This post is one I’ve wanted to make for a long time, and I’m finally getting around to it.
This topic is one that affects all users of the Forum. So, I hope you can at least take the time to read the summary located at the bottom of this post.
This post will go over significant aspects of the Forum, how and why they are flawed; along with my proposed solutions to them.
Everything in this post is my opinion and thoughts; however, all of my points have their examples and respective reasonings associated with them, even if not outrightly stated.
I have considered posting each point separately, but compiling all of them into one post has its advantages, like allowing me to reply to others more efficiently. And, most of the solutions are connected.
The Forum is flawed in so many ways that not addressing a majority of these concerns leads to daily frustrations that I’m sure many others feel.
Becoming a Member
According to this official post regarding ranking up on the DevForum, the only thing you need to become a Member is the active browsing of the Forum. Although this is a step-up from the previous system of manual applications, it still has its inherent flaws. While the main problem of application-based entry was scalability concerns, the main issue of this new automated system is the ease that one can gain access to the Forum.
You can make the argument that creating an account should be sufficient enough to become a member, but because of the intended professional nature of the Forum, being able to use the Forum correctly is a necessity.
Applications were before my time; therefore, I cannot comment on them without bias, however it does seem that the old method insured only those who were serious about the Forum would have their application granted. It wouldn’t make sense to fill out one if you did not intend to use the Forum correctly.
Now, however, the only requirements for becoming a Member are:
- Browsing through a multitude of topics for a few weeks (i.e., 4+ hours read time, one+ weeks visited);
- Having a verified e-mail address;
- Having an >13 account;
Although these aren’t the exact requirements needed to become a Member, they are very close. There are people with less read time and fewer weeks visited who have become a Member.
To be able to fulfill these requirements, all you’d need to do is log in every day for seven days, and read posts for half an hour each day, and then, you’re a Member.
Moreover, the Forum treats read-time indiscriminately. Therefore, you don’t need to read any of the posts or replies. You click, skim, then it’s onto the next topic.
The tutorial has a different problem. It only teaches you the very basics and doesn’t touch into how to behave on the platform.
Nothing about the process ensures that the process has its desired effect on users.
Instead of relying on traditional methods that Discourse uses, focus more heavily on the tutorial. If the tutorial was mandatory for Membership and asked questions such as,
What is wrong with this post?
Reply to this message with which rule the post broke, or give this comment a like if it didn’t break any.
How can you fix this post? Also, reply with one of the following emojis:
- Reply with “” if it needs to go into more detail;
- Reply with “” if it needs to be in a different category;
- Reply with “” if the post has broken no rules;
These are just examples of the type of questions that would better facilitate the quality of new Member’ replies and posts.
This process forces new members to show their knowledge of correct Forum usage, essentially training them. Implementing this correctly also takes away the need for Community Editors, because if new members showed their proficiency, there would be no need for Community Editors to show them, they would already know how to post in restricted categories.
Help And Feedback (HAF)
By far, the most active public category HAF is filled with posts asking for help and feedback 24/7, multilingually with hundreds of posts per hour.
It is also because of this sheer level of activity where an issue arises.
HAF is filled with posts asking for help, but there are only so many people who have the knowledge, qualifications, and time to help. The more advanced your topic is, the less chance you’ll get a good response.
An example of this is this post. Scripting Support gets over 900 posts per week, and out of those 900, this post was at the top; a 0.1% chance. Yet, it had zero responses from Roblox Staff, Community Sages, Top Contributors, or even Regulars.
Although some of the replies were from experienced programmers, none of them provided actual reasons as to why their method was the best, beyond something similar to, “It worked for me so…”.
Even with a one in a thousand chance coming true, you still might not be able to get the help you require.
I will not be naming any names, but there was a Top Contributor who claimed that HAF had become oversaturated with common simple questions, that they don’t even look at the Support topics anymore.
According to this Discourse blog post, a possible Trust Level requirement is one in which a user must read a certain percentage of new posts.
By implementing this, even at a small percentage, higher-trusted users will read more topics in more common categories. The intent of this proposed solution is not to force users with a higher Trust Level to answer the more common, simple questions, but rather, to encourage them to read the more highly-rated posts, and possibly reply to them. It’s a post read percentage not a post replied percentage. Doing so would be unfair and practically unfeasible.
PA are highly-trusted users who handle the approval process for several restricted topics.
I’ve purposefully made this section brief, as I went into more detail earlier in the section on becoming a member.
PA has become so backlogged that it takes several weeks to get a reply back.
The backlogging would be a non-issue if the tutorial from my section on becoming a member also included a section on proper posting in these restricted categories.
Becoming a Regular
I am not a Regular, because of this, this section will be brief, and based less heavily on my observations and more on facts.
A Regular is the next Trust Level and is one few ever attain.
According to this official post regarding ranking up on the DevForum to become a Regular, you must fulfill several requirements.
- Active browsing;
- Abiding by the community rules & guidelines;
- Going through PA several times successfully
Although its requirements seem lax, appearances can be deceiving. As I mentioned earlier, few ever attain this Trust Level. Go to a non-Cool Creations HAF post, and you will see most if not all, the replies are only from Members.
Is this because most users haven’t been on the Forum for long enough to be considered a Member? Partially, however, there is a bigger problem at hand.
Because of the severe backlogging of Post Approval, getting a post approved multiple times is extremely difficult. With the uncertainty of the new post-approval system, this difficulty is worse.
The tutorial from earlier makes this requirement unnecessary. It provides the same experience as post-approval, just automatically. It would show then ask you how to improve a post, rather than tell you, but the effect would be the same.
The Forum is flawed in many significant aspects. Changing the tutorial can fix many of these issues.
There are some more topics I would like to touch on, such as:
- Repeat Posts (Encourage the use of the search bar & search engines.)
- Professionalism (Encourage flagging.)
- Unuseful Replies (Encourage flagging, differentiate between useful and unuseful)
I will edit this post to include those in the future, however I believe this should suffice to get my point across.
I didn’t intend for the title to be clickbaity, but I originally started this post with the idea that there would be more solutions than just enhancing the tutorial. I would change it, but although the solution is simple, the severity of the issues isn’t lessened. So I added the second bit as a compromise.