There has been talk of possibly finding or writing an external tool (website) for planning and running our game jams. Things like reputation requirements are less than ideal for what we'd like to do with the jams.

What are the community's thoughts on this? Has meta been working well? Are we fine with continuing as we've been? Has meta been working OK but perhaps there are changes you would make? Is an external tool essential to keep having successful jams in the future?

Meta fails the jam in the following ways:

  1. New users, or lurkers can't post a game or vote on the jam entries unless they get 5 or 10 rep respectively
  2. Voting on completed games commences as soon as the game is submitted, and this may sway more votes
  3. No way to tell who is participating or show progress during the jam

For #1, it's really easy to get 5 rep, and I think two of our participants simply suggested edits to 2 questions each. It is a bit more of a pain to get to 10 rep for voting though.

Seeing as there are some annoyances to do with submitting/voting on games: What are the goals of the game jam? Do we want the jam to be a community-only event, a public event held by the community, a public event with community involvement? The way it is now isn't very inviting to the public.

For #2, there appears to be a correlation between the submission time and the number of votes a submission gets, but I'm not convinced it's due to hit-and-run voters. I suspect that late submissions are either last minute or rushed, and they are less polished and more likely to get fewer votes than the earlier submissions.

For #3, Chat works, but not everyone participates in chat. I know Ali S. and I were feeling like we might have been the only two participating. Ali even went so far as to add a work-in-progress answer to the jam so that others would know he was participating.

Some advantages of sticking with Meta are:

  • It's tightly tied to the community
  • It works, and it's easy
  • 1 Account
  • Everything is in one place: right here in Meta
  • Members of the community with a passing interest in the jam can vote with very little effort.

So, I guess it really comes down to who the jam is for, and if we think the disadvantages outweigh the advantages. If we are to host part of the jam off-site, we need to find a way to maintain or increase the involvement, and I think having a second account will kill any casual voters.

  • Would a "Log in with StackExchange" feature alleviate most of your concerns or do we feel the separation of SE and the jam, even if it is all with one account, is distance enough to lose participation? – SpartanDonut Nov 11 '14 at 0:21
  • I'd even go as far as making it required assuming it's possible (which by glancing at the API looks like it is) – SpartanDonut Nov 11 '14 at 0:21
  • My problem with using a separate site for the game jams is longevity and history. A 3rd party site could easily go unmaintained and the content lost forever. I think meta is the best spot and we only need a feature to disable voting. I think chat works best for showing your progress throughout (I know I shared a few images). – MLM Nov 11 '14 at 1:05
  • 3
    Note that "only need a feature to disable voting" is almost certainly impossible to solve, though. Also note that meta currently also requires the active participation of diamond moderators to even function for a jam, so you're already relying on at least one of a very small set of people (there are only four diamonds). – Josh Nov 11 '14 at 4:33

Originally, I recall that part of the impetus for the jam was to try and drive participation in the actual Q&A portion of the site (i.e., the main focus).

While this was a laudable goal, I don't think it actually ever happened. I can't find evidence of increased Q&A activity or quality during the period where the jams run. I'm guessing that the short time period of the jams generally tends to make people stay heads-down on their projects, working around problems or sticking to things they know very well in order to get as much time making a good jam game as possible.

So I don't think there's a particularly compelling need to keep the jam hosted on the GDSE meta. I think it should be moved to an external site, because that would solve a lot of problems. The minimum reputation is an issue that would go away, as is the fact that meta is not really suited to the presentation we'd like for the jam and thus requires some ignoble hacks.

Of course hosting the site externally does present some challenges, but I don't think they are insurmountable or really, particularly different from the challenges we have now on meta.

Somebody would have to host and maintain it. But somebody (John, and previously Alex) is already doing so, and all the hacks we have to do to the jam posts require the intervention of diamond moderators. Hosting and domain registration would be the only real new costs/responsibilities of a single user if we moved the jam, and it's possible to get those cheaply enough that the site could be ad or donation supported. Alternatively, using the various jam-service-providers mentioned by others in this thread could alleviate that problem entirely.

The only major issue would be the software to run the jam itself. This could be built as an open-source project to distribute the ownership and thus avoid the problem of a single user building it and getting bored and abandoning it. But again, there is already software to do this so we don't need to build our own at all.

I think we should try to move the jam off-site. It would mean abandoning the StackExchange name and all association with the site (other than linking back here, of course), but I think it would be better for the jam itself and would allow it to grow much more than I think it's going to if we keep hosting it here.

In my opinion, there are two main issues, and a secondary-level issue:

  1. Rep needed on Meta. This restricts entry.
  2. Someone needed to manage the second site.

Restricting entry is undesirable, but running a second site will take a non-trivial amount of someone's time.

In my uninformed opinion (because I have not taken part in a Jam, and have the rep to post on Meta), I would rather restrict entry a bit than open up the can of worms involved in running a second site.

As a tangential thought I just had, I like that the Jam has more of an appearance of being legitimate when it's done through Meta.

  • Right, legitimate in the sense that it's run by the community, and not just some dude saying: "Hey, Check out my jam! Linkz below". I can see that. – John McDonald Nov 11 '14 at 0:05

Personally I prefer bigger jams, even if it means opening it up to non-meta and even non-GDSE users.

I argue that this is already the case for the GDSE jams: take a look at past entries, you'll find maybe half come from less-active users, those with 100 rep or less. Furthermore there is no correlation between rep and submission quality; at time of writing, the winner of the last jam has a grand total of 5 rep, and no questions/answers posted at all, either in meta or main. That is, many participants are already GDSE "outsiders", which means the meta requirement is an arbitrary limitation to participation.

Opening up the jam has advantages: it exposes GDSE to a wider audience, attracts more entries and voters which improves the overall quality of the jam - more feedback, more competition, more ideas showcased, more games to try for judges. The current size of GDSE jams are on the extreme low end as far as jams go. As a developer, this size is too small for me: chances are my submission will get 0 constructive feedback, which means I don't know what other people liked or didn't like, which means I don't get to improve.

Another point I want to make is that hosting jams elsewhere is easy. There are services like itch.io or gamejolt which allow anyone to freely start a jam, and all the infrastructure is in place: submissions, voting, deadlines. In itch.io's case, just sign up, go to http://itch.io/jams and click the "Host your own jam" button. You can specify a twitter hashtag to keep up with participants if that's your thing. Many major jams were organised this way: 7DFPS, flappy jam just to name two. The only downside here is that there is no explicit link with GDSE, but again I argue this is a small concern. Hosting jams elsewhere should reduce the work for organisers.

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