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Mods, support and so on

Arantor

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Mods, support and so on
« on September 5th, 2011, 11:33 PM »
As I work on the plugin/add-on manager, I'm acutely aware that I'm going to be writing a whole lot of mods for it. Notably I'll be porting a bunch of mine from SMF, at least what I didn't include in the core.

And, you know me, I'm already planning ahead as to how best to provide for those mods, in terms of support resources, in terms of availability and so on.

This does, naturally, have wider implications for Wedge too; whether we host mods here on wedge.org or not, for example.

There are arguments for and against doing this, namely that there is an implied burden on us for mods made available here, even to the point of assuming liability for mods.

At the same time, I'm also mindful of the fact that I'm going to be providing mods that aren't free and will also need somewhere to support those too, if nothing else that's going to include WedgeDesk.[1]

So, I'm curious, what do people think?

There are a few things I'd like people to think about:
* hosting on wedge.org or a dedicated site with its own domain, the pros and cons attached to that
* mods being free/paid, and whether such sites should cater to either/both[2]
* should mods be vetted prior to being publicly available
* what resources both mod users and mod authors need in being able to use mods and any support issues that arise

Please, be as thorough as you can because that all reflects on what I get set up (since, ultimately, I'm going to be the one writing the mod site, and whether it ends up being a bolt-on to Aeva, or something more substantial or not) and the more detail means that we can get something together that accurately reflects the needs and desires of the community, rather than cobble something together that doesn't really work that well.

Caveat: I do already have certain ideas in my head already for how all these things can be attended to. I want to know, as far as possible without biasing anyone, whether my ideas are spot-on or wildly off base.

All I will say is that mod support should, theoretically, be easier due to fewer support issues and version bumps.
 1. I have been making a to-do list for it, which I'm slightly bothered to note has reached 29 items, most of which are features I want to implement, rather than bugs, though there are some bugs I've noted that I want to fix.
 2. There are some other matters that are relevant, such as who is legally liable in the event of trouble, but I suspect that can be worked around.
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Nao

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Re: Mods, support and so on
« Reply #1, on September 6th, 2011, 12:28 AM »
I believe I already shared my opinion around here...

- Mod site on wedge.org (based on Aeva Media. So that'd pretty much be like aeva.noisen.com's)
- No pre-moderation/vetting.
- A 'Recommended by the Wedge team' badge or something for the mods we like.
- Ability for modders to give Wedge the authorization to update the mods on their behalf if this or that happens. We'd then add a 'Maintained by the Wedge team' badge or something if user goes on hiatus.
- Paid mods should be allowed but with clear mentions. I don't know about downloading them from here, though... (payment gateway issues.)
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ultimately, I'm going to be the one writing the mod site,
Well, that's what you think... :lol:
I'm still the webmaster here :P

Arantor

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Re: Mods, support and so on
« Reply #2, on September 6th, 2011, 12:37 AM »
Fairly sure you did, but where I've been working on WedgeDesk, it's brought all that stuff up again, especially as WD is almost certainly going to be paid at this point.[1]

And that I'm going to be writing a lot of mods and I need some idea of how best people are going to want support, since I'm increasingly inclined to think that a single topic isn't really enough.[2]
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- Paid mods should be allowed but with clear mentions. I don't know about downloading them from here, though... (payment gateway issues.)
That's the big thing for me, and it's why I'm contemplating whether WedgeDesk will end up with its own site or not.

I'm also not 100% sure whether I want to do entirely free mods or not. Don't get me wrong, I'm not going to go down the road of our friend and do free mods whose sole existence is to promote paid mods, but at the same time, I am going to be spending a lot of time writing things that are by definition not for everyone, and I'm not entirely sure it's fair on everyone else if I do that without encouraging some kind of contribution back.

Yes, I will be writing a lot of free mods, that can live here or wherever, but at the same time, I am going to be writing bigger mods that will require support resources and so on, that will likely be out of scope for what can be here, especially since I'm not going to be too happy trying to support everything at once.

Like I've said before, I'm quite happy to make mods for free and give them away but then there's the support aspect to contend with, and people love having free stuff and then expecting pro quality support on top, and I simply will not have enough time to cope with everything if I'm still developing for Wedge itself at that point, hence the money filter to filter out those who are genuinely serious about wanting what they want, enough to put their hands in their pockets for it.

The last thing I want to do is write a ton of mods, then proceed to burn out through not wanting to deal with all the support crap that inevitably goes with it, which then comes back into support resources being there for people ahead of time, which may or may not be supported in Aeva/Wedge Media and thus requiring custom coding anyway, or a custom site to deal with it all.
 1. Having looked at all the conversion work plus bugfixes plus new features, plus the fact I'm going to be the only one supporting it, anyway.
 2. Unless it's threaded, but that's another road to travel entirely.

spoogs

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Re: Mods, support and so on
« Reply #3, on September 6th, 2011, 01:14 AM »
I think the free mods/add-ons should be hosted here... paid stuff hosted by their authors elsewhere[1] unless some kinda market place is created to host the paid stuff[2].

The reason I'm for vetting is simply that I'm the kind of user that would not be able to tell if there are any security issues, I can just check whether or not it does what it says its supposed to do. There was mention before of a rating system for opposed to vetting them. The downside I see to that is some people may give a positive rating because they like the concept of the add-on and possibly negative rating for a bunch of stupid reasons unrelated to whether the thing works etc.

Support should be handled by the authors as they see fit. However if an add-on proves not do what it claims to do it should be removed. I like the idea of having the authors give the ok to the "team" to update them in the event the author has decided to drop development/support and/or has moved on to other things; the downside to that could be authors just creating add-ons then leaving them up to the "team". Regardless I think all add-ons should have a license.

While I agree a single topic for support can be limiting especially as the add-on evolves, especially if it is a rather popular one with 100's of pages of support... I cant think of a better solution other than using WedgeDesk ;).
 1. Though I admitted got tired of having to register in multiple places to access things
 2. I think you mentioned something like that on arantormods.com in the past
Stick a fork in it SMF

Arantor

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Re: Mods, support and so on
« Reply #4, on September 6th, 2011, 01:32 AM »
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Though I admitted got tired of having to register in multiple places to access things
That's the best reason to keep everything in one place.
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I think you mentioned something like that on arantormods.com in the past
OK, well let me back up a moment. Before things all turned sour, I was proposing a store of sorts, SMF Marketplace. The notion was that it would provide facilities for modders, both free and paid. Free mods would be free to upload and download but wouldn't have the same features as paid modders get, like helpdesk support features and stuff like that - the catch is SMFM would take a % of the mod's price.

The problem this gets into is liability, in terms of the hosting site taking responsibility for the things that are made available, and I really didn't feel like tying myself into the whole vetting process, which may not take a huge amount of time per mod (when on the SMF Cust Team, I rarely spent more than 20 minutes per mod at a time, didn't really need to), though I was debating making paid mods exempt from needing vetting, unless they wanted to for the seal of approval.

I did since figure out how to handle the legal liability stuff, but there is always going to be the notion that the seller is somehow responsible even if the person you pay money to is only a retailer in the middle.
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authors just creating add-ons then leaving them up to the "team"
For this very reason you will never catch me endorsing the notion of 'leaving things up to the team', because there is the assumption that the team will pick up the slack. cf. the anti-spam links mod that Karl originally wrote for sm.org, that was 'adapted' for general use (badly). I fixed it, the team updated it for RC5 but that's the last that ever happened of it, but because it's attributed to the Cust Team, I doubt anyone will update it like all the other mods that were transferred to the team.[1]
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Regardless I think all add-ons should have a license.
That wasn't even going to be a debate, mods having licenses was always mandatory in my head.
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I cant think of a better solution other than using WedgeDesk
Until you get to the hundreds or thousands of departments situation. Some kind of sub departments facility would probably help with that, as well as having some way to whittle the number down before you start to a more manageable context.
 1. I think 3 or 4 of mine went that way too, as at the time I was still around to update them, and having them under the team account legitimised them, which in the case of disable eval and the version emulation fudge for 1.1.x, I thought it fairly important.

spoogs

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Re: Mods, support and so on
« Reply #5, on September 6th, 2011, 01:57 AM »
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Until you get to the hundreds or thousands of departments situation.
Yep that was the downfall I figured for using the helpdesk.

I get the rest of your points as well, wish there was more I could offer in terms of suggestions. Safest bet is to revisit the idea of a marketplace once the add-ons start to roll in[1].

 1. For the record I'm interested in WedgeDesk be it paid or free ;)

Arantor

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Re: Mods, support and so on
« Reply #6, on September 6th, 2011, 02:00 AM »
Just heading off topic briefly, I came to the conclusion a long time ago that WD would probably want its own site going forward, so that even if I do a premium site, it will probably be its own thing anyway, which makes sense.

Tell you one thing I haven't seen done before that might be worth trying: just as DS and BlocWeb do/have done theme clubs, I'm tempted to see how well a mod club works out in the future, but yeah, I am sensing that premium mods should be done on their own site (heck, arantormods.com might actually reopen then!)

spoogs

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Re: Mods, support and so on
« Reply #7, on September 6th, 2011, 02:05 AM »
Indeed I thought WD to have it's own site as SD does being such a niche mod.
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(heck, arantormods.com might actually reopen then!)
I had a feeling this would be considered ;D. A mod club would work fairly well I think.

Cassiel

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Re: Mods, support and so on
« Reply #8, on September 6th, 2011, 02:44 AM »
What I felt work with the way that SMF handled mods was that all of the mods were open to having normal community members support them. This is something that would get lost with having modders hosting their own mods. There ends up being more division.

It's a given that modders will eventually stop supporting their mods. We all know that. Having the community act as a backup for support though is a good way to have less mods "fall through the cracks" so to speak.

As for the "paid vs free" issue, if you don't want to deal with the hassle of handling payments and the issues that arise from that (and really, who would?) then might I suggest letting those modders that want to link to their own site be able to have a placeholder in the mods section here to link back to? It would still keep all of the available mods in one, central location, and the modders are free to handle payment and support as they wish. They are able to do their own thing, but not have to worry about being left out cold simply because they are not listed on the Wedge.org mod site.

Vetting through the mods is a problem though. There are several options that I can think of:
     1) Should a security issue occur, have a "Report to Mod Author" button. Although this has the chance of being spammed with support requests, it does have the benefit of being able to notify the mod author directly instead of the author having to check up on any kind of support thread or the like. And no, this wouldn't be like a ticket support system.
     2) Establishing a team to vet through the mods for you. I feel that with the way that you both have your system set up you wouldn't have any problems with lack of commitment or willingness to work with whoever you may choose for this team. And instead of waiting for mods to be approved, all mods could be posted up but only the ones who were checked could have a "Approved by the Approval Team that Approves things" badge (though possibly less wordy). This eliminates the cry of those who felt their mods were taking too long to be approved, while still informing the public which mods were known to be ok to download.
    3) Yeah....while I was writing the first two points I ended up forgetting what my third idea was. I guess i'll just edit it when I remember.

In case you can't tell I love using badges to identify things. The idea of having a "Recommended" badge, "Mod of the Month: July 2012" (if you choose to go down that route) badge, or "Most Downloads" badge would be something I totally support. I feel that they give mod developers who actually care something to strive for, and it gives those that do reach that level of achievement some satisfaction for a job well done. Then again, i'm an idealist so who knows how something like that would turn out in actuality.

About how authors would be able to support their own mods, would it be too much to offer them their own sub-forum that only contains one board for support that the mod author is moderator of? I got the idea from how noisen.com gives people the ability to have their own personal blogs. The "support forum" would be linked from the mod page. Only those who are interested in the mod would have need to go to it, and those that don't aren't bothered by seeing it. I suppose that it's possible to have one giant "support sub-forum" where boards are created for every mod that's not linked to an outside site, but that would obviously get very large very quickly. At least it allows for better organization.

So there we go, all of my opinions on the matter were tossed out. Now I just have one question. Would the ability for mod authors to add Additional Authors who have the ability to update the mod and provide support be a possibility?

spoogs

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Re: Mods, support and so on
« Reply #9, on September 6th, 2011, 03:00 AM »
Quote from Cassiel on September 6th, 2011, 02:44 AM
As for the "paid vs free" issue, if you don't want to deal with the hassle of handling payments and the issues that arise from that (and really, who would?) then might I suggest letting those modders that want to link to their own site be able to have a placeholder in the mods section here to link back to? It would still keep all of the available mods in one, central location, and the modders are free to handle payment and support as they wish. They are able to do their own thing, but not have to worry about being left out cold simply because they are not listed on the Wedge.org mod site.
I like this idea

Arantor

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Re: Mods, support and so on
« Reply #10, on September 6th, 2011, 03:05 AM »
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What I felt work with the way that SMF handled mods was that all of the mods were open to having normal community members support them.
The reality is that, for the most part, the normal community members do not really support mods, except in the case where you have mods with very common, well known issues that have already documented solutions.
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It's a given that modders will eventually stop supporting their mods
Correct. Expecting someone to come along and fill in the cracks just does not happen, as SMF is currently proving.[1]
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then might I suggest letting those modders that want to link to their own site be able to have a placeholder in the mods section here to link back to?
That works, but it doesn't solve two problems. Firstly, the case like me, where I'm going to write a lot of mods but that a number of them are going to be premium and on their own site(s), which means I have to deal with advertising them without looking like I'm mooching off my status here.

Secondly, it doesn't solve what I can only describe as the vbgamer problem, where a lot of free mods exist pretty much solely to drive clients to paid mods.
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It would still keep all of the available mods in one, central location, and the modders are free to handle payment and support as they wish.
The idea of placeholder doesn't really solve the problem, actually. (I wrote the above assuming that placeholders weren't going to be the case) I'd be concerned that might legitimise abusing free mods that exist to promote paid ones, not to mention people finding mods they like the look of, only to find it's on another site and/or they have to pay for it.

At least if mod authors don't have that luxury and do their own self promotion, there's no chance of bias or being seen to promote premium works. It's a tough nut to crack.
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1) Should a security issue occur, have a "Report to Mod Author" button. Although this has the chance of being spammed with support requests
The ratio on sm.org is approximately 15-20 support requests to any one genuine issue that requires any intervention from the groundskeepers, so to speak. At times, it was even higher than that, but I actually redressed the balance a bit back by reporting mods with performance and security issues and cases where someone had taken an existing mod, rebranded them, tweaked them very, very slightly, then republished them.
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Establishing a team to vet through the mods for you. I feel that with the way that you both have your system set up you wouldn't have any problems with lack of commitment or willingness to work with whoever you may choose for this team.
Again, experience doesn't back this up. The SMF Cust Team have issues with getting people on that are capable and willing, and then getting them to do anything. I don't see why we wouldn't be in the same position, except that we're more likely to kick people back if they just sit there idle.

I suppose the real test is whether or not people actually start committing mods or not, other than me, before anything else...
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all mods could be posted up but only the ones who were checked could have a "Approved by the Approval Team that Approves things" badge (though possibly less wordy). This eliminates the cry of those who felt their mods were taking too long to be approved, while still informing the public which mods were known to be ok to download.
That's not a bad idea, though it does risk the notion that a mod might be dangerous and temporarily available, mind you that's no better or worse really than just browsing through the public forum where the exact same thing happens.
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The idea of having a "Recommended" badge, "Mod of the Month: July 2012" (if you choose to go down that route) badge
Experience doesn't suggest this is a good idea. Apart from the fact that it requires getting a decent enough contribution to make it worthwhile (i.e. more than 3 viable contributions per month or so), it also creates an interesting divide.

While I was on the Cust Team, I was incredibly productive but none of my mods were ever eligible *because* I was partly involved in picking the choice. And I find it very, very interesting to note how many mods are on sm.org's list of recommended mods that are from team members, i.e. they got theirs added to the list while they were on team.
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"Most Downloads" badge would be something I totally support
Look at sm.org's, that's all I'll say :P
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About how authors would be able to support their own mods, would it be too much to offer them their own sub-forum that only contains one board for support that the mod author is moderator of?
It depends. sm.org currently has over 3k mods on its books, though not all of those are approved or currently available. Some are duplicates, some are non entities for multiple reasons, but even if the ~1800 mods currently available on the site[2] were available as boards, that's 1800 boards to manage.

Performance at that level is questionable, especially as some will no doubt be massive boards with many topics and some with few, if any, posts. Even that has impacts in things like performance, odd as it may sound. I just think that hundreds and hundreds of boards isn't entirely realistic. However, as a compromise, we could start off with a single topic and do some kind of 'convert to mod support board' gig later on.
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Would the ability for mod authors to add Additional Authors who have the ability to update the mod and provide support be a possibility?
I would expect so. I can't see a reason why not, put it that way.
 1. The current state where the expectation of 2.0 bringing all the old modders back to update their mods, and unsurprisingly failing to do so was something I called months and months ago.
 2. That's shocking, actually. When I first started posting on sm.org in spring 2009, there were ~1000 mods. By the end of 2009, a little over 6 months later, there were 1376 mods. There are currently 1791. It's gone from 300 in 6 months (~50 per month) to 400 in 18 months (~22 per month)

Snape

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Re: Mods, support and so on
« Reply #11, on September 6th, 2011, 03:47 AM »
Just spitballing here, but based on the promise of SMF's package manager "portal" (for lack of a better term), what if the wedge add-ons section had the ability to put in repository-like links?  Then forum admins could add in both free or paid mod sources, and as long as the wedge forum software had hooks to some gateway-type client piece that mods could put on their hosting sites, the management of subscriptions and such could still be done externally between mod writers and forum admins with the portal piece possibly supporting user/pass logins for retrieval of purchased subscriptions.

(edit: or if you want to get away from user/pass management, maybe each wedge install gets a uniquely generated identifier that the repository client can grant/deny download access)

Cassiel

  • Posts: 44
Re: Mods, support and so on
« Reply #12, on September 6th, 2011, 05:34 AM »
Arantor, perhaps I didn't get the idea of the placeholders across in the right way. I didn't mean that there would be the download for the mod and a link to an outside site. I meant that instead of offering a download it redirected the user to the site where the mod is located. But you did point out a good problem. The users might get fed up with having to go to an outside source where they, in the end, might having to pay. However I think that the convenience of a central directory (of sorts) of mods outweighs that. It's better them to find it and be redirected than them never knowing it was available in the first place, IMO.

As for the ideas, I know that number one was crap. It's still good to evaluate all of the options though. Per the second one, the main reason that I feel the possibility of a team who sorts through the mods could succeed in this environment is because that you two don't have to worry about the organization of a team structure. No different departments, no LLC, just the two of you and your project. Which give you full authority to pick who you want, and kick off who you don't. And since the project are your pets it seems to reason that you'd only want to pick the best for the job. People who you knew would get the job done.

In regards to the badges, there is the possibility of advertising the "Approved" badges in the same way that nightly builds or beta software could: It's not that they are unsafe, they just haven't been tested, so you should test them out yourself before putting them into a production environment. The "Recommended" badge is an interesting point though. When you say experience do you mean from the Cust Team? Because if so then there is no reason why you have to follow in the same path. It seems to me that if you were to adopt a rule about eligibility for MotM then you would stick to it, or hell any rule really. Particularly because of what's happened in the past. Just adding on here, it might be better to reward those modders who provide good quality mods than worry about offending those who don't.

I like the idea of advancing from a support topic to a board. Give those the room that need it. Very smart.

There was something I wanted to save for the end though. You were talking about how at SMF the mods aren't really supported over there by the community. IIRC, someone said (I think it was you) that they planned to Wedge to target more technical-oriented users than SMF. It seems to me that the audience for Wedge would be more capable of handling the occasional mod support here and there. Though I guess the argument could be made that even if they could...would they?

Sorry about not quoting. I'm just trying to get through this post and then head to bed.

Dismal Shadow

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Re: Mods, support and so on
« Reply #13, on September 6th, 2011, 07:07 AM »Last edited on September 6th, 2011, 07:24 AM by ~DS~
What's wrong with Wedge Mod Store? :P
I have no problem with it being hosted here where Apple host both paid and free from one server as well as Google's Market.

:edit: Yeah it already had its name; SMF Marketplace :P

:edit: 2: I think approval process for mods that are in queue should be removed where it will get things faster rather than later. I feel that guideline for getting approval are too strict. Sure codes should be reviewed because security reason to keep users safe.
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Arantor

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Re: Mods, support and so on
« Reply #14, on September 6th, 2011, 09:36 AM »
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Just spitballing here, but based on the promise of SMF's package manager "portal" (for lack of a better term), what if the wedge add-ons section had the ability to put in repository-like links?
SMF already has it, incidentally, just it's incredibly under-used and of all those who set up package servers, I think vbgamer's site and SimpleDesk were the only ones to do it that served more than one mod at a time through it.

Yeah, the idea is for us to do something more groundbreaking with it, but there is still the problem of actually getting sites added to them in the first place. All the mods that actively work with such repositories have to add them themselves on installation.
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and as long as the wedge forum software had hooks to some gateway-type client piece that mods could put on their hosting sites, the management of subscriptions and such could still be done externally between mod writers and forum admins with the portal piece possibly supporting user/pass logins for retrieval of purchased subscriptions.
I actually discussed this sort of thing as being part of the service that SMF Marketplace would offer, by being able to accept client logins for the list of mods served.
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(edit: or if you want to get away from user/pass management, maybe each wedge install gets a uniquely generated identifier that the repository client can grant/deny download access)
Far better to do it with user/pass setup, to be honest.
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Arantor, perhaps I didn't get the idea of the placeholders across in the right way. I didn't mean that there would be the download for the mod and a link to an outside site.
*nods* I got the idea of placeholders in a way that seems consistent with what you're suggesting, I just didn't get it to start with ;)
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However I think that the convenience of a central directory (of sorts) of mods outweighs that. It's better them to find it and be redirected than them never knowing it was available in the first place, IMO.
Oh, definitely, which is why I've been sort of banging the drum about being able to support paid mods much earlier on in the cycle. From my perspective, I think the number of people able and willing to provide premium resources for an ecosystem is an indication of that ecosystem.

Want premium WP themes and mods? There's no shortage of them at all, even though by their own admission they prefer free (and WP is GPL so free is pretty much a requirement anyway, meaning you pay for support rather than the resource itself). And the network effect pretty much validates the whole premium gig on WP anyway.

The same can't be said for SMF; there are I think 3 sites offering premium themes and 2 offering premium[1] and that to me says there's a problem with the ecosystem.
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Which give you full authority to pick who you want, and kick off who you don't. And since the project are your pets it seems to reason that you'd only want to pick the best for the job. People who you knew would get the job done.
Therein lies the problem. There is a shortage of people who would get the job done, simply because finding people of that calibre is hard enough generally, and even if you do find people of the right calibre, odds are they're not going to have a lot of time to dump into sifting through what other people write.

To be brutally honest, I reviewed dozens and dozens of mods for SMF, and I never approved a great many of them, simply because they weren't up to standard, with a large percentage simply not even working in the first place, let alone reasonably tested.
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In regards to the badges, there is the possibility of advertising the "Approved" badges in the same way that nightly builds or beta software could: It's not that they are unsafe, they just haven't been tested, so you should test them out yourself before putting them into a production environment
Interesting, and unfortunately I have to say it's a little naive, if well meant. There was a warning on the sm.org download page for *years* that 2.0 was still in development and not meant for a production environment, yet it didn't prevent great numbers of people using it in such, and then complaining about it when it was in use in such. Those people tended to get short shrift from me, though...
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When you say experience do you mean from the Cust Team? Because if so then there is no reason why you have to follow in the same path. It seems to me that if you were to adopt a rule about eligibility for MotM then you would stick to it, or hell any rule really.
*nods* I think we'd stick to our rules better than most, especially because of what's happened, but I've learned over time that any rule in place for the regulation of any environment invariably leads to people testing the limits of that rule. Which means if we had a featured mod area of some kind, there would need to be criteria, and that criteria is invariably up for debate, especially if it means either any 'team' member being able to showcase their material there at will, or excluding their material which is equally unfair.[2]

Although I came to regret a great many things that happened during my time with SMF, I'm damned if I'm going to repeat their mistakes, and that's one of the things that I see as a mistake. The phrase at this point is simply, "Who watches the watchers?"

In another related note, there is one issue with people approving mods: who approves them when it's an approver releasing a mod? Another approver?[3]
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Just adding on here, it might be better to reward those modders who provide good quality mods than worry about offending those who don't.
That's always going to be a tricky balance, as I discovered while on the Cust Team. There were a number of people that I upset during my time as a reviewer, because I insisted that they follow the guidelines and they didn't understand why they had to, when as far as they were concerned, they'd done the hard work by writing a mod in the first place, and that was enough, apparently.
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I like the idea of advancing from a support topic to a board. Give those the room that need it. Very smart.
That's the way I roll. Using a single topic is fine for some mods, it isn't for bigger mods. On the flip side, we need to be very careful about not repeating the... debacle that was the Aeva board on sm.org. For those who don't remember/know, Aeva was temporarily given its own board by the sm.org team, and it wasn't what Nao really wanted or needed, especially when he wasn't made its moderator (which would have solved a great many problems, actually), plus the board was set to post approval. You can only imagine how this didn't solve the problems the team perceived there to be.[4]

What I really like about things like this is simply that they're not huge tasks to implement, meaning that we can actually implement it pretty quickly, and if it turns out that it isn't working that well, we can think about something else. The real success isn't whether something is a success, but how quickly you can move on through failures.
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It seems to me that the audience for Wedge would be more capable of handling the occasional mod support here and there. Though I guess the argument could be made that even if they could...would they?
I have the feeling that the reality will not coincide with the theory here. The theory is that Wedge will be more tech-user oriented, but the reality is that if it's good, and usable, people will use it. Even though there is the tech-orientation mindset in there, the fact is we are making it more usable generally, which is going to lower the barrier to entry whatever else happens.

Which means that as much as we might notionally have this minimum tech knowledge level to cope with, the reality is less clear cut, and we are going to end up fielding non technical users' questions and problems, which includes mod support.

You also ask probably the most important question at the end there. Even if they could, would they? The answer is probably not. sm.org is the evidence here: of the people who offer support on mods, those providing support tend to be in the category of offering support on well documented/well known problems, or general functionality issues - not on debugging and cases that actually need support. Sure, there were and are a few people that do actually do support on mods that is a bit more than just helping users who don't bother to read support materials like the mod's page or FAQ, but they're so few and far between it's unreal.[5]
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Sorry about not quoting. I'm just trying to get through this post and then head to bed.
No worries :) Hope you slept well.
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I have no problem with it being hosted here where Apple host both paid and free from one server as well as Google's Market.
*nods* This is the approach I was wondering about, really. Apple and Google have shown that it is viable enough.

But at the same time you do get abuses there, where people publish free, limited versions of apps and then proceed to sell the paid, less crippled/less irritating versions. It's not so bad for Apple where they actually sanity check stuff before it enters the marketplace though.

I guess I'm looking for some way to provide all the good stuff (choice for users, encouragement for premium resources) without all the bad (abuse).

Before anyone starts accusations of profiteering out of a platform, there is a valid point to be made: in any ecosystem, market forces do apply. If a paid mod is sufficiently desirable, there's enough demand that supply will inevitably pick up for it - if WedgeDesk gets exceptionally popular while paid, I would imagine that a free competitor would emerge for it, and that's how it's supposed to work.

The problem was that there was this overriding mentality at sm.org that if one exists, that's good enough, even if it isn't necessarily the best way to do it. But if there is encouragement to build things that work, and work really well, the problem does actually go away for the most part, because normally the only reason for alternatives to crop up is if something actually doesn't work that well to start with.

Consider: for years, Ad Management was the ad mod to use. After a while, SimpleAds turned up and took away a decent number of users, because it didn't have the same barriers to entry as Ad Management did - then Ad Management came back and upped its game. Competition is, really, a wonderful thing for spurring on development.
 1. Well, it depends if you call 'paid' premium or not. One of them is premium, one of them is paid and so dearly wanting to be premium.
 2. Team members being able to feature their own work at will devalues the rest of the material featured, and team members not being able to feature their work limits their motivation to write that quality of material.
 3. There is more than one mod of mine that I ended up approving because no-one else would. Not because there was anything wrong, but simply because no-one actually reviewed them.
 4. The idea was that it would tone down the attitude that was building, except that it didn't because the team didn't care about it much, to the point where they considered it mostly a dumping ground. Half the time no-one seemed that interested in approving posts in that board, the other half the time, they never bothered to deal with inflammatory posts even when they approved them.
 5. Look for posts by people like feline, if you're wondering what I'm getting at, where the support isn't just answering questions that have already been asked/answered before, but actual bug hunting and how to perform improvements.