AuthorTopic: Community Problems  (Read 19639 times)

Offline Vakinox

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Community Problems

on: February 14, 2014, 03:29:10 pm
So first off, apologies for getting frustrated yesterday and bashing the entire community. However for me it was something I've just been bottling up ever since I've began frequenting here. Some other members responded and felt it was necessary that the issues I and the many like me are having should be properly discussed, and perhaps investigated to find a solution for.

To add perspective to the case, I've been coming here for two years as my profile will confirm. I've actually been accessing the site longer than that with an account metalmac which has been here since 2010, and have been visiting or lurking ever since. Amidst my stay I have noticed and experienced several trends which tend to give new users a sense of hopelessness or disgruntles them because of a lacking in initiative put forth by the tenured members. Most users do tend to get at least one or two responses to their [C+C]'s, but I've seen 0 replies before on threads.

What is more common is two users usually with less than 200 or so posts accumulated will add one small but useful critique to a newbie's thread, but once the newbie comes back with an update or progress on his art then the thread sinks to the second page and is abandoned. Unless you're a newbie like Beetleking22 http://wayofthepixel.net/index.php?topic=14624.msg138174#msg138174 who already shows an impressive amount of skill, or are a well-known member, then being somebody else means your thread isn't going to last long here. Most tenured members usually don't come out unless one of those two instances appear, and very rarely do I find they waste time on newcomers for whatever reason. In fact most days posting anything feels pretty useless, especially if your someone with inadequate enough skill or adjustment to the community's technical vocabulary to attempt to gamble updating your thread and watch that work go sinking to the bottom of the forums.

I have had good unique experiences here however, they are very very rare instances. PPD is a rare exception to tenured members, and he does try occasionally to accommodate newcomers and will respond to your PMs. Which once I simply gave up posting and tried PM'ing multiple users for aid on my work, and that's when I finally met another user who gave me his e-mail and a decent amount of input on my project. And while it didn't last long, and soon turned a cold shoulder to my inquires, although it was a very helpful experience. That happened back in October of 2012. Then there was another user by the name of Facet, who gave an impressive critique which I've been admiring ever since. However the advice and edit was a bit far above my comprehension or skill level, so I know this can feel like a waste as I am disappointed in myself for not being able to accommodate what he was hoping to see. This didn't occur until June of 2013. If you notice the dates, there is a long time between farming a good response and most of the other time is spent experiencing the slow drift to the bottom.

For most community members, tenured or frequenters, tend to feel exhausted going into the time to edit other people's work and creating critiques. I believe it resembles a problem I worked out while I was having lots of bouts with depression.

Motivation = cost < rewards

If the cost of replying is more than the reward of providing a proper comment or critique, then most users have no motivation to provide such an effort. Communities like these are structured on original content, and to come here frequently and provide thoughtful and original responses can be disingenuous to the user as they do not have a proper reward system in place. The way members seem to be rewarded is by coming in contact with users who provide and submit the best and more interesting material, so they stick to commenting and helping those users rather than waste effort appealing to the others that suffer from abandonment in the process.

Even though I've had a hard time or possibly somewhat experienced negligence  or some similar form of negativity here, I still find the free time to poke my head in and see what's being discussed or how others are progressing. And even occasionally I will take the gamble and submit some work in hopes it gets replies from other users.

I tried to branch out and highlight some of the more obvious problems instead of just straight copy/pasting my previous rant. Hopefully the effort and reach resonates with the community and we can properly discuss the matters, and maybe bring some possible amends or solution to the table. I'm grateful for everyone who felt the need to make the subject more open for input.

Offline Cyangmou

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Re: Community Problems

Reply #1 on: February 14, 2014, 04:12:13 pm
The goal of Pixelation as I understood it, is the spirit of the mastery of skills - like Martial Arts if you want so.

Most people here who are giving proper and useful critique are the professionals. There is also always the question if critique is helpful for that particular user or for the community as a whole.
However writing a good critique with edits and examples takes time. It can easily take multiple hours for a single post. It's not really worth to put in that effort for someone who don't shows off the will of improvement.
In the end there is always the question if a person gives you the feeling to add something, that it's worth spending time on it (you could spend with working or just doing your own stuff).
You can see this just on how the post look, the writing and you can also feel it.

It's hard to teach newbies skill, if their wish isn't really to learn them on their own - that's rather the principle how schools work.
It's the job of the teachers to teach the pupils, but it's not the job of the critique-givers here to educate the newbs. People are here because they want to learn, not because they want to be educated.
Lots of newbies here just don't share the spirit of pixelation, they just want to have an edit that they don't have to do work on their own and their ambition is not to improve their skills - they are too unserious and you can also feel this.
It's impossible to give a newbie without any art understanding a hint to show what looks off without editing the piece of art.
Ambitious people who really want to improve stick around will always receive critique or a helpful sentence. Unserious people won't get the same attention. 

If one don't already has a certain level with his drawing you just can't say "go an take some art classes", that would be rude. But sometimes that's really the only thing you could say.
Then there are threads which showcase multiple pieces - I mean it should be pretty obvious how pixelation works once you read to 1-2 threads which got answers and there you will see that the person who works the hardest is the opener and then there will happen some kind of group dynamic which rewards that. If the initial posting is bad because the person don't took the time to learn how the forums work, why should you put in any effort for that person?
Then there are also people who have definitely some skill, but don't give back any reward in form of critiques and just take time from the community - those people also will get a lot less attention in the following process, since they aren't helpful for the community.

The thing is that you don't only learn from your own threads - that's a really bad way of looking at things.
Every critique given could be somewhat helpful for yourself too, but that don't works if you are arrogant and just looking at your own thread.

Maybe it's not really nice, but someone who don't shares and agrees with the overall ideas of this community won't be able to become a part of it. You called the people here "modern-day DaVinci's and Picasso's" who are taking their art by far too serious - I'd call the people sticking here around for a really long time just ambitious - and everyone who is like that will get a warm welcome.
« Last Edit: February 14, 2014, 04:15:38 pm by Cyangmou »
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Offline Zizka

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Re: Community Problems

Reply #2 on: February 14, 2014, 04:35:29 pm
My two cents:

Quote
Most users do tend to get at least one or two responses to their [C+C]'s, but I've seen 0 replies before on threads.

I donít think weíre entitled anything, at all. If someone wants to help, then fine. If no one shares any advice, then too bad. One thing that 0 reply threads have in common (from my experience):
1. Embryo of something
2. Multiple creations
3. So good itís hard to criticize

When I donít get any replies, I spend more time trying to improve my thing. Eventually people will see youíre really trying and theyíll help you out.

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, then being somebody else means your thread isn't going to last long here.

This hasnít been my experience. Iím fairly new here and not very well known.

Creature from hell: 8 editsÖ 8! Plus a tutorial from Cyangmou. Extremely generous. In depth comments.
Goblin: 1 edit, many comments.
Nude portrait: 3 edits, many comments.
Slashing animí: 3 edits, many comments.
The list goes on.

I donít know, this is the best place to get feedback on the net for pixel art in my opinion.

Quote
I have had good unique experiences here however, they are very very rare instances. PPD is a rare exception to tenured members, and he does try occasionally to accommodate newcomers and will respond to your PMs. Which once I simply gave up posting and tried PM'ing multiple users for aid on my work, and that's when I finally met another user who gave me his e-mail and a decent amount of input on my project. And while it didn't last long, and soon turned a cold shoulder to my inquires, although it was a very helpful experience. That happened back in October of 2012. Then there was another user by the name of Facet, who gave an impressive critique which I've been admiring ever since. However the advice and edit was a bit far above my comprehension or skill level, so I know this can feel like a waste as I am disappointed in myself for not being able to accommodate what he was hoping to see. This didn't occur until June of 2013. If you notice the dates, there is a long time between farming a good response and most of the other time is spent experiencing the slow drift to the bottom.

I think you might (might) be taking things for granted. People donít have to help you if they donít feel like it. Also, they can stop doing so whenever they want to. PPD is very generous with his time and talent (exceptionally so).

Keep in mind that giving useful critique is limited to not that many members. You need to know what youíre talking about if youíre going to give feedback which isnít: it looks great!

It really is a good community. I hope youíll see things differently one day.

Offline Kcilc

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Re: Community Problems

Reply #3 on: February 14, 2014, 05:23:22 pm
Having essentially grown up with this forum (I was part of the original forum, and was ecstatic when I found it again in '05) I can see where you're coming from. There is definitely more attention paid to certain topics than others; however, I'm not sure if this forum is meant to be a place for long-term mentorship, and there certainly is never any guarantee that you'll get the critique or attention you hope for. Maybe I'm just used to the environment. Most of my experience with posts is about the same as yours. Sometimes I'll get a few comments, sometimes nothing.

I'd argue that most of the forum is people that are just a couple years into pixelation. People tend to come in swinging and slowly taper off, contributing less and less to the overall content of the forum. Eventually they'll either lose touch or become lurkers like me. I notice just a handful of really big posters who have a few new critiques every day, but these people come and go, making mini eras as they do. I think the main reason for this is because of the general vibe of the forum. It's a place to go when you're stuck mostly. Can't get that leg to look right? Post it. Can't get the tusks to look menacing enough? Post it. People will usually be able to help with those things, but as the issues become more general, it gets harder to post valuable critique.

I see a lot of "help me improve this [whatever]!" posts, and people will try to help the best they can, saying how the leg is a little too small or the tusk isn't pointy enough, but this forum is usually only useful for adjusting yourself. It's less a classroom and more a resource. People will tell you what looks wrong and how to fix it, then let you fix it. If you can't fix it, it's probably a something that just needs more practice. You practice, fix it, and post another thing in a week or month or year. Repeat this process, and that's Pixelation to me. This is also why I see the threads with minimal replies not as a problem. Sure, it feels crappy if you put in your time and make a fabulous new update to your art only to have it sink to the bottom of the page, but I think that's just because there really isn't much more to be said about the piece. It's mostly finished, and there really aren't many flaws that can be adjusted any more.

There are sometimes some really cool pieces that get posted, and there's huge progress and pages of critique, but those are generally weeks and sometimes months old where the artist has made major fundamental changes to the base art. Most of the motivation to post comes from the change in the art. When there are limitations in skill, there isn't much change between the piece at the beginning of the thread, and the subsequent updates, to the end. Sometimes there are posts with pages of critique and virtually no progress. It doesn't happen terribly often, but they feel just as lonely as a post with no replies.

As a forum, I think it's impossible to make people stick around and work with one artist, or make sure there is a reply to every thread. This is an open forum, so what you get out of it isn't necessarily what you put into it, but the longer you stay, the closer those lines will become.

Offline Vakinox

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Re: Community Problems

Reply #4 on: February 14, 2014, 05:52:41 pm
.
« Last Edit: March 06, 2014, 01:17:00 pm by Vakinox »

Offline Crow

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Re: Community Problems

Reply #5 on: February 14, 2014, 05:54:49 pm
I'm enjoying the personal attacks already.

Quote
personal attacks

Huh? :huh:
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Offline Cyangmou

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Re: Community Problems

Reply #6 on: February 14, 2014, 06:13:10 pm
In the end you want to get critique from the experienced people here.
At the other hand you call them ambitious-jerks.

Not answering here isn't the same as discriminating something, there might just be no interest, showing up those things isn't meant in a bad way. And yes some topics are easier to answer to than others. At the end the easiest and most interesting topic gets an answer. That principle is called concurrence.

The reasons I said are valid and facts. You although insulted me personally.

Just one more question?
How much useful critique have you received and how much have you given out? How many posts have you made.
I think that's quite one-sided.
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Offline Vakinox

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Re: Community Problems

Reply #7 on: February 14, 2014, 06:41:51 pm
.
« Last Edit: March 06, 2014, 01:15:57 pm by Vakinox »

Offline ErekT

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Re: Community Problems

Reply #8 on: February 14, 2014, 07:02:26 pm
Why so angry? ???

Just speaking for myself. When I see something I feel I'm A: able to provide useful critique on, and B: Have the time and energy to write something up for with edits and all, then I'll post. If not, I'll lurk. I help within the limit of my skills and the time I have to spare. Same as for a lot of people around here no doubt. What's wrong with that?

Offline Atnas

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Re: Community Problems

Reply #9 on: February 14, 2014, 07:08:08 pm
Cyangmou, that was catty. If you don't like what he's saying or implying please understand that beyond ego and personal attacks he is experiencing neglect which you have the privilege of never experiencing here. Regardless of the temporary insults or hurt feelings, if we can prevent future members from lashing out in the same way then we'll have done something good. Turn the other cheek, it's the internet.

It's true that nobody is owed anything here. To be skilled and not pass it on doesn't and won't ever make one feel guilty if they don't critique. When I critique it's because I want to, I don't owe anyone anything. However giving critique will make people more inclined to help you, if you are stuck giving critique can help you learn new things, take a stab at a piece beyond your skill level. It's common courtesy, if PPD posted a piece for critique I'm sure you understand you would jump to help him in any way you can, as would all the others he's helped. Take that view on it, and maybe it will add a more positive dimension to why tenured members receive more attention.

So it's true what you said, Vakinox, there needs to be incentive to help new members.

Personally when I was new I gave constant critique and edits to everyone, but over time and as I got busier I don't have the time to be as active and I've reiterated the same advice over and over that I prefer to do edits and crits when I know the person has been dedicated to their work and will make good use of my crit. I just don't want to waste my time. And that sounds terrible, right? But it's how I feel most helpful. I've seen too many people just leave good crits to waste, and I'm sure everyone else has as well.

I have made two threads asking for critique since 2008. The rest of my posts have mostly been critique. I found more value in learning by helping others, but now that I have learned enough to not be so curious about the fundamentals, I don't necessarily feel like reiterating all the points I was trying to understand at the time. I never did it for anyone other than myself, and I don't think that's a bad thing. I just want to understand more, and helping others is a good way to do that.

I did have the personal experience of helping a younger member once who was refusing all common sense and help, and taking it out on me, who eventually came around and improved and became a productive member. I think his name was DDawg. Regardless, the effort I put in was worth it, I met him by chance years later in TF2 and he apologized for being young and stubborn. I'm not entirely cynical when it comes to helping people, but I will admit I no longer have the time or energy for that amount of personal tutoring. I'd rather invest it in the community in general and help more people less directly. So on to the next point.

I'd ask you to change your opinion on the intellectualism and terminology concerning pixel art being a bad thing. Spend some time in the ramblethreads that are in the general forum and you will understand that we're just trying to learn the craft better. Maybe we are failing on dispersing the knowledge we've accumulated. Vakinox, do you think you and others would benefit from an introduction thread that introduces new pixel art techniques and terms gradually? I think that might be a good thing and one that has been overlooked. Just to condense the knowledge we have gained from discussion which you and other, newer members, were not present for. Like I said above, I would rather put together tutorials and resources than help directly these days as the return will be greater. Condensing the ramblethreads and keeping you and others up to speed and making you feel included rather than accusing us of elitism.

So I want a few things from you, Vakinox:

-A list of topics you think would help people like yourself. Do you not understand clusters or banding? Do we need to have a more visible linkage thread to tutorials or make our own based on our local terminology?

-How do we reward people for helping the little guy? First thought is a common suggestion, a thank system. When I was drawing up ideas for a critique based imageboard a while ago I had the idea of tiers. It rewarded high level members for critiquing low level ones, because the weight of a lower level member thanking a higher level one was greater than say, two people with high crit scores critting each other. The motivation for critting the high level members is already there. We just need low level members to be yummy targets for good crits. If we could get a "Thank you for this post" feature implemented, would you feel like more people would be willing to help you and other newbies?

-Take to heart that the thread you keep mentioning where a Xedrai was "ostracized" for his style consisted of one post by cyanmgou that could be taken as offensive but was really intended to help. A stream of other members leapt to defend the personal choices Xedrai made, and then he confirmed himself it was for a solid reason that he wouldn't change and everyone was happy. Nobody ignored the thread. The forums are not as active as they once were and it's common for a thread to go close to a week without critique if nothing is glaring. Xedrai kept bumping it with new work and that's just how I see the forums operating when we don't have as much manpower as we used to. Take a look at the activity data in the stats and I think what's happening in 2014 is amazing for how much less active things are. We're all doing our best and I feel very glad to be a part of the continued effort here to keep critique and learning alive concerning these often ignored and generalized media.

Please be patient and do not give in to personal attacks, on both sides of the aisle. We want to make the forums more hospitable. I know things are a little touchy right now, so I apologize in advance if anything I directed at you came across as insulting. I swear I intend no offense.

I just read your most recent post as I previewed this one, Vakinox. I understand you're frustrated but I'd prefer if we ignored our egos for a bit and proposed some actual changes to the structure of things rather than ramming our heads against each other's. We have different experiences, let's cater towards each other's needs and perspectives to make pixelation better.