W. Eric Martin
We make lots of small changes in the structure and function of the BGG database, many of them invisible to most people because either the changes aren't showy or most people won't care about whatever change was made. If you don't log games played, for example, then any change in that system means nothing to you.
I want to highlight one small adjustment, though, and this isn't a change in the database functioning as much as a change in what we admins are doing behind the scenes. For the most part, designers, artists, and publishers on game pages are listed in alphabetical order in the space available. If you look at Apocrypha Adventure Card Game, you'll see the designers as "Chad Brown, Tanis O'Connor, Paul Peterson, Keith Richmond + 4 more"; we set a character limit for this section and others as is common for web pages worldwide. If you look at the Apocrypha box, however, you'll notice that "A game by Mike Selinker" is written near the top of the box, with a list of designer credits at the bottom. Mike Selinker's name isn't visible in that list, when it seems like he should be listed ahead of everyone else.
As admins, we can tag one or more names within each section (designer, artist, publisher), and those tagged names will appear first in the list. What's more, thanks to a recent change in how we display info, those tagged names will now be the only ones that appear "above the fold", a newspaper term that refers to something being visible on the front page even though the paper is folded. After I tag Mike Selinker, all untagged names will be "below the fold", that is, in the "+7 more" section that's visible when someone clicks the "+7 more" link or views the full credits link.
We haven't used this tagging system often, typically only when a publisher or designer has asked for a designer or artist to receive top billing in a listing. That said, we're now making an effort to tag certain publishers on newly approved game listings as well as on the most popular games in the database (based on page views). Which publishers? In general, we want to tag (1) the original publisher of a game and (2) publishers that made significant contributions to one or more editions of the game.
Why do this? Because under the previous method of listing publishers, this type of information is hard to figure out unless you delve into a game's versions, and even then you might not figure out who first published a game. Let's look at this listing:
Ashes: Rise of the Phoenixborn is a Plaid Hat Games title, yet Plaid Hat is not visible in the list of publishers. One tag later, and we have this:
Much better! Why does this information matter? For any number of reasons depending on who you are and what you're trying to do. If you're a fan of Ashes, you might be inclined to look for more games from Isaac Vega, but you might also want to check out more games from Plaid Hat since it decided to publish the game and likely had a role in the art choices and final development that make Ashes the game it is. If you're a researcher, perhaps you're curious about which companies originated which games. If you're a new publisher releasing games in, say, Bengali, you might want to know who to contact about licensing the game.
This system isn't simply for new and nearly new releases:
Moskito Spiele is listed above the fold for Die Macher since it's the originating publisher, while Hans im Glück published an edition that expanded the player count to five and represented all of Germany instead of only West Germany, bringing the game to a much larger audience in the process. Does Valley Games deserve a mention as well for its version? I say no, and others might say yes, which will lead to yet more corrections for such things in the corrections queue, so why did we do this oh my god please make the corrections stop I'll be over here sobbing.
Dan has created a special admin report that shows board games with multiple publishers and without tagged publishers, and this list is ordered by page views, which is a good thing since it has more than 18,000(!) listings. We'll probably never process them all, but we can start with the most popular games (along with new admissions to the database) and carry on from there. Some games will be easier to tag than others. If you see "Carcassonne" in the title, for example, then you're almost guaranteed that the game should be tagged with Hans im Glück and no one else. Certain publishers (e.g., R&D Games, eggertspiele) never or rarely publish licensed items, so we can tag their titles with confidence.
This process won't be quick, but given that we're changing the publishers listed above the fold on popular games, it will be visible, so I wanted to publish an explanation of what's happening and why. Thanks to Dan for making this process easier to carry out!