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Thread: Problems & Shift in DCEmu UK (feel free to discuss)

                  
   
  1. #1

    Default Problems & Shift in DCEmu UK (feel free to discuss)

    I don't generally post much in the DCEmu UK forums, but I felt like this was an important thing to express.

    It seems recently that DCEmu UK has developed multiple personality disorder, and lost direction through its expansion. It has gone from a welcome alternative to a lumbering hulk...to a nearly useless mish-mash of information, commentary, and well-intentioned but poorly executed ideas, and is currently suffering an identity crisis.

    Before I go any further, I want to state clearly that this is not an attack on Wraggster, DCEmu UK, or anyone else. This is just an expression of my personal experience as one of the "scene regulars," and I hope it will provide constructive criticism to help the site avoid an unrecoverable disaster.

    That said, here are what I view as the specific problems and complications, in order of importance:



    PROBLEM: Site Focus
    DCEmu UK started off as an alternative source for DC news at large. This was a very welcome addition to the scene, as there were very few other sites filling this niche: DCiberia tends to be too gossipy, DCEmulation's main site hasn't been updated in *ages*, Consolevision has been dying a slow death almost since its inception, and Dreamcast-Scene is only focused on Dreamcast commercial culture and releases (which it does well, but does not help those with more of a homebrew bent).

    There are three parts to the focus problem. The first is a matter of goal. DCEmu UK started as an all-around Dreamcast news site. It did this well for quite some time. As it grew in popularity, and a marked interest arose in other consoles, separate channels were added. This is all well and good, but it is important to keep in mind the founding principle, and the reason people came here in the first place: Dreamcast coverage. DCEmu UK is still the only site filling this role, and is thus very important to keep practical and functional.

    The second part of the problem is related to this last point. DCEmu has expanded beyond its initial role. A decision must be made: Is this a DREAMCAST emulation & homebrew site, with side-channels to address scene members who are also interested in other consoles? Or is it a GENERAL emulation & homebrew site, with equal attention and coverage? If the former is true, that must be kept clear both in the organization and in the site design; if DCEmu UK is no longer to be primarily a DC site, then it should be reorganized, to avoid confusion.

    As it currently stands, the site network is an absolute mess. moving Dreamcast news to an extension (dreamcast.dcemu.co.uk) makes a large swath of the people who come here--the people who are the lifeblood of the site--feel marginalized, because they come here expecting a Dreamcast site and are pushed onto a side-channel. Even on a very basic level, there's a contradiction: the root domain name is DCEmu. Either keep the main page Dreamcast focused, or bite the bullet and take the steps necessary to make a network-site proper: change the domain name (ConsolEmu, ConsoleHomebrew, HomebrewScene, or something similar), and overhaul the sites to serve this cause properly.

    This ties into the third aspect of the focus problem. The site started off as a NEWS site for Dreamcast. Commercial news, homebrew news, hobbyist news, and community news...but "news" nonetheless. It appears now, though, that Wragg is intent on trying to build a community proper here: the problem is, this is getting all mucked up with the news aspect.

    Simply put, you cannot interject news and community. What you get is a confusing mish-mash that leaves users disoriented, and fails at both things it has set out to accomplish. There are popular sites that combine the two at will, such as Joystiq. However, there are some key differences:

    1. Joystiq does not have a smorgasbord of different channels. There is Joystiq for games, and Engadget for non-game electronics. That's it. That keeps everyone centralized, so that items of interest can be debated with everyone on the same page. Meaningful forum communities cannot build when everything is spread too thin--but I'll get to that in a moment.

    2. Joystiq does NOT purport to be a primary news site. It has an intentional blog style, conversational in tone, only posting about items of particular interest with discussion potential. If you want comprehensive game news, you go to IGN, or Advanced Media Network, or Gamespot, or any of a number of other sites, which ARE more news-focused. Joystiq is for discussion and points of interest.

    3. Joystiq, like good news sites, keeps itself distinct. It is conversational in tone, and intentionally sets up its posts for discussion. These discussions are specifically limited to a comment session stemming from each post, keeping discourse topical and centralized. It does not try to mix news and general forums in the same place, or have decentralized copies of the same topic spread across different sections (a problem which has caused a lot of disjointed discussions at DCEmu UK).

    Similarly, IGN IS news-centric, and does not mix conversational bits and forum/response elements into the main site structure. There are definitely forums there, and extensive ones...but they are kept separate and distinct from the main site. They do not try to blend the two into a single element; doing so would create an unmanageable and unintelligible mish-mash, and I'm afraid that DCEmu UK teeters on the edge of this.

    DCEmu UK became popular because it filled a need: when it started, it was the only consistently up-to-date source for Dreamcast news of all kinds. This is a role it is still very much needed for, both for DC and for some of the other platforms it covers. It is very important that we have a focused, clean, and consistent source of Dreamcast news.

    I fully understand the desire to build a community here, but it's currently being implemented in all the wrong ways. What's currently happening will not only *not* foster a strong forum community, but could potentially sink the network entirely by ruining the service that people came here for in the first place.

    This, of course, all ties into....



    PROBLEM: Muddled Posting

    The posting across the DCEmu UK network of sites has become increasingly muddled in the last several months, making the site incredibly frustrating for those of us hoping to find out about the latest releases or catch up on scene news.

    Part of this, as I said, has come from sloppy implementation as channels were shoehorned in. The new main site is the perfect example of this: it is a wreck, both visually and content-wise. There is no organization, layout is not intuitive, and you have no idea what you're looking at because of an incomprehensible onslaught of dupicate newsposts, non-news posts, and lack of distinction in what is being covered. There is simply too much happening too often to hope a design like the front page could possibly be useful to anyone. Something similar to AdvancedMN's main site, or that of CBS News, needs to be put into place if this is how the site is going to operate. Just the latest few headlines from each section, physically and clearly separated, with clear and distinct links to each different section and purpose of the site.

    Part of this also comes from the aforementioned attempts at community-building. While having a community is a definite benefit to the site, community discussion simply does not fit as an organic part of a news site.

    The forums (and thus, all speculation pieces and introductions/conversation prompts) NEED, and I underline this, NEED to be extricated, and separated from the news channels. The main sites should be NEWS ONLY. Having comments enabled for the articles is fine, but the forums should be maintained as a separate and distinct element from the news channels. Otherwise you get a befuddled mess, and people who just come here for one of the other end up getting a mire of confusing half-news that does nobody any good. Pointed questions, personal opinion, and discussion prompts make great forum posts; they make terrible news stories.

    On a similar note, article copying has really got to stop. In addition to the ethics questions, style problems, relevancy issues, and all other manner of problems these posts cause on an aesthetic level, there is also the more basic (and more important) issue of audience confusion. Many articles that are copied here contained, images, links, or inside references that completely--and often unavoidably--lost in the move to a different site. Besides that, it's NOT YOUR WRITING.

    If you see an opinion piece that is particularly thought-provoking, or an article that contains copywrighted or exclusive information, or something that is just written so well that it should be shared verbatim with the community, report on that article. Post about it, with a two-to-three-line excerpt from the beginning, or a brief summary, or a statement on why it's an important thing to read...and then LINK TO THE ORIGINAL. Do NOT copy it wholesale, even if you do cite the source. It looks bad, it's unprofessional, it disrupts the flow, and a lot of the article's original context is lost.

    Which brings me to a minor side-point: when you quote something, make it visually clear that you're quoting. Set the quote in a separate font, or a different color, or in Italics, or set in an inlay...and reference the source clearly both by name and with a hyperlink. Or don't quote at all.



    PROBLEM: Guiding Principles & Cohesion

    This part is simple. As I said earlier, the site feels far too cobbled together--it has a schizophrenic air to it, like it's lost its way and is trying to do too many things at once.

    Set a clear goal; develop a mission statement if that's what you have to do. Then take the site down for a day, a week, a month...whatever you need to redesign it to clearly and boldy reflect this goal.

    - Do we have a comprehensive Dreamcast news site, with a bit of consoles A and B on the side? Focus the site on the Dreamcast, and make that clear on the main page. Keep your subsections distinct both from one another, and from the main site.

    - Do we have an equally-distributed console homebrew site? Set up a main page that serves either as a simple gateway to each section, or with clearly separated and distinct "breaking news" from each channel, with corresponding links to the full sections.

    Regardless of which direction you choose, there are two principles which are absolutely necessary to success:

    1. Keep everything simple and easy to distinguish, with clear separation and navigation between sections

    2. Keep your community aspect (ie. forums and personal interest/discussion) separate from the news. People come to a news site for news, not discussion. They will click a Comments link, or go to the forums themselves, if they want discussion. Allow the user the choice, rather than blending everything together; all you'll end up with is a site that is a jack of all trades but a master of none.

    Again, it may be helpful to you to take a look at some general "real" news sites, and see how they are organized, CBS News, MSNBC, ABC News, etc. ....these sites all have multiple topics to cover, like you. They all have active feedback and discussion venues, like you. But they kep everything organized and distinct, so that you always know where you are and what it is you're looking at.



    ...This took me an hour and a half to write out. I am not saying it to be mean, or because I dislike anyone here. I am only writing as a concerned scene member, who is very worried about losing the last useful DC news site out there.

  2. #2
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    Just to reply to some of the things you said (in no particular order, and not quoting for the sake of brevity): you should have noticed the problem when the title of the forums changed to "DCEmu :: The Homebrew & Gaming Network :: PSP Dreamcast ..." from "Dreamcast ..."; I agree with you 100% and have commented before about the non-quoting of news and how it is impossible to know what is original and what is commentary without visiting the primary news source; you have to realize that in a relavtive sense we are a vast minority here and that what matters more is the PSP people because they bring in the counts and the ad money, changing the dreamcast section to 'dreamcast.dcemu.co.uk' after 6 staff members stated their explicit opposition and that instead there should be a page called 'emuhub.dcemu.co.uk' if wraggster wanted a centralized page for multiconsole news; I don't see, no have I ever seen since it's inception (with the exception of ONE topic) any major sense of Dreamcast community here, especially not since all the other consoles were added (i define community in simplest terms by the number of non-staff members who are around and answer the questions of new users); afaik right now DCEmu is striving first and foremost to be a comprehensive PSP site at the expense of everything else.

    sorry if that's all bunched up or whatnot.
    If anyone is looking to buy, sell, trade games and support a developer directly at the same time, consider joining Goozex. Enjoy!

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    Sir Digby Chicken Caesar Darksaviour69's Avatar
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    wow, thats a big post, and you have alot of good points, and you comments are welcome.

    just to start, the current main page is, a place holder, and it will be change within a week (hopefully)

    ok, first, dcemu uk new getts far more traffic from other users i.e. psp and NDS, the dreamcast traffic is still big an important, but the site has grow. DCemu uk is now a brand name for the network. the Dreamcast section is the same as the old dcemu site (i'm hoping to actually improve it with a redesign and a new downloading section, better layed out)

    i should point out that the main bluck of users from this site are users and the dreamcast, then NDS, then others. but that does not mean that we are forgeting the dreamcast. i'm incharge of te dreamcast site now, and as i said i have plans for it, to make it better.

    The site started off as a NEWS site for Dreamcast.
    thats not true, dcemu.uk was always a news and community site, like boob.co.uk, dcemulation.com, and consolevision.com.

    also many sites link news and forums well together, looking a CSV, they did that very successfully (the reasons for their down fall were related to other issues)

    we are currently restructureing the site, and things are messy but we are trying to make it better.

    we have a clear system, we have forums for news posts that only staff and coders can post, this is newposts, anyone can comment. other forums are for chat. this may seem strange if your used to other systems, but it works well here (2,449 different members log in every 24 hours). that way news disscussion is kept seperate from help and top 10 games list.


    many news websites copy news from other site, but we allways source. the issue about the newsposter comments needs to be address (currently we are bolding our comments)


    they reason that there seems to be a missdirection problem, is because we are changeing direction, closeing down the site is not a option, that will kill the site (one of the reasons CSV failed). but we are trying to make it a painless as possiable but we are doing it it our free time, this is not our jobs! yes we are making mistakes, but we are trying to correct them, learn as we go.

    sorry if my post is all over it palace, but i'm not a great writter and is hard to reply to such a huge post.

    the dc site will not be ignored, next month i plan to put a lot of energy into it. i'm also thinking of getting a domain just for the dreamcast site, for those that don't want to go thought the "front door"

    i thing i cover most of you points... btw thanks for taking you time to make you points


    oftopic as i said i will be making a new download system for homebrew, but i will need help updateing it (all HB old and new will have to be entered in to the system) and i hopeing trusted memebers of the scene can help me out, intersested?

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    Sir Digby Chicken Caesar Darksaviour69's Avatar
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    quzar, i don't agree that there is not a dreamcast community here, it not as big as dcemulation, but there is one. if there wasn't there would be no posts in the dreamcast section, but the dreamcast section has the second most posts. actally i do think that actual dreamcast discussions here on the same level, (or near) as dcemulation, as most post at dcemulation are offtopic. To say that this is a psp site formost is wrong too, yes currently most of the users are psp users, but the forum has been restructed to try to make more of an over all community instead of everyone sticking to "their" section. there are many users that use homebrew across many platforms, and coders that code for more than one console.

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    I agree that the site does seem to be spreading itself thinly. It is a little confusing at the moment although I'm sure it will get organised over the coming weeks/months.

    It would make sense for DC Emu to stick with DC news rather than it covering all the other consoles etc. I'd appreciate links to other areas but at the moment they seem to be overcrowding the DC side of things.

    Personally I don't mind news in the forums as it's interesting to read others' responses to some of the news posts and although the community here is smaller than DC Emulation's I hate to see it fall apart due to a lack of focus and I agree with Fiddler that a clear division of areas would help.

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    I'm SO glad you took the time to intelligently address the problems with DCEmu UK as it stands right now. The one thing I most agree with is that trying to integrate news and community is disasterous. I tried to address the problem with these forums several months ago (LINK), but not a single person replied.

    I hope the admins over there start listening. DCEmu UK has the potential to attract a ton of people to the homebrew gaming scene, but the rather sloppy feel of the site comes as a major turn-off.

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    Thanks for your response, DS, but I think you're kinda missing the point.

    If I had to choose just one thing, I'd say the single biggest problem is the mixture of community elements into the newsposts themselves. When the news section is flooded with conversation starters and just random questions/bits of interest, it really kinda mucks things up. And that's not just a problem with the DC site; it's a problem with all the channels. Things like the Network Community Interviews, and "what do you think?" posts and whatnot are fine, but they're not news, and there are enough of them that it makes it harder to weed out the "real" news.

    Things like that should stay in the forums; that's what forums are for. Keep the news pages news-focused, and let discussions happen in the forums. That alone would go leaps and bounds toward making the site better again.

  8. #8

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    And also, about the Dreamcast thing:

    I don't have a problem with the site covering multiple consoles; it just needs to be organized about it. I understand why it's not specifically DC-centric any more, and that's fine. But that makes the "DCEmu" name really ridiculous...and name changes won't kill you, if you've got content worth offering. VG-Network was a premier source of emu news for YEARS, but they gained their popularity under the name Dave's Classics. When Dave "retired," they changed the name, because it didn't fit any more.

    And, you don't see IGN touting itself as an N64 site any more; it's IGN now. My recommendation is to pick a more general name, something people will understand means console homebrew/emus in general. Register that new name, and change all your "branding" to match. Keep the DCEmu UK URL for a year or so, just so people who haven't heard about the change yet get directed to the new site and see "oh, it's this now." Sites do this all the time; it's called keeping yourself relevant.

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    Sir Digby Chicken Caesar Darksaviour69's Avatar
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    When the news section is flooded with conversation starters and just random questions/bits of interest, it really kinda mucks things up

    i don't understand this, only news can be posted in the news forum, thats the beauty of it. at dcemulation.com most news is posted in either the "DC Emulation & Homebrew Games Forum" or "Dreamcast Discussion" but its mixed with a load of other post like "can't get nester dc to boot" and "top 10 dc games" posts.

    in our forum only news post are in the Dreamcast News section. help topics are in the dc hlpe section and other dc topic are in the dreamcast general topic... that seems organized

    general network news, like the interviews now has its own forum, and they do not show up on the dreamcast newpage.

    now the dcemu uk, thats a good point and some thing that we are thinking about. remember we are only really starting to change now, give us a chance, alot of things have to be sorted and worked out.

    at this stage, the dcemu name has become a brand, thats what we are known for, in many different scene ( we are also one of the biggest psp sites). i would have thought that psp users would be like "dcemu" whats that got to do with psp... but funny, thats never really come up.

    personaly i think the idea of keeping the dcemu name, as it kind of keeps homage to what the site was founded on, and that we did not just ditch the name because it does not suit the site any more. also i like the name compared to say a generic name like emuhub for something. if we do keep the name as dcemu i plan to buy a dcemu.org or something just for the dreamcast site.

    but yeah, an new name is on the cards (for the network)
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    Quote Originally Posted by Darksaviour69
    i don't understand this, only news can be posted in the news forum, thats the beauty of it.
    This is exactly what I meant by you misunderstanding.

    A lot of the stuff that is posted as news is not news, but instead is content that should have been used for a forum post instead, and thus muddies the distinction between the news and the discussion. It's this kind of thing that buries the actual news, and confuses readers. Allow me to quote a few examples of what I'm talking about:

    The DCEmu Network Public Interview (Question #4) - Whats the Greatest Console Ever ?
    Posted on Fri 14 Apr 2006, 12:49 PM
    To those who dont know what this is ill let you in to what this is.

    This is a rather unique experiment if you like of a public interview of up to 40,000 people who are members of the DCEmu Network. We are all here for the love of homebrew and gaming and so the questions will be based around that subject.

    Heres question 4

    Whats the Greatest Console of All Time

    Well if like me you have had consoles for the best part of your life this is a really hard question.

    But for me the greatest console ever was and still is the Snes or Super Nintendo.

    The amount of truely awesome games has never been replicated on any system since, it had great games in every genre and didnt just rely on fancy graphics but it still had great graphics. if i was to choose a second fave console then the Xbox would be next followed by the Dreamcast.
    The Big Toy Gaming Review
    Posted on Thu 13 Apr 2006, 2:15 AM
    First off im no expert reviewer im more of a yes its good or no its rubbish type of person, some people pretend to be be excellent and yes some are but i have a go and that to me is all that matters.

    This review is of something different and that is Toy Figures, our friends at Lik Sang sent me a selection of 15 different figures to review or write an article about.

    Well i went for the review and drafted my two kids in ( Jamie and Katie to help)

    Of the toys theres some excellent ones amongst them and a few that i disliked but if your a fan you may strongly disagree.

    Check out our toy review here --> http://www.dcemu.co.uk/thetoyreview.php
    Some DS Bargains
    Posted on Thu 13 Apr 2006, 1:26 AM
    I posted earlier that Lik Sang are having a sale, but i didnt go into any details and whilst checking out the stuff on offer i spotted a few items that are excellent at the price offered, here goes:

    The Chronicles of Narnia



    US$ 9.95

    The Sims 2



    US$ 19.90

    More info --> http://www.yesasia.com/?/news.php?artc=3840&lsaid=219793
    New Mario lacks 'newness,' says Infendo
    Posted on Thu 13 Apr 2006, 12:31 AM
    Infendo's Rollin had a thing or two to say about New Super Mario Bros. in this morning's post: "It's not a new game, and moreover it's not a DS game. Judging by the info and screens we have up to this point, this looks like an ankle-deep, shallow relic of Mario's past..." Ouch!

    Before Rollin is tossed to the wolves, let's consider this: maybe he's right. Okay, rephrase that: maybe he's on to something. Why are gamers so excited about New Mario? What does a 20-year-old concept bring to the table? Is it relevant to the DS? Worthy of a full-priced release? What if instead, it was an unlockable mini-game featured in a Revolution Mario title? Or better, an inexpensive download via Nintendo's Virtual Console service?

    The original Super Mario Bros. is a game I cherish, but often times I feel as Rollin seems to imply that Nintendo profits off of my nostalgia. Is that a bad thing? From a business standpoint, of course not. But if we're going to criticize other companies for churning out sequels and rehashes, we'd best lift the 'untouchable' veil from in front of Nintendo's name and let them have it too. New Super Mario Bros. will be fun, but let's not kid ourselves, it's not gonna shake up the state of gaming in 2006.
    http://www.joystiq.com/2006/04/12/ne...-says-infendo/
    None of these are news, yet they are posted as news. And that's just after a two-minute glance at the DS channel alone. All the channels are filled with this stuff. They're interesting, yes, but they don't belong in the news. They belong in the discussion forums.



    Also, I'm a little iffy about the coverage of big commercial releases. People go there mainly for news on homebrew and emulators. A case could be made for posting about import-only titles and stuff for DC (since even commercial DC releases are kind of a cult thing any more), but the problem is that they clutter things up. There are plenty of other sites that cover commercial releases, but not so many that are good sources for homebrew. And DCEmu UK could never hope to be as comprehensive as those other "big" sites for the commercial stuff.

    SIMPLIFICATION: News posts "of interest" and that are meant to be convesation-starters should not be news posts. They should be in the forums only. Period. Also, you might want to consider cutting back on the commercial coverage. Both of these things clutter up the news, and make news stories appear so fast that an otherwise big homebrew release might get bumped down out of sight before everyone has seen it. Also, the "conversation" newsposts (like the ones I quoted) have the additional problem of obfuscating the news in general. It's an interesting thing to post in a forum for response, but for God's sake don't clutter up the news with it.



    ...Hopefully it's a little clearer what I'm getting at now.

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