What's the state of the ZDoom forums?

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Coornib22
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What's the state of the ZDoom forums?

Post by Coornib22 »

So I'll preface this by saying that I am not a modder, just a big fan of Doom mods. They never cease to be impressive and fun, to make the century's new top understatement.

But as I'm sure many of you know, the state of the community has seemingly been more. . . precarious. With many noteworthy community members officially making their new main spaces on other sites.

I'm not trying to start or encite anything; but have these forums in particular taken an irreparable hit? It doesn't seem like the amount of projects has slowed down, but has general discussion? Engagement?

Am I (most likely) being paranoid? Probably. But I just have this strange sense of melancholy in some of these events' aftermath.
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Re: What's the state of the ZDoom forums?

Post by Rachael »

People come and go; this is normal to any community. The forums have been on a decline even since the "major events", they may have accelerated it but they weren't the start of it.

Instead, they're going to Discord, since it's easier to use and the interaction is much more engaging, and the community there still grows every single day. It's certainly not the level of interaction that was present pre "the events" but the Discord community is recovering much faster than the forums are, and again I think that speaks to the overall state of decline of popularity of the forums, rather than the health of the community as a whole.

One thing that's been pointed out is that the forums are unwelcoming to newcomers because of all the restrictions that are in place when you first join as well as the password requirements and stuff. Spam bots were a serious issue before I resigned and a lot of those restrictions were to help combat them - however it appears at this point that a shift to a new forum software entirely may be necessary in order to both combat spam bots and still be welcoming to new users. It still remains a question whether the community is ready for it, though, and whether the server can handle it.
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Re: What's the state of the ZDoom forums?

Post by Professor Hastig »

I cannot say I like this trend of going to Discord. Instead of having all discussions archived they now end up in a vacuum that's being forgotten in a matter of days instead of years.

In the far future it may well be that we have a good record of gaming related stuff that went on in the 2000's and 2010's but everything later will be forgotten because people favor a closed medium that will most definitely not be archived anywhere.
I find the entire discussion culture over there unappealing and have mostly been lurking and not actively participating.
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Re: What's the state of the ZDoom forums?

Post by Kinsie »

The same people are still in charge, even if they don't have admin privs anymore. Until that changes, nothing has changed for the better and the can keeps getting kicked down the road.
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Re: What's the state of the ZDoom forums?

Post by SanyaWaffles »

To be clear, I've been around as much as a fart in a windstorm because my mental health tanked. I can't deny even now I feel a sense of dread at this place.

I'll hold off on deeper thoughts. Posting them here will not merit anything except further drama.
Kinsie wrote: Sat Nov 18, 2023 1:39 am The same people are still in charge, even if they don't have admin privs anymore. Until that changes, nothing has changed for the better and the can keeps getting kicked down the road.
I do hope you have some serious evidence of this and not just stirring the pot. I mean that genuinely.
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Re: What's the state of the ZDoom forums?

Post by Hellser »

They're just paying for the lights, per say. They have made no administrative actions since they've stepped down -- and the forum has been under Caligari's rule since they've stepped down.
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Caligari87
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Re: What's the state of the ZDoom forums?

Post by Caligari87 »

Kinsie wrote: Sat Nov 18, 2023 1:39 am The same people are still in charge, even if they don't have admin privs anymore. Until that changes, nothing has changed for the better and the can keeps getting kicked down the road.
Yeah, I'm gonna refute this.

Weasel pays for the server because he's willing to shoulder that cost regardless of his position. Rachael does backend webdev support because I don't know how. I haven't heard from Candice in what seems like months.

None of them have access to the forum moderation or admin panels either here or on Discord, and none of them have tried to influence my thought process or actions on the management of the community. If you for some reason think I'm lying, then I'm not sure what would assuage your feelings.

---

Now that said, honestly the forum and discord is in much the same state physically as it was when I took over. I had some grand ideas about streamlining the rules and onboarding and policies, simplifying and making everything a bit more welcoming and transparent.

I think some small part of that has happened subtly in terms of how moderation is approached generally, but it's mostly invisible simply because we haven't had much to moderate besides spam and user reactivations.

The truth is, I haven't had the time or energy to do much more besides just keep the lights on and make sure things don't burn down. I've taken a second job, my significant other is going through a very tough career transition, and I think I'm well overdue for talking to my doctor about adult ADHD treatment. Just providing some context for why there's not a fresh new coat of paint or whatever.

Ultimately the simple fact if things have been very quiet since the shakeup. I think that's a good thing. The community is far from dead, it's just quiet. Folks ask questions and get help with mods. New projects show up and gain interest. No one shits the bed. Isn't that kinda what we want?

---

However I'm open to critique and criticism of course. Is there something about the ZDoom community that bothers you? That you want to see changed or improved? Please, talk to me. I'm a guardian, not a stone wall.

8-)
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Re: What's the state of the ZDoom forums?

Post by Kinsie »

(The following post is about these forums. I'm less active on the Discord nowadays, but it seems to more or less be business as usual traffic-wise. I think. I'm still not allowed to see the Off-Topic channels.)
Caligari87 wrote: Sun Nov 19, 2023 10:44 am Ultimately the simple fact if things have been very quiet since the shakeup. I think that's a good thing. The community is far from dead, it's just quiet. Folks ask questions and get help with mods. New projects show up and gain interest. No one shits the bed. Isn't that kinda what we want?
Are they quiet for positive reasons (same amount of traffic, less drama) or negative reasons (less traffic due to a bunch of popular projects and their authors running away screaming)? I don't have traffic graphs or even any idea how I'd collate that kind of data, but as a now-passive observer, this place feels like it's become quite a bit ghost-townier than it used to be.

About the only statistic I have is from my Cacowards judging duties: In previous years, probably ~90% or so of the gameplay mods we'd hoover up to review made their home on this forum. This year, looking at the list, it's a little over 40%, with everything else spread across multiple sites and services (Doomworld, ModDB, Itch.io, etc. etc.)

While I personally think a bout of decentralizing and spreading things out across multiple sites will ultimately be a positive for the modding scene's health (less vulnerability from having a single large point-of-failure, etc. - see the panic whenever an image or file host goes down and takes a bunch of mods and resources with it), such a sizable drop says some pretty concerning things about the current state of affairs, specifically that the confidence lost by creators during The Bad Stuff Going On has yet to be restored.
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Re: What's the state of the ZDoom forums?

Post by Professor Hastig »

That quota will most likely never go up to 90% again. As it is often with such damaging events, once the people are gone they'll not come back, even if the reason for leaving gets corrected.
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Re: What's the state of the ZDoom forums?

Post by Graf Zahl »

Today (since 0:00 CET) there have been 14 posts on this forum. I think that number says all about its current state.
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Caligari87
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Re: What's the state of the ZDoom forums?

Post by Caligari87 »

Just come out and say what you want from me Kinsie. You backpedal from almost accusing me of being a puppet figurehead for the ZDoominatti, only to make some vague gesticulations about "confidence" and "users running screaming" as if I can somehow force people to be here against their will. What would make you happy.

8-)
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Re: What's the state of the ZDoom forums?

Post by R4L »

Kinsie wrote: Tue Nov 21, 2023 12:35 am (The following post is about these forums. I'm less active on the Discord nowadays, but it seems to more or less be business as usual traffic-wise. I think. I'm still not allowed to see the Off-Topic channels.)
Caligari87 wrote: Sun Nov 19, 2023 10:44 am Ultimately the simple fact if things have been very quiet since the shakeup. I think that's a good thing. The community is far from dead, it's just quiet. Folks ask questions and get help with mods. New projects show up and gain interest. No one shits the bed. Isn't that kinda what we want?
Are they quiet for positive reasons (same amount of traffic, less drama) or negative reasons (less traffic due to a bunch of popular projects and their authors running away screaming)? I don't have traffic graphs or even any idea how I'd collate that kind of data, but as a now-passive observer, this place feels like it's become quite a bit ghost-townier than it used to be.

About the only statistic I have is from my Cacowards judging duties: In previous years, probably ~90% or so of the gameplay mods we'd hoover up to review made their home on this forum. This year, looking at the list, it's a little over 40%, with everything else spread across multiple sites and services (Doomworld, ModDB, Itch.io, etc. etc.)
Hey, Barry Burton here.

I mean, that was to be expected. I'm certainly all for change and getting more activity on here again. The problem seems to be what needs to change and what isn't being communicated across. Rachael being the first post on here certainly doesn't help anything, especially when speaking for the current status of this forum when in reality it should be Cali or one of the other moderators addressing first.
I'm still not allowed to see the Off-Topic channels.
You might be aware of this already but Discord changed how on-boarding users works. This doesn't really work with how the server was originally set up, which was more like a manual approval process, so we're trying to figure it out without breaking everything (some have already seen some of the unintended effects :roll: ). There's a lot of roles that don't really need to exist anymore but are tied to some channel permissions so this is most likely why that's happening. For all I know though you've brought this up already and I was not aware.
While I personally think a bout of decentralizing and spreading things out across multiple sites will ultimately be a positive for the modding scene's health (less vulnerability from having a single large point-of-failure, etc. - see the panic whenever an image or file host goes down and takes a bunch of mods and resources with it), such a sizable drop says some pretty concerning things about the current state of affairs, specifically that the confidence lost by creators during The Bad Stuff Going On has yet to be restored.
Of course a sizable drop is going to cause concern about the state of affairs. After what happened in April, a sizable drop is to be expected. Things are not going to improve at a fast rate after that, I think you can agree with me there. The fact of the matter is ZDF is struggling to move forward in a way that A) doesn't look like we're under new/old management and B) doesn't look like we're scraping things under the rug to move on. Cali started a thread in April about changing the moderation culture here and sadly that ended without a positive resolution. That definitely doesn't instill confidence, so I'm suggesting that gets handled first.

What I think is whoever is on the moderation team should voice their opinions and concerns. Maybe there's no interest to moderate anymore, or maybe its something else. "What keeps you here?" "What problems have you faced as a moderator?" Things like this.

I might also be speaking out of bounds here but here goes: Weasel, I'll pay for hosting if you let me. This is something I've brought up with you in the past and learned how measly the cost is. I'll gladly pay that, if you want to hand it over. If I knew anything about webdev, I'd be asking Rachael the same thing.
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Re: What's the state of the ZDoom forums?

Post by Enjay »

Rachael wrote: Fri Nov 10, 2023 1:55 am Instead, they're going to Discord, since it's easier to use and the interaction is much more engaging...
Speaking purely from a personal perspective, that is the precise opposite of how I feel about Discord. ;)

I try to keep an eye on what is happening on the ZDoom Discord server but it's a chore rather than a pleasure.

Couple that difficulty of use with the uncoordinated mess of all conversations running through each other and information being lost in that mess (as is the case for most (all?) other formats) and I really cannot understand why there has been a general decline in forum usage (speaking generally, not just with regard to GZDoom) for anything technical or where an ordered record of some sort is valuable. It just feels like forums are seen as "old hat" and Discord (or alternatives) are better by fashion as much as anything.

I was a member of several car clubs that moved to Facebook. That was the death of them for me - and they eventually died for everyone. Would they have endured in their original format? I don't know.

I was a member of a few modding communities that went to Discord. That was the death of them for me. How long they last there remains to be seen.

As for the forums here, I have not been as active as I would have liked for quite a while now - but because of real-life issues (nothing to do with the forums). I'm trying to be more active now and, yes, things do seem quieter around here, but no less useful or friendly. One of the benefits of a well-kept forum, however, is that it is easy to read through what I have missed and tick-off unread threads as I go in a nice, logical way. Try that on a Discord server after being away for a while. It's a nightmare.

Is the downturn on these boards because of "the event"? Frankly, I don't know. I suspect it is a contributory factor, but possibly not the only, or even main reason. I watched a lot of people getting very upset about what happened at that time - and many people were justified in this. However, there were clearly a lot of people being incensed for the sake of it, or to try to be closer to the eye of the storm, or to be offended on someone else's behalf. Plenty of people jumped on the outrage bandwagon. I stress, none of that is intended to downplay the details of what happened, but the reactions of some people, quite a lot of people, had very little to do with what actually happened.

It's also important to note that many people clearly neither knew, nor had any real interest in what had happened, and just wanted to come here for a bit of Doom chat and advice. I missed the "main event" and had to do a bit of back-reading and research to try and figure things out and understand why so many people were outraged - with all sorts of accusations being thrown around (some justified, others clearly not) and people resigning left and right. If someone was visiting even less frequently than me, or couldn't be bothered putting in the effort to read into what happened, they could have missed the whole thing entirely, or simply chalked it up to a fuss going on between "the popular kids at school".

In fact, not being around when the initial explosion happened, and coming in for the aftermath, perhaps gave me in interesting, unique and (more or less) impartial perspective. What I saw, is characterised by what I wrote above.

Again, I'm not downplaying what happened - it was (and is) important, but it is important in a world the size of an orange. However, this is a small community; so, the impact within that world was big.

But, things are moving on; they have to. Changes have been made and there needs to be a willingness from everybody to learn and grow - to embrace those changes, review them and change them further as required. Yes, looking back is important, but so is looking forward and I think that there is a willingness from many people to do that. If you are one of the people trying to move things on, brilliant. If you are one of the people being obstructive, why? And if you just want to come here for Doom chat, help and advice, or contribute work or knowledge, you are very much welcome and I hope that you feel that way.


I hadn't actually intended speaking about what happened, but the post kind of ran away with me. :P
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Re: What's the state of the ZDoom forums?

Post by SanyaWaffles »

I'm going to have to respectfully but firmly weigh in here.
Enjay wrote: Tue Nov 21, 2023 4:00 pm Is the downturn on these boards because of "the event"? Frankly, I don't know. I suspect it is a contributory factor, but possibly not the only, or even main reason. I watched a lot of people getting very upset about what happened at that time - and many people were justified in this. However, there were clearly a lot of people being incensed for the sake of it, or to try to be closer to the eye of the storm, or to be offended on someone else's behalf. Plenty of people jumped on the outrage bandwagon. I stress, none of that is intended to downplay the details of what happened, but the reactions of some people, quite a lot of people, had very little to do with what actually happened.
While I do agree some people were being upset for the sake of piling on, as you said - I do believe the majority of people within the community were in the former camp of "I am rightfully upset at this" and not the latter "I am here to start fires and riot using a former pillar of the community as a call to action".

---

I'm going to break my silence outside the mutterings I have done. I don't think I can heal, let alone the community, if someone who was really close to the fire, and still feels the ramifications to this day, weighs in.

Spoiled because it gets heavy and long.
Spoiler:
So as much as my Appalachian vocabulary can muster - I am as sincere as I can be when I say I want to be able to trust this community again. I can't at this time.

And that stings.
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Re: What's the state of the ZDoom forums?

Post by dpJudas »

First of all, I think Cali has done a good job of running the moderation since. There seems to be very little trouble going on and that's good. That is how everyone wants it, right?

As for why the forums are so silent, while I'm sure "the event" made some people leave, I think the main reason was happening before it and would have gotten us to this situation just a bit later.

In a way I agree with Enjay's point of view that forums are much nicer than live chats such as Discord (and IRC before). At the same time I don't. Forums for me tend to cause too many annoying posters that armchair quarterback everything and basically contribute very little themselves. I don't mind leaving them out of the conversation at all. That's why I usually don't post on forums what I have on my mind - it attracts too many of the people I don't want to hear input from. :)

On the other hand, I do enjoy that forums could be indexed by search engines and its topical nature made it easier to find an old conversation that interested me while ignoring the rest. This particular feature of forums have gone way downhill for long time since Google almost never returns anything useful anymore. This in itself means forums have a much harder time gaining new users.

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