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Issue Information

  • #000201

  • Suggestion



Photo

BZPower's Activity

Posted by -Windrider- on Jun 14 2013 - 10:21 PM

I know that I am not simply imagining it. BZPower's activity is decreasing, and it worries me. I have been a member of this site for over a decade and I want to see it thrive; I want to see it progress, evolve, and live, and it needs an active population in order to do that.
 
I don't mean to be negative here; I mean for this ticket to be constructive. I want to encourage brainstorming so that we can develop ideas to pass on to the Administration in hopes of revitalizing this site.
 
I think the goal here is not necessarily to attempt to stop members from leaving. That is natural; our population is aging and people move on. What we need to do is increase the rate at which new members join the site. Not every new member will stick, but the higher the influx, the more that will hang around. There are quite a few members who joined after the new boards came online and have become active members of the community. That's good! But we need more.
 
So, I ask, how do we do this?
 
Suggestions made so far:
  • Consider looking at New Member post restrictions (Basilisk) and policy (Zeene) DONE!
    • Use of automated confirmation response for validation instead of manual approval (Zeene)
    • Single Sign-On (Zeene)
      • B6 has since stated that this feature does not seem to be supported.
    • Ability to view/edit posts waiting approval (Zeene)
    • Notification upon post approval (Zeene)
      • The above two options don't seem to be something Invision allows
  • Further vary/generalize the board's focus (Basilisk) in the direction of general LEGO (Meiko)
    • Rearrange the forums: discussion boards on top? (fishers64)
  • Remove outdated rules and other quasi-anachronistic policies and unwanted vestiges (Princess Grr)
    • Cut down on/simplify the rules (fishers64)
  • Reorganize and restructure the staff (Princess Grr)
    • Voting process for staff election? Fixed terms? (Phantom Terror)
    • (Perhaps this is something to worry about later; I am not sure the current staff structure has an effect on activity)
  • Promote a more welcoming staff image through its practices (Princess Grr)
    • Differentiate between warning messages for Proto drops and Proto boosts (Zeene)
      • (I agree here; I miss the old system)
    • Edit posts rather than delete them, unless it is an extreme circumstance (Reznas)
      • (Agree, and I am getting back into the practice of doing this. However, I have the feeling that many members do not go back and read their posts, effectively rendering the edit useless. Notification for when a moderator edits your post? Require the moderator to PM the member as well?)
    • More frequent Proto boosts (Phantom Terror)
  • Delegation of staff duties and projects to ensure efficiency and completion (Princess Grr)
    • (I'd argue that the Tracker has improved things greatly, but there is still room for improvement for sure.)
  • Affiliate with larger sites and promote the name of BZPower (Meiko) and advertising elsewhere (Reznas)
    • More active steps to recruit through conventions? (-Windrider-)
    • Loosen BZP's own advertising restrictions (Reznas, ~Shockwave~, Dralcax) DONE!
    • (I agree that loosening our own ad policy is of a critical priority.)
  • Front page overhaul (Dual Matrix)
  • More focus on SBCs (Phantom Terror, Dual Matrix)
  • A more democratic approach to moderation and site projects and policy (Reznas)
    • (There's a fine balance, here; see CeeCee's post. Also, I think the Tracker has really opened things up and the results speak for this. See the addition of the OTC forum, for example.)
  • Increase exposure of the LEGO and Creative Forums on the front page (fishers64)
    • (I think the staff had a good run of featuring member creations on the front page. I will encourage them to bring this practice back.)
  • Allow polls in appropriate forums and not confine them to the Voting Booth? (Gatanui) Or allow all members to make polls? (Taipu1) Or both? (HAZMAT) DONE!
  • Consider allowing posts to be counted in some forums that currently do not have posts counted (Sumiki, -Windrider-)
 
Related tickets:Related topics:

I know the post count restrictions regarding new members are turning some people off.
 
We also, frankly, need to expand to the site to cover different topics. I've seen a few token lego boards and that, but the site still has an overall bionicle theme. Bionicle is dead, it isn't coming back and if something isn't done, BZpower may die with it.

Perhaps advertising for BZP in different ways would be a good idea. I've never seen an ad for BZP anywhere. Maybe advertising it on Google and other popular sites would be good. And...to be honest, banning that one video site probably makes a lot of people hesitant to join the site... :\
 
-Rez


Princess Grr
Jun 15 2013 08:01 AM
Completely overhaul the leadership of the site and re-evaluate the moderating practices.  Be open and friendly with the membership and stop being so harsh and draconian in enforcement of rules.  Make the focus of moderating and discipline to be nurturing members, not just being out to punish them.  This is not a welcoming forum.  It's very much earned its reputation as a strict and sometimes arbitrary place where members (and staff) are afraid to speak up for fear of being punished/banned for the most minor of infractions (or indeed, for no substantive infraction at all).  Explain to members what they're doing wrong when they cause problems - don't just wordlessly delete posts; edit the posts, or delete them and send the members PMs explaining what they did wrong.
 
While you're at it, pare down the rules significantly.  We made a big fuss about updating the rules when the new site launched, but really nothing of note was changed.  What BZPower needs is to really purge all its old, outdated, useless rules - and, more importantly, change the attitude of the moderation around here, as I detailed above.  Some select staffers have been making a recent effort to get rid of deadwood rules but there's a lot more work to be done.
 
Allow (or even force) Black Six to step down.  Honestly.  He's made it pretty clear, both through words and actions, that he doesn't want to run this site, and he's not doing a good job of it anymore anyway - probably in part due to the stress of single-handedly running a site that's clearly nothing but a headache for him.  If there's no centralized leader to replace him, that's fine - BZPower was always run better as an oligarchy, not a monarchy, anyway.  The site has got a great team of leaders in Tufi PIyufi, Hahli Husky, Than, Watashi Wa, etc (as well as people who could stand to have a leadership bump, like Windrider and Makaru).  Retire the admiral, promote the captains, decentralize, and lead as a team - not as an individual.
 
On that note, delegate duties on the site.  BZPower has a much larger staff than it needs, and yet hardly any of them DO anything.  Instead of having Black Six do everything on the site himself in his dogmatic, plutocratic manner, spread the duties evenly.  Have the high-level staffers be people who really care about making BZPower the best place it can be and give them the rein to do that.  Allow those who don't to retire.
 
In addition to all this, actually complete projects that would benefit BZPower - things that have been on the plate for aeons, like the "you are leaving bzpower" popup and the word filter.  Those have been in the works for years.  Multiple people have volunteered to get them done, but have been refused.  It'd absurd.  Things like these would help with trimming the bloated ordinance and making life on BZPower more free, relaxed, and open.
 
And I cannot stress enough that that should be the goal: making BZPower a free and relaxed place, where people don't need to nervously look over their shoulder in worry. 
 
Somewhat related to that: stop cowtowing to members who hurt other members.  Just because an issue is "controversial" does NOT mean that both "sides" should be placated.  When one "side" is directly hurting others and denying their rights and humanity, you don't quell things by saying "this is controversial so you both have to be quiet."  It's your duty as peacekeepers and supposed role models to stand up for what's right.  That "role model" part of the job was certainly stressed to me when I made recent mistakes.  I think certain members of the administration could use a similar reminder.
 
Expanding the scope of the site to encourage more discussion, as Basilisk suggested, is necessary, but BZPower's issues run far deeper than that.  People would be encouraged to stay here, even despite Bionicle's decomposition, were this site a place of real camaraderie.  If people felt welcome here, they're want to be here.  But they don't.  People are on edge on BZPower - indeed, I wouldn't hesitate to say people are often afraid on BZPower.  Have you noticed how often members talk about the staff as if they're some kind of separate class, capricious and aristocratic?  Have you noticed how much that sentiment is expressed every time a GD topic about the staff pops up?  When people have to amend their harmless posts saying "please don't ban me," there's a problem.  The BZPower staff and the moderating attitude of punishment encourages this.  BZPower is an uncomfortable site for many, many people - and that drives people away.
 
As you might be able to tell, this is something that I've thought about a great, great deal.  BZPower means a lot to me and it pains me to see it not just slowly dying, but slowly choking itself to death.

I know that steps have already been taken in this direction, but to make BZPower more oriented as a LEGO forum/news site and not just a Bionicle one. If you look at other big-name LEGO forums, the sad truth but I'm going to say it is that they're doing better than BZPower. For suggestions I have the following:
  • Expand the LEGO Discussion forum. Make an entire board for LEGO discussion, so that you can have subforums for different categories of LEGO products and other aspects of LEGO. Things like Sci-Fi, Action, Classic, and more. I know that I myself have had decreased activity here because of the lack of general LEGO discussion, which is what I prefer to discuss.
  • Affiliate with other large-name sites. Having BZPower's name out there is an important step. I could recommend Brickipedia, since we've recently moved to an independent server and are getting a lot of attention from other LEGO fans/LEGO sites across the web.


I do agree with the fact we need to get our name out there. Couldn't hurt at the very least.

Please do somethibg about the front page, it took me months to figure that this site was alive and had a forum. The front page just scares people off...

@Grr: I agree with some of your points, but I feel quite relaxed and I hope that when people say "please don't ban me" it's a joke.


-Windrider-
Jun 15 2013 08:36 PM
Ha, I'm wondering if I should have made this a topic in GD to get more attention. Anyway, first post updated with a couple of thoughts. If you feel I have misrepresented your ideas, please contact me at your convenience so that I can fix it.
 
 

How about remove advertisements on here? Or at the very least, reduce them. Correct me if I'm wrong but it just uses Wikia's ads, does it not?

I'd like to very much echo Smeag's comment here. I don't agree with all of it but he makes tons of good points. (Specifically speaking, I don't think Black Six needs to step down, but there needs to be an increase in activity on the part of the rest of the higher-up staff so he doesn't have to carry such a visible load.) His comments on how the staff are perceived really hit home, as I felt that way in some capacity up until the day I became a Forum Mentor. This might be a bit long but his comment got me thinking, so I'm going to add a few points of my own.
 
The Mentor program was definitely a step in the right direction, but it seems sometimes as if the "being-nice-to-members" aspect is sort of relegated to them, near the bottom of the totem pole. It's a tough job and rather a thankless one for the near-constant work required to do at least a half-decent job in the role.
 
As an Assistant I still feel as I did when a Mentor in that I try to be as open and respectful of members as possible; I don't see my position as what's essentially a site custodian as any reason to be different. I've always considered myself a member before one of the staff. We're here to serve the membership base and gently guide them along if rules are broken.
 
And yes, I don't have all day to be on BZPower - in fact, the past year or so has seen a marked decrease in my activity on the forums. This is due to my real life becoming busier and busier, not due to being disinterested in being on BZP. This is my online home; I've logged more hours here than I'd ever dare want to attempt to count. I consider helping moderate the site a privilege and I came into my role as Assistant with the mentality of moderating on a personal basis. It's not much, but I hope I've done something small to decrease the scariness the staff seem to possess.
 
That's the thing with the "scariness" - there are certain staff members that I've always felt were more involved. Not saying that those who aren't as involved are bad or wrong in any way, but speaking from a member's perspective, having Turakii or SPIRIT close a topic funnily or having Zeddy involved in a G&T game - both little things - served to increase the humanity of the staff as a whole, which is greatly appreciated.
 
Only problem is that those folks are now inactive. A new generation has to step up and get involved in things like this. I'm not suggesting some sort of coordinated maneuver to gain popularity, but more interaction on the part of everybody would be really nice to see.
 
A lot of the higher-level staff members are really good friends. We're talking off-the-chart levels of bromance between pretty much everyone, which spews forth into real life during conventions and especially BrickFair. I'm afraid that some of this can adversely affect how they are perceived on BZP as a group - like the staff are some massive clique. You're really  just seeing a bunch of good friends having a blast together.
 
As far as the rules are concerned, I agree with Smeag about having the rules totally pared down. The amount of archaic and vestigial stuff left over in the official rulebook is staggeringly high for this day and age on the Internet. Mfuss came back a while ago and said that the other-forum policy was instituted when BZP was in competition with other fan sites to be the largest. Why keep that around under the guise of protecting kids? They're going to get at those sites anyway.
 
The worst part about it is that other, much worse sites are left alone by the filter. Sites that are allowed are sometimes caught, while sites that are totally inappropriate slip by without comment by the filter. The filter is more of a problem to me than the advertising policy, which is a fixer-upper if I ever saw one. If we're not going to have that "you're leaving BZP" warning anytime soon, we just need to strike it from the rules entirely. We can still prevent inappropriate sites from being mentioned by the filter, and other linkages can be moderated on a post-by-post basis. For one thing, not everyone's going to go crazy linking to social media and embedding videos, and two, some sites that have commenting systems are allowed to stand as long as they don't have non-BZP-safe words on them, like MOCpages. As a BBC assistant I'm constantly checking MOCpages links anyway, which really defeats the entire purpose of keeping the advertising policy.
 
I get the feeling that it's slowly being phased out but the going is incredibly slow. I've heard rumors that it'd be updated ever since I gave BBCC history updates to TTN on the old forums, and that was four or five years ago. The fact that it's realistically half-gone leaves even more incentive to just doing away with it. It wouldn't give us much trouble.
 
Making posts count in all forums would increase activity but it'd increase spam as well. I can't be sure, but OTC alone has the potential to become an absolute madhouse unless everyone there is mature enough to handle posts counting there.
 
We need advertisements, as much as we all don't like them. In fact, clicking on them occasionally helps fund BZP's existence, which is why I do that occasionally. It's not much, but it's something.
 
New Member post restrictions are fine at five, but it'd be nice if they could be PMed before then. That would make the lives of Mentors so much easier like you don't even know. The way I see it, it's kind of like having a graduated licensing program: technically better than the alternative, but we have to ask tough questions like "how much is it helping us." We're not getting mass hackings of accounts like we used to, but there's always a chance that might occur.
 
It's not really clear what's going on as a new member and it's easy to get frustrated with the post-by-post moderation. Since that policy will likely not change I think we need to put some thought into making the policy clear to new members so they won't be put off thinking  that BZP's moderation is restrictive. If that policy were in place when I made my first post, I likely would have thought of it as I thought of the LEGO Message Boards and gone inactive before becoming an outright member.
 
I don't know if I'm reading things wrong, but I feel as if there's some recent push to streamline the rules, which is very attractive not only to someone who abides by them but also by someone who is tasked by enforcing them. The small changes are only done in small increments, like the abolition of the 300-word rule in Comedies, the inclusion of all personal libraries in Short Stories, or the abolition of revival in Comics. They really are not much, but purging old rules is totally a step in the right direction, and one I fully support as long as the rules are justifiably archaic.
 
We also need BZP's name out there. We need to be tops in Google searches for LEGO and for Hero Factory, not just BIONICLE. We need to get our name out to all other sites, and that means breaking down the barriers of old such as the advertising policy. We don't need to spend money we don't have, but we cannot rely on our reputation as the largest LEGO fan site this world has ever seen to continue on indefinitely - and if we continue resting on our laurels for much longer there won't be too much longer upon which we can rest them.



-Windrider-
Jun 16 2013 02:41 AM
Beautiful post, Sumiki. I directed this ticket at the members, but I admit to having hoped to reach the staff as well. I am not sure how much of BZP’s decrease in activity can be attributed to the staff’s image, but I do agree that we need to work on it. I too agree with some of Smeag’s points (while disagreeing with others) and hope to add my own voice to them –
 
I stand by believing that the staff has come a long way. I believe that we have become more of a positive force than we have been in past years. I have seen the changing of a couple of administrations and can say that the staff as a whole has undergone an enormous effort to steer away from enforcement through intimidation. I find it hard to believe that the current staff can be described as “draconian” when it has made an effort to move toward moderation in the strictest sense of the word. I would like to argue that the faults of the current staff body were not born of ill will. For me, if I went to delete a post, I wound up not informing the member not out of a desire to be stern, but out of a desire for efficacy. This is my own shortcoming and I hope to fix it.
 
That said, I feel that there are vestiges of the Ancien Régime that we could do away with. I agree that there are quite a few rules that are outdated and could use revision or even an effacing, and I am sure that everyone feels the same way. The advertising policy needs revision. The word filter needs updating. There are a few other policies that I disagree with, but I think that those would be better discussed in other tickets or with the administration in private. BZPower’s heyday gave birth to policies that are now anachronistic; I do not think that this can be argued. The question that we face now is “How can we modernize BZP’s policies while still maintaining its all-ages audience?” I agree that swear words should not have a place in BZPower discussion and that the word filter serves this purpose. It is, however, in dire need of an update. I know that certain leet terms have been removed from the filter recently; let us continue in that direction.
 
What is interesting, however, is the fact that BZP’s population thrived even under a stricter administration than the one that is in power now. Result of Bionicle's presence? Anyway, I cannot say how the guests lurking this board feel about the current staff. I wish I knew; I wish I could have access to their thoughts so that we could fix whatever problems they perceive. While it is, perhaps, thanks to former powers that BZP achieved its 400-members-online-at-a-time glory, times have changed, really. If we fear to acknowledge social networking, for instance, then we are condemning ourselves to an outdated era. Are we truly monks in our monastery, sweeping away the filth of the modern age? If we keep this view, BZP will become a relic and will not survive.
 
And I admit to feeling a little bit powerless, here. This is why I created this ticket: crowdsourcing is all the rage these days, and I felt it was necessary that you, the members, contribute to the hopeful revitalization of this website. I know that a good number of you have been here for more years than you wish to count. I know your investment; I am irreversibly invested myself. If the image of the staff body is driving away members, then we need to fix it. If it is something else, then we need to pinpoint it and fix that. What is important here is that the website survive, be it as a general LEGO site, a LEGO site with a Bionicle flavor, or otherwise. Look. If there is anything that I personally can do differently, PM me. Tell me. I hope that I do not scare you. I hope that my colleagues do not scare you – and if they do, tell us. Furthermore, I agree that BZPower needs to get its name out there by whatever means possible: through affiliation, through advertising, or through conventions. But if the site’s image and reputation will impeach the addition of active members, then that needs to be the first item on our list.
 
EDIT: Apologies for the reassignment of the ticket's severity. That's a bug beyond my control. : X

Edited by -Windrider-, Jun 16 2013 - 01:36 PM.


First of all, I'd like to thank everyone above for their posts. I was slowly beginning to think change at this site was either impossible or measured in Valve Time.

And yes, at time interaction with the Staff can be quite scary, interestingly enough especially when gaining or losing Proto: while that isn't all that hard to explain with the loss of Proto, gaining some also has an initially negative impact. Why? There is no way to differentiate between the two. Upon gaining a boost, you will be notified of this through a single alert: "You were warned by a Moderator". This alert can either have positive (Proto boost) or negative (Proto loss) consequences, which, combined with the relative silence of part of the Staff, creates a rather erratic image: you don't know them, you don't know how they are, and there's no way to tell whether they like you or are about to grab the Banhammer next time.
As such, a different message when gaining a Proto boost would be highly appreciated and improve the positive image of the Staff overall. Aside from that, perhaps an in-line utility allowing you to specify a reason for a post's deletion/edit, which would be automatically PM'd to the member whose post you're modifying. That way it'd be much easier to maintain an opener face (also effectively countering laziness) while providing the member an easy way to contact you , namely replying to the auto-PM, if they were to have any questions regarding the situation.

Aside from that, changes to the way New Members are handled could also be beneficial. When looking at a forum and considering registering, guests consciously or subconsciously make a comparison of 'How much effort it takes to register VS How bad do I want to be a Member of this forum'.
Improvements could be made on both sides of that comparison. Since Wind's, Sumiki's and Smeag's posts already provide splendid suggestions for the second part of the comparison, I'll post a few quick ideas regarding it's first part here:
  • Activation through correspondenation instead of activation through Administration
    Instead of having to wait for an Administrator to manually approve your account, simply have it send an email to your address with good ol' confirmation link. With modern-day technology most spambots and anonymity-network exit nodes can be easily detected and countered anyway.
  • Single Sign-On
    With most major web-based companies now having linked in to the OpenID standard, this would be a much easier way for possible future members to register: simply enter the details of an external account you already have, type the name you want to have over here on BZPower aaaaand you're done. In this case anti-bot protection and email validation will have already been done at the external service provider's site.
  • Make the New Member Policy more clear
    In addition to the ideas brought forth by the above posts, there are two other things that could be majorly improved about this system: first of all, the ability to actually view/edit your post before it has been approved, which could be easily achieved to making the newly posted message visible to it's poster as well, instead of just Staff. Secondly, a notification alerting you when your post has been approved. Back in my days as a New Member it was a gigantic pain in the... eehhhm, head, to be forced to constantly check whether or not my latest messages had already been improved.
 

 
Expanding the scope of the site to encourage more discussion, as Basilisk suggested, is necessary, but BZPower's issues run far deeper than that.  People would be encouraged to stay here, even despite Bionicle's decomposition, were this site a place of real camaraderie.  If people felt welcome here, they're want to be here.  But they don't.  People are on edge on BZPower - indeed, I wouldn't hesitate to say people are often afraid on BZPower.  Have you noticed how often members talk about the staff as if they're some kind of separate class, capricious and aristocratic?  Have you noticed how much that sentiment is expressed every time a GD topic about the staff pops up?  When people have to amend their harmless posts saying "please don't ban me," there's a problem.  The BZPower staff and the moderating attitude of punishment encourages this.  BZPower is an uncomfortable site for many, many people - and that drives people away

 
I have to sort of disagree with you. Ill admit, when I first joined BZP I thought it was a very OTT strict site, never the less it was a tight ship. As I got better acquainted with the members I realised that it is one of the most welcoming forums I have ever been to. Now, there is a problem that it is such a small community. It makes it really easy to form close bonds and friendships, yet also have big differences with other members that can make things a little tense at times. Im sure you are well aware of that just as any avid site user here is. I will agree that while BZP is a tight ship, the doesnt mean the rules should be changed, but I just think we need to be careful about it. There is a site I go on that recently overhauled a lot of its rules and gave more power to the community, and its not pretty (Not that that is what you are suggesting). I think it would be a good idea to share some of the power between higher staff members. Thats not necessarily a bad idea at all. I think though, ultimately it comes down to us. Not the staff members, the admins or the members but the commuty as a whole to invite new members is. We get new members almost daily, its keeping them thats the real problem.

Alright, now that I see this long post thing has become a fad, I might as well add some additional thoughts and support for some previous ideas. Now, I think Smeag, Sumiki, and Windy really hit the nail on the head with some great ideas. Personally, I see no reason to ask B6 to step down, because he's doing a great job, and he's definitely been a very constant, stable, and competent leader of the site. Although there are some really promising staff on the site besides him, if it were my choice, I wouldn't replace him. I also think that reestablishing the moderation within the staff would be a good idea as well. Even though B6 is doing a wonderful job he has a lot of work to do for just one guy. It's totally understandable that he wouldn't get everything done as fast as most would hope. So, as a few of you have said, making the administration a little more balanced so that B6 is not one of the only ones working on projects, would definitely help.
 
Personally, I think that the inactive staff that rarely venture back onto the forums should be retired. I think that all of the staff have done a wonderful job and have all contributed to the site. But a lot of them have moved on, and even if they haven't directly asked to retire, their inactivity has shown that they are not nearly as committed to the site as they used to be.
 
Now, for one of my own ideas. I think something that would really benefit our community, and hopefully make it a more enjoyable site, is more member involvement. At the moment, the staff are the only ones who make decisions, plan the main events and contests, etc. Pretty much the staff control the site, and I do understand that's their job. But, I think that the site should be moving a little bit more to a democratic type of moderation. What would this mean? Openly asking the members for suggestions about different aspects of the site and giving them a little bit of power to decide how they want to spend their BZP experience. I know the tracker is where we give suggestions, but I'm speaking of something beyond that. For example, the layout of the forums changed drastically after the forums. Many didn't like the change, and were too attached to the old forums. We lost a lot, and I mean a lot, of members after the downtime. If the staff would have taken a more democratic approach during that time (And when I'm saying this, I don't mean that democracy is definitely the best moderation for BZP or that BZP is not democratic enough and feels like a socialist moderation), they could have asked the community what they wanted: a change in the forum layout or leaving it the same. I know that's a little farfetched since we needed to upgrade the system, but there were lots of things they could have asked the membership during the downtime that they didn't ask. Again, I'm not trying to say that the course of action the staff took during the downtime was a bad one or questioning the staff's judgment; I'm only taking a real life situation and using it as an example to make a point. I for one would like to see a place where we, as the membership, could have a say on what changes are applied to the site and other aspects that I won't explain now. I also think that contests and events should not always be entirely staff led. Take the BBC Contests for example. Letting the membership decide what the next category should be would really engage each member and make it a lot more fun for the majority. These are just a couple of thoughts supporting my idea. As I said, I won't explain all of them, but I am at least trying to get my idea out there.
 
My second idea, which has already been spoken about quite a bit, is a huge change in how the staff approaches posts, post violations, etc. First off, I think that unless really necessary--an example would be inappropriate content within a post--posts should not be deleted, but rather, edited. When someone posts something that is basically spam, deleting it does not solve the problem. You don't know if the poster purposefully spammed or if they didn't know that what they were posting was spam. When you delete their post, it's kind of just the easy way to deal with it. I think the best way to do things is to edit the post with a message along the lines of, "The comment you posted is considered spam. Please remember to post something that has to do with the main discussion." I've seen a couple of staff do this a lot, like Windy, B6, and Bonesiii, just to name a few. If people continually spam, even after seeing their edited posts, I still don't think post deletion is the way to go. Instead, sending the violator a PM warning them about their violations would be a better idea. If the violator decides to continue spamming even after that, then I think deleting his/her posts or perhaps a proto deduction would be good. But regardless, my point is, I think post deletion really has the potential to make some of our new members less active. If all of their posts get deleted for spam, then they no longer have an incentive to post. And not every post that contains spam is always intentionally meant to be spam.
 
-Rez


~Shockwave~
Jun 16 2013 11:58 AM
Alright, lets do this.
 
I agree with a bunch of the things said here. And if we want to stay alive, things need to change. We cannot keep pretending like those unmentionable parts of the internet don't exist, we all know about them. and frankly, getting rid of this philosophy will open numerous doors. It can open up great (And free) advertising options, as well as make guests less likely to leave and never return after discovering the rules. 
 
The rules regarding other forums need to go. honestly, that is the biggest pile of garbage I have ever read. C'mon, if a member wants to leave and join another forum, why should you stop them? It's petty and childish.
 
But I get the feeling these things aren't about to change. I feel like this whole post will accomplish nothing but offending people. And that, my friend, is the worst part. the feeling that you, the people running this site, do not care what I, the average member thinks. (Obviously this is not always true) You want to hold fast on your rules and leave the forum to whither and die. you can adapt. or you can die. there is no middle ground here. the forum activity is falling. there is no ignoring this.

I think one of the main problems is the "Oh no, we can't link to or discuss so-and-so site, there are children here!" attitude. While it's true that we shouldn't discuss or directly link to inappropriate things, the linking policy is really getting out of hand. Tell me the age of the youngest member you have seen here recently. Honestly, this is the internet. The "forbidden site"? That one social networking site that connects to just about every big forum except us? Various offsite personal blogs? Dozens of other sites we can't link to? Just about everybody on the internet has been on at least some of those sites. Even official Lego sites link there. If we're so worried about a younger member clicking a link to an innocent online video, browsing the forbidden site, and stumbling across inappropriate content, why aren't we afraid of linking them to a Lego site and going to the forbidden site from there?


The Phantom Terror
Jun 16 2013 01:22 PM
I would seriously reccomend bringing back SBCs. Some people just never found the interest/desire to grab BIONICLE/HF sets and only have System parts.

I would seriously reccomend bringing back SBCs. Some people just never found the interest/desire to grab BIONICLE/HF sets and only have System parts.

 
YES, at least bring those back, that advertise the LBC forum more...


-Windrider-
Jun 16 2013 02:29 PM
Updated! Thank you for the posts. Also, thank you for keeping things mostly on the constructive side; I was worried about the potential for some rather emotional responses when posting this.
 
I agree that loosening BZPower's own advertising policy is of a critical priority and will likely have a positive effect on this site's activity, and that the New Member policy and procedure could use some streamlining. First impressions go a long way, yeah?

I've been reading this ticket since Ryan opened it, but haven't gotten around to replying until now. I'm going to try to touch on most of the points made, but may skip, miss, or otherwise not address them all. If there's something I don't respond to that you're interested in hearing about, you're free to PM me or reply here and I'll see what I can do.

I know the post count restrictions regarding new members are turning some people off.

This is probably something we can consider relaxing at this point. We did drop it down from ten to five posts, which I hope helped. Honestly it's just not something that crossed my mind.

We also, frankly, need to expand to the site to cover different topics. I've seen a few token lego boards and that, but the site still has an overall bionicle theme. Bionicle is dead, it isn't coming back and if something isn't done, BZpower may die with it.

We have areas for general LEGO discussion, and very few people use them. LEGO Sets, LEGO RPG, and System Based Creations have some of the lowest topic views on the site. In order for us to expand our general LEGO discussion, you guys have to show us that it's worth it. So build system-based MOCs and talk about Chima, Friends, Alien Conquest, etc.
 

Perhaps advertising for BZP in different ways would be a good idea. I've never seen an ad for BZP anywhere. Maybe advertising it on Google and other popular sites would be good. And...to be honest, banning that one video site probably makes a lot of people hesitant to join the site... :\

-Rez

Doing that sort of advertising costs money. I'm not saying we'd never do it, but it's not likely. Certainly there are other types of advertising that could be done as well, agreed. Don't forget that you guys can help us advertise too!

We know people want to link to certain sites out there. I have a new Advertising Policy drafted that would hopefully make people happy. There are just a couple things holding us back (that I'll be talking more about later in this post).
 

Completely overhaul the leadership of the site and re-evaluate the moderating practices. Be open and friendly with the membership and stop being so harsh and draconian in enforcement of rules. Make the focus of moderating and discipline to be nurturing members, not just being out to punish them. This is not a welcoming forum. It's very much earned its reputation as a strict and sometimes arbitrary place where members (and staff) are afraid to speak up for fear of being punished/banned for the most minor of infractions (or indeed, for no substantive infraction at all). Explain to members what they're doing wrong when they cause problems - don't just wordlessly delete posts; edit the posts, or delete them and send the members PMs explaining what they did wrong.

As you and I have discussed previously, I understand what you mean when it comes to the impersonal manner in which many of the staff (myself included) often close topics or edit posts. It's often a matter of having a limited amount of time, but yes, we could do better. I disagree with the notion that we're overly strict and punish and ban people for minor infractions. I can't remember the last time I banned someone that wasn't related to an account being hacked. Very infrequently do I or most of the staff take Proto either - I checked the log and in the last three months we've removed 7 points of Proto and given over a dozen. That seems like we tend to reinforce positive behavior more than punish negative behavior to me.

While you're at it, pare down the rules significantly. We made a big fuss about updating the rules when the new site launched, but really nothing of note was changed. What BZPower needs is to really purge all its old, outdated, useless rules - and, more importantly, change the attitude of the moderation around here, as I detailed above. Some select staffers have been making a recent effort to get rid of deadwood rules but there's a lot more work to be done.

It's a slow process. You're well aware the staff are all volunteers and it takes time to get things done. There are things that have been changed and things we're planning on changing. It's not going to happen overnight and I apologize to everyone for that.

Allow (or even force) Black Six to step down. Honestly. He's made it pretty clear, both through words and actions, that he doesn't want to run this site, and he's not doing a good job of it anymore anyway - probably in part due to the stress of single-handedly running a site that's clearly nothing but a headache for him. If there's no centralized leader to replace him, that's fine - BZPower was always run better as an oligarchy, not a monarchy, anyway. The site has got a great team of leaders in Tufi PIyufi, Hahli Husky, Than, Watashi Wa, etc (as well as people who could stand to have a leadership bump, like Windrider and Makaru). Retire the admiral, promote the captains, decentralize, and lead as a team - not as an individual.

I have joked in the past about not wanting to run BZPower, and there have been times when there's a lot of negative things going on that I've probably been a little more serious, but at the end of the day, I've been a part of this site for almost twelve years now and it's such a huge part of my life that I don't see myself stepping down unless some sort of life-altering event happens. And what actions have indicated that I don't want to be here? Adding new features to the site? Making sure news is posted every day? Spending six hours yesterday upgrading the forums? If I didn't want to be here I wouldn't be spending hours each day checking on BZPower to make sure things weren't falling apart.

As far as additional leadership - all those people you mentioned are great (as are the rest of the staff present and past) and I appreciate all their help. But I talk to them personally all the time about BZPower, and I don't think many are interested in filling my shoes (and if I'm wrong guys, let me know). They all work hard, but they all have their own responsibilities in the real world that keep them from dedicating huge amounts of time to BZPower.

On that note, delegate duties on the site. BZPower has a much larger staff than it needs, and yet hardly any of them DO anything. Instead of having Black Six do everything on the site himself in his dogmatic, plutocratic manner, spread the duties evenly. Have the high-level staffers be people who really care about making BZPower the best place it can be and give them the rein to do that. Allow those who don't to retire.

Again, the staff are all volunteers. I can ask (repeatedly sometimes) for people to help out with things, and I appreciate all the help I get. But if people don't have the time or energy to do a lot, someone needs to do the work. Sometimes that's me, but certainly not all the time.

In addition to all this, actually complete projects that would benefit BZPower - things that have been on the plate for aeons, like the "you are leaving bzpower" popup and the word filter. Those have been in the works for years. Multiple people have volunteered to get them done, but have been refused. It'd absurd. Things like these would help with trimming the bloated ordinance and making life on BZPower more free, relaxed, and open.

People do work on some of these projects, and the one you mentioned is close to being done. Than offered his assistance and I accepted it. I'm not sure where the idea that I refused help comes from. Yes, if a member comes up to me and asks to play with our site's source code I'm probably not going to say yes right away. There's a level of trust that needs to be had before that type of access is given. I don't think that's being unfair.

Somewhat related to that: stop cowtowing to members who hurt other members. Just because an issue is "controversial" does NOT mean that both "sides" should be placated. When one "side" is directly hurting others and denying their rights and humanity, you don't quell things by saying "this is controversial so you both have to be quiet." It's your duty as peacekeepers and supposed role models to stand up for what's right. That "role model" part of the job was certainly stressed to me when I made recent mistakes. I think certain members of the administration could use a similar reminder.

Yes people have ideas and viewpoints that can be hurtful, but it's not my place, or anyone on the staff's to judge them for it. If they express hurtful opinions they will be punished, that's what our rules say. (I hope that's not one of the rules you want to get rid of. ;)) I'm not going to start banning people because they have different beliefs from me though.

Expanding the scope of the site to encourage more discussion, as Basilisk suggested, is necessary, but BZPower's issues run far deeper than that. People would be encouraged to stay here, even despite Bionicle's decomposition, were this site a place of real camaraderie. If people felt welcome here, they're want to be here. But they don't. People are on edge on BZPower - indeed, I wouldn't hesitate to say people are often afraid on BZPower. Have you noticed how often members talk about the staff as if they're some kind of separate class, capricious and aristocratic? Have you noticed how much that sentiment is expressed every time a GD topic about the staff pops up? When people have to amend their harmless posts saying "please don't ban me," there's a problem. The BZPower staff and the moderating attitude of punishment encourages this. BZPower is an uncomfortable site for many, many people - and that drives people away.

I really don't notice that too much, and I certainly hope people aren't afraid here. I have conversations with members all the time, so apparently some at least aren't afraid of me or the staff.
 

I know that steps have already been taken in this direction, but to make BZPower more oriented as a LEGO forum/news site and not just a Bionicle one. If you look at other big-name LEGO forums, the sad truth but I'm going to say it is that they're doing better than BZPower. For suggestions I have the following:

  • Expand the LEGO Discussion forum. Make an entire board for LEGO discussion, so that you can have subforums for different categories of LEGO products and other aspects of LEGO. Things like Sci-Fi, Action, Classic, and more. I know that I myself have had decreased activity here because of the lack of general LEGO discussion, which is what I prefer to discuss.

As mentioned above, you guys, the members, need to show us interest. Make topics about those themes in the current LEGO forums, and make them super-active. That will show us we can expand in those areas.

  • Affiliate with other large-name sites. Having BZPower's name out there is an important step. I could recommend Brickipedia, since we've recently moved to an independent server and are getting a lot of attention from other LEGO fans/LEGO sites across the web.

Our current Advertising Policy does put a damper on some of that sort of thing. Obviously there are exceptions that could be made, but I would like to focus on getting the policy nicely revised. We'll see though. For the most part I've enjoyed working with the Ninjago and Chima Wikis. :)
 

Please do somethibg about the front page, it took me months to figure that this site was alive and had a forum. The front page just scares people off...

We're certainly aware that some people would like to see us update the front page. It's one of the items on our to-do list and I believe there's already a Tracker ticket for it.
 

How about remove advertisements on here? Or at the very least, reduce them. Correct me if I'm wrong but it just uses Wikia's ads, does it not?

Advertisements help us pay for the site. Without them, BZPower would no longer exist. So I'm sorry, but they're not likely going to leave anytime soon.

*Phew.* That was a lot of writing. I'll try to pick up where I left off when I can.






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