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Subject: Rethinking "Family", "Geeklist" and "Related to:" rss

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Herb
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OK, I know that part of having free flowing information gathering is not stifling submissions by enforcing the drudgery that strict categorization would cause. But there are three ways to link games now and they don't seem to be working well together.

We have "Family", "Geeklist" and "Related to:".

* Family is a characterization of the game done during submission and requires admin approval to change. With 1,112 families in the database, such characterization is at best incomplete.

I've added a few games to the system, and I mostly blew by the families because I just didn't know all 1,112 of them and how they were related to each other.

* Geeklist I tried creating some "serious" Geeklist on board game size, not just seeing how I could get Busen Memo on yet another Geeklist. So I have 151 games played on 4x4 grid.

Many of the Families have less than 10 games in the list. I'd be curious as to what a histogram of the count looked like. I'd bet though that 151 games is significant compared to how many games are in the average "Family" list.

* Related to: Now many users are starting to add notes in games that game X is related to game Y in the Description or more Information Sections.

I'll make the following proposals:

(1) Make it possible for a Geeklist to become a "Family" by petition to admin. Ownership of Geeklist stays with submitter who watches over entries rather than admin.

(a) This would mean that the 1,112 current families would need to find owners.

* For some of the larger Geeklists some other strategy might be necessary.

* Some geeklist might be dead. For example all 3M shelf games. Of course one could always contact admin to make a correction on such a list.

(b) Make a change in the system so that if a submitter A creates a Geeklist and submitter B, adds a game to the Geeklist, and that geeklist is a "family Geeklist", then Submitter B's remarks become the first comment. Submitter A then has the power to edit the comments on the Geeklist itself to keep the comments consistent across the Geeklist.

The only option now is for submitter A to delete B's entry then add the game back to the Geeklist. But that loses comments associated with entry, and it isn't a nice way to make friends...

(2) Make a "related to:" a link section in the game entry. Allow me to link other games or geeklists which are related to this game. Also allow for a short description of why this game A is related to game B.

For example if game A and game B are both played on 4x4 grid, link them. After a while someone notices, hey there are a lot of 4x4 games, let's turn that into a Geeklist and connect game A to the Geeklist of 4x4 games instead of each 4x4 game individually.

(3) For the Family characteristics then the description field in the Geeklist entry become a place to describe how that game fits with that Geeklist, or embellish that characteristics.

* This could be filled in after the game is in the database by Geeklist owner. Nobody wants to spend an hour filling out game description stuff to have the game rejected.

* Note this fits in problem with big geeklists. I don't want to own the whole "abstract strategy" Geeklist so that I get buried in trying to write Geeklist entries for 10 games a day.


_ _ _ _ _ _

What are you thoughts on this matter? Please try to stay on point about the interaction of "Family", "Geeklist" and "Related to:". I have a number of other ideas of stuff that could be added, but it only peripherally related to how to improve the interaction of these three parts of the database.
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Family is generally used for official relationships (e.g. Make 'n' Break family) intended / sanctioned by the designer or publisher. I think what you're looking for for unofficial relationships are tags, like http://boardgamegeek.com/tag/bakelite for games made of bakelite. Tags also fit your criteria of being user-administered.
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Herb
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sbszine wrote:
Family is generally used for official relationships (e.g. Make 'n' Break family) intended / sanctioned by the designer or publisher. I think what you're looking for for unofficial relationships are tags, like http://boardgamegeek.com/tag/bakelite for games made of bakelite. Tags also fit your criteria of being user-administered.


Great point. Tags enter into this too! I tagged many, but not all, of the games on my 4x4 Geeklist as 4x4. I stopped tagging because there doesn't seem to be any way to search on multiple tags at once.

To the point of Family being "official" relationships, there is a family for games with a tiger(s) among a page full of animal listing.
http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgamefamily/7972/animals-tigers

Slew of Families for various countries. Here is a nod to Canada.
http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgamefamily/10168/country-canad...

Here is a Family on Food/Cooking
http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgamefamily/5841/food-cooking

So somehow the family list should be culled.

- - -

Back to the other point. Using the 3M bookshelf series there is a Family for that.
http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgamefamily/4891/3m-bookshelf-s...

However the "family" isn't linked to the 3M publisher record by the system, but rather by a link in the description field. If the intent is to further characterize the publisher, then "Family" ought to be a drop down in the game entry record, whereby I select from the family of games which that publisher has created. If you look at the 3M publisher record you can see that they had several "families" of games.
http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgamepublisher/92/3m
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Herb
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The other thing that this touches on is versions. Here is a family list for Bingo type games.

http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgamefamily/7855/bingo

Ideally these versions would be rolled into Bingo and separate versions for each of them. It still is fuzzy to me how the BGG admins wanted to separate versions and different games.

The major point point is that with 1,112 families no one can remember them all. So it would be virtually impossible to correctly characterize the family list without some scheme to cut through the list.
 
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herace wrote:
To the point of Family being "official" relationships, there is a family for games with a tiger(s) among a page full of animal listing.
http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgamefamily/7972/animals-tigers

Slew of Families for various countries. Here is a nod to Canada.
http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgamefamily/10168/country-canad...

Here is a Family on Food/Cooking
http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgamefamily/5841/food-cooking

So somehow the family list should be culled.

Yeah, I would cull these. On the RPGG side there is a Genre attribute used for listing themes like 'animal', 'cooking', etc to keep them distinct from families and mechanisms.

herace wrote:
Back to the other point. Using the 3M bookshelf series there is a Family for that.
http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgamefamily/4891/3m-bookshelf-s...

However the "family" isn't linked to the 3M publisher record by the system, but rather by a link in the description field. If the intent is to further characterize the publisher, then "Family" ought to be a drop down in the game entry record, whereby I select from the family of games which that publisher has created. If you look at the 3M publisher record you can see that they had several "families" of games.
http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgamepublisher/92/3m

On the RPGG side this is handled by having Series separate from Family. So if you look up S1: Tomb of Horrors you can see it's part of the Special series and the AD&D family, and the Genres are fantasy and horror. VGG also has a Franchise concept to group otherwise unrelated Star Trek games and the like.

BGG was the first of the three sites so it's a bit behind in data structures compared to RPGG and VGG. Once it gets the tools from the other two it should be able to handle more sophisticated groupings easily.
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herace wrote:
The other thing that this touches on is versions. Here is a family list for Bingo type games.

http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgamefamily/7855/bingo

Ideally these versions would be rolled into Bingo and separate versions for each of them. It still is fuzzy to me how the BGG admins wanted to separate versions and different games.

I think version = edition for all intents and purposes. Travel Scrabble is a version of Scrabble, Upwords is a separate game. It's a bit tricky with public domain games.
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sbszine wrote:
BGG was the first of the three sites so it's a bit behind in data structures compared to RPGG and VGG. Once it gets the tools from the other two it should be able to handle more sophisticated groupings easily.


Another good point. I really haven't looked at the other databases. I'm not interested in RPG's but video games do interest me.

Series adds another association of games to consider. If this is implemented into the games database then obviously many of the present families would be recast into series.
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col_w
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I'm not sure why you'd want to try and make GeekList functionality more family-like. If there's not an appropriate family already, you can just add one.

They serve different purposes in my mind:

GeekLists tend to be more ephemeral, and are usually a place to discuss a topic, owned by one user. They are not really suited to permanent grouping of games, since their prominence depends on total thumbs or recent activity. The number one GeekList for a game today may be buried in a year's time. Also, being unmoderated, a jokey entry may skew serious grouping data. You'd use a GeekList when you want some public recognition or participation.

Families are a more permanent, factual linkage of games, with no single owner, but with moderation. Great for any kind of categorisation that isn't already covered by mechanics, categories, publisher etc. I disagree that families have to only cover 'official' relationships - if I want to find a tiger game, the tiger family is the best way to do it currently. You'd use a family for a clear, unambiguous relationship that needs no further comment. The biggest limitation on families at the moment is that you can't easily search for them (please support Barliman's suggestion on this!)

Tags are a personal categorisation that can have wider benefit to the community, but are unreliable in the sense that they could disappear tomorrow. For example, if only one user has tagged a game as bakelite, and they remove their tag, that's it, the game no longer has that tag. Tags only work reliably if multiple people use them in the same way. For instance, Hive has the following 5 tags which all mean the same: modular_board (2), Mech-ModularBoard (1), modular-board (1), modularboard (1), Mech:Modular-board(1). Displaying a tag-cloud where the size of the tag is proportional to the quantity of that tag would help to generate a consistent folksonomy. In fact, I'll post a seperate suggestion for this (edit: here).

Description / More Information fields shouldn't usually have long lists of related games in them. Most of the time it would be better to have one link to the family page. For instance the current Carcassonne More Information would be better with something like "Carcassone has many expansions, spin-offs and compilations. For an overview, see the Carcassonne family page." And some of the current content transferred to the family page description. Actually, in getting the links for this one, I realised there is another way of grouping; Carc also has a wiki page which could now be migrated to the family page.
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Well I got curious about games played on boards of different sizes. I am somewhat particularly interested in games played on a 4x4 grid. I created a Geeklist for such games, and then a wiki page to aggregate various gameboard sizes. See:

Gameboards Wiki Page of Geeklist characterized by gameboard...
http://boardgamegeek.com/wiki/page/Gameboards

There isn't even a field in the database to indicate that a game has a gameboard, much less characterize the size of the board.

I added a couple of games and know I did a poor job of characterizing the families. With over 1K+ families, it is an impossible job. Certainly recasting some families as series and adding them to publisher would help insure that a game receives that proper classification. The bingo family should now be properly turned into versions of the game Bingo itself.

Having a family of games with tigers strikes me more of a geeklist kind of thing. Offload admin. Let them classify as game as having animals in theme and then let geeklists take over. I'm trying to tag a geeklist as a "serious" geeklist rather than a funny or ephemeral one.

Tags seem near useless, unless you add some specific tags that show up in small numbers. Obviously if you could search a combination of tags then tags would become much more useful. For instance a game is an abstract game. With thousands of games tagged abstract how useful is that tag now?

You could of course add a tiger tag. I just looked and now in the system there is:

a tiger family;
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/boardgamefamily/7972/animals-ti...

a tiger geeklist;
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/392/on-the-trail-of-th...

and tiger tags:
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/tag/tiger

With 50,000 games the geek database is getting to be a historical record, not just a plaything. I'm just wondering if a more rigorous classification scheme is needed. I guess in part I'm searching for a magic bullet that just doesn't exist. Games don't have a clean taxonomy that lends itself to a nice tree structure.

It does seem that some basic information to characterize a game is missing. Does the game have dice, use a card deck, or does each player own a set men. Modular board and Hex-and-Counter as a mechanics seems more like a characterization of the gameboard itself rather than mechanics per sey. So the game has a component=gameboard which can have characteristics modular and/or hex-and-counter.

So back to my starting point, trying to characterize games by their gameboard would really require evaluating all the games in the system against the new feature to be characterized. There isn't anyway to start from all games with a board with a grid, and then just characterize the games by board size.

If you did have a gameboard component, then there would be some games which have a board but which have not been characterized. Now you look at that list and try to determine if anything pops out as a new characteristic. For instance some games have a gridded board. So now you have to evaluate all the games with a gamboard, but not hex-and-counter to see if the game has a gridded board.

This type of expanding classification can go on forever. For instance now the games are being put into subdomains. However the subdomains are not exclusive. It is quite possible to have an abstract game which is also a strategy game.
 
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I just did a quick search using Google.

dice -"dice rolling" site:http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame
About 2,110 results (0.19 seconds)

So about 2,000 games have dice which you don't roll?

So I'd guess the real nugget in all this is that it seem that the Geek database needs a better way to manage reclassification. For instance the 2,110 games noted above would be thrown into a queue to be reevaluated by admin of geeksters. Have yes/no buttons to answer question "Does this game use the "dice rolling" mechanic?" (I'd bet that there is at least one game that uses dice as men and you don't actually roll them!) Have yes/no buttons above a scrollable frame showing the game and let us geeksters help admin out.

Maybe 3 votes in a row for yes, and the game goes out of queue. 4 out 5 votes yes gets game marked yes and out of queue. It would interesting to see what percentage of the first votes were wrong. So maybe one vote would be enough. You could always submit a correction to admin.
 
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herace wrote:
Obviously if you could search a combination of tags then tags would become much more useful.


This is actually possible, it's just not obvious. Firstly, if it's your own tags, go to My Geek > Tags and click on one. If you've used it in combination with any other tag, on the right of the screen you'll get a "Related Tags" list. Clicking on the plus next to any of these tags filters the list down to those items you've tagged with both.

Secondly, to search everyone's tags: search for the first tag (e.g. hex) gives you a list of results. You can then append to the end of the URL + and then whatever the 2nd tag is (e.g. 2-player):

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/tag/hex+2-player

If a tag has funny characters, you might need to do some percent encoding.

There should be a way to do this through the UI without editing a URL, but if it's possible I couldn't find it.

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herace wrote:
Having a family of games with tigers strikes me more of a geeklist kind of thing. Offload admin. Let them classify as game as having animals in theme and then let geeklists take over. I'm trying to tag a geeklist as a "serious" geeklist rather than a funny or ephemeral one.

a tiger family;
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/boardgamefamily/7972/animals-ti...

a tiger geeklist;
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/392/on-the-trail-of-th...


This seems to me an argument in favour of families rather than GeekLists. To take an example that appears in both links: Bagh Chal. It's not exactly the most active game page - only 9 threads in it's forum - but even so, there are 6 pages of GeekLists, and the tiger one is on the last, whether you sort by hotness or recent. You couldn't use this to classify the game effectively. By contrast, the family is right up there in the game details, nice and obvious. Or, to look at it another way, if I do a search for GeekLists containing 'tiger', the results come back and that GeekList isn't even on the first page (it is if you then tick titles only and run the search again). It's cumbersome at best.

GeekLists aren't really intended for or suited to classifying games. But that's exactly what families are designed to do, and they work - especially if they could be effectively searched per Barliman's thread linked earlier. Hopefully this will come in at the site UI re-design!

Adopting the series / theme etc. model from RPGG might help refine the classification scheme, but really families could cover both those situations anyway.

Had families been in place when you started your 4x4 GeekList, would you have still done it that way? Why / why not?
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col_w wrote:
Had families been in place when you started your 4x4 GeekList, would you have still done it that way? Why / why not?


Obviously not. If there had been a 4x4 family then I would have added the games under that categorization.

Let's me take the discussion away from my work and go back to the tiger example. Let's say that the family classification stopped at Animals.

Now there are a lot of Geeklist which have to do with animals. At some point the Geeklists contain so many different kinds of animals that a question is needed on the game entry. So I note that the theme has to do with animals, so I select the Animal family. Now the data entry application throws up a window with several dozen animals listed and I use a checkbox to select which ones are in the game with a catchall Other. After 100 games get listed in other, then those games are examined and it is found that "water buffalo" is in 23 of them. So "water buffalo" gets added to the animal choices, and the 23 games are put into the Animal:Water Buffalo family.

So the Family classification doesn't work because it is too complex to winnow through them by memory.

Do the same thing for Country. I select Country family and I get a subfamily selection of the various countries, or empires. For instance the Ottoman Empire that no longer exists.

Spinning through the families I noticed that there is a family for Games & Puzzles magazine. That ought to be in the "Publication" family, with a subfamily of Games & Puzzles.

There should be a Sports family with subfamilies of all the sports.

Hope that the explanation makes sense...
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I guess in part the notion here was to think of a progression in making a collection of games.

A geeklist could start of as a small set. A curosity.

As the set grows larger it reaches some clip level to become a family.

If the family get big enough then the set might become a mechanic.

This isn't a universal notion since geeklists, families and mechanics have many connotations. It just isn't possible to create a single inheritance tree to categorize games.

 
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