I've spared you all these rants for too long! This time around, I want for us to have the first real discussion about the illusive forum section Pokemaster has long alluded to, and how we would integrate it with everything else we have. If we want to keep this community orderly and bring it back to some of its former glory, we need to have a clear vision for the forum section. What goes on it? What goes to the main section? What rules do we enforce? We can answer all of that and more, right now.
Before we do though, I might give some context to the discussion here. The last time we talked about this in any depth was on this post from December. Pokemaster mentioned a few things there, like that the main section will stay, the point system would be used to count total posts, there'd be a new CSS, etc. We also know the forum would be like a 'restructuring' of the Q2A software we already use -- which is very good news.
While we could get hung up on other topics, like what happens to tags/comments, features e.g. signatures, likes and replying, what colour theme it would have etc. I think we should first focus on how the forum fits on this site. If we don't have perspective on what the forum will do, all other discussion is pointless. So, with that...
What content should we have on the forum?
Our number one priority before installing the forum should be to figure out how we categorise content. A discussion section would be our second that broadly addresses the Pokemon franchise: this is where the main point of interest lies for me. What content goes on the main section, and what goes on the forum? If we're not careful in answering that question, the two sections could overlap, which causes a problem immediately.
We can address this by discussing what will go on the forum. I'll make a start: to me, the point of the forum section would be to give us a place to do things we can't on the main section. It would fill the gap in content that we have, to where there are certain types of posts that fit nowhere on this site. Some examples of this include:
- Extended discussion threads, e.g. 'What are your hopes for Pokemon on Switch?'
- Stuff we currently take down for being opinionated e.g. 'Was Gen 5 a good generation?'
- Debate-style threads, e.g. 'Is Pokemon ethical?'
- Posting and discussing news in the franchise
- Original content, like artwork, articles, rants etc.
- Long posts like trade discussion threads, a Friend Code thread, favourite Pokemon thread, etc.
- A better place to put tournament threads and do community stuff
- Fun threads and games, as suggested by Finchwidget (explained best in the comment!)
All of this could fit into a forum area; it's just a matter of whether it would work. Do you all think this type of thing would be enough to sustain a dedicated new section? Is there enough content for it to stay alive, compared to the other sections? Is it something you'd participate in? Are there any ideas there you dislike, or you think wouldn't work? Does it compromise our niche? Importantly... what else would you like to see there?
If we settle on an idea of what we like in terms of content, we need to establish rules to keep content sorted properly. In particular, we need to make a distinction between what goes on the main section and what would go on the forum. While it might seem as simple as 'anything that encourages discussion goes to the forum, and anything in objective terms goes to the main section', it might be more complex than that. Sometimes we'll come across questions that fit both, which could be a problem:
- 'Is Rotom-W relevant in the OU meta anymore?'
- 'Is N an antagonist in Black/White?'
- 'Is Luxray worth using for my Diamond/Pearl playthrough?'
- 'Why is Comfey a Fairy-type?'
- Anything that asks '[x] option or [y] option?'
Do we just leave it to the asker to decide where they want their content, or do we make some other approach? Maybe we could make an overarching policy, like anytime there is a dispute, the question goes to the forum. What do you think would be better? Are there any other problems that might come up?
And we're far from done here...
What about the Meta and RMT sections?
Discussion of turning the Meta and RMT areas into forums has often come up with the prospect of a new forum section. And it's with good reason: personally I think both sections would be better off as forums, as neither operate exclusively with answerable, objective questions 100% of the time. (Feel free to voice your own opinion on this as well, I'd be curious to know if you rather things the way they are.)
Pokemaster has suggested that technically, it's a possibility to make existing sections into forums. However, there's still plenty to discuss in terms of what would happen in the process, and what would change about the sections with a shift in their platform. Whilst these questions might appear to be aimed at Pokemaster, we should talk ourselves about how we'd like them addressed, and discuss any other pressing issues too.
- What happens to comments? Do we just reformat them to be a normal forum post (like we would with our current 'answers')? Is there some way to preserve existing ones, without allowing new ones?
- What happens to points? If points are used to count posts, what happens to the points we have now? Do we just retire them, or does something else happen?
- What happens to votes? I can see these working as 'likes' that are just set to award 0 points, but they'd need to be reformatted visually. And unless 'dislikes' are a thing, remove downvotes?
- What happens to best answers? Do we just get rid of them? Would that be a manual process? Maybe there's a way to just hide the fact they exist, and make them worth 0 so they don't affect points.
- Do we keep tags? As a sorting function they could still be helpful. I can imagine that technically, it would be easier to just leave them there.
- Should we change the language used in the UI? Things like 'points' would need to change to 'posts', and 'ask a question' should be 'post a thread'. Would this mean trawling through the code for each fix?
- If we develop new features for the main section, should they go on Meta/RMT? Things like replying (quoting others automatically), signatures, locking threads, stickies, moving posts to different sections, etc.
- Anything else I've missed?
There's also the possibility that we merge parts of Meta/RMT into the new forum area, so we're getting a mixture of things there and better activity. Though personally I think having four sections and better organisation is a smarter idea, I'd like to know what others think.
Thanks Mega-Roserade for bringing this up: would a ’testing’ environment be feasible for the forum feature? If we could access the section once it’s presentable, we could give suggestions for it or report any issues we find before we do anything major. We could also archive our Meta and RMT sections and start fresh with the forum if we wanted to start new.
Feel free to leave suggestions/thoughts/opinions below! Hopefully I've given a good enough basis for us to talk about this. Bring up anything, hopefully we can cover everything in one thread.