The mod portal was a nice experiment... end it please?

A place to talk about the official Factorio mod portal (https://mods.factorio.com)
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The mod portal was a nice experiment... end it please?

Post by golfmiketango » Sun Dec 04, 2016 10:40 am

Can we please go back to the old system of hosting discussions about mods in the forums instead of in the mod portal?

I hope I'm not referring to it using the wrong terminology. The in-game mod browser is clearly a success and should remain. But the mods.factorio.com website (where iiuc we are supposed to go to discuss mod-specific things, now, right?) is useless and clearly represents a huge setback for factorio compared to what came before it. I am assuming this will not be controversial for 99% of you out there, now that we all have some experience with the thing.

But for the handful of people who might feel otherwise: You probably only feel that way because you built it yourself. No clue who did that work and I'm sorry if this hurts your feelings but the portal thing sucks.

In case it's not obvious why:
  • It's super buggy. Images are confusingly dangled before the user but the lightbox-type image browser thingy which I assume is supposed to present them doesn't work. The search does nothing. The "forums" are missing lots and lots of important features that people need to meaningfully have a successful discussion. Etc., etc., etc. Just about every implemented "feature" doesn't work, in practice; many more are not implemented.
  • It's more-or-less put an end to almost all discussion pertaining to all non-grandfathered mods.
If you are using the site to actually find and/or get support for real-life factorio mods that you are using in real life, you'll see the problem right away.

The new mods have a support "forum" filled with identical pleas to fix the same bug ("you need to fix XYZ, it's this line of code," etc). But nobody is getting the message half the time. I don't think it's (only) because mod authors are negligent. Perhaps because there is no notification system in place. Perhaps a critical-mass problem. Regardless, the portal seems to have more-or-less killed off what used to be a thriving community process where new mods were shared, discussed, supported, and so on here on the forums.

I guess it turns out that designing a custom CMS for mod-related content and discussion content is pretty hard. In retrospect, perhaps we all should have seen that coming.

But: there's no point throwing good money after bad: Just scrap it. It was a worthwhile experiment but now we know the result: phpBB was a better place for those discussions. Keep the portal as an index, if you like, but please allow mod authors to bring the mod-specific discussions back into phpBB where they were before the portal? That was working really well and this isn't.

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Re: The mod portal was a nice experiment... end it please?

Post by steinio » Sun Dec 04, 2016 12:03 pm

I would support this partly.

The original factoriomods.com portal had the forum threads embedded in the discussion tab and not created a seperate forum.
This should be implemented again to establish the connection between the portal and this forum again.

Furthermore there are a lot of issues with the portal on them nobody is working currently - as it seems.

Hireing a freelance web designer and or programmer to fix the most important bugs could not be so hard.

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Re: The mod portal was a nice experiment... end it please?

Post by Klonan » Sun Dec 04, 2016 1:34 pm

We have someone working on a completely better mod portal as we speak,

We know the current one isn't very great, but the new one will be far far better, and easier to maintain, easier to add functionality etc.

We don't have much to show yet, but when its getting ready we will make sure to write about the changes in a FFF

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Re: The mod portal was a nice experiment... end it please?

Post by Geertje123 » Wed Dec 07, 2016 11:58 pm

I actually like this mod portal. With just forum threads it was hard to look for mods. Older ones or the ones that didn't get much discussion often got burried on later pages. With the new portal you can sort on recently updated, alphabetical order, most downloaded and even search categories. Besides that, it contains a useful amount of _consistent_ information, which was often missing as not all authors in the forums kept to the standard form. Besides that, under downloads you have all the versions and under the discussions tab you can easily see if something is a bug or an idea without having to scroll through a mod thread that has 500+ posts.

Sure, the portal contains bugs but that's because it's brand new and the devs are working on it. All in all I think the mod portal is a great improvement in almost any way to factorio.

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Re: The mod portal was a nice experiment... end it please?

Post by Hagop » Wed Dec 14, 2016 4:15 pm

So can we get workshop support yet? I understand this is not a steam only game and that you want non-steam users to have access to a mod portal as well, but I don't see why that means we can't have workshop support. Have both, their are downsides, but having workshop support is a heck of an upside.

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Re: The mod portal was a nice experiment... end it please?

Post by Koub » Wed Dec 14, 2016 7:52 pm

As you said, workshop support would lock non Steam users out of the party, because, why bother those who aren't on Steam ? Steam users would stay together, and it would create a 2-speed game.
I fully support the fact that whatever ecosystem is built around the game, all will be able to benefit equally from it.
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Re: The mod portal was a nice experiment... end it please?

Post by Hagop » Wed Dec 14, 2016 8:51 pm

I mean the same stiuation is happening for any game that has workshop support and a nexus community. Both mod ecosystems seems to be thriving fine for the Fallouts and Skyrims. If you want a smaller indie example Rimworld's forum based mod community was still doing fine last I checked, despite it adding workshop support. I hear all the time the adding workshop support will somehow kill whats already going on in this modding community, but it doesn't seem to have worked that way for any other game. So I guess I just don't get what makes the Factorio community so fragile.

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Re: The mod portal was a nice experiment... end it please?

Post by Ranakastrasz » Wed Dec 14, 2016 9:05 pm

All I can say is that I have posted for all of my mods a link to the Factorio Fourms instance of the mod, and asked for people to discuss my mods there instead. After I did that, noone has posted on the mod portal for my mods.

Also, I only updated the mod portal as an afterthought, and in fact forgot about updating it once for like 3 months. Kinda amusing when someone asked me what was in the update due to lack of patch notes.

I get email updates for the normal forum, and not for the mod portal, and it is easier to discuss there anyway. I suppose the "One forum per mod" is nice, but it is kinda inconvenient still.
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Re: The mod portal was a nice experiment... end it please?

Post by Boogieman14 » Thu Dec 15, 2016 11:18 am

golfmiketango wrote: clearly represents a huge setback for factorio compared to what came before it.
I hope you're not suggesting the completely overorganised clusterfuck of mod boards on this forum was so great, because it wasn't. Mods were "organised" into different categories, but it was impossible to actually find mods you were looking for (I can't count the times where it took several tries to find the correct forum the mod i was looking for was hidden away).

Yes, the mod portal website has issues, but it is already WAY better than what the forums had become after the last few organisation rounds.
I don't have OCD, I have CDO. It's the same, but with the letters in the correct order.

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Re: The mod portal was a nice experiment... end it please?

Post by golfmiketango » Sat Dec 17, 2016 8:33 am

Boogieman14 wrote:
golfmiketango wrote: clearly represents a huge setback for factorio compared to what came before it.
I hope you're not suggesting the completely overorganised clusterfuck of mod boards on this forum was so great, because it wasn't. Mods were "organised" into different categories, but it was impossible to actually find mods you were looking for (I can't count the times where it took several tries to find the correct forum the mod i was looking for was hidden away).

Yes, the mod portal website has issues, but it is already WAY better than what the forums had become after the last few organisation rounds.
No. With respect to organization of mods into taggable categories and even some of the things my OP complains about like searchability, the portal is either already or potentially superior. Where I think a big mistake is being made, however, is encouraging mod authors to use the portal as a support and discussion forum. PHPBB and Reddit clearly have ridiculous numbers of man-hours invested into making them productive places for people to talk about such stuff. Those platforms are where Factorians actually go to talk about things.

In retrospect, where a mistake was made, I believe, was in trying to move 3rd-party mod support and development discussion from the existing places out into that portal.

Just because you have a database organizing some information doesn't mean you should try to tack a CMS onto it and organize the corresponding community into "child communities" hung off of that database. Now that I see it, I realize, that's a classic mistake that leads to nowhere.

A perfect example may be found in the wine project. They initially did everything on the mailing lists and a bit in bugzilla. This worked fantastically but was a hell of a hodge-podge.

Then, they created structured databases of apps that run on wine: one db for open-source wine and another, similar db, for the largely equivalent/derivative commercial Codeweavers product. These also worked, and still do, reasonably well.

But then, in response to an overwhelming number of user-requests for this feature (including my own), they started to offer purpose-built discussion forums, bug-reporting, and so on, hung off of the individual apps in both of these databases. Nowadays, if you are trying to make something work in wine, you must check the two application databases, bugzilla, the mailing lists, and many third-party places before you can hope to be appraised of what the hell is the state of the art.

But, more frustrating, most of those places are simply empty. Someone lists an app and says it doesn't work, or does, and there is no discussion, whatsoever in any of those official places. If you're lucky, you can "Google" it, and you might find where people wound up talking about it. But that's not a community at all. But if you take those dialogues to the mailing lists, nowadays you may simply be told that it's off-topic there unless you carefully tailor your message.

Those "mini-forums" serve, at best, as a kind of glorified wiki where you can post a quick "this recipe worked for me" HOWTO. Maybe someone will find it at the moment they need to know the information. But they do not serve as a successful place to discuss or support anything. That is still more or less only happening on mailing lists, IRC and other OOB unstructured places. I am pretty sure that is exactly where we are headed and, yes, I do think that solution is inferior to putting that stuff in phpbb.

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Re: The mod portal was a nice experiment... end it please?

Post by SHiRKiT » Mon Dec 19, 2016 9:56 pm

I agree. The mod portal is GREAT, but the discussions part I really hate it =\

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Re: The mod portal was a nice experiment... end it please?

Post by Choumiko » Tue Dec 20, 2016 8:27 am

golfmiketango wrote: No. With respect to organization of mods into taggable categories and even some of the things my OP complains about like searchability, the portal is either already or potentially superior. Where I think a big mistake is being made, however, is encouraging mod authors to use the portal as a support and discussion forum. PHPBB and Reddit clearly have ridiculous numbers of man-hours invested into making them productive places for people to talk about such stuff. Those platforms are where Factorians actually go to talk about things.

In retrospect, where a mistake was made, I believe, was in trying to move 3rd-party mod support and development discussion from the existing places out into that portal.
[snip]
Those "mini-forums" serve, at best, as a kind of glorified wiki where you can post a quick "this recipe worked for me" HOWTO. Maybe someone will find it at the moment they need to know the information. But they do not serve as a successful place to discuss or support anything. That is still more or less only happening on mailing lists, IRC and other OOB unstructured places. I am pretty sure that is exactly where we are headed and, yes, I do think that solution is inferior to putting that stuff in phpbb.
Yes, discussions should clearly be put into the existing forum. There has to be some phpBB API/Plugin that allows creation of posts (threads, subboards etc.) "just" use that to create a new thread for a newly uploaded mod in the subforum that the mod is tagged for and your done.

I'm aware i'm probably simplifying a bit much, but i think creating a api between phpbb and the portal is a lot less work than creating a forum from scratch that satisfies all requirements.

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Re: The mod portal was a nice experiment... end it please?

Post by Kazaanh » Thu Dec 22, 2016 11:32 am

Koub wrote:As you said, workshop support would lock non Steam users out of the party, because, why bother those who aren't on Steam ? Steam users would stay together, and it would create a 2-speed game.
I fully support the fact that whatever ecosystem is built around the game, all will be able to benefit equally from it.
Well from my POV, I just like having everything in one place. If you know what I mean.

Its really tiring to go around several external programs or websites to access various games (hence why I dislike to use Origin or GOG, I just like to have all games in one place. On Steam ) . And with Steam Workshop , you could always add a link system and link Factorio official forums with Steam right?

Also lets not forget that Steam has more traffic which means = game gets more attention = more income and bigger playerbase.

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Re: The mod portal was a nice experiment... end it please?

Post by Kane » Sat Mar 11, 2017 9:26 pm

I agree, I want to use these forums again and post / talk about the mods and not be stuck using the mod portal who most the authors don't care to use themselves so it makes it feel like there is next to no support. At least on the forums others who don't even use the mod sometimes will provide code support and more.

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Re: The mod portal was a nice experiment... end it please?

Post by Mooncat » Mon Mar 20, 2017 2:16 am

Just saw this thread...
Yes, the discussion board on Mod Portal is awkward. Without notification, it is hard to know if a user has posted anything in any of my mods.
However, if mod authors really want to discuss with players on forums, they can simply create threads here and then post the links on the mod descriptions. I do this for all of my mods.
Some people still use the discussion board. I just wish there is an option to disable the board and force them to use the forums.

About Steam Workshop, half of me support this suggestion, because I am a Steam user. But the other half don't like it because it means I will need to look for any feedback on 2 different platforms for 2 different groups of users. Would be nice if they can be linked together, but I don't think it is doable. If it is just a simple URL link, people will still write reviews on Steam.
Klonan wrote:We have someone working on a completely better mod portal as we speak,
We know the current one isn't very great, but the new one will be far far better, and easier to maintain, easier to add functionality etc.
We don't have much to show yet, but when its getting ready we will make sure to write about the changes in a FFF
Is it still true now? :)

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Re: The mod portal was a nice experiment... end it please?

Post by sparr » Mon Mar 20, 2017 5:01 am

I put my mods on the portal when it opened, just before I stopped playing for a while. I'll be back in 0.15. I recently checked the mod pages and was astounded to see that there were comments that I was never notified of.

Also, I agree with OP that discussion on the mod portal is terrible. It should just be integrated with the forum.

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Re: The mod portal was a nice experiment... end it please?

Post by Klonan » Mon Mar 20, 2017 10:40 am

Mooncat wrote:
Klonan wrote:We have someone working on a completely better mod portal as we speak,
We know the current one isn't very great, but the new one will be far far better, and easier to maintain, easier to add functionality etc.
We don't have much to show yet, but when its getting ready we will make sure to write about the changes in a FFF
Is it still true now? :)
Yep, still true

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Re: The mod portal was a nice experiment... end it please?

Post by Betep3akata » Mon Mar 20, 2017 1:20 pm

+ 1 vote for the mod portal because I prefer a ticket based boards to arrange tasks and discuss suggestions. It saves my time in contradistinction to long threads on forums.

And I believe that even the mod portal in current state has had a great impact on the increase in a number of new authors and quality of mods base in general.
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Re: The mod portal was a nice experiment... end it please?

Post by Mooncat » Mon Mar 20, 2017 2:02 pm

Klonan wrote:
Mooncat wrote:
Klonan wrote:We have someone working on a completely better mod portal as we speak,
We know the current one isn't very great, but the new one will be far far better, and easier to maintain, easier to add functionality etc.
We don't have much to show yet, but when its getting ready we will make sure to write about the changes in a FFF
Is it still true now? :)
Yep, still true
Yeah~~~~ Mod Portal 2.0! :D

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Re: The mod portal was a nice experiment... end it please?

Post by Kane » Mon Mar 20, 2017 7:49 pm

Called Workshop Support :P

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