Regarding the Future of HeroMachine and its Forum

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    Opie Teller

    I was surprised to find that when I searched the term “discord” in the forums, none of the results pertained to the web application.

    I could totally imagine this community as a Discord server. It’s a bit difficult and rather daunting for newcomers to navigate the forums, and while the community would start rather small, I believe it would be much more manageable.

    [Too Long; Don’t Read… unless you fear the forum’s fate]

    I’ve quite a bit of digging through many once-thriving-now-dwindling communities that hosted a multitude of content, and noticed two distinct trends.
    The first trend:

    1. Communication is primarily forum-based
    2. While the product exists, the community thrives, and content overflows
    3. A spike in hype leads to drama that shakes the community, often involving intellectual property and a frequent member getting banned
    4. The developer stops updating the product, and/or support for [a key component of] the product is discontinued
    5. Vandals (hackers, spammers, and internet trolls) and bots exploit vulnerabilities in the forum’s architecture
    6. Mass exodus of members as excitement for the product either diminishes or transitions to another, often newer, product
    7. The webmaster can’t afford to continue maintaining the site, and takes it offline, preventing subsequent generations from reviving the community.

    The second trend:

    1. Stages 1-4, but then the webmaster makes a Discord server and suggests migration
    2. Everyone migrates to the new platform for quicker communication easier navigation
    3. The population either stagnates or grows (it seldom ever shrinks) depending on external influences and frequency of engagement
    4. If the forum isn’t used for activities (like contest entries and announcements), then its content gets packed into an internet archive and the community lives on solely as a Discord server; but if it is used for activities, then the server becomes like its life support

    While there are many advantages to a Discord server, every transition has its own set of risks. In the case of Discord, the benefits outweigh the costs, so there are only a few risks to consider:

    • Because there are no ads, there is no opportunity for ad revenue
    • Because bots can’t join servers without invitation by a server administrator, ‘self-botting’ (i.e., bots operating through user accounts) happens on rare occasions but it’s easy to catch, and auto-moderation is a built-in feature now
    • While there is no limitation to content storage, if something gets deleted on Discord, it’s gone forever and there’s no getting it back (Discord deletions are permanent and cannot be recovered)
    • The server’s layout (not full architecture; just navigation and permission structure) would need to be built from scratch

    I could volunteer to help put one together (I’m a Discord veteran, I know the platform all too well) but I’m quite busy lately, so I would only lend a hand if the admins here think it’s worth pursuing. I’ll be checking in on here for the rest of the week in case I don’t get notified, because I don’t want this gem to fade.

    If Discord isn’t the appropriate solution, perhaps Reddit is… but I don’t use Reddit very much, so I can’t gauge whether it would be effective.


    Opie Teller

    LOL, I just realized that I’ve only looked at the forum through the Site Admin view until now (because that’s where it directs me by default when I log in).

    I should note that none of the forums I explored which followed the aforementioned trends used WordPress, but rather ran on their own web server or an official site (such as the Atari forums back when they existed) that just pulled the plug one day.

    By the way, I got this idea when I was reading the updated rules for the forum. To me, they seem to perfectly befit a Discord server, so that’s Step #1 already established!


    Opie Teller

    I feel like this project could also get a rebirth. If enough people are passionate about the project, perhaps a team could collaborate to recreate HM3 in Unity?

    (Discord is also a great place for collaboration. Many developers use it for such projects as this.)

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