Observations

General discussion about tracking, help and support.
Threxx
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Observations

Postby Threxx » Mon Jul 27, 2015 12:37 pm

Based on some of the threads I've been seeing lately over the past few weeks, I have come to some conclusions about the forums.

I should stress before I enter into more detail that this post is not directed at any specific person and is not intended to put me on a plane above the other users of this forum.

Often times, people have complained about the criticism that is dispensed normally on the forums, and it can be generally sussinctly described as "yes good". There has been a decrease in people's willingness to criticize, and I have a theory as to why.

I used to browse the forums and reply to threads, but I have stopped now. I was seeing the same issues pervasive across FTMs - pulses clashing, duplicate effects, poor instrument envelopes - things that people could have figured out if they took some initiative on their own to learn, such as looking at the wiki or looking at other modules.

I have been using the program for about a year. I think I have made significant gains in that time as a chiptune artist and as a composer in general (See my post in LordAndrew's thread to see the quality of my work 1 year ago). Most of my knowledge is self-taught, as I used other modules and I looked at the wiki extensively in order to learn what everything did, different techniques, how to create good instruments, and so forth. I don't claim to know everything, but my own experience should say that there is some logic to not just posting poor modules and begging for help on them. Asking for help when you need it is fine, but one also needs to want to improve on their own. Seeing the same issues across all different modules makes me feel like the average forum user does not want to improve on their own, and therefore no one can help them to do so.

I think there needs to be a change in attitude about how people approach their own work, before there is a change in attitude about how work is criticized.

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HertzDevil
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Re: Observations

Postby HertzDevil » Mon Jul 27, 2015 4:09 pm

Here are some more observations about the community I have made, not necessarily related to the current state of affairs:
  • When FamiTracker was created at 2A03.org over 10 years ago, the beta testers were almost only those who had already had experience with other trackers, and gladly many of them stayed for a long time at the old forum. These people were generally helpful, and in such context users signing up at the early ages of the old FamiTracker forum remained so as well;
  • Although there is nothing wrong with creating FamiTracker tutorials accessible to the general public, doing so means that there will certainly be a lot of users who learn FamiTracker as their first tracker, hence a decreasing portion of experienced FamiTracker users;
  • Compared to those of other trackers it is clear that much fewer FamiTracker users remain active for years, much less decades;
  • The community is large, but still too small to guarantee a lot of activity, and too small to necessitate a considerable amount of global/board moderators;
  • About duplicate or uncancelled effects: This is inevitable, because in other tracker module formats (even Nerd Tracker II) almost all effects being used in patterns are necessary; to enable, say, vibrato or arpeggio, one puts that effect on every row where the effect should apply, and cancelling an effect merely amounts to not using that effect at all. (This is not an issue on FamiTracker's side either, as toggle effects often lead to better optimization for binary data output.)
refactoring 0cc-famitracker

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jaxcheese
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Re: Observations

Postby jaxcheese » Mon Jul 27, 2015 6:10 pm

The problem with all of this is that none of these problems can be enforced with precise, fair rules. Every incidence of "Seeing the same issues across all different modules" can't be judged on any sort of general rule or metric because all users have been using the forums/trackers for different amounts of time, show different amounts of skill/effort in other ways, are more/less responsive to criticism, etc.
"I think there needs to be a change in attitude about how people approach their own work, before there is a change in attitude about how work is criticized."
This is a really, really excellent point, but there is seriously no fair way to enforce a change in people's approach to their work. You can't ban people who repeatedly post and don't show "enough" improvement, because that's such a vague and subjective requirement. You can't personally incite these people to improve in any way other than repeatedly offering the same criticism, useless as it seems and may be.
So it comes down more to a personal responsibility for the users you're talking about than something "we" can do anything about.
I'm not saying this to negate anything you said, because it's all accurate and well-worded, only putting in my own two cents.
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One Post man
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Re: Observations

Postby One Post man » Mon Jul 27, 2015 7:10 pm

~yes good~

sirocyl
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Re: Observations

Postby sirocyl » Mon Jul 27, 2015 8:19 pm

I looked at the "Unanswered posts" list and there's three pages there.
A lot of it is in the music sections. A good bit of it are by people who seem new, or unfamiliar, or have fewer than 50 posts here, and they just go about without a reply, to the bottom pages of the board.
Most of those have a number of downloads, but no comments.

On the old forums, I lurked for a while. I only sent one PM, and that was complimenting someone on their FTM, unfinished as it was, making a few additions, and giving them permission to run with it if they wanted.
I was honestly afraid to post anything in public until I felt that my quality had picked up. I have a number of early ftm's with clashing pulse channels, abuse of the triangle channel, effects not being canceled, volume issues, and so forth.
I was mostly self-taught, having the effect list framed on the side of the screen does help though.
I feel the need to improve constantly, and try new techniques and see what fits, constantly experimenting with things, even if it's not entirely useful right now.

I'm sure people want to learn and improve, but are afraid to ask questions, or just don't ask and submit something that doesn't really work well.
Sometimes there's one thing I don't particularly understand, and it's a matter of spending an extra hour finding the right bit out of the documentation about it, asking someone who had read and understood it, or doing it anyway to questionable result; typically, I do the reseach myself because I'm shy as all hell and I don't want to get yelled at for asking or posting stupid things.

For instance, I wanted to make the Noise channel dance a certain way. I could've asked how to do it, and gotten a vaguely useful reply, or told it's impossible outright. I could've tried it anyway, got something which "sounds fine to me", and submitted it anyway to harsh criticism.
Now, I'm experimenting with precision timing on the noise channel to pluck the right samples out of the LFSR to change the timbre of a V01-mode noise being used for melodic accompaniment. I read the docs, and did some maths and simulations to find the right points to get the right sounds. I don't think it'll work very well, especially without getting to set very specific timed IRQs and other assembly-programming-level jazz that Famitracker doesn't do, but it's still fun to play with it.
While it's extremely difficult to achieve the level of control of the noise tone that I want in FT, being told so would've kept me from learning how the noise works in the 2A03, and being able to exploit it otherwise.

I'd say that feedback is a big driving force to creativity, and whether positive or negative* it allows one to explore more deeply in their creative light, and fine-tune their abilities.

*(negative in the sense of kindly pointing out faults or errors, not being a negative person. Nobody likes mean comments, even if true or seemingly justified.)

Also,
One Post man wrote:~yes good~

Is this supposed to be in satire?
Seriously though, posts like this do creep up all too often, which makes me think there could be a "like button" mechanic here. Something like how some other forums have a "Thanks!" button.
It gives people a quick and easy way to say that they like a post or an FTM, but with the absolute minimum of interaction needed.

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Potentialing
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Re: Observations

Postby Potentialing » Tue Jul 28, 2015 3:31 am

I think motivation plays a major part in improving. If a composer can keep their motivation up and get things done at a steady rate, they will eventually start to improve in one way or the other.

However, there are two issues that make this difficult: The criticism we give ourselves and the criticism we receive from others.

Internal criticism is something I feel every artist should be able to control. I think it will occasionally come back to us from time to time, but I think a truly good artist knows how to accept the mistakes they make and find out how to make the best out of their current abilities.

External feedback is another factor which influences motivation. If we receive a positive reply, we are more eager and motivation goes up. In contrast, if we receive a negative reply, our motivation seems to drop.

Threxx wrote:I think there needs to be a change in attitude about how people approach their own work, before there is a change in attitude about how work is criticized.

This is the thing that struck me odd, however. The Originals/Covers section of FamiTracker Forum is here to help each individual develop their musical works/knowledge. Because of this, we pretty much attract the people who are only starting their adventure into digital music writing: For some, their first art medium.

We need to realize that these people are coming to us for help, because they beat themselves up over lost motivation from music which doesn't want to work out for the writer. People make the same mistakes frequently likely because the (possibly common) concepts never actually clicked for him/her, and, when learned, the mistakes don't happen as often anymore. It happens even more frequently than we want to see it because these are either different people or people who never clicked with the concepts.

A lot of people don't drop informative feedback because they either grew sick of giving it or don't know what to tell the person posting the FTM. Usually the people I see giving feedback tend to be the ones who are also starting out composing, so then there is a lack of experts providing it. Then, if we are lucky to get feedback from an expert, the expert bashes the piece in a way where we lose the motivation of writing. Then the cycle continues, and we end up with more and more novices in the community as people stop using FamiTracker and moving to other music communities, likely writing music in a different program/medium with a friendlier community.

Now, I'm not saying that we should stop giving criticism, but rather I mean to say that we should deliver the criticism in relate-able terms, so the person can accept their mistakes and move on, while still getting our entire point across. I truly feel that people tend to listen more if the message is delivered in a lighter tone, because otherwise the person would start to hate the piece they were once proud of and likely give up altogether, because the source of help rejected their music. As veterans of this program/forum, I think we should set positive examples to create an overall positive impact on the community.

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Gamma
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Re: Observations

Postby Gamma » Sun Aug 02, 2015 5:06 am

Fairly and honestly critiquing someone elses work takes time. There was a fairly long stint of people uploading works that were of no interest to me, or when I took the time to listen, the skill level of the composer was either too far above or below my own for me to say anything worthwhile.

As more unfamiliar faces began populating the forums, I found I cared less and less about what was being posted in the module forums. After a couple of threads which I felt contained my best works went unnoticed and thus, what I felt, was unappreciated, I stopped contributing myself. I still came back to the forums out of habit, looking for modules made by familiar faces since I knew i'd like what they made, or in some cases, what I had to say would resonate with them because we had some form of mutual respect.

There's also been multiple occasions where I found something via search and I really wanted to comment on it (usually a module), but the weird rules surrounding "necro" posting which more often than not resulted in locked threads prevented me from doing so. It gave me the feeling that there's a very short window of time where you're allowed to appreciate something, and this led to me commenting on topics even less than I did before.

I think the best way I can sum up my thoughts is that the forums mostly seem filled with people who desperately want to be noticed, and most of them don't want to take the time to give someone else the attention that they themselves are seeking. Myself included. I think most of the skilled people who used to be here (and some of which, may still be) moved on to other communities like battle of the bits in order to have more meaningful engagements with like-minded people. I don't really know what I want out of this website anymore, but I can't help but shake the feeling that the moderators and more senior members of the community don't know either.

To do more than simply criticize the state of affairs, I think something that may help the community grow would be more events in general. Run a monthly compo or something, it'll drum up peoples' interest in composing, and the voting process will dramatically increase the likelihood of people engaging with the works presented. There may even be room for critique and encouragement after the fact!

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Stratelier
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Re: Observations

Postby Stratelier » Sun Aug 02, 2015 6:12 am

Gamma wrote:There's also been multiple occasions where I found something via search and I really wanted to comment on it (usually a module), but the weird rules surrounding "necro" posting which more often than not resulted in locked threads prevented me from doing so. It gave me the feeling that there's a very short window of time where you're allowed to appreciate something, and this led to me commenting on topics even less than I did before.


On one forum I lurk, if you reply to a topic older than the last 14 days, the next time a mod sees it they reply and lock the topic. But in their defense, that is a forum with a generally high post volume ... not like the slow here.

I personally believe that if a post is on-topic and constructive, rules regarding necro posts do not apply.

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Potentialing
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Re: Observations

Postby Potentialing » Sun Aug 02, 2015 6:19 am

Gamma wrote:Fairly and honestly critiquing someone elses work takes time. There was a fairly long stint of people uploading works that were of no interest to me, or when I took the time to listen, the skill level of the composer was either too far above or below my own for me to say anything worthwhile.

As more unfamiliar faces began populating the forums, I found I cared less and less about what was being posted in the module forums. After a couple of threads which I felt contained my best works went unnoticed and thus, what I felt, was unappreciated, I stopped contributing myself. I still came back to the forums out of habit, looking for modules made by familiar faces since I knew i'd like what they made, or in some cases, what I had to say would resonate with them because we had some form of mutual respect.

There's also been multiple occasions where I found something via search and I really wanted to comment on it (usually a module), but the weird rules surrounding "necro" posting which more often than not resulted in locked threads prevented me from doing so. It gave me the feeling that there's a very short window of time where you're allowed to appreciate something, and this led to me commenting on topics even less than I did before.

I think the best way I can sum up my thoughts is that the forums mostly seem filled with people who desperately want to be noticed, and most of them don't want to take the time to give someone else the attention that they themselves are seeking. Myself included. I think most of the skilled people who used to be here (and some of which, may still be) moved on to other communities like battle of the bits in order to have more meaningful engagements with like-minded people. I don't really know what I want out of this website anymore, but I can't help but shake the feeling that the moderators and more senior members of the community don't know either.

To do more than simply criticize the state of affairs, I think something that may help the community grow would be more events in general. Run a monthly compo or something, it'll drum up peoples' interest in composing, and the voting process will dramatically increase the likelihood of people engaging with the works presented. There may even be room for critique and encouragement after the fact!

I don't think there's anything wrong with not having the time/patience to comment on every song, but there is definitely a lack of people doing it: and those who really don't have the patience but do it anyway come off as lazy "this is good" kind of posts. I don't think there really is a way we can enforce that besides encouraging people to do it to keep the community active... Unless we did some kind of reputation system, but I wonder what kind of incentives we could implement that could keep the motivation up on these forum.

What I wonder is if there's a good, dedicated/accessible place to learn the more complex stuff FamiTracker has to offer, because chances are people just hear about the program and dive in without caring enough to read up on all of it. I usually see people recommending people just "nsfimport and study what the person did" but the fact several newcomers make a thread/post an FTM with mistakes makes me wonder if it's more of a documentation issue with FamiTracker.

There seems to be a common trend with Danooct1's Kraid Tutorial though, which teaches some of the very basic FT stuff quickly via a short YouTube video, which is how I suspect most people end up learning... but then everything after that becomes a matter of word-of-mouth or self-studying. I feel like there isn't a reliable+organized+convenient way to learn FamiTracker: and if there is, then I think there isn't enough exposure/promotion for it from the actual website/community.

Speaking of Kraid covers, I set a pretty bad example today with a joke thread. Perhaps we should try toning down on this kind of stuff too to make it easier to sift through the threads that actually need help (I speak on that mainly to acknowledge my own mistake today, anyway. Sorry again for that!)

Stratelier wrote:I personally believe that if a post is on-topic and constructive, rules regarding necro posts do not apply.

I think this is a good idea, given that the new Notifications feature on this new board could help people see replies they might have missed centuries ago, while keeping the threads focused.

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Stratelier
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Re: Observations

Postby Stratelier » Sun Aug 02, 2015 6:52 am

Well, according to the rules linked at the top of the forum index there don't seem to be any rules against necroing a thread per se:

rules.html (added emphasis mine)
2. c) Before posting a reply, think "Is what I'm about to post helpful in any way?" If not, then don't post.

5. Before posting in an old thread, look at the last post's date. If it's one month old (or older) and you have no valuable information to add, don't post anything.
Last edited by Stratelier on Sun Aug 02, 2015 5:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.


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