On this forum site (and elsewhere) some questions about Empire really are frequently asked: they come up again and again, and people give (a subset of) approximately the same answers again and again.
It’s all a big waste of effort, and often a given asking of the question doesn’t get all the best answers that have gone before.
Might PD consider adding a questions-and-answers site, where it is easy to search for previously asked questions, and where it is easy to find the most valued answers to a given question? Something similar to StackExchange in how it works.
There is freely available software that does it, just as there is free software for forums. For example:
I suspect if you want to make the suggestion, emailing firstname.lastname@example.org is the best starting place - though the limiting factor may be the people-power to sort something like that out and keep it updated.
The search facility here is pretty good, and nearly all of the information is on the wiki anyway. If people wanted to search for answers to questions they can do that already, and I would bet a large number of people already do. Lots of new players’ posts here are variations on a theme, you are right, but they are never exactly the same as someone else’s (and if they are we can link them to the relevant thread).
What a Q&A can’t give is the feeling of community that comes with asking questions and having real people reply, who can offer up unique ideas and insights for that particular question. I don’t think a Q&A site would give that level of personalisation and support.
I’ll admit that I’m biased though, I like forums like this for exactly this reason, and I think the active player base here are very good at looking after new players and making them feel welcome and therefore more likely to turn up to an event (hopefully!) well-prepared.
I think the FAQ page that PD has on the wiki could do with some updates and if people wanted to write some up we could do with some FAQs here on the site too.
But starting a whole new separate site for Q&A stuff? I’m not sure that’s going to fly. I mean who’d run it? All of PD’s social media and forums are run by volunteers so you’d need to find a new set of people who are enthusiastic for running this new site and also a bunch of players who’d be interested in contributing. Getting people to post on something that isn’t Facebook can be hard work on occasion .
Also I’d say that you might not be seeing the whole picture here, a lot of people do search the forum for info and read through, you just don’t see them as they don’t post here. Presumably they get what they need and then move on.
So to turn this practical, what questions do you think deserve to be FAQs and where have you seen them answered well here on the forum?
Emmanovi, yes, I’m aware of those pages on the wiki.
LauraH, I agree absolutely about the feeling of community and about the player-base looking after new players. The kind of site I have in mind would make that more effective.
I don’t know what sort of thing you’re imagining, but obviously it’s nothing like what I’m imagining. How about taking a look at an existing Q&A site on a non-Empire subject, to get an idea of the kind of thing I’d like us to have?
The idea is:
Anybody can ask a question.
Anybody can answer.
The best answers are voted up and rise to the top.
The best questions also get voted up.
And at least some such Q&A software also allows discussion on each question and each of its answers.
Mark, I imagine the effort would be broadly similar to running the forum, but the Q&A site would replace some of the activity that currently happens on the forum (and on Facebook). I found a forum software package which has a Q&A addon, which allows a forum post to be made either as a normal discussion-thread or as a question: Questions & Answers (Q&A) - Vanilla Success (but switching from the Discourse software that runs the forums at present might not be worth it).
As for particular questions that have come up repeatedly, let me think…
Legwear for the League.
Several about sleeping (mats/bed, sleeping-bags etc.)
A few about buying swords/weapons.
Arrows and how often they get lost or broken.
Options for IC rainwear
I could come up with some more with a bit of work, but the point is to let them accumulate organically.
Not in the medium term, but we’ll keep looking into it.
Basically, while a lot of questions that would crop up on those sites are OC opinion, a lot of valuable questions to be asked on it are either IC opinions (and therefore not suitable for an online forum) or things with an absolute right answer (How long can a sword be, when did Spiral get lost to the Empire, what happens when the Black Plateau wakes up), which PD would prefer the sole official source to be the wiki, and don’t want any other “authoritative” places around which may confuse the issue later on. It’s why ref calls on here and the facebook group are nearly always “email in for an official answer”. So no other external site.
As it happens, the original set of Empire forums - which never launched - were on Vanilla partly so we could do an official Q&A section, but the software never really worked for us. If a Q&A module appears for Discourse that is stable and doesn’t mess with our other plugins, we might put up a version here for OC opinion things like your examples. But not right now.