I have to admit, due to various circumstances I've left World of Warcraft behind for a time. Indeed, I am no longer playing.
The important question here is, though: What does this mean for you, the user? Am I not developing my mods anymore? The answer to that: Sort of. I'll still be maintaining my mods, I'll give my all to that. It might mean a drycoded release here and there where I can't get tests done, but they will remain maintained. I tend to obsess over my projects and I do give a damn about the people using them.
So where's the bad news in all this? There has to be bad news, otherwise I wouldn't have brought it up, eh? And that's unfortunately the case. There's only so much I can do without a testing platform, so this means that my plugins will always be compatible and functioning from now on, but they'll see no new feature inclusions. I feel that's okay though because with my DataBroker plugins at least, I'm sure that I've gotten in everything that everyone wanted, especially with the 1.0 release of Bagsy which was the only mod I was still getting requests for. Everyone seems satisfied, and that's good. It means I can kick back and be lazy, and like a carnie I'll only be bothering to get up when there are things to fix.
Had I not left Warcraft, I would've kept going as I had done. And I may return in the future, at which point my mods will see new features. But whatever happens, my projects won't die. You have my word on that.
I've often felt in the past that the voting system is just a way for some anonymous coward to slap a big "You suck!" on your work without actually needing the guts to face you and tell you why. I'm fine with a person doing that via a comment, because that way they have a name attached to their post and I can ask them why they think that and how my mod could be improved. I have no issues with anyone saying that my work sucks as long as they can put in the effort to tell me why.
I've seen people grief the voting system over and over though, I've seen mods which have had a vote of one or two stars and I've asked myself why that is. The mod is perfectly good, it's been stunningly well written and it does exactly what it claims to. But it has a low vote. Why? I feel bad whenever I see that, and I always end up voting 5 stars to offset the problem. You may think it hard to believe, but with the mods that haven't garnered a huge amount of popularity and fans, this is actually a problem.
Why? I don't know. It could be internal politics, it could be developers voting against each other, it could be that users simply don't like the attitude of the dev, it could be that the mod was thought badly of because it had a slightly odd way of embedding libraries even if their methods are as perfectly functional as those of any other mod (yes, I've actually encountered this complaint). It could be that the person spotted a bug in a mod, perhaps even a crippling bug, but instead of reporting it they decided to give the developer a 1-star vote, hoping it would "motivate" them into fixing the problem.
But at the end of the day, this is just theorycrafting (heh) and guesswork. Who can say?
The truth is though, I myself found it stressful to even upload new mods because of such a system, because I knew that soon after I'd upload a mod, someone would decide to slap a low vote on it without telling me why. With my most recent lot of mods (the DataBroker ones and TailChaser) I had an arbitrary vote of 3 slapped across all the mods, silently. Almost as if the person voting was just trying to get under my skin, because the mods all did very varying things and I can't imagine that someone tried them all and decided that each one was worth that much.
This lead to me actually asking for votes, and if you look at the comments of my mods you'll find that most of them (except for one or two black sheep that no one understood, but that's alright) were well received.
In the past, I've often felt that each new mod I uploaded would lead to a popularity contest and vote begging, where I'd have to ask for votes so that I wouldn't have to log in to see 1-3 star votes on my work. It's either that or just give up and deal with seeing that on most of my mods. Both options were stressful and very depressing, because I give my all when I create a mod, I do the very best I can (I'm no fantasticoder, this I admit, but by God I'll do the best I can with what I have). And dropping by to upload an update only to see that someone else has slapped another "You suck!" on one of my mods was, well...
I don't know how many of those reading this will really understand my feelings on this, and I'm not really a vain person, but this always bothered me. When I create a mod, I admit that it's mostly for my roomie and I. I make it the best I can because the artist in me is never really satisfied with anything I do, and because the roomie's a good friend and I'm not going to fob-off anything less than my best on him. But I share the mods because I think that... well, someone else might just find this useful. Not everyone will. And it may only be that one or two people will understand why I've uploaded a certain mod, but if one or two people find it useful... then that's great. That's a fantastic feeling, knowing your work has helped others.
However, a low vote is basically the same as saying that my work is poor, that it'll likely hinder rather than help, and that at the end of the day it might even harm a person's gaming experience. And I don't know why, but I find that depressing.
It's due to voting systems that I don't share my work much, because doing so leaves me feeling cynical and bitter about the whole experience.
However, WoWI has recently rescinded the voting system. And I can tell you all now that that's a weight off my shoulders.
Without that there, it means that I can just drop by here and upload my latest efforts and I'll know that whatever opinions are presented must be presented in the format of comments. That there has to be a name attached to that bad opinion, that there's no more anonymous cowardice. Moreover, I can see if the person has a poor opinion because of a bug, or a poorly designed feature... I can get some feedback, and I may even end up improving the mod greatly.
And that's the thing, isn't it? I ask you for a moment to compare how you feel if you see a mod with a two star vote, or if you see a mod with a comment that says "Your mod sucks!!" without actually presenting a reason why. Which is the most likely to alter your decision as to whether the mod is worthwhile or not. Would a person making a claim like that without bothering to say why actually seem credible? They probably wouldn't. But on a subconcious level... votes do seem credible. That's because ratings system are everywhere in our society, and on some level everyone guages the worth of something by the number attached to it.
I know this is long-winded, but I'd like to expand a little more on the last point...
I've talked to British journalists, and I've actually read articles in magazines, and one of the things I've found is that many a journalist absolutely hates attaching a score to their review. They feel that even if someone reads a review and takes into account all the nuances of the reviewer's opinion, the big number at the end will likely hold more credence than the review itself, and whether a person tries a product will likely be based more on that score than anything else. And more, that the reviewer's recommendations or warnings may go unheard in the face of such a warning.
A review is a very contextual thing, and what someone may get out of it may vary depending on their patience, whether they're a fan of the genre, if they have a technical mindset or not, whether they might be offended by this or that... and so on, and so on. Often this kind of information is contained in a review, but it's ignored in favour of the score.
And that's a problem really.
It means that no matter what I may have to say about my mod, at the end of the day it's probably going to hold no water compared to the overall rating my mod has. The number is worth more than any words.
The only solution and the only way to get away from this is to remove the ratings system, so people instead must learn to rely on words, and context, and varied opinions, and then they must learn to guage their own internal rating based on all the things they've read. Without a ratings system, each person has to do that, because there's no big number that pretends to do that for them.
And at the end of the day, I'm glad the rating system has gone. I'd understand that some people might want a rating system if they were paying for a product, but all the mods are free here and tiny, it takes no effort to download something and try it to see whether it's really any good or not. I feel that I don't have to put up with that anymore, I don't have to feel that people will think that my mods are defective or poorly written. They'll try them themselves, they'll look at the code, they'll draw their own conclusions.
I just feel it's liberating to be free of a ratings system, and I hope the rest of you feel the same way as I do, and I hope that my reasons here are understood because I really am glad those bloody little stars are gone.
And wrapping this up, I really do want to thank Cairenn and Dolby for doing that, because with that gone... well, uploading mods is enjoyable again. Because yes, I do like to share.
I've been pondering about Secretary of late, and what I should have it do. I've been wondering even whether I should have it do anything else, since it seems pretty much perfect as it is.
I had considered adding a module to temporarily add people to your whitelist (for the session) if you do positive emotes at them, but such a module would be bloaty and would need to be localised (as DoEmote doesn't seem to pass units or unit-names if hooked, thanks Blizz).
I'm happy with Secretary as it is, but I know some won't use it unless there's that buffer there that'll help them catch whispers they'd want from people they were just friendly with but hadn't added to their friends list yet. I've been thinking about how to go about this, but I don't have the perfect idea... not yet, anyway.
So here's where you come in...
If you have an idea, any idea, feel free to share it as a feature request, or post on the mod's forum, or send me a PM, whichever you like. I'd be very interested in what you have to say.
I don't seem to be running out of ideas when it comes to Talk Safely, and it's certainly grown beyond what I originally envisioned. I think feature creep is beginning to set in -- which takes away from my time in Warcraft and GTA IV (damn you, scripting addiction!) -- but all in all I'm pretty pleased with how it's turning out.
As an aside, I really need to learn how to "pitch". Looking at many of the other mod descriptions and images out there, I can see I'm being overly technical and pedantic. But really, it's my respect for the average mod user that disallows me the luxury of being able to do that. I'm not here to sell things, after all!
As a footnote, I have to say that I really love what the Ace3 team are doing. LibStub is a thing of grand cleverness (if it were a person it'd probably be Ace Rimmer, but hopefully less of a smug bugger), and the framework as a whole is beautifully written and performs well. I have to say that one of the reasons I'm developing mods these days is because of Ace3, and I'm hoping more mod authors will give it a try and see how nifty it is too. Got a good attitude behind 'em, those blokes.
I've updated Coins2Txt again in an effort to try to make it the best mod I can make it.
I did notice though when doing so that I'd gotten a low vote on it, and quite recently in fact. I'm given to wonder; what constitutes the criteria behind voting high or low on a mod?
When I vote, I tend to go by one, simple idea: Does the mod do what it claims to, and does it do that task well? If both conditions are true, I award the mod with a good score. I don't really award bad scores but that's because I was taught that if y'don't have anything good to say... well, you all know how that goes.
Coins2Txt is the best mod I could make it, and it does what it describes. So why would it be worthy of a one-star vote? If someone thinks my mod could use work in an area, I wish they'd come forward and say so, instead of sniping votes. I always
try to listen to feedback and that's been evidenced in my mods already I think (see: Atmosphere).
Of course, it could be that some people vote ones on things unnecessarily because they're too much of a Judas
. Of course, if that's the case with any given voter, then I award them with one star--at life.