Why are the forums so inactive?

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Why are the forums so inactive?

Post by -Wolfdog- » Wed Jun 02, 2021 4:55 pm

Alright, I'm going to say it.

The forums are "dead".

But why? I still have some posts which haven't been answered in months, and frankly it takes weeks to get a reply, let alone more than 5 on a single post. I don't even know how some posts managed to get hundreds or thousands of replies when the forums in general are extremely inactive. I wish the forums were more active but sadly it seems like large swaths of activity are restricted to only very old/dev-related posts.

I always thought that WQ was a decently popular game (and it is in its own way). But according to Steam— https://steamcharts.com/app/926990 , May 2021 had less than a thousand players (and 180~ average), and the lowest in a single month was a diminutive 73 peak players.
I know that not everyone bought the game via Steam, but it makes me wonder how accurate these numbers are.

I don't expect WQ's activity to be that of popular, big corporation games, however I did not expect to see such a low number.

I guess it may explain the inactivity on the forums and why there are hardly any WQ AE servers in the morning. Even if the Steam charts are not entirely accurate, I think we need to address the elephant in the room here: The forums need to be more active, or should at the very least. The WQ forums seemed more active in the past.

Have the forum *always* been this dead, or were they previously much more active in the past? Unfortunately I always see the same handful of regular users on the forums every now and then, myself included.
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Re: Why are the forums so inactive?

Post by Neamara » Wed Jun 02, 2021 7:07 pm

Definitely dead, or deader now than they once were in years gone by.

Forum-based solutions aren't as popular nowadays, and most will prefer the convenience of social media or instant messaging platforms, among other such solutions. The Facebook group has been around the longest (July 2008), but it wasn't as active prior to 2.7's development cycle from what I remember. WolfQuest branching out to Steam (which in turn opened up the external chat and community hubs), Twitter, YouTube, Discord, Reddit, and others have expanded that convenience onto other places. Why create an account here when you can post on a platform you may already use and have an account for? There are plenty of advantages and disadvantages between a forum community and social media platforms, yet there's also very little incentive to keep people visiting and making activity worthwhile. There's also learning how to use phpBB and navigation.

This place used to be substantially more active in WolfQuest's "golden era" from 2007-2012. The "WolfQuest Update" and "Forum changes" threads contributed to the forum's decline, and branching out to other platforms probably hasn't helped to keep interest in the forum. I do appreciate that Dave still posts devblogs here, and that Susan posts the monthly giveaways/contests here, but at this rate, I do question how long the forum will be around.

Bear in mind that the update/changes threads were posted at a time where the plan was to make the forum read-only and disable registration. This would later be canceled per The status of things, but by that point in time, activity had dropped significantly following the 2012 announcements. Things picked up for a while back in 2014-2015 before dropping off again.

Personally, I'm down from daily check-ins to a couple of times a week. :oops: In all honesty... I regret creating the Discord server.
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Re: Why are the forums so inactive?

Post by DaniBeez » Thu Jun 03, 2021 11:43 am

I had to get to the bottom of your comment to find mention of Discord, Neam! I don't think it was a bad thing to make, as people seem to like using it to chat in real-time. Just wasn't to my personal taste; I prefer less real-time/more long-format communication for my participation in this community. Plus I already spend a lot of time online in non-anonymous hobby groups on Facebook. Only so much internet attention span to go around. Also, the demographic of the Discord made me feel old, lol. I don't have much in common with the game-centered community anymore, but that's okay.

It was smart of WQ to diversity across mainstream media platforms. The only caveat was inevitable loss of traffic from the forum. I pondered if it was ever considered to have a "live chat" at the bottom of the forum here, but that would not have been a substitute for the inevitable cross-platforming so it doesn't really matter now.

As Neam put it Wolfdog, you unfortunately missed the golden days of the forum by several years. Interactions about the game are still happening, just not on this platform. Rather they are spread across many. Have you checked out the Discord?
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Re: Why are the forums so inactive?

Post by -Wolfdog- » Thu Jun 03, 2021 4:37 pm

It makes sense with the transition from antiquated forum to live-chat, but I still find it sad )-:
I do have a discord account although I don't use it much. I decided to check out the discord server and it's surprisingly very active! I'm FloppityFloop #7231

Do you think that there's a way the forums could become more active again? I find it extremely unlikely but maybe if it were advertised enough more people would comment.
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Re: Why are the forums so inactive?

Post by DaniBeez » Fri Jun 04, 2021 9:59 am

I don't see it happening without radical changes, but I am on the outside of operations :P.
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Re: Why are the forums so inactive?

Post by Neamara » Fri Jun 04, 2021 10:51 am

We are open to communication from anyone who is interested in the forum. While I can't guarantee anything will come of this at this time, we can't exactly discuss or make big changes without knowing what it is that people want or expect from the forum in order for them to consider using it. I would love to see the forum make a comeback...

The only real question is if we were to try something, would that time and effort be worthwhile? Would it succeed? We have tried to reinvigorate the forums in the past, though some of those efforts have been in vain. I'm not sure there's much else to be done if people aren't interested. There's only so much we can do as it is a two-way system, so to speak. ^^;

Just about the only thing we don't allow on the Discord server is sharing game ideas for future updates/episodes. (We usually point people to the forum or Steam hub's dedicated threads, since we don't have a dedicated channel, and forum-based structures are often better for pagination.)
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Re: Why are the forums so inactive?

Post by rowantobias » Sat Jun 05, 2021 10:25 pm

yeah, forums as a whole - wolfquest included, but my experience mostly spans from it to things like roleplay forums - have definitely been on the decline, especially since discord's popularity and success in organized group chats.

i'm in the same boat re: wanting a more laid back, a-few-posts-a-day forumgoing experience again. but i think there's just less incentive to posting on forums now. most forumlike things that get traffic seem to have other elements aside from forum posts, i.e. some sort of gamesim situation or customization of an avatar (i.e. Gaiaonline or petsites).

i think what i would want changed specifically is the allowance of personal art threads that don't require moderator approval and manual posting by said mods, just so people can curate an art thread for themselves. i'd also love to see implementation of a board for tracking people's pack progress - i.e. a 'gameplay log' for their wolves, showing off screenshots they've taken, etc...

i'm sure it'd take time to work out these ideas, but i know i would for-sure post threads in both of these suggested boards!
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Re: Why are the forums so inactive?

Post by Windstrider » Tue Jun 15, 2021 3:30 pm

I second the idea of a gameplay progress thing. I think it'd be good for both the game and the forum, and it'd be a fun way for the community to talk and connect on the forum more.
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Re: Why are the forums so inactive?

Post by DaniBeez » Sun Jun 20, 2021 1:01 pm

I think the only way one could reasonably attempt to revive the forum would be to shut down the Discord, as that seems to be the largest/most active hub for the community right now. (To my knowledge) the Discord started out as a side-experiment, and it was a success. But I think moving forward, it has to be one or the other, the forum or the Discord, to concentrate the remaining community traffic. But the challenge is that both platforms offer different things to users, and neither one can satisfy everyone's needs. No perfect solution...

If the forum-only option was pursued, it would have to come with incentives that weren't there before, perhaps using what was popular on the Discord as inspiration, to retain that larger userbase.
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Re: Why are the forums so inactive?

Post by Neamara » Sun Jun 20, 2021 4:51 pm

Like Forum Suggestions, these will need to be seen by the rest of the community team, so no immediate changes or decisions until they check-in and comment for themselves. For now, I'll comment with my own opinions.
rowantobias wrote:
Sat Jun 05, 2021 10:25 pm
a 'gameplay log' for their wolves, showing off screenshots they've taken, etc...
I think WolfQuest Screenshots & Videos already serves that purpose, though I wouldn't be too opposed to a General WolfQuest Discussion subforum -- "Wolf and Pack Log", "Wolf and Pack Journal", or "Wolf and Pack Diary"? -- to serve as an ongoing thread per-wolf or per-pack for people to weave the tale of their wolves and their packs. ^^
rowantobias wrote:
Sat Jun 05, 2021 10:25 pm
personal art threads that don't require moderator approval and manual posting by said mods
If we're talking User Artwork and Wild Canid User Artwork forums specifically, maybe it is due for some change. We can't allow attachments, but we could work around that limitation with BBCode embeds if it were to change.

If we are talking about a wider range of art that extends beyond wolves and other canids... I believe there was a past discussion we've had in the mod forum about this, and the stance may still be that it won't be done. The Daily Sketch thread and in its own way, the Avatars & Graphics forum each come close to non-wolf/non-canid art.

DaniBeez wrote:
Sun Jun 20, 2021 1:01 pm
(To my knowledge) the Discord started out as a side-experiment, and it was a success.
Originally, it was a forum member-exclusive instant messaging group, similar to the discontinued Skype group. It wasn't exactly intended to blossom into a public server. That... sort of happened without prior discussion in the run-up to Anniversary Edition's early access release, and it wasn't a community team decision. (Don't look at me!)

On-topic... I'm not sure what incentives we can offer here. The key difference between forum and Discord is (I think) some degree of lenience we don't normally tolerate here. #media-sharing stands out for its freedom and allowance of personal art beyond wolves; #wolf-characters ... that could live on in the aforementioned logs/journal/diary board if it were to happen, though tbh it is a channel I'd like to discontinue. Pagination for longer, more elaborate threads... but let's be honest, longer threads are better suited to a forum anyway; Discord doesn't do so well there. Hrmm... am I missing anything? A few aspects of the Discord server do already borrow from the forums.
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Re: Why are the forums so inactive?

Post by duskypack » Mon Jun 21, 2021 10:55 am

I can see why younger users in particular take issue with the forums. These forums essentially raised me and were my gateway to the internet. Even still, I was regularly frustrated with them my first five years.

The forum rules are very rigid and (given the large number of subforums) often non-intuitive to navigate. I joined the forums a decade ago as a wee one and I remember constantly being frustrated with the rules. I spent a couple years at one point participating actively on the Flight Rising forums, which were much looser. They didn’t enforce staying on topic and duplicate topics were more than allowed.

Get To Know Each Other, the designated “lighthearted place”, is incredibly structured. Pack Central and User Writings eventually tanked partly because writers and role players don’t want to abide by realistic wolf behavior. On that note (ironic, seeing as I just complained about subforums), maybe there could be an unrealistic user writings subforums? I know as a kiddo I’d have loved posting stories about flying wolf pirates that went to the moon. I spent half my time on User Writings fighting with moderators who wouldn’t let me write wolf stories in the style of Warrior Cats. Were they awful? Of course. Still, given that much of the fanbase is preteens, that’s only to be expected. I love User Writings. I learned to write on User Writings and gained an encyclopedic knowledge about wolf behavior through attempting semi-realism. I found my lifelong passion through that silly little subforum. I learned the rules, had a great time, and still throughly appreciate everyone who moderates and writes there. Because of this, I feel at liberty to say that to a young writer User Writings often appears to be insufferably pretentious.


As I got older, I (got indoctrinated) learned to enjoy the rigidity. These forums feels very clean, well-organized, and calm. Flight Rising’s forums are cluttered and hyper. There’s a reason I got tired of them. They have a lot of freedom to post threads only for a joke, spam to some degree, and generally goof off. I’m not suggesting these forums abandon most rules and go in that direction. But I feel like it’s pretty common that someone new will join these forums, post something outside of Introduce Yourself, break some rule, receive a (even incredibly gentle) warning, and then abandon the forums. Discord is casual, while these forums are very formal and perhaps even intimidating. I’m more of a forums person because I struggle to express myself in less than a paragraph, but I can see the appeal. The forums are difficult to break into. There’s a reason why it feels now like an exclusive social club for people who’ve been around for 5+ years.
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Re: Why are the forums so inactive?

Post by DaniBeez » Tue Jun 22, 2021 11:27 am

Well said Dusky. I think a forum structure that is less rigid than present, but not as casual as the Discord could be a great middle-ground option.
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Re: Why are the forums so inactive?

Post by -Wolfdog- » Tue Jun 22, 2021 1:39 pm

I prefer the forums over Discord. Discord is great and all, but there's no room for any real discussion. I think the forums are too restrictive in some aspects, like requiring permission to post images? I understand that it makes it easier for mods, but at the same time it's very easy to just link the photo, so what's the point of it in the first place? I also find some of the RPing rules restrictive.
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Re: Why are the forums so inactive?

Post by duskypack » Thu Jun 24, 2021 9:44 pm

DaniBeez wrote:
Tue Jun 22, 2021 11:27 am
Well said Dusky. I think a forum structure that is less rigid than present, but not as casual as the Discord could be a great middle-ground option.
So, what would a forum that’s comfortable without being chaotic look like? I think a lot of the Forum Guidelines reflect both an older era of the internet and a younger player-base (that needed to be more heavily managed, as my earliest posts show) than what we have presently. Are there any particular rules that could be loosened or removed?

For me, I think that the rule against repeat topics is a bit tired, since at this point in the forums it requires tons of digging and searches. It disincentives making new topics and is especially confusing when there’s multiple versions of the game and it’s hard to discern if an already-existing topic is relevant or not. There’s a few topics that were huge back in the day that I’d love to remake.
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Re: Why are the forums so inactive?

Post by -Wolfdog- » Fri Jun 25, 2021 10:06 am

I can't create a ''repeat'' topic about wolfdogs, even though the current thread is disorganized imo, and I don't think my point or opinion will be seen if it's just a comment as opposed to a much more visible and singular post.
duskypack wrote:
Thu Jun 24, 2021 9:44 pm
DaniBeez wrote:
Tue Jun 22, 2021 11:27 am
Well said Dusky. I think a forum structure that is less rigid than present, but not as casual as the Discord could be a great middle-ground option.
So, what would a forum that’s comfortable without being chaotic look like? I think a lot of the Forum Guidelines reflect both an older era of the internet and a younger player-base (that needed to be more heavily managed, as my earliest posts show) than what we have presently. Are there any particular rules that could be loosened or removed?

For me, I think that the rule against repeat topics is a bit tired, since at this point in the forums it requires tons of digging and searches. It disincentives making new topics and is especially confusing when there’s multiple versions of the game and it’s hard to discern if an already-existing topic is relevant or not. There’s a few topics that were huge back in the day that I’d love to remake.
I completely agree. The forum guidelines are outdated and many players here are older, not to mention the forums are less active so I don't think moderating would be a serious issue if we were to loosen the restrictions. I would suggest WQ to review over its rules and remove or adjust them. I think it's important for bringing back activity, the forums need some TLC. Social media is effective, but, this is the WolfQuest headquarters. This place has been here longer. It deserves the attention.
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