Give more feedback to visitors and new members.
This post will be a bit ranty, you have my apologies for this in advance.
My experience on the forum thus far has not been that enjoyable. After logging in nearly every day for four months to get promoted to new member, I am now having to deal with a (seemingly) arbitrary post approval system. While I understand the purposes of these mechanisms, I believe that a lot of frustration could have been avoided had I been given better information.
Let’s start at the beginning. It took me four months (120 days) of logging in near daily and reading posts to obtain the new member rank. Considering I have seen accounts achieve this feat in as low as 6 days, clearly I was doing something wrong. After waiting about three months, I contacted Roblox customer support to see whether my account had any moderation violations that were preventing my entrance, which I was told that they could not provide me with that information. Even after obtaining the New Member rank, I have no clue what I did that finally allowed me into the system.
This further taints my experience here as I am now wondering how long I am going to have to wait to obtain the Member rank. On the low side I am seeing people getting it after being logged in for 250ish days. On the high side, I am seeing up to 550ish days. Am I going to have to wait two years or more to be able to unlock the rest of the site? And not knowing the answer, is it even worth participating in the forum knowing that I will have to put up with (as I perceive it) a broken post approval system?
I fully understand that we do not want bots on this site, and that is why information is limited. I do believe however that the following information could be given out without much benefit to a bot (I have it on good authority that the new member requirements are basically known at this point). The purpose of these suggestions are not to make it easier to get the ranks, but rather put a cap on how long it takes to get them.
Account eligibility status: If for some reason past conduct has rendered you ineligible for a promotion, it would be nice to know that.
Estimated time to get the next rank(measured in weeks and updated daily): A measurement of how long the system thinks it will take you to get the next rank based on your current usage habits. While not particularly useful to the user, it at least allows them to see that they are making progress and gives them some idea as to how much effort it will take them to obtain the rank so they can make informed decisions whether their time is worth it.
Recommended activity (updated daily): The forum arbitrary picks one of the activities necessary you need to do the most of and displays it to you (say read more posts or read more topics). This will allow users who want to participate in the dev forum the ability to make more informed decisions as to how they use their time on the forum, and also means that a user will not be missing out on doing a necessary activity for months at a time.
This is not intended as a criticism of the Post approval (PA) team, they are volunteers who are likely doing their best with the information and guidelines they have been given.
The first main issue is that new members are held to a different standard than full members. Inother words, as a new member the post approval team can refuse to publish a form when a full member can post an identical article without any issues. As an example of this I have had a bug report that referred to an issue with user permissions during the discobot tutorial squashed on the grounds roblox does not control discobot, when there is already an existing post dealing with a separate instance where the user does not have sufficient privileges to complete the tutorial.
The second main issue I have is there is no standard to hold against. I have one post that has been reviewed by three different users and each have squashed it for a different reason. There is also a good deal of subjectivity involved, I have had a post where the PAs requested edits and after giving them an explanation as to why their edits would not work, published the work as it was. I also have a post where I am expected to rewrite a decent chunk of it, despite following the “Guidelines”. The problems the PA take with it is I use a example to illustrate my problem instead of outright saying it (which is difficult as it is a nuanced problem), and I use a detailed API spec to explain the feature as I have deemed it the most conceive way of conveying the necessary information instead of writing out a massive post detailing every feature that I would like to see implemented.
Both of these issues make making posts incredibly frustrating. I spend a decent amount of time writing my posts but I have no real way of knowing if the post will actually be approved or not. Im not sure what the role of the post approval team is intended to be, but I am guessing they are intended as guides. With this in mind, here are my ideas to help alleviate these issues.
Clearly outline the role of PA: Its my presumption that there goal is to teach new users how to make better and higher quality posts, as well as remove posts that clearly break the rules, but I can’t find anywhere what PAs are supposed to do, nor the scope of there operations. Rules are there to limit bad behavior, but they are also there to give clear limits to the power of enforcers.
Add a style guide: The PA team often gets rather hung up on formatting. A style guide both gives new post writes a clear understanding as to what is expected and, removes a lot of the subjectivity from PAs, as well as giving them a resource to point at.
Write better guidelines: While were they just guidelines I would say that they are enough. However, if they are going to be the stick that your post is measured again, they should be made clearer. Of note, suggestions are rather limited by the fact that you are supposed to post a “problem”. To use already implemented features to illustrate this, I can’t really see a way that you can write a request for dynamic lights or for unions phrased as a problem. You run into a similar issue with quality of life updates. While members will often ignore this requirement, the PA team may not.
Anonymize the post approval process: When dealing with moderation, its best to eliminate as much bias as possible. I do not see any benefit for the PA team to see who is making the post, nor for the poster to see who is reviewing it.
Post status: Sometimes written instructions can be unclear. As such, it would be nice to have a post status to see what is going on. These may include;
Post Denied: when a post is too inappropriate for the devforum.
Waiting for Post Approval: much as it sounds
Post Seen: When Post approval has seen the post but have yet to respond
Requires Reformatting: When you are expected to reformat your post
Requires Clarification: When a PA member requires additional information from you
Post Approved: When the post is finally approved.