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One peculiar thing about the Unity forums - everybody seems averse to starting new threads.

Discussion in 'Meta-forum Discussion' started by andybak, Jun 26, 2020.

  1. andybak

    andybak

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    One example amongst dozens: https://forum.unity.com/threads/xr-plugins-and-subsystems.693463/page-6#post-5708842

    7 page thread with a very broad topic. Someone posts on page 7: "Unsure if this is the correct thread. If it isn't please redirect me to the proper one. "

    Well - if the thread is 7 pages long then it's almost certainly not the right one! Why did that user not even consider starting a new thread with a clear subject line related to his actual question?

    I'm pretty sure most forums roughly gravitate towards "one single topic per thread" but for some reason that doesn't happen round here. I'm pushing 50 and I've been a net citizen since Netscape was a hot new thing so I'v participated in my share of forums.

    What's going on that's different here? Is there something in the UI that disaudes people from starting new threads? Is it a moderation problem?

    Certainly moderation might help mitigate it. Also - I've noticed Unity staff tend to kick off these megathreads with large announcements or overly broad questions.

    But they persist for page after page and become the go to place for any question even tangentally related to the subject line.
     
  2. Baste

    Baste

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    It might be because the forum's spamfilter is a pile of garbage. If you check this subforum's thread history, there's a ton of threads about "I'm trying to make a new thread but it's marked as spam". So it might be that the users simply tries to make a thread, gets rejected by the S***ty filter, and necros a thread instead.

    Another thing is that there's a lot of young people here (seems to be very many places these days that offer degrees in game programming), and they might never have used forums much before.
     
  3. andybak

    andybak

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    Yeah - I wondered about the young people thing but that happens on all forums and there's gently community pressure applied to get people up to speed with the norms.

    That never seems to happen here either. No active moderation of threads that get stupidly long, no weeding of off-topic posts, no suggestions to repost something to somewhere more appropriate.

    Are there paid moderators or are all mods unpaid volunteers? If the latter than they have my sympathy.
     
  4. Baste

    Baste

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    I don't actually know if they're paid. Don't think so? Or maybe they are?

    Note that a lot of sections on the forums are pretty well-moderated. It's mostly the General subforum in particular that devolves into a cesspool of stupid.

    The community is also not as strict about necroing as many other places. This is because a lot of users hit the forums from google searches, and doesn't think to look at the date stamp on the posts. If somebody does that, and writes "hey, the stuff in this post doesn't work), they have probably been preceded by a couple of hundred people hitting the same thread from google without complaining, so adding that info can actually be useful.
     
  5. andybak

    andybak

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    It's not necro posting that irks me. It's "specific standalone question posted to sprawling 20 page threads about everything". It's such a weird thing to do and it destroys these forums as a useful resource for seeking answers.

    It's no better than if this was just a Slack group - you're losing the one thing that makes forums superior to chat.

    (Unity Answers was a great idea but nobody seemed to understand that the thing that makes Stack Overflow work is editors. Stack sites never work if you just throw them out there and hope that they will self-organize.)
     
  6. andybak

    andybak

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    OK. This is interesting.

    I just did it myself! In my defence is was already a busy general purpose thread.

    It felt much more likely to get an answer to post there and starting a new thread felt like standing in a corridor talking to myself and hoping someone overheard me.

    There's something about the design of this forum that encourages this behaviour and I can't put my finger on what it is exactly.

    Maybe the problem is starting "general purpose, vaguely titled" threads in the first place. If they didn't exist, they wouldn't feel like a warm friendly place to hang out with your off-topic buddies!
     
  7. andybak

    andybak

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    May I politely point out that you've someone picked probably the worst place to post this? You've tacked it on to the end of an obscure thread that has no relation to the Asset Store in a forum that itself has nothing to do with the Asset Store.

    And ironically the thread you've tacked it on to the end of was about how people tack things on to the end of unrelated threads. It's so perfectly wrong I almost suspect we're being trolled here!

    If you go to https://forum.unity.com/ and Ctrl+F you'll soon find there's a forum specifically about the Asset Store. Try there...

    And start a new post with a clearly worded subject that describes your question - don't just pick a random existing conversation about something totally different.
     
  8. a436t4ataf

    a436t4ataf

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    I frequently necro posts here. Because Unity is still full of bugs that are > 5 years old, and that means two things:

    1. Old posts are often the go-to resource on fixing modern problems. Adding extra info or improved workaround is common, even years after the last post.
    2. Unity keeps changing/replacing things so that what was "Correct" answer is now "incorrect" - and yet the thread is a top Google hit, so it needs correcting.

    What Unity has long needed is a StackOverflow license. UnityAnswers was a really depressing "not invented here, so we'll recreate it ... badly ... with ugly web design, serious bugs, bad usability/UX ... and we won't use it ourselves as Unity employees". I think UA was such a huge failure that Unity gave up, blaming the concept (which was fine) instead of their embarassingly bad implementation (which was the problem) and their own refusal to engage with it (which was the BIGGEST problem).

    By comparison: as an iOS developer since 2008, I hit a lot of problems that were obscure and severe and undocumented, and I aggressively used StackOverflow - and Apple internal lead staff kept an eye on the SO questions and provided lots of non-public info that let us fix and workaround some very nasty bugs in core iOS. Because of their engagement SO became a very powerful resource for iOS development ... which attracted more devs in the community to contribute ... a virtuous circle.

    Unity appeared to do the opposite: it's very rare to see a UnityAnswer that has a response from anyone who actually worked on the thing (and most of the answers come from people who don't even know what they're talking about - it's just people guessing).
     
  9. a436t4ataf

    a436t4ataf

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    For that one in particular...

    1. The XR team initially engaged with the community very heavily, speifically via that forum (probably too much - it seems like no-one counselled them how much of a commitment it is to start support at that intensity: you can't stop it, and it gets exponentially harder over time. It's possible but risky: it puts you in a very difficult position!)
    2. The XR team never pushed people to start new threads (not XR specific, and probably a lack of community-training at Unity in general -- eg previous games company I worked at we had training sessions for anyone who wanted to post on the public forums, to train them to e.g. proactively always push posters to do this stuff, and to show you how to get people to do it without coming across as a jerk)
    3. The XR team then disappeared and stopped replying (I don't know what happened here - but probably a side-effect of 1 above: they underestimated how much time it would soak up once more people started using XR, and decided they had to spend more time on their real job: writing the thing! (which is the righ choice, but it's tough for the community))
    4. The XR team would OCCASIONALLY appear - breifly - in the main thread, answer a couple of questions (out of the multiple unanswered ones) then disappear again. (again: probably a side-effect of item 1 above, i.e. not enough resource on the Unity team given the amount of support the community currently demands)

    (TL;DR: XR team is relatively new, seems pretty small, probably under-resourced - and it's still a preview release so it's very buggy and VERY little documentation, so that people trying to use it need a LOT more support than for other parts of Unity)

    XR members also - seemingly randomly (maybe one thread in 30) - pick a new thread and reply to it directly. If you hang around long enough (months) you see this happening, but it's so rare that most visitors don't see any example of it - and instead see 20 counter-examples right on the front-page.

    Meanwhile ... the QA delay on bug reports for XR is much longer than bug reports for any other part of Unity that I use (I log a handful of bugs every month). I am now getting responses to bugs I logged 3+ months ago!

    This created a situation where most visitors see/imagine:

    "Unity team isn't directly supporting this (any more?). But the small amount of support they ARE giving is in the main thread, and you have to whine to get their attention and then pray".

    I don't condone that behaviour - but I don't blame it.

    1. The Unity forums was chosen as the primary support system for Unity when they were a tiny indie company with only ten(s) of employees. At the time, twitter was a better support forum (it used to be the best way of reporting a bug: tweet it). Unity is now a multi-billion-dollar company and it's insane to think that a small forum could scale to support that.
    2. ... so, for instance, the HTML/CSS layout, the number of threads per page, how quickly threads drop off a page - it's all desigend for a low-traffic site.
    3. ... and the 1st line support teams in the forums appears to be laughably small for a company this size - no way they could keep up with the volume of threads being posted here.

    TL;DR: for any part of Unity with average-or-higher popularity, creating a new thread is a waste of time. You won't get help, you won't get what you need. Your exception is when the area you post in has a few volunteers who are pro-actively doing tech-support there (e.g. @bgolus often pops up for anything shader-related and has helped a vast number of people both directly and indiretly (through people finding threads here via Google where he's given complete answers to things missing from Unity official docs), or e.g. @ROBYER1 in the XR forum you mentioned above (XR is so cutting edge that it actually had quite a few people co-helping each other, but now that the number of users has shot up and the amount of support from Unity has shot down ... I think the volunteer posters are overwhelmed and focussing instead on their own work)).
     
  10. Ryiah

    Ryiah

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    Back when I started learning Unity their main focus was on democratizing game development, and because of this (and the splash screens showing up on low-effort apps) they developed a reputation that it is very easy to create games.

    This focus hasn't just attracted people who have never created a game before. It has in some cases attracted people who have little to no knowledge of using their computer beyond turning it on and playing games, and since that's all they do they likewise have little to no knowledge of using a forum.

    Yes and no. Moderation is already handling it but the community's moderation staff is fully unpaid volunteers and due to the way Unity has been handling themselves lately we've been slowly losing them. Our resident hippo was one of the more active moderators and he hasn't been active in months.
     
  11. andybak

    andybak

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    Not fishing for gossip but I'd be curious to know more about this?
     
  12. Ryiah

    Ryiah

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    Everything I know from Hippo was in private discussions but I can share some of it. One of his main complaints is the way they market features of the engine. At one point Enlighten and DOTS were marketed side-by-side while being incompatible with each other, and then you have Unity's AR capabilities marketed but they don't mention you need a second subscription of $600/yr to use Unity MARS.

    Another complaint was how they've shifted away from trying to offer a proper visual scripting system to offering a system that they say is not intended to be used by itself to make games. We were told for years we were getting visual scripting and now we're getting a tool that most likely won't have any real value. Meanwhile they bought Bolt but continued selling it normally unlike many of the other assets they've bought in the past. It's basically become their visual scripting system.

    Edit: Looks like the situation with Bolt was addressed recently with it now being free and refunds to everyone who bought a copy after Unity acquired it.

    https://blogs.unity3d.com/2020/07/22/bolt-visual-scripting-is-now-included-in-all-unity-plans/
    https://assetstore.unity.com/packages/tools/visual-scripting/bolt-163802
     
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2020
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