Let's Start Again

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Let's Start Again

Post by gemma » Sun Jul 25, 2010 2:35 am

It has not gone unnoticed that there has been a certain degree of aggro happening on the forums. Usually I hope that things will cool down without my intervention as usually my participation escalates problems. However, after the thread "Let's Try Something Radically New" I suddenly got a string of trolling reports apparently from those I assumed were of the same clique reporting each other.

Anyway, it's evident that I will have to do something.

First of all, I would like to apologise. Certainly this would not have occurred if we were giving you what you want. The people have spoken and they are unanimously unhappy.

My defence is that we are only people with real, non-internet lives. Both myself and Jenn have not had it easy in the recession and money earning has had to take priority over the things we love and strive for. This is the horrible truth of being an adult.

I have been running my own business for over a year now. I work a minimum of ten hours a day, so yes I usually veg in front of the TV when I don't work. I barely have enough time to play let alone write. Fortunately, as those who know me are aware, I'm changing jobs to one that will allow me a lot more freetime so at least that issue is remedied. I would like to try and salvage what is left in this walking cadaver.

However, what I don't need is to be attacked when I try. Previously, when I have tried to do things, people have attacked me personally regarding my weight and my sexual mores. As these people don't know me, they are obviously being callous and have way too much time on their hands. But this does not encourage me to sit at the computer for hours trying to fix things. I'm well aware that there are pockets of internet residents who look down on this site and believe themselves to be superior in every way, shape and form. They most probably are.

When I log on to enjoy my hobby. I want to enjoy it. I want to enjoy chatting with friends, learning and progressing together. Therefore, I would kindly ask that people could support me with what I will say in the rest of this post. Criticism is accepted. Criticism of myself as a person is hurtful. For those who have met me, I'm sure I can be irritating but I'm not a bad or arrogant person.

I think people should remember that only criticism is not helpful either, just like any child, I need encouragement too.

However, now that I have more time in my life, I will try to give you what you want.

Let me tell you what I am for those who may not know. I speak Chinese and Japanese. I am a professional translator in these languages. I read the blogs and I have a considerable library of mahjong strategy books from Japan. I may not be the best player, BUT I do know the theory. This is what I can offer to you.

For the short term I will do for you:

1) I have deleted ALL recent threads that I feel have had some sort of confrontation. I'm sorry if you felt something was deleted that shouldn't have. Please consider this was not censorship, but rather me trying to put this fire out.

2) For the time being I will now be the mod of all mods. This is not to undermine Shirluban but, in the end, it should be my responsibility if problems happen. This to me seems the best way to proceed considering the most recent arguments. If something goes wrong, you can curse me by name. On the other hand, you will have to live by my rules:

- Do not behave like mardy and arrogant teenagers.
- Do not use aggressive language with each other. English is a beautiful language and you can find ways to disagree respectfully.
- (less important but...) Please, please, please don't start threads in capital letters or overuse coloured text. Use it to highlight something interesting like:

"I think that discarding rather than keeping the 2s is better.

Don't use it to shout at each other. Don't use caps to shout at each other. It makes me sad.
- Be mindful that there are beginners here. Of course some of you are very clever and very experienced. Try to bring people into the fold rather than use your cleverness to push them away.

3) The site still has bugs. I will open a master thread for you to report these. Please try to do it in good bug reporting format. Those of you with computer experience will be able to set the tone.

4) I would kindly ask that people respect I have a real life and that I may not be able to answer your needs straightaway. I will try but I'm moving countries again this week so patience.

Well... I guess the final conclusion of this post is to bring it back to the beginning and what started this off. RichardK8's thread about the owner's vision for the site. I can only speak for myself...

I'd like to point out that I didn't get involved with this site to push myself as an individual. There is no Gemma (TM). I got involved at the very start because I was a complete beginner and it seemed like an excellent way to get friends who would help me find my way. As this progressed, I hoped to bring more beginners in. I also had ideas that I could bring my skills as a linguist to the site. I wanted to expand mahjong in Europe. Most of all, I wanted people to have a place for their hobby.

Things brought me down. The constant negativity from some groups of people on the internet. I hated reading the diatribes about how I was an idiot. It didn't give me the impetus to come back from a long day of translating at work to sit down and translate some more to only feel like people would attack me. So I admit, I've drifted and lost the faith.

That said, there are some awesome positives. Most of my best friends are mahjong players. I look forward to meeting my friends in real life. I think that the site is an improvement. The forum does not timeout anymore. Japanese works. These were achievements for us. I know some of you could have fixed it easily but we don't have programming backgrounds. Overall, the actual structure is better. What needs to be improved is content. I'm aware of this. I need to find the やる気 to move this on now.

So I guess I need to shake myself off and start getting my act together. That is my feelings and ambitions for this site.

Anyway, this is the unofficial reopening of RichardK8's thread. I hope this post was what he wanted to hear and was what he hoped to achieve. Please add whatever you like to this. Ask me more questions, direct my efforts, whatever you want. My ears are yours.

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Re: Let's Start Again

Post by Torgo » Sun Jul 25, 2010 12:28 pm

Gemma,

1. Thank you for opening up and sharing some of what's going on with the site.
2. Kudos to you and your team for everything you've done so far.

No human endeavor is perfect, but we can all do our bit to make each one better, bit by bit.
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Re: Let's Start Again

Post by Tom Sloper » Sun Jul 25, 2010 2:29 pm

I sympathize on several counts. The economy has been hard on many of us; I too have had to reduce expenses, including dropping my subscription to Ron2. And I know how hard it can be to try to keep a community positive. This forum is very much needed, since YakitoriOnline crashed and burned and since rec.games.mahjong is not moderated, leaving it open to offtopic spam and to trolls (and of course newsgroups are very limited in their capabilities: no tile images, no smilies) -- and since my site isn't an open forum. But if people aren't going to be civil to one another and to the forum owners, then shutting them out and deleting their posts is entirely appropriate. がんばってください。
4649おねがいします。

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Re: Let's Start Again

Post by Barticle » Mon Jul 26, 2010 3:00 pm

Hi Gem and thank you for your frank, open and comprehensive post. (good job the time-out issue was fixed!)

Here are my thoughts on the site... hopefully some food for thought?

I don't know how my experience compares to other members but my use of the site is very much centred around the forums. I do check the site homepage for new articles occasionally but significantly less often. I think there's potential for improvement of both sides and/or for integrating the two.

The categorisation of articles (News, Tournaments, etc) is useful, but primarily for browsing old archived content. With the current homepage layout you can only spot new articles by checking all the dates and if there have been two posts in the same category the older of the two won't be readily apparent. I think the current design could be improved by adding (if possible with your software/skillz) a short automated list of the most recent article titles and dates (from any category). Something similar was incorporated into the old site design such that even when you were only visiting the forum side of things a quick glance to the sidebar revealed any new features which could then be accessed directly via links.

This listing could supplement the current layout of the main body of the homepage or possibly even replace it. If supplementing then the design would benefit from adding links to the category headings in each of the eight main boxes (rather than having to use the menubar at the top). Authors' names in each box would be handy too. (nice to see the first column from BB up there now)

The columns and other articles could be a good springboard for launching discussion but a note at the bottom of each says that responses are closed. Is it possible to open these up to allow responses and discussion as you'd find on a blog, either open to the public or locked to members only?

I'd also like to suggest a more radical step in that direction - namely that all articles are posted within the forum itself instead of on the homepage, effectively making the forum the core of the site (which it is for me already). A reply-locked News board could be added for any items where responses are not expected or desired, but in all other cases the article could then form the first post of a forum thread for user discussion within the pre-existing framework.

I appreciate that at the best of times it can be difficult to find the time and motivation to write novel and interesting content (and am therefore very appreciative of all your previous work) so I wonder if you would find it any easier in the less formal arena of the forums where you can write a little more casually and with less obligation to meet targets for providing content?

We've recently discussed the possibility of translating and sharing intermediate/advanced strategy info and you are perhaps uniquely skilled and equipped to lead on this and do good work that will benefit the English-speaking (reading) community worldwide. This should of course be on a (time)scale where you're comfortable and unpressured so you can enjoy doing it. I hope you liked my suggestion of writing a brief and informal "thought for the day" on strategy - although I should've explained that I wasn't expecting it necessarily to be daily!

Looking at the forum side of things, I think we can safely lose the duplicate Reach Mahjong board, the two "sample" ones and the red fives board. They're just cluttering the screen.

I would also be massively grateful if you could look at incorporating some of the functionality from the old forum by adding - for each board on the main index view - the title of the most recent post with a hyperlink directly to the thread. Also (as per my homepage suggestion above) a summary list of the most recent half-dozen threads, again with links to them. This would add hugely to the "usability" of the forums, especially to those of us that access them via portable devices (although fortunately I'm currently using a full size keyboard for this long rambling effort!). I would hope that one or both features are already available, built into the forum software?

I think we do a pretty good job of welcoming newcomers and fielding their queries although perhaps we can all do more to support them. I remember when I first joined the site (having recently learnt Japanese MJ from a game presented entirely in English) I found all the jargon a significant barrier to comprehension and yet now I've learnt - and use - a lot of the terminology myself. It's difficult to strike a balance when you have members with such a wide spread of knowledge and ability - it's only natural that the more experienced users will want to use the correct terms without having to explain themselves all the time, but perhaps a little less opacity would be beneficial at times.

I'm wondering if we (as a community, not we = Gemma!) need to look at building more resources for learners (FAQ1 you're furiten, FAQ2 you're yaku nashi!) ...and yet if less answers are made readily available it will encourage new members to sign up to the site in order to ask their questions. Perhaps we can support and encourage this with a new board on the forum specially for learners, with an amnesty on "dumb noob" questions?

It's been good to see you posting again recently. I'd like to see more of you (and J&G) on the forums where we can benefit from your knowledge, experience and skills, and hopefully we can all contribute to a community that's a friendly, lively, supportive, interesting and generally cool 'n' groovy place for all of us to spend our time.

Thanks,

Bart
(also benefiting from the time-out fix, I think!)

PS I hope all goes well with the new job and the house move.

PPS With reference to your third paragraph, it is only specifically the people who have spoken that are unanimously unhappy.

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Re: Let's Start Again

Post by Rosti » Mon Jul 26, 2010 5:29 pm

Barticle wrote:FAQ1 you're furiten, FAQ2 you're yaku nashi!
Personally I'd have the 1 and 2 the other way around ;)

I personally don't see much wrong with the site, except for perhaps a bit of abraisiveness and arrogance from some of the more experienced players. Lay off the beginners and intermediates guys, none of us were born with exceptional intuitive mahjong knowledge, and we were all there once.

For actual improvements to the site, I think maybe it'd be good if there was more focus on actually playing. Talking about it is all well and good, but I think it'll strengthen the community more and give this place a slightly better atmosphere if people are playing together. I understand admins are busy, but that doesn't necessarily mean that things can't happen and other users can't set things up (myself included, but I'm a touch busy for the next month or so). There are also places out there like Pon Palace that have their own Tenhou room leaderboard, and things like that, as well as capitalising on things like IRC chats can really help build a solid community.

I'm not sure what the interest is for participating in tournaments and the like, or even just arranging friendly games, but it could help.

Don't take crap on the forum too seriously gemma, just concentrate on writing your UK Open article because I've been waiting to read it :D
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Re: Let's Start Again

Post by Archon_Wing » Mon Jul 26, 2010 7:56 pm

Things that could help:

1.) Sticky threads with informative links, be it to wikipedia or just a simple site that lists all the rules. In fact, it's a bit odd that a site dedicating to Reach Mahjong doesn't have an easily accessible link where the common rules could all be found in one place.

Just from googling:
http://mahjong.wikidot.com/rules:riichi ... s-overview
http://www.ofb.net/~whuang/ugcs/gp/mahjong/mahjong.html

There's just too many threads about really basic things about the rules, not even playing. And it's not intuitive at all, so at we should at least point people in a good direction.

Also, useful discussion threads can be stickied too

2.) The WWYD makes more sense if it's a live situation, instead of a vaccum. This may make it a bit harder, but I think everyone prefers quality over quantity instead of a 5 post discussion that really doesn't discuss much

3.) (Out of your control) Strategy questions by members should also involve a live situation, be it a computer game, online, or an actual mahjong game. Screenshots and/or as much information should be included. A discussion about that is frequently way more interesting than general abstract concepts.

Then again, I would just say that if anyone's learning to play and they come across a situation to where they get stuck to post their thoughts about it.

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Re: Let's Start Again

Post by Barticle » Tue Jul 27, 2010 8:47 am

Rosti wrote:
Barticle wrote:FAQ1 you're furiten, FAQ2 you're yaku nashi!
Personally I'd have the 1 and 2 the other way around ;)
Agreed! That's the FAQ done. What next? :lol:
Archon_Wing wrote:1.) Sticky threads with informative links, be it to wikipedia or just a simple site that lists all the rules.
I wrote a little guide to different named waits which Shirluban expanded and made into a sticky thread on the old board. I remember suggesting at the time that we could have a beginner's guide thread giving concise explanations of things like furiten and counting fu (minipoints). However...
In fact, it's a bit odd that a site dedicating to Reach Mahjong doesn't have an easily accessible link where the common rules could all be found in one place.
...I have now almost finished writing my full guide to the game and it'll hopefully be hosted on this site so that'll be a big step in the right direction.

On a separate note, I wonder if there's any value in having a bit of a recruitment drive? I appreciate that the total number of people in the west (and westerners in the east!) playing Japanese mahjong isn't exactly massive but there's still a lot of them out there who aren't on this forum. Would be great to see more activity, opinions, questions, etc.

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Re: Let's Start Again

Post by Shirluban » Tue Jul 27, 2010 7:55 pm

Barticle wrote:
Archon_Wing wrote:1.) Sticky threads with informative links, be it to wikipedia or just a simple site that lists all the rules.
I wrote a little guide to different named waits which Shirluban expanded and made into a sticky thread on the old board. I remember suggesting at the time that we could have a beginner's guide thread giving concise explanations of things like furiten and counting fu (minipoints). However...
I'm afraid the new forum didn't have a "sticky" option :cry:

What about splitting the "Reach Mahjong" group in 3 or 4 ?
- Reach Mahjong - Glossary / Sticky threads
- Reach Mahjong - Help for Beginners / Rule explanation
- Reach Mahjong - Advanced strategy
- Reach Mahjong - Miscellaneous
Of course, I'm volunteer to sort out all the 250 and more topics :wink: (But don't expect me to do this within a minute, nor without mistakes.)
Suggestions of sub-group names are more than welcome.
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Re: Let's Start Again

Post by gemma » Tue Jul 27, 2010 7:58 pm

I just spent 30 mins trying to figure out how to delete some of our superfluous forums. If you can find a way Shirluban, you are a total star!

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Re: Let's Start Again

Post by Barticle » Wed Jul 28, 2010 2:14 pm

Chanta (mixed outside hand) and Junchan (pure outside hand) both have the additional requirement that the hand contains at least one chow (a shuntsu/sequence/run). I think that's just another way of saying it's not permitted to stack Chanta with Honrōtō (all terminals & honours).
gemma wrote:I just spent 30 mins trying to figure out how to delete some of our superfluous forums.
Oh dear...! :? Thanks for trying though!
Shirluban wrote:What about splitting the "Reach Mahjong" group in 3 or 4 ?
- Reach Mahjong - Glossary / Sticky threads
- Reach Mahjong - Help for Beginners / Rule explanation
- Reach Mahjong - Advanced strategy
- Reach Mahjong - Miscellaneous
Of course, I'm volunteer to sort out all the 250 and more topics :wink: (But don't expect me to do this within a minute, nor without mistakes.)
Suggestions of sub-group names are more than welcome.
I think the simplest thing would be to just add one new board for both newbie chat and guides (need to be cautious of adding extra boards if they can't be removed afterwards!) and maybe have a single moderated thread there where you can collate informative posts. The board could be named the training ground or school, something like that...?

The existing RM board can then be used for general or "advanced" discussion (and anything miscellaneous but still pertaining to the game). I don't think you need to sort through all the old threads there and move them to new folders, although you might want to copy out odd bits of useful content.

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Re: Let's Start Again

Post by Barticle » Wed Jul 28, 2010 4:41 pm

Barticle wrote:[...]The board could be named the training ground or school, something like that...?
For added Japanese flava, maybe call it the Mahjong Dōjō? :D

The description should make it clear that all learners' questions are welcomed.

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Re: Let's Start Again

Post by Shirluban » Wed Jul 28, 2010 7:21 pm

<moderator>
I've moved the discussion about how to explain the yaku to a new thread: How to explain the yaku.
@ Barticle: Sorry, but you have to re-post your two lines about it.
</moderator>
Barticle wrote:I think the simplest thing would be to just add one new board for both newbie chat and guides
Point taken.
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Re: Let's Start Again

Post by gemma » Fri Jul 30, 2010 1:50 am

Sweet worked out how to adjust the forums. I don't even know how I got to that control panel but I did! Gonna move some other stuff around later but fixed some of the glaring problems...

(Apart from the "pro's" typo. That one has been irritating me for a while now.)

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Re: Let's Start Again

Post by Barticle » Fri Jul 30, 2010 8:57 am

gemma wrote:Sweet worked out how to adjust the forums.
Yay! :D Lookin' good.
(Apart from the "pro's" typo. That one has been irritating me for a while now.)
You have to admit though that "pros" looks a bit weird. Personally I add an apostrophe if I think it improves clarity and ease of reading, and in that case it is at least an abbreviation of sorts.

(Incidentally that board is looking pretty redundant anyways...)

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Re: Let's Start Again

Post by Meeps » Fri Jul 30, 2010 5:48 pm

Very nice, the forum looks a lot cleaner now

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