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 🙂 )
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The FAQ is woefully out of date now.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)
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.