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Subject: What 'RateGate' tells us rss

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Barry Harvey
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So the ratings system got messed up resulting in the order of rated games becoming somewhat random. Unsurprisingly this wasn't permanent.

So what did we learn from 'RateGate'?

People actually care about the gaming hit parade.
Seriously? Why do people regularly check the top games list? Is there a reason here I'm missing?

People don't bother to check if an issue has already been raised.
There are more than half a dozen entries on the Bugs forum that have highlighted the problem.

I'm heading towards the opinion that forums should have dedicated questions asked when a new thread is created. A question on the Bugs forum would be 'Has this problem been raised before, say, in the last day?'
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caracfergus wrote:
People actually care about the gaming hit parade.
Seriously? Why do people regularly check the top games list? Is there a reason here I'm missing?

People don't bother to check if an issue has already been raised.
There are more than half a dozen entries on the Bugs forum that have highlighted the problem.

I'm heading towards the opinion that forums should have dedicated questions asked when a new thread is created. A question on the Bugs forum would be 'Has this problem been raised before, say, in the last day?'
BGG has some 1.3 million users. Regardless of how low a percentage of those users are active, I find it extremely non-surprising that a non-insignificant amount of them use the browse games functionality, and notice bugs with it. (It's a useful entrance for newer users to start exploring the total database, with a particular focus on games which have broad appeal. Also, for those users who noticed on the game page of their favorite game that the ranking had changed wildly, this type of "fan" behaviour is also totally normal and widely seen in pretty much any type of community.) Similarly, I find it extremely non-surprising that a non-insignificant amount of them are unfamiliar with the Bugs subforum. (Most of the threads currently in the Bugs forum on this subject were moved there from other forums.) That's just not something most regular users would ever bother to look for, let alone look at.

Your dedicated question seems to me like complete overkill. Preventing duplicate reports like that might have some use in a dedicated bug tracker, but on a regular forum, the mental overhead for the 99.9% of threads which aren't bug reports is just unnecessary. There's no harm done by all these extra threads, and there might even be some hypothetical good done, in that the amount of new Bugs forum threads in their feed reader / subscriptions might make the developers look at them just slightly more swiftly than would've been the case otherwise (that's completely hypothesizing their workflow wrt this forum).
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Brian S.
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caracfergus wrote:
People actually care about the gaming hit parade.
Seriously? Why do people regularly check the top games list? Is there a reason here I'm missing?
Sports standings, Billboard song charts, stock market, weather temps, NBA salaries, movie grosses, etc, etc, etc. Why would board games be excluded by the curious?
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Vrooman wrote:
caracfergus wrote:
People actually care about the gaming hit parade.
Seriously? Why do people regularly check the top games list? Is there a reason here I'm missing?
Sports standings, Billboard song charts, stock market, weather temps, NBA salaries, movie grosses, etc, etc, etc. Why would board games be excluded by the curious?

Exactly, and if you want to know where to get started in the hobby, the top games list is the best place to start. I can see why people would want to keep it accurate.
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caracfergus wrote:
I'm heading towards the opinion that forums should have dedicated questions asked when a new thread is created. A question on the Bugs forum would be 'Has this problem been raised before, say, in the last day?'
I suspect many users do not know that a bugs forum exists, or how to find it.

So perhaps a better solution would be, when a thread is being started, there would be an info box with something like:

IF YOU ARE REPORTING A BUG, please look in the Bugs Forum first to check that there are not already threads about the problem. If there are not yet threads about it, then please post your bug report in the Bugs Forum, not some other forum.
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Russ Williams
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a_traveler wrote:
There's no harm done by all these extra threads,
Sure there is: wasted time for many people subscribed to the bugs forum, and wasted time for admins who move the bug reports to the bugs forums when users don't post their bug reports there, and disjointed conversations about the bug spread across various random threads instead of in one place, and more threads in the bugs forum makes it harder to scan the subjects to find past subjects of interest.

Quote:
and there might even be some hypothetical good done, in that the amount of new Bugs forum threads in their feed reader / subscriptions might make the developers look at them just slightly more swiftly than would've been the case otherwise (that's completely hypothesizing their workflow wrt this forum).
That seems very unlikely to me.
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BrandorDaUncarryable wrote:
Exactly, and if you want to know where to get started in the hobby, the top games list is the best place to start.
That's like saying the best way to get started with music would be to listen to the top 10. People would do better to ask a gamer with whom they share common interests.
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Rich Keiser
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caracfergus wrote:
So the ratings system got messed up resulting in the order of rated games becoming somewhat random. Unsurprisingly this wasn't permanent.

So what did we learn from 'RateGate'?

People actually care about the gaming hit parade.
Seriously? Why do people regularly check the top games list? Is there a reason here I'm missing?

People don't bother to check if an issue has already been raised.
There are more than half a dozen entries on the Bugs forum that have highlighted the problem.

I'm heading towards the opinion that forums should have dedicated questions asked when a new thread is created. A question on the Bugs forum would be 'Has this problem been raised before, say, in the last day?'

Means nothing about anything important.

Just another manufactured drama about nada.
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John McD
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Sphere wrote:
BrandorDaUncarryable wrote:
Exactly, and if you want to know where to get started in the hobby, the top games list is the best place to start.
That's like saying the best way to get started with music would be to listen to the top 10. People would do better to ask a gamer with whom they share common interests.

A lot of the world really doesn't have someone to ask, or if they do, the experience they'll be basing their advice on will be narrow and limited. I think top lists are a good place for people to start researching, reading forum posts and reviews and so on.

If enough people vote a game to number one then there is probably something about it that works well for a lot of people. Where other poeple have found something seems like a logical place to start looking to me.

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Brian S.
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BlackSpy wrote:
Sphere wrote:
BrandorDaUncarryable wrote:
Exactly, and if you want to know where to get started in the hobby, the top games list is the best place to start.
That's like saying the best way to get started with music would be to listen to the top 10. People would do better to ask a gamer with whom they share common interests.

A lot of the world really doesn't have someone to ask, or if they do, the experience they'll be basing their advice on will be narrow and limited. I think top lists are a good place for people to start researching, reading forum posts and reviews and so on.
Agreed. If one is "getting started in the hobby" one is not yet likely to have any "common interests" even if they happen to know fellow gamers.
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Sphere wrote:
BrandorDaUncarryable wrote:
Exactly, and if you want to know where to get started in the hobby, the top games list is the best place to start.
That's like saying the best way to get started with music would be to listen to the top 10. People would do better to ask a gamer with whom they share common interests.

I agree. If people only listened to top 40 no one would know Monk!
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johnnyspys wrote:
Sphere wrote:
BrandorDaUncarryable wrote:
Exactly, and if you want to know where to get started in the hobby, the top games list is the best place to start.
That's like saying the best way to get started with music would be to listen to the top 10. People would do better to ask a gamer with whom they share common interests.

I agree. If people only listened to top 40 no one would know Monk!
Hmm? Getting started with the top 10/40/whatever is not the same as forever listening exclusively to the top 10/40/whatever ...

To me, it seems pretty reasonable for someone with no prior knowledge or experience of some genre to take advantage of lists of highly regarded examples of the genre. (Of course hopefully they will make use of reviews, recommendations of more experienced friends, etc as well!)
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caracfergus wrote:
So the ratings system got messed up resulting in the order of rated games becoming somewhat random. Unsurprisingly this wasn't permanent.

So what did we learn from 'RateGate'?

People actually care about the gaming hit parade.
Seriously? Why do people regularly check the top games list? Is there a reason here I'm missing?

People don't bother to check if an issue has already been raised.
There are more than half a dozen entries on the Bugs forum that have highlighted the problem.

I'm heading towards the opinion that forums should have dedicated questions asked when a new thread is created. A question on the Bugs forum would be 'Has this problem been raised before, say, in the last day?'

Would have made a great Seinfeld episode.
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russ wrote:
Hmm? Getting started with the top 10/40/whatever is not the same as forever listening exclusively to the top 10/40/whatever ...
I'm not sure I agree with this. If I knew nothing of music and turned on the radio to listen to the top40, I'd have to say in no uncertain terms that my foray into the hobby of "music listener" would come to an abrupt and premature end. I doubt I would look much further, if this was the gold standard.

It's hard to imagine this happening, since music is such as ubiquitous thing, however boardgames are not. And the top100 is not necessarily representative of the hobby as a whole. As unlikely as many might suppose, there are a substantial number of gamers for whom the top100 hold no allure. While the popularity scale might indeed work for some, this would suggest that there are a substantial number of gamers for whom it may not, and in fact some of them may have the opposite effect.

russ wrote:
To me, it seems pretty reasonable for someone with no prior knowledge or experience of some genre to take advantage of lists of highly regarded examples of the genre. (Of course hopefully they will make use of reviews, recommendations of more experienced friends, etc as well!)
Not all highly regarded games are in the top 100, though.
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BlackSpy wrote:
If enough people vote a game to number one then there is probably something about it that works well for a lot of people.

Again, I'd have to say that this seems highly unlikely to me. Many of the games that get voted to number one over the years are gamer's games. Could you imagine someone who has never gamed before sitting down to a game of Twilight Struggle? It would be a nightmare.

Actually, before anybody rebuts, I did just this. Thinking the game so popular, and loving it myself, I had a non-gamer friend interested in games and took TS out for a spin. This person was a history buff, to boot, so they were a bit predisposed toward the game already. About halfway through the second turn, they looked at me like I was nuts. It was an awful experience.

I can't imagine two newbies trying this either. TS is a gamer's game. Hindsight tells me that was an idiotic thing to do and I should have foreseen it, but you need to be a pretty accomplished player to get a grip on that game. A new gamer is not likely to grasp its brilliance. Hell, a seasoned gamer takes a while to do that. Not to mention they will get absolutely trounced, what is the fun in that? Would they even want to come back for more?

Puerto Rico? There is a joke about sitting to my right for that one. And I think Pandemic Legacy may be a bit of an exception, but I can tell you that I certainly wouldn't have enjoyed that as a first gaming experience. I think the real problem with that idea is that games that hook people for the first time are not generally games that get held up as jewels in a collection. Usually, they are simply games we play, learn, move on and grow past. But there are of course rare exceptions.
 
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Xookliba wrote:
russ wrote:
Hmm? Getting started with the top 10/40/whatever is not the same as forever listening exclusively to the top 10/40/whatever ...
I'm not sure I agree with this. If I knew nothing of music and turned on the radio to listen to the top40, I'd have to say in no uncertain terms that my foray into the hobby of "music listener" would come to an abrupt and premature end. I doubt I would look much further, if this was the gold standard.
Whereas I would probably take that as a cue to explore further, understanding that I'm evidently an outlier if the most popular top 40 stuff didn't turn out to be my cup of tea.

Quote:
It's hard to imagine this happening, since music is such as ubiquitous thing, however boardgames are not. And the top100 is not necessarily representative of the hobby as a whole.
Agreed, but as far as I can tell, most people find at least a fair number of games they like in the top 100.

In reading many BGG threads, I often feel like my gaming habits and tastes are way out of step with "typical BGG users", yet I see many games in the top 100 which I like. Of course there are many others I don't like, but I'm not saying that everyone likes all games in a top list.

BTW I'm charitably assuming our hypothetical newbie is not a complete idiot, and that they don't just blindly buy some random game from the top 100, but rather use it as a guide to narrow their search, looking for games which sound potentially appealing to them. E.g. they're not going to buy some 50-page rulebook 50-hour 1000-counter wargame as their first-ever boardgame just because it happens to be in the top 100.
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As unlikely as many might suppose, there are a substantial number of gamers for whom the top100 hold no allure.
Do you mean they don't like every game in the top 100, or they don't like (wouldn't like) any game in the top 100? The latter seems a bold claim to me.

Quote:
While the popularity scale might indeed work for some, this would suggest that there are a substantial number of gamers for whom it may not, and in fact some of them may have the opposite effect.
Sure, but I'm not sure what a reasonable alternative would be for a hypothetical someone who wants a quick way to try playing boardgames and has no prior experience or experienced game-playing friends to draw upon for help. At some point you need to just try something instead of talking and reading and researching and theorizing and thinking about it... and your probability of enjoying that attempt is at least a bit higher if you try something which many people enjoy.

It seems to me (from direct experience, from observation of other people, and from simple common sense) that people can find "top 100" lists to be a useful tool for orienting themselves in a new area. That doesn't mean that they should blindly assume that everything in the top list will be great for them, and nothing outside the top list will be.

Quote:
Not all highly regarded games are in the top 100, though.
Yep, agreed, e.g. one of my two 10-rated games is not in the top 100, the centuries-old classic Shogi, but so what? As I said, "Getting started with the top 10/40/whatever is not the same as forever listening exclusively to the top 10/40/whatever ..."

Whatever method you use to look for new games is not going to show you all good games or all games you personally will love. There are good games which aren't even in the BGG database at all, for example. There are good games not sold in stores. There are good games no local gamer anywhere near you owns or has heard of. There are good games which have no review in any magazine. Etc etc. That doesn't mean we should resign from the very idea of using some kinds of methods to look for new games!
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I have actually written a program that scrapes the top 1000 games and pulls them down into a spreadsheet that I update regularly. While I do miss out on some indie titles that don't have wide enough distribution, it helps me cut out the noise, and I find a bunch of games that I'm interested in. It's not perfect, but overall the masses are a decent filter, and I'm always happy to try some lower-ranked games as well.

Also, the rankings can be broken down into subcategories, so if you're looking for a family game, or party game, or wargame, you can do that. If you're hardcore, the strategy rankings are what you're looking for. And if you browse the entire list, you get an interesting cross-section (although definitely slanted toward heavier games).
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russ wrote:
BTW I'm charitably assuming our hypothetical newbie is not a complete idiot, and that they don't just blindly buy some random game from the top 100, but rather use it as a guide to narrow their search, looking for games which sound potentially appealing to them.

Oh, C'mon now, Russ, that's just crazy talk!


Quote:
Quote:
As unlikely as many might suppose, there are a substantial number of gamers for whom the top100 hold no allure.
Do you mean they don't like every game in the top 100, or they don't like (wouldn't like) any game in the top 100? The latter seems a bold claim to me.
Certainly I'd never say any. But I might go as far as to say many, if not most. Looking at the top100 now, I can see that I have 5 highly rated games in there, along with 6 meh rated games and 4 low rated games. I don't rate games I don't play, so all in all I have only a 15% tried ratio. And it does not appear that this category has been overly successful to me.

So I guess what I am implying is that Sphere's method of looking around for somebody who has similar tastes seems a much better way to me. After all, who are you going to game with? And I think you may have much better success than blindly picking at top100. At least it seems I might, for example, given my reaction to what is there now. I just tend to think that we regard these things as weightier than they are. We think of BGG as the center of the gaming universe, when after all (as has been pointed out many times), we are just a small part of it. And our trends and likes are not necessarily completely representative of gamers everywhere. It's just something to consider.
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Xookliba wrote:
So I guess what I am implying is that Sphere's method of looking around for somebody who has similar tastes seems a much better way to me.
For someone who already has game experience, sure. I also don't use the top 100 list much at all to guide my own explorations of new games because I already know the kinds of games I like, the designers, publishers, genres etc which are likely to please me.

But how does someone who has no game experience know what their taste in games is, or know which friends have similar tastes as them? They don't have any taste in games yet!

---

FWIW I do agree with your earlier point in another comment that the BGG top 100 will have many games (e.g. Twilight Struggle) which are too complex or long for some complete newbies.

(But you never know... I've read stories of people who got into gaming as a hobby via some complex "non-gateway" game. Ultimately there's simply a big luck factor involved with trying a new hobby, and I would hope that most people know that, and know to try several different things instead of giving up if the first example of a broad diverse genre like boardgames does not work for them.)
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What gaming needs are tastemakers. Clearly the masses that create the top 100 games are mindless sheep and represent the tastes of the detestable commoner. Who can stomach that crap?
 
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russ wrote:
Xookliba wrote:
So I guess what I am implying is that Sphere's method of looking around for somebody who has similar tastes seems a much better way to me.

But how does someone who has no game experience know what their taste in games is, or know which friends have similar tastes as them? They don't have any taste in games yet!

---

FWIW I do agree with your earlier point in another comment that the BGG top 100 will have many games (e.g. Twilight Struggle) which are too complex or long for some complete newbies.

(But you never know... I've read stories of people who got into gaming as a hobby via some complex "non-gateway" game. Ultimately there's simply a big luck factor involved with trying a new hobby, and I would hope that most people know that, and know to try several different things instead of giving up if the first example of a broad diverse genre like boardgames does not work for them.)

I agree, many come in through games that are not simple or gateway. And that also explains my comment about tastes. I think for non-gamers, picking an opponent may be as important as the game. Finding a like-minded soul seems to me to be a good way to make sure you have a good first experience. I would suggest that the actual game is probably less important than the style. That is to say, confrontational, cooperative, abstract, etc. It would help if one of you knows something about games, but you might follow this formula even if that's not true.

Yeah, certainly that might not work for everybody, but it strikes me as a decent way. This is pretty much how I got into the hobby. My friends and I were drawn to history, so we tried wargames. It was good fit for our other interests.
 
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I bought Puerto Rico because it was number one. No issues, great game. Wouldn't play it now, but it certainly opened my eyes.

Bought Civilization a few months later, sat down and played it with 6 non-gamers, loved great game. Still play games with them regularly.

Who knows what will work. But there is a description, a play time, some reviews, some watch it played. It's a good place to start looking.
 
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