So we're nearing the launch of the Giant Bomb beta and I figured it'd be a good time to talk about one of the more major changes we're making to the site. Specifically, I'm planning to simplify the guide system to the following features.
- Every game will have a Guide. This will live on it's own distinct URL under that game's page.
- There will only be one guide per game and everyone can edit it.
- Submissions to that guide will follow the same ruleset and use the same tools of the wiki system. Meaning that you'll gain wiki points for editing guides, and new users won't be able to just run in and damage shit. Also, our new wiki history system will allow the mods to rollback edits if something bad does happen.
Before I get into the reasons why I want to do this, let's just get the ugly part that no one will like out of the way. This will mean that existing guides on the site will either need to convert into the new system or disappear. Currently there are near 2500 guides (most of them unpublished) on the site. Of those, I'd say realistically 50 or so of them are of a quality that makes them worth keeping. The obvious bad part is that I know those 50 guides are amazing, and took hours and hours and hours to create. I'm talking about guides like this, this, and this. Fucking those authors over and destroying that hard work is obviously not something I'll just whistle my way through.
Now the confession. I failed with guides. This is entirely my fault. In trying to compete with gamefaqs, I tried to think up an advanced system that bettered guide creation. Instead I ended up creating something that was clunky and most people didn't need. Draft systems? Multiple author permissions? Drag and drop Table of contents? Hit counters? Comments per section? All great ideas and there's some stuff to salvage there, but we executed it really poorly and it made our guides simply too hard to edit. What I should have done is make guides a big ass WYSIWYG editor field and auto-built the TOC off of them. It would have made them extremely simple to use and understand.
Some authors got passed my poor design and realized the potential, but most guides ended up unpublished, broken or worthless. Outside of the failure of the featureset, with mostly poor guides being made they ended up being a teeny bit of our traffic and the reality is that I just can't afford to spend large resources rebuilding a similar guide system when I've got a whole site to rebuild in a short time. I hope those fantastic authors forgive me and understand that day to day, the people here really do care about our userbase, but we also have very popular wiki, api, forum, blog, profile, image and review system that had to take priority. Most sites idea of community is a comment system with PHP BB slapped on top.
So with this new site (that remember, we've had to 100% rebuild it from scratch) I'm going to try and start fresh, keep it simple and give guides a real chance to do well on Giant Bomb. I say that knowing that the answer may be that guides simply don't need to be on Giant Bomb, but I still believe it can work and think that our editing tools allow for very rich guides to be made. Some might say, well, why not just allow text files uploads or something easy like that. I'd respond and say... well, it's not that simple. 20% of development of community websites is fighting spam. All these amazing tools that are unique to our site also make it really easy to pollute the web on high SEO ranking pages. Just ask the mods. Having a single guide that goes through the wiki system allows me to fight the same battle in one place and hopefully gives more visibility to the guides in general (I can now link to them directly only game pages). I think it's a better way to do things and in the long run (meaning the next time I have to go through a major rebuild) they'll be very easy to port over.
So if you're a guide author looking to keep your guide on Giant Bomb past the relaunch follow these simple steps.
- Copy your guide and paste it into a forum post attached to that game's forum.
- Tell a mod, and have them lock and pin it for you.
- When the new site rolls around, that forum post will come over. Simply copy the guide from the post and add it to that game's guide (which will be blank).
- Earn a bunch of points, have my thanks, and know that there's now a public record of the edits made to your guide that can be rolled back at anytime.
You will have ample time to do this and play with the tools during the week long beta, being able to jump between the live site and the beta site to copy from one and paste into the other.
To quote a conversation with our moderator sweep earlier this week "Websites are never finished, only abandoned...". Fear not that changes to the site are happening, look more out for the day when updates to the site cease to happen! I'm really excited about the new site and this is one of the few ugly parts we've got to live with so we can keep moving forward. It's why I'm bringing it up now, rather than in a couple weeks.