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  1. 28 Jan '03 06:33 / 3 edits
    No, not track 3 from The Streets' brilliant, touched with genius, groundbreaking album "Original Pirate Material", but rather a few ideas from an unhappy insomniac on how to build on RHP's successes, and address some of the weaknesses:-

    SMALLER, SPECIFIC SITE IMPROVEMENTS:-

    1. Make the 'Skip' button work properly!!!! I don't use it but there are many who do.

    2. Ability to send a message without making a move.

    3. Make a bigger play of there being no need to download any software, nor any of this connect to server business (like on yahoo chess for example). Scream this somewhere in simple terms (don't say browser interface as it does at the moment, say no software to download, do it all through your browser!!) on the homepage at the top in big letters!! A year and a half ago when I typed in online chess looking for a place to play I was put off hugely by all the ones that needed software downloading, and, being on a university network, I had a firewall to contend with (as have many people who are at work) so not needing to do the connect to server thingy was brilliant.

    4. On the game page, for those tricky positions, an opportunity to bring up a pop up page on which you can move the pieces around freely.

    SUBSCRIPTION RELATED:-

    1. Reduction in non-pawnstar game limit to 6 concurrent games. 10 is loads, if people are enjoying RHP so much as to want to play more than 6 concurrent games, then they should be able to afford the paltry subscription fee.

    2. Make it far, far clearer and more obvious how to pay for a star if you haven't got a credit card. One such way would be to make a new improved FAQ list, to include what I just mentioned, as well as how to put a picture in your profile and getting an avatar. These questions come up time and time again.

    3. A life membership scheme. $60 for lifetime membership, special colour/special type of star (a shooting one?!?!).

    4. Increase in subscription fee for second (and third and so on) time yearly subscribers. Call this new fee of, say, $24 the "normal fee", and then make the current price of $15 a "special offer" to first time subscribers. Let's face it, the VAST majority of people who have been a member for over a year are likely to want to subscribe again, and would be willing to resubscribe at a cost of $2 a month. Plus first timers will feel more like they're getting a cheapo bargain.

    5. A non-pawnstar friend of mine told me about the guilt trip advertisements, something to do with $15 being the price of cinema admission or a couple of pizzas. Excellent! Let's have more!

    FORUM RELATED:-

    1. Move the 'General' forum lower down the list, rename it the Off Topic forum. Move the 'Only Chess' forum to the top of the list and rename it The RHP Forum: for general RHP related discussion and chess theory discussion. I've posted the reasons for this many times before so won't do so again.

    2. Display the number of times each thread has been viewed (for every *distinct* user that views a thread, the thread view for that thread goes up by one).

    3. The removal of those cool RHP related banner advertisements means that the forums aren't advertised. Advertise them! It's the easiest way of getting to know lots of people without having to play them all, and subsequently feeling part of the community.

    4. This one's a personal hobby horse, as I genuinely believe it would have a very tangible effect on increasing the number of subscribers, especially the lurkers in the forums (of which I believe there are many): Some kind of limitation of access for non-pawnstars, eg can only read 50% of the threads in the General and Chess Only forums. Alternatively, can no longer read more than 6 replies in a particular thread in these two forums. What you can't see makes you all the more intrigued, and makes you feel that you are missing out on something.

    LARGER, POTENTIALLY TRICKY, DEFINITELY WORTH IT, INTERESTING IDEAS:-

    1. RHP League set up. Different divisions according to signing up rating, promotion and relegation, chance for new people to enter leagues at end of each cycle, pawnstar only feature. RHP doesn't lend itself very well to speedy, exciting tournament play. Play to RHP's strengths, a league over a period of time would be doing so.

    2. More interesting tournaments, as opposed to slight variations on timeout length or group size let's have an Odds tournament, or a Fischer Random tournament, or, as Bbarr suggests a themed opening tournament.

    Okay, this following one is one that I think would benefit the site HUGELY.

    3. TEAMS!!! I just think it would be great, a chance for competition, of team rivalry, of banter, of enjoyment, and so on. This could work in one of two ways:-

    A) The boring but easier way: All the players' results in that team from their usual normal games count towards how the team gets on. At the end of the month have some sort of team league table.
    B) The potentially more fun way: Direct team challenges. For example, there could be a team Vaknso called "Vaknso's Knights", and a team Rhymester called "Rhymester's Rebels". They would play directly against each other, say the highest rated playes matching off, then the next highest, and so on. This team rivalry thing could be very beneficial for the community, as it would create a healthy rivalry similar to that of the MAP war (one of the most successful and good things to ever happen to RHP) but not just between Rhymester and vaknso, there would be new team rivalries etc. I suspect this idea would lead to a lot of good natured, humourous, fun banter between teams.

    So, who wants to join me and play for The Squirrel Lovers?

    T1000
  2. Donation ChessNut
    Lightly Salted...
    28 Jan '03 12:37
    Originally posted by T1000
    So, who wants to join me and play for The Squirrel Lovers?
    I'm in!! Just remember though, I'm ChessNut not chestnut! I don't want to be the first fatality on RHP!!
  3. Donation ChessNut
    Lightly Salted...
    28 Jan '03 12:40
    Originally posted by T1000
    4. On the game page, for those tricky positions, an opportunity to bring up a pop up page on which you can move the pieces around freely.
    This would be very cool! Great idea.
  4. Donation ChessNut
    Lightly Salted...
    28 Jan '03 12:55
    Originally posted by T1000
    1. Make the 'Skip' button work properly!!!! I don't use it but there are many who do.
    2. Ability to send a message without making a move.
    I just spent 10 minutes writing about these and had it lost when RHP was down for a moment so I'll try to reconstruct what I wrote.

    1. Skip feature. Maybe this should skip a game for a day. Unless there is a time associated with the button I don't see how Chris and Russ would know when the game should be viewed again. If you want it hidden until 'next' time you go through your games, when would the 'next' time begin? What do ya'll think?

    2. Great idea. My thought is that there should be a 'Message Waiting' flag for the games and when someone sends a message, it pops up and alerts the other player.
  5. Subscriber Russ
    RHP Code Monkey
    28 Jan '03 12:58 / 1 edit
    Dear Mr. T1000,

    Thanks for the post, I really respect your opinions on this stuff, so I hope I can do justice to your post - I only have 10 minutes in my lunch hour (so apologies for typos in advance). I may return with a follow up post later.


    SMALLER, SPECIFIC SITE IMPROVEMENTS:-

    1. Make the 'Skip' button work properly!!!! I don't use it but there are many who do.

    Chris? Chris? (We generally take responsibility for different things – this is one of Chis’ – I’ll bring this to his attention if he doesn’t read this.)

    2. Ability to send a message without making a move.

    I am considering introducing a personal mail box so you can message other individuals on the site. This would not involve email – just a private inbox that you can check each time you log in. This would be a great way for us to contact all the active users without having to email them too. This could be integrated into the board view, replacing the current messaging system.

    3. Make a bigger play of there being no need to download any software, nor any of this connect to server business (like on yahoo chess for example). Scream this somewhere in simple terms (don't say browser interface as it does at the moment, say no software to download, do it all through your browser!!) on the homepage at the top in big letters!! A year and a half ago when I typed in online chess looking for a place to play I was put off hugely by all the ones that needed software downloading, and, being on a university network, I had a firewall to contend with (as have many people who are at work) so not needing to do the connect to server thingy was brilliant.

    Point taken. I will do this.


    4. On the game page, for those tricky positions, an opportunity to bring up a pop up page on which you can move the pieces around freely.

    This I have committed to doing already (if not publicly, to myself )

    SUBSCRIPTION RELATED:-

    1. Reduction in non-pawnstar game limit to 6 concurrent games. 10 is loads, if people are enjoying RHP so much as to want to play more than 6 concurrent games, then they should be able to afford the paltry subscription fee.

    Controversial move, but inevitable. Non-pawn star opinions on this would be great.

    2. Make it far, far clearer and more obvious how to pay for a star if you haven't got a credit card. One such way would be to make a new improved FAQ list, to include what I just mentioned, as well as how to put a picture in your profile and getting an avatar. These questions come up time and time again.

    The FAQ is woefully out of date now. If you know coders, you will know they love coding and hate writing documentation. I will update it soon. If you have any questions and answers you would like added, send them to me, I will add them with pleasure.

    3. A life membership scheme. $60 for lifetime membership, special colour/special type of star (a shooting one?!?!).

    How do other people feel about this?

    4. Increase in subscription fee for second (and third and so on) time yearly subscribers. Call this new fee of, say, $24 the "normal fee", and then make the current price of $15 a "special offer" to first time subscribers. Let's face it, the VAST majority of people who have been a member for over a year are likely to want to subscribe again, and would be willing to resubscribe at a cost of $2 a month. Plus first timers will feel more like they're getting a cheapo bargain.

    This makes sense. How do other pawn stars feel about this? This wouldn’t be a priority though. I think an incentive to get donation pawn stars to subscribe would be more beneficial in the short term. (Currently, winged members see no ads, standard Pawn Stars do – this is the only difference.)

    5. A non-pawnstar friend of mine told me about the guilt trip advertisements, something to do with $15 being the price of cinema admission or a couple of pizzas. Excellent! Let's have more!

    Well, I am quite proud of that ad. I would love to know if that swayed many people’s thoughts about subscribing. Maybe I can come up with a few more for the banner ads. (The existing one is a tower ad)

    FORUM RELATED:-

    1. Move the 'General' forum lower down the list, rename it the Off Topic forum. Move the 'Only Chess' forum to the top of the list and rename it The RHP Forum: for general RHP related discussion and chess theory discussion. I've posted the reasons for this many times before so won't do so again.

    Agreed. No, really.

    2. Display the number of times each thread has been viewed (for every *distinct* user that views a thread, the thread view for that thread goes up by one).

    Bit of a resource overhead with this one. Chris?

    3. The removal of those cool RHP related banner advertisements means that the forums aren't advertised. Advertise them! It's the easiest way of getting to know lots of people without having to play them all, and subsequently feeling part of the community.

    I may need to standardise on the bubble icon used on the tournament list. Explain clearly what it is, and place it everywhere it is appropriate.


    4. This one's a personal hobby horse, as I genuinely believe it would have a very tangible effect on increasing the number of subscribers, especially the lurkers in the forums (of which I believe there are many): Some kind of limitation of access for non-pawnstars, eg can only read 50% of the threads in the General and Chess Only forums. Alternatively, can no longer read more than 6 replies in a particular thread in these two forums. What you can't see makes you all the more intrigued, and makes you feel that you are missing out on something.

    LARGER, POTENTIALLY TRICKY, DEFINITELY WORTH IT, INTERESTING IDEAS:-

    1. RHP League set up. Different divisions according to signing up rating, promotion and relegation, chance for new people to enter leagues at end of each cycle, pawnstar only feature. RHP doesn't lend itself very well to speedy, exciting tournament play. Play to RHP's strengths, a league over a period of time would be doing so.

    I will look at this. Document in detail how you would like it to work, post it here, and I will see how feasible it is. (At the end of the day, I can code anything given the time – but time is my worst enemy – I over do it a bit as it is. )


    2. More interesting tournaments, as opposed to slight variations on timeout length or group size let's have an Odds tournament, or a Fischer Random tournament, or, as Bbarr suggests a themed opening tournament.

    Tounraments will be revisited when they have settled. They are still new, and I think my attention should go elsewhere for the time being. See comment about team tournaments.

    Okay, this following one is one that I think would benefit the site HUGELY.

    3. TEAMS!!! I just think it would be great, a chance for competition, of team rivalry, of banter, of enjoyment, and so on. This could work in one of two ways:-

    A) The boring but easier way: All the players' results in that team from their usual normal games count towards how the team gets on. At the end of the month have some sort of team league table.
    B) The potentially more fun way: Direct team challenges. For example, there could be a team Vaknso called "Vaknso's Knights", and a team Rhymester called "Rhymester's Rebels". They would play directly against each other, say the highest rated playes matching off, then the next highest, and so on. This team rivalry thing could be very beneficial for the community, as it would create a healthy rivalry similar to that of the MAP war (one of the most successful and good things to ever happen to RHP) but not just between Rhymester and vaknso, there would be new team rivalries etc. I suspect this idea would lead to a lot of good natured, humourous, fun banter between teams.

    I started down this route a few months after development of RHP ( with ‘groups&rsquo but then watered it all down to buddy lists before taking it this far.

    Teams/clans is a great idea, and I agree with everything you say there. I have considered doing a separate version of the tournament code for team tournaments. So this will all tie in with that. This will be next on my ‘BIG’ projects list (rather than tweaks.)

    I have a few other little things on the go at the moment, including the introduction of dynamic menus (navigation will be much easier – direct to the forum you want from any page, etc) This will result in a slight redesign of the top of the screen. Also a new page called ‘my home’ – off which the existing ‘your games’ will live. This will list such things as your (to be introduced) mail box, and stats, and urgent games, or forum threads that you are watching, etc. As I stated earlier though, I spend nearly all my freetime achieving what I do at the moment, so big projects might take sometime. I suggest a petition to my boss to give me paid leave for RHP development. He can’t argue with an angry mob, can he.


    So, who wants to join me and play for The Squirrel Lovers?
    You really wouldn’t want me.

    -Russ

  6. Donation ChessNut
    Lightly Salted...
    28 Jan '03 12:59
    I like the 'League' setup idea!

    I also like the idea of teams. Maybe tourneys could be constructed so that teams can be made and then rounds would be 2 on 2 and the team with the best score moves on.
  7. Standard member DdV
    28 Jan '03 21:50
    Originally posted by Russ

    2. Ability to send a message without making a move.

    I am considering introducing a personal mail box so you can message other individuals on the site. This would not involve email – just a private inbox that you can check each time you log in. This would be a great way for us to contact all the active users without having to email them too. This could be integrated into the board view, replacing the current messaging system.
    -Russ[/i]
    This sounds really great. I wanted to post a suggestion to make it possible to send one more message after a game has finished on your opponent's turn, just to be able to reply to a last message without having to use email.. A private inbox sounds a lot better though.
  8. Subscriber Chris
    Site Admin
    28 Jan '03 23:50
    Originally posted by Russ
    [i]Chris? Chris? (We generally take responsibility for different things – this is one of Chis’ – I’ll bring this to his attention if he doesn’t read this.)





    It's working I tell you. It MUST be working. Is it not?

    Ok... this is how I THINK it works...

    1) You see "25 Games Waiting"
    2) You click.
    3) You go to the game that is the game in which the last move made is longer ago than in any other of your games.
    4) You click Skip.
    5) That game goes to the "bottom" of the queue. Meaning that you need to go through 24 games before you see it again, either by making moves or by skipping them.

    Tell me people, is this not what happens!!
  9. 29 Jan '03 00:01
    Originally posted by Chrismo


    It's working I tell you. It MUST be working. Is it not?

    Ok... this is how I THINK it works...

    1) You see "25 Games Waiting"
    2) You click.
    3) You go to the game that is the game in which the last move made is longer ago than in any other of your games.
    4) You click Skip.
    5) That game goes to the "bottom" of the queue. Me ...[text shortened]... ain, either by making moves or by skipping them.

    Tell me people, is this not what happens!!
    Sorry, but no.

    It goes to second in the queue.
  10. Subscriber Chris
    Site Admin
    29 Jan '03 03:18
    Originally posted by timmo
    Sorry, but no.

    It goes to second in the queue.
    Ok. In that case I apologise. I really thought I had fixed this problem. This is embarrassing.

    But I have an excuse.



    No I don't.



    My apologies. I don't know how this went wrong, but I will fix it.

    -Chris
  11. Standard member StrayJay
    I'm like a nerd
    29 Jan '03 21:26 / 4 edits
    An opposing voice with respect to "Forum related" point 4:

    I've been on the Internet for over 10 years now, and I really dislike the relatively recent trend to either pay or register for access to web sites. The 'net was much more fun when everything was freely accessible (i.e. without paying and/or giving up one's privacy).

    Of course I don't know about everybody else, but I did not become an RHP member because I wanted unrestricted access; so far I've only played maybe 5 games simultaneously and I'm not using any of the extras.

    I became a member because I like the site, *especially* because of its almost unrestricted access for non-members. It gives the site a very nice atmosphere. "You're welcome even if you're not a member." It's almost like a church; it made me want to donate money. When I was reading the contributions on the forums, I noticed that members were gently encouraging non-members to pay the small contribution. The whole friendliness made me want to 'belong', and be a supporter of "Da Doods @ RHP".

    If you limit access to parts of the sites to members-only, that whole friendliness is gone. Then, by donating money you're no longer becoming part of a community, you're no longer "doing good"; you're paying to get access to a service.

    My suggestion is: let the members pull non-members "on board" by encouraging them to make a contribution (as they did with me). If money is an issue, I think most members would not mind donating the price of a couple of pizzas to get that nice feeling that they are "doing good".
  12. Subscriber Russ
    RHP Code Monkey
    29 Jan '03 21:59
    Stray Jay,

    I like your attitude on this. I too love the free net, but times have changed. In the days when the web was new, advertising paid for everything. Not so anymore - we make a pittance from the ads we show here, a fraction of the true cost to host the site.

    When the site just started, we had a lower spec. server that cost us less to host the site, but the usage now is amazing, we have a big machine behind it, so we NEED subscribers to keep it going. Once subs. have been running for a year, we will have a good idea of how many will renew their subs, and we should finally be able to breathe easy!

    I will never remove the free site, not everyone can afford to pay, and I want them to have fun here too – but there are restrictions. (Tournaments, etc) I think restricting the forums is probably going to far as you say, so don’t worry.

    Anyway, enough chat, got to go and catch a plane.

    -Russ


  13. Standard member StrayJay
    I'm like a nerd
    29 Jan '03 23:31 / 3 edits
    Originally posted by Russ

    3. A life membership scheme. $60 for lifetime membership, special colour/special type of star (a shooting one?!?!).

    How do other people feel about this?

    Bad idea. Although $60 isn't going to kill me, it's still a lot of money. For that amount, I'd like to have the guarantee that you guys are still "in business" say two years from now. Since even IBM can't guarantee that, I'd much rather take the safe route and pay an annual fee --which, in the longer run, is probably also more beneficial to you because it's better to have steady revenues every year.

    Talking about annual revenues: I do agree that $15 is too low. Count me in for $2 per month. That's the price of a pizza slice, and all the money that I donate to RHP I can't spend on pizza; this way I keep both my body AND my mind lean and mean.

    (My g/f just started to laugh: "'Keep' your body lean and mean? Don't flatter yourself." )
  14. 30 Jan '03 22:56 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by StrayJay
    An opposing voice with respect to "Forum related" point 4:

    I've been on the Internet for over 10 years now, and I really dislike the relatively recent trend to either pay or register for access to web sites. The 'net was much more ...[text shortened]... e of pizzas to get that nice feeling that they are "doing good".
    This idea came from the original starting precept (is that a word!?) of trying to get as many subscribers as possible. From there I reckoned that the forums were a very popular (well, oft read at the very least) part of the site, and the best way of getting people to subscribe was to do something regarding the forums. And that's where the idea came from.

    I stand by my belief that it would have a considerable affect in creating new subscribers. However I do agree with you, and admit that although it would be very affective, that doesn't necessarily make it right. It came about through frustration at people not being grateful and willing to give credit (oo-er, pun) to those who have given them a lot, namely Chris and Russ. But that is the way of the world to a large degree.

    I withdraw the idea (it had already been pretty squarely beaten down anyway )

  15. 30 Jan '03 22:59
    Originally posted by StrayJay
    Originally posted by Russ

    3. A life membership scheme. $60 for lifetime membership, special colour/special type of star (a shooting one?!?!).

    How do other people feel about this?

    Bad idea. Although $60 isn't going to kill me, it's still a lot of money. For that amount, I'd like to have the guarantee that you guys are still " ...[text shortened]... g/f just started to laugh: "'Keep' your body lean and mean? Don't flatter yourself." )
    Sorry for the separate posts but I'm too tired to try and copy and paste several different replies into one quote box and make only one post.

    Just so there's no misunderstanding, I was suggesting a lifetime membership scheme as an *addition* to the 1st year = $15, second year (and after) = $24 scheme, ie if you wanted to take out life membership you could, otherwise you'd subscribe as usual. There's no harm in having it as an extra option is there? The $60 was plucked out of the air with not much thought I admit.