Home > Jointhesaga.com > JTS Poll: Website Redux?

JTS Poll: Website Redux?

One key to player retention has to be the main website for the games. Currently, I’m becoming increasingly convinced that it fails to do the job of hooking new players and providing them with easy-access information. Even my worst-designed sites for JTS at least had promo/newbie material in one place, a distinct and separate forum, and a Wiki for collaborative lore-gathering.

The site as it is now runs on a robust Drupal engine that’s versatile and handy IF you know how to use it and IF you’re willing to create an account to register for it. It’s rather telling, though, that I see more activity from players on my personal blog here in a day – no registration required – than I’ve seen on the main site during the past week.

So, I’m putting up this poll to see what other folks recommend. I vowed not to screw too much with the website again, but if it’s broken, then I need to fix it. Share your thoughts!

  1. Sergeytov
    December 10, 2009 at 11:49 pm

    Since I’m one of the people who brought it up:

    I’m of the opinion both options suck. Changing the site means going through the nightmare of data-mining for obscure lore (and some of it may well be lost if the whole thing is just tossed). Keeping it the same? Arguably worse when I hear newbies tell me it’s poorly designed. Truth is, I don’t even know where everything is, I end up searching key words I remember. If we want to teach players self sufficiency in looking up information, there’s a certain obligation that it not be some arcane process.

    So, with all this being said: I voted to change it.

  2. December 10, 2009 at 11:57 pm

    My plan wouldn’t be to toss it, but to phase it out. The OV Wiki is still around, even though we don’t tend to use it as much – but it remains a potential resource if we need to go to that well.

  3. Anshera
    December 11, 2009 at 12:33 am

    The OV wiki was great in that logs, information, etc were all in one place(okay, maybe not as well organized on the OV wiki as on the old, old wiki but better than the Drupal site), and organized categorically in an easily searchable manner, either by using the search bar, or a quick glance through the pages.

    As for the forums. Well, I really, personally hate the format of them that the Drupal site presents. Sure, I had to go to a seperate site to get to the forums but… they were just nicer, and overall I felt more compelled to check two or three sites for my daily updates, rather than one that’s a nightmare to navigate. It’s seriously more of a chore to try and find one thing on the Drupal site, than it was to just zip on over to the wiki or the forums, whichever I needed at the time.

    The final advantage of the wiki – log editing. Let’s face it, you’re editing a log and it’s easy to either miss taking something out, or accidentally remove a pose. The Drupal site doesn’t allow any editing outside the original poster(and some have proven quite lazy in editing and/or fixing a mistake), whereas the wiki you could spot something, take a moment or two and bam- all fixed.

    • December 11, 2009 at 12:42 am

      Are you advocating a return to the old setup or would you like to see the Drupal part remain, but shift the logs to a Wiki and the forums to actual forums?

      • Anshera
        December 10, 2009 at 9:47 pm

        Old set up. I hate the Drupal thing. Shift the logs to a wiki and the forums to actual forums, yo.

  4. Umishi
    December 11, 2009 at 12:02 am

    Well i know tharion (Brody knows who that is) Can do awesome webpages..hes just pegged for time alot of times, especially this month. Otherwise i am not sure.

  5. Razorback
    December 11, 2009 at 12:31 am

    Well, having been through a ton of website changes and seen info lost each time, I’m loathe to see it happen again. However, I felt that the separate wiki and forum method was the best combo we ever had. I often still use the old wiki.

  6. ShanG
    December 11, 2009 at 1:23 am

    Since Sergeytov and Anshera have spoken their piece, I guess my chiming in will round out our little trio of complainers. In any case, I have a bit of a dissenting opinion.

    Otherspace has never, in my memory, had a good website. It’s had a jumble of different things thrown together over the years, and I think simple logic says that, if any of them had been great, we would have stuck with that one rather than continuing to try out new things. All of them had pretty much the same issues as we have now.

    I have a character on to field questions – a player can ask on the channel and get an answer from somebody who knows, or they can at least get some speculation from people with more experience. This isn’t new – it’s been that way as long as I’ve been playing JTS games, which is five or six years now. Everything I know about the game, I’ve largely picked up by word of mouth.

    You want to go back to the Wikia Wiki? That sucked. Almost every complaint that can be made about the current website is a complaint I already had about the Wiki. I, personally, hated using it. I would not want to go back to that, I think the current site is much nicer.

    Okay. But all of that aside: What is the key problem with the website? Is it poorly /designed/m or is it simply poorly /organized/ – is it the website itself, or the information on the website?

    I think it’s a little of both, but I lean more towards the latter than the former. It’s probably not going to surprise anyone, but I think it’s largely the game itself that’s to blame. The setting information is a confusing mess, despite the reboot not even a year ago that was supposed to dramatically simplify the theme.

    That ‘obscure lore’ that Sergeytov is worried about? /I/ would like to see it all thrown in a dumpster and then lit on fire – I am not someone who gets much out of fluff, sorry, ‘lore’. I enjoy a style of play where I can make up facts on the fly, and I hate being expected to do homework in order to play a game, or having to color within the lines somebody else has written.

    That got a little off topic there.

    Okay, so what are the actual, specific problems with the website, how about that? Here’s mine:

    – You shouldn’t have to register in order to browse the website. This one actually kept me from using it for a month or so, because I hate making new accounts. Although the OpenID thing the current site allows? That has a lot of potential.

    – The organization is a mess, all the information on a topic should be collected and put in one place. I’m pretty sick of the wiki-style pages sewn together with hyperlinks, honestly – to give a pair of examples: I want some information on Hekayti, so I go to the ‘Hekayti’ page – but most of the information I want is filed under ‘Hekayt Prime’. Why? Why isn’t there just a single page with all available information on the topic? The same thing happens when I go to look up the date Sivad was founded – there’s an old wiki article for ‘history of Sivad’ but that only starts with Sanctuary. The information I am /actually looking for/ was filed away under the article on ‘Edward Sivad’. (Again, this is an organization problem, not a website problem – we should have a nice big article to point the new player to, instead of a bunch of smaller articles).

    – The organization is a mess. Sorry to repeat myself, but there’s another sub-option. Neither the wiki nor the drupal site have anything like a neat, easily viewable outline or table of contents. The Drupal site has me navigating several tiers of menus, each with a bunch of options, to get to most of the content, the whole thing is set up like a blog which means it’s great for reading the latest article but the archives are quite a mess. On the other hand, the Wiki was organized with swarms and swarms of tags, and I can spend 15 minutes searching for the information I want only to have it turn up under a tag slightly different from the one I’m using now

    – There are 10 years of baggage to wade through, and most of it – virtually all, in fact – is irrelevant to the people who would actually be reading it, i.e. the new players. So I’ll offer my usual advice: toss it out and start over. Don’t worry about transferring over every scrap of trivia, start over from the beginning and put up short, concise summaries of the information players are likely to care about. The rest of that is just white noise.

    Overall I think the new site, the Drupal, has a whole lot more usful features, and trying to return to the old Wiki would just be a step backward. If the Drupal is so powerful, then the question ought to be: Can we make it do what we want? Can we enable anonymous browsing? Can we have wiki-style editing certain content? Can we make it look nice, can it be organized in a more intuitive manner, and so on and so forth.

    Oh, and if we can make article links display as something other than ‘node/number’ that would be swell.

  7. December 11, 2009 at 6:45 am

    My plan wouldn’t be to return to the old Wikia Wiki, necessarily. I’d be more interested in getting another MediaWiki hosted at jointhesaga.com. It would definitely need to be better organized than the OV Wiki. Ideally, we’d have two: One for OtherSpace and one for Necromundus, to make the games more distinct and easy to track.

  8. Wes Platt
    December 11, 2009 at 8:35 am

    Do me a favor, folks. Visit the community site and try editing logs, etc. I’ve tweaked the permissions so that ANY authenticated user should be able to edit ANY pages, logs, etc. Similarly, they should be able to revert versions if there’s any vandalism. This could make the Drupal site more Wiki-like.

    Meanwhile, the answer may be to split the Drupal site into two physical sites – one for OS and one for Necro.

    Plus, forums.

    Thanks for the feedback thus far!

  9. Anshera
    December 11, 2009 at 2:02 pm

    I haven’t quite gotten to trying the editing permissions yet, but I promise i’ll get back to you on that. One thing I should mention, that I really think is unnecessary are the sideboxes detailing various things like the latest forum post etc etc. For the way the site is set up /now/ it makes it slightly easier to navigate – but a better set up site would ultimately eliminate the need for them. Need is a word I use lightly.

    Really, most of them are just, arbitrary.

    Now, to reply to ShanG – Yes, I agree, if the website can be made better, go for it. One point I can see conflict over, is of course the ‘throw everything out’. I get that stuff is important to older players, but it’s like a history class I didn’t elect to take, I suppose. Maybe, as a compromise for people whom that old history is important, a clearly seperate section for it? I’unno, label it nostalgia and make sure Newbies don’t think they /need/ to slough through it. (I can’t say this is the most clear idea, but I just woke up, pretty well)

    I have to admit, one of the biggest things that kept me from joining OS without Keller to bribe me is the /sheer/ amount of things to read through, and much like Shan, I learned through word-of-mouth and asking questions.

    Oh next Musketeer, speak thine peace. >.> (It’s a touch of an inside joke, sorta!)

  10. Razorback
    December 12, 2009 at 7:59 am

    Ok, as far as the old info being thrown out, I hate that idea. I get that newbies shouldn’t fell like they have to pore through all that, but as pointed out by Anshera, those of us who were there probably don’t want what is essentially “our” IC histories tossed. Think of how an old codger feels when you tell him his life is meaningless. It’s kinda like that.

    I myself like to be able to go through old logs, remember old friends, and be horrified by how poor my rp was at the time.

    Anyway, gotta go to work, but … Tear not down the ancient landmarks!

  11. Rarrisaurus
    December 20, 2009 at 8:42 pm

    “Otherspace has never, in my memory, had a good website. […] All of them had pretty much the same issues as we have now.” – ShanG

    The issues have been this: if neither I nor Brody did it, it didn’t get done. It was (and is) as simple as that.

    I recall asking for people on OS to write up information to be added to one of the websites I did a year or two ago, and the general reply I got from people was, “what do we need a website for when we have a wiki?”

    Where the wiki(s) outpaced the website(s) was that it let people add their own content that could later be moderated without people having to ask them for it, taking the pressure off the Staffers and letting the players contribute more to the community as a whole, and further establish themselves within it at the same time.

    However, what the Wiki was not was a decent “pocket book” for people who wanted to know what the games were all about, and that’s why we needed a traditional webpage to serve the purpose of getting all the basic and relevant information across to visitors without forcing them to wade through content that they neither care about nor understand.

    Therefore, the website served as a general introduction and guide to people; the wiki served as a detailed knowledge base that went deeper into the theme for players who wanted more information about everything and anything within the game; and the forum provided a venue for the community to talk about things outside of what the MU* itself provided.

    It was a simple separation of systems that worked and worked well for quite a long time. Going back to that – going back to what worked best – can only be a good thing, I’m sure.

    As for the issue of losing “obscure lore”, I personally can’t remember there being anything on the websites of any real value in regards to lore and theme – with the exception of the logs that were sometimes posted on the websites (or Ye Olde Forums) that Brody made in the Pre-Rar era of JTS website history, perhaps.

    I can offer this opinion with the authority of having pulled apart and cannibalized pretty much every webpage that’s existed over the last five or six years.

    There wasn’t THAT much meat on those website content bones, is what I’m saying, and certainly nothing that you can’t (and don’t already) live without. :>

    – Teh R.

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