AuthorTopic: Community updates  (Read 2796 times)

Offline Helm

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Re: Community updates

Reply #20 on: August 12, 2018, 05:10:12 pm
re: Pixelation is Dead, attracting new members, being popular

More technically savvy people than me will synthesize what we'll come up with and figure out the best way to present Pixelation in this glorious web 2.0 reality. Your contributions are very necessary and welcome and thank you for posting in this thread with your thoughts, keep doing that!

However I wanted to communicate a spirit-of-the-thing related point of view that plays into the future of the platform in a significant way, and also in this way to touch on some criticism on the current state of affairs. I post this now because no discussion of how to be popular again will be solid without considering what it is we would endeavor to make popular again, exactly.

The core function of Pixelation as a community is that it brings artists of less experience or skill in contact with those with more experience and skill in order to exchange ideas and help each other. It's not to have a hex collab or secret santa. Activities certainly foster a community, but if it's indeed true that only 4 people care about the core function of Pixelation at this point, it's not going to be assuaged with bells and whistles of any kind.

And if it's only 4 people on the boards in the end, that's fine, as long as those 4 people are getting help with their pixel art.

Pixelation has always struggled with growth, because it's an art forum. We don't advertise, we don't make money, we don't have a 5 year plan or anything like that, we are not marketing gurus or very business-minded. Unchecked expansion and growth aren't really the point. Pixelation's prime concern is to attract the people that might benefit from it, not become bigger and bigger every year at all costs.

On that front, I want to address what can be done to help Pixelation become available to those that might need it, and how you can help, if you care and still have love in your heart for Pixelation.

1. Once we're up and running again and have got a handle on our tech, and only then, it'll be the time for everyone of you that has ever gotten better at pixel art here that's still reading this and cares, to put out the word on twitter or other social media that Pix is  back and has refocused on the educational aspect of pixel art. Not just 'as it was before' but better.

2. That means, yes, this is going to be a 'boring place', because places for learning are boring if you're not looking to learn in them. This isn't an entertainment site, and although knowledge and socialization of a craft are very exciting to me, if you do not come in Pix in good faith (that is, to learn or help others learn) then there's not many shits and giggles to find here. This is by design, and that design is only going to be streamlined and sharpened further in the future.

Whatever Pixelation loses in terms of internet-lulz-related-edge it will gain by being a safe and respectful environment for artists to grow in. That's our core benefit and we plan to redraft (and drastically condense) our ruleset soon to promote this atmosphere even further without unwarranted byproducts of elitist gatekeeping and 'either do the hard work or get out, scrub' unspoken assumptions we may have fostered in the past. Hindsight is 20/20 on that front.

3. Once we're up and running and the call has been put out by anyone and everyone that cares, I sincerely implore you (and this won't be the last time) to put in even 5-10 minutes a week picking up someone's thread with their pixel art and helping them. I will be doing this as well, I am 34 years old and swamped with work constantly, but I'll put in the effort. I'll even trade you critique-for-critique if that helps. Even if it's just 5-10 people at first, as long as we help each other, we keep things not just civil but proactively kind-hearted and we persist, the word will go out that we're back in business and serious about both helping beginners of all backgrounds, and about providing a safe environment for them to learn in. Whatever growth we can achieve by cleaning our old forum tech etc. will only become substantial if we can keep on with this mission statement.




As this conversation evolves (both internally and public-facing) I'll go into more detail about how to clarify and future-proof our community culture (from ruleset to recommended critique style) so that something like what just happened won't happen again. This is a large discussion in itself and I've got a lot of thoughts I want to bounce off of you.

If anyone has any questions or thoughts concerning any of the above, I'm all ears and I'll do my best to reply. Pixelation, as always, works best when all of us put our heads together and come up with a gameplan.

Online eishiya

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Re: Community updates

Reply #21 on: August 12, 2018, 07:23:26 pm
Helm, reading your post was very heartening, as that's the direction I've been hoping Pixelation would go. I'm here to learn, and not participating in all the other activities has left me feeling like I've been using the site wrong, even though learning's supposed to be the point of the site.

Also, for what it's worth, I don't think it's forums in themselves that are off-putting to new users, I think it's just the inconvenience of registering a new account that requires an email address and confirmation emails in a world where almost everything has Twitter/Google login options, and of inconvenient image uploads when the big boys let you copy+paste images right into your posts and turn image URLs into embeds automagically. Discourse forum seem to be doing just fine, and I think it's the more convenient UI that makes the difference (but augh, I hate the way categories are presented on that).

Offline Helm

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Re: Community updates

Reply #22 on: August 12, 2018, 08:05:03 pm
eishiya, thanks.

I don't think forums are bad for the critique process, in a certain way they're quite perfect, but I have a few reservations that mean it might be worth going the full step to a modernized setup.

1. As you say, the hurdle of registration on a new board is a HUGE way to keep people off of it. In the past we would have said in a less enlightened way "if they don't want to take 5 minutes to register, then how serious are they about learning?" and leave it there. However this is a new time on the internet and you log into everything with twitter etc. Also back in the day, forums were de rigeur for stuff like art critique. But today is today and we should lower the price of admission to as little as possible.

2. I want threads to lead with art. This is a board about art, and if you could look at what everyone's posted without having to click through a text header first, it's going to facilitate people helping other people with their artwork in an intuitive way. If I can scroll through a bunch of images, ideas might immediately spark in my brain about how to help them. Then I can click through and write under the art. We couldn't easily do this back in the day, but it seems that's the direction Mastodon for example would help with.

3. I just took a stroll through active pixel art threads and I was surprised and happy to find that nearly every one of them has at least one post with worthwhile critique by our pixel warriors. This gives me hope that the spirit of the thing is intact, we just need to help shape a better outlet for it.

Also, eishiya, in that exact stroll through the forums I noticed your good work helping others as well. Thank you.

Offline 32

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Re: Community updates

Reply #23 on: August 13, 2018, 01:27:42 am
I'm very glad to hear the discussion in here. I'm not sure what happened in the chats recently, I was somewhat active on slack early on but I felt that it was not pixelation. It was just a way to chat with other community members, which I think we have plenty of options for. That doesn't need to be pixelation or tied directly to it.

I don't have many thoughts about a new format, my main concern from the chat format and twitter is losing self contained threads. Hopefully mastadon is better for that than twitter but I think the beauty of the forum is to have a special self contained discussion that's just about your piece of art and people helping you with it. I think that is a powerful thing that makes people want to participate in this community.

I really appreciated the art and critique focussed nature of the forum, I never needed to know anyone personally in order to feel welcome enough to ask for help. Whereas I would feel less comfortable in a more socially focussed environment. I really feel that divorcing pixelation from the idea of any kind of general chat is important. We have twitter and discord for that now. I also felt that the relaxing of the no one liners rule was eating away a bit at the community, maybe that's just me though.

Like most of us I've been swamped with work and life of late so it's been difficult to find time for the posting on the forum but I'm going to do my best to follow Helm's lead on that and get involved again. I think in addition to helping new users maybe the more experienced artists should commit to posting personal work here for critique too. I know most of us probably feel that asking for critique would slow us down these days (thanks very much to learning how to have a critical eye from pixelation!) but one of the big draws for me was seeing that amazing artwork, the process of how it was created, and how being critical is valuable for artists at every level.

I'd also just like to echo Helm in saying I appreciate eishiya's continued commitment to providing quality critiques :-*

Offline Rydin

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Re: Community updates

Reply #24 on: August 13, 2018, 03:48:10 am
Less is more.
Don't overthink.
Post like you pixel.
Nothing superfluous.
 :crazy:
Man cannot remake himself without suffering for he is both the marble and the sculptor.

Offline Atnas

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Re: Community updates

Reply #25 on: August 13, 2018, 04:48:38 am
Joining Helm in the walks around the forum :) I'm going to make time on my schedule as often as I can to step through and offer help. I remember the summers I would just hit refresh every 10 minutes while working on art of my own very fondly.

Going forward, regardless of format, we are trying to cultivate the best learning environment possible. This means a lot of learning on our parts about the best ways to teach, too.

Much of the past decade on this board, I spent trying to gain attention by posting flashy edits with a sword under my name. Even if unaware, I wanted to be cool! But being cool - How many of us have bitterly uttered that newbies leave after a great edit/critique?

Since so many of us have felt this, so I want to address it:

Imagine that real person who is definitely not just going to forget their art they worked hours and hours on and then had the courage to post.. Imagine why they leave after receiving help that goes overboard and mostly serves the critiquer in making an extreme edit or posting things they need years to understand. I want to think about this every time I post from now on. We don't need a lot of people, but we won't ensure that it's only the thick skinned. We must find ways to be helpful without alienating people eager to learn from us. Because thick skin has nothing to do with learning. There are plenty of determined people who don't have thick skin - and a way around this is entering a dialogue with people and asking what they are going for.

It would appear that even when things were good, they were not so great for everyone, just the few that stuck around. I would say 'forged in the fires of mount pixelation' when people asked me how I got good. We had a rep for being very unforgiving.

-

32, I agree with you that the new format ought to do what serves the intent the best - those concerns are shared. I also really look back favorably on how I only knew the other artists through their work and a few other blips. I'm very glad you're going to be more active though, I feel like once momentum gets going, and we also start posting our own work, the true boon of this great community will come through.

Ultimately we are not just going to flip a switch and have a new format and have everything be solved. We have to start nurturing what we want out of our future now, and the harvest will come.

Offline pistachio

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Re: Community updates

Reply #26 on: August 13, 2018, 08:19:06 am
Ultimately we are not just going to flip a switch and have a new format and have everything be solved. We have to start nurturing what we want out of our future now, and the harvest will come.

Right here, this is exactly what shook up the communities I mentioned. Change from the top of Mount Olympus, without consideration of the needs of users, but instead a revolutionary new brand for outreach. It could and did go wrong those times.
Obviously whatever flavor of jargon you want to use, of course this is something to consider. Good management basically. But Pix for me is/was about being powered by a niche community, a collab in itself, so that's what comes first (so to speak: bros before hos ;) )

So amen brother. Whatever we choose should build on slow in-depth critique and the community who gives it. Do what the forum does, and better, and sustain that. Twitter is Twitter, open source or not. If you want to swing to Twitter, more power to you, but weigh what you gain and lose.

Expect some thoughts on user interface coming from me and from others hopefully.*

*thoughts on becoming the tiny mutant pixel-obsessed Polycount hopefully not yet.
« Last Edit: August 13, 2018, 08:39:50 am by pistachio »
OpenGameArt | TIGSource | Reddit coming soon. | Polycount

Offline Dex

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Re: Community updates

Reply #27 on: August 14, 2018, 07:39:00 pm
So first off, I absolutely agree with everything that Jeremy said. Pixelation, to me, has always been a place where I have come to see the valuable feedback provided by others knowledgeable about art-- not just pixel art, mind you-- and somewhere that I've been inspired. Seeing the community changed into some sort of Twitter-esque format would not be in the spirit of what the forum seems to have always been about, at least in my opinion.

I moderated and admin-ed a lot of decently high profile websites in the "renaissance" of forums, when boards thrived, and yes, that era has pretty much come to a staggering halt. I mean, there are certainly tons of forums out there that still thrive, and see immense amounts of visitors/posters every day, like ResetEra, TIGS, various music forums, etc. What keeps those members coming back? I'm not quite sure. Is it the content? Continuous releases of new things to discuss? For me, forums offer a way to discuss things that no other media outlet really allow for-- Twitter, as mentioned by Jeremy, is a website where posts get lost after even a day. Now, don't get me wrong-- I love the Twitter pixel art community. I have received amazing feedback and gained a wonderful, positive following there. It is truly a thriving place. But what I do not usually receive on Twitter is constructive, well-thought-out criticism or insight that helps me view my pieces from a different angle, or to catch a mistake that my eye my glaze over.

In its heyday, and when I was just starting out as a pixel artist, Pixelation was the place that I would always peruse the threads of experienced artists that would be working their piece out-- I remember watching closely the threads of people like big brother, Helm, Indigo, etc. and seeing the wonderful feedback they would get from everyone-- experienced artists and newer artists alike. Some of the threads that have been archived for their wonderful knowledge are threads many of us experienced in real-time, and probably recall being an exciting, inspiring piece of pixel art history. As I improved, I began posting here as well, but as you can see by my post-count and activity, it has certainly fallen off.

Continuing on that thought, I think that is somewhere that Pixelation has declined-- more experienced pixel artists posting their work-in-progress pieces. When I browse through the Pixel Art board now, it is mostly newer pixel artists, and while that is an amazing thing, having so many new people who are seeking out pixel art as a medium coming to receive insight and criticism on how to improve their work, I feel as though those of us who have been working with the medium for quite some time now have fallen off in terms of posting work, seeking insight, etc. I am quite guilty of this-- I have several pieces that I'm working on currently, and I've only really posted them around Twitter, Discord, etc... I'm sure many of you are the same in that regard! I had my own set of pixel art "heroes" here growing up, and I feel like the same might not be able to be said for newer artists who browse today.

I also would not want to see the activities that have brought such joy and artistic achievement changed to an entirely new format/ Secret Santa is one of the highlights of my year, usually. I love waking up and seeing everyone's gifts, and seeing the appreciation from whoever has received mine. If

Another user brought up the issue of registration, given the newer methodologies of registering for websites through other social media outlets. Newer forum softwares DO allow for those sort of things. Flarum, NodeBB, Xenforo, Discourse, etc. all have upgraded and up-to-date features. These setups would allow for notifications (check when one of your favorite artists posted a thread), gallery implementation (a banner or something that would scroll through recent WIPs, perhaps?), and other features that I think would allow for more community feedback and discussion that would thrive. I agree that an upgrade to the current system is absolutely necessary, no matter what direction the community decides to go with.

If any help is needed by the board/staff, I'd be more than willing to help out. I've always really loved this community.

Offline Retronator

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Re: Community updates

Reply #28 on: August 15, 2018, 09:08:19 pm
The conclusions so far that match my views:
  • Pixelation is a place where you come to improve your pixel art. A community of practice.
  • Forums have a desirable way to facilitate discussion that aligns with this focus.
  • The format of a forum in itself is not the problem, as seen by thriving examples such as TIGS.
  • Points of friction such as registering and uploading images are something to address.
  • The unforgiving/elitist tone of critique is what drove some people off the site (and could be changed).
To this I would add a few points of my own:
  • Changing of the format to be more like Twitter removes what makes Pixelation unique and relevant. If I want Twitter, I just go to Twitter. The main issue with forums for me is that you have to go outside the social networks you frequent. This wasn't a problem in the past, because forums were the main social networks. The reality of today is different, but just changing the format into another form of an independent site doesn't alleviate this. What would help is for Pixelation to have a social media presence.
  • The idea that Pixelation forums are dead is to some extent distorted if you use Slack/Discord. I wasn't active there so this all comes as a surprise to me. But I appreciate that it sparked the desire to actively work on Pixelation as a platform. I'd like to see this make the forum experience better (or at least as useful as in the old days) and reach new people that can benefit from a place like this.
  • Because internet landscape changed, there's no need for Pixelation to cater to 'hanging out' of its members (so they can discuss politics or whatever unrelated to pixel art between each other). We (can) do that on Twitter where most of us (can) follow each other anyway.
With all this said, if/when you go for a content/marketing push as Helm suggested, you can count on me to provide help to beginners in areas I feel competent, as well as help spread the news on social media.

Offline Vinik

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Re: Community updates

Reply #29 on: August 16, 2018, 02:46:53 am
Ok, here goes my two cents.

I am on the other end of the rope here, I am the beginner trying to learn. I humbly hope my perspective helps somehow. I've found pixelation by tracking the source of absolutely stunning pixel art that looked like cut from another stuff entirely if compared to a lot of recent indie gaming pixel art, things that were true to old-school game art that I loved, and then surpassed it. If memory serves me I think it was mostly arne's, bettleking's, and cyangmou's art, and it all lead to here, and then I noticed there were threads here where these already great artists were asking for help on their own work and still learning, which made immediately interested. But what I saying is, pixelation have a lot of outstanding material that is capable to grab people's attention,if only they get to see it. Interested people will dig things up, but perhaps I might have opened the wrong image search result on google that lead me to a specific artist's portfolio instead of pixelation. This was the perfect place for what I wanted to learn, but I found it by mere chance.

As for the environment, I've had some education in traditional media in my teens, and even then I quickly learned how toxic art communities can be, as artists are emotional people with some need of attention by definition, so I entered here kinda knowing where to step. I lurked the critique forums for a while before mustering courage to post anything, and I was greeted only with fair and helpful critique by mystery meat, eishiya and curly, but I felt the best when I watched people at their very lost first steps receiving the exact same amount of care and attention.

That was when i felt this place was special, and that made me stay. Teaching isn't easy, teaching people that might simply disappear by the next post, and for free, well, that could only be explained by the fact that these people where getting satisfaction from helping, and had a really strong sense of community. I have occasionally seen people saying that pixelation gave harsh critique that was off putting for beginners, but to my perception these days were already gone when i joined. I am in no position to teach pixel art, but the environment is so welcoming that I have also breached that barrier and have provided my honest opinion on other people's art whenever I felt i could help, and I felt to be well received. Bottom line, I dont think the environment is an issue here, at least regarding the critique section, which you guys seem to be agreeing to be the main focus.

On presentation and usability, the forum feels well designed, the auto scaling is something I miss whenever I am in another site/forum, but I couldn't help thinking that a more "information jumping on your face" thing would be more practical, and I have always compared to some very close, but still different forum formats, namely: imageboards, and reddit. Image boards start with images, you dont have to guess what you are going to critique by some cryptic title, specially if you are in hurry checking it the midst of a lot of work, which is in line with helm's remark above. As for reddit, it gives you updates on unread posts much more directly and noticeably than the very small counter in the upper right corner here, while it automatically enables following threads where you have posted. Art related subreddits also have images  directly on the header of each post. Pixelation would gain a lot by being more visual. As for automatic log-in options, I fear it could make it easier for spam to creep in, but who knows.

I sincerely hope the best for this place, and I am up contribute in any way that i can.