AuthorTopic: Community updates  (Read 2502 times)

Offline Indigo

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Community updates

on: August 10, 2018, 07:08:28 pm
So a lot has happened recently and I'd like to summarize here for the record:

We have disassociated the discord from the forums
Initially, the idea of having an official chat sounded great for re-engaging the community.  However, in practice, it became problematic for a variety of reasons.  I suspect it actually reduced participation in the forums.  The culture of the chat shifted drastically from the forums, so much so that it hosted a dedicated politics channel that often fostered bigotry and antisemitism.  To compound that issue there was a disagreement within the mod staff about how to handle it - if at all.  Moderating a chat would be a daunting responsibility due to the constantly flowing nature of the discussion, even if we didn't have disagreement within the mod staff.  It became clear that having an official chat was a failed experiment for pixelation.  It has become quite an active community in its own right, and I wish it the best of luck in the future, but it isn't what pixelation is.  If we can't moderate our chat in the same spirit as pixelation, then we shouldn't be hosting one.

We need to review our rules/guidelines on the forum
In light of the above, It's clear that sometimes leaving things to interpretation can lead to misalignment in the leadership.  Rallying behind a point as ambiguous as "Don't be an ass" can have different meanings to different people.  We need to review our rules and guidelines and develop new ones that are more proactive and specific to the behavior that fosters a good and inclusive learning environment for artists.

Helm and Ptoing have rejoined as Moderators (at least temporarily)
The concerns brought up by Helm and Ptoing were part of the reason these changes are happening.  While we are working through these new changes, I've brought them back on board to help shape the future of pixelation.  Having had such pivotal influence in the development of pixelation in the past, they are always welcome here.  Due to life and other responsibilities, their long-term participation might be limited, but they'll be helping for the time being.

New moderators
As you're already aware, resulting from these changes some moderators have decided to step down including Crow and Cyangmou.  Both have been extremely valuable assets to pixelation in the past and I am sad to see them go amidst this drama.  I was hoping to minimize the amount of drama the community was exposed to, but oh well.  I wish them the best.  To fill the gaps, Kiana and Elm have joined to bring fresh eyes to pixelation's moderating staff.

The long-term future of pixelation
Setting aside all of this, Pixelation has a much larger problem.  It's dying.  It has been for quite a while actually.  My efforts some time ago to revitalize the forum with a renewed focus on activities, board restructuring, and the new theme has largely failed.  Pixelation used to be one of the few major hubs of the pixel art world.  But the truth is that while pixelation has dwindled over time, the pixel art community in large has been exploding elsewhere.

There has been a lot of discussion about why this might be the case.  A big part of it, I believe, is the format. The format of an online forum such as this is antiquated for today's standards. Things have been trending towards social platforms providing more immediate feedback such as Tumblr and Twitter, which is why it's no coincidence the pixel art community has been thriving on these platforms.

We are currently exploring new software for the future of Pixelation, currently heavily investigating Mastodon.  Mastodon uses the format of Twitter but is entirely decentralized allowing us to run a dedicated instance that we can customize to our liking.

Switching to a new format would be a BIG change for pixelation, and might even fragment the community, but if we're thinking long-term, that might be the best move.  How to transition to the new format is a whole discussion itself; should we archive the forums?  Run them side-by-side? Just make a hard switch?  We need to think more about these things and I invite discussion about it.

Offline Wes

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Re: Community updates

Reply #1 on: August 10, 2018, 07:19:44 pm
Thoughts and clarifications from a discord regular who was involved in the "controversy":

Quote
The culture of the chat shifted drastically from the forums, so much so that it hosted a dedicated politics channel that often fostered bigotry and antisemitism.

The politics channel was created to keep political discussion out of the general channel. It's not so much that political conversation was "hosted"-- political topics kept arising out of natural conversation, and the decision was made by the moderating team to create a separate-- opt-in-- channel so that political talks wouldn't be front-and-center in general.

Bigotry was never fostered or encouraged. On the contrary, conflicting opinions were welcomed and the debates (while heated) were often enlightening because of it. The lack of bigotry was actually a highlight of the "politics" channel.

There were some anti-semitic jokes admittedly-- from some perspectives it's good-natured banter, from other perspectives not so. Understandable that this would cause discomfort.

Anyway, we can move beyond that now that a decision has been made.

Onto the bigger and more important things--

It's nice that we're open to a shift onto a more modern format. I just want to bring up that it would be a shame to lose the amazing knowledge and wonderful critiques that have been built up here over the years. Old critique threads are worth archiving as a wonderful read -- often more useful than many tutorials.

Whatever direction you choose to take, I would hope that an archive of this site's tremendous library of pixel critique and knowledge is a top priority.

« Last Edit: August 10, 2018, 07:24:30 pm by Wes »

Offline Kiana

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Re: Community updates

Reply #2 on: August 10, 2018, 07:38:33 pm
Although I was sorry to hear about the conflict, Iím glad that the community is focused on moving forward in a positive way. Itís unfortunate that some have decided to step down, but their contributions will be remembered.

Iím honored to have been asked to join the moderation team. I hope I can be an asset to the community!

It's nice that we're open to a shift onto a moder modern format. I just want to bring up that it would be a shame to lose the amazing knowledge and wonderful critiques that have been built up here over the years. Old critique threads are worth archiving as a wonderful read -- often more useful than many tutorials.

Whatever direction you choose to take, I would hope that an archive of this site's tremendous library of pixel critique and knowledge is a top priority.

Donít worry, the forums will at least be archived if Pixelation decides to move on from them. It would be a shame to lose so much centralized knowledge, after all. The idea of a wiki has also been proposed, which I think would be great, since we can have a place where information is easily accessible and able to be kept up to date.
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Offline Atnas

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Re: Community updates

Reply #3 on: August 10, 2018, 07:45:35 pm
It's nice that we're open to a shift onto a moder modern format. I just want to bring up that it would be a shame to lose the amazing knowledge and wonderful critiques that have been built up here over the years. Old critique threads are worth archiving as a wonderful read -- often more useful than many tutorials.

Whatever direction you choose to take, I would hope that an archive of this site's tremendous library of pixel critique and knowledge is a top priority.



Agreed!

Echoing Kiana because she ninja'd me:

I do think entering archival mode once the new implementation is running also requires the creation of a pixel art wiki that pulls information and examples from the forum and elsewhere. That will eventually become a much more efficient replacement for the utility of the forum. Wiki is a much better format for this and it's been discussed years ago in prior 'future of pixelation' threads iirc.

I think the utility will be way higher when you can wikiwalk any terms in an article and get the full breadth of information without direct user involvement leaving people stranded and hopeless. It also encourages people accross communities to add their knowledge without the barrier that precedes being a regular, etc. Terms could potentially be automatically picked up and linked in mastodon posts to lead to the wiki articles they correspond to.

Doing this will amplify the strengths of pixelation - knowledge and theory and documentation on the wiki, and engaging real time responses for art critique and discussion on the mastodon - which would feed back into the wiki as concepts are discussed, especially if terms link to the wiki every time they appear. Wikis also have discussion pages, which I believe is a lot more efficient than having nebulous discussions that branch in too many directions.

Ultimately I think pixelation as a website would serve the world better if it was a resource people from all communities felt they could access and benefit directly from. A local community will be present in any space, but it's my belief that the more temporal nature of mastodon will encourage people to feel they are entering conversations on the same level as everyone else.

Offline Elm

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Re: Community updates

Reply #4 on: August 10, 2018, 07:57:24 pm
Just adding to Kiana's notes. Pixelation is certainly a wealth of knowledge, and we have every intention of preserving that. In the meantime there will be an archiving of the forums when the time comes and hopefully we'll have the current forums and new community online at the same time for a while.

I believe that art should really be the focus of the community, but it should also be a welcoming environment for all skill levels and walks of life. Hopefully, the new direction of Pixelation will help bring back some of it's spark from earlier days.

Although not a vocal member of the forums, I have watched the community for a long time and will be around to help with have a smooth transition. If anyone has any concerns in general, or would like to raise any issues privately. You are more than welcome to pm me.

While there is certainly good natured banter among users, I do believe Pixelation should be an accessible platform for all ages and backgrounds

Offline eishiya

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Re: Community updates

Reply #5 on: August 10, 2018, 08:21:37 pm
I've never used the chat so I have no experience of or opinion on what happened there, but I'd like to chime in on switching formats:

As much as I love Mastodon and as great as it is for talking to people, I don't feel it's a good format for things like art critique and doing edits and tutorials, which are the main way I participate here. Even if the Pixelation instance has a larger character limit and includes pixel-perfect zooming on media and posts gifs as gifs instead of as videos, it would still be annoying to post critiques containing multiple images. Old-skool as they are, I feel forums are ideal for that. However, if the Pixelation Mastodon instance can be extended to support lengthy posts with embedded images (instead of just ~4 attachments that come with the post and aren't in the flow of text) akin to forum posts, then I'd be all for a switch.

As for archiving: Pixelation has too much great material to just lose. I'd love to see the forum remain in read-only mode as an archive. I don't think it'd be difficult for people to repost their recent content on Mastodon if they want to keep the threads active.
Wikis sound like a nice idea in theory, but in my experience, they quickly stagnate and rarely end up any more useful to readers than a search through a forum or browsing relevant tags on forums or Mastodon/Twitter.


I also agree with Elm that art should be the focus. Unrelated conversations don't belong here (or on a Pixelation Mastodon or Discord, for that matter) imho, but moderation is obviously an issue. I think the more "think before you post" nature of forums helps keep people on-topic better than the more immediate feel of Discord, which is why the communities likely turned out so different. Mastodon is somewhere in the middle, perhaps leaning more towards immediate/Discord-esque.

Offline Kiana

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Re: Community updates

Reply #6 on: August 10, 2018, 11:12:48 pm
If the Pixelation Mastodon instance can be extended to support lengthy posts with embedded images (instead of just ~4 attachments that come with the post and aren't in the flow of text) akin to forum posts, then I'd be all for a switch.
You can have posts without a text limit on Mastodon, which is great; thatís the main issue I have with trying to have insightful discussions on Twitter.

I definitely agree that the ability to embed images can significantly improve the effectiveness of a critique. Hopefully this is possible, but if not, there is also the option of hyperlinking images in-line or creating a chain of replies with attachments. (The nice thing is that Mastodon is open source so it may be possible for someone to enable image embeds if the option doesnít already exist - seems to be a relatively well-wanted feature.)


On another note, one thing I think might be worth pondering is what a good format for job listings is, since a big reason some people use Pixelation is the Jobs board; clients getting in contact with artists and vice versa. Is Mastodon a suitable platform for that (ex. #hiring and #portfolio tags)? Are forums or a format more like Gamasutraís job listings better?
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Offline API-Beast

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Re: Community updates

Reply #7 on: August 11, 2018, 04:43:31 am
From my perspective Pixelation has completely lost touch with reality. The Discord and before that the Slack kept the forum alive, without it Pixelation would have died long ago.

Pixelation has what, four active users? You don't need eight moderators to police four users. Especially ironic considering that the two latest mods have always been more active in the Discord than the Forum.

As for the reasoning for separating the two I can say with conviction that the Discord has always been inclusive and welcoming. There has been one person with a crude sense of humor but outside of that he has been very civil and even encouraged a welcoming attitude. This all could have been solved by a bit of persuasion, but instead it was turned into a ideological issue which just made everything worse and pissed of quite a few people. With all that drama and how poorly it was handled by the Pixelation moderation team I doubt many people will come back to it, even if you somehow manage to bring back some basic level of activity.

Overall I don't think Pixelation has any future, at least not on the path it is currently taking.

Offline Indigo

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Re: Community updates

Reply #8 on: August 11, 2018, 05:23:03 am
Thanks for your optimism beast ;)

Things definitely could have been handled better, and Iím sorry about that.  Your not wrong that pixelation was and is on life support.  Thatís kind of my whole point in this topic.  The discord is quite a thriving community and I think thatís great!  But it definitely wasnít helping the forums.  As you say, pixelation has ďlike four active membersĒ - while an exaggeration, isnít too far from the truth.  I am under no delusion that pixelationís trajectory isnít heading south which is why I think a hard reset might be best in the long term.  For some, the discord might fill that role.  Cool.

Offline Atnas

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Re: Community updates

Reply #9 on: August 11, 2018, 05:35:38 am
From my perspective Pixelation has completely lost touch with reality. The Discord and before that the Slack kept the forum alive, without it Pixelation would have died long ago.

I think the slack killed Pixelation by siphoning off the activity and losing the very precious momentum of good will and thoughtful time spent giving back to the community. I remember waking up some.... Most mornings excited to check what had been said in a thread discussing theories and such that I could learn from immediately and continue the discussion or apply to artwork. In the real time chats it felt like a stream of constant negativity and posturing where nothing was gained. Community? Sure! But Pixelation should always put learning above having a comfy place to air one's laundry.

Most of the effort units of our members went into the slack/discord community and slowly became it's own thing. It was a mistake, but it gives the opportunity to try something new - the momentum has stopped, and now we can try a different design. This is something indigo had been wanting to do for years, now we have the chance. If it fails like you think, that's fine too! We will try something new.

Really, after years of people almost exclusively using real time chats and not caring for the forum, it's odd that suddenly the name and idea of Pixelation means something only when it's lost to them. Its just a name, the discord community is untouched.

All that's changed is we don't have the discord to pretend like Pixelation isn't already nearly without a pulse.

All this to say, I'm glad you care so much about Pixelation to be upset, Beast, but I hope that you can see how the discord community wasn't Pixelation. If people leave because they weren't really interested in Pixelation, but rather the Discord community, that should be seen as a good thing! I hope everyone is where they are most happy.

As for the number and appointment of mods, it's about developing Pixelation in the best direction we can. We needed new perspectives, and we needed old ones. What was going on was clearly not working. The manpower right now is working at what form Pixelation will take in the future, it is of course going to take a lot of effort, so we need many hands with many skills.