they will be more likely to stay on the site. It's the foot-in-the-door effect in action.

Dooku recommended this a while back as well, and I'm fully on board for it.

Conclusion here

I'd like to go ahead and take a bunch of things in this post and dooku's post and turn it into a kind of GTX0 checklist for me and others to work on sometime.


Posted July 29th by Xhin
Xhin
The planets are aligned

@KM8:

Posted July 29th by Xhin
Xhin
The planets are aligned
Reply to: Ideas as a member of the GTX0 Advertising Committee

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