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Links to the developers

Discussion in 'Site Feedback' started by Pangur Bán, Mar 5, 2013.

  1. Pangur Bán

    Pangur Bán Deconstructed

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    The about us portion of this website lacks any information about any links or lack of links between this website or its staff and the current (or past) developers of the Civilization games.

    It would help if this page were to provide details of any formal or informal links between the two. Without this it is difficult to know to what extent this is a fan-based website (or not). This is important information for researchers who are not overly-familiar with this area, and indeed for the users of this forum.
     
  2. Pangur Bán

    Pangur Bán Deconstructed

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    This is an important point for the website to clarify. It should be addressed by someone responsible rather than ignored.
     
  3. Birdjaguar

    Birdjaguar Hanafubuki Retired Moderator Supporter

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    I'm sure one of the admins will come along and reply. Please be patient though, it might take a day or so. :)

    EDIT: Hmmm... I see that your first post was from march and nothing happened. I will see if i can get a reply from your second effort.
     
  4. Pangur Bán

    Pangur Bán Deconstructed

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  5. ainwood

    ainwood Consultant. Administrator

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    Apologies for not acting on this previously.

    I have updated it with the following:
    The staff list still needs an update, but I was having permissions problems trying to edit anything, so the section I updated was actually a "test" to see if I'd fixed it. And now I see it has a spelling mistake!
     
  6. Pangur Bán

    Pangur Bán Deconstructed

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    Looks much better, a good job. :) It is an important thing to say, principally because so many other gaming forums are operated by developers/publishers and thus the natural expectation will be that this is the case for our site.
    Because of the informal relationships noted, I'd also suggest explicitly stating that the forums are moderated independently of Fireaxis/2k/Take 2.
     
  7. Pangur Bán

    Pangur Bán Deconstructed

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    I accept there is no formal affiliation, but I am worried that this site today is not operationally independent. The decision to move all criticism of Civilization V into a perjoratively titled 'rant thread' opens this site up to such suspicions, and refusal to deny that explicitly per above worries me quite a bit. This site was started without such astroturfery, I know, but this site became so big in the civ world that I just don't find it plausible that the people at Take-Two Interactive haven't been greasing the wheels here. I would feel a lot more comfortable if the denial of such was much more explicit and detailed, ideally with all staff / volunteers signing a public commitment to/declaration of independence.
     
  8. ainwood

    ainwood Consultant. Administrator

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    :confused: I'd love for my "wheels to be greased". Why would 2K feel the need to do that when 1.) they have their own site with their own forums, and 2.) they get our site to support one of their franchises without them having to pay a cent to us

    We are independent. We are volunteers. Some of us have worked as part of the beta test groups with Firaxis; some of us have (and do) engage in communications with Firaxis / 2K in order to try to get information about Civ (that's the role of a fan site!). That's as close as we have been. (Padma had a tour of their design studio about 10 year ago. :hmm: )

    We remain financially independent.
     
  9. Pangur Bán

    Pangur Bán Deconstructed

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    Greasing wheels does not particularly mean bribery. Your forum is part of their public relations, so greasing the wheels means making sure the forum plays a positive role. Bribery is what third-worlders do, public relations is what we do in the superior West, informal contact, access to info, lunches, free gifts, dangling the hope of employment, and so forth, in return for positive attitude, promotion of press releases, management of information, and so forth. Unless you are prepared to argue that Take-Two Interactive and its subcompanies are ignorant of modern marketing / PR principles, you have to accept my point, I think.

    None of you individually are in a position to speak for the whole, and I am not dumb enough to think that full disclosure of all interests could be realistic; which is why I suggested the publication of some formal commitment. This would not of course protect it as such, but I think it is the best that can be done.
     
  10. ainwood

    ainwood Consultant. Administrator

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    We're a volunteer website. We have updated our about us section to reinforce that we are independent. That is good enough for me, and most others, I suspect.
     
  11. Pouakai

    Pouakai It belongs in a museum. Moderator

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    As well as this, I think it's worth pointing out that it wasn't just the rants that were moved into one thread. We had two major threads with the release of Civ 5, a rants thread and a raves thread. Topics were merged into both, it wasn't just a rants thing.
     
  12. Pangur Bán

    Pangur Bán Deconstructed

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    There was a groundswell of discontent among civ's established fanbase against many of the features of Civilization V and the course it seemed to be taking, as demonstrated by the amazon reviews and elsewhere. The developers did good PR work on the game journalists and secured a succession of reviews that contrasted with actual grassroots reaction.

    This website was, or began as, a fan site. It was the one place those people could theoretically find a voice. Yet, the people involved with the site with the most contact and potential developer links, the admin and staff, conspired to marginalize and stigmatize those views by confining them to a perjoratively styled 'rants' thread while punishing those ignorant or stubbourn enough to post what could be perceived as negative comments outside it. That's not to say there was anything untoward, but nonetheless that's how staff [re-]acted.

    I suppose you can have fan sites that act like that, but what harm is there in trying to take measures to re-assure people?
     
  13. The_J

    The_J Say No 2 Net Validations Retired Moderator Supporter

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    There can't be more done than saying "it is so", and that has been done, hasn't it?
     
  14. Camikaze

    Camikaze Administrator Administrator

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    Personally I'm aware that there was discontent following the release of Civ5, and I'm aware of this because I read it on this site. If our aim was to prevent people from expressing a negative opinion about the game, we've done a demonstrably horrific job. The contention that the rants thread was designed to house all negative comment is a mischaracterisation of both its founding purpose and its actual use. Negative comments about the game could certainly exist and did certainly exist outside the rants thread, it's just that threads that were simply complaints about the game, rather than questions or topics for discussion, were merged together (and as Pouakai mentions, this was also the case for threads that were simply positive feedback without promoting discussion). Moreover, the rants thread actually provided a direct interface between detractors of the game and the developers; Dennis Shirk notably posted in the thread. This would likely not have happened if we instead allowed a hundred separate threads, each of which would likely receive only a handful of replies, with the same arguments repeated ad nauseum, driving those actually wanting to talk about playing the game away from the forum. Given the primary purpose of the Civ5 forums is for people to discuss actually playing the game, I'm sure there was a degree of concern that a failure to consolidate complaints would drown out the forum's usefulness. But I don't think that prioritisation is cause for questioning our independence, when negative comments were still most certainly allowed and accommodated. No-one on the Civ5 staff at the time was involved in beta-testing (ainwood and Gyathaar are listed in the Civ5 vanilla credits, but neither were moderators of the Civ5 forum), or had any communication with 2K or Firaxis, and in fact the most active Civ5 moderator (crosspost: speak of the devil) boycotted the game (note that I was not on staff at the time in question).

    On the more general topic of independence, you'll notice that I just posted a news item on a CivFanatics Q&A, whereby 2K solicited questions from our members, which were then answered by the Beyond Earth lead designers. These sorts of opportunities don't necessarily create themselves, and they're facilitated through a certain degree of co-operation. But co-operation doesn't jeopardise independence; it simply means that some form of communication and working relationship exists. The only benefit we're deriving from such a relationship in this case is getting a Q&A, and whilst moderators (by their nature as people who spend a lot of time on a fansite) are probably interested in that sort of thing more than the average individual, we feel this is a benefit derived for our members, and not for ourselves. Hopefully we'll be having our wheels greased in a similar way in future. I imagine most of our members share that hope.

    Speaking for myself, CivFanatics is my primary hobby; more of a hobby than the Civ-series itself, even. If you're viewing moderators as self-interested actors who are just in it for themselves (and so could be manipulated by 2K in return for some benefit), then keep in mind that it really wouldn't be in my interest at all to relinquish the site's independence and have my hobby be beholden to some sort of outside influence.
     
  15. s.bernbaum

    s.bernbaum Mostly lurking

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    If you think that the moderators are suppressing negative remarks about Civ V, visit the CIV area. Most folks there think that Civ V is rubbish and are quick to express their opinions whenever Civ V comes up as a topic in any form. The mods have never stopped that (as long as folks aren't attacking one another instead of the game) nor have they consolidated those negative remarks anywhere.

    Disclaimer: I am in no way associated with CFF except as a satisfied user of the site.
     
  16. Pangur Bán

    Pangur Bán Deconstructed

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    Like I sorta suggested before, I don't think developer influence on the running of the site is either measurable, or understandable from individual attempts to theorize about it, nor it is preventable even. But I do think strengthening protections against can be possible through, perhaps, formal commitments (accepted individually) which are part and parcel of becoming staff, voluntary or otherwise (and of course, the proprietor); both to bring the danger to the fore of staff minds and to centralize the principle in the site's ideology and purposes.

    That's your view of what the 'primary purpose' was, the primary purpose for those discontented fans was to complain, have their grievances aired, and for the more practical of them, get issues addressed. But instead of serving those fans as a fan site normally would, the board minimized the effects of these for the developers by marginalizing and stigmatizing those views, herding the bulk of them into a place with a perjorative name, while punishing those not only who opened threads but also who posted issues as they arose elsewhere.

    Believe it or not I haven't been on these forums for more than a decade and made all the posts I've made without caring. And TBH I have no idea what caused that behaviour in question. Without giving offence, I don't believe public or post facto rationalizations by individuals, but that doesn't mean I think it was developer influence let alone instigation. All I know is that there was plenty of scope for Take-Two Interactive to pressurize individual decision makers in a variety of informal and sub-conscious (as well as conscious and formal) ways, and there will remain such scope in future.
     
  17. The_J

    The_J Say No 2 Net Validations Retired Moderator Supporter

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    Nothing prevents anyone from lying. Or from not doing so. This sort of "formal commitment" is as useful as anything else written here. Believe it, or distrust it. Your choice. Same for the notice which ainwood placed on the about us section. Believe it. Or don't. There's no difference.

    These purposes don't have to be the same.

    Not sure if you know that, but the main thread for random complaints in the off topic section of this forum is called "rants thread" as well.
    I post there often.

    The need to stay functional?
    There are complaints. Doesn't mean we need 1 billion threads about them, if there are also other things to discuss.
    Compare it to the threads about single civs. There's a big one in I&S, for all these suggestions. Similar suggestion threads get regularly merged in (or got, when I was still a mod). Not to stigmatize them. But that forum needs to stay functional, and a thread for every civilization, nation, tribe or political-territoral entity will just make it disfunctional, because every other discussion will get drowned between these threads.
    Same for all the "rants". No need for thread #3 billion about the GDR if that has been discussed to death, as well as no need for thread #2 billion about if Canada should be in civ.
    Situation the same. It's about operating, not about censoring (I totally don't care if Canada will be ever in Civ5...).
     
  18. Ga1Friday

    Ga1Friday 2K Community Manager

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    Hello. I cannot address all of the concerns or questions brought up in this thread, but I can tell you a bit about myself. :D

    I do not moderate these forums.
    I have no say in the ways that threads or merged, moved, moderated, nor organized.

    What do I do?
    I read feedback-- positive, negative, and neutral. To me, all feedback is important. I share feedback with my team.

    There are times when I may see a thread that presents misinformation, and I am happy to provide clarity.

    I share information that I feel the community would be interested in knowing about. (links to articles, images, etc)

    I help to facilitate ways for the community to communicate with developers. (Asking for questions for the most recent Civ:BE Q&A is an example of this) I communicate with some of the site admins to make sure that this process goes smoothly ensuring that I am complying with all of the forum rules created wholly by CivFanatics. As a fansite, CivFanatics may want to work on projects which would require access to members of the development team, I could help coordinate that access.

    I act as a member of this community of Civilization fans.

    Hopefully that clarifies what I am doing here, at least. :)
     
  19. filli_noctus

    filli_noctus Hmmn

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    I was primarily active in Civ 5 discussion after the launch and I drifted away into other areas shortly after the rants thread was instated so my memory of that time isn't distorted by the tone of the forum since and I can tell you that on bad days over a third of threads on the first page of that forum could be summed up as "OMG, [CiV, 1UPT, global happiness, City-States, etc.] sux!! :mad:" with no content that could be construed as constructive criticism or discussion points (there were also usually one or two threads which could similarly be summed up by replacing "sux" with "rulez").
    On the rare occasion I venture in now there are still negative threads, but at least they usually have discussion potential.
     

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