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Community issues and Documentation forum section

Postby meng » February 28th, 2008, 3:28 pm

[Recall I'm a newcomer here, so if I got the wrong end of the stick here, no offense intended, just please set me straight.]

Expanding upon the recent "unsubscribe" discussion, I wonder what more can be done to enhance the experience for VASSAL users, and particularly to develop more of a sense of community (it's a trendy concept but I think it has substance). I don't know how active the yahoo group was, but the amount of activity on these forums (apart from the developers sections) seems moderate at best. I think the ladders are a great idea, and I know I can look for opponents for each module in that individual section, but is there something else that can be done to generate general interest and make it even easier to find opponents?

(For example, although it's a cheesy BGG sort of idea, can we acknowledge really good modules by giving them thumbs up? BTW, I thought the module for A Victory Lost was outstanding. Okay, it's not the best suggestion, but I'd like to hear others.)

Secondly, I admit that I have not worked on documentation for 3 weeks or so, although I do plan to resume efforts. I wonder if eventually it would be worthwhile creating a new forum section devoted to documentation, hopefully to attract more contributors, to focus the discussion on specific issues, and to get feedback on the existing documentation (which is not widely available at this point, I haven't even submitted it via subversion).
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Postby soft-bug » February 28th, 2008, 3:42 pm

I have started a "Cases Studies" thread below ... for documentation and real module experience ...

The concept is to make a tiny module with explaination about issues encountered ...

I'm working on Cases Studies N°2 the Morpion Game to allow beginners to see some concepts by this way ... when starting a new module ..
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Postby meng » February 28th, 2008, 3:50 pm

I overlooked this case studies thread when it was first posted. Thanks for reminding me, and thanks for posting it. I will check it out.
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Re: Community issues and Documentation forum section

Postby bsmith » February 28th, 2008, 11:12 pm

meng wrote:Expanding upon the recent "unsubscribe" discussion, I wonder what more can be done to enhance the experience for VASSAL users, and particularly to develop more of a sense of community (it's a trendy concept but I think it has substance). I don't know how active the yahoo group was, but the amount of activity on these forums (apart from the developers sections) seems moderate at best. I think the ladders are a great idea, and I know I can look for opponents for each module in that individual section, but is there something else that can be done to generate general interest and make it even easier to find opponents?


I like the focus of your thinking here Meng. The Yahoo group was averaging probably around 220 posts a month. I'm not sure about the dev list, possibly around 200 a month also. The forum went public on 20th December and is averaging slightly over 1000 posts a month. Admittedly, most of these are from myself and Joel :D It's still young though, I expect things to continue to ramp up.

Secondly, I admit that I have not worked on documentation for 3 weeks or so, although I do plan to resume efforts. I wonder if eventually it would be worthwhile creating a new forum section devoted to documentation, hopefully to attract more contributors, to focus the discussion on specific issues, and to get feedback on the existing documentation (which is not widely available at this point, I haven't even submitted it via subversion).


I'm in favour of creating more forum sections as needed, but it may have to wait while we work toward figuring out how the mailing lists will fit into the picture.
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Re: Community issues and Documentation forum section

Postby meng » February 29th, 2008, 12:17 am

bsmith wrote:The Yahoo group was averaging probably around 220 posts a month. I'm not sure about the dev list, possibly around 200 a month also. The forum went public on 20th December and is averaging slightly over 1000 posts a month. Admittedly, most of these are from myself and Joel :D It's still young though, I expect things to continue to ramp up.

Well on those numbers, there was no drop in activity, so that's great!

I'm in favour of creating more forum sections as needed, but it may have to wait while we work toward figuring out how the mailing lists will fit into the picture.

Yes, this would be more appropriate when the revised documentation is in a more advanced stage anyway.

My interest in building community (and I realize that I'm not the first to suggest it) is because I get the impression that it could be one of the limiting steps to achieving a greater user base (in other words, VASSAL is marvelous on technical grounds) and this in turn would provide more impetus for documentation, bug identification, etc.
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Postby bsmith » February 29th, 2008, 12:37 am

My interest in building community (and I realize that I'm not the first to suggest it) is because I get the impression that it could be one of the limiting steps to achieving a greater user base (in other words, VASSAL is marvelous on technical grounds) and this in turn would provide more impetus for documentation, bug identification, etc.


That was pretty much the #1 reason I felt we needed a forum, to build the community. Most people just want to come in briefly to get quick answers to simple questions, then disappear. They will do a search for an answer and if they cannot find it they will sign-up to the forum to make a post. They're here for a good time, not a long time :)

One thing I know is going to help is when we get the Vassal chat process streamlined. I can envisage opening Vassal and connecting to a General Chat area where dudes are just going to be hanging out, waiting for a game or just there for a chat. New users can fire up the application and straight away ask others for help. I think that would be awesome, it would encourage people to stay connected to the server simply to meet up their friends for a game or whatever. You could say "hey, I'll meet you in the main lobby and we can talk about what we're going to play". Kind of like the way BrettSpielWelt.de does it (but without the crazy Interface!)
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Postby meng » February 29th, 2008, 12:51 am

What about an IRC channel as an interim measure?
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Postby bsmith » February 29th, 2008, 1:26 am

meng wrote:What about an IRC channel as an interim measure?


Too hard for casual users is my first thought; They would need to download a client, cut and paste the server name then figure out how to join a channel etc. We would need a document on how to do it. The current Vassal server can do it easily enough, it's just that we need a dev to actually carry out the work. I think Joel may be looking into the initial steps. Hope you don't mind me dropping your name into random posts Joel :)
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Postby meng » February 29th, 2008, 2:28 am

bsmith wrote:
meng wrote:What about an IRC channel as an interim measure?


Too hard for casual users is my first thought; They would need to download a client, cut and paste the server name then figure out how to join a channel etc. We would need a document on how to do it. The current Vassal server can do it easily enough, it's just that we need a dev to actually carry out the work. I think Joel may be looking into the initial steps. Hope you don't mind me dropping your name into random posts Joel :)

Fair enough, I pretty much expected the response as I was pressing the submit button. Some sort of embedded browser chat software is another possibility (like what wargameroom.com uses).
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Community issues and Documentation forum section

Postby uckelman » February 29th, 2008, 8:59 am

Thus spake "bsmith":
meng wrote:
What about an IRC channel as an interim measure?


Too hard for casual users is my first thought; They would need to download a
client, cut and paste the server name then figure out how to join a channel
etc. We would need a document on how to do it. The current Vassal server ca
n do it easily enough, it's just that we need a dev to actually carry out the
work. I think Joel may be looking into the initial steps. Hope you don't m
ind me dropping your name into random posts Joel :)


Nope, not me. I know close to zero about the chat code. That's Rodney's
stuff.

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Community issues and Documentation forum section

Postby uckelman » February 29th, 2008, 9:01 am

Thus spake "meng":
bsmith wrote:
meng wrote:
What about an IRC channel as an interim measure?


Too hard for casual users is my first thought; They would need to download
a client, cut and paste the server name then figure out how to join a channe
l etc. We would need a document on how to do it. The current Vassal server
can do it easily enough, it's just that we need a dev to actually carry out t
he work. I think Joel may be looking into the initial steps. Hope you don't
mind me dropping your name into random posts Joel :)

Fair enough, I pretty much expected the response as I was pressing the submit
button. Some sort of embedded browser chat software is another possibility (
like what wargameroom.com uses).

I hate the idea of building a dedicated IM client---we're not going to
build one which is better than any existing IM client.

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Re: Community issues and Documentation forum section

Postby bsmith » February 29th, 2008, 9:25 am

uckelman wrote:I hate the idea of building a dedicated IM client---we're not going to build one which is better than any existing IM client.


I'm happy with the way it works now, all we need to do is create a "Main" area that is one level above everything else in the "Server Status" tree, so that opening a module or choosing a game is not required to chat. Does this make sense? So really any change would be minimal, we're just adding an extra node, no need for funky IM features. The messages area in the main Vassal window would still function the way it already does.
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Community issues and Documentation forum section

Postby rk » February 29th, 2008, 8:51 pm

I'm happy with the way it works now, all we need to do is create a "Main" area that is one level above everything else in the "Server Status" tree

This would not be that hard to do, actually. It would be good functionality for the Library window, maybe something for v3.2

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Postby meng » March 6th, 2008, 11:09 pm

Another thought - since a common complaint I read is that the VASSAL interface is not intuitive (*cough* BS *cough*) - perhaps we could come up with some sort of personal tutor schedule?

For example, perhaps a couple of times a week someone could be available to show the VASSAL ropes to newbies? Obviously this would have to take into account different timezones and different game preferences, and would be more difficult to implement without a "main" non-game-specific chat-room.

I could certainly volunteer, it would help to improve the documentation ...
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Community issues and Documentation forumsection

Postby Tim M » March 6th, 2008, 11:12 pm

Make 'Take the tour' a launch option in the install wizard

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