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Thread: EoFF's Mission

  1. #1
    Feel the Bern Administrator Del Murder's Avatar
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    Default EoFF's Mission

    I thought it would be nice if, in this era of pandemics and internet information overload, this site has some sort of a mission statement. It's something for us to work on but I wanted to get some member feedback first because this site belongs to all of us who have posted here.

    So, what does EoFF mean to you? Is it just a place of shared history, is it somewhere to connect with friends away from the modern internet, is it where you can discuss FF without fear of teenage trolls? Or something else?

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    Shlup's Retired Pimp Recognized Member Raistlin's Avatar
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    I registered at EoFF when I was 12. I'm turning 33 this month. Just typing that out is pretty mind-boggling.

    I've met a lot of friends here, including one who remains my best friend. Most of my online communication is on Facebook now (where I have a fair number of EoFFers as friends, but not all that I've spoken to here), though I do miss the style of forums. It's nice to chat in an environment where you can be responded to by a stranger or someone you've known for 20 years. For here right now, it might be someone I haven't seen or chatted to in 10+ years. It was a pretty big part of my life through some very formative years.

    I have a couple "real life" friends I can talk RPGs with, but none that I can nerd out with quite so much as here. Despite my insistence, none of them have played Suikoden or Lunar SSSC or the recent FFs, so I like being able to do that here.

    It's also a place I've invested a lot of time and effort into, and not just chatting. If you add up my time writing articles or being an Editor (or even my brief stint as a CK) or hosting the Ciddies or helping out with events, I've probably spent more time working here than on playing most video games. And despite it being relatively closer to the end of my regular tenure here, hosting the Ciddies was definitely a highlight of my time at EoFF.

    That was a bit stream-of-consciousness, but it's tough to put into words about all the ways EoFF has meant something to me over the years.

  3. #3
    Radical Dreamer Fynn's Avatar
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    Iím a bit similar to Raistlin in a lot of areas (aside from moving on to Facebook since I only have a handful people from here on there - mostly I talk to people from here on Discord now). I think the only thing I can add to that is that the type of community thatís on here is pretty much no longer a thing. Reddit has pretty much taken over the forum format with other social media further evolving online discourse. But while those are more relevant nowadays, rarely ever do they make actual relationships and communities happen - itís more about the discourse. Compared to that EoFF is like this little coffee shop or bar thatís been around for so long, but you know youíll meet the same people there and continue the conversation you started a week ago or something.

    To put things a bit more aptly, our mission could be to become to online forms of communication what Dragon Quest is for JRPGs. Itís a classic flavor thatís not really accessible to everyone, but itís a flavor thatís definitely loved and appreciated by a devoted, if small, group.

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    *permanent smite* Spuuky's Avatar
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    There are communities like this still. They just aren't on Reddit, they are on Discord. I'm a member of a couple.

    The great thing about forums is that they are asynchronous, unlike Discord, so they fill a slightly different need for the same types of communities.

  5. #5
    Got obliterated Recognized Member Shoeberto's Avatar
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    I spent some time writing up a bit of a longer post, but in the interest of not distracting from the core question, I'll try to summarize. I think fundamentally, EoFF is and has always been about bringing together good, kind people for casual conversation. It's crazy to think about how much of a novelty that is in 2020, but here we are. I think the mission should be to keep doing that, by continuing to provide a warm, inviting corner of the web for us all to hang out.

    I think the *how* is the tricky bit now, and I think that's going to involve reducing the friction required to engage with the forums. I think we need to tighten up the forums themselves (I counted 27 sub-forums just now; compare that to the Discord, which has 10 permanent channels, only 8 of which are for casual discussion) and choose some software that makes it easier for people to casually engage from their phones. That's maybe better suited for a separate discussion, but I do think it's important to start thinking about while we're having this bigger conversation about the mission.
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    Agreed with Shoe. The content itself is secondary to me. This community could have been about pets, or Cartoon Network, or homeopathic medicine, and I would have felt the same about the people. The idea that it's the website equivalent of a cafe for thoughtful and patient kind-hearted and welcoming people to hang out and discuss both nostalgia loves, and new adventures together without much worry about arguments or trolling breaking out is almost too rare. Not sure why most people aren't interested in this, or if people have either forgotten or don't know that sort of thing exists anymore. It's like Stardew Valley, I could spend ages here doing the same things over and over again because it never gets old and the people are too precious to get tired of. And I'm always impressed by how much people genuinely care about each other here. You have a place where one old Final Fantasy fan can openly discuss struggling with depression, and get a response from another old Final Fantasy fan on how they dealt with it and will happily guide them through the process as just one good human to another, making a small piece of the world better a little bit at a time. It's priceless



  7. #7
    ORANGE Dr Unne's Avatar
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    I think EoFF competes with Twitter, Reddit, Facebook and Discord for people's time and attention.

    Twitter: It's a fire hose, meant for people to consume and immediately forget and move on. Try to find something from last week on Twitter, it's not easy. It's easy to consume and extremely shallow. A forum lets a discussion continue for days or weeks, and it lets you go back and read history easily. No length limit on posts encourages better discussion (theoretically).

    Reddit: Too anonymous, too big, which means no one has an identity. You can't get to know a stranger or make friends very easily. People do have an identity on a forum.

    Facebook: Not anonymous enough. Not everyone wants to nerd out over video games and anime or talk about politics in the same place they talk to their grandmother and boss. Also has the fire hose problem. Also is owned by a supervillain.

    Discord: As Spuuky said, it's ephemeral. Forums are asynchronous. In theory forums should be better for dinosaur-age adults who can't sit in a chatroom 24/7, like many of us are at this point. Discord is the place I personally do most of my online shmoozing nowadays.

    With the possible exception of Discord (for now), all of the above are owned by businesses with the main intention of monetizing their users. There's an aspect of fun and playfulness those services could have or maybe even once had, but now they're dry impersonal entities, from the style of communication to moderation or lack thereof to design choices. A forum like this is free to be whatever it wants. Something warmer maybe.

    People should come for the shared interests (video games) and stay to talk to their friends. That should be the mission statement. This place is how a lot of people have made lifelong friends or found their spouses (as I did).

    I agree with Shoeberto that VB in particular has a lot of friction. Look at https://discuss.flarum.org or https://community.nodebb.org for some random modern examples. A little Javascript and dynamic loading can go a long way. Good search + tags instead of forums/directories probably, clear interface, etc. And a mobile version.

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    EoFF was a pretty big help during a time I was feeling particularly alone and depressed, and Iíd say it helped shape who I am to some degree despite not being on here as long as a lot of others. Thereís just something about these old style forums where it can be pretty easy to meet new people who have shared interests and grow attached/develop friendships. I enjoyed my short stint on staff, being around for some of the April fools pranks and events, and I especially enjoyed my one time hosting the Candy Cane Moogle event. Iíve also always just preferred the old forum format style like this for whatever reason. Iíve adapted to reddit some, but I donít like it as much. It also feels too anonymous and like your post just gets lost in a sea of others. Other social media isnít anonymous enough and doesnít really have as fun an atmosphere, and you get the added benefit of things like racist uncles deciding to jump in to conversations or things like that. Places like EoFF with things like IRC or Discord has always felt like my preferred sweet spot for interacting online.

    I donít get on as much anymore, and I tend to just check the Discord more than anything. That might be in part because we donít have as many events and also in part that a lot of the friends Iíve met over the years donít post as much on here. I miss a lot of the friends Iíve made here, but Iím glad some are still hanging around on here and Discord.

  9. #9
    Got obliterated Recognized Member Shoeberto's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dr Unne View Post
    I think EoFF competes with Twitter, Reddit, Facebook and Discord for people's time and attention.

    Twitter: It's a fire hose, meant for people to consume and immediately forget and move on. Try to find something from last week on Twitter, it's not easy. It's easy to consume and extremely shallow. A forum lets a discussion continue for days or weeks, and it lets you go back and read history easily. No length limit on posts encourages better discussion (theoretically).

    Reddit: Too anonymous, too big, which means no one has an identity. You can't get to know a stranger or make friends very easily. People do have an identity on a forum.

    Facebook: Not anonymous enough. Not everyone wants to nerd out over video games and anime or talk about politics in the same place they talk to their grandmother and boss. Also has the fire hose problem. Also is owned by a supervillain.

    Discord: As Spuuky said, it's ephemeral. Forums are asynchronous. In theory forums should be better for dinosaur-age adults who can't sit in a chatroom 24/7, like many of us are at this point. Discord is the place I personally do most of my online shmoozing nowadays.

    With the possible exception of Discord (for now), all of the above are owned by businesses with the main intention of monetizing their users. There's an aspect of fun and playfulness those services could have or maybe even once had, but now they're dry impersonal entities, from the style of communication to moderation or lack thereof to design choices. A forum like this is free to be whatever it wants. Something warmer maybe.

    People should come for the shared interests (video games) and stay to talk to their friends. That should be the mission statement. This place is how a lot of people have made lifelong friends or found their spouses (as I did).

    I agree with Shoeberto that VB in particular has a lot of friction. Look at https://discuss.flarum.org or https://community.nodebb.org for some random modern examples. A little Javascript and dynamic loading can go a long way. Good search + tags instead of forums/directories probably, clear interface, etc. And a mobile version.
    Just to follow up a bit on the tech side, I do also feel like it's important to consider federated alternatives as well. For example, if vBulletin was based on a decentralized protocol (which it isn't, not will it ever be), it wouldn't have been as major of an issue if BoB wanted to shut down operations on EoFF proper because the entire community could just migrate to another (theoretical) forum on the fediverse, keeping their identities and conversations going.

    There isn't an amazing, silver-bullet federated message board system out there yet, but I think it should be a part of the conversation. For example there is Lemmy:
    https://dev.lemmy.ml/
    It's a decentralized, federated Reddit alternative that you can self-host. By no means is it a direct, drop-in replacement for the forums, but in principle it's a fairly major advancement in terms of how communities can organize online.

    If anyone is curious about how this all works, there's a pretty good video overview here:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S57uhCQBEk0
    It focuses on Mastodon, but the protocol that Mastodon is based on (ActivityPub) is what's getting used to build all of this out.

    Of course there is plenty of good, open source forum software out there that also have direct migration paths from vBulletin, so that's another angle to consider. I spent a bit of time researching them recently. Vanilla Forums and Discourse are two of them:
    https://vanillaforums.com/en/software/
    https://www.discourse.org/
    Join me on my Mastodon instance, Villa Straylight!

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