Gird your loins.
TLDR: Lots of words that may not help or answer anything. The answer is 42.
Honestly, I see an inability to take criticism as the #1 cause of newbies not sticking around, rather than the stats taboo. And while axle waxes eloquent about the harshness of our standards, I see them as a plus, since I have personally benefited from them.
I know the guy that is involved a little in this site so will throw in a couple cents and you can take it for what it is worth. I tend to get long winded when I start but will try and stop myself when I feel it digressing too much but no promises. I type fast so I get out of control.
First and foremost, this is definitely a community driven site and all features were requested or discussed before being implemented. Some work, others don't. The next version is going to do A LOT of trimming of features that seemed like a good idea but didn't turn out so well...or they will be reincarnated into something new and, again, we will see if we like them. Stubs...ugh. Yes, will keep them as they apparently serve a purpose to somebody.
So back in WW Nam when I put this site together I played Palladium as my game of choice. AD&D's AC systems is just plain stupid to me...booooring. I want to roll to defend d**nit. CRIT FAIL...YEAH! Anyway, that isn't what drove the no stats rule. I didn't build the site to share character stats, there were a thousand sites like that and all useless, following the formal conventions of whatever game they were making the character for. Dry, mechanical, without soul...filling out blocks so you could correctly roll the dice. When I found a cool idea I wanted to use, all I took was the idea and left the stats...always. The other site I liked organized all their ideas into game systems and it sucked trying to find anything useful. The stats were usually crap and the ideas were all over the place. Stupid organization system. So I wanted to make my site with no stats and organized by what a GM would need when putting together a game. Remember, this is back in 1996 when I designed the site so tags weren't even a thing yet except on AOL. Just be happy I dumped the animated unicorn gifs (try the konami code on the main site if you need that though). Once I lost my gaming group, I missed the ideas. (PS manfred is the oldest user by far, he contacted me by email when the site was on version 0.0012 Alpha)
Take a look at any category and sort it by oldest first. That is the simplest of goals and my initial vision. Plenty of 3 submissions there...now, probably 2s and maybe even 1s. They are some crap, I will admit...but if you look past it at the central idea, there is something there. A quick idea that anybody can take and make their own. That was my vision and goal and how it was built. Sharing of all kind of ideas that people can pick up and place in their own game. I stand by the mantra that most GMs are creative and smart and if you give them idea, they can make up some stats with ease in whatever system they want. Even if you provided stats, they are usually changed and modified to work where they are used by the GM to fit their requirements so even more pointless. Stats really serve no purpose in my vision of the Citadel. It is about the idea, thought, usefulness of the post. Give me that core idea and stats will almost create themselves...and be completely different for every GM.
Many may know that I am a fan of your medium size sub that gives you all the data you need and then gets out of your way. However, some longer posts with the glorious prose and descriptive fiction is brilliant and a joy to read. But I will be the first to admit that long post gives me pause. I am of the internet, short attention span, bite size pieces personality...and I am somewhat embarrassed to admit it here now. But I am. Shorter posts will get more of my attention than longer....because I am all about a quick read and seeing the core idea. GIMME! I am nervous to write that because I don't want to offend some folks, but each person enjoys something different and this site definitely encourages creativity above all. I probably wouldn't even read the entire post I am writing...well, maybe, as I would be curious, but generally....tooooooo long!! And sorry about that.
But we can argue about stats and prose all day....what it boils down to is people getting too critical with their comments and/or authors taking those criticisms too seriously. It is all about life experience and perspective and we can never predict that somebody will take our writing as intended.
So we debated about removing the voting, but then the site loses the core it was created on. Debated on making it a "like" button, but the voting seems to be central. A thousand other arguments could be made for all ways of doing it and I would agree with most of them. But good or bad, voting will stay. Can't fix it and it is not the same without it.
Voting itself. Compare it to job performance evaluations. Every single rating system, ever, will become inflated. Seems to be human nature. A 3 submission is perfect in my mind, but people are disappointed with it. In an inflated system a 3 is bad and a 2 and 1 are just painful and unacceptable. Rarely will somebody earn a 2...except dark elf assassins with scimitars, but that is another issue.
So we incorrectly believe that 4s and 5s are what we should strive for. And, occasionally, commenters give criticism to "help" improve the post on this inflated scale instead of just accepting it. Generally, we are VERY good at not doing this, but most folks leaving the site stems from a miscommunication of some sort, either interpretation or expression. Sometimes people really don't get along but that is a bit rarer.
Granted, some folks want the harsh criticism, and that is fine. Probably need a feature to request that specifically so commenters know when a hard edit would be appreciated. Or when I want mine grammer corectid. Deal with teh mispellings sometimes and comment on the idea. Shouldn't be down voting a post because they spelled something wrong... (ok, digressing there) I want positive remarks on the core idea, a vote based on that, and the understanding that 3 is perfectly good.
Getting all those together is very difficult and, based on each individual, there will always be interpretation issues, conflict and confusion when you allow comments and voting...but that is the heart of the system.
Which brings me back to the quote above which I think brings in the two key pieces that make the Citadel the way it currently is.
-I have an idea.
-Spend a little bit putting it together.
-Here it is.
-Then I get low votes (3s and 3.5s which are actually great votes) and suggestions of what I should do better.
Based on the misinterpretation (or correct interpretation of a more critical comment):
-Do I take it personal and argue? I just wanted to share an idea?
-Do I disagree, this is the way I wanted it?
-Do I take my ball and go home because I don't need to deal with this?
-Do I sit and spend hours and make it more word pretty with a submission I just wanted to quickly share just to be "accepted?"
-Do I think, incorrectly, that 3s mean my idea is crappy so I am too embarrassed to stay around?
Are any of those thoughts legit? Depends on the person and interpretation.
Submitting a post here for the first time is intimidating. We are not newbie friendly. The site is huge and unwieldy. Things are confusing and not set up in a very easy way to understand. There are a lot of undocumented features that not even Strolenites know how to use. Submissions are of an extremely high quality to the point where they are almost short stories instead of gaming ideas. There are great ideas and most are great fiction as well. I don't want to discourage that because it is frick'n awesome, but how do we make it so the more mundane and normal submissions are more accepted?
This does not make us very newbie friendly. It is actually very daunting. So much so that even Strolenites admit that they are discouraged from submitting only their best. Hell, I have posted for awhile because I am intimidated by the results. I just want to write sometimes but then there is that doubt that creeps in. Is it good enough? Will they like it? And then I stall....and still a Weaver Guild initiate
and not a full member.
I can't even imagine the awesome ideas we are missing out on because of this self-imposed barrier that we have created.
Is there a point to all this rambling? I doubt it. If you find something let me know. There is an overall philosophy in the site that I have retained since I built it. It is somewhat contained in the words above if you can decipher it. Use Ra
if you need some help with that.
Do I want more people to visit, comment and post?
HELL YES! You guys are awesome and deserve a huge community sharing and commenting!
Do I have a plan to try and work towards that goal?
d**n straight I do. I have a hundred pages of notes and hundreds of dollars in books to help try and get us to the next level. It will take this year to get it there though.
Question is, will anybody still be around to see it?