Forums Kongregate

The State of Kongregate. page 2

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I didn’t read the whole thread. I will point out a couple of things about the Facebook changes that weren’t mentioned in the OP: people get used to them very quickly once they’re done ranting about how different it is. And on the occasion that Facebook changes things back to a previous version, which does occasionally happen, people complain just as much. Users just hate change. It’s known as Baby Duck Imprint Syndrome. For many users, the first version of a product they try out is the absoulte best it could ever be, barring very minor tweaks, and they’ll complain about anything else you change in it.

Once upon a time ebay was bright yellow, and when they changed the backgrounds to be white, there was similar levels of outrage as over any Facebook update. Look at ebay now…. do you think a yellow background would improve it?

 
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Originally posted by saybox:

I didn’t read the whole thread. I will point out a couple of things about the Facebook changes that weren’t mentioned in the OP: people get used to them very quickly once they’re done ranting about how different it is. And on the occasion that Facebook changes things back to a previous version, which does occasionally happen, people complain just as much. Users just hate change. It’s known as Baby Duck Imprint Syndrome. For many users, the first version of a product they try out is the absoulte best it could ever be, barring very minor tweaks, and they’ll complain about anything else you change in it.

Once upon a time ebay was bright yellow, and when they changed the backgrounds to be white, there was similar levels of outrage as over any Facebook update. Look at ebay now…. do you think a yellow background would improve it?

I’ve gotten used to plenty of changes, but the profiles are unforgivable.

Beta tag? Fine.

New nav bar? Great!

New chat? Sure, keep it coming.

New nav bar again? Eh…

New homepage? Why not?

Profiles more cluttered and less private? No thanks.

“Social” updates? Nope.

 
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Hi guys. Fair warning, this is going to be loooooooooong.

First, an introduction so you know where I’m coming from! Some of you probably know me, many of you don’t, but I’ve been on this site for a long freakin time. I joined in April of 2007 because StumbleUpon decided to change my life with one click and sent me here to play Fancy Pants. I was a user, then a mod and got hired almost exactly 4 years ago. I started out in community management, then was working on our mobile app, and about a year ago moved over to work on the web product. That means I help to work with our developers and designers to get projects done and new features developed. I really love this site. Really really.

So, now you know why I’m going to ramble on here. I really appreciate the thoughtful responses here. We do try our best to respond to the threads and questions/complaints as they’re happening, but they tend to get lost in the announcement threads so I’m happy to try and address your concerns here.

To start, I promise we never ever do anything without a lot of discussion and thought first. We don’t wake up one day and go “you know, let’s just totally overhaul the profile for funsies!”…mostly because it’s a ton of work. If I could snap my fingers and put purple lightning bolts on the homepage, you’d all be in trouble. But the profile design and feed stuff was months of work for our developers, designers, product people, QA etc. We discuss every little detail and yeah, we definitely get stuff wrong sometimes, but we do our best and fix the things we agree are broken. Since the launch of these features we’ve actually changed quite a bit due to feedback from y’all.

We all absolutely value the community here. We know how important you all are and we always always take into account the reactions of our most active users (that’s you guys) during the design and development process as well as after launch. We want you to like what we do, I swear :P That said, we also want to do things that the vast silent majority will like. These recent updates have been geared towards getting more people to become engaged in the community.

If an administrator wants to reply (and has the information) it’s be interesting to see the average number of friends/fans per user; I think that’d be a telling statistic.

Prior to these updates the average (mean, not median) number of friends a user added was less than 1. This, to me, is the most telling statistic. The vast vast majority of people that come and register on Kongregate never added anyone as a friend. We think that connecting with people on the site is a really good thing and wanted to do what we could to try and encourage it. The recent changes have had a significant positive impact on this number

I can’t speak for all of you, but I personally have made very valuable friendships through this site. I remember adding trickyrodent as a friend way back in 2007. I remember the whisper she sent me telling me she was pregnant and how excited I was for her. I now get to see pictures and heard stories about her wonderful son. I’ve shared amazing life and gaming moments with people I met on Kong. There are oodles of really awesome people on this site—I would like them to meet each other.

2. Kongregate always has had someone to answer to, and those people want progress.

Well, that’s true, there were investors and now there’s GameStop, but they’re really not puppet masters. They, of course, want growth (as do we), but they’re not giving us specific orders to redesign the profile. They’ve been as great as any parent company could be, and any missteps are our own.

But not losing your identity is just as important as change. If you lose sight of who you are, then the change is pointless. The reason I say this is because several times, users from 2008 have used their very first post ever to explain how Kongregate is doing a terrible thing and that they’re leaving forever. That shouldn’t be happening, but it is.

I totally agree with you, I just disagree with the implication that we are doing this. From the beginning Kongregate has been a social site for web gaming. It’s had chat and forums from launch. It (and sharing revenue with developers) is what really set Kongregate apart from the other web gaming platforms out there. To me, the feeds is just the next step. There was a time when I could just pop into a chatroom filled with people I know and say “hey so what games have you guys been playing?” I can’t do that anymore, but that doesn’t make me less curious about it. I like seeing when people level up, I want people to see and e-highfive me if I ever manage to earn an impossible badge, I’m glad to learn when the most recent puzzle platformer gets badges. I understand that there are people out there that don’t like this, but I don’t think we’re losing our identity. It’s still about the games, we have just always thought that gaming is more fun with people.

We never want to drive people away, ever, but I’ve also never seen any non-trivial update that everyone liked. Bigger updates like this, there’s no shot. We really do our best, and reading those types of posts seriously hurt my heart, but it’s impossible. People use the site differently, and always will. That doesn’t mean we don’t take those complaints seriously, but we do have to keep them in perspective.

It’s insane how quickly new updates and features are being rolled out. It’s too fast. Period.

To me, the recent changes are all parts of the same puzzle. The picture wouldn’t be complete had we not done them all. I realize that it’s a pretty huge change, but we’re not trying to change everything about the site. This was one huge project that touched multiple places. We’re always working and changing stuff, this group has just been particularly user-facing. Before we started on the new homepage/nav bar/profile/feed stuff, we did a lot of backend support to make the site run better. We made a new developer site. We built an Android app. We’re trying to be a better site and there’s a team of people working on it 5 days a week to try and improve it. We know we’re not perfect, we do read your feedback and we’re always always trying to make things better for everyone that uses the site.

To Kongregate: slow down. No, really. Seriously. Slow down. Also, remember who you are and what put you into this position. It was mentioned in the other thread about reputation. Think about it. Talk to GameStop, work something out. Figure it out. But slow down and try to listen to us.

Okay, I hear you. We’re always changing stuff, but this was a huge project, and the big parts are done. We will never ever forget or take for granted the community that got us here. As I said, this was honestly all part of trying to get more people to participate and interact with each other (and it’s worked). On staff currently there are 7 of us that started off as highly active community members on the site. We know what brought us to the site and why we stuck around. We know we wouldn’t be here without y’all.

We listen. We might not agree with everyone on everything, but we do listen and discuss and make changes directly because of feedback, and we will continue to do so. Thank you for your very thoughtful and well-written post. Seriously.

 
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In reply to AlisonClaire’s post

There is a difference between encouragement and forcing it.

The chats beside the games is a form of encouragement or at least an opportunity for people to interact if they so choose. The forums is another example of this.

The fact that most people on average only had one friend should have been a telling statistic. It should have told you that most people that come to the site are here to play the games and not to make friends.

Goody for you that you made friends here, but you even pointed out later in your post, that you most likely did that through the chat.

If as you say, you have always thought that gaming was more fun with people, why in the blank did you start a site that had anything other than MMOs? Why would you even want to play a single player game?

I like to learn when games get badges as well, but that is a simple notification process and requires no socialization.

Almost all web game sites have some form of forums for discussions and technical issues.

From what you stated, it also seems that the accomplishment of getting the badges is not enough for you, you need attention or accolades to go along with it. So why is it so hard for your friends to go to your profile page and see for themselves what you have done instead of announcing it to everyone on the site?

Throughout your post you continually use “We” when referring to the Admins. “We” should take into account that by making all these changes that so many do not like “We” is rapidly becoming “They” to the people on the site.

 
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That statistic about less than one friend to an user is disturbing… Does this statistic include alternates (both good and bad?), because that would drastically skew the results…

Also, thank you for addressing this thread, AlisonClaire!

 
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Alt accounts are probably included, but from what we’ve looked at in the past they represent less than 10% of accounts created, so they’re not skewing things too much. Very heavy users do tend to have multiple alt accounts, but that’s just a small % of the userbase.

To give a sample of some of the results of the changes here are some stats we just pulled for June vs March:

  • friends added: +130%
  • shouts left: +124%
  • highly active registered users: +47%
  • % highly active: +19%
  • of chat messages: +23%

As Alison said we truly put a tremendous amount of thought into these changes, and are constantly working to improve them. If it makes you guys feel better we don’t plan any more huge changes for a while, just refinements of the current system. But I can’t promise we won’t make big changes in the future, because we probably will. But we will be trying very hard to make Kongregate better, if different.

 
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Originally posted by emily_greer:

As Alison said we truly put a tremendous amount of thought into these changes, and are constantly working to improve them. If it makes you guys feel better we don’t plan any more huge changes for a while, just refinements of the current system. But I can’t promise we won’t make big changes in the future, because we probably will. But we will be trying very hard to make Kongregate better, if different.

I don’t doubt that you do. This was the main point I was going to address with Alison’s post. I (personally) don’t think it’s as much about the changes as how rapidly they occurred. There’s always going to be resistance with change, that’s common sense and inevitable. It’s the nature of the beast. But it’s really pushing it with the release schedule that you guys used. As I said in the opening post (I believe), it was basically a significant update (profile/homepage redesign) every month or so. That’s asking a lot from your userbase, especially when you know that they don’t like change to begin with. I know that these changes have been planned for months, in the works for probably years. I don’t see that as a valid excuse, though.

 
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An 130% increase in friends being added is veerrrryyyy impressive. o_o

 
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Originally posted by emily_greer:

To give a sample of some of the results of the changes here are some stats we just pulled for June vs March:

  • friends added: +130%
  • shouts left: +124%
  • highly active registered users: +47%
  • % highly active: +19%
  • of chat messages: +23%

I would be very interested to know what proportion of these are driven by MMOs that encourage users to spam messages.

Look, the fact is I trust Kong, and if the admins think the new system will encourage friendships and positive interactions, I’m willing to admit I’m being Mr Grumpy and wish them all the best. But I don’t trust MMO devs, and lately they’ve been allowed to shout or post on our feed etc – basically using our precious attention without filtering from Kong, far too often. This is what really bugs me about the new updates – Kong allowing advertisers, devs, random users to abuse the access that they (Kong) have earned with years of stellar effort. Attention is a precious resource, guys, don’t let others waste ours or we’ll have to treat these new interactions as noise.

 
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Originally posted by schizophoenix:

I would be very interested to know what proportion of these are driven by MMOs that encourage users to spam messages.

It’s not just spamming messages but also their players mass-friending/following each other. Many MMOs here are using Kong’s friend/follower system for in-game bonuses since it’s similar to Facebook’s (so it’s easier for devs to port that aspect).

 
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Originally posted by emily_greer:

Alt accounts are probably included, but from what we’ve looked at in the past they represent less than 10% of accounts created, so they’re not skewing things too much. Very heavy users do tend to have multiple alt accounts, but that’s just a small % of the userbase.

Eek! Emily, are you saying that 10% is too small to skew the numbers? James Polk beat Henry Clay by only 1.4% of the popular vote, Cleveland beat Hayes by .7%, and Garfield beat Hancock by only .1%. Then if you take into account the margin of error, especially if you only picked a sample of the users and not the entire group then the numbers are really skewed. Obviously if there are say 3,000,000 accounts that means that 300,000 members are alternate accounts, or spam accounts, and should be passed up when it comes to finding the average. Really only people with at least 1 friend should be counted at any rate. I’m not meaning to be rude, it’s simply how statistics works.
 
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Originally posted by AlisonClaire:

Prior to these updates the average (mean, not median) number of friends a user added was less than 1. This, to me, is the most telling statistic. The vast vast majority of people that come and register on Kongregate never added anyone as a friend. We think that connecting with people on the site is a really good thing and wanted to do what we could to try and encourage it. The recent changes have had a significant positive impact on this number

Oh, so all these terrible updates are because you didn’t know that an account doesn’t mean a user? I have made like 30 accounts. I’d say the vast majority of users have more than one account. People who use the forums probably have like 5. Alts should not be counted as users.

 
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Originally posted by emily_greer:

As Alison said we truly put a tremendous amount of thought into these changes, and are constantly working to improve them. If it makes you guys feel better we don’t plan any more huge changes for a while, just refinements of the current system. But I can’t promise we won’t make big changes in the future, because we probably will. But we will be trying very hard to make Kongregate better, if different.

Well. Next big change you need to do is to find a way to stop hackers. I know that it’s a hard task but it is one of the big updates that I’m sure the majority of users will either praise you for or at least stay neutral about. The only people who would complain would be those who hack and compromise the integrity of the badges and the highscore boards that this website is so awesome for and really, those are the people you don’t need to please anyway. So we are all aware that this is a big site and change is imminent, but remember gaming comes first, socializing second. Please focus on improving our gaming experience and making it more fun for good honest players above all else. And by the way, thank you guys for hearing us out and listening to our concerns!
 
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I used to like Kongregate because it was unique. Now it’s been ruined by the conformity that is social networking.

 
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I would be surprised if alternate accounts were not included. It would be pretty difficult to filter them out. It’s probably possible, but difficult. 10% is a lot, though. There’s over 8 million registered accounts on the site, so that’s up to 800,000 accounts that aren’t unique. Again, that’s a massive amount.

 
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Originally posted by adv0catus:

I would be surprised if alternate accounts were not included. It would be pretty difficult to filter them out. It’s probably possible, but difficult. 10% is a lot, though. There’s over 8 million registered accounts on the site, so that’s up to 800,000 accounts that aren’t unique. Again, that’s a massive amount.

I agree, I just picked a rough number but that’s even bigger. By any means, 10% of any number should still be considered a huge chunk of it. Especially if that 10% are just people who made an account and never leveled with it or added friends. Really, the statistic should only include those at least level 3 or 5 with at least one friend (and maybe have logged in within the past year) in order for it to really matter. Otherwise the numbers are skewed so badly.
 
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Originally posted by Ericzander:
I agree, I just picked a rough number but that’s even bigger. By any means, 10% of any number should still be considered a huge chunk of it. Especially if that 10% are just people who made an account and never leveled with it or added friends.

Well, let’s work through the math. If the mean number of friends per account is less than 1, and we assume that 10% of these accounts are alt accounts which always have 0 friends (perhaps not an accurate assumption, but let’s go with it), then the mean number of friends per non-alt account is still less than 1.11. I don’t see how that difference would materially affect Kong’s planning.

Really, the statistic should only include those at least level 3 or 5 with at least one friend (and maybe have logged in within the past year) in order for it to really matter. Otherwise the numbers are skewed so badly.

But this would throw out at least 90%, and probably more than 99%, of accounts. That wouldn’t give you a representative sample at all.

 
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I think this thread has nearly served it’s purpose, but there’s just two more things I’d like to add:

1. A significant reason for the hatred of these recent updates is because we feel completely blind sighted by it. We wake up one day and find that we have a new profile, or a new homepage with no warning. You guys have also made a point to stress that you want feedback. Well, say about 2 weeks before a (major) update is going to be rolled out, why not make a “Sneak Peek” thread? 2 weeks is enough time to take our feedback into consideration and make any changes (especially since production probably won’t be done at that point, so changes should be easier to implement) and it gives us enough time to mentally prepare ourselves. I’m kind of surprised this hasn’t been done already, it seems win-win to me.

2. It’s been harped on a fair bit recently,about how out of date the forums are. Which, they really are. It’s clumsy, at best. HTML isn’t the easiest thing to deal with, at the best of times. Also, you guys have emphasised social and making friends. Gaming is the significant part of that, coinciding with chat rooms, but can’t forums be a part of that as well? I mean, with chat, it’s in real time so responses are quicker and less informative. On forums, you have the opportunity to give more detailed and thorough responses, so there’s much more depth to the conversation. As well, with forum games as an example, the level of interaction (even in games) is much more complex and enriching. It’s just as easy to get to know someone here as in the chats, and maybe more rewarding. An update to the forums would seem to fit into the “social strategy” that Kongregate has, and it’s also sorely needed. Another win-win situation that I’m surprised you guys haven’t taken advantage of yet.

 
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Well, say about 2 weeks before a (major) update is going to be rolled out, why not make a “Sneak Peek” thread? 2 weeks is enough time to take our feedback into consideration and make any changes (especially since production probably won’t be done at that point, so changes should be easier to implement) and it gives us enough time to mentally prepare ourselves. I’m kind of surprised this hasn’t been done already, it seems win-win to me.

To an extent that’s already being done, since the changes are released as split-tests which last a few weeks. During these few weeks some people are shown the changes, data is collected based on what happens, and changes are sometimes made to correct for things. The only other thing they could do is to do a sneak-peek to the sneak-peak.

It’s been harped on a fair bit recently,about how out of date the forums are. Which, they really are. It’s clumsy, at best. HTML isn’t the easiest thing to deal with, at the best of times.

HTML is one of the more stable things to use when formatting, and I find it to be quite simple for most things, given enough practice. Things like Textile are prone to error and break rather easily (too many hyphens and paragraphs starting with quotation marks are just two of the things known to cause issues). That being said, the forums could use some sort of change, but I’m really not sure what could be added to add to the forum-going experience, especially in a social aspect, without fundamentally changing the way people have used these forums.

 
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To an extent that’s already being done, since the changes are released as split-tests which last a few weeks. During these few weeks some people are shown the changes, data is collected based on what happens, and changes are sometimes made to correct for things. The only other thing they could do is to do a sneak-peak to the sneak-peak.

Before that, then. At the very least it’ll curb some confusion.

User A: What the hell. Why is my profile different?
User B: What are you talking about?
User A: Mine looks blah blah blah.
User B: …Nope.

HTML is one of the more stable things to use when formatting, and I find it to be quite simple for most things, given enough practice. Things like Textile are prone to error and break rather easily (too many hyphens and paragraphs starting with quotation marks are just two of the things known to cause issues).

I find BBcode to be the easiest and least confusing type of code to use in forums. With HTML, you need to have a bit of a working knowledge of how it works to utilize it properly. Otherwise, you end up with someone like me (until recently) that has ugly, unformatted posts that are an eyesore because they have no idea what they’re doing.

That being said, the forums could use some sort of change, but I’m really not sure what could be added to add to the forum-going experience, especially in a social aspect, without fundamentally changing the way people have used these forums.

Well, forums are always fundamentally the same. No matter where you go, what type of forum software is being used, it’s always fundamentally the same. Posts, replies, quotes. It never changes.

In regards to what could be added. I don’t know if Kongregate uses a heavily modified version of forum software (phpBB?) or if it’s home brewed. Honestly though, it’s ugly and lacks functionality. Mostly due to HTML, but navigating around is a pain in the ass. Significant features like bookmarks are noticably absent, or very difficult to use – I wouldn’t know, I’ve never tried.

 
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Before that, then. At the very least it’ll curb some confusion.

I guess it just seems a little weird to me that they’d publicly say two weeks in advance that they’re going to be releasing a split-test soon that’ll last another two weeks for a new feature. Whenever I see something new, the first place I look is the forums for some sort of thread about it, so there’s no confusion there, whereas other people might not. However, these same people who wouldn’t be checking the forums when a new change is made are also those who wouldn’t check to see if there are any new changes coming out, which is what the point of your early warning would be, so it wouldn’t matter in my opinion.


I find BBcode to be the easiest and least confusing type of code to use in forums.

Apart from the fact that BBCode has to be translated into HTML before being usable (the same as Textile, virtually), it seems like it’s basically the same language. Most of the tags seem near identical to me, except with different brackets, and the ones that differ are easy enough to remember in HTML, or are just easier in Textile to remember (or they’re not supported on these forums).

With HTML, you need to have a bit of a working knowledge of how it works to utilize it properly. Otherwise, you end up with someone like me (until recently) that has ugly, unformatted posts that are an eyesore because they have no idea what they’re doing.

The same can be said about every language.


In regards to what could be added. I don’t know if Kongregate uses a heavily modified version of forum software (phpBB?) or if it’s home brewed. Honestly though, it’s ugly and lacks functionality. Mostly due to HTML, but navigating around is a pain in the ass. Significant features like bookmarks are noticably absent, or very difficult to use – I wouldn’t know, I’ve never tried).

I can’t recall what the forums are written in (and I just saw it a few days ago), but they seem perfectly fine to me. I guess I’m just really used to navigating them already, since I can find whatever I need to relatively quickly. Bookmarks are something that I’ve never considered, since browsers already have them built in, I can’t see the need for them on the forums themselves.


EDIT @below: That seems to make sense to me, since I’m seeing a lot of stuff about Ruby on Rails on those sites.

 
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Originally posted by adv0catus:

In regards to what could be added. I don’t know if Kongregate uses a heavily modified version of forum software (phpBB?) or if it’s home brewed. Honestly though, it’s ugly and lacks functionality. Mostly due to HTML, but navigating around is a pain in the ass. Significant features like bookmarks are noticably absent, or very difficult to use – I wouldn’t know, I’ve never tried.

I believe it is a modified version of Beast or Altered Beast, both of which are several years old, so any updates would probably be in-house changes.

 
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I guess it just seems a little weird to me that they’d publicly say two weeks in advance that they’re going to be releasing a split-test soon that’ll last another two weeks for a new feature.

I didn’t have the split-tests in mind when I said that, I was thinking more along the lines of the new activity feed.

Whenever I see something new, the first place I look is the forums for some sort of thread about it, so there’s no confusion there, whereas other people might not.

I doubt the vast majority of people are going to do that.

The thread about the new Like feature has 2,000 views, but that’s including the 101 posts. Even then, 2,000 views is not a lot.

However, these same people who wouldn’t be checking the forums when a new change is made are also those who wouldn’t check to see if there are any new changes coming out, which is what the point of your early warning would be, so it wouldn’t matter in my opinion.

Remember, part of the point of a sneak peek is so that users don’t get caught off guard with new features. We all know how people react to (unexpected) change.

Apart from the fact that BBCode has to be translated into HTML before being usable (the same as Textile, virtually), it seems like it’s basically the same language. Most of the tags seem near identical to me, except with different brackets, and the ones that differ are easy enough to remember in HTML, or are just easier in Textile to remember (or they’re not supported on these forums).

Maybe it’s just me and being used to BBcode more then HTML, but I find it easier. It’s less clumbsy (and more obvious) for things such as [img] and [quote], in my opinion. As well, I had no idea it had to be translated into HTML, it all must be back-end, invisible stuff.

The same can be said about every language.

Yes, but no. I’d say it’s significantly easier to get used to BBcode then it is to become familiar with HTML.

I can’t recall what the forums are written in (and I just saw it a few days ago), but they seem perfectly fine to me. I guess I’m just really used to navigating them already, since I can find whatever I need to relatively quickly. Bookmarks are something that I’ve never considered, since browsers already have them built in, I can’t see the need for them on the forums themselves.

I played GCL on AG for a long time after it came out. Several times in the comments and in the AG thread, there were links posted to Kongregate. I always clicked the links then almost immediately closed them. The forums were so confusing that it was a turn off and I wanted no part of it.

A dedicated bookmark page is a godsend. You’re able to see the name of the thread, posts, views and replies – all at once. If you use regular browser bookmarks, you have to individually check each thread, which is a lot of work and a deterrant.

I believe it is a modified version of Beast or Altered Beast, both of which are several years old, so any updates would probably be in-house changes.

Exactly. Several years old. I think it’s time for an update.