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UKoE the good and the bad!

Discussion in 'Community Suggestions' started by Wonderbolt, 31 January 2016.

  1. Wonderbolt

    Wonderbolt Honorary Pony

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    I'll start of by saying UKoE is a well run sight with a high quality member base. But I think the site could certainly benefit from feedback from users (both positive and negative). Hopefully this thread can create a little bit of friendly discussion on the topic and see things users like and dislike.

    I'll start of with my negatives of the site to get the worst out of the way I should also point out that the negatives are more minor issues and certainly not "Deal breakers".

    -(Some)Inactive staff (at least in terms of posting and forum participation). The modding systems on the site is by no means bad and the mostly hands off approach works very well. However the amount of staff members I see regularly posting is smaller than the the mod group as a whole. Now I know that some admins mostly just maintain the site rather than actively participate in the discussions plus have the necessary skills in terms of coding/site design etc, would renaming them maintenance staff not be a better option.
    I at least think the green coloured mods should be expected to both engage in forum activity on a regular basis (which some of the mods do very well indeed) as well as promoting forum events . I also think it would be beneficial if their were more frequent staff changes and appointments. (As long as I have been on the forum I don't think I have seen one change to the staff set up).
    I should point out that the staff do a very good job but I think a bit of debate around the functions of staff would be beneficial the the member base.

    -No post count on forum games and randomness: I understand the reasoning behind this in order to prevent people using it to gain easy post counts, but it would be nice to have all posts counted, especially considering the fact that a lot of activity takes place in that forum.

    -The New posts section not showing the new members and forums games posts. I understand this was done when the forum was more popular and the new members post was spamming it up, but now as we get only a few new members a week thats not so much an issue anymore, in regards forum games their are only a few active threads so I doubt that would course much spam.

    Finally the positives

    -The no swearing an no NSFW rule works very well keeping a more friendly feel to the forum.

    -Modding policy, I know this sounds like it contradicts what I said in the negatives part, but the mods are not overbearing and don't abuse their power.

    -The membership base, The most important part of any forum and UKoE has a good one (well apart from one or two bad eggs).
     
  2. Loganberry

    Loganberry Element of Custard

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    Some interesting points there; thanks for raising them. :) I'll comment on a few now, but to make a general point to everyone, we're always happy to listen to feedback. If there's something that can be improved, please let us know! Okay...
    Some mods are much more active in other areas of the UK of E community -- for example, IRC or TeamSpeak. We're all "greens" since the idea is that we all have equal status. I think it's generally also a good thing to have a little "spare capacity" in the staff team: there have been times in the past when we've had fewer around and some big thing has blown up, leaving staff members stretched and stressed.
    I must admit, I can't remember offhand when the last personnel changes were. But by all means expand on that -- why do you think it would help to make changes, and if you had the choice how would you go about that? Are there any specific ideas you'd like us to consider?
    I think it's because a lot of activity takes place there that there are no plans to change this (as far as I know). In general, we want threads to be interesting and relevant, rather than just becoming chat threads. However, in the FG&R section, many of the threads are intended to have lots of quick chat, in particular LPW. As such, it makes sense to have a different approach in FG&R specifically.
    We're not? Curses! Well there's one thing that we'll have to change straight away. ;)
     
    Wonderbolt likes this.
  3. Wonderbolt

    Wonderbolt Honorary Pony

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    Fair enoght on the forum randomness section, one point that you mentioned is chat threads, which is an interesting point as some chat threads (mindgrapes, what annoys you, about your day etc) are part of the general discission why others are in randomness. I assume the difference is mostly down to where the poster originally posted it and the threads in randomness being less serous.

    Staff changes, tbh I don't really know what I would do lol (I think a debate about it would be healthy though). Maybe their could be short term mods (maybe one or two) were a member does 3 months or so then is replaced and so on (of course wether that would work is questionable) Maybe more promotions of high preforming and popular mods to admin rank.
    Having mods assigned to a forum would be a good idea to I think (maybe this is already the case?) so mods can be an expert in each area and a point of contact for questions regarding that forum. For example we could have a mod assigned to the new members section who helps new members settle in, or a mod with art or fanfiction skills in the creative forums to provide tips to members their etc.
    Obviously people may have different ideas so it would be interesting to so what they are.
     
  4. Bridle Timeout

    Bridle Timeout I Love Twilight Sparkle

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    Thanks for your post, we do welcome feedback. :)
    The last major change to the staff lineup was when @mattyhex, @Stormblaze, @Arc Light and myself were brought aboard at the end of 2014, though a couple people have stepped down since then. :)
    That's pretty much it, yes. The threads you mentioned ("Mindgrapes", etc.) do tend to have a bit more in depth discussion, as sometimes people do type massive textwalls about what's on their mind. You do get silly short posts now and then (admittedly my short rants about public transport in the "What annoys you" thread probably aren't the most interesting posts on the forum by any means. :p ), but in general, people do seem to keep to the spirit of those type of threads.

    However, I do think it would be interesting to be able to easily see how many actual posts you've made, even if the ones in the FG&R section don't "officially" count.
    All posts must now contain a statement praising the amazing glory of the All-Time Best Pony, Princess Twilight Sparkle! :p

    Seriously though, I'm sure many people on here, whether on the staff or not, will be glad to see you say that, and we do try to keep things reasonably friendly. I don't think many people would have stuck around if we came down harshly on every single thing. Naturally there are times when we have to put our collective foot down firmly, and there have been mistakes, but I like to think that we adhere to the rule of "Be nice. If someone gets in your face, be nice. Be nice, until it's time to not be nice." :p
    I wouldn't still be here if this wasn't a good place to be. :) Other than here, I'm not generally a "forum person", and not the type that enjoys participating in internet flame wars or anything like that, so it's nice to be a part of a community of friendly people. :)
     
    CuldeeFell and Wonderbolt like this.
  5. Arc Light

    Arc Light Caffeine levels discharging: 68%, mood lighting

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    As @Bridle Timeout said, the last change to the staff team was just before the start of 2015 when things were a little more hectic. Thankfully in the recent months everything has been calm and everyone has been having good fun on the site. We get a report every now and then but there's not really enough of a demand in staff that would require additional appointments but that's for the Admins to decide. ;)

    *Gasp* you mean some mods are better then others :s

    It's a good idea and I believe that was how the current admins went from regular mods to admins of the site. As admins run the behind the scenes part of the site, having a large number of staff members with access to the inner depths of the forum is not really needed as much as the supporting moderators. They might trip over a lead and break the site :p
    Essentially we would be just promoting them to an Admin status with really nothing to do but the same thing they were doing anyway :)

    I do like this idea, it's an expansion of the current set-up. The mod team is split into sections. The TeamSpeak team, the Forum team, the IRC team and the Roleplay team. As the forum is much bigger and harder to moderate, the Forum mods are larger then our fellow teams.

    It would be interesting to reduce that further to certain sections.

    Oh yes, the days when The Cheetah, The Artist, The Sparkle Enthusiast and The Glowing One joined the team. I feel so old :D

    All Hail The Lavender One!
     
  6. Wonderbolt

    Wonderbolt Honorary Pony

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    I mostly agree with what you say but i'll expand on a few points.

    One of your points I will expand on is the promotion to Admin status, which your quite right as their is no need for so many, I think removing less active admin staff and promoting more active mods to replace them would be a good option. Or adding a new new level of staff for staff who are mostly involved in site maintenance/coding/design but have very little activity on the site in terms of posts would be in interesting option, meaning the admin role would be composed of highly active staff members.

    Another point (which is not without its disadvantages) would be to have a staff feedback thread were members give their opinions of the staffing team for example if they have felt a staff member has helped them or if they feel that they are doing a good job for example. The disadvantages to this may be a popularity contest opening up so it wouldn't be perfect. (I am interested what people think about this).

    Finally I think more staff to member feedback would be nice, such as what are the future plans for the site, asking members what could be done to improve things etc, whist there is nothing stopping members asking these questions themselves it would be beneficial I think if it was the staff who started and encouraged these kind of dialogues and debates.
     
  7. Oilyvalves

    Oilyvalves Railway Pony

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    I'd like to talk about the positives first. This forum is wonderful. The only other forum I use regularly is the one for my Lego club, which by-the-way you have to pay to be a member of, and this forum well and truly puts that one to shame in terms of functionality and general community spirit. I'm extremely grateful to the people who established and maintain this forum, partly out of their own pocket, so that we may enjoy it. I wouldn't be anywhere near as active in the brony fandom if I hadn't started using it.

    The negatives are minor things that may or may not be possible to sort. The only really negative experiences I've had on here are to do with the delicate subject of spoilers. In general they're managed and controlled pretty well, but there have been 1 or 2 instances where I've felt like I've been spoiled by someone, and then gotten into a not-so-pleasant discussion with them as to whether it was a genuine spoiler, or if I was just being over sensitive. Could some guidelines for what constitutes a spoiler be created? I don't even know if that would work.

    There's one distinct thing my Lego club forum does have that this one lacks, and that's the widespread use of real names rather than/in addition to aliases. I know this would have been a conscience decision made a while back, and the chance of it being introduced are next to nothing as that's just how things are, but it really does help when meeting people for real to have that easy connection.
     
    #7 Oilyvalves, 1 February 2016
    Last edited: 1 February 2016
  8. vaska00762

    vaska00762 R6 Siege fan

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    I'm almost tempted to not post what I think, but perhaps it's for the best. Let me just say that the fact I'm still using this forum is because the positives have outweighed the negatives in my opinion. If I were to go into details, perhaps my opinion varies, but... let's consider some points.

    Positives:
    • The forum goers here are friendly, as they should be, and most people will be more than willing to chat about almost anything. There's nothing bad I can say for the vast majority of forum users.
    • Topics that are normally considered off limits by some forums are dealt with incredibly constructively. Rarely, have I seen people in public office discuss and debate topics which are sometimes dealt with here (i.e. politics, current affairs and religion among most things) with such respect for each other and without reverting to hurling insults (mostly).
    • A well designed site. Probably taken for granted by many, but compared to some forums which still use layouts and UIs from the 1990s, this is rather modern and user friendly.
    Negatives:
    • In the rare cases where I have seen some very poor behaviour on this site, the hands off moderating (is this moderating by consent?) has sometimes lead to few (and I really can only count such instances on one hand) situations where things went to far too quickly. As such, it's sometimes left me feeling like there is a reluctance to to deal with these issues from some staff. Maybe it was because there was no idea how to deal with the situation, or maybe it was just due to the timing of some of these things.
    • Rules and "censorship" have been a topic for discussion before (I think only once or twice), and have often lead to the discussion going nowhere. They did raise some valid points and IMO some of the points were never truely addressed. I find it strange that at times some policy seemed arbitraty and subjective. I won't dwell on this too much, but I sometimes think that certain individual staff choices may have been made in the past without a full consultation. While I'd understand why that didn't happen, it has left some unsatisfied with the way the forum is run.
    • Hypocracy. I won't name names, but I've come across a few staff members (present and past) who may have posted posts, signatures or profiles which might have broken the rules. How it slipped under the radar? I don't know, but it did. I thought the rules applied to all users and that there weren't exceptions for staff.
    • Cliques, and what appear to be pre-existing friendships. This is probably the only negative which actually makes me sometimes reconsider why I use this forum. The previous points could be overlooked, but this one is what nearly made me stop using the forum. Pretty much, for a new user, despite having people welcome you and accept you, from the perspective of the individual, it's a daunting world which is full of people who all know each other well. Cliques of members who posted in a particular thread or used a particular service, and if you weren't in that inner circle, then you felt out of place. I first noticed this on the Teamspeak when everyone was in locked rooms, and no one was in the open ones. That was a negative experience and it drove me away from Teamspeak. Even if the policy did change, it was a case of "once bitten, twice shy". The same could have been said for the IRC. The same people just almost turned it into their own, and new people who hadn't been initated just felt alienated. I often get the feeling that the whole thing of cliques went right to the top of the forum management. Again, not wanting to name names, but I've sometimes felt that there has been cronyism.

    All in all, I think I've had a rather bittersweet experience on this forum, and to be honest, I don't think I'll ever see a forum quite like this one. But would I do it all again if I could turn back time? I really don't know...
     
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  9. Bridle Timeout

    Bridle Timeout I Love Twilight Sparkle

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    I don't think I'll ever change my tag line, but look at my signature. :p
    The rules do apply to everyone, staff included.

    If the situation warrants it, maybe have a private word with them? We're human too, and sometimes make mistakes.

    If you don't feel comfortable with that, I will also note that posts and other content by staff can be "reported" just like with normal forum users. Do note that all staff members can see reports, and most (maybe all?) of us receive an email when a new report is submitted. Alternatively, you can also send a private message to one of the Admins. Part of their job is to supervise us "greens", and they have the ability and responsibility to address the situation.

    I also hope that I'm not included in that group you mentioned. If I am, please feel free to send me a PM (or do one of the above) and I will address anything that's wrong. :)
     
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  10. Wonderbolt

    Wonderbolt Honorary Pony

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    Some interesting points raised.
    @Oilyvalves real names in an interesting one, I think it would be a good idea as long is was optional (maybe an also known as option when you hover over the post bit).

    @vaska00762 Forum cliques are something I really don't like. I don't think they are widespread but I do think their are a few (amungst longer serving members and a small minority of staff members) which can make some threads feel a bit intimidating. The same for the chat feature which feels a bit less friendly to non regular users as it could be, never used team speak so can't comment on that. As a whole it doesn't bother me and I think the incidents when it occurs its for the most part non malicious and non deliberate.
     
  11. Loganberry

    Loganberry Element of Custard

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    A while back, there was an "Ask the Staff Anything!" thread. It was pretty popular, and people made some good points and asked some good questions. It seemed to encourage people who might not have had the confidence to send an individual PM. I'd certainly be up for us having another thread like that. :)
    It's done to a limited extent. For example, @Bridle Timeout handles the "Re-Living the Journey" section, and I'm generally the mod who deals with the comics and fanfic sections. Interesting idea, though.
    It's a very valid point, but a tricky one to answer, partly because no two people will agree. I'll use S1 as an example to avoid problems: would it have been a spoiler to say before "Winter Wrap Up" that the next episode had a great song? Some would say yes, some would say no.
    Given that UK of E is viewable by non-members (something I'm strongly in favour of, btw), I'm generally against compulsory use of real names, since we do have a significant number of members who don't want parents, friends etc to know their interest in pony. You also have people like me: I am called "Logan" in RL by fandom friends much more than I'm called my legal name. :p Of course, anyone who wants to change their username to their real name is free to do so.
    I think it's fair to say that there have been a few instances where we've resolved a situation too slowly. It's not so much reluctance, I think, as lack of decisiveness about what the best course of action might be. It's a balance: some issues are complex and require a certain amount of discussion, but I agree that it's unfair on the user(s) involved if we take weeks to react to an incident.
    They do. As Bridle Timeout says, do feel free to drop a PM to us, file a report or speak to an admin if you spot a post of ours that you think crosses a line.
     
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  12. Max Apogee

    Max Apogee Five gold and a party!!

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    Okay, so it's quite late and I need to be up again in a few hours, so I'm going to try and cover as much as I can before I fall asleep at the keyboard, LOL :p

    Before I start, I'd like to reiterate the thanks for making these suggestions. We do welcome feedback from the members, as long as it's constructive, we strive to make visiting this forum as enjoyable as it can be for all involved, and so we're always happy to hear any suggestions people have for ways to improve the site.

    With that said, on the subject of the moderating staff. Staff activity is something that has been brought up before, both by the members, and internally amongst the team. We have always been of the opinion of quality over quantity when it comes to posts, the staff are chosen based on their contributions to the community rather than their raw post count. As such, as long as the moderating team are keeping appraised of everything going on on the forum (or with the chat services, as @Loganberry pointed out, some members of staff spend most of their time keeping watch over those) then we don't see that it's all that necessary to actually post regularly. Also, we all lead busy lives and we often just don't have the time to post as much as we'd like.

    With regards to new appointments and regularly changing the team, while this is an interesting idea it does raise a couple of issues. First and foremost, as staff we do handle sensitive information, a lot of which is covered under the data protection act, and which such a high turn around of staff members, it would be incredibly difficult to guarantee the security of the information. When we appoint new staff members, we need to ensure that they will handle this information sensibly and to do that all prospective team members are interviewed. The admin team simply doesn't have the time to go through this process every month. There is also the issue of training new staff member, which is also very time consuming. To go though all that just for them to be rotated out at the end of the month is not a terribly efficient use of anyone's time. Also, which such a high turn around of staff members, it would be incredibly difficult to guarantee the security of the information.

    With respect to staff members not following the rules, absolutely contact an admin if you see that happening. As other have said, the rules are for everyone to follow. If you feel that a certain member of staff has acted unfairly or otherwise inappropriately then do get in touch, one of the jobs of the admin staff to to mediate disputes against other members of staff. Also, speaking only for myself (though I'm fair sure the rest of the staff feel the same way) if I've ever done something to upset anyone in any way then please drop me a line and let me know, and I'll try to resolve the issue with you.

    Spoilers, again at Logan pointed out, it's hard to put guidelines on what actually constitutes a spoiler as everyone thinks of them differently. That said, it would certainly be good to have some sort of guidance in place, and certainly warrants further discussion.

    On the subject of real names being used on the forum, while we have no specific rule that says people can't use, or otherwise post, their real name (my name is Toby, by the way ;)) we do have a lot of younger, and otherwise vulnerable, members that use the site and not automatically posting their real name is one of the easiest way we can hep to protect them. Keeping our members safe online is one of the most important jobs we do as staff (our prime directive, for the Star Trek fans) and it's something we take incredibly seriously, as such we take every opportunity to safeguard our members that we can. It can be a bit of a bother at meets, not knowing what to call everyone, but you can always from them a quick PM to ask for their name.

    Lastly, cliques are an unfortunate side effect of forums like this, especially when people get together in person regularly. People are going to develop closer friendships with others they see of a regular basis, and this is going to translate back onto the forum. I agree that it does make things a bit daunting for new members, speaking personally I'm not the sort of person who can jump into a conversation between other people (either in real life or on a forum) so I know exactly what you mean. Sadly, there is very little that can actually be done about this, certainly on the forum. @vaska00762, you mentioned that with was especially prevalent on our chat services, I don't use those, but perhaps the policies for using them could be looked at for amendment. As to the suggestions of cronyism, that's something I can't speak to, only to reassure you that I've never known that to be the case, on the forum at least. As said, I don't use the chat services, so I don't know how jobs are handled with those. Again, if you have any serious concerns, drop me a line and I'll look into it.

    I think that about covers it, please keep the suggestions and feedback coming.

    Thanks. :)
     
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  13. Oilyvalves

    Oilyvalves Railway Pony

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    I completely agree and understand that using real names should not be mandatory, and admit that we're free to use our name as our username if we wish. I was considering a system that some other sites use where both could be displayed simultaneously, with the one or the other being optional of course. Having said this, the effort needed to implement this feature would in hindsight not be worth it really.

    With regards to spoilers, I agree that everyone has their own opinion on it, however this is kind of the whole point of the issue raised, where if guidelines were to be introduced, it would remove the ambiguity. The process of creating those guidelines would need to involve consultation with a number of people so the guidelines can be as fair as possible.
     

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