Categories reordered

(claus) #21

I also think the majority checks BA to get the latest news and read mostly interesting discussions about latest developments in the Blender space.

Do you have any statistics @bartv ?

I’m also a proponent of enhancing what the site is already used for instead of pushing it in a desired direction.

(Grimm) #22

+1 for the moving the General forums back to the top. I don’t mind hunting for a forum that I don’t frequent much, but finding the news, etc. was much better when it was on top.

(Jason van Gumster) #23

There’s another motivation worth mentioning here. Negativity.

A little history lesson may be in order here. Quite a long time ago, the Off-topic Chat category was at the top of the forum, mixed with the other General Discussion forums. That section, however, was a hotbed of negativity on the site. It was an unpleasant place to be and it was difficult and frustrating to moderate. So it was moved to the bottom of the forum list. Since that move, the Off-topic Chat category has rarely had any of the flamewars and blow-ups that it’d come be be known for.

Flash forward a few years. Although the Off-topic Chat forum had cooled off, the overall tone of the remaining General Discussion forums grew more and more negative. It had gotten to the point where I, a moderator and advocate for the site, was actively telling people to avoid the General Forums and skip down to the Artwork and Support forums, where the atmosphere is more positive and helpful.

Now, admittedly, things have cooled off a bit since we’ve migrated to Discourse. The moderation tools are better and reducing the megathreads has done quite a lot of good in promoting a positive atmosphere on the site. But a lot of that negativity does still remain. So when it came to re-ordering the categories, it made sense to emphasize on the most positive and useful sections of the forum while also seeing if the same move we did with Off-topic Chat all those years ago would be just as effective with the General Discussion forums.

We’re still open to feedback on this, but I figured I’d share the rest of the reasoning behind the adjustment.

(SynaGl0w) #24

That said, after having used the site now for a few days with the change, I would prefer the general forums at the top.

(erickBlender) #25

I m happy with the changes you have made, this is one of my negatives critics i have observed in Blender Artists forum.

  1. Most of the time in the top thread (CG discussion) people will be having lengthy back and forth discussions, in the support threads, focus on critics, WIP, people will desperately wait for help.
  2. This causes seeing people posting question in the CG discussion thread because it clearly more visible.
  3. I just believe that when we help each other, we have more the feeling of the community. Not the feeling of i m right, i have the last word on the debate.

@Admin_Moderator to it make fair, since many people (old users) are begging to have the changes undone please give it some time and see how this changes will affect the forum atmosphere then decide.

(erickBlender) #26

This is not true the majority are new users who are lost in UI and waiting for help, in latest news and discussion it is almost the same people going back and forth .

simple screen shot of what i m seeing almost every day :frowning:

(erickBlender) #27

I have to agree on some extend here, coding being placed third is not good place since Blender main devs rarely visits that thread for not saying never. May be general forum can be then on the third or Jobs on the third place?

(Fracture64) #28

Can you at least change categories colors back to orange-grey-orange-grey? At the moment categories are hard to read since everything is so similar visually.

(NinthJake) #29

My 2 cents.

I don’t come here to look at art, at all.
Yes the forum might be named Blender artists and I respect that it is you moderators that ultimately have to deal with the flamewars and other bullshit that happens in the general forums but I only come here for the latest Blender news and to discuss Blender features and 2.8 because this is (as far as I know) the only place the devs are looking at user feedback other than the dedicated dev forums that they would rather we users stay away from.

I feel like you severely limit yourself if you only ever look at Blender art so I use a lot of other art forums to look at art. I only come here for news about Blender and the 2.8 discussions (and also to look for new addons)

And I know I am not alone on this but then again it is ultimately your decision.

(claus) #30

I reckon the majority are readers and not posters (be it threads or comments), though. Still wondering about those statistics…

(0ptikz) #31

Well, the Blender 2.8 section seems to have died over the past few days. The difference is palpable. Have the mods got any data on forum usage since the change? Has it occurred to you that you might be consigning your main forums to the same oblivion as off topic chat?

(geoadel) #32

Thanks for reflecting and thinking about the forum structures! I’d prefer the General news area to be a bit more to the top though I don’t mind it being below the arts forum :wink:

I mostly come here for news and updates on Blender until I have more time again to do stuff myself :blush:

(SaintHaven) #33

To put the General Discussion at the bottom, quite frankly, reflects one of two things:

  1. The designers are out of touch with the user base and general behavior of users who do go to forums.
  2. The designers want to engineer behavior or manufacture interest elsewhere. It is more self serving than community serving.

With that out of the way, I am curious as to what the actual statistics when it comes section activity. If the users prioritize one section over another naturally, then they are showing you where the importance is for them. So you can be community centric in your design, going with what the users are naturally prioritizing, or you can try to punish or coerce them into shifting their interest into different sections. The latter has never really worked out from what I have seen. All you do is alienate the user base and reduce traffic overall.

When users have an interest in something, they like to discuss it, or read what others are saying about it. This is normal human behavior. The number of sub-categories in any section also can present a problem. General discussion is simple, you have news, general talk and off topic (plus 2.8 specific). It boils down to really just two options, the news and what people are discussing. The two choices, as opposed to 8-10 in art, code…ect make it more accessible.

For art, well it was always been “prioritized” in so much that banners existed on the top. Prominently showcasing the best work that people would be interested in. This has always doubled as an access point to the art section as a whole. Ideally if you wanted it just to link to the art section, have a graphic in the banner that always does just that, “Hey check out other work done by Blender users” in graphic form, or under the banner a link that shifts the page down to where the art section is.

Having Coding and Game Engine be seen as “higher priority” to the users than the General Discussion section is simply insane. We know it, you know it. So why do something that is clearly outside of the realm of common sense?

As for support, this section is indeed important. I’d put right under the General discussion and News in term of what should have the easiest accessibility. Thing is, for support itself… users generally look for something specific they need help with. So what does this translate to in practice? Using the search function or finding the section via search engine. The section placement should reflect that general behavior.

Now this is just a guess, but it could be that some are being influenced by thePolycount forum’s design or direction. This is not a bad thing if so, however in that case it is important to point out a few things:
Their new forum design resulted in less over all forum activity, sections consolidation has less visual noise, and the website as a whole is simply more readable and less convoluted. I don’t think this approach works well for Blender Artist as a whole, as it is software specific as opposed to industry specific (in polycount’s case). The readability and presentation however show what could be done (curated homepage for example).

If something is not broken, don’t fix it. The art has already been presented as a priority due to the banner as an access point. Just build on top of whats already being done there instead of trying to drown the news + general discussion section. Build upon what was already working, instead of attempt to coerce different user behavior.

Heck I would go even so far as to recommend changing the home page for the forums, much in the same way polycount does. The home page would be what you as the designers want to present, such as top art, selected news, and the latest discussions (which takes up too much space with the current design). It can literally be anything, even links to the latest version of Blender or merchandise. Designers get to curate what they want presented.

At that point the actual forum page can remain the way it used to be, with the News and General discussion on top, followed by Art and Support on the left and right (remove recent discussions due to it being on the new homepage), and under that everything else.

Clean, efficient, and it gives the designers the ability to curate what they want to see without trying to ruin the previous level of accessibility.

(English is not my native language) #34

For example when in Blender something for new users is implemented, it is often said that this should be enabled by default for those novice users. Anyway old users could disable those features if they do not plan to use them.

So in the same way taking into account the novice users, they enter here mainly looking for Support and Artwork feedback. Old users know about the existence of General Forums and how to find it.
It could be debatable if General Forums is more important than other sections in the middle of the list, but I think that it is easier to locate with it almost at the end of the list than in the middle of something.

(Jason van Gumster) #35

For anyone seeking usage statistics, I think @bartv can provide them… however, I’m not sure how much use they will be in terms of drawing conclusions. Let’s look at the 4 available possibilities (the top two are the most likely):

  • Traffic to the general forums was high before and dropped off after the change: You might infer that the move killed those categories. But it’s also clear that categories at the top of the page always get more traffic (though the very bottom categories may get a bump because they’re easier to scan for). So what was really driving the traffic? The fact that those categories were on top or the fact that people are most interested in those categories. A clear conclusion can’t be drawn from this.
  • Traffic to the general forms was high before and remain high after the change: If this is the case, then it might be clear that people are truly visiting the site with a high interest in those categories. However, it would be equally clear that moving them lower in the stack didn’t adversely affect usage, but still may promote a more positive atmosphere here.
  • Traffic to the general forums wasn’t high before and then dropped after the change: This kind of kills the argument that the general categories were the most sought-after categories on the site. It also would line up with the notion that categories lower on the list tend to get lower traffic. It’s hard to draw a conclusion here, but in this case it may make sense to bump the category up, assuming we want to promote news and general discussion more.
  • Traffic to the general forums wasn’t high before and became higher after the change: This still kills the argument that the general categories were the most sought-after ones, but it would also show that the move actually increased traffic to them, while also (hopefully) increasing positivity in them.

So based on the four possible outcomes of doing statistical analysis on the traffic of those forums, one is inconclusive, two lean towards it being a good thing, and one suggests we should only move them up if we’re specifically interested in promoting discussion over art and support. Based on that, it would seem that moving the forums lower makes sense, even without statistics.

(eyelight) #36

The upper bureaucrats made decisions and implemented change before challenging all discourse from the “community”, the changes made will be proved to be correct and you as the community are wrong. Welcome to the EU

(Jason van Gumster) #37

I’m interested in having a serious discussion about this. If you’re only in this thread to make snide remarks with no basis in reality, I’ll kindly invite you to post elsewhere.

(SynaGl0w) #38

Eh, maybe so, but the advantage here is it’s just a client displayed web page in the end, and you can fix stuff you don’t like with tampermonkey and stylebot or equivalent.

I just moved the general category back to the top anyway. I deleted the “Suggested Topics” section at the bottom of threads because it wastes space and most of the time suggests threads that are many years out of date and often not related. In fact I suspect “Suggested Topics” is what has been responsible for the uptick in thread necromancy. People just don’t pay attention to the date.

I also moved the “Game Engine” category down because I never use it. It is poorly named. It should be named “Blender Game Engine (BGE)” because every now and then I see threads in there about UE4 or Unity because people think “Oh, game engine! That must mean topics or support for dealing with any game engine.”

By the same token, why not just add a main category for “3rd Party Software”, instead of the overly broad “Other Software” under the Support section? Put a UE4, Unity, Substance, […], and “Everything Else” subcategories in that.

(eyelight) #39

Well it does seem that you just post dismissive responses to defend actions you took without community discussion, no?

(Jason van Gumster) #40

Please point out specifically where you think I’ve been dismissive, because there’s obviously been some kind of miscommunication there that I need to try to fix.