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Subject: Whitelist of users who can add a new game without moderation rss

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John
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On this thread where FiveStars is adding various abstract strategy games to BGG I wrote:

zabdiel wrote:
FiveStars wrote:
There are another 20 abstract strategy games that are beautiful and deep, which I want to submit in the next weeks months (because it takes so long to approve the games here at BGG).


It would be nice if BGG could whitelist certain users so their game additions didn't need to be moderated. I'd guess they could reduce the moderation queue a reasonable amount by doing that.


Not being an admin I don't know exactly how the "Create Board Game" moderation process works and don't I don't know know how many users create games - however I'd guess the 80/20 rule might apply where 80% of games are added by 20% of the users who have ever added a game. My guess is that if BGG white-listed anyone who had added a few games to the database and allowed any games submissions from those users without moderation (or with a much reduced level of moderation) it reduce the moderation queue a reasonable amount without any negative consequences.
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Well, usually if a new game is added, it has probably been added by several people already, and is just in the queue waiting to be moderated. SO if we have "white-list" users, what ends up happening is that the fairness of other people adding games first being pre-empted by one of the white list users would make for a very poor user experience.
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MWChapel wrote:
Well, usually if a new game is added, it has probably been added by several people already, and is just in the queue waiting to be moderated.

In theory we're supposed to check the submission queue before adding a game, though that doesn't always work (one of the two games I added was rejected because it was already in the database as someone else added it at the same time as me. It wasn't on the submission queue when I started adding it and two copies where there afterwards).

MWChapel wrote:
SO if we have "white-list" users, what ends up happening is that the fairness of other people adding games first being pre-empted by one of the white list users would make for a very poor user experience.

I can see that, if a "white-list" user didn't check the submission queue when submitting a game, or if a white list user check and was impatient for the game to be added then that would be annoying for the other user who had submitted the game. However having a white-list could speed up the submission queue to the extent that this was much less likely to be a problem (and it's a problem now anyway).
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    You're assuming there isn't a white list of users already.

             S.

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Sagrilarus wrote:
You're assuming there isn't a white list of users already.

True, well I assumed that mods would be some level of white listing (or some equivalent) - but I was assuming it would just be mods. I presume W. Eric Martin adds a reasonable number of games and I assume he doesn't need another mod to approve them...
 
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While the new game queue would go down slightly (very slightly, as there are relatively few people whose submissions are good enough that they don't get things returned at least once for revisions), the corrections queue would likely increase, and that's the last queue we need to increase.

The oldest game in the queue is less than a month since submission, and even then, it's because it needs discussion on whether to add it. The next oldest jumps to about 3 weeks. For everything else in the pending queue, it has been less than 3 weeks (either since originally submitted, or, in many cases, that means it has been less than 3 weeks since it was returned with a revision request). If something was originally submitted over a month ago, that means that it has had questions/needed revisions.

The fastest way to get a game approved is to fill out the form well and completely, and have it get approved on the first go-around. Sometimes people submit a skeleton/stub entry, and it just makes more work for us to send it back and point out what it's missing.
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I'm pretty confident I'm not in a whitelist (because I have had pushback for games I've attempted to add!) But I'd also guess that my average latency between submission and approval is somewhere below 48 hours. No complaints here for the system as it exists.
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rynelf wrote:
I'm pretty confident I'm not in a whitelist (because I have had pushback for games I've attempted to add!) But I'd also guess that my average latency between submission and approval is somewhere below 48 hours. No complaints here for the system as it exists.


I apply the same scrutiny to all submissions. They're all together in the same list, and we either click approve, deny, or revision (to ask a question/point out things that are missing).

If something is returned with a revision request, it is temporarily parked in the revision queue until it is fixed and returned to the pending queue. Sometimes, things are left in the revision queue for a bit. If you (generic you) get a revision request, be sure that it's fixed and returned to the pending queue, so that we see it as we go through the list.
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I've got 11 games in the submission queue, almost all of them 2-3 weeks old. Some requests to re-edit them were rather odd. For instance a traditional game from Ethiopia (clearly stated) was thought to be a video game with no physical set. In another case I was asked to add the version language used on the box of a web-published game which (of course) has never ever had a "box". The link provided didn't give me any clue what the admin actually meant, but with the help of some ordinary users I finally came to the conclusion that s/he wanted the language of the rules (which I added today).

I think it might be a good idea to have admins specifically for abstract strategy games and traditional games who have some definite expertise. It is simply not possible to "apply the same scrutiny" unless you are GOD.
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FiveStars wrote:
It is simply not possible to "apply the same scrutiny" unless you are GOD.

A most impressive deduction.

The jig is up, God: we know who you are now. Next time I would suggest choosing a secret identity which is a little less obvious--you had to be a popular BGG admin, really?--but of course there won't be a next time, will there.
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kuhrusty wrote:
FiveStars wrote:
It is simply not possible to "apply the same scrutiny" unless you are GOD.

A most impressive deduction.

The jig is up, God: we know who you are now. Next time I would suggest choosing a secret identity which is a little less obvious--you had to be a popular BGG admin, really?--but of course there won't be a next time, will there.


Only perfect beings can treat everyone and everything the same way. I find any claims of perfection quite suspect.

There are several reasons why it is quite unlikely or even impossible for humans to behave that way:

(1) Personal preferences/dislikes in regard to the person who submits a game (and also to her/his racial / religious / ethnic background) and the type of game submitted ==> "You're assuming there isn't a white list of users already." (!!!)

BTW one of my games was accepted shortly after the terrorist attacks in Paris. Its description was as complete/incomplete as any other of my submissions. The game was meant to celebrate the French-German friendship by the inventors (it even has a mixed French-German name). I got the impression thereafter that it was accepted so fast simply because it was politically correct to add it to the database (!).

(2) The approval of games have been at least delayed in the past because the admin didn't understand the nature of traditional games, which had been obvious due to their response.

(3) There are also cultural bias. Note that this is still a predominantly American site. Russian abstracts (and I got numerous Russian friends who point me almost every week to a Russian game I've never heard of before) seem to be mostly games of the chess or checkers family. I believe that not even 5% of these games ever made it to BGG. In fact, many western people look down on this kind of games. It was often reported how difficult it was to add even the culturally most significant ones to the BGG database.

So to resume, there is a widespread impression often expressed by the BGG community that game submissions are not treated in a fair manner (again I can offer numerous examples of threads which discussed that in the past). And IMO it should be in their own interest that BGG admins take this impression seriously and try a change.

For instance, it was often said that abstracts are more difficult to successfully submit than themed games.

It was often said that some types of abstracts are more difficult to get accepted than others (particularly chess and checkers-like games).

It was often said that commercial games (of western publishers), which could generate income are preferred over non-commercial games.



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FiveStars wrote:
Only perfect beings can treat everyone and everything the same way. I find any claims of perfection quite suspect.

Indeed, though I didn't interpret the quote in question as a claim of perfection, it was a denial that a particular admin whitelists users.

FiveStars wrote:
I got the impression thereafter that it was accepted so fast simply because it was politically correct to add it to the database (!).

I doubt it, it was probably just chance that an admin picked it up so quickly.

FiveStars wrote:

(2) The approval of games have been at least delayed in the past because the admin didn't understand the nature of traditional games, which had been obvious due to their response.


This seems plausible to me - I doubt many people on BGG have a good enough knowledge of Mancala games to quickly work out whether a submitted Mancala game should be added to the database or not.
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zabdiel wrote:
FiveStars wrote:
Only perfect beings can treat everyone and everything the same way. I find any claims of perfection quite suspect.


Indeed, though I didn't interpret the quote in question as a claim of perfection, it was a denial that a particular admin whitelists users.


Agreed. I am not the Pope and this thread isn't about the canonization of a particular admin as a BGG saint either. (black humour, so don't goldplate it)

zabdiel wrote:

FiveStars wrote:
I got the impression thereafter that it was accepted so fast simply because it was politically correct to add it to the database (!).

I doubt it, it was probably just chance that an admin picked it up so quickly.


Who knows. The timing was strange ...

zabdiel wrote:

FiveStars wrote:

(2) The approval of games have been at least delayed in the past because the admin didn't understand the nature of traditional games, which had been obvious due to their response.


This seems plausible to me - I doubt many people on BGG have a good enough knowledge of Mancala games to quickly work out whether a submitted Mancala game should be added to the database or not.


A few years ago a BGG user submitted dozens of mancala games and copied the descriptions from the now defunct ManqalaWiki. A troll, but a saintly one. He wanted to prove that BGG is (can be?) quite welcoming to this kind of games. Indeed he was quite successful. Now we got a large number of traditional mancala games, including some which are not important at all. There are also a few which are (were) still missing (until recently), which are IMO for one reason or another important:

* Alemungula (added) - bidirectional sowing, one of the few that can be played online
* Tchouba (submitted a long time ago still pending, no reaction) - the largest mancala game that exists (up to 160 pits, up to 320 seeds)
* Waurie (submitted) - the "national" mancala of the Cayman Islands; a legend says that it was introduced by Captain Blackbeard the famous pirate (urban legend?), a favourite of Ernest Hemingway, tournaments
* Seethaipandi (not submitted) - one of the most interesting pastimes of India, exclusively played by girls and women; a research topic of the American indologist PJ Claus ("Tuluva culture")
* Congkak/Sungka (not submitted) - this is probably the mancala variant played by the most people (even more than Oware/Warri/Ouri ....); a national treasure promoted by the Embassies of the Philippines and Malaysia all over the world; the game of Congkak also themed a horror movie called "Congkak", which has become one of the most successful film productions made in Asia)
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FiveStars wrote:
* Congkak/Sungka (not submitted) - this is probably the mancala variant played by the most people.

This was the first Mancala game I ever played, I played this lots growing up, we knew it as "The Shell Game" I only discovered it's name recently. I've probably played Kalah more now (since it's my 5-year old son's favourite game and is so quick). I'm certainly going to play Waurie too as it's rules are similar enough to Kalah that it should be easy to learn and the victory condition is different to most Mancala games.

I'll submit Congkak/Sungka at some point this week if I have time.

I don't think there is much benefit continuing this thread now.
 
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FiveStars wrote:

* Alemungula (added) - bidirectional sowing, one of the few that can be played online
* Tchouba (submitted a long time ago still pending, no reaction) - the largest mancala game that exists (up to 160 pits, up to 320 seeds)
* Waurie (submitted) - the "national" mancala of the Cayman Islands; a legend says that it was introduced by Captain Blackbeard the famous pirate (urban legend?), a favourite of Ernest Hemingway, tournaments
* Seethaipandi (not submitted) - one of the most interesting pastimes of India, exclusively played by girls and women; a research topic of the American indologist PJ Claus ("Tuluva culture")
* Congkak/Sungka (not submitted) - this is probably the mancala variant played by the most people (even more than Oware/Warri/Ouri ....); a national treasure promoted by the Embassies of the Philippines and Malaysia all over the world; the game of Congkak also themed a horror movie called "Congkak", which has become one of the most successful film productions made in Asia)


Unless they vary from normal Mancala in any other way than just number of seeds and pits and sowing directions, any reasonable game database would treat these as versions of the main game. Which might be the reason why they take time.
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Zimeon wrote:
Unless they vary from normal Mancala in any other way than just number of seeds and pits and sowing directions, any reasonable game database would treat these as versions of the main game.

"Normal Mancala" being Kalah? Yes, the ones I'm familiar with vary in more than number of seeds, pits and sowing direction. They are probably about as similar as Checkers & Breakthrough, or Knock Out Whist, Spades, Hearts & German Whist. Some are probably only as similar as Cribbage & Bridge or Star Realms & Race for the Galaxy. (My knowledge of Mancala games is fairly limited)
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Submitting games is a lot like writing a rulebook - something can be obvious to you, because you're familiar with it, but this is the first time the other person has seen it. Also, you often have it in front of you, whereas your reader is trying to understand just from the words in front of them. It is helpful when the admin notes field has a link to the item (Amazon, publisher page, online rules, and/or an image).

Note that we've just passed the major Con season (Gen Con-Essen-BGG con), probably the busiest time of year for submissions. Making a submission as complete as possible is the best way to speed up the queue, so we can click approve the first time through. The BGG Guide to Game Submissions give a pretty good walk-through of what's required.
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Zimeon wrote:
Unless they vary from normal Mancala in any other way than just number of seeds and pits and sowing directions, any reasonable game database would treat these as versions of the main game. Which might be the reason why they take time.

The rules are more varied than this.

It's a bit like if someone said that all the different Carcassone games (Hunters and Gatherers, Discoverers, New World, The Castle, etc) should all just be versions of the main game.

Someone not into abstract games probably doesn't notice or care about the differences (just as someone not into euros might not notice or care about the difference in Carcassonne brand games.)
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russ wrote:
Zimeon wrote:
Unless they vary from normal Mancala in any other way than just number of seeds and pits and sowing directions, any reasonable game database would treat these as versions of the main game. Which might be the reason why they take time.

The rules are more varied than this.

If they are, I won't complain.

But unless this is extensively explained in the submissions, I can fully see if the mods are hesitating and taking time.
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Zimeon wrote:
russ wrote:
Zimeon wrote:
Unless they vary from normal Mancala in any other way than just number of seeds and pits and sowing directions, any reasonable game database would treat these as versions of the main game. Which might be the reason why they take time.

The rules are more varied than this.

If they are, I won't complain.

But unless this is extensively explained in the submissions, I can fully see if the mods are hesitating and taking time.


I agree that I can see why they're taking their time. Nobody (to my knowledge) is saying that they're bad people; just that they make mistakes sometimes.

And in this case, these mistakes are showing up repeatedly due to some inexperience with Mancala and an incorrect notion of the differences. I think it's fair to look at a way to improve the process -if not a whitelist, an increased knowledge of the Mancala family on the part of the administrators.

I think forcing everyone to clearly explain the distinctions would both take a long time (from Ralf's stories, people are very confused about the Mancala family in ways that couldn't easily be corrected) and bore the potential audiences of these games (imagine if you had to provide a complete description of any heavy Euro/American game and include that in the description, along with differences between the game in question and traditional examples of its genre). This doesn't seem like a good solution to me.

I'll also note that this:

Quote:
Unless they vary from normal Mancala in any other way than just number of seeds and pits and sowing directions, any reasonable game database would treat these as versions of the main game


Is crazytalk. We'll ignore the thousands of Monopoly variants (consistency is not BGG's strong suit, as comprehensive as it is) and focus on minor commercial rethemes like Carcassonne: Star Wars. Or traditional tweaks like Chess 960, an incredibly minor chess distinction with a small audience. Compare that to Congkak, something which has had tons of scholarly articles written about it. Are you seriously saying that, because it's Mancala (a traditionally nonwestern pastime) all of that information should be ignored? That we should lump it all, because Mancala's all the same?
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drbobjack wrote:
I'll also note that this:

Quote:
Unless they vary from normal Mancala in any other way than just number of seeds and pits and sowing directions, any reasonable game database would treat these as versions of the main game


Is crazytalk.


It's not. It's normal database decency. BGG has chose to ignore this for Monopoly, which is completely nuts.

If games are very similar, and mere thematic variations and/or a few rules differences, by any normal sense of order, they should be added as _versions_ of the same _game_. There is no sense in having a different game entry for all Monopolies when they are in fact the same game.

drbobjack wrote:
Are you seriously saying that, because it's Mancala (a traditionally nonwestern pastime) all of that information should be ignored? That we should lump it all, because Mancala's all the same?


No. First of all, I said that if a game is just Mancala but with more/less seeds, pits or double sowing directions, it's just another version of Mancala, and should be sorted as a version of it. As many people have pointed out, though, the games you mentioned have other differences than that. Second, adding something as a version of a game is not ignoring it. It's merely saying it's very similar to another game, so they can share forums and image galleries.
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Zimeon wrote:
FiveStars wrote:

* Alemungula (added) - bidirectional sowing, one of the few that can be played online
* Tchouba (submitted a long time ago still pending, no reaction) - the largest mancala game that exists (up to 160 pits, up to 320 seeds)
* Waurie (submitted) - the "national" mancala of the Cayman Islands; a legend says that it was introduced by Captain Blackbeard the famous pirate (urban legend?), a favourite of Ernest Hemingway, tournaments
* Seethaipandi (not submitted) - one of the most interesting pastimes of India, exclusively played by girls and women; a research topic of the American indologist PJ Claus ("Tuluva culture")
* Congkak/Sungka (not submitted) - this is probably the mancala variant played by the most people (even more than Oware/Warri/Ouri ....); a national treasure promoted by the Embassies of the Philippines and Malaysia all over the world; the game of Congkak also themed a horror movie called "Congkak", which has become one of the most successful film productions made in Asia)


Unless they vary from normal Mancala in any other way than just number of seeds and pits and sowing directions, any reasonable game database would treat these as versions of the main game. Which might be the reason why they take time.


I agree. If it were just the number of seeds and pits and the sowing directions, one could even question if they should be treated as versions because there are so many mancala games, which really have no fixed number of pits (in Hus for example they vary between 6 and 24 per row). It is more about fundamental mechanisms that are different, thus changing game play in a significant way.

These changes may appear small but can result in quite different games.

Examples:

* single-lap sowing vs. multi-lap sowing
* moves can only start in your own holes vs. moves can begin everywhere
* you only move around your own holes vs. your may sow seeds everywhere
* singletons can be moved vs. singletons cannot be moved
* a move can start with a singleton vs. a move cannot start with a singleton
* capture of seeds by opposition vs. capture by achieving a particular number in a pit (such as 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 or even)
* capture of holes vs. no capture of holes
** capture of holes on the opponent's side only vs. capture of holes on either side
* captures are removed from the board vs. captures are re-inserted
** seeds are re-inserted starting after the hole that effected the capture vs. seeds are re-inserted starting where the last lap began
* the contents of additional holes are captured vs. no bonus captures
* seeds are sown into fixed stores vs. no such stores
* special pits where the sowing direction can be reversed vs. no such holes
* ultra-special holes like the Nyumba (in Bao) vs. no such holes
* winning by majority of captured seeds vs. winning by having the last move vs. exotic winning conditions (e.g. emptying your row first, force your opponent to have an empty front row etc.)
* solitaires vs. multi-player games

In addition, modern mancala games tend to stretch the definition even further:

* incremental sowing (Martian Mancala)
* sowing in twos (Geisterfahrer)
* playing two sowings in a row per ply (Pas de Deux)
* simultaneous sowing at equal tempo (55Stones)
* different types of seeds (many examples e.g. Glas Bead Game, Space Walk, Kauri - there are also a few traditional games of this kind in Vietnam and Southeast China)
* variants involving stacking of pieces (Space Walk, Catch19 and numerous others)
* variants with cards which are at the same time (!) boardless boardgames

and so on and so on ...
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As far as I'm concerned, whether a rule change results in a different game experience that require other tactics is not that relevant in the question of database treatment. The relevant part is if the rule/component difference is minor (and quite easy to device) or if it's very major as a whole.

So the reason these entries are sitting in the entry queue is probably because the admins haven't got information enough on whether these actually radically differ from Mancala enough, or if they don't, and how this family should be looked upon.
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Zimeon wrote:
As far as I'm concerned, whether a rule change results in a different game experience that require other tactics is not that relevant in the question of database treatment. The relevant part is if the rule/component difference is minor (and quite easy to device) or if it's very major as a whole.


The fun of playing abstracts is too outsmart others. So the game experience is central. Go 9x9, 13x13 and 19x19 requires the same basic expertise (of course some additional knowledge can be beneficial), Congkak and Kalah are two worlds apart, which will never meet.

Zimeon wrote:

So the reason these entries are sitting in the entry queue is probably because the admins haven't got information enough on whether these actually radically differ from Mancala enough, or if they don't, and how this family should be looked upon.


Wrong! Only 3 of these 11 games "sitting in the entry queue" are actually mancala games. Others are checkers games (4 - one in a very broad sense checkers-like, but with a completely different goal), chess games (2 - with some interesting cross-over features to Russian checkers), territorial games (1) and an n-in-a row game (1 - the goal is to build a stack of stones, each one with a different color / if a stack should be called a "vertical row" can be debated).
 
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FiveStars wrote:
The fun of playing abstracts is too outsmart others. So the game experience is central. Go 9x9, 13x13 and 19x19 requires the same basic expertise (of course some additional knowledge can be beneficial), Congkak and Kalah are two worlds apart, which will never meet.


Maybe, if the rules are greatly different. I am not a Mancala expert, so I don't know if adding a single pit changes the whole game. My point was that from a database perspective, it's rather irrelevant. What's relevant is if the actual components/mechanisms care much different, not whether the tactics need to change or the game gets more interesting because of a minor difference.

FiveStars wrote:
Zimeon wrote:

So the reason these entries are sitting in the entry queue is probably because the admins haven't got information enough on whether these actually radically differ from Mancala enough, or if they don't, and how this family should be looked upon.


Wrong! Only 3 of these 11 games "sitting in the entry queue" are actually mancala games. Others are checkers games (4 - one in a very broad sense checkers-like, but with a completely different goal), chess games (2 - with some interesting cross-over features to Russian checkers), territorial games (1) and an n-in-a row game (1 - the goal is to build a stack of stones, each one with a different color / if a stack should be called a "vertical row" can be debated).


I don't know why you need to call wrong, when you're just repeating what I'm saying. For the admins, it doesn't matter for what game the game in the queue is a version (or not) of; the problem is that if not enough information has been given, they won't have any means to decide whether the new entry is a new game or if it's just a version.

The same goes for territorial games and n-in-a-row (even if you're stacking). When it comes to traditional games, it's highly likely that they are already in the database somewhere under some other name, and the admins might need to check if they are to be regarded as the same as snother entry, that's all I'm saying.
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