Jomaxro's 2015 State of the Discourse

Good morning/noon/afternoon/evening/night/day (I hope I didn’t miss any timezones :smile:) everyone!

@jomaxro here, and for those of you who do not know me I am the newest member of the moderator team here on the Stonehearth Discourse forum (along with @Geoffers747, @SteveAdamo, @Relyss, and @8BitCrab). I wanted to take some time to write a bit about the current State of the Discourse, what you can expect to see in the coming days/weeks/months, and open the floor to your thoughts on where we are, and where you would like us to be a year from now.


Some personal background first: I have been following Stonehearth for close to a year now. Bit the bullet in June shortly after it arrived on Steam, and have been hooked ever since. Lurked around the Discourse for a while, and came aboard in September. And on the first of November (wow, almost 30 days! How time flies…) I joined the moderator team. My background (in real life) is in Computer Science and Education, and I also spent significant time working for a computer help desk, so I have some tech support background as well. Enough about me, onto the Discourse!

##Discourse Stats
The Discourse has been around since 2013, existing way back when during the Kickstarter, and continuing to grow to where we are now. Today we are 5500+ users strong, with over 9,000 topics and 141,000 posts. We gain an average of 8 new members every day, and have given each other 178,003 likes! The most popular category is Support (yes, this is a game in active development :wink:), followed by Suggestions and General Discussion.

##Support Category Updates
Being over 2 years old, our Discourse was in need of some TLC (Tender Loving Care), and we started that process this month. If you frequent the Support category, you will hopefully have noticed a few changes. First, we have introduced 2 new subcategories to help manage the large number of reports received. The first is Previous Build Reports. Over the previous 11 Alphas, especially at the beginning and with the Steam release, many, many reports were created (thank you very much!), but we were not able to keep up with the organization. In order to help ensure that current issues are visible, all threads not updated since the first Alpha 12 release have been moved there. The second is Crash Reports. We (the moderators) and the devs are always concerned when the game fails to launch or crashes. Crashes were previously housed under the Performance support category, but that could be deceptive as Performance tended to include lagging and other gameplay related issues, and a crash report could get lost! Additionally, the information needed to assist with a crash is very different than for lag, so splitting them apart helps insure that we can get all the information needed to provide good support.

###Report Templates
Next, our Bug Report Category (as well as Crash Report) have been configured to include the report template by default. That means, if you create a report in one of those 2 categories, you should see the report template appear in the editor before you begin typing. This template is very, very helpful to everyone (the moderators, the devs, and even the community). It is helpful to the moderators as it allows us to route the issue to the proper dev, as well as tag the report. It is helpful to the developers as it includes all of the common information needed to provide a fix and/or support. Finally, it is helpful to the community as it allows everyone to see what the issue is, and like/post if they are seeing the same thing. That being said, please don’t copy an engine error into a bug report and click create. We don’t have any way of helping you if we don’t know what is going on that caused the error!

###Topic Tagging
Lastly for our support category, you may have noticed some new information appearing underneath the topic titles.

These “tags” are a new tool the moderator team is using to help organize the reports that come in as well as provide you, the community, with some useful information. These tags are currently in use in the Support category/subcategories. I would like to go over some of the tags you are likely to see so you will know what they mean:

First are tags used to denote the “status” of the report. Each report will likely include a tag for the affected build, for example a13dev2320 would indicate a bug that has been reported in Alpha 13, develop-2320. A typical report would then progress in the following order:

  • confirmed_by_users - indicates that one or more forum members have replied in the thread with the same bug, and has been confirmed to not be an isolated incident.
  • acknowledged_by_devs - indicates that the bug has been acknowledged by a developer, and they have added it to the running list of issues to resolve.
  • fixed_for_next_build - indicates that the bug has been resolved by a developer, and is set for release in the next build.
  • resolved - indicates that the bug has been resolved and the build with the fix has been released.

There are 4 tags that may be used in place of the above progression:

  • no_longer_applicable - indicates that the reported issue may have been a bug, but the feature and/or code reported is no longer in use, and thus the bug report is no longer applicable.
  • not_a_bug - indicates that the reported issue was deemed to not be a bug, but perhaps a misunderstood, intended experience. A recent example of this would be reports of “No Daily Reports” which was the result of the added setting for Hearthling limit.
  • not_reproducible - indicates that the reported issue may be a bug, but the developers were not able to recreate the issue in their testing, and thus cannot fix the error.
  • duplicate - indicates that the reported issue is the same as a previously reported bug, and the topics have been merged.

Additionally, a large assortment of tags are used to indicate what the bug appears to be related to, or if certain information, like a log or a save, have been provided. Below is a sample of what you can expect (this list grows/shrinks with the currently reported bugs):
ai, building, campaigns, combat, crafting, crash-dmp_provided, crashes, desktop_tuesday, engine, farming, hearthling_therapist, items, log_provided, mining, other, pathfinding, performance, renderer, save_game_provided, save-load, shepard, sound, storage, terrain, trading, trapping, ui, workers

##Suggestions Category
Now, outside of the support threads, the next area where you should start to see some changes is suggestions. There are over 1,300 separate topics inside of the suggestions category. Some may have already been implemented, some may be completely outdated, and some might be really, really awesome and should be seen by the devs! Whatever the case may be, expect to see some new subcategories added to the Suggestions category, as well as some new tags being applied to the topics. No need to change what you do to create a suggestion: you will still create it as a new topic in the main category. Keep an eye out for these changes in the coming weeks!

Finally, I want to open up this thread to you, the community, which is really what this forum is all about! What do you want to see on the Discourse? What could we (the moderators) do better/differently in the year to come? Do you have any ideas on ways we can make the Discourse better?

#Thanks for reading
To those of you in the United States, I hope you had an enjoyable Thanksgiving with family and friends. To all of our users, I would like to wish you a joyous holiday season and a happy and healthy new year :confetti_ball:!



started participating in september. so THAT’S why I’ve never seen you before.

… wait, you got stonehearth after it hit steam and joined the forum in full this september, while I got stonehearth through kickstarter and joined the forum in July, helped with a bunch with bugs and common issues and the like and was active, and you became a mod before me?

[jealousy intensifies]

lol but anyway, welcome aboard.

Nice speech my lord and congratulations if I can say that ? :crown:
For now, I’ve only found one suggestion that may be pointed out and that’s because the discourse is really full of good ideas.

When you’re starting to write a new post, some post suggestions appear in order to see if your bug has already been reported. I don’t know if it’s only me, but it doesn’t seem to work every time.
Of course some people will awlays post without noticing these suggestions but can’t we imagine a new way to make them more visible ?
Plus it seems that you have to scroll to the top if you want to see the first suggestion, otherwise it’ll be hidden by the “Discussion” white band.
That’s all for me :grinning:

the problem with that is stonehearth doesn’t own discourse. stonehearth doesn’t have anything to do with discourse. basically, if you compare it to reddit, stonehearth owns a subreddit. so there is no control over how discourse does things.

that said, I do very much agree with the “making it more visible” bit. around the time the blacksmith got multiple work stations, stonehearth was flooded with reposts after reposts after reposts after reposts after reposts. it was annoying and very stressful, and considering all the other stuff going on in my life at the same time, I had to take a break from stonehearth and discourse. going to each thread and saying “you’re reposting what /insert other thread/ said” is actually difficult considering you have to keep track of what posts were already made and what their url was. I felt bad for the mods who had to merge all those topics orz (I forgot carrots don’t work on discourse. whoops)

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There’s no 100% solution for this. People, especially new members, want their problems resolved and don’t want to have to think or do anything…including searching for existing topics. They just want to post and have someone tell them the answer. Discourse actually does a really awesome job at automatically searching for topics as you create a new one to help guide people with this but duplicate threads are always going to be around.

@jomaxro, I like auto-populating the bug report template as a default. I would be sure to encourage posting screenshots or gifs. I know not everyone knows how to do this, but I found that I could report a bug incredibly effectively just by posting a gif of the issue. A screenshot would be second-best. They’re both easy, visual ways to see what’s going on in just a few seconds without having to read through a detailed report.


I came across ScreenToGif a while ago, and it works pretty well and is simple to use, though it does have its faults. [Notably, it’s Windows only, and I’ve had some problems with using it in full screen.]

I use ScreenToGif as well, best quick GIF recorder I’ve used.

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Cannot type out a full response now (on phone at lunch) but I do want to say that i do NOT with to be called “lord” please! This is not in any way a monarchy or dictatorship. Truly, the moderators are here to serve the community, not the other way around.

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Yeah, that’s just @Geoffers747 you’re thinking of, @Powerclank.


Err, wrong person sorry :smirk:

Anyway, I’m thinking about another sugg. It would be a “best answer” like several forums have.
In a bug post or any post with many answers, it could be useful to put a “best answer” or anything like that in order to get an instant response for people who are looking for a solution.

Ok, larger update incoming:

As @Ridesdragons, this is a bug with the Discourse software itself, not specific to our instance of it. The bug has been reported (mutiple times) over on the Discourse meta site, but no fix has been developed at this time.[quote=“Powerclank, post:3, topic:18161”]
Of course some people will awlays post without noticing these suggestions but can’t we imagine a new way to make them more visible ?
If you have any ideas, throw them in here. A visual mock-up would always be nice. From there, we could as the Discourse devs what they think of it, and if they will implement it.

Now, in terms of making the topics shown in the similar topic more relevant, there are a few things we might be able to do, I will talk with the other mods to see if we could make something work.

I will agree with you partly on this one. Some errors, especially visual ones can be very easily seen and described with an image - others, not so much. Screenshots of error logs are also not particularly helpful as the text is not searchable and thus makes duplicate post more likely. I did not create the bug report template, that was @SteveAdamo a long time ago. If you have a suggestion on how to modify the template to make it better, I would love to hear specifics. Right now all I can think of is detailing what an “attachment” is.

Discourse has this feature already, it is called discourse-solved, and is already part of our Discourse (just disabled…). How would you see this used in a bug report @Powerclank? I can see it used in a crash report or general report topic where there is a solution provided by a user, but for most bug reports there isn’t really an answer, we just sort-of wait for a fix to be developed, and tag the report with fixed_for_next_build while waiting for the next update. After that it is moved to resolved.

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That means the discourse is made like that ? Is there a limit or can you add anything you want ?[quote=“jomaxro, post:11, topic:18161”]
How would you see this used in a bug report ?
To complete what I posted, you can take the Unsuable items as an example. People just reported without paying attention. I’m not blaming them, just saying that the “best answer” in this post could be “Bug fixed in the next version”.
So that people who experience this bug would see this “best answer” before posting.
There is already the tag but again, not everyone pay attention to the tags.