Hi, everyone. It's been a while since I've made a true suggestion-discussion thread, but it's a new year and a new decade and I have some ideas for how we can make our community better in the 2020s. Grab a snack; this is going to take a while.
I'm going to begin with a topic that I've put a lot of thought into during the past year... that is, the RMT section. The RMT section kinda sucks. It has sucked for the better part of five years, in my opinion. During our peak between 2012 and 2014, it had a good community of regulars who posted competitive teams of a quality that sometimes rivalled Smogon's. That was pretty cool. However, this standard has been absent since the beginning of Gen 7; and while it's arguable that all the area needs is a boost in activity to become relevant again, I think there are underlying problems with it that will prevent a similar audience from taking it up once again.
Those problems don't have to be hard to fix, though. Whenever we've discussed the RMT section in the past, a recurring sentiment has been that a forum transfer would be the ideal solution. But as the years have passed and we've never gotten said forum, the difficulties of making such a move have been made clear. Instead, I've looked to simpler, but equally-effective solutions to our predicament: and whether or not they are the changes we ultimately use, I think they are worth sharing with Pokemaster and the rest of you as a starting point for revamping the RMT section.
So, to begin, I'm going address what I think is the worst of these supposed 'problems'...
The RMT section's issues are not purely structural. Unfortunately, the demographic that has taken the place of our old guard of competitive players is 50% casual players, who have a lesser interest in winning matches than they do in using gimmick strategies or teams of favourites. I'm pretty sure I'm not just some old codger reminiscing on the past: it's remarkable how frequently people post teams for the 'Anything Goes' format that are actually just repurposed in-game teams or squads of Eeveelutions.
I don't mean to invalidate people who just want to mess around in the lower ladder or with friends: but these posts don't exactly lift the standard of 'competitive' team we want to see in the RMT area. And to make matters worse, these users are classically uptight about not using legendaries, or maintaining token members of the team. Providing actual competitive advice to these guys is worthless. Realising this was my signal to re-think our current rules list for the RMT section.
I floated the idea of revamping the RMT section in our Discord before writing this, and those who replied seemed to be on the same wavelength about enforcing more strict requirements for the contents of each post in the area. That's firstly about elevating what it means to be 'competitive', but secondly, it's about increasing our standards for the level of detail included in each post. I'm going to give a shoutout to sumwun here, who for years has been painstakingly requesting people to put their intended battle format in their post, or fill out missing attributes for their Pokemon. He shouldn't have to do this, and that's why I will not compromise any longer.
My Simple Solution™ is that we change the RMT rules list, so that two things are made clear:
Competitive teams must nominate a battle format or game-mode, and must list ALL of items, abilities, EVs, natures and moves for ALL their members. Some written explanation in addition to this is highly preferable. A battle format means the battle rule-set both players adopt, e.g. Battle Stadium Singles, Smogon OU, VGC 2020, etc. If a format is missing but can be assumed, it will be edited in.
All teams submitted must have the sole focus of winning matches. Posts that blur the meaning of competition with gimmicks, novelties, teams of favourites, self-imposed bans on legendaries, etc. are not allowed.
Please feel free to discuss my proposed changes. They're strict, and I've gone to some length explaining why: but part of the reason I make these threads is so I don't tunnel-vision on my own feelings. Let me know what you think... but we're also far from done here.
Yep, that old chestnut. Here's the part where I think a discussion is really needed. My opinions on what to do with in-game teams have changed a bit in recent times, and I want to see what people think of my new stance.
One thing we can agree on to start with, though, is that in-game team threads fit awkwardly in our current rules list. They're either not allowed, or sort-of allowed if you disguise them as part of some greater difficulty beating a story plot point. It's to the point where I wrote a 600-word meta thread about how the heck we moderate that stuff.
I was never truly satisfied with what I wrote in that post, as you might be able to tell toward its end: it's too complex, and made no sense without the examples attached. Complex rules suck for me, they suck for you, and they suck for the people who just want help with their team. I want a Simple Solution™: I think we should either ban them fully, or allow them fully. Right now, my stance is this: we allow all in-game team threads on the RMT section, but enforce exactly the same high standards for them as I've suggested for competitive teams.
Over the years, we as a mod team have repeated our explanations for why we don't allow in-game team threads on the main section to the point they've become platitudinous. In recent times, I've actually had trouble convincing myself that in-game playthroughs truly are as simple as levelling up your team and using 'a variety of types and moves', as the rules list puts it. Sure, it's simpler to beat Cynthia than it is to reach rank #1 in OU; but that hasn't stopped people putting a lot of thought into which Pokemon make Diamond and Pearl most convenient to play. Why can't we offer similar advice to people who actually want that advice?
Of course, allowing in-game teams comes with other challenges. But there's nothing that can't be overcome with sensible rules and high standards. People won't list moves? Ask for it the rules. People aren't saying what's troubling them? Put that in the rules. BenWormadamLover is too clingy to his Wormadam? ...You get the idea. Here's what I suggest we put in the rules if we do allow in-game teams:
All in-game team posts must be for a main series game, and specify which game they are for. They must also specify how far through the playthrough they are using a recent plot point, or mention which battle is causing trouble. If it is instead a planned team, this should be made clear.
All in-game team posts must list ALL of moves, items, abilities and natures for ALL Pokemon on the team. It should be noted where there is no item or a blank moveslot.
In-game teams are rated according to how convenient they make the game, battle-wise and utility-wise. If a post clearly does not share this value, e.g. by using multiple Pokemon only because they're favourites, then it isn't allowed.
Posts containing an in-game team asking how it would fare in competitive play are banned. (It would fare badly, because it wasn't made for competitive.)
And while we're at it, we might as well address another organisational bother. Why not allow 'rate my moveset' threads, too? Seriously. Allowing all this content makes it easy to imagine the RMT section as an all-encompassing, one-stop shop for teambuilding advice... wouldn't that be cool? And way easier to explain to new users?
Please let me know if I'm being too ambitious: but I think these changes are very manageable, very easy to implement, and would legitimately breathe new life into a dying part of our community. There'd certainly be growing pains, but in the same way our current ruleset eventually attracted its demographic, this new one would too. What do you think?
We're nearly done, I promise. But I want to talk about the way content is organised in the RMT section, because at the moment, it's kinda shambolic. Many years of neglect have left the tagging system utterly pointless, and the main question list is a sea of uncharacteristic and generic 'Rate my OU team' post titles. The odd TCG deck is thrown into the mix as well (another type of content I think we can accomodate). It's safe to say that allowing in-game teams on top of all this would cause our current setup to descend into chaos. How do we fix it? We sit and wait for the forum like good boys and g We use the features that are already in the software we use!
So, a small confession: I did some snooping around on the features of Q2A, which is the software PokeBase is built upon. I found a cool feature called 'Categories' which, as far as I can remember, has never been used here on PokeBase. But in the same way Pokemaster made use of the closing feature, I think he could make use of this feature. Categories are like tags, except better. Allow me to demonstrate:
I'm sure Pokemaster has his reasons for overlooking this feature, but it's so intuitive and so fitting that I couldn't resist sharing it with everyone. The animation above shows how we could use categories and sub-categories to organise content on the RMT section. Here's how it looks in the navigation menu. It took me about five minutes to set up in a local-host instance of Q2A, and the software comes with all the features we need to make it work: requiring a category before the user submits the post, and all that. Why not? It looks awesome.
Another feature I found looking through the expanded Q2A admin is the ability to disable comments on questions (and only questions, not answers), which resolves my long-standing gripe that there's no worthwhile distinction between comments and answers on the RMT section. It also simulates threaded discussion akin to Reddit and, well... a forum. I am not joking when I say we could fix all the section's organisational problems by clicking buttons that exist in the section's admin right now. Pokemaster, is all of this doable for you?
If we clean up the tagging system, we could even use that to distinct competitive builds by format, in-game teams by game, and TCG decks by rulset (e.g. Standard, Expanded, Legacy and Unlimited). Heck, we could just use the tagging system for the same purpose as categories if we put effort into maintaning it. It's not as Simple™ of a solution, and maybe not as good... but I'm off on a tangent.
The last piece of the puzzle could be to add one last rule to the RMT section that says 'titles need to describe the team briefly (e.g. using the format, generation, game, starter chosen, cores used, cards used, etc.) or we'll do it for you', and it's done. I mean it. At that point, with all of this completed, I honestly believe all the foundations would have been laid to restore the RMT section to some of it former glory, and fix some nagging moderation problems in the meantime.
Now, it's over to you. What do you think? Do you like these ideas? Could you actually read the whole thing? Pokemaster, is all of this feasible? What do you think of it? Could you implement it? If you can't, I'd much rather you tell us than go into radio silence.
Thank you for reading! I've got plenty of other topics to discuss, but I'll wait on those a while to let this mammoth suggestion post sink in. (Hint hint, promotions...!)