Would Transcendence benefit from a dedicated StackExchange?

General discussion about anything related to Transcendence.
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bzm3r
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For those who are wondering what StackExchange is: http://stackexchange.com/

The StackExchange network hosts a bunch of Q&A sites: from programming and mathematics, to worldbuilding and science fiction/fantasy disccusion. Side services to a main StackExchange include gamification of participation (vote points, badges, etc.), a meta StackExchange for discussion about the specific StackExchange, blogs, wikis, and chats.

Some StackExchanges are very strict in how they are governed: questions need to be very specific, and such that only objective answers are provided. Others (e.g. WorldBuilding and ScienceFiction) are lax(er) due to the nature of their discussion.

I wonder if you think the community would benefit from having such a structured place to discuss:

* programming questions related to mod-making/bug-fixing
* worldbuilding (perhaps for mods, or general speculation on aspects of the Transcendence world)
* balancing (for mods, or the main game)
* lore (of the main game and its expansions)
* beginner or advanced gameplay related questions
* feature ideas in general

Another benefit is that it will be really easy to collect and display stats about our community: how many active users, questions asked per day, answer rate, visits per day, etc.

Many communities have alternative places for discussion: e.g. the TeX.SE have the TeX Users Group, so a StackExchange is (not necessarily) an "exclusive affair".

We have a Ministry of Records for generating a list of "todo"s, and that functions based off of our kronosaur accounts. So, it might be cool if it would be possible to link our kronosaur and Transcendence.SE accounts...

It could also be good publicity for Transcendence, because the StackExchange network is very active and highly visited! One (not really an) issue that comes to mind right away however, is that it will take time to create our community: we begin by putting up a proposal on Area 51 (a special place where new StackExchanges are born), that will eventually transform into our SE...however, this can take a while, as can be seen by some proposals which have been in there for about a year!

This isn't really an issue though, because its more a matter of patience, and community building.

What are the drawbacks of this idea? What is your opinion in general? Let's discuss!
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Ttech
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We already have multiple areas that cover these same topics including the wiki, the forums (which is actually much larger then it appears), IRC, and facebook.
We have done brainstorms and discussion on IRC and the forums for years on balance and game dev including lore but I am hesitant to think adding another
place for people to have to look for ideas and discussion when our community is relatively small.

We already get quite a bit of stats regarding active users and browsing from here and the web server(s). While in the end this is up to George, my personal thoughts
is that we should encourage use of the existing resources and then expand from there. That said - I encourage you to stop by IRC or update the wiki :)
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JohnBWatson
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Ttech wrote:We already have multiple areas that cover these same topics including the wiki, the forums (which is actually much larger then it appears), IRC, and facebook.
We have done brainstorms and discussion on IRC and the forums for years on balance and game dev including lore but I am hesitant to think adding another
place for people to have to look for ideas and discussion when our community is relatively small.

We already get quite a bit of stats regarding active users and browsing from here and the web server(s). While in the end this is up to George, my personal thoughts
is that we should encourage use of the existing resources and then expand from there. That said - I encourage you to stop by IRC or update the wiki :)
Sadly, the wiki is still down. Would it be possible to link wiki accounts to our accounts here for easier use once it's back up? I think that would help make it more active.
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Ttech
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JohnBWatson wrote:
Ttech wrote:We already have multiple areas that cover these same topics including the wiki, the forums (which is actually much larger then it appears), IRC, and facebook.
We have done brainstorms and discussion on IRC and the forums for years on balance and game dev including lore but I am hesitant to think adding another
place for people to have to look for ideas and discussion when our community is relatively small.

We already get quite a bit of stats regarding active users and browsing from here and the web server(s). While in the end this is up to George, my personal thoughts
is that we should encourage use of the existing resources and then expand from there. That said - I encourage you to stop by IRC or update the wiki :)
Sadly, the wiki is still down. Would it be possible to link wiki accounts to our accounts here for easier use once it's back up? I think that would help make it more active.
http://forums.kronosaur.com/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=6984

The server that hosts the content where the wiki was hosted is custom by George and doesn't support redirection yet, that will come soon!
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bzm3r
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Ttech wrote:...my personal thoughts is that we should encourage use of the existing resources and then expand from there. That said - I encourage you to stop by IRC or update the wiki :)
I think the discussion shouldn't be about whether we have the capability already, since having a StackExchange isn't meant to fix a lack of options, but rather, provide an option that has different organizational properties which may have benefits.

One issue with IRC discussion is that apart from searching through logs, its difficult to piece together coherent answers to various questions that may have been asked and resolved there.

One issue with the forums is that information isn't organized via tags, and the search engine doesn't have nuanced algorithms for finding similarity in question titles and content, so it may be difficult to find an answer to a question that might already exist (especially for code related stuff!), somewhere down there in the bowels of internet history.

Another issue with the forums is that its not easy to see at a glance which posts have been "most popular", and more importantly, *why*. Yes, its easy to sort by number of views (which tends to show older posts), or number of posts (which may very well end up showing posts where a lot of smaller off-topic discussions took place), so these metrics don't favour relevancy.

Forums and IRC also tend to skew themselves towards veterans -- you can think of forums and IRC as a tavern, while the StackExchange is a bit more clinical, but also more approachable to newcomers because of that. I'd also like to point out that there could be benefits in terms of marketing, because of how prolific StackExchange is.

There is no reason why information organized on a StackExchange couldn't be used to populate other resources we have like the wiki (e.g. an answer to a question on SE might lead to adding more detail to one or more wiki articles, or the creation of new wiki articles entirely) -- this is common practice in many SE communities.

So, view this as a question of the benefit of a place where information is organized in a markedly different fashion without effort on the part of the user, rather than a question on the necessity of adding new capability.

Even though so far I have spoken in favour of a StackExchange, consider me to be only a "devil's advocate" -- I am not tied to the idea in any real way, I am merely exploring the idea, and instigating conversation. So please feel free to continue to counter-advocate.
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pixelfck
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I've used stackoverflow and some stackexchange sites quite extensively. I've seen area51 proposals loose momentum and I've seen some go through. From what I remember, there is a minimum required number of questions / month, something travel.stackexchange had a hard time reaching.
So, while I think it could (not sure though) add something to the community (maybe mostly as a marketing tool) I'm pretty sure the community is not large enough to make it happen, because we lack the numbers required.

There is an open source copy of the original stackoverflow website, written in Python. Some Chinese programmers made an identical copy, it should be on either github or sourceforge if I remember correctly, so if someone is willing to host it, that could be another option.

Cheers,
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bzm3r
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pixelfck wrote: So, while I think it could (not sure though) add something to the community (maybe mostly as a marketing tool) I'm pretty sure the community is not large enough to make it happen, because we lack the numbers required.
That's a really good point. I am pretty sure that if we started a proposal on Area 51 right now, we'd be in there for at least a year or so, unless the community already has ~200 or so dedicated users to start us off. Do we have data on how large the Transcendence community is at the moment?

Perhaps going down the route of hosting an open source SE might be easier, but I think it will be tough to maintain that code and make sure its vulnerability free.
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Ttech
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As I said originally, new things are a good idea in general. But if you feel the community skewed to longer term members, perhaps consider that these are the people who stay around, the turnover is relatively high and community involvement doesn't represent game play. We have a r/transcendence on Reddit. I'm afraid that would be the result of this endeavor. :(
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bzm3r
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Ttech wrote:...if you feel the community skewed to longer term members...
Hmm. Sorry, I don't think that's what I was trying to say. I was sort of thinking about how "searching for an answer on forums might be easier for a veteran, than a new player", just like how "jumping on IRC for a chat" might not be a little "scary" for new players..."oh, it'll be rude to just jump in and get an answer and go away, and even if I do get on, no one might be on who knows...". On the other hand, a Q&A format site is built *exactly* only for asking questions, and going away, with possibly longer term involvement just being a bonus. Its easy to navigate through clearly formatted questions and answers asked by others in the past as well. Now that I am thinking about it more though, I feel like that may not be the case, because I am likely highly underestimating the "social"-ness of new players. My opinions are changing in just a few hours! I am not sure how I feel about that point.

You mention the fate of /r/Transcendence, and I'd like to point out that when creating new community portals, its critical for the existing community to use those portals as well, in order to generate content that might grab potential newcomers. There are barely any subscribers for /r/Transcendence, no one has set up any customization graphics, or put up AARs, or other "reddit gaming subreddit" things.

Personally, since I don't care much for reddit, I don't mind. Just pointing out that the existing community can't point to the failure of a new community portal as a sign of "everything will die out", if they never used it in the first place.
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There definitely needs to be a way to sort out information for new players and reduce the time it takes to get oriented in the community. One reason why there are so few veteran modders is that the barrier to entry is so high -- you need hours and hours of free time to explore the code and test things -- and that time that is not guaranteed to always be free. I think I was one of the last few that updated the wiki consistently a few years ago, and when I stopped wiki updating it just died.

I think this post is pointing toward a much more specific problem of knowledge transfer between members of a community with low retention rate and fragmented communications channels. I can't really offer a specific solution right now since I myself am finding less and less time to devote to the game.

I don't think we have enough active people in the community to make use of SE. Instead what we should be working on is passing down knowledge from older players to newer players. One problem with what we have, as suggested by Ttech, is that we keep using the current forum/IRC format, but it isn't great for searching for answers as bzm3r pointed out. The wiki would be an OK solution if it was kept up to date and more people used it. There is still the ever-relevant legend page on there and a lot of useful information, but again the high barrier to entry is preventing a newer player from asking Katami ~legend or ~logs (although I think logs are broken last time I checked).

I think that solving the problem of knowledge retention in the community, both gameplay-wise and modding-wise, would be great. I can't count the number of times a question relating to the Huari gate vial has been asked or about the Antarctica quest line (although these are getting phased out for EP and CorpCom questions).

I checked the 'Recent Changes' page on the wiki. There were only 22 edits on the wiki during the past year of 2014 and the page even extended to 2013 edits.

tl:dr;
-not enough productive (working on mods/testing code/updating wiki/etc) people in the community in general
-no efficient infrastructure to catalog information

this translates into:

-not enough people for SE
-George is definitely more likely to create his own thing than use SE, imo (which means waiting for a fix, if any/ detracting time spent on Transcendence)
-the real problem is that knowledge retention isn't high for the community, if a veteran leaves then their information leaves with them
-need a way for players to pass on knowledge to each other, and the wiki isn't cutting it (nobody devoting time to update/ fixing the wiki is another thread altogether)
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pixelfck
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If the wiki was a media wiki (in other words, if it was using the same software as wikipedia) the barrier to updating articles would be lower, at least for me this would be the case. I'm always a bit disoriented in the current wiki layout, a thing that has kept me from ever really diving into it and start making changes.

Sure, I could learn how to work with this wiki format, but my time is limited etc.

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Ttech
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pixelfck wrote:If the wiki was a media wiki (in other words, if it was using the same software as wikipedia) the barrier to updating articles would be lower, at least for me this would be the case. I'm always a bit disoriented in the current wiki layout, a thing that has kept me from ever really diving into it and start making changes.

Sure, I could learn how to work with this wiki format, but my time is limited etc.

~Pixelfck
I can probably work on that one! :) I'll go play around with seeing if we can use something... more familiar? Although Doku is the standard for most development resources these days.
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