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      Help us with our donation goal for a new Chat upgrade!   04/17/2017

      Your donations not only help keep the site up and running, but also allows us to expand some functionality and upgrade other features of the site periodically to stay current! We're looking for some community support to help us get a new Chat system (as you know our old Chat is no longer supported by IP.Board). A new system promises to give us many more options and all for fairly little cost, relatively speaking. Please help us reach our April goal so we can keep bringing you site improvements as well!  Donate and Get a Gift or Donate Any Amount Thanks so much! - Dirktator & The Admins
Dirktator

The future of "Chat"...

The future of Chat...   97 members have voted

This poll is closed for new votes
  1. 1. Should we continue to have a "Chat" feature?

    • Yes
      45
    • No
      15
    • Indifferent
      29

Please sign in or register to vote in this poll.

58 posts in this topic

Registration is only really required if you want to use the desktop application though.

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10 hours ago, Bipin said:

The chat feature is the essence of this website. It'd just be another SC4D without it. That's not to say there's anything wrong with SC4D, but rather, there is nothing different (should chat be removed). Why go here when you can just as easily go there? You've both got file exchanges. You both have forums. You both have your resident BAT teams (though arguably with the more prolific ones like BSC reside on SC4D). So what incentive is there to come here?

I had to chuckle at this, because in my (almost) 9 years as an SC4D admin, we've had a few cases where people lobbied us to add a chat feature, mostly in the early years of the site.  We turned them down for a number of reasons, partly due to technical/cost fronts (Discord didn't exist in the late-00s), but mainly with the intent of staying true to our particular niche within the community.  It's the same reason we have very little in the way of off-topic threads, why we didn't go full-in on CXL, SC2013, or C:S coverage, and why we have a quality control system on our exchange.  I think that's a major reason why, once we got past the first couple contentious years (2007-2008), intersite relations between ST and SC4D became quite cordial--just about everyone recognized that the two sites each filled valuable needs in the community, and balanced one another out.

I used to hang out quite frequently in ST Chat, mostly from 2009-2012--I've had both good SC4-related discussions and some good off-topic ones in there.  I'm rarely in there nowadays--I'm not even sure that I've seen it in its current incarnation--and I have noticed it has been a lot quieter in the past year or so.  All that said, it's an institution, and (at least used to be) one of the real destinations at ST.  I'd be sad to see it go. 

I've not used Discord before, but given its popularity on many fronts, and the fact that it's free, I'd concur with the assessments here that it would be worth a try at the very least.

-Tarkus

 

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1 hour ago, Jolteon said:

Registration is only really required if you want to use the desktop application though.

That could very likely deter the brand new member who might otherwise drop in to chat with questions. When someone I don't recognize drops in now, I click to go to their profile and it's not uncommon to see someone who joined ST a few minutes or a few hours prior. I know in my early days I wouldn't have popped into chat if it required another registration. Ofc, that's prolly just me not liking to have multiple places to log in. For me the most fun part of chat is when the discussion is about SC4 and/or helping someone find answers they are seeking.

Does Discord integrate the current options of our chat? Most specifically the direct linky to someone's profile here on ST.

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Just now, CorinaMarie said:

Does Discord integrate the current options of our chat? Most specifically the direct linky to someone's profile here on ST.

It has most of the same features as our current chat (and even some we don't currently have), but not the direct link to someone's profile.

Quote

That could very likely deter the brand new member who might otherwise drop in to chat with questions. When someone I don't recognize drops in now, I click to go to their profile and it's not uncommon to see someone who joined ST a few minutes or a few hours prior. I know in my early days I wouldn't have popped into chat if it required another registration.

I might be completely misunderstanding you right now, but:
You can use the browser app just fine without registration, it's only required if you want to download and use the completely optional desktop app.

Compdude787 likes this

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1 minute ago, Jolteon said:

You can use the browser app just fine without registration, it's only required if you want to download and use the completely optional desktop app.

Ah. Then it was my misunderstanding. As long as there is a way into chat from a desktop comp (apparently via one's browser) then that solves that issue. I'm totally unfamiliar with Discord so I didn't realize there was a difference when you said desktop app.

 

4 minutes ago, Jolteon said:

... not the direct link to someone's profile.

I'd really miss that. Many times that trip to their profile is useful. Like I can see which game(s) they play (if they filled out that part when setting up the account) and I can see what they are currently viewing on the site. (That's available to everyone, btw, not just us Mods.)

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1 minute ago, CorinaMarie said:

I'd really miss that. Many times that trip to their profile is useful. Like I can see which game(s) they play (if they filled out that part when setting up the account) and I can see what they are currently viewing on the site. (That's available to everyone, btw, not just us Mods.)

Yeah, that is a feature I'd miss too.

Maybe we could ask the Discord devs to add Simtropolis integration? *:lol:

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At this stage, we'd be more in favour of a full direct integration with the board software (which the current chat provides). This would streamline the functionality, and sync with user accounts here at ST. For example, allowing auto logins, usernames, avatars and links to profiles. Also from a maintenance perspective, we'd also have finer control over a locally installed setup for any custom changes, etc. Allowing it to be specifically tailored for the uses in our community. That's the plan anyway.

Even though Discord sounds like a fairly robust platform and is free, we don't believe it would provide these benefits.

Cork, CorinaMarie, _Michael and 2 others like this

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I know it's the cool kids program, but why not Discord? I mean, you can run it "anonymously" on your browser, so no, you don't HAVE to make an account, as far as I know?

I would favour something on-site, obviously, but I think I'd actually be a lot more active there if it was on Discord than on-site. But it's only my opinion.

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I've never used the chat feature and have always preferred having forums, so I'm a little bit indifferent on the chat. I like all my conversations to be logged, its just an archiving thing I want for some reason. I do know other people do like the chat. I've thought about going in there but never got around to it. 

Silur likes this

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When i saw this,i got a bit sad :( .Whenever i'm online,i always pop in the chat,even if zero people are there,patiently waiting for someone to chat with.Some of my best memories of the site connect to this feature,and i have to agree with @Bipin ,i came here because of the chat.I met a lot of people on it including @Thin White Duke and @CorinaMarie

It would be sad to see it go,but i'm up for a discord server continuing it(or even better would be another chat service)

CorinaMarie, _marsh_ and Bipin like this

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I voted yes. 

My initial thoughts were to drop it when I thought about costs. 

Although it has been a long time since I have visited the chat, I do remember the heydays when I was there for many hours. We helped a lot of people and learned things ourselves. I was there in those help desk days when we chatted about modding the game, which I enjoyed.

Some people need different help than a sticky thread can provide. Live chat allows things like "ok, open the reader", "See this?". 

Another important thing about chat is expanded methods to help newcomers can only help our beloved community, which as we all know is shrinking.

It's nice to hear some of the enthusiasm about perhaps making something even better than we have now.

When it's done right, the chat feature does have value. 

Just my 2 cents,

tiger

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To go with the Discord vs other services discussion, it might be worthwhile for me to note that ModTheSims uses Discord for their live chat. I've personally never used it, but it may be possible to learn from another modding community that already has switched to Discord.

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12 hours ago, Linoa06 said:

I know it's the cool kids program, but why not Discord? I mean, you can run it "anonymously" on your browser, so no, you don't HAVE to make an account, as far as I know?

Part of the concern from a moderating perspective is that first the chat is a moderated part of the site, which means that any implementation of chat requires the mods to also have an account and moderator access.

I know discord has logs; at the moment the ones available to us through full site integration are searchable and provide a number of other moderation options.

Discord also being a separate service, not only would a separate "account" also be necessary for some users (even if browser access is "anonymous," Simtropolis is not an "anonymous" community--everyone has a handle that they use), but it would introduce problems in moderation if abuses were to occur, making tracking specific problems and/or offenders much more difficult, even with IP logging. It's also, despite being free, another thing to manage that is distinct from the current website. Although an integrated chat service would be a separate feature, it would still be able to be managed through the existing software.

Personally I also find discord a bit clunky to use. It's great for what it does, but I don't think it would work very well for Simtropolis' needs.

As Nonny used to say, the pay for staff doubles every year. But the workload also increases. Anything to keep that to a minimum is a plus.

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Maybe I'm not he right person to replay at this post due to my lurker habit and my low social attitude (and an really bad english..) but i think the chat is a distinctive sign of a community.  The people really intersted in the growth of the community with a good english and a good social attitude likes the chat and so if the cost is not over the 5% of the global maintenance cost i think the chat is a good and useful option.

CorinaMarie and Cyclone Boom like this

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Before this is locked, I personally would like to throw out a special thanks to Dirk for inviting the community to discuss these type topics.

We all love the site....the thought of it's over is SCARY.

I wish for the future success of our community. We are all in this. 

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With the poll now closed, from the result:

83% of people would not be against Chat remaining a part of Simtropolis, and over half the voters would specifically welcome it. *:read:

This seems fairly conclusive proof that there's strong support for Chat to continue.


Thanks to each and every person for sharing your thoughts and ideas here. We very much appreciate all the input. *:8)

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Is this a general shutdown of IP boards chat  for every  site that uses IP board or just us?

 

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I'm in full support of a Discord server.  Insanely easy to set up and maintain, features by the truckload, and strong support from the company behind it.

I remember when I researching Invision Power stuff a while back I was miffed when I saw that the chat feature had to go through IPS' servers - no exceptions -, which is just poppycock.

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If the poll was still open I'd say yes. I've been in chat on and off for the 8 years I've been here, used and still use it more often than the forums. Despite how slow it is now compared to the past we still get users. Maybe it might be nice to see some sort of promotion of the chatroom; bring in some new faces rather than just getting rid of it. I am unsure the extent of this sites funding problems but if a cheaper chat even with less features if that would allow us to keep it up that would be okay. I have to say I don't come onto this site too often anymore but I still enjoy talking to the friends I made that still come into chat over the years, and I enjoy using STchat over other alternatives. Talking on the forums is a lot more impersonal than an actual conversation in chat. Getting help for a new member in chat is a lot quicker than having them wait for responses on the forums. 

Maybe my view is simply sentimental but I would rather not see chat go, as that will probably be the day I stop coming here all together. I can understand putting the well-being of the entire site above the few of us that still use chat. However a free option such as discord, with the consequence of less integration with the site, would be perfectly acceptable. Us chat users will be happy we still have something, and everyone will be happy with the site spending less money on something few people use rather paying for something just so we have features. I know the poll's closed but I still wanted my voice out here on the matter. And thanks for asking the community before making a big decision like this.

Tarkus, RandyE, CorinaMarie and 5 others like this

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Nice post marsh 

That is worth a reply vs like button. 

I agree with you totally, that is very well written.

We should be promoting chat versus killing it. This is great way to strengthen our community by not only having some live communication for help handling the steep curve to get going, but us as "friends" can learn about each other as a person.

When I was I was participating in chat during the peak times....I learned a lot from awesome modders like marsh who joined those chat rooms and taught those who wanted to learn. The participants were stoked to try new things once they had a hand.

Isn't that the future of us? We need new people to come to our hobby. Any angle to promote that must have value. 

I feel pretty confident that the staff has some reasonable ideas. So I feel good about the chat not being killed. It is preferable to keep it on site...it's the best option 

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My opinion:   I have not used chat and can not speak to its functionality or quality so my thoughts of chat are that of it as a function of the community. I tend to pop in to the site somewhat often sometimes a couple of times a day, I might not stay long but one thing I have noticed is very few people use the chat function, hardly ever see 10 people using it at a time. That is a really low percentage of members, however we have a low percentage of members that visit in a day, maybe 30 to 40 at one time, based on changing members probably somewhere around 150 a day, we probably see 10% of the "daily" members use the chat. Stats based on what the site shows me and my memory, the numbers might be slightly different but I don't think too far off. This points to it being a little used function and from a purely stats perspective it seems to be an expensive function for little use. However I also think there are some things that stats will not show, and the gains can not be properly calculated. Members that have used the chat have made great points of the benefits that may not be easily calculated. There is information being shared to benefit fellow members, the whole point of the site in the first place, there are friendships that have developed and with those friendships the expansion of knowledge of the game(s) that may and has spread to the rest of the site through added files, techniques, and bug fixes, the spark of the ideas which may develop in chat, something that is hard to give a statistical value. For that reason I am in favor of maintaining the option of a tool that benefits community development. The bonding that I'm sure happens in chat is a great benefit to the site as this will lead to more interest in making an effort for the community, a building and strengthening of the community. We already have a great example of this in CorinaMarie, she only joined the site recently but her commitment and interest in the site grew rapidly and now we have a knowledgeable and caring member that has given a lot back to the community and has also become a moderator. This is basically a matter of Research & Development, for most companies R&D is expensive but the potential benefits are worth it.

  I am in favor of maintaining some sort of chat function, whichever program works best for our community. We should maintain a community tool that has the potential to grow and develop our community, that has the ability to strengthen our community by developing a core of members that can drive and extend the community's future. Using SC4 as an example, we are at a time where we have found many different ways through modding borders, but have slowly started butting up against them as they have grown taller, it is getting harder for a single person to do I would think, what's needed are the shoulders of others to stand on to be able to peak over the border.  In saying this I think we should also take the opportunity to try and expand the chat in order to draw in more members. Reasons for someone like me that has not entered chat before to actually give it a try. I don't know what that might be but ideas like multiple chat rooms to allow for specific subjects, we might not have enough chatters for that for now but we don't want to eliminate the option for the future, or maybe it's possible to be in the main chat room and have a second chat window open on the side to keep track of the convo in another room, maybe we can have on the site's home page a small section to log in to chat that maybe shows an image (or you can hover it like posts in threads) of the last 3 replies in chat so you can get an idea of the subject of the convo, that can draw people into the chat room.     

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As someone who has been here from 2009, I have pretty wide views as to how things have been going here. I've met a lot of people here and sort-to-speak "grew up" with chat-goers from here and have made a lot of self-expansion from those times. Simtropolis has been and would be my only social interaction website aside from some channels on Discord, primarily because I only seek out communities that aren't flooded with modern-day issues. I am someone who has only used chat as  a  major component of being here in ST. I would say that about 80% of the time I've spent here has been through the chat, the other 20% spent on the STEX or such, I've rarely used the forums because it wasn't as satisfying for interaction.

That's without saying the chat system has had several interesting problems over time. The problems being social, integration, and confusion. The peak of chat's function I would say would be between 2010 - 2011 (the so-called golden age of SC4), back then a lot of things were not so broken and people were not as confused as to what ST's function was. As time passed, 2012 - 2013 brought some demise. Things slowed down and people got angry for justifiable reasons and left. Things got complicated over time and people just hold a grudge from other members. I would admit I had strong grudges against some members from the time period, but I would not dwell on this.

Primarily I would say that the reason things have slowed down for ST has not really been due to the shift towards CSL, I would say instead that it is its lack for innovating towards keeping those members that have been around ST for a while. If ST were to continue to be a thing, changes should be done that would expand on the scene for CSL, whether this be by keeping a chat or streamlining the mod-producing process or by making an Omnibus for CSL, I am just throwing that out there. Donations are what is keeping ST afloat on these times.

Floating down the conversation of donations, I would also like to point out that several major modders, city journalists, and groups have shown great discontent against certain practices that are done here in ST. This comes from all parts of ST (Chat, City Journaling, forums, etc.) with complaints against several moderators of which many believe nothing has been done to mitigate this. I do not want to bring a flame war on the subject, but really this should be a matter of concern, especially when ST depends on the few content makers and people who are active at present. Think ST like a US mall, with content makers as Macy's, JCPenny's, etc. When the major content makers shut down, the possibilities for maintaining ST dwindle, and it's not like we get content maker by the batches as we used to. SC4 is a game that is nearly 15 years old with a steep learning process for modding, people who want to get into it have to be comfortable and appreciated in dedicating time and effort towards it. BATforMax is nearing its service expiration date and someone has to code that as well.

With that out of the way I would end this with a closure. Think beyond the chat room, think what's coming and what should really be for the best in the long run.

If the idea is to slowly phase ST out of existence, well, I'd argue we're doing that as evidenced by some of the things we've been doing so far. 

TLDR: In a short recap, I do want to maintain a sort of chat system here.

nos.17, _marsh_, RandyE and 4 others like this

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8 hours ago, Tarkus said:

it's largely cut independent exchanges like the STEX out of the loop.  The C:S players who are around ST are mostly people who were already here for SC4, SC2013, and/or CXL, who have loyalties to this site.  Unfortunately, the majority of the "new" C:S players out there don't know and don't care that ST exists, because they can get everything they need off Steam.

The STEX has less functionality than the workshop for sure, and we can't really do much about that, but modders have been submitting files on the STEX by linking to their workshop file. It works well enough,  but further integration is beyond our control.

I think recently we've had a good increase of use in our C:S forums. I see where we are now with C:S is a similar analogue to where we were in 2003-4 with the EA exchange. We fill the same demand with C:S players as we do with SC4 players, albeit with a reduction in scope from the workshop being a much better system than EA had ever implemented. We provide space for people to come and discuss the game, collaborate with others,  share what they've done, talk with likeminded people. There are other forums for that too,  the steam forums are similar to the EA forums. I think we are seeing a lot more new members come through in the C:S section because they are looking for a space that we were looking for 10 or more years ago.

I hope they find that we provide that space for them, but we will need to continue developing the site to keep up with the different needs of this group. 

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From a staff perspective, we're always open to ideas of how the site can be improved. Finding ways to make Simtropolis more enjoyable for everyone is still the end goal, even amongst technical and financial considerations. That's precisely why this topic had been opened. We didn't want to decide the direction of Chat ourselves, without first seeking the opinions of the community. Because without people here sharing common ground from many corners of the globe, ST wouldn't have sustained for over 14 years. By making such big decisions, we'd like those who bear by them to have a say on them.

Sure, the journey may not have always been plain sailing -- much like life there will always be ups and downs, with twists and turns thrown in. But although it shouldn't be ignored, the past can't be changed or erased. So it's best to not dwell, and instead look ahead and focus on the things we can do now at this moment in time. Step by step learning from what's gone by, and laying solid foundations for the future.

If anyone has suggestions of how Simtropolis can be improved, in whatever way, we'd love to hear how we can do better. For instance, by opening a new thread in ST Related, posting in the Suggestion Box, or contacting a member of staff via PM. In the near future, we also plan to open a dedicated forum, where anyone can communicate with staff in private (more on that after the Trixies).

Although the site is run by a team of volunteers, it has become a full time unpaid role for many of us. We're passionate about what we do, so it's our aim for the site to prosper for many years to come. That is our commitment. Because with the community being the driving force, all your opinions and ideas do matter.


In terms of this thread and with the poll concluded, I believe we've gathered sufficient feedback to help shape the future of Chat. It is our intention for it to remain a part of the ST culture, and be an increased focal point going forward.

Thanks again to everyone who posted here. *:)

Silur, Hamish, matias93 and 2 others like this

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      - Do not show up, and then leave immediately after (unless you have to). Doing this does not help us break the record.
      - Do not spam (a given)
      - Do not go crazy (Night chat can get pretty crazy with only 20 people; imagine what it's like with 90-100.)
      - Do not post the number of people in the chat session. Eventually, everyone will start to do this, and the chat becomes flooded with numbers, so let's prevent that from happening.

      - Do listen to what the moderators and admins say. It is difficult for them to moderate 30 people at night (when things can get crazy), so imagine how difficult it is to moderate 90-100.
      - Do have a good time

      Feel free to post your suggestions and opinions.

      A note for the moderators: I made another topic titled "2012 Chat Record Breaking Attempt?" which was for the purpose of collecting the opinions of Simtropolis members on having a chat record breaking event. This topic is for the purpose of providing information about the event, and allowing for discussion about the event. That's why I made two separate topics. However, if you feel they should be merged, please do so.

      Chat Record Breaking Attempt 2012: Be there or be square! (Or trapezoidal, if you're a hipster.)
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