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Mods, support and so on


  • [me=PantsManUK]would dearly love to dump SMF 1.X at this juncture...[/me]
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Re: Mods, support and so on
« Reply #15, on September 6th, 2011, 11:36 AM »
  • All under the wedge.org banner is my preferred option. Whether you make it mods.wedge.org or wedge.org/mods I leave as an exercise to the admins.
  • Free/paid/whatever. Mod authors should make such decisions, not me as the end user. As for where the payment gateway fits into this, my preference would be wedge.org handles it, but having said that I like Snape's idea of the mod author deals with the payment gateway but it's all done from wedge.org (that sounds somewhat like how PayPal do it to me. You know you're talking to PayPal for the payment, but you start and end at the site you purchased from...)
  • Either yes, they should be vetted prior to going public, or there needs to be community "vetting" - community rating and comments like the Android Marketplace has.
  • I'm perfectly happy with an optional "board per mod" style of forum for support: if a mod author happens to use Github/BitBucket/whatever for their development and prefers to push their support over to that site, they should be able to link to that from the mod site here and not have a local resource to keep track of in addition.
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Re: Mods, support and so on
« Reply #16, on September 6th, 2011, 06:56 PM »
Quote from Arantor on September 6th, 2011, 09:36 AM
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.
Ah, I see now. Well I guess we can just only hope for those kinds of people who would be a good addition to come along. I'm not sure what a good alternative would be though. Community-centered approval doesn't sound too feasible...
Quote from Arantor on September 6th, 2011, 09:36 AM
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...
It is absolutely naive. But there is a solid point in there though. It's all about how to address things to the community that will end up swaying their opinion on it. Those that agree or understand will pass it on to newer members. Like how users in SMF reiterate the "never going to be paid" policy they have because it's been drilled into their heads so many times. But I guess if a Wedge Mod Review Squad idea seems like a far away dream then so would this.

Honestly, there is only so much preventative measures you can do though. There is a line where the burden of informing them ends and it ends up being their own fault. IMO, those people who used pre-2.0 Gold on production environments crossed that line.
Quote from Arantor on September 6th, 2011, 09:36 AM
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.[1]

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?[2]
 1. 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.
 2. 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.
My thought was that any MotM badge that was given to a mod would stay there invariably. Just pointing that out there right now. So any pre-team badges that were given to a mod would stay there. As for the problem of restricting team participation to any MotM-like contest you have the option of still allowing the community to endorse the good quality of team mods. Sort of like a "Community Recommendation". Mods that get a certain amount of community votes are granted that badge. So while team mods can't get MotM or "Recommended" badges, there are still others available that they can get on the team like my previous example or "Most Downloaded". This way being on the Team doesn't close all of the doors for you, there are still some that are open. From what i've heard you say about being on the Cust team there was a lot of lack of will to write more mods because the joy of writing them was drained out of them. If the ability to be rewarded for good work was still (at least partially) available to them then it might reinforce them to keep writing good mods. Heh, I am ever the optimist.

As for team reviews, there doesn't seem to be any other way to go about it than having another approver to approve the mod. Though maybe it doesn't have to be that much. As long as another approver or the Team Lead can give the "sign off" of the mod then it's good to go. Or just leave it to the Lead to approve the Team's mods, though that might be giving them more work than they can handle.
Quote from Arantor on September 6th, 2011, 09:36 AM
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.
If mods are available from the get-go and given the stamp of approval as time goes on then there is no need to worry about this. Modders will have their mods available as soon as they hit the "Submit" button. However, in order to get that shiny "Approved" badge then they need to make sure that their work in up to par. This is where the system of using badges as rewards come into play. Those who want to write a shoddy piece of work (am I using the word 'shoddy' right?) then there is no holding them back. But at the same time you get out what you put in. The more work you put in the greater chance of it being noticed and having other people noticed, the less work you put in the less chance of getting super cool, fancy badges.
Quote from Arantor on September 6th, 2011, 09:36 AM
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.[3]

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.
 3. 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.
I just naturally assumed that if mods were elevated to their own board that the Author(s) would automatically be given Moderator status, especially because of what happened with Nao. That was just a clusterf*ck in all the wrong ways.

You guys should remember that if needed you can always just poll the mod authors and ask them if they are comfortable with using topics or if they would prefer another kind of system. But you guys are good with polling the community so it would probably cross your minds if the need arises.
Quote from Arantor on September 6th, 2011, 09:36 AM
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.[4]
 4. 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.
You are probably right. People try to find the easiest ways to go about doing things. So if they find a forum that is simple and easy to use then they are going to find it.

The reason I asked that question though was because it was said somewhere, some time ago, that the people who are capable of supporting the software were off doing their own thing with their own forum/company. I don't see why the same wouldn't happen here. By sticking around and helping with support you either love the software and want to help, or you want to get on the team. Those who try for the latter get burnt out very quickly. Those for the former are, unfortunately, the minority when compared to everyone else.

So it seems that while community support would be great, it would be wise to think of a Plan B or C. :P
Quote from Arantor on September 6th, 2011, 09:36 AM
Sorry about not quoting. I'm just trying to get through this post and then head to bed.
No worries :) Hope you slept well.
Actually, I didn't. But it was well worth it. Discussing D&D until 2:30 in the morning is loads of fun. :eheh:

Thank you though. :)
Quote from Arantor on September 6th, 2011, 09:36 AM
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.
There is a bad boomerang effect that comes up with allowing alternatives to thrive though. You can end up with too many alternatives that it becomes a little silly. Case in point: the Portals over at SMF. There are, what is it, 5 different Portals available that all pretty much do the same thing. Yes, i'll agree that it's good that no one, single mod get a monopoly on it's target area. That's the worst that could happen. But with tons of similarly focused mods the users are left sitting at this intersection with 20 different streets that they can go down that all look the same. Which street do they choose to go down? My hope with the reward system is that those who have good quality would be able to stand out more, allowing the user and easier choice. Even with out that though, just be aware that by cutting off one extreme that the other extreme opens up.


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Re: Mods, support and so on
« Reply #17, on September 6th, 2011, 07:37 PM »
I am answering to the first post, don't have enough time to read all of the posts.

Honestly, all the mods, paid or free, should be hosted on Wedge.org. Free ones shouldn't be moderated but paid ones should be. Apart from this, the package manager should have a better repository browser with support for paid mods, downloading, updating, announcements, etc.

As far as resources goes, a bug tracker, repository(?), documentation.
The way it's meant to be