Meta-PokéBase Q&A
5 votes
391 views

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.

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edited by
A  full restructure might be a little too far, the whole gimmick of the site as it were is Q2A. The problem of the Q2A is that it only really gets new content when the franchise itself gets new content, but that can be worked around with community projects. Forums would be great, but should probably replace meta and/or rmt and be a companion piece to the Q2A format, not replace it entirely.

Speaking of community projects, the forums would probably be fuelled primarily by community projects. Whether it be competitive, casual or just us fooling around on a wide scale having fun, our current content type doesn't mesh as well with a traditional forum, so it'd be basically a huge community project. That's fine and all, but our history with our lack of longevity in our community projects isn't great (yeah I'm one of the biggest culprits of this but I'm working hard on rectifying).

Beyond things like trading threads, past gen specific discussions, policies and these types of discussions and RMT if that gets shifted over, the entire basis of our forum is going to be what we can do with it.

On the specifics, I'd like points to be carried over. People worked hard for these points, and it'd be nice if it didn't go to waste (3.6k meta points isn't easy  and I want to brag about it more ;~;). Naturally this means votes should probably stay, as it's still an incentive to post good quality answers. Tags are hardly used to be honest, in theory they're great to sort content, but the only times they've actually been relevant is when they've been exclusive to specific people or ideas, and using the tag to follow its progression. Forums generally just have a single or maybe two tags to sort types of content in subforums, and I think that this system would work better in said forums.

PLEASE can we have custom titles for distinguished users (Expert +)? I don't know why I love these so much but they're really cool little bits of instant personality. I want a badge on smogon purely for flaunt a cool title.

Actually speaking of Experts how would this forum change our auth structure? I assume its the same mostly but will Experts still exist, and will they still be able to edit content?
Hear Hear !  Again, it would be saddening to see the Q2A system go-makes this site unique
agreed. i definitely think that the pokebase section is just fine with the Q2A format, and it's a nice system unique to pokebase. however, i think a separate forum section for everything else that isnt allowed in the pokebase section- fun and games stuff, debates, opinionated questions, etc- would be a really great way to extend the type of content allowed on the site. in addition, as most have stated before, the rmt and meta sections make much more sense as forums instead of Q2As. im not sure if it would be best to merge them with the "everything else" (not sure what to call it) forum though or have three separate forums- meta, rmt, and "everything else"
So can we perhaps have voting on forum posts? How about some Sub Forum have their own points system while others (like a forum for messing around) doesn't. The one's that do will allow voting and other stuff
@Silverdragon
It's not like we're removing it entirely, just for Meta, and maybe RMT.
Can we have best nickname competitions on this forum thing?

2 Answers

4 votes

Thanks once again for the well-thought-out discussion. Some of the points I answered in the previous question so I’ll focus on the other stuff and people’s comments here.

Your suggestions of which posts fit where is pretty spot on I think.

In terms of categorisation aka “boards” in forum-speak, we can start with some fairly standard boards and expand as necessary. For example:

  • General Pokemon discussion
  • Website discussion (replacement for Meta)
  • Rate My Team
  • Trading/battling
  • Anime discussion
  • TCG discussion
  • Off topic

“General” could be split into different sections like by generation.

The Q2A software has a categories feature in addition to tags so it’s easy to do. Tags themselves could stay if we wanted but I think it would make things too complicated.

What happens to comments?

They’d be converted into “answers” in the Q2A system, which would be renamed to “posts”.

What happens to points? What happens to votes?

We can keep the votes from a technical point (in the database) and display anything we want - either nothing and stop any future votes, or a “thumbs up” feature where people can still upvote new posts.

We could keep the current points system if desired, or lower points gained for “thumbs up”, or just have 1 point per post. Either way it can be changed later (the points would be automatically recalculated).

What happens to best answers?

The way Q2A works it would always show best answers at the top like it does now. So we could keep that if people want to be able to “sticky” a post in a thread, or scrap it. Or something crazy like convert each BA into 10 thumbs up.

Should we change the language used in the UI?

In Q2A all the UI language is stored in config files (example). So changing it in one place should be fine. We may need to update text in the answers themselves from old Meta/RMT posts if they refer to “questions” or “answers”.

If we develop new features...

There are a lot of features that are common to forums like you mention. Some things like locking threads can already be done, we just don’t have those features.

You mention about keeping RMT and Meta separate - in what ways would they be different from a forum? Many people have requested RMT use a standard forum system.

Do we really need a forum? We already have Reddit, Bulbagarden, Serebii, Smogon, and two chat rooms.

Perhaps, but we also have a community here. I don’t know how many members here also post on those other sites but chances are they’re spread out over the different places.

And no harm in friendly competition :) There are forums that have shut down (looks like PokeCommunity is about to shut down due to some controversy with the admin) so there’s probably room for one more.

BTW Gekky, the link you posted isn’t a subreddit, it’s just showing every time someone has posted this site to reddit. Subreddits are like /r/something

This post is probably way too long already so I’ll stop now and let others discuss!

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Awesome thanks for the response! I'll touch on a few more things.

So with the boards, my impression is that the forum would be one 'instance' of the modified Q2A software, where categories are used as boards? That actually sounds really cool. My initial thought for the forum was that all the types of content I listed would just be posted there without any real organisation, but this would be better. Main concerns would be:
a) I'd keep the amount of boards to a minimum. This is a pretty small community, so the level of organisation we need isn't very big, at least to start with. If we make too many then they'll all feel inactive, even if the wider forum section gets a lot of posts. Pet peeve of mine with most forums nowadays, lots would benefit from condensing themselves.
b) Would there still be a full list of posts made from all categories/boards? If we made the 'main' navigation area for the forum a combination of all the boards, then we can alleviate the feeling of inactivity. So if the main area of the forum literally just functioned like http://www.question2answer.org/qa/, and maybe with some links in the UI to each individual board if people want to follow individual ones. I'd be excited for that.
c) To start with I'd probably avoid splitting things by generation, I doubt we'd have the activity to keep boards for past generations alive. Maybe down the track if the community grows larger, we'll have a need to do that.

In thinking about it, I think points would work well if they just awarded 1 point per post and were used to count posts. We'd need a separate feature for that otherwise. If we turn upvotes into 'thumbs up' buttons, conveniently votes are already counted on people's profiles, and I guess that value could be referenced elsewhere in the UI if we want greater visibility. So I think that would work well. Maybe reformat the upvote button into a 'thumbs up' button, get rid of downvotes and set points from votes to 0, I think that would work. I guess if BA is that regimented we could just scrap it, hide it and make it worth 0. Stickies really only help for entire threads.

And by keeping Meta and RMT 'separate', I mean adding the forum as a fourth section, and changing Meta & RMT's structure so that they behave exactly like the fourth section, but aren't a part of it. So in the end, we'd have the Q&A and three separate forum areas. I didn't explain that well, so maybe this visual would help: https://i.imgur.com/Ofc2c7d.png
Moving the two sections into categories/boards on the new forum section could kill their activity and would give them way less focus, which would be a shame. It'd do other things, like mess up all our URLs so old links to posts won't work, etc.

In general I think the best thing we can do is a) maintain the level of activity we have on our existing sections and b) minimise categorisation in what we might call the 'Discussion' section, so it looks active. Keeping our existing stuff separate from the new section and converting them into individual forums is the best way of doing that I think. Both sections would benefit from a restructure with their own sets of categories/boards, e.g. for meta we would have 'Suggestions', 'Errors', etc. And for RMT we could have 'VGC', 'Smogon', 'Battle Spot' and ‘Other’ for different rule sets. And the point systems they have already should just update automatically if we add the same structure as in the new discussion area, right?

Probably should have focused on this a bit more in the OP huh? Guess we can talk about it now though.
0 votes

Now, I’d have to let hear of my voice of course, so here it is. I personally think 4 category's would fit the best. Since if we merge sections, points are like..... No just no, just fricking no ok.
The Forum section should have a sub-category for TCG decks. If it's popular on the main Forum atleast.
The Forum should have a sub-category about questions that are questions that could only be asked by theorizing.
The points system should be about how many posts you are and how many Best Answers you have. No upvotes, no downvotes.
I mean, there could be upvotes and downvotes that don't really do anything, or give you 1 point and remove 1 point.
A question should be a single point, an answer should be 2 (or 1, or even 0) points, and a BA should be 2 points.
Experts shouldn't be on the Forum, as a lot of people would spam answer. Although, I think there could be a replacement for making it less likely that people would spam answer.
There should be 2 (or 3 including TCG) sections about it, the open-minded section (just rename that please), used for thing like: I dunno. And the discussion section for things like: why is Incineroar so awesomerrr- I mean why is Incineroar so hot (if you get what I mean 0-0)? Okay, just kidding. Stuff like: "Why is Incineroar Dark instead of Fighting" or "Why is Miltank so fast" 'n stuff.
There could also be a third (or fourth) section dedicated to fanart, music, and coding parts that PM can copy paste for some stuff. We could also revive those goosedamn gym things like ya'll did before. I wanna loose because I can. Maybe that would be the fun section, so games can be included reminds this This would be removed because it is low quality content. I don’t think it crosses the line — clearing flags.
commented Sep 10, 2018 by Fizz
dabs
Comments should still b ecomment and be formatted a little bit more unnoticeable like Reddit.
A category for the Forum should also surely be FC's exchanges, trade posts, and battle posts (showdown and Nintendo). I don't really think battles wouldn't work that great since Timezones, and the community is a bit too dead for that.
Also, I think a sub-category for future gens would be just great. For things like: "What are your hopes for gen 8" and "What country is gen 8 gonna be?". That's how I would love to see it

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Why would you get points from posting? That just gives people reasons to spam post. If you got points from votes, there'd really be no reason to spam post and people would actually have to make decent posts if they wanted points.
Why should forums have any best answers or points?
I think the Like system will be sufficient. Experts are basically spell check, so they wouldn't be useless in the forum; in fact, I believe more posts mean they are even more useful. :P

"Comments", or some comments, at least, still being comment sized might be useful to make pages shorter, but I probably only agree with this because longer pages feel more cluttered to me. :P

I'd quite enjoy a fan-art section, but we might need to separate it into Maturity levels and or sensor certain art (probably  necessarily, to keep the site 13+) that the community may not want to be posted on it, but that is another kitten caboodle. :P

Coding parts in general may be useful, for trading formulas, making Smogon formats (or showing your idea for some), but we may need to have some quality control there as well. If we wanted to help PM, we'd also need to know what language and version he is using to do it, the CSS he uses, how he prefers his Javascript (or not). Not saying that isn't impossible; I actually like the idea, just that PM would have to tell us the things we need to know first. :P

"Maybe that would be the fun section, so games can be included" - What kind of games? Who'll make them? I would be for this if it had some cool stuff like choosing another active member to join you in multiplayer, but I also realize that realistically: it needs a lot of backup from the community to be added; and, it'd have a very low priority on PM's to-do list. :P

I'd totally be for the DB gyms and stuff. I'd kinda want titles in that regard (for example, in the user profile, have a Title(s) section, and it may have, for example, Monotype Format Gym Leader or Monotype Gym Badge for passing such a trial, and Editors/Mods have the privileges "Removing Titles" and "Granting Titles", and or giving the Gym leader the ability to "Grant 'Monotype Gym Badge' title", etc.) but I can both see the point that arguing over certain Titles may occur or that the feature may not be necessary. :P

Some Gen 8 info is out already (congrats UK, welcome to the Pokémon universe), but future Gen section being released a year or so before release could start some hype discussion and be a pretty nice feature to the community. :P
@Staka
There shouldn't need to be any separation of maturity/ages/whatever because nobody should be posting NSFW art of ANY sort on this site at all. This is a Pokemon for general information and Q&A about Pokemon. Not porn. Thanks for coming to my TED Talk.
Wait why can you make questions and answers (and BAing) into the forum? I thought the point was to make a forum that wasn't in that format?
@HT
Sure, but that doesn't mean people won't try to Post non-age appropriate stuff: people are people, they try to do what they want. I guess I mean if an art section was added, the rules would need to be very clear and Mods/Editors would need to remove any Post with such content in it. It would probably need to have a higher maintenance than the rest of the forum. :P
I agree with the reddit format thing. We definitely need some way of replying to certain users in a thread, because using @user is unorganized and doesn’t look good at all.

The flag button also seems out of place and in the way. We should have one of those “options” buttons on comments and questions that shows you what you can do with a post, similar to what reddit has. Under that button, you could be able to favorite comments, like you already can with questions, or flag it.
@Staka

It's true that there is a lot of NSFW stuff out there on the Internet, but the difference between those places that have such things and this site is that this site is a lot smaller. Other than websites that exist solely to host NSFW stuff, which I won't get into, the sites that tend to have NSFW stuff have a MASSIVE userbase. DeviantArt, 4Chan, Tumblr (up till recently)... all those places have a userbase in the millions and tens of millions. It's harder to control, and much harder to do a hands on moderating system like we have here, so you can get away with a lot more there (not that you should, of course). However, here, we have a very small active userbase in comparison, and unlike many of those other sites, this is solely a Pokemon site, which means people with other interests more than likely won't sign up here. Also, the frequent visitors to the site know many of the users at least by name, if not very well. There's more of a sense of community here, and while I myself am not on this site as often anymore, I'm pretty sure none of the users on here would risk posting any non-age-appropriate stuff. And even if they did, we have a fantastic team of mods and editors who would take down the offending post and ban the user who posted so fast, it would make your head spin.

TL;DR: NSFW artwork tends to only occur on either sites with an NSFW focus or sites so big that they're impossible to effectively moderate, so as a relatively small, tight-knit Pokemon fansite with a great administrative system, I HIGHLY doubt we'll ever encounter that issue. Hope that clears things up.

Anyway, unrelated, but I am still strongly in favor of a forum here, if it ever occurs. The chat room has been mostly stagnant since like 2017, with most people just typing messages in and leaving (myself included). That type of system is literally exactly what happens in a forum; you just post stuff, then wait for a response. The difference is, unlike the chat room, a forum is designed for that kind of thing, so if we implemented one, I think it would work extremely well, and might actually boost our userbase a bit. Of course, that's just speculation, and admittedly a bit overly optimistic, but I think it could definitely happen.