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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  • Remove outdated rules and other quasi-anachronistic policies and unwanted vestiges (Princess Grr)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)
    • I think we're at a good place now.
  • 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.) I think we're at a good place here as well.
  • 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 want to be honest. In the past few months, I've been doing what I hoped wouldn't happen. I've been considering leaving the site or at least retiring from staff? Why is that? Not only because I'm more busy these months than I've ever been in my life but also because there is simply barely a reason for me to stay anymore, both as a member and mostly as a staff member. Let's address that issue first. The staff is totally bloated. Obviously the reason is that the forums were much bigger back in the day but the number of staff the site has is much too big for the number of members we hold today. This leads to a number of staff members, including me, getting literally NOTHING AT ALL to do and when there is something to do, it's something as boring as PMing someone about their oversized signature which is the only thing I do these days and I'm lucky to do that more than once or twice a month. It's HORRIBLY frustrating to be stuck with this job for almost five years now. And I'm not even asking for a promotion, no way I'd do that (though I've never felt that my work or that of other Forum Mentors has been as recognized as that of other staff). What is frustrating is that I used to love my job and nowadays I don't even know why I carry the title of a Forum Mentor because the job has become boring, boring, boring. No, thing is, it can't even be considered a job anymore because there seems nothing left to do. The only reason I haven't written that PM to Black Six to retire yet is hope that I could still do my part to bring change. But thing is, there is so much to do and whenever something is being addressed, it takes months or in some cases even YEARS for something to be implemented which shouldn't take more than a few days of weeks of dedication. Being so busy with university now I guess I can understand how progress is so slow behind the scenes but still that doesn't make it any better or fix anything.
What is there even to change? I'll quote Smeag on most of his points there: ditch that silly and stupid advertising rules and a couple of others like some stupid word filters. Really, BZPower has too many rules anyway. Maybe this doesn't work in real life or on a higher level but I think that if a rule isn't self-explanatory or if a member cannot understand the sense of a rule by applying basic common sense, then it simply shouldn't be there, simple as that. That said, I agree with pretty much everything Smeag has said. Though I wouldn't say Black Six needs to step down the administration needs to become more than a one-man show, if only to relieve Black Six so more things can be done faster. Generally I think more democracy and member involvement would be a good thing which would also improve the members' perception of the site. It's sadly become an altoo common problem these days that leaders are only rarely perceived to really care for the ones they lead. Without wanting to become too politic, I'm sure a leadership that accomplishes that can work on a lower level such as this forum, so why not try it? Let members vote for the new spinny, for example. When a rule is being re-written, let members actually actively discuss the changes and not just throw their suggestions in a pot and hope the staff considers them when everything is worked out behind closed doors (which I feel are too closed on this forum anyway).
This site also needs to change its face. The front page is totally archaic and needs to be radically re-made without any consideration of nostalgia (which is like one of the most stupid arguments ever).
Then we need a totally different approach to ourselves and to the LEGO fanworld out there. First of all, we need to face it and realize that BIONICLE. IS. DEAD. Not in our hearts, but the story and the sets are undeniably over for still a while to come. I've already said it years ago and I can't stress it more. If BZPower is to survive, it needs to let go of BIONICLE. Of course I'm not talking about removing every trace of it altogether, I doubt anyone would want to do that, including me. I'm perfectly fine with keeping the BIONICLE-themed rank images, spinnies, staff masks and little Takua on the blog headers. But the majority of the forums and discussion is still about a discontinued LEGO theme. Spread the word out there that BZPower is not just a bunch of kids who can't let go of the past. BZPower needs to become one of the main places for everything LEGO and beyond. Reduce the number of BIONICLE forums, make more LEGO forums, make seperate forums for more LEGO themes, make more forums for things that aren't LEGO. Short, give people reasons to come here and stay. There is another LEGO forum out there that solves this pretty well. I only check out a fragment of the forums it has but still I already spend more time there than on BZPower. That forum offers something for every LEGO fan out there, BZPower needs to that as well. We don't even need to compete with the other forum, let us work together instead! Our forums can surely promote each other and cooperate, realize projects together. While the other is an AFOL-oriented site, I'm sure we could try the effort to bring both member bases closer together. BZPower has always been sort of like a closed gate community that didn't care about what happened outside its realms of the LEGO online fan world. Well, welcome to globalization, that has to change. Working together with other LEGO fan sites (and not just forums) doesn't just make this site stronger. It also makes the entire LEGO community stronger. Let us hear what other fan groups care about and what they think of BIONICLE, Hero Factory and other constraction themes. Let us look beyond our constraction themes for a change. Let us hold contests together! Let us exhibit MOCs at conventions together or even better, let us host a fan convention together! Let us bond friendships that don't halt at a web address but go beyond that and extend over the entire LEGO community! There are forums, there is Brickset, even BrickLink, the LEGO wiki, they are all LEGO fans like us and together we can not only make our voice better heard to LEGO, we can also have much more fun together. :)

Writing this post has reminded me why I haven't left this site yet. It's the hope that if we act, we can not only improve and save this site but the entire LEGO community and make it an even better place than it is already today. And the reason I haven't retired from the staff yet is that I want to be part of that change. And I don't just want to see it, I want to be part of it and make it. :)

-Gata Posted Image

Edited by Gatanui, Jun 16 2013 - 04:17 PM.


So B6 and Gata responded while I was in the middle of writing this, so if something feels disjointed it's probably because I went back and edited it after reading their posts. :P

Lots of awesome points have been made already.  I guess I'll just throw in my two cents as a member and as a rookie FM:

As a whole: BZP's policies and tone still feel like they're tuned for a much larger forum comprised of younger users.  This isn't to say that BZP doesn't have its fair share of users under 13, because it certainly still does (and I believe other staff have backed that up with nubmers in the past), but that it often feels like the rules cast too wide a net.  We have countless rules against things like linking to anything but a small subset of other sites, and learning and following them can be a pain.  Heck, maybe this isn't a good thing to say, but even as staff I have to go and cross-reference them sometimes.  Even if it's just step-by-step, I think we really need to give the rules as a whole a once-over.  Of course, like B6 said, revisions are in progress, but at some point we have to move from "in progress" to actually doing it, even if real life obligations keep the staff busy (which I absolutely sympathize with - see my lack of activity throughout most of April and May.)

Re: New members joining: I think I have to agree with Meiko and Basilisk that BZP could use a little more focus on general LEGO.  At the end of the day we're a Bionicle site, that's true, and I wouldn't want to drive that focus away.  But realistically speaking, interest in the line is fading, and there's just not that many peope who would be interested in joining - I mean, not to put too fine a point on it, but what sort of kid today goes looking for a Bionicle site to join?  I admit I'm not certain what the best way to fix this would be, but the aforementioned SBC contests returning, as well as reaching out to other LEGO sites, seem like good starting points.  In addition, as mentioned above, BZP's rules are pretty labyrinthe, and I have to think that turns some potential users away.  
 
Update: Actually, just had a thought - BZP holds a lot of contests.  Why not try and make those more visible off-site? Granted, we'd probably get heckled a bit if we tried to do that before updating the rules for discussing other sites and communities, but once said updates were in place, BZP's contests could be a good way to attract new interest to the site.
 
Re: staff organization and moderation: it's true BZP has a pretty large staff, particularly when you consider the size of the active userbase, and it's also true that some of them aren't around very often.  But for the most part it seems like we're fairly well-organized in the current structure, and I don't often see problems that sit around for ages before a moderator replies.  But like Gata and others said, this might be too much of a good thing - it's true that, as an FM, most of my 'staff' duties have consisted of taking care of things like sig reports, because there's really not that much that needs moderation.  Granted, there's not that much else for an FM to do administratively, but it does start to feel a little like just spinning your wheels, so to speak.

As for moderation, I try to talk to people about FM stuff the same way I talk to them about anything else (eg. pretty casually), and I hope that people see me as friendly and not someone to be avoided.  In a perfect world I wouldn't even need to write that last bit, but it's true BZP's staff does still have a bit of a strict and at times insular reputation that was built up over the years.  I think that's changing - I hope it is - but the more open to feedback we are, the more we can improve.  (Case in point: this ticket.  Good idea, Wind.)
 
At the end of the day, BZP is a good community.  I've met a lot of good people here, and for the most part everyone's open and welcoming.  But as this ticket (and plenty of other murmurs over the past year or so) has shown, we need to be open to change if we want to keep that community alive.

Edited by GSR, Jun 16 2013 - 04:35 PM.


Hey I wanted to pop back in here to publicly apologize to anyone I might have hurt or offended in here and anywhere else across the site in recent months.  I know I've been abrasive and that's not especially kind, and I've no excuses to make for that. 
 
That said I'm actually really jazzed by the earnest discussion going on here and it's really reminding me of why BZPower as a community still means a whole lot to me and why I want to see it thrive and grow.  My post was a little harsh and a little whiny and it had a hefty dose of "Princess Grr is a drama queen who needs to get back on her meds" but it looks like it had a hand in opening the floodgates for truly honest discussion on the site (credit also belongs to my dear boyfriend Windrider, of course), and that's what I've wanted to happen for a very long time. 
 
In particular I want to thank Bulltop for taking the time to personally respond here and engage the discussion in an active and positive manner.  That's the most encouraging thing I've seen on this forum in a long, long time and outright shows that my harshest words were undeserved.  I'm gonna respond in turn now -  
 

 


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.
 


Pointing this out as an example of the sort of community-driven administration I want to see on BZPower. Honest admission that it just hadn't crossed his mind, and a suggestion of actual follow-up. This is the way to do it!! Yeah!!

 

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.

I don't believe I mentioned banning except in passing, as that actually has been dramatically reduced as of late, which is a good thing. Post deletions and moderating/punishing wihtout explanation are the things that are really problematic but your admitting "we could do better" is more than you've done (at least to me) before, and seeing folks like Ryan note in here that they're making a conscious effort to change is very, very encouraging.

If you guys could ride that positive reinforcement you mentioned, and address the "we could do better" areas, I feel that would loosen up the forums ocnsiderably and address the bulk of the situational problems on BZPower. Maybe a private, bulk address to the staff concerning the matter?

 

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.


I definitely am aware it's a slow process - but I guess my major issue is that I don't see why it has to be this slow. I'm not admonishing the staff for taking time, but I've lost count of the times staff members have told me "I don't understand why this is taking so long; it seems like Andrew is just sitting on or ignoring the issue now."

Some of the technical issues require waiting for Jon or Kelly (though, honestly, waiting years seems rather excessive), for sure, but I'm even more concerned with the community issues, like the aforementioned relaxing of severity (both practical and percieved). I don't see why those can't be addressed immediately, for all intents and purposes.

This ties into the notion that everyone on BZPower deserves more transparency. People should know what's going on, and if they're a holdup they should be informed why there's a holdup, you know? This especially holds true to the staff - I think Gatanui's post pretty pointedly illustrates the problem that there's not proper communication among the staff (let alone the members). Maybe you are delegating some things to the rest of the upper level staff, but when even the bulk of the staff has no idea about that and sees no evidence of it, there's a problem. Am I making sense here? I feel like greater transparency and communication would be an incredible boon to this site and community.

 

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.


I'll be honest here, the attitude you project makes it seem very much like you view it as a job you don't want to do anymore (but, perhaps, a job that you don't feel anyone else could do). Maybe this is misreading, but this is just the impression I've gotten in recent years from your persona on the forums and conversations off-site (though I'm naturally trying not to put too much stock in offsite stuff, obviously).

Maybe I'm wrong! But the issues arising from it still are present, though I think I addressed most of them in the previous section.

Calling for your removal is taking things to far; everyone who's said so in this thread is right. I spoke a little too much in the heat of the moment and probably, when it comes to you specifically, get a little too emotional. There's a place they say hath no fury like a woman scorned and if Sumiki's suggestion of "bromance" among the upper staff is true, I was definitely the scorned woman in our relationship, haha. But that has no place in this (excpet maybe tangentially) and I'm sorry if my own resentment coloured things at all.

What should be focused on are the issues, and, like I said,t he one of delegation, communication, and transparency is really important. If you're doing all this stuff yourself, delegate. If you are delegating, make sure the staff is aware of it. If the staff is awake of it, make the members are aware too. I'm not saying reveal everything that's going on behind-the-scenes...too many cooks, spoil the soup, etc...but it feels like the lower-level staff and membership are kept in a near-total fog and that's not helpful for anyone, you dig??

 

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.


I think I already addressed the underlying issue here in a previous section but I just want to clarify that I wasn't talking about letting random members do backend work, haha. I remember multiple times staffers volunteered to do things or brought forward solutions that were effectively just brushed off. Maybe there were reasons for doing so, but no-one got an explanation. These are bygones and should be left bygones, sure, but what I am saying is you should make sure that doesn't happen anymore.
 

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.


To be perfectly frank, "If you hurt people you get slapped" rule should be the ONLY core rule IMO. :P Everything else should just be extensions of that.

As you probably gathered, I'm not talking about banning people for having different beliefs. That would be against MY beliefs! ;) But I percieve a real problem (and I'm far from the only one) on this site where people get away with saying really hurtful things because they raise cain - and, even worse, there are situations where positive things are silenced/deleted/quelled because the people raising cain claim it's "controversial." I can't support that. Sometimes "controversy" surrounds things unjustly, and in some of those situations, placating "both sides" and treating "both sides" as equally problematic reinforces institutional oppression and suffering.

This is one area where I can't be anything but blunt: that's wrong.

 
Okay. Whew. I hope that was suitably civil. I just want to be able to discuss these things in a positive and earnest manner and I feel like that's been heavily discouraged on BZPower for a long time. But I've been impressed by this thread, and I've been impressed by you today, Bulltop, and that's really encouraging.
 
 
 
 
EDIT: I forgot one major suggestion that I wanted to add to this thread, which is a pretty simple one: I think the community could benefit if the rules weren't so severely read.  If the ordinance were treated more like guidelines than as strict rules, both the members and the staff could relax a lot (especially the members).  A sig's 5 pixels too big?  Who cares; that's not hurting anyone.  A member made a joke in a reply that wasn't strictly on-topic, but was a response to something else in the thread and added pep and humour to the thread?  That should be encouraged, not deleted.  A gif is 1 kb over the posted limit?  Who's to know. 
 
I'll illustrate with the sig guidelines as an example.  The heart of the sig rule is "signatures shouldn't be so big that they obstruct things."  But here on BZPower, we treat the ~specific dimensions~ as the important part.  I feel like the staff gets so hepped on enforcing the rules that they forget why the rules are there - it's all focused on rules, rules rules, and not the situations behind them, which have much more wiggle room.
 
Note, the sig guidelines are a bit of a bad example since I feel the current compromise is actually just about the perfect solution.  But you get what I'm saying.
 
Basically, I'm advocating a move to more case-by-case moderation.  Instead of having everything be so meticulous, and then going all-out in enforcing it, just set up guidelines and step in to edit/clarify/punish when there's a problem.  This wouldn't have been possible in, say, 2004, but our membership is smaller, more mature, and more responsible now.
 
Back in BZPower's heyday I understand we would have gotten a stream of people trying to justify ridiculous things, but I don't think that would be the case anymore.  And if it were, then it'd be okay to tighten things a little more.  But I think right now BZPower needs to loosen up significantly, and then tighten up where necessary - rather thant he current state, which is a corset cinced so hard we can't breathe.  Know what I mean?

Edited by Princess Grr, Jun 16 2013 - 05:46 PM.


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.

For the record, a while back we did add a banner that appears for all new members at the top of the screen with a link to the New Member Policy. I'm hoping that helped relieve some of the confusion.

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.

Sorry to disappoint, but generally speaking, change does happen pretty slowly, over years as some have said. We do the best we can.

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.

The Proto system is a feature added by Invision (as a warning system). It used to send out a PM with a subject line specified by the staff member, but in a recent update, they decided to change that. Unfortunately we do not have an easy way to go back to the old system. Hopefully if you're losing Proto, you realize you've done something wrong. As I mentioned in my previous post, we don't do it that often, and when we do it's for things people have usually been warned about before.

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.

This is not a feature Invision provides, and I don't think I've ever seen an add-on that does something like that. If there was, it would definitely be something we could consider. I don't foresee us custom-developing such a feature though.

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.

Definitely a valid point. I haven't run into many spambots lately while approving accounts.

  • 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.

I don't believe the Invision software supports OpenID login. I did a quick look through the control panel and didn't see anything related to it.

  • 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.

Neither of those things are easy. The New Member policy is implemented using features provided by Invision. If they included things like an alert when your post was approved, we'd probably enable it. Unfortunately they do not.

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.

Fun fact: when we added the Retired Staff group however long ago it was (I want to say about a year) I contacted current staff members who had not logged on in a certain amount of time (I forget if it was six months or something else) and if they didn't reply within a month they were moved to the Retired Staff group. We didn't announce it or anything, but it happened. I feel bad about it though, especially since some staff members disappear for a while and then come back guns a-blazing. How do I know who falls into that category and who's really gone? It's a tricky situation.

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.

It's a fair point, but as you said, we have the Tracker system now to help encourage collaboration on new things between the staff and the rest of the members. For your specific example, while we didn't ask you directly, we still looked at the statistics for each forum to see which were being used a lot and which ones probably could be merged or removed. I'm not saying we got it all right, as current activity shows. But we do listen to you guys, and that's how the OTC forum was created. So I'd say, keep making Tracker tickets and we'll keep trying to work with you guys.

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.

I think it's a fair point. Most times when we delete things, it's for speed. But encouragement and advice can be given to the staff to try to take more time.

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 don't think you're offending anyone (at least not me). We definitely care what you think and the plan is indeed to change things as soon as we can. The goal here is not to let BZPower die - I don't think anyone wants that.

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.

The last System-based contest we hosted had very few entries. As did the one before that. We're not going to host more contests if you guys don't enter the ones we do have.

Alright, done with the first page.

A common thread here is that people don't like how we limit what sites can be linked to - I get it guys, and have for a while. We're working on some custom code being written by Than the Moa to allow us to severely loosen our policy. These things take time to write and debug and implement though, and Nate has a day job and a life outside of BZP. We will get it done though, honest.

If there are other rules you think need to be revised or removed, open Tracker tickets. The worst thing that happens is we say no. If members are asking for a change though, we'll seriously consider it.

I agree with everything Gata said. Partnering with a more active forum would be awesome.


~Shockwave~
Jun 16 2013 06:36 PM

 


 

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 don't think you're offending anyone (at least not me). We definitely care what you think and the plan is indeed to change things as soon as we can. The goal here is not to let BZPower die - I don't think anyone wants that.


 
 

 
Alright, may have been a bit over reactive. but it does feel like that sometimes. And I'm aware it's unrealistic to listen to everyone. But I still stand by that. And I appreciate your acknowledgement.


-Windrider-
Jun 16 2013 07:30 PM
So I think Smeag used the word "jazzed" up there and I am quite jazzed myself. This is what I hoped for when I opened this thing up: honest dialogue and a combined effort to pinpoint and start work on problems that might be holding BZPower's activity back.
 
Thank you, Andrew, for taking the time to read through all of the comments and to respond at length. As for taking action, I think you've already begun. If you could all turn your attention to this new and related ticket, then we can work on simplifying the registration process.

I don't believe the Invision software supports OpenID login. I did a quick look through the control panel and didn't see anything related to it

Hmm, seems like OpenID used to be a feature, but since the third-party libraries they used were no longer actively maintained, it was removed. However, looking at their official site, it definitely seems possible to have the ability to login through several social media networks - some of them even mentionable.


The Phantom Terror
Jun 17 2013 01:23 PM
I would reccomend regular leadership terms (i.e one year per term), where the citizens of BZP vote on members (which have been chosen by the standing admin) to have as a forum leader, forum mentor, reporter, etc.

I would reccomend regular leadership terms (i.e one year per term), where the citizens of BZP vote on members (which have been chosen by the standing admin) to have as a forum leader, forum mentor, reporter, etc.

This is actually a pretty neat idea. But I fear implementing something like this would get out of hand. I also fear that there could be some hurt feelings involved, because when you add a voting system to a small communtiy there is bound to be biase and favoritism going around. As I said, it would actually be cool to see something like this happen, but I don't think BZPower is really the right place to have such a system.
 
-Rez

The last System-based contest we hosted had very few entries. As did the one before that. We're not going to host more contests if you guys don't enter the ones we do have.

but we are not going to enter a contest if there are none, right? This is the mean problem of SBC here. But I think, as a little back support of the forum, we could host regular contests, like the flash fiction contest, with as prize just being honour(and front page). Run them for a month or two, let people get used to system, and then start off by hosting official contests too. That could work as a back-supporter right?

Can I make a GD topic for this? :P Or can somebody? Most members don't read this tracker, in my experiance, until they encounter a problem. Start with that, post a link to this Tracker with the tagline of "dialogue with the staff" or "weigh in on problems affecting the site" or something like that.

Please pardon the incoming rant.

1) We almost need a GD topic about posting a new topic Okay, granted, I certainly don't make all the topics in this board, but this doesn't happen often enough, especially in the discussion forums. In further case, I've never really had a shortage of replies to a discussion topic that I've started, or anyone else has started. But without a flow of new topics, discussion dies. I think all of us have posted a new topic at one point or another, and I think a topic to discuss with other members how to make a topic and where to put it would help. (Can I make it? Please?)

It really doesn't help that many new topics end up in GD, where practically nothing is allowed anymore, and the mass majority are moved or closed by the staff.

And bringing back the hot topics list would definately help.

Further, I would appreciate it if the people who want more Lego discussion would make more Lego discussion topics. This is not an insult to Meiko or Aanchir or anyone else who wants that, since I've seen them make these topics. And I've seen people post in them - heck, I've even posted in a couple myself. I have nothing against Lego disscussion. We just need more topics.

2) We still need more exposure of the Lego and Creative forums on the front page. Lego RPG, prime example. Ignored by the rest of the forum, they sent email and PMed the news team about the new RPGs we had opening. No news story was written, and now those RPGs are pretty much dead in the water. At least the news team should actually listen to the members! That chaps my hide, to be honest.

3) BZPower is so complicated with all the rules. We have an insane number of features, and we have rules for every one. You shouldn't have to have a memory like me to understand it all. I would even advocate cutting out some of the features, and focusing on the forums. Those features used to cut forum clutter when we had it, but we don't have it any more and we don't need all that.

I want a topic - let's put the features on the table and talk about which ones to cut. What rules to cut. I never have seen a site with so many features, and so many rules for all of them. Further, removing some of this massive site archetecture that's held together with bailing wire and duct tape (:P) should save the staff time so they can focus on what actually needs fixed.

4) Rearrange the forum index, so that new members see the discussion forums on top. Right now the first thing I see is the two forums with all the rules and guidelines (which is intimidating! Come on), and then the news forum. People get linked from the front page to the news forum! Put it back on the bottom where it was! I shouldn't have to scroll down to find what these forums are all about! Put the Lego Discussion Forum on top. The GD forum should, ideally, be under it, so new members know that we are here to discuss Lego and we are open to change. Then the forums should continue as they are. Rules forums, if we must have them, should be on the bottom, but I think it would be better if we consolidated the whole thing and put it in GD. If that forum is to be used to discuss BZPower, then let's discuss BZPower in it! That should include answering new member's questions. We don't need three forums + tracker for that, we need one place to easily find answers!

5) Don't kill off what little Bionicle discussion is left. Please leave the S&T forum alone, and fix the archives please. Basically, in addition to standard story, the S&T forum feeds off of storyline information from said archives, and the downtime of that is slowing things down there (a bit, but that's a bit we can't afford, and it hasn't really died because I'm bootlegging answers off a complete Greg Dialogue I downloaded before the hack. Really, I should not have to do that, and the fact that the archives are down is preventing me from finishing the project I downloaded those answers for in the first place.).

6) Nearly all of the creative topics in the library get zero replies. The SS forum is a wasteland. Any ideas?

7) Also, just plain flat fixing the archives in general would help. That's ten years worth of ideas we can't access right now.

Sorry for the attitude. The above are just suggestions, but oftentimes I feel like I'm posting alone in a sinking ship, and I keep wanting to do something about it. And that's my challenge to everyone here. We need to do a whole lot better than sit in this Tracker ticket and wring our hands and accuse everyone else of being the problem. I'm not immune from this weakness, as this very post will evidence, but I hope my actions will speak louder than my words. I also hope that you all will at least consider the complaints/suggestions above.

And trust me, I know. I wanted to quit too, and dissappear, and hide in the S&T forum and just read all the BP stories until bones stops posting them (I can't even do that any more, the archives are down! :P). But I'm just not that kind of person. I'm foolish enough to think this place actually has a future. Some of you also sound like you believe that as well.

So come on, guys...

Where's my topic?


Engineer Alexandra Humva
Jun 17 2013 08:54 PM

3) BZPower is so complicated with all the rules. We have an insane number of features, and we have rules for every one. You shouldn't have to have a memory like me to understand it all. I would even advocate cutting out some of the features, and focusing on the forums. Those features used to cut forum clutter when we had it, but we don't have it any more and we don't need all that.

Isn't that something like having a nasty wort on your finger, so you chop off your entire hand to get rid of it? The rules need simplifying, but you start axing features in the name of simplification and, well, that upsets my inner engineer.

Edited by Judge Alex Humva, Jun 17 2013 - 08:55 PM.



-Windrider-
Jun 17 2013 10:08 PM

Can I make a GD topic for this? :P Or can somebody? Most members don't read this tracker, in my experiance, until they encounter a problem.

 
I'm quite pleased with the amount of activity this ticket has seen; however, I do think it would have had more if I had made a topic in GD about it. It might make sense to have a topic for discussion and then to bring certain proposals from it over to the Tracker, since we already have a new ticket spinning off of this one. Thoughts, Andrew?
 
As for changing the way the staff is appointed, I think that is something we can think about after BZP's activity has increased. I don't think the current selection process has an effect on the site's activity. I thought I would respond a bit, though, and say that it might be a good idea to involve the members more. I know that members' opinions have influenced appointments way back when, for better or for worse, and that people are always free to make suggestions to B6. There is always the issue of having things turn into an affair of popularity in a more democratic selection process; that is not to say, however, that our userbase is not a good judge of character and maturity. There is another hitch: members don't have access to the Moderator CP and can't see which members are making the reports, and I know that B6 takes reporting activity into account when making his appointments.


Engineer Alexandra Humva
Jun 18 2013 05:41 AM
I think a system, once we have more of a stable population of course, of were B6 looks through the standard selection process and then picks three or five contenders, at which point the voting process begins, maybe with a blurp of each one's exploits in the post. I imagine the logistics on that could be painful though, and I definitely don't think it should work that way with higher up positions, which kinda need to be earned. But for something such as forum assistants, it'd be pretty interesting to see how that'd work out with a term cycle.

I think a system, once we have more of a stable population of course, of were B6 looks through the standard selection process and then picks three or five contenders, at which point the voting process begins, maybe with a blurp of each one's exploits in the post. I imagine the logistics on that could be painful though, and I definitely don't think it should work that way with higher up positions, which kinda need to be earned. But for something such as forum assistants, it'd be pretty interesting to see how that'd work out with a term cycle.

Sorry, but I just don't really think a semi-democratic selection process like that would work. Here's a quick list of a couple of reasons why:
  • We already have too much Staff to begin with. As mentioned many times in this tracker, and even by several Staff-members themselves, the Staff is waaaay beyond bloated, which also leaves too many of them, particularly the low-level ones (which is what you initially promote people to) doing virtually next to nothing.
  • A lot more trust is required for this process than for the current one. Keep in mind, since there's no way to tell the exact outcome of such a semi-democratic selection, each of the proposed members should all be equally suitable and trustworthy. If one was more suitable and trustworthy than the other, this entire process would just lower the quality of Staff we have. And if there was a way to foresee the outcome of such a selection, then why have the selection to begin with?
  • Cheaters are winners. You can try to eliminate any ill-intentioned or unsuitable members from the process by letting high-level staff make a pre-selection, but given enough time, sooner or later someone's going to slip through. And if those people either to happen to be the most popular, or just cheat the entire process altogether, they're going to be the ones to rule this site. Yes, you can say it'd only be a temporary reign of terror. Point being, that doesn't even remotely matter. Best to prevent a situation like that from happening in the first place, as any occurrence of evil Staff will massively decrease a site's Internet-karma.



Engineer Alexandra Humva
Jun 18 2013 08:36 AM
I respond to your entire argument with this bit:

I imagine the logistics on that could be painful though

It's an interesting idea, but definitely not a practical one.

Edited by Judge Alex Humva, Jun 18 2013 - 08:37 AM.


 


3) BZPower is so complicated with all the rules. We have an insane number of features, and we have rules for every one. You shouldn't have to have a memory like me to understand it all. I would even advocate cutting out some of the features, and focusing on the forums. Those features used to cut forum clutter when we had it, but we don't have it any more and we don't need all that.

Isn't that something like having a nasty wort on your finger, so you chop off your entire hand to get rid of it? The rules need simplifying, but you start axing features in the name of simplification and, well, that upsets my inner engineer.

 
Well, I'm sorry lol. It's just a suggestion I'm throwing out there, seeing as little gets done and if there's less things to be done about, something might actually get done. And it also might be easier for new members to get. 
 
@Wind: Most of the activity in this ticket, though, is from people who are staff or people used to working with the staff, like Reznas and me. The fact that we are discussing this where most of the members don't see it leaves a bitter taste in my mouth. 
 
Also, I'm surprised and annoyed to read the irate comments by many of the staff here. There's no reason to trust me, per se, or the average Joe member who walks in the door to make crucial decisions, but these people have been around for years and were trusted enough to be made staff. If even they feel like their hands are tied, then something is wrong here and it needs fixed. 
 
And once again, I'm sorry for my attitude about this. I just can't think of a way to edit the above post to make it less irate, because I am irate. :(

@Wind: Most of the activity in this ticket, though, is from people who are staff or people used to working with the staff, like Reznas and me. The fact that we are discussing this where most of the members don't see it leaves a bitter taste in my mouth.

 
I've got to say I agree with Fisher, Wind. Maybe we should post a closed pinned topic encouraging members to engage in this discussion? That way a few more members would hopefully have some helpful suggestions. As Fisher said, him and I, along with a couple of others, are some of the only members that even venture into the Tracker besides the staff and those that have issues. Most people stay away from the Tracker because they don't have any issues or suggestions to make. Thus, they have no incentive to actually view the Tracker. However, making some kind of topic in GD gives them an incentive to come over here to the Tracker and engage in our discussion.
 
May I add that even if we post something in GD, it will probably only attract a couple of extra members. We're not talking huge amounts of people coming over to the Tracker and joining the discussion. Most of the people that are known for speaking up, and who are the main thinkers in situations like these, have already entered the discussion.
 
-Rez

Edited by Reznas, Jun 18 2013 - 02:17 PM.



The Phantom Terror
Jun 18 2013 02:36 PM
Also, on the Premeir Membership campaign, it's working greatly in my opinion, but I would reccomend possibly subtracting the "only premeir members can see their rank photo" thing. When I joined back in 2007ish, everybody could see their rank photo. I believe that that's a simple fix that a lot of people would appreciate. I still like the fact that only PMs can start blogs, games, polls, proto boosts, and contests. Those give people incentive to buy the PM. But nobody is going to buy something like that just for a gif image.
 
Also, I believe that proto boosts should be given out a lot more commonly. I've seen a lot of people on this site contribute and help others out, thus it would be logical to increase the amounts of proto boosts.






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