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Forums > Announcements & Site Feedback > The State of the Site - Disqus, the forums, retro reviews, etc.

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Author: honestgamer (Mod)
Posted: August 01, 2013 (03:16 PM)
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Hello all!

I see discussion creeping into threads where it is disruptive, so here's an exciting forum thread where that discussion belongs... which doubles as a handy update on what all is happening with the site these days.

Disqus

Disqus implementation has gone well. For the most part, the percentage of people from the site's core community who spend time replying to articles and discussing them has remained constant, but sometimes we also hear from other people who never participated on the site in the past (and who may not even have accounts here). This has led to increased engagement with reviews on the one hand, but it hasn't led to new forum threads because the Disqus system was intended to replace those threads going forward while encouraging comments from additional people... which it has done. So Disqus was a successful initiative.

Chatter

Chatter was intended as a replacement for blogs, which people were not generally using. Since Chatter was implemented, it actually has been used quite frequently by a number of people on a daily basis, for quick game discussion that never happened on the forums or on the blogs. Yes, it is stripped down compared to Twitter, but a lot of the features that are missing aren't necessary because Chatter's goal is to essentially serve as a site chat room that people can participate in without being online all at the same time. We have a worldwide audience, so this is a handy way for us all to converse without feeling like we have to post several paragraphs. There have been a lot of interesting discussions on Chatter over the last few months, and I do hope that will continue. It's actually quite the success.

Forums

The forums are not as lively as they once were, but they still serve as a great place for me to post new announcements related to the site. They're also currently used for freelancers when I need to copyedit reviews before they go live, and they're still a great place to run future site contests. Additionally, you can also vote on a given month's reviews for the contest that I set up with GoodGamesWriting. I do agree that the forums could stand with a bit more activity, and I hope that people will feel free to post longer topics here and possibly link to them from HG Chatter, as needed. With Chatter active, though, it's not necessarily a tragedy if forum activity is down, because the Internet at large has largely moved away from forums. Ours may have less activity, but I think the quality is still very much there.

Reviews

As you might have noticed, the number of staff/freelance reviews going live on the site has hit a bit of a lull. That is largely due to my financial difficulties that I have been having these past few months. I now pay contributors for very nearly ever staff/freelance review that goes live on the site, but I have to earn money myself before I can pay others. I've been doing a good job at earning money lately, but outlets haven't been so good at paying me. That appears to finally be almost resolved, and I am hopeful that by the end of August, I will both be paid up for the reviews you have seen going live, and also able to commission additional work.

Going Retro

Due to factors that were outside my control, HonestGamers reviews are no longer listed on GameRankings. That is unlikely to change. The good news is that individual staff/freelance reviews have barely been affected at all. Whatever you might think about some of my recent efforts on the site, I hope you've also noticed that traffic to individual reviews (including community reviews) is much higher now than at any point in the site's history up to this point. Even without GameRankings, staff/freelance reviews are performing very well, and user reviews have been known to pass the 500 views or 1000 views mark much more regularly and quickly than ever before. In short, content now does better for itself than it has at any point in the site's history. We just... aren't posting as much content, now that people will actually read it.

In the past few months, and in the coming months too, I will be continuing to do what I can to promote site reviews on social media. I also will be continuing to place the focus on retro reviews on this site, because retro content is blowing up huge right now and there's absolutely no reason we shouldn't be able to benefit. Retro content is very much the site's focus now, and I hope that all of you who love retro content will take this opportunity to play and write about retro games. Our audience for retro content is growing--precisely as planned--so this is a great time to dive into that if it interests you.

Game Listings

As you likely saw, PC listings are now under the "Miscellaneous" category, as are listings for other computer systems and the arcade. When I made that change, I indicated that my goal in coming months would be to add complete listings for any remaining console/handheld systems that were still listed individually.

You might not have noticed, but I've been working very hard toward that end. The site now has ridiculously thorough listings for many of the systems listed on the site. I've added thousands of listings, and populated them with a great deal more information. That effort is ongoing, and will continue for several more months. When it is done, we should have complete listings for every system you see individually listed on the site. If you wondered where I've been putting a lot of my energy lately, that's where it has been going.

The Future

I plan to continue working to ensure that HonestGamers is a great place to review games. In the next month or two, I will likely add hundreds or perhaps thousands more complete game listings. I will offer additional assignments to the freelance team, so that we can cover more of the NES library in style (and hopefully other systems too). I will continue to look for ways to promote staff/freelance AND community content on social media, and I will continue to do what I can to be responsive to community concerns.

HonestGamers is very much a part of my daily life, even if the work I'm doing on the site isn't always easy to see. There's a lot of progress going on behind the scenes, and I'll try to do a better job of sharing that with you as the site goes through this challenging period.

If you have any questions after the relatively unfocused rambling above, feel free to post them in this thread.


"Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought." - John F. Kennedy on reality

"What if everything you see is more than what you see--the person next to you is a warrior and the space that appears empty is a secret door to another world? What if something appears that shouldn't? You either dismiss it, or you accept that there is much more to the world than you think. Perhaps it really is a doorway, and if you choose to go inside, you'll find many unexpected things." - Shigeru Miyamoto


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Author: EmP (Mod)
Posted: August 01, 2013 (04:04 PM)
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You know that huge overblown reaction people do when they take a sip of a drink then spit it out in surprise and amazement? I used to think that was just a literary cliché with no place at all in the real world. But after reading that someone actually believes disqus has been a success I have been proven wrong. And now I have beer on my monitor I have to clean away.

[cleaning intermission]

You were cunning, Jason, to keep that paragraph brief -- the downside is how the brevity reigns focus in on the bullshit. Disqus is an abortion of an implementation, used considerably less by active users who probably can't be bothered to sign in to a website then sign in again to a different and wholly irrelevant account just to drop comments. Do you have anything to suggest that core users post more? No, because they don't. Some users go to great lengths to avoid it, such as bastardising their own topics on the forum, or shooting people HGMails (my preferred method), and others use it solely because they have no other choice. I will react in shock and awe if one (1!) regular not named Jason Venter comes out and says they prefer the Disqus avenue. Everyone I've ever discussed it with reacts with indifference and annoyance, in between the hilarious mocking. We can turn a phrase, us hecklers. You better believe we can.

Until proven otherwise, I will move on considering the above as fact. Regular users comment less. Because it's now more work to do so for no extra incentive. Indeed, I will argue that it's more work for less benefit -- not a winning combo.

So, other supposed pros. You claim, my learned chum, that this has opened the door to non-regulars posting comments. I can agree to this, but not to the degree you're trying to sell it as. Yes, we get a few faces pop up irregularly to make a few posts -- but this also happened on the forum, though in slightly lesser numbers. Keyword: slightly. Let's not fool ourselves otherwise -- but do let us pretend for a second it is so. This theoretical increase remains worthless because:

  • Less of us bother to reply to comments (as above)


  • Most feedback left by people outside the site exist only to call the reviewer's work into dispute, accuse them of homosexual acts, or claim the rival platform of the review in question have paid the reviewer to say mean things about a game they like. All the time? No. Vast majority? Indubitably.

    I need go no further than the first page of the old feedback topics to see threads with replies in double digits. Has that ever happened with disqus? Has any disqus topic ever gone much further than basic arse-patting and shallow game discussion? When disqus is used, it's used to record footnotes and snatches of thoughts. It actively discourages the more in-depth game and writing evaluations which we used to take for granted as the norm.

    Now, I don't want to sound like an ungrateful dick to the people who have taken the time to comment on my own work (<3 you, guys). When disqus first blighted our site, I was only ever online with a tablet and it made doing anything but basic browsing a nightmare. I could post on the forum with it fine, but not so with disqus. Ironic, considering all the 'smart-phone friendly' devolutions this site has made. I'm online now I have a shiny new PC. I just can't bring myself to care in the slightest about disqus. I've honestly tried, because there have been some killer reviews hitting the site that I would have loved to open a discussion about. But it's bloody awful, and EmP don't play that.

    On the bright side, it does give us an awesome spam list of topics no one will ever give a shit about. Looking at a disqus topic list now, I'm offered the chance to learn about 10 Foods That Clean Your Facial Skin. Or, hey, check this noise out, Heartburn: An Early Warning Sign of These 4 Cancers. What a great topic sidedish to go along with my uninteresting and bland NES review.

    There's things missing from this list I'd like to bring up (and I'll address other parts of it later, when it's not midnight here). The facebook account seems to only promote 1 in 5 staff reviews, and 1 in 20 reader on rough estimate. The twitter link leads to a dead account that's not been active since Feb, and needs to be fixed or nuked. The forums are filled to the brim with obsolete boards (HGWars has been dead for years; the blogs are dead; though this has seemingly become a retro site, we only have forums for this gen systems). The inbox is overflowing with mails dating back 100 years that needs to be sorted through. Disqus sucks walnuty monkey balls, and if you think otherwise, so do you.

    I still don't have an outbox!

    Going to censor myself off for the night. Will be back.


    For us. For them. For you.


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    Author: honestgamer (Mod)
    Posted: August 01, 2013 (05:56 PM)
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    I have updated the forums so that they now encourage discussion related to the specific systems listed in the top bar. That was a good catch, EmP. Thanks for bringing it to my attention!

    An HG Mail outbox is something I looked into implementing after you originally requested that feature quite some time back. HG Mail was coded something like a decade ago now, and it was not coded in a manner that makes an outbox feature a convenient one to add. I hit quite a few roadblocks while I was trying to implement it after the fact, unfortunately, and for that reason it still hasn't happened. I haven't necessarily given up on adding that function, but doing so will require a lot of careful work.

    I kept my comments in the initial post within this thread fairly brief because a lot of people have in the past commented that I make my posts too long. I am happy to discuss the individual points from that first post in much greater detail, because it's not like I don't have enough stuff to say on any of those topics to easily fill screen after screen with text.

    Since most of your complaints in your initial post were centered on one specific topic--Disqus--I will follow up shortly with a separate post devoted to that very topic.


    "Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought." - John F. Kennedy on reality

    "What if everything you see is more than what you see--the person next to you is a warrior and the space that appears empty is a secret door to another world? What if something appears that shouldn't? You either dismiss it, or you accept that there is much more to the world than you think. Perhaps it really is a doorway, and if you choose to go inside, you'll find many unexpected things." - Shigeru Miyamoto


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    Author: honestgamer (Mod)
    Posted: August 01, 2013 (06:14 PM)
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    As promised, here is a lengthy post about Disqus.

    So, why did I implement Disqus when we had my custom-built forums already in place? Some people liked that system, right? Why change it?

    Disqus was implemented because even though some people did enjoy the old system--including me--it wasn't doing the site any favors in the long term. When we had a large community filled with people who regularly posted, the old system made a lot of sense. There was never a shortage of people commenting, and at the time it was not unusual to see excited newcomers sign up to a web site and to participate on the forums.

    Since 2003-2004, the period when we enjoyed the most of that sort of activity, the Internet has changed a great deal. Game forums are no longer something that a lot of people choose to use. A lot of people who I used to talk to all the time on forums and in old chat rooms are still talking to me today, only now they do so on social media and very few of them are active on any forums at all. Certainly, newcomers are unlikely to sign up to a site just so they can use forums, unless the entire purpose of that site is to participate on forums (seen most commonly these days with a site such as NeoGAF).

    That changing dynamic created an issue at HonestGamers (and even on much larger sites with active forums, such as GameFAQs, GameSpot, and IGN), because we weren't seeing a lot of new people signing up for the site and posting on the forums... which in turn limits the number of people who will sign up and then eventually take that next step and start contributing review content. We would see two or three awesome new community members arrive most years, but we also have been losing users at a slightly faster rate than we have been gaining them, and for several years now. There are any number of reasons this is the case, but often it goes back to the simple fact that people use the Internet differently in a post-Twitter world.

    The time to do something about the evolving reality was long overdue, because we all know that people will continue to find activities that keep them busy offline. Not everyone is like me, willing to spend the bulk of each day online. People get married. People have babies. They work two jobs. They participate in sporting events. They build sites of their own, they become YouTube personalities, or they move on in search of something new... just because. For any community to remain active and to grow, it has to be easy for newcomers to get involved. They have to be able to participate with the lowest possible barrier to entry, and that experience has to be meaningful enough that they choose to continue participating in the long term.

    Disqus is a common solution to precisely the problem that this site faced, a solution that has also been adopted by many other leading sites that were running into the exact same problem. A lot of sites use Disqus online (including most game and technology sites that will appeal to our readers), and the result is that a lot of people never sign out of that account. Remaining logged in allows them to easily participate on any number of leading sites as they browse the Internet. It lets them click through a link on Twitter, read an article, then post a comment without having to sign into yet another account--even if they have never been to that site before--and they can also easily monitor their conversations across all relevant sites. This setup has made Disqus a tremendously useful tool for sites large and small. It brings the barrier to entry just about as low as it can go, plus Disqus offers useful moderation tools.

    Before Disqus, I went with Facebook as my solution for a comments field. However, Facebook didn't handle comments in a user-friendly manner. The developer APIs that are available are not intuitive and they frequently caused page loads to take much longer than they should, which in turn affects a site's visibility on Google and other search engines (those sites penalize a site's rank if its pages take too long to load). Also, there was the problem that some people just really hate Facebook or don't want posts they make about games to show up where friends and family will see them. Therefore, it made sense to find an alternative solution. I researched online, and Disqus was commonly cited as the best option.

    Because Disqus was a common solution on many sites, because most people are able to use it easily without needing to sign into separate accounts (the exception being people who for whatever reason choose to constantly log in and out of accounts, perhaps because they are surfing the Internet from work or from a public place such as a library), and because something needed to be done to ensure that more people could dip their toes in the HonestGamers pool, it felt like the only realistic solution.

    In a perfect world, it would not have been necessary to implement Disqus on the site. In a different world, social media might not have overtaken forums the way that it has. The reality, though, is that both of those things have happened. A site needs to change in order to continue to meet the needs of its future audience, and it needs to do so in a way that will also meet the needs of its current audience. I'm not pretending that Disqus is a perfect solution with no downsides, but it at least represented the least of the available evils.

    If I left the site the way it was, it would have most likely continued to appeal to the dedicated but shrinking core audience on the site--which I am grateful to see remain active and involved--but our dedicated audience of core, active users is also much smaller than it used to be and I don't believe anyone will dispute that. Disqus is one part of my ongoing effort to change that situation. Its implementation was me recognizing that the best way to get people involved is to let them participate without needing an account, so that they'll come to understand the perks that accompany a proper site account.

    There's still work that I plan to do toward that end, of course. And there's some of it that I can't do until my personal situation improves. In any event, I'm not saying "Disqus is perfect" when I mark its implementation in down in the "success" column. I'm simply saying that it was the best option we had.


    "Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought." - John F. Kennedy on reality

    "What if everything you see is more than what you see--the person next to you is a warrior and the space that appears empty is a secret door to another world? What if something appears that shouldn't? You either dismiss it, or you accept that there is much more to the world than you think. Perhaps it really is a doorway, and if you choose to go inside, you'll find many unexpected things." - Shigeru Miyamoto


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    Author: EmP (Mod)
    Posted: August 02, 2013 (07:52 AM)
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    Thank you for your lengthy post about why you implemented disqus in the first place. Sadly, all you’ve supplied is an exhaustive answer to a question that was never asked. I don’t much care why it’s here; I asked why we bother using it when it clearly doesn’t work, then supplied a list of reasons to back my thesis up. You may have hoped that disqus would open all these doors, and I appreciate your efforts in trying these things, because if we don’t try, we never know. We now know.

    In the midst of the failbook experiment, you supplied tabs that allowed people to choose between the forums and social media. The simple solution would be to re-implement that. If not, I look forward to a reply actually addressing my concerns, and not one trying to lose me in a cleverly-placed tangent. I’ve been bickering with you far too long to fall for that classic Venter ploy!


    For us. For them. For you.


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    Author: Masters (Mod)
    Posted: August 02, 2013 (09:56 AM)
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    I thought I'd chime in with some feedback. Hopefully, Jason will find it useful and not take it for a personal attack.

    I hate Disqus. Its implementation has caused me to stop leaving feedback for people.

    It's supposed to be about convenience, but as Emp pointed out, signing in twice on one site is not convenient. But then, I'm someone who doesn't use Disqus anywhere else I go on the net. Your suggestion seems to be that I'm in the minority. I can't confirm that; perhaps you can?

    I have also noted the Twitter page is not a good look. There's been no activity since February that I can see. Worse yet, the 'about us' blurb on the left of the page. "We're far from perfect, but we have a lot of fun." Seriously? What kind of loser mission statement is that?

    Also, Jason, did you ever publicly explain what went on with Game Rankings? You gave me a rundown on AIM, but I wonder if there was ever a topic made about it. If so - good. If not - why not?

    Similarly, was there a topic discussing the fallout of the GR debacle? I recognize that I am an absentee 'staff member' but it really felt like we were all gung ho about covering new stuff the minute it came out, and then I went to sleep and woke up the next day and we were a retro site.

    About the forums: aren't there still too many of them? You posit that forums in general are a dying breed. Why then have 15 of them? Too little activity, spread too thin. We've got like, ten people posting across 15 boards, chatter and Disqus.

    Possibly more later.



    I don't have to prove I'm refined - that's what makes me refined!


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    Author: honestgamer (Mod)
    Posted: August 02, 2013 (11:54 AM)
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    EmP and Masters: as far as Disqus implementation goes, I have at this point fully explained why I implemented it. I didn't offer that long post as a distraction. I simply wanted you to have all of the information. I myself believe that it is was implemented successfully and that it has served the purpose I had in mind. Given the number of reviews going through the site at present, the overall number of reviews that receive substantive feedback is equal to or greater than what it was before Disqus was added. We are also seeing comments (and not just spam and trolling) from new people who we never heard from previously.

    Two of you have now spoken up to express your strong distaste for Disqus. The two of you combined have produced more than 500 high-quality reviews that are a credit to the site, and obviously I would be a fool to ignore the efforts you have made on the site's behalf.

    As I have noted, I believe that Disqus was implemented successfully, and I believe that if my other efforts to increase activity are successful, Disqus will naturally complement that growth. However, I don't want to chase away the site's current community in the process, which has stuck with the site through thick and thin--in your cases--for around a decade now. Therefore, I'm offering the discussion up to the community: should I ditch Disqus at HonestGamers?

    If I remove Disqus, I will scrap it entirely. There's no point in having it hog resources (Disqus is a third-party service, so its implementation does mean a small hit to page load times) if a number of people will only continue to refuse to use it. Breaking up feedback between tabs definitely did not work to my satisfaction, so I wouldn't be doing that again. The feedback process would in this case return to the old format, with a forum thread being created when someone leaves feedback, and with that thread's contents appearing on the page below the review in question. Any feedback left using Disqus over the course of the past year or so will vanish into the ether.

    Right now, Masters and EmP have spoken in support of nixing Disqus. I am in favor of keeping it, but I will act according to the majority decision. If I don't hear otherwise within the next however many hours, then I will put on my coding hat and we will likely see a return to the proprietary forums by the end of the weekend (which is when I will likely have time to do any coding). If that isn't the outcome you want, speak now or forever hold your peace.


    "Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought." - John F. Kennedy on reality

    "What if everything you see is more than what you see--the person next to you is a warrior and the space that appears empty is a secret door to another world? What if something appears that shouldn't? You either dismiss it, or you accept that there is much more to the world than you think. Perhaps it really is a doorway, and if you choose to go inside, you'll find many unexpected things." - Shigeru Miyamoto


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    Author: honestgamer (Mod)
    Posted: August 02, 2013 (12:25 PM)
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    I responded to your comments on Disqus, Masters, but you also had other comments and questions related to other topics being discussed that I will address here.

    I thought I'd chime in with some feedback. Hopefully, Jason will find it useful and not take it for a personal attack.

    Feedback isn't a personal attack unless you're calling me names or something, which you are not. There's no reason I should take offense.

    I have also noted the Twitter page is not a good look. There's been no activity since February that I can see. Worse yet, the 'about us' blurb on the left of the page. "We're far from perfect, but we have a lot of fun." Seriously? What kind of loser mission statement is that?

    I didn't create that particular message. Someone else snagged the account and made that background on my behalf, including that message. I asked for access to the account when I set up the Feedburner RSS feed to automatically update the page--which I was kindly granted--and I just never changed the background. Feedburner is going through issues right now, in conjunction with Google's unusual decision to abandon Google Reader and RSS support in general, so I haven't yet implemented a new solution. That's on the to do list, definitely.

    Also, Jason, did you ever publicly explain what went on with Game Rankings? You gave me a rundown on AIM, but I wonder if there was ever a topic made about it. If so - good. If not - why not?

    There was a topic made about it for staff, which you can read on the staff forum, but there were some decisions involved--not on this end--that I am uncomfortable discussing in public. I also am limited in terms of the information that I myself was provided about the decision, so I wouldn't want to go running my mouth when I don't--and can't--know the full story.

    Similarly, was there a topic discussing the fallout of the GR debacle? I recognize that I am an absentee 'staff member' but it really felt like we were all gung ho about covering new stuff the minute it came out, and then I went to sleep and woke up the next day and we were a retro site.

    Some of this is tied to the GameRankings situation. Basically, I usually can't get people to write staff/freelance reviews for the site now unless I pay them. Even when GameRankings was listing our content, new reviews would bring in maybe $1 or so, and a lot of reviews for newer games are forgotten a short time after they are posted. Increasingly, you can't get a large audience for a review for a new game unless you're able to post it a week ahead of the game's release, which we very seldom can do.

    I was paying people $50 for reviews for new games, and a varying rate down the line from there. People were stepping up and reviewing the occasional new game at that rate, and I also tried to help them obtain a review copy, which was sometimes offered as incentive in lieu of the $50. However, I can't routinely afford to pay $50 per new review, so the process was changed and I began offering a flat rate of $20 per review (while still helping to secure review copies). At this new rate, offers to review games dried up, and basically there was me and one or two other people who were interested in participating.

    Retro reviews worked well for a lot of people, though, because retro games are so easily obtained and $20 is decent pay. So we saw the site posting more retro reviews--which doesn't bother me at all, since I and so many others in the community love and have always loved retro reviews--and we see those retro reviews performing very well. Their performance in many cases was outdoing the performance of reviews for hot new releases. And since it cost me less to pay people for those, and since retro is becoming increasingly hot right now, I was pushing for a lot of new retro content. At the same time, GameRankings de-linked all of our reviews without warning.

    That action now means that there is little reason to believe that HonestGamers can stay afloat by working overly hard to provide reviews for all of the hottest new games. GameRankings requires 15 qualifying reviews per month or we would only be de-listed again, and I simply can't talk enough people into reviewing games to maintain that output. So... since retro is doing very well for us (when I can afford to pay people at all), that is the approach that it makes sense to take. It adds additional value to our legacy content throughout the years and, if we are able to resume a regular posting schedule--which I hope to do soon--it stands to bring us a larger audience of precisely the sort of gamer and contributor who likes a site such as ours in the first place.

    About the forums: aren't there still too many of them? You posit that forums in general are a dying breed. Why then have 15 of them? Too little activity, spread too thin. We've got like, ten people posting across 15 boards, chatter and Disqus.

    I haven't paid a lot of attention to the individual sections because that's not how I use the forums. I just click on the link that lets me see the 50 newest posts, and it's easy to keep up from there.

    However, the forums were designed to also be used the "old fashioned" way, and they'll need to be used that way again if they ever spring back to life. Of course, if they spring back to life, then having all of those specific sections might not be such a bad idea. It's hard to say. In the short term, I may simply deactivate the system-specific forums and maybe add a general forum for retro gaming discussion in their stead.


    "Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought." - John F. Kennedy on reality

    "What if everything you see is more than what you see--the person next to you is a warrior and the space that appears empty is a secret door to another world? What if something appears that shouldn't? You either dismiss it, or you accept that there is much more to the world than you think. Perhaps it really is a doorway, and if you choose to go inside, you'll find many unexpected things." - Shigeru Miyamoto


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    Author: holdthephone
    Posted: August 02, 2013 (12:49 PM)
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    I'm not reading everything here but let's just be real for a second: This site does not get much traffic, and people were hardly commenting on reviews before Disqus anyway. It's not like this new feature made anything notably worse. HG is just an obsolete site. You can experiment with petty social features all you like but it isn't going to create any traffic that sticks. It needs a 100% rework, which isn't going to happen.

    I mean, I get more views and feedback in the darkest corners of random gaming message boards than I do here. But I post here because I think the small lot of you are smart guys/gals who share some similar goals. You can take Disqus away and nothing is really going to change, except perhaps make our very, very tiny circle a tad happier. I didn't see any regulars disappear because of Disqus, and I doubt I'd see any return if Jason re-implemented dedicated forum threads. What would return? Maybe the occasional 30 post argument over how bad an FF or Mass Effect game is, but other than that, I don't think Disqus has killed off anything worth mentioning.

    Every time Jason wants to change the site around, he asks the opinions of the 5 or so people who actually use the site. It seems pretty pointless to me. I don't like Disqus, but I don't think that's the site's biggest problem.

    For now, I guess the most helpful things I can think of is to simply put a link to the forums on the front page - there's absolutely no harm in it. And maybe some Facebook shout outs to the reader reviews, which I always thought was the point of this place to begin with.


    Mobius 1, engage...


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    Author: joseph_valencia
    Posted: August 02, 2013 (02:31 PM)
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    Kill Disqus with fire. I hate that thing. Aside from the whole having to sign in twice thing, there's also the upvote/downvote crap. The internet doesn't need another site where people can vote comments up or down.


    Spaceworlder was able to build this sig IN A CAVE…… WITH A BOX OF SCRAPS!!


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    Author: wolfqueen001
    Posted: August 02, 2013 (04:17 PM)
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    I know I haven't really said anything meaningful about the site in a while, but I'll add my two cents anyway.

    About Disqus: I used it at first just to see how it would work, but ultimately grew bored with it. The problem I have with it is that, like EmP said, it doesn't really promote thought-out or engaging discussions. When I used it, I mostly kept it for "Hey, great review!" or "Sweet, I want to buy / avoid that game now" type comments. On the forum, however, I'd be more inclined to want to critique someone's review, especially a newcomer, if I felt such feedback would be appreciated.

    On the other hand, I can sort of see the advantage to the thing, too. I never had the problem of logging in twice because it always remembered me. (I can probably even check now and I'll still be logged in there even though I haven't used it in ages.) So I can see the appeal on that end, and especially if we're getting people that we otherwise wouldn't get. Though, there's another side to that point, too, in that any sightings of new individuals won't necessarily mean anything. It's been my observation lately that only a very small minority actually stick around. I think in the last year I've only seen three new people actively start contributing here. :/

    EDIT: okay, it did log me out, but only because I think I disabled cookies on Firefox.


    What espiga does in his free time
    [Eating EmP's brain] probably isn't a good idea. I mean... He's British, which means his brain's wired for PAL and your eyes are NTSC. - Will


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    Author: honestgamer (Mod)
    Posted: August 03, 2013 (12:36 AM)
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    Okay, review feedback now works the way it did in ye olden days. However small it might be at present, the majority has spoken and I listened. I hope that you all enjoy using the new/old format, and that you leave tons of great feedback for one another!


    "Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought." - John F. Kennedy on reality

    "What if everything you see is more than what you see--the person next to you is a warrior and the space that appears empty is a secret door to another world? What if something appears that shouldn't? You either dismiss it, or you accept that there is much more to the world than you think. Perhaps it really is a doorway, and if you choose to go inside, you'll find many unexpected things." - Shigeru Miyamoto


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    Author: Suskie
    Posted: August 03, 2013 (01:45 AM)
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    I didn't speak up because, to be honest, I'm neutral on the subject. Part of it is that I just don't leave feedback as much as I should, but part of it is that I don't particularly like or dislike Disqus. No, it wasn't as in-depth as using forums for feedback, but I didn't find it to be a hassle and most sites use similar comments systems for feedback anyway, so I'm used to it at this point. So, it's not a big deal to me either way.

    However. I want to use this opportunity to address a relatively big issue that's been bugging me over the course of... well, years, to be honest, and it's the constant changes to the basic framework of the site that are being made, whatever they are. Look, Jason, I know you're frustrated that the site isn't more popular than it is. It sucks and this place deserves better than what it's getting. But it seems like every month it's something new, whether you're overhauling the design or redirecting the focus or adding features or removing features or whatever.

    Not only has it become tiresome at this point, but it also, to my mind, makes HonestGamers a less reliable outlet for reviews and discussion. You've already nuked the blogs. Then you replaced forum feedback with a comment system, and now all of the feedback left using that system has been removed (after it was all deleted the first time because... I don't even remember why). You once threatened to turn the entire site into a dead archive and start an entirely new site from scratch. At the beginning of the year, you proposed a new freelance system with a ladder of pay, then you scrapped that system mere months later in favor of a flat rate and a newfound focus on retro (particularly NES) reviews. And then you stopped offering freelance assignments altogether because you're low on money.

    And now -- and I find it weird that this hasn't been brought up yet -- you're rebooting Gameroni and reverting back to the ladder of pay when you still haven't compensated us for reviews we wrote months ago.

    I mean, how much confidence is this supposed to inspire in us? I really hate to say this to you, Jason, because you know I respect you and love this site. But let's look at a simple fact: I've only submitted one non-freelance review to HonestGamers this year, and I was drunk when I wrote it. It's getting to the point that the only way I'll contribute to the site is if you pay me for it, which you quickly proved unable to do anyway. And I hate to pin that on you, since I know you're struggling financially and are owed a great deal of money right now, but it seems to me that your constant endeavors to find an audience just wind up losing what little audience you seem to have left. I'm finding it hard to work up the muscle to contribute to HonestGamers when, for all I know, it could (and likely will) be a completely different site a few months down the line.


    You exist because we allow it. And you will end because we demand it.


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    Author: honestgamer (Mod)
    Posted: August 03, 2013 (02:04 PM)
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    So, you said an awful lot and now that I've had some sleep and something to eat, I'll try to respond to it all.

    I want to use this opportunity to address a relatively big issue that's been bugging me over the course of... well, years, to be honest, and it's the constant changes to the basic framework of the site that are being made, whatever they are.

    For the last two or so years, the changes to the site's design have been intended to support the core objective, which is for the site to serve as one of the premier game review communities. That meant stripping away a lot of unrelated, distracting features that at best left the site bloated and which in reality often prevented the site from doing much of anything effectively. My efforts to trim the fat were successful, and traffic to individual reviews has been on the rise ever since.

    Now the site is streamlined, so you won't be seeing a lot of major coding changes in the future, or features added and removed. Only slight tweaks will be made, as/if they become necessary. This most recent change was not my idea, but fits in the "become necessary" column. The community was either neutral on the matter of Disqus, or it was campaigning pretty hard for its removal, depending who you asked. I was the only person who spoke up to actually defend Disqus, so it went away.

    The goal is no longer to make the site become wildly popular using the tools that work for nearly every other site on the Internet, because any of those changes that I tried to impelement here were clearly unwelcome. I get it: the remaining vocal members of the community don't want to see HonestGamers lose its identity in order to change with the rest of the Internet. People like the old design elements enough to fight for them, so I'm not going to push to remove them now. Everything that is currently in place--and the site's overall structure--is the way it is right now for very good reason.

    Then you replaced forum feedback with a comment system, and now all of the feedback left using that system has been removed (after it was all deleted the first time because... I don't even remember why).

    The only comments that are missing from the site are those that were left using Facebook--which people didn't support much at all--and Disqus. The latter was in place for around a year and received minimal support from the community, at the same time as the number of new reviews from regulars within the community dropped noticably, so there wasn't a huge pile of comments to even lose. Their disappearance was disappointing but necessary, and the terrific news is that this should mark the very last time anything of the sort ever happens.

    To be clear, the comments/feedback system won't go through any major changes again, from this point forward. I won't be implementing Disqus again, or Facebook comments, or whatever proves useful to other sites in the future. The community has spoken.

    And now -- and I find it weird that this hasn't been brought up yet -- you're rebooting Gameroni and reverting back to the ladder of pay when you still haven't compensated us for reviews we wrote months ago.

    I didn't mention Gameroni because I didn't feel that it was relevant to the topic at hand, which is the current state of the site and general plans for its future. But since you brought it up, I'll discuss Gameroni in just a moment.

    First, though, I want to correct an apparent misimpression regarding payment for reviews. The laddered pay system that you mentioned was indeed abandoned, for the reasons I discussed above. It also has not returned to HonestGamers. Compensation for reviews is at a likely permanent flat rate of $20, once I begin offering assignments again (the current plan is to do so late this month or early next month). If anything changes in that regard in the future, it would only be the rate of pay, in the unlikely event that reviews suddenly pay for themselves at $20 and I can then afford to offer a higher rate of compensation. I still hope that can happen, but I'm not betting on it and I won't be making unwelcome changes to the site to facilitate it.

    That brings us to Gameroni. When I previously launched Gameroni, it was intended as a very different site than it is this time around. In some ways, it also competed with what HonestGamers was trying to do at that time. That is not the case any longer. My plan for Gameroni is to update the site sporadically, rather than attempting to maintain a set content schedule. In addition to the occasional review for newer stuff that I can't afford to cover comprehensively at HonestGamers, I'll be posting editorial pieces and interviews and such, content that doesn't fit here. If someone comes to me with something interesting that feels like a good fit for Gameroni, I will pay for that content. There's no specific quota, though, and HonestGamers remains my focus.

    Gameroni's revival shouldn't directly impact day-to-day operations at HonestGamers in the slightest. At HonestGamers, the focus is on reviews by staff and by the community, plus the forums and Chatter exist for discussion. I will continue to work on the games database, as well, because there are thousands of old and new game listings that I still plan to add/update. If Gameroni becomes wildly successful, then of course the volume of output there will increase, and I would also be able to fruitfully cross-promote at that point. However, the success and operations of the two very distinct sites are not tied to one another.

    It's getting to the point that the only way I'll contribute to the site is if you pay me for it, which you quickly proved unable to do anyway. And I hate to pin that on you, since I know you're struggling financially and are owed a great deal of money right now, but it seems to me that your constant endeavors to find an audience just wind up losing what little audience you seem to have left. I'm finding it hard to work up the muscle to contribute to HonestGamers when, for all I know, it could (and likely will) be a completely different site a few months down the line.

    There are a lot of people who will only write for HonestGamers now if they are paid to do so, which is unfortunate, but that's not a reality I can change by wishing things were different. Instead, I'm trying to make sure that going forward, HonestGamers is the best review community it can be, so that if skilled people decide to post their reviews online without receiving compensation, HonestGamers is the natural place to do it.

    I also do hope that some people will continue to be able to earn money for writing about games on the site. I have successfully paid people to write for the site for years now, and my recent inability to do so--due to the $5000+ that people owe me but have not yet paid--is embarrassing. However, as I have told the people who I owe money, that situation is almost resolved. It looks like full resolution--with everyone paid all money owed--should happen at the end of this month. In the meantime, I have refrained from issuing new assignments at HonestGamers and I have offered a grand total of one assignment at Gameroni.

    I realize that over the years, I've tried a large enough number of initiatives here at HonestGamers that what I'm saying right now might be hard for some of you to accept as fact. However, I would like to reiterate that the changes over the last couple of years have all been designed to bring us to roughly this point. I hoped that when we got here the site would be more active than it is at present, but that didn't happen. There's still time for it to happen in the future, and I will continue working toward that end.

    The framework you see today is the framework that you will see a few years from now. If I want to try new experiments with social media--beyond the site's additive accounts with Twitter and Facebook and such--I will do that over at Gameroni. In the meantime, my efforts at HonestGamers will focus entirely on keeping the community happy, adding game data, securing content, and promoting that content to the extent that is possible with our site's unique design.

    I hope that if any of you have problems with how I handle those efforts in the future, or if you think I'm losing sight of the prize, you'll let me know. Thank you for your participation thus far, everyone, and I hope that participation on the site will continue to be a rewarding experience so that you feel good about being involved for many years to come!


    "Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought." - John F. Kennedy on reality

    "What if everything you see is more than what you see--the person next to you is a warrior and the space that appears empty is a secret door to another world? What if something appears that shouldn't? You either dismiss it, or you accept that there is much more to the world than you think. Perhaps it really is a doorway, and if you choose to go inside, you'll find many unexpected things." - Shigeru Miyamoto


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    Author: jerec
    Posted: August 11, 2013 (07:16 AM)
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    I have to agree with Suskie about the constant changes - it's not so much about whether the change is good or bad, it's just that changing the site's entire focus too often just to chase hits (that don't seem to happen) is discouraging. You'll probably have to accept that this site isn't going to be one of the big ones, so you may as well stick to your convictions and provide the type of site you (and the regulars) are passionate about, rather than trying to follow the pack. You'll always be limping behind the pack because you don't have the resources, you're just one man.

    I do troll a bit and I do like to wind you up, but if I didn't care about this site you wouldn't hear anything from me. I'm not much of a writer these days and I barely ever read a review, and yet I still visit this site just about every day. There is something about this site that I like, but every time there's some massive overhaul I wonder why I'm here.

    I have a lot of respect for you in that you've never given up on this site. I don't think I would have, if I were in your position. But when you're thinking about a change, I hope you're considering whether the change will improve the things this site does well rather than trying to bring in more people.

    I did notice that video reviews seem to be the thing, these days. I'm glad you're not trying to jump on that bandwagon.


    I can avoid death by not having a life.


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    Author: honestgamer (Mod)
    Posted: August 11, 2013 (12:07 PM)
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    I'm glad you still check the site as often as you do, Jerec. We still need readers, just like we still need writers. I'd love to see you writing too, but you can't force it.

    As far as changes go in the future, I don't plan a lot of those. Elsewhere, I've mentioned that I will likely add a feature allowing people to submit links to off-site reviews, to appear at the bottom of game profile pages below any content that we have produced internally. That's still likely to happen, but probably not for a few months now and it may not happen at all. That's the last new feature that you'll likely see added to the site, as well.

    Any other coding that I do will simply maintain or make slight improvements to the features already in place. I don't plan to dramatically alter the layout. I don't plan to add a bunch of new social features that no one will ever use. The site that people will find if they visit in five years won't look markedly different than what you see right now.

    HonestGamers has seen a lot of changes over the years, but those changes have brought the site to its current--and essentially final--iteration. There's not a lot I can do that will allow it to do a better job at what it does, and I'm not looking to add functionality, like I said. Now the focus is very much on content and stability. I'll tend to the latter by not changing much of anything, and as far as content goes, I plan to continue looking for ways to promote our content around the Internet without changing the site itself. I'm not done fighting for a bright future for the site, for more great content and a larger community. I'm just done making changes to the site's structure and format in an effort to facilitate it.

    I expect that very sincere announcement to piss off approximately no one.


    "Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought." - John F. Kennedy on reality

    "What if everything you see is more than what you see--the person next to you is a warrior and the space that appears empty is a secret door to another world? What if something appears that shouldn't? You either dismiss it, or you accept that there is much more to the world than you think. Perhaps it really is a doorway, and if you choose to go inside, you'll find many unexpected things." - Shigeru Miyamoto


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    Author: overdrive (Mod)
    Posted: August 11, 2013 (01:57 PM)
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    Overall, Jerec nailed a lot of what I'd say (been busy with work and social-life stuff recently, so I hadn't had the time or energy to formulate thoughts), so I'm glad to see you don't plan any major in-site changes.

    I do like Disqus getting replaced with the old forum-style commenting system. Just easier to find comments and such, as when a review goes off the main page, it's a lot less intuitive (or more complicated) to maintain a conversation, at least for me.


    I'm not afraid to die because I am invincible
    Viva la muerte, that's my goddamn principle


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    Author: dagoss
    Posted: September 19, 2013 (05:56 PM)
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    I know I don't come around here much, but I have two things to say.

    I want to compliment Jason on an improvement to the site that probably few people appreciate--it is *much* cleaner. I prefer to use Elinks for web browsing, and Honestgamers today renders much cleaner than it did in the past. Can't say that about too many sites these days.

    For awhile, I posted a lot of user reviews. I remember, there was one period where 3 out of 4 of the featured user reviews were mine. And on that 4th week, I got runner up for review of the week. That was my favourite part--competing for review of the week, getting comments about reviews (even if the comments were more just discussion about the game than my review), and leaving comments to others. All I really wanted to do was talk about old games.

    At some point, the site changed and it felt like no one was visiting the site (probably a false impression brought on because it kept changing). So I guess I lost interest in writing reviews because I only really wanted to do that when I felt like people were going to read them and leave a comment or something. I must be a comment whore.

    To be fair, it's not Honestgamer's fault I haven't written a review since--well, I think Bush was still in office last time I wrote a review. During that time, I aldo did a bunch of stuff, like get married, buy a house, and have a kid. Those things really get in the way of video games. (My wife doesn't get Ico, and I fear she never will!)

    Anyway, I guess the point of my post is to apologize for not contributing reviews. This site is totally free and has given me plrently of entertainment, and all I needed to do was write something once and while. It's not that I don't have ideas; I just lost the motivation to write them down or something. I have a bunch of half-written reviews for various games. Can I just combine them and post it as a review for Dragon Age II? That thing was such a cluster fuck, I doubt anyone would notice the difference.?


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    Author: honestgamer (Mod)
    Posted: September 19, 2013 (08:43 PM)
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    I hope that you find time and motivation to review here again, dagoss. The site can really benefit from more frequent contributions and discussion from excellent writers such as yourself, and I'm happy to report that reader reviews now perform better (in terms of traffic) than they have at any previous point in the site's history... mostly as a result of my effort to streamline things and make sure that the site works better than it once did on mobile devices. That certainly wasn't an accident and I have been delighted to see it pay off the way it has. Ultimately, though, the site lives or dies--now more than ever--based on the level of community activity. Congratulations on getting married and all that other stuff, and we're here to talk about games whenever you want to do that. ;-)


    "Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought." - John F. Kennedy on reality

    "What if everything you see is more than what you see--the person next to you is a warrior and the space that appears empty is a secret door to another world? What if something appears that shouldn't? You either dismiss it, or you accept that there is much more to the world than you think. Perhaps it really is a doorway, and if you choose to go inside, you'll find many unexpected things." - Shigeru Miyamoto


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    Author: mrmiyamoto
    Posted: October 25, 2013 (06:05 AM)
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    Way late to the party, but I agree with Dagoss about the comments topic. I used to write for this site all the time, and loved receiving feedback. Then, all of it just dried up. No one commented on anything I wrote for a good long stretch, and I lost interest. Meanwhile, I was still commenting on others' work, which became tiresome with no acknowledgement of my own existence.


    "Nowadays, people know the price of everything and the value of nothing"

    *Oscar Wilde*


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