community (mis?)management

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Chewan
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community (mis?)management

Post by Chewan » November 12th, 2016, 5:45 pm

So I've just looked into the 13.6 change-log and yet again I'm struck by the scale of bug fixes and new features!
After that unsettling Wesnoth Needs Your Help!-alarm, nothing more has been heard about its success.
Ah yes, there was a mention regarding new contributors and developers in the 13.2 dev release forum thread,
Tad_Carlucci is since then a member of that team, too... – reason enough to say a latish "congrats!" on these promotions – and "thank you!" to all developers and contributors for their doubled efforts on making this game better and better!

I take great interest in the forum, the useful advice, refreshing ideas and opinions of other users and wish there was more interim information about what's going on at BfW, a greater focus on motivating and involving players into the decision making of this project.

There was a time when new members were welcomed for no special reason by a dev, moderator or forum regular when introducing themselves… Lately, they are most often ignored, whereas big efforts have been made to attract more people.

How about 'job' offers?
One is inclined to think more people are needed apart from coders and a new iOS port maintainer... a Lord of Music, a Master of Style, a maintainer for WesCamp come to my mind, there seems to be a substantial number of "long-term-inactive persons in charge' ... Calls for support are limited to a Contribute-hint in release announcements and a Getting Started-link – a 'vacancies' topic in the forum with task descriptions and required qualifications appears to me a good idea.

As to the management itself...
Is the list of Forum Administrators still up to date? More precisely, is it still group leader shadowm who administrates the forum? AFAIK, there has neither been any contrary announcement nor an explanation about the newly created position community manager and the associated responsibilities... Is it different from release manager? IMO, there is a need to inform the public concerned at least about administrative decisions regarding the users' forum.

In this context, I would like to know whether banning users is a joint decision of the board staff, or if each administrator has permission to take such a disciplinary action single-handedly.
Furthermore, can a title issued for special merits be withdrawn, just like that? If so, under which conditions?
Spoiler:
To emphasize: despite the title, this is meant as a polite request for an update on the current board regulation,
the management of the forum and – hopefully – a motive for a few changes of attitude towards regular users.
I trust the subject is not 'off topic' and that other users will come up with some good ideas as well. :)
Last edited by Chewan on November 12th, 2016, 6:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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ForestDragon
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Re: community (mis?)management

Post by ForestDragon » November 12th, 2016, 5:55 pm

valid points. well, if you made this as a thread for people to propose ideas on the matter, I think that developers and community are kind of torn apart, while some the community sit there and post ideas (around 80%-90% of which are never even implemented) and those with WML skills just make addons where they implement their ideas, knowing that devs wouldn't have mainlined anything anyway. basically, i think some more interaction between devs and the community would be nice
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Pentarctagon
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Re: community (mis?)management

Post by Pentarctagon » November 12th, 2016, 7:48 pm

Some of my thoughts on this:
Chewan wrote:So I've just looked into the 13.6 change-log and yet again I'm struck by the scale of bug fixes and new features!
After that unsettling Wesnoth Needs Your Help!-alarm, nothing more has been heard about its success.
Ah yes, there was a mention regarding new contributors and developers in the 13.2 dev release forum thread,
Tad_Carlucci is since then a member of that team, too... – reason enough to say a latish "congrats!" on these promotions – and "thank you!" to all developers and contributors for their doubled efforts on making this game better and better!
This is actually something I'd like to hear more about too. My impression is that it's gotten better, but an official word on the matter would be appreciated.
Chewan wrote:I take great interest in the forum, the useful advice, refreshing ideas and opinions of other users and wish there was more interim information about what's going on at BfW, a greater focus on motivating and involving players into the decision making of this project.
Well, the new Board of Directors has stated transparency as being one of their goals, and the recent thread about the changes planned for art and music licensing I think demonstrates this pretty well. I'd definitely like it if that was moving faster, but with this big of a change you definitely don't want to rush things either :)
Chewan wrote:How about 'job' offers?
One is inclined to think more people are needed apart from coders and a new iOS port maintainer... a Lord of Music, a Master of Style, a maintainer for WesCamp come to my mind, there seems to be a substantial number of "long-term-inactive persons in charge' ... Calls for support are limited to a Contribute-hint in release announcements and a Getting Started-link – a 'vacancies' topic in the forum with task descriptions and required qualifications appears to me a good idea.
Changing to Creative Commons licenses should, I think, help with some of this. A central announcement or sticky thread with open positions along with associated responsibilities would definitely be a good thing to have though. People can't volunteer for something they don't know exists, after all.
Chewan wrote:In this context, I would like to know whether banning users is a joint decision of the board staff, or if each administrator has permission to take such a disciplinary action single-handedly.
Furthermore, can a title issued for special merits be withdrawn, just like that? If so, under which conditions?
Spoiler:
To emphasize: despite the title, this is meant as a polite request for an update on the current board regulation,
the management of the forum and – hopefully – a motive for a few changes of attitude towards regular users.
I trust the subject is not 'off topic' and that other users will come up with some good ideas as well. :)
Banning is only something Admins can do; Moderators like myself don't have the authority to ban people, but aside from spambots I don't know of any actual people being unilaterally and permanently banned. Most of the time, it actually seems quite the opposite - it really takes quite a bit to get banned, especially permanently.
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shadowm
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Re: community (mis?)management

Post by shadowm » November 13th, 2016, 3:07 am

Welcoming new users has never officially been the task of any authority position on the forums. It is perfectly acceptable (and encouraged!) for users to engage in conversation in the introductions thread and welcome each other! Don’t forget that developers in particular don’t have much time due to family and work, and then more work pertaining to their volunteer roles for Wesnoth on top of that.

Anyway, vultraz will answer the points that pertain to the project administration and the Community Manager role, and I will answer the rest. But first, here’s a small clarification: vultraz became Release Manager at the beginning of March 2016 in order to fill up the seat that the previous release manager — some person no-one’s ever heard about — left vacant due to circumstances. Previous to this, I had assigned him the Community Manager role at some point in Q4 2015 so that he would work on improving and managing our social media presence and increasing the project’s engagement with the community. So, it’s only by coincidence that the Community Manager is also serving as Release Manager for the foreseeable future, and I believe it’s his personal choice not to use the latter rank for his profile. It’s also worth noting that management of the 1.12 branch was delegated back to me eventually in order to get 1.12.6 out, but thus far the team hasn’t pushed any fixes to it that would warrant a new release beyond that and it’s likely that it will reach its end-of-life first.
* * *
Forum administration and moderation duties remain the respective teams’ task under the Community Manager’s leadership. I am still in charge of running the forum platform and managing both teams. As a matter of fact, I am aware that our forum moderators aren’t nearly as active as they were in the past. Thus far this hasn’t been a problem, but I will certainly look into some preemptive measures before Wesnoth’s release on the Steam store next year.

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vultraz
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Re: community (mis?)management

Post by vultraz » November 13th, 2016, 1:13 pm

The call for help last year was a reasonable success. We didn't attract a huge number of people, but we did attract a few who have done a lot of work since then. One such person is Aginor, who was instrumental to the SDL2 transition. The core development team remains rather small, however, so we're always open to new contributors. :)

In regards to the inner workings of the project, there isn't much to tell if you're not interested in a lot of coding discussion. :P If you are, you can always join the #wesnoth-dev irc channel on Freenode. There's a lot going on, but not much that directly affects the community. We do notify you in the release announcements if such a change has been made that is pertinent to UMC creators, and we also have a Facebook page where we try to post updates on various interesting things. The reality is, though, that we (specifically, I) don't have time to keep the community informed on every single decision.

As for specific jobs, it's complicated. We currently don't have plans to coordinate interviews or anything for positions like Lord of Music - in fact, they were mostly filled by people based on their contributions in the past. The fact that our developers and contributors are all volunteers is also a reason these positions would likely end up filled by inactive people in any case. Obviously, as per shadowm's above pose, any current holders of these titles will continue to retain them, despite their inactivity. We always welcome new contributors to help maintain certain areas of the game, though. People like Tad_Carlucci have been very helpful in this regard.

It is important to remember these positions (including my own) are filled by volunteers. More official positions (such as those involving contracts) like iOS port maintainer would be handled by the company board of directors, and we (I myself am on the board as well as being Release and Community Manager) put out requests for those as needed. Keep an eye out.

I hope this answers your questions. Feel free to inquire further if you have any more :)
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Chewan
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Re: community (mis?)management

Post by Chewan » November 13th, 2016, 6:34 pm

Pentarctagon, thanks for sharing your thoughts. Personally, I have great regard for your contributions to any ongoing discussion and appreciate the constant quality of your inputs.
Pentarctagon wrote: My impression is that it's gotten better, but an official word on the matter would be appreciated.
The sheer extent of patches, updates, changes and novelties in the 13+ development series suggests that the situation has improved. Unless a very low number of active coders has been engaged on this Herculean programming work… The impressive listing of the developer group gives easily the impression that a horde of people is constantly contributing code to BfW – to me, this seems to be a misconception. IMO, it can only be beneficial to keep the public in the loop about the current status and needs of the project, not only after an emergency had been declared. Nor would heaping publicly a bit of praise on particular active team members go against the exercised modesty of the BfW development team…
Pentarctagon wrote: the new Board of Directors has stated transparency as being one of their goals
Yes, pydsigner's draft gave even me a good idea of that specific problem.
But as to the 'new Board of Directors' … I didn't notice transparency, or a concluding statement, for that matter.
Pentarctagon wrote: A central announcement or sticky thread with open positions along with associated responsibilities would definitely be a good thing
… and may also create new positions (e.g. management spokesman, user/forum representative, reception manager, advertiser) for people without special skills, nevertheless interested in contributing. A project of this magnitude can never have enough volunteers involved in some position of responsibility. (Of course, most users are just interested in enjoying the fruit of years of voluntary work.)
Pentarctagon wrote: Moderators like myself don't have the authority to ban people, but aside from spambots
I see. Moderators are kind of 'restricted board staff', drastic actions are for the administration to decide on the quiet…


shadowm, thank you for taking the time to clarify some of my doubts.
I am very pleased to hear that you are still in charge of Forum administration/moderation and Community Management, if I understood correctly. Your expertise on BfW is well known in (free) strategy game circles, and I regret the circumstances which prompted your withdrawing from certain project areas (and even more the disappearance of the ranting lich, Wesnoth's most famous avatar after the game's favicon)
shadowm wrote: Welcoming new users has never officially been the task of any authority
All the more reason to esteem the efforts of those who did it in the past… I'm not one who canvasses a rosy picture of the work of our developers, even less if this (and the moderator) team was understaffed.
shadowm wrote: vultraz will answer the points that pertain to the project administration and the Community Manager role
Cool. Because community, project administration – these words represent, in my view, the whole organization… And that would be a big change to the 'stable BfW structure version', quite some upgrade in power, worth being mentioned in the forum. (Note: This without any judgment as to the prowess and efficiency of the community-project-release-manager!)
shadowm wrote: Only individuals who have been banned are allowed to inquire
I am aware of the Posting Guidelines and the need to withhold such disciplinary measures from the public.
I learned about a recent case, the circumstances (as told) rouse my interest in this question, I'm not the defender of the respective, seemingly 'extreme persistent' forum member, and I can only hope, that he will act on the outlined way of proceeding and make use of the granted possibility of appealing via email.
shadowm wrote: to avoid permanently impacting their reputation among the user base should they decide to return and improve their conduct
Well, the impact on a person's reputation AND the user base AND the image of BfW is always prejudicial – even if the access restriction was only temporary. Let's hope that the person in question has not been inappropriately intimidated and that trying to 'give proof of improved conduct' is not being observed by all too merciless eyes…
shadowm wrote: Special ranks and group memberships are privileges
Yes, and not so easy to achieve – hence generally appreciated. I didn't know that such a credit can be easily altered, denied, or revoked, say by a change to the organizational structure. So, the project can simply carry on using contributions without acknowledging the contributor within the forum? An… interesting trait.


vultraz, congratulations on your new ranks and the achievements revealed by the latest release announcement!
vultraz wrote: The call for help last year was a reasonable success – the core development team remains rather small
It was a very good idea and attracted a great deal of attention throughout the gamers' world. I can well imagine that the will to help has been expressed sufficiently, but…
vultraz wrote: who have done a lot of work since then. One such person is Aginor – People like Tad_Carlucci have been very helpful
I found it a nice touch to mention new contributors and developers in the 13.2 dev release topic…
vultraz wrote: we're always open to new contributors
* permanent entry on the Facebook page
* #1 point on a sticky WE NEED-thread in the forum as suggested by Pentarctagon
vultraz wrote: inner workings of the project – there isn't much to tell
Right. The latest release note shows it, there's not much going on… :P
What you consider interesting enough to be published on Facebook, is surely worth to be mentioned in the forum too (as not everyone is socializing via networks or used to IRC). Release announcements are always a big surprise, but often months go by without a progress message, a We are still around sign…
vultraz wrote: The reality is … we (specifically, I) don't have time to keep the community informed
I assume no one expects every single decision being brought up in the forum for discussion. Maybe someone like Aldarisvet (active BfW advertising maker and attention getter) would carry out such a task and save you precious time.
vultraz wrote: As for specific jobs – these positions would likely end up filled by inactive people
Indeed. That must be complicated. :?
vultraz wrote: Obviously, as per shadowm's above pose, any current holders of these titles will continue to retain them, despite their inactivity
Apparently, they do not only hold their titles (which can be altered, denied, or revoked should they be deemed no longer eligible), but also their decisional power without living up to responsibilities…
vultraz wrote: Feel free to inquire further if you have any more
Thank you.

What exactly is the role of a community manager? You seem to be heavily involved in development topics, improving and managing our social media presence as well as increasing the project’s engagement with the community seem to me time-consuming responsibilities… Specifically you, as pointed out, do not have time – one wouldn't keep in vain an eye out on improved interaction between devs and community = forum?

Can you give any more specific details regarding my (purely informative!) question on how disciplinary decisions are taken: majority vote vs solo action?
Last edited by Chewan on November 13th, 2016, 7:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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shadowm
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Re: community (mis?)management

Post by shadowm » November 13th, 2016, 7:15 pm

This is the correct way to quote people:

Code: Select all

[quote="username here"]text here[/quote]
Moderators can and should influence the forum administration’s decisions, since administrators can’t be everywhere all the time. Obviously there are instances where administrators interact directly with users and may be able to make an informed decision by themselves.
Chewan wrote:I am very pleased to hear that you are still in charge of Forum administration/moderation and Community Management, if I understood correctly. Your expertise on BfW is well known in (free) strategy game circles,
I’m not in charge of community management; that’s the Community Manager’s domain. When I said “forum platform” I meant the software infrastructure behind it. I’ve never been an expert on BfW and I’ve had my posterior handed to me by relative newbies in pretty much every 1v1 match I’ve ever played.
Chewan wrote:Cool. Because community, project administration – these words represent, in my view, the whole organization… And that would be a big change to the 'stable BfW structure version', quite some upgrade in power, worth being mentioned in the forum.
The thing is, sometimes things happen so fast that nobody would be able to put a proper announcement together. For example, when I originally released Wesnoth 1.12.1 I wasn’t expecting to stay on the Release Manager position for very long and simply wanted to address that punctual situation. It wasn’t clear at the time either whether vultraz would pass the torch to someone else after he released 1.13.4 (and 1.13.3). By the time organizational changes become permanent, they are already old news and the people who are in charge feel their time is better invested in working on the next thing — in my experience, that is.

I’d also like to note that the project doesn’t have as much of a power structure as you probably believe. The Release Manager gets the last say on things but he or she can’t force people to do anything at all because of the project’s volunteer-driven nature. The most the RM can do is influence other people through suggestions and recommendations.

Finally, the “community” concept includes not only the forums, but also the multiplayer and add-on servers, wiki, website, and our presence on social media and other sites.
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Chewan
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Re: community (mis?)management

Post by Chewan » November 13th, 2016, 8:03 pm

shadowm wrote:I’ve never been an expert on BfW
I meant the BfW project (not playing the game), its history, process of growth (almost from year one), the people who worked intensively over the years on its development... Thus, I hold to my view.
shadowm wrote:sometimes things happen so fast that nobody would be able to put a proper announcement together
One reason why I consider it to be important to have an informal What's up topic in the Announcements section...
shadowm wrote:the “community” concept includes not only the forums, but also the multiplayer servers, wiki, website, and our presence on social media and other sites
That's how I see it. I'm referring mainly to the forum itself, the involvement of its (more or less) active members, the most reliable source of feedback, good ideas and possible recruitment.

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Pentarctagon
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Re: community (mis?)management

Post by Pentarctagon » November 13th, 2016, 9:54 pm

Chewan wrote:I see. Moderators are kind of 'restricted board staff', drastic actions are for the administration to decide on the quiet…
.
.
.
Can you give any more specific details regarding my (purely informative!) question on how disciplinary decisions are taken: majority vote vs solo action?
Perhaps to clarify this a bit: If someone is blatantly violating the Posting Guidelines, then action is usually taken unilaterally by a moderator (moving spam threads so the spammer can be banned by an Admin later, locking a thread that's devolved into people insulting each other, deleting an inflammatory post and sending the user a warning, etc) or an Admin (basically the same as a moderator, but they can ban people on their own). On the other hand, when it's not quite obvious if what someone is saying/doing *technically* violates the Posting Guidelines, or if it's someone who's been consistently toeing the line between what's against the rules and what isn't, then others can be asked for their opinions on how to handle the situation (should they be banned? should they just be sent a warning? how should the warning be worded? etc). Overall the forums are pretty civil though, and the Posting Guidelines are pretty clear on what's allowed and what isn't, so usually stuff is handled by whoever happens to notice it first.
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Re: community (mis?)management

Post by vultraz » November 16th, 2016, 2:14 am

What exactly is the role of a community manager?
It does involve managing our social media accounts, as well as coordinating announcements for and communication with the community on various platforms (forums, Facebook, etc). I also currently write our release posts, but that's kinda something that overlaps with my Release Manager role.
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Re: community (mis?)management

Post by lea » July 25th, 2017, 8:03 am

ForestDragon wrote:those with WML skills just make addons where they implement their ideas, knowing that devs wouldn't have mainlined anything anyway.
I always thought that the purpose of add-ons/UMCs is to provide alternative points of view for variety, not to propose/show/argue how mainline Wesnoth should work in opinion of those who are not involved with developing Wesnoth itself...
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