Tag Archives: forum

RPG Stack Exchange Launches!

After a long 600 days, RPG Stack Exchange (RPG.SE) is out of beta.  It has a spiffy new design and is ready for your RPG questions and answers.

For those of you not familiar with the Stack Exchange concept, the original Stack Overflow was born out of a hatred for how crappy forums are when you have a real question that needs an answer – not people threadcrapping, or telling you your choice of language isn’t right, or people babbling on about irrelevant stuff, or flamewars over “the best,” and you maybe getting a decent answer on page 10.  SO was a huge success, and they’ve expanded (via community voting) to many other kinds of topics.

So if like me you’ve gotten sick of the sheer noise when trying to pose a real question on RPG.net, ENWorld, or the Paizo forums, give RPG.SE a try.  You post a question, which can get commented on or edited by you or high rep users, and then answers get voted up/down as well. No babbling or flamewars, just answers, and you get to choose the most helpful and the community gets to vote up the ones they consider the most helpful. I don’t go to forums any more unless I just want to hobnob – the SE format has made me impatient with trying to conduct real Q&A there.   Check it out.

You can also follow it as @StackRPG on Twitter!

Alternity: The Community

Is Alternity a dead game?  Well, of course WotC isn’t publishing it any more, and you can’t even buy the PDFs because of them being huge ol’ bitches.  But between Half Price Books, ebay, and bittorrent, you can get your hands on the materials OK, and there’s still communities out there actively supporting it!

The big one is AlternityRPG.net, or “A.Net” for short.  They host a bunch of great downloads and have some reasonably active forums. If you’re interested in Alternity it’s the place to go.

There’s a lot of fan content too – most notably the two major Alternity e-zines, Action Check and Last Resort! Action Check had folks like Neil Spicer work on it, but stopped in 2002; Last Resort last published in 2009, but you can still download all the extant issues of both.

Action Check E-Zine (16 Issues!)

Last Resort E-Zine

And then there’s the massive Resources list at AlternityRPG.net, with metric tons of player contributed goodness!

There used to be an Alternity mailing list but Wizards discontinued it way long ago.  If you know of a pocket of Alternity goodness out there, let me know!

RPG Stack Exchange Getting Close To Graduation

If you haven’t been following along, the excellent programmer Q&A site, Stack Overflow, has expanded its model to other sites covering specific topics.  One such site that got enough support to be approved and put into public beta is one for RPGs, RPG Stack Exchange!  It’s getting close to the end of the beta, so now’s the time to get in there and earn some rep before the full launch.

What makes RPG Stack Exchange unique?  Well, the Stack Exchange concept arose from Joel Spolsky noticing that forums about coding were all total crap.  You couldn’t post a question and get a constructive answer, instead you were met with a flood of “you shouldn’t be using that language,” “your approach is all wrong,” “you are evil to work on a program for a company/the government/Linus Torvalds,” “you suck and are obviously a retard for asking that question,” “would you like to buy my product that solves that for  you…”  Anyone who has spent much time on RPG forums sees this same thing.  Here, go look at the newest posts in the RPG forums on ENworld, RPG.net, even Paizo.com.  90% of the posts are complete and utter wastes of electronic space, people chortling or dissing each other.  They are good if you want to discuss, hobnob, share in-jokes with the other forum regulars, etc.

But what if you actually PLAY roleplaying games, and want to spend more time on that than forum trolling?  Well, the Stack Exchange format comes to the rescue.  It’s not for “discussion,” it is for “questions” and “answers.”  The questions can be about boring specific rules, GM techniques, worldbuilding, game style…  Then other members give you expert answers.  The community votes up and down answers and can group-flag off topic and/or unhelpful stuff which get deleted.  So you’re left with a constructive question and a list of answers stack ranked by the community in order of helpfulness.  It’s less a discussion forum with temporary “threads” and more a long term knowledge base maintained by the community – sorta like Wikipedia but instead of edit warring over the right answer, it’s always put to a vote.

You gain rep (reputation) from good questions and answers, and as you gain rep and become a trusted member of the community, you gain the rights to vote, to vote to close, to constructively edit questions, all the way up to becoming a moderator yourself.

Some people don’t like the idea that someone else can edit their question.  But it’s not really a problem in practice.  Typos, errors, and incoherent statements disappear.  Only users with enough rep can edit.  You can always change it back if you disagree, and there are mods that prevent edit warring – “If there’s a conflict, the original poster is always right” is my motto, and I’m one of the mods.

Now that I’ve been using it, I am using forums less and less – when I’m on them I become keenly aware of how much of my time they are wasting with their ineffective format.  I actually play and GM, so I want real issues of mine addressed and can offer real expertise and not benchwarmer opinions to people with questions of their own.

So come join us at RPG Stack Exchange!  Start with answering questions and get that rep up for when we come out of beta!  Of course there’s a lot of D&D coverage there (4.0, 3.5, Pathfinder, and OSR all represented) but also other games like Shadowrun and WH40k, and even a good amount of discussion of small games like GUMSHOE, Dread, and Dogs in the Vineyard.  Actually learn more (or teach more) about the games we love – leave the lengthy genitalia size comparison exercises behind on those forums!