exclamation-circle The State of the Marble Blast Community

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23 Nov 2022 17:16 - 23 Nov 2022 17:31 #1 by Doomblah
The State of the Marble Blast Community was created by Doomblah
Lately I've not been playing much (any) Marble Blast on account of the fact that I've been in college--proper college, with actual in-person classes and whatnot--but I've still remained a regular user of Discord checking in on everything, participating in discussions, and helping out when I can. Having spent more time around people closer to my age I'm starting to see just how immature our community really is. Serious discussion still happens, thank God, but it's pretty uncommon. I've been lamenting over this fact for the past couple weeks or so, unsure what if anything to do about it. 

I'm not even entirely sure I know how to articulate what I think is wrong with the Marble Blast community other than to say that there is this overwhelming sense of immaturity. Innocuous discussion about anything can quickly devolve into dick jokes or sex jokes ignoring the actual topic of conversation opting instead to make vulgar comments that serve no purpose other than to be vulgar. Or you might try to start a discussion and you'll get a comment akin to "ur mom" which will just kill any chance of discussion outright. This and more contributes to a difficulty to start interesting discussions and just overall promotes immaturity in our community and I don't think this is where the community should be heading. I think this is why people like Nature Freak might be advocating for the forums and if that's the case then I agree. Because discussion on the forums is rarely anything but discussion, none of (or at least a minuscule amount of) this immaturity finds its way there. I think this attitude towards discussion can exist within Discord, it just does not right now. Is there a way that we can promote maturity and interesting discussion? 

My first thought was to make a new rule for this, no more immature humor, and then moderate any messages that break it. But this approach has some serious problems: "immature humor" is ill defined and just becomes "whatever the mods don't like", and this is exactly what the old mods were ousted for; this also (probably less importantly) creates a ton of work for the mods to do and I don't want to say that I'm too lazy for that but I have an entire life outside this community now, I literally don't have the time. Looking back at it now I can't help but wonder if something like what I'm describing now is what the old mods were trying to eradicate with measures such as this, though I think they went about it in a less than ideal way. I don't want to repeat those same mistakes but there is still an issue to be solved. 

My next thought would be to just call it out every time I think I see someone being immature. But without a rule to back it up there's very little reason for anyone to listen, and it's really easy for calling out to just become insulting back at them. Calling someone's immature comment "cringe" isn't exactly a productive way to go about adjusting that kind of behaviour, and I'll admit I've done this myself. There's a better way to go about, there has to be. Something like having the right mentality, genuinely wanting what is best for this person, suggesting maturity as a better alternative, without making fun of them for thinking that way or implying they're a bad person for saying that thing. I don't know exactly what would best make up this kind of corrective action. But whatever it is it's a very delicate balancing act that I'm not certain I could effectively manage all the time. Though, perhaps that shouldn't stop me from trying. 

Which brings me to what the solution probably should be, a cultural shift of sorts. If the community starts to think poorly of this sort of immature humor and unproductive discussion tactics then they start policing it on their own and encourage the practice of mature discussion. No new rules or moderator interference, just the community upholding and promoting values it collectively thinks are important. If we even think this is a valuable pursuit in the first place.

This post is partially an attempt to see where the community stands on this issue; to see if I'm completely crazy or if there’s some kind of consensus on this, and if there is an issue how then we might go about solving it. I don't know if what I've said here would be a solution or if it would only create more problems. I hope we're able to discuss this and figure something out together as a community. 

I feel discouraged by the state of things as they are now, this pervasive immaturity I think brings down the entire community, even those who aren't immature. As much as this is still a community full of teenagers, many of us are adults now and we don't seem to do much to promote maturity in our community. We can and should be better than this, how we go about doing that is up for us to decide.
Last edit: 23 Nov 2022 17:31 by Doomblah. Reason: Fixed some phrasing
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23 Nov 2022 18:11 - 23 Nov 2022 18:15 #2 by Nockess
Replied by Nockess on topic The State of the Marble Blast Community
I've also noticed the drop in my activity in the community (and definitely the game) over the past several months, which of course has to do with that whole "growing up" thing that people talk about (university, work, relationship, you name it). I do still try to pay some attention to the community, given that it was an absolutely massive part of my teenage years, and I'm pretty comfortable with the thought that sits inside of me that says I'm totally cool with the state of the community right now.

My sense of humor and the conversation topics that I actually take interest in have shifted as I've gotten older and matured a bit more, but there is still every part of me that enjoys a community with a healthy share of immaturity and youthful light-heartedness to it. I think it's important to be involved all the dumb tomfoolery when it's the most of what you find interesting, but I also think it's important to continue to somewhat embrace it when you're growing (and have grown) out if it. Rather than be the old guy who shakes my fist in judgement at the younger ones who are nothing but annoying little shits, I like to connect in a way that still involves being a bit of a dork myself. Most of the time I socialize in the community is when I'm just involving myself in actual conversations and such that I enjoy, but it's still fun to be young.

From the perspective of when I was one of those younger folks in the community a few years ago, it felt really good to be able to chill with the people I looked up to without feeling like I had to put on my best mature self. That's a feeling I want to share with as many people as I can.

Young people make culture, and the people they look up to should just be focused on being a good role model and leading them to be their best selves. Everyone matures eventually!

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Last edit: 23 Nov 2022 18:15 by Nockess.
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23 Nov 2022 18:26 #3 by Doomblah
Replied by Doomblah on topic The State of the Marble Blast Community
Thank you for your response Nockess. I feel like a right idiot, saying "this is a problem that needs fixing" and all that. You've given me a new, better, perspective on this. I think you're exactly right, I'm growing up. Maybe I just never thought that would happen. This is just teenagers being teenagers, like I once was. This isn't a problem that needs fixing, it's just me becoming that grumpy old man who yells at kids for being annoying. I've grown out of the need for "dumb tomfoolery" as you put it, and now I expect everyone to be the same? Nah, that's not how this should work.
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23 Nov 2022 18:54 #4 by NF

Doomblah wrote:
Having spent more time around people closer to my age I'm starting to see just how immature our community really is.

I felt this same way in high school with noby's server, and even more so in college. Now I'm done with college and don't spend as much time around people in general, but still I completely agree with this—it's the main reason why I have everything except #speedrunning muted, although even that channel still devolves into meaningless/off-topic/immature discussion relatively regularly. For many, many months now, I have been so close to just completely abandoning the Discord server as a place where I would want to communicate with this community. I just haven't left because it is the most convenient way to keep up-to-date with speedrunning, although most of the time these days I don't even read through the whole channel because I can't be bothered anyway.

I think this is why people like Nature Freak might be advocating for the forums and if that's the case then I agree.

This is certainly one of the reasons, another one being that the organization of the forums is just greatly superior to that of Discord. Another huge advantage of forums is that everything is archived in an easy-to-use format, whereas Discord search is terrible for this purpose (although admittedly, the forums' search function is super broken right now too, so that would have to be fixed). I also think this community is at its best for long discussions when we are posting on the forums, because we're forced to think more before saying something.

Here's my personal perspective: even before Discord, when people were using Skype, I couldn't stand that style of interaction, and sometimes I still remember stuff from 2016 that makes me shudder—the main reason being spam, which is hugely encouraged by the messaging format of Skype and Discord, but also the immaturity that has been around for so long being too much for me to handle. For myself, Discord is very fun to use in much smaller groups where everyone is good friends, and very mentally draining to use otherwise, such as in the case with this community where I feel like I barely know anyone.

But many people feel differently and love the MB server, and also loved noby's server and the Skype groups that came before it. I wouldn't want to take that away from them, whether or not it has anything to do with maturity. Like Nockess said, everyone matures sooner or later. We all look back at our teenage selves and cringe, and as I like to think, it's a natural part of growing up and I wouldn't be too harsh on that. Some people also look back on those times with fondness, and while I don't agree personally, again I don't have anything against that.

As for what to do about it, I'm not a moderator, so my opinion probably doesn't matter much. But I believe this community is just going to behave how they will, spurred on by each other through the instantaneous medium of Discord. I think the real solution is to just leave the server if you don't like it. Switch to the forums, and if more and more people do that, then the forums might become the active place that they used to be in 2015, while the people in the Discord server will be able to have their fun, and you won't have to put up with it if you don't like it. That's what I'd do—there's nothing tying you to that server.

As much as this is still a community full of teenagers, many of us are adults now and we don't seem to do much to promote maturity in our community.

Well, I don't think "adult" implies "mature" at all, and most of the adults in the community don't really seem to care too much about that either. People just want to have fun, really. And I understand that—I love dirty humor, as long as it's actually funny and with people who I enjoy. That's not the case with the MB server for me personally, but if people enjoy it then I won't stand in their way.

So I think the best thing to do is to leave if you don't like it, and mute the channels you don't like if you'd rather remain in the server. Everyone has different thresholds for what they can and can't deal with, and vastly different senses of humor, but I don't think it's good to want to control everything that other people say. I don't know how moderator appointments work, but if it's really bothering you maybe you could just be a forum/webchat moderator or something. As long as people are happy with this community, whatever their chosen level of involvement is, that's fine with me.
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23 Nov 2022 19:38 - 23 Nov 2022 19:47 #5 by Doomblah
Replied by Doomblah on topic The State of the Marble Blast Community
Nature Freak, you had some really good points there and bring up an issue that I think is worth discussing.

So I think the best thing to do is to leave if you don't like it, and mute the channels you don't like if you'd rather remain in the server. Everyone has different thresholds for what they can and can't deal with, and vastly different senses of humor, but I don't think it's good to want to control everything that other people say. I don't know how moderator appointments work, but if it's really bothering you maybe you could just be a forum/webchat moderator or something. As long as people are happy with this community, whatever their chosen level of involvement is, that's fine with me.

My philosophy of being a Moderator prevents me from just leaving or muting anyone or any channel. I need to be able to see everything lest some rule be broken and I miss it because I muted them. I feel I would be responsible for the damage (no matter how small) that would cause. For me being a moderator means taking on that responsibility of finding and punishing actual rule breaking, I can't just ignore everything going on because "I don't like it." It's not about me liking it or not. So perhaps this accentuates "the problem", seeing everything all the time refusing to ignore it only builds up a resentment for it, which was further accentuated by my now greater understanding of just how immature this place really is, and always has been. But, I've grown past the need to act that way myself (most of the time), I've already had my years of being a dumb teenager who has said countless dumb things. But to expect that everyone else to suddenly get over it just because I no longer have a need for it is unfair to them. I'm only the way I am now because of all my years of being a dumb teenager, to deprive them of that would be greater problem in my eyes. Maybe the real issue is something like the important discussions get lost in all the chatter, for example with pertinent #speedrunning discussions, like you pointed out.

I just haven't left because it is the most convenient way to keep up-to-date with speedrunning, although most of the time these days I don't even read through the whole channel because I can't be bothered anyway.

All the good discussion is lost in the noise and not worth sifting through to find. There must be some solution to this, and maybe this is one. Someone who is reading everything can keep track of all the important developments and make a forum post for each one so it is better archived (or do a big monthly update or something). Like just the other day Ice Cold Pass (MBP Advanced) had a brand new tweak, that would be important to know, someone should make a post covering everything we know about the trick so it's not lost in all the other things going on. Perhaps that's a better solution than to silence all the dumb things people say. Because as annoying as they might be they're also important in a certain sense.

Update: A little bit of discussion in Discord brought up the idea that channels like #speedrunning and #level-building could have their chatter removed and be topic specific channels only. That might also be a solution.
Last edit: 23 Nov 2022 19:47 by Doomblah. Reason: Update

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23 Nov 2022 22:14 - 23 Nov 2022 22:42 #6 by Weather
Replied by Weather on topic The State of the Marble Blast Community
I'm pleasantly surprised to see this thread, whatever decision it leads to.
I think a culture shift could be practical with specific rules (like no sexual stuff in serious channels) and perhaps the return of members who left over immaturity, and I don't think that would be bad for the community. There are healthy and unhealthy ways to grow up, and from many moral perspectives, the path of least resistance isn't the best one. If I recall correctly—because of the concerns voiced in this thread, it's been years since I was in the server or an active LB chat—adults and minors alike in this community go as far as sexualizing minors without consent. Is that a healthy way to grow up, or is it surprising that milder humor led to that?
Last edit: 23 Nov 2022 22:42 by Weather.

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24 Nov 2022 07:52 #7 by Yoshicraft224
Replied by Yoshicraft224 on topic The State of the Marble Blast Community
This does show a good merit to using the forums if you want to talk about something serious, as the slow pacing and only seeing messages if you happen to look (as well as the general environment) do incentivize longer, more drawn out (and therefore more serious) posts.

However, as for Discord, or any instant messaging app, there will be immaturity, jokes, memes, and the like. This goes down to the heart of Marble Blast, but the same can be seen for almost any community, and only becomes moreso with an increase in size. Plus, other than that, it wouldn't be enjoyable to interact with anyone if everything was entirely sterile.

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28 Nov 2022 01:22 #8 by NF

Doomblah wrote:
I need to be able to see everything lest some rule be broken and I miss it because I muted them. I feel I would be responsible for the damage (no matter how small) that would cause. For me being a moderator means taking on that responsibility of finding and punishing actual rule breaking, I can't just ignore everything going on because "I don't like it."

I'm not saying you have a "wrong philosophy" or anything, because frankly that would be a ridiculous comment to make, but I feel the need to just point out that you shouldn't have to put pressure on yourself to read everything that goes on around here. There are three other active moderators, after all—it's unrealistic to expect one person to do all that work, and so that's why there are a few of you people.

Maybe the real issue is something like the important discussions get lost in all the chatter, for example with pertinent #speedrunning discussions, like you pointed out.

I do think this is the biggest issue with Discord at present. Maybe I have the luxury of being a "user" instead of a "moderator", that makes me able to partake in only the parts of this place that I enjoy, and with the #speedrunning channel in particular being the only reason I'm still in the server, I find it frustrating that it's so hard to get a concise summary of important things that are posted there, especially stuff about one particular topic. That's why I'd love to revive the WRR topics on the forums, because they're a ridiculously convenient place to catch up on news which clearly sections everything off with timestamps and doesn't take up all my computer's RAM like the community spreadsheets do.

Someone who is reading everything can keep track of all the important developments and make a forum post for each one so it is better archived (or do a big monthly update or something).

Or, people could just... post on the forums when they find stuff. That would be nice, but perhaps it's too good to be true to expect anyone but myself and a couple other people to want to do that.

Update: A little bit of discussion in Discord brought up the idea that channels like #speedrunning and #level-building could have their chatter removed and be topic specific channels only. That might also be a solution.

That would be fine with me, but then people might not post on the forums at all. I still would though, and if even 6 people joined me that would be very nice.



Yoshicraft224 wrote:
However, as for Discord, or any instant messaging app, there will be immaturity, jokes, memes, and the like. This goes down to the heart of Marble Blast, but the same can be seen for almost any community, and only becomes more so with an increase in size. Plus, other than that, it wouldn't be enjoyable to interact with anyone if everything was entirely sterile.

I certainly agree with the fact that the medium of Discord means stupid jokes are inevitable, but I do still think forum interaction can be enjoyable. That's just down to personal opinion though. I think that in general, a good way to think of it might be that forums are for more organized topics, while Discord is just for general communication. Like, if people did what Doomblah wrote and made the #speedrunning, #level-building, etc. channels into topic-only channels, then I think that type of channel would fare better if it was entirely on the forums. This includes #question-of-the-day, #speedrunning, #level-building, #suggestions (since the forums support polls), #bug-report, and #coding-and-modding, although that last one could go either way. Then all the other channels would comprise the Discord server itself. That way, all the "official" or "important" stuff would be kept on the forums in a clean, easy to read format, whereas more casual conversation would be relegated to Discord. I think this would be much healthier for the community.

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