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Your Forum Post Makes Me Sad - Blather, Rinse, Repeat
January 12th, 2009
10:24 am


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Your Forum Post Makes Me Sad
or mad.

Not you, specifically. Probably. Just the random idiots on the internet who use forums to voice opinions about stuff they have no information about.

The Internet at large, the Web, blogs, and Wikipedia are all commonly described as being hothouses of misinformation, free from accountability, and therefore rife with errors that don't get corrected.

Specifically in the case of Wikipedia, I think the hype is overblown. And, to some degree, irresponsible. The whole point of Wikipedia is that the users maintain it. So, if somebody discovers Wikipedia getting something wrong, the correct response isn't to write a newspaper editorial about it. The correct response is to fix the incorrect page.

The good news is that to a large degree this already happens. By the time the newspaper editorial is printed, other people have come and gone, and usually fixed the specific error that the print journalist was going to point at.

However, one morass of collective ignorance that has nigh-uniformly upset me have been forum posts. I suppose some forums are moderated, and some forums have peer reviewing, which are steps in the right direction, but I still find the "Post your comments here" to be a honeypot for the mis- or uninformed to waste my time.

Today's example:

I read Penny Arcade on a regular basis, both the comic and the post. The comics are concise, often funny, but don't have the nuance of a page full of prose. That's what the posts are for. In the posts about Friday's strip, Tycho (er, Jerry) comments that he's embarrassed about the typo that snuck into the strip. I looked and looked at the strip, and I couldn't see the typo.

Eventually, I delved into the Live Journal comments about the strip (the horror), and found someone with the same problem as me, followed by a useful response ("and a two Cintiqs" instead of "and two Cintiqs"). I'm impressed at the power of my blind spot, because I totally missed that. One lesson for me is that I need to cut people a little more slack than I do when they make editorial gaffes like this.

For some reason, I kept reading (bad idea), and somebody posted "Unless Crayon Physics has changed significantly since the last time I downloaded it, you can't draw a rhombus". Ok, dude - step 1, read the post. Tycho (Jerry) as much as says that the Crayon Physics Deluxe game has changed significantly since the time that it was the Crayon Physics tech demo. IN LINE 1 of the post. Step 2 - (for the truly committed) click the link and go to http://www.crayonphysics.com to see if maybe there's been any updates since your last exposure to the product (answer: yes). Step 3 - as you formulate your post, recognize this pattern: Subjunctive phrase, conditional upon easily attainable and verifiable information, followed by logically implied statement. For example: Unless Amazon.com sells books, I can't buy a copy of "Harry Potter and the Endless Tedium" there. Well, gee, Amazon DOES sell books, so while that sentence is true it doesn't provide any new information.

Guh. I guess I need to get better about filtering out the crap, not reading past the point where I've gathered the information I need, and letting this stuff go.

On a more positive note, Crayon Physics Deluxe is fun. I bought it yesterday morning, and had finished it by yesterday night, doing almost the whole thing in one sitting. http://www.crayonphysics.com . This morning, I watched Petri talk about his process about going from an idea about a way to procedurally generate crayon-like strokes to incorporating ideas from a whiteboard physics tech demo to "Harold and the Purple Crayon". At one point, Petri was thinking of being able to draw physical objects to drop on Lemmings to squish them or have them climb on. And then he was thinking of having a foul-mouthed "Muppets on Acid" contrast to the child-like innocent look to the game. But he stumbled on a nostalgic piece of music which shaped the tone of the game, and in the end, it reminds me a great deal of Braid, which I think is all for the best.

It's available for the PC (free download, $19.99 for the full game) and iPhone (I could find the pricing information, but so can you).

I don't have a fancy tablet PC or Cintiq display/graphics tablet, but I hope more games like this come out to make me feel justified when I do get one.

(5 comments | Leave a comment)

[User Picture]
Date:January 12th, 2009 07:27 pm (UTC)
Specifically in the case of Wikipedia, I think the hype is overblown

I couldn't agree more.

For instance, Wikipedia is usually more accurate on tech topics than the tech media (which is usually staffed by people who have no formal education or paid experience in tech).

I still find the "Post your comments here" to be a honeypot for the mis- or uninformed to waste my time

I advise you to turn a blind eye to all comments in YouTube videos on this topic.

Forums of the type you describe are bad, but I have never seen ignorance like YouTube-sourced ignorance. YouTube commenters have never even sat on chairs.
[User Picture]
Date:January 13th, 2009 01:47 am (UTC)
On an only vaguely related note, I had a game-related idea flash through my head: there should be an iPhone version of the old college standby, Assassin. Something like you sign into a game, then your phone vibrates when you get within a certain distance of another player, then you have to "shoot" them when they're fairly close, say 10-20 feet, but you only get to shoot every 30 seconds or so so that you can't just sit there going "bang bang bang" until you randomly hit someone.

Know anyone who does iPhone games?
[User Picture]
Date:January 13th, 2009 02:09 am (UTC)
Hm, that sounds a little like a project I was working on through a contact that Andy set up years ago until I left Boston.

Only a very little, though.

I know one or two folks who have done some iPhone hacking in their spare time, but nobody that's done anything super interesting. I could mention the game idea to them, if you'd like.
[User Picture]
Date:January 13th, 2009 03:14 am (UTC)
It says a lot that when I found a forum with well thought out, articulate, sophisticated, funny and interesting comments, I was shocked. Shocked!

You know where that was? Comics.com. Specifically, the comments for 9 Chickweed Lane. I haven't been there in a while, but I was truly blown away. It's like these weirdos make a game of out-dignifying each other.
[User Picture]
Date:January 14th, 2009 01:58 am (UTC)
I try not to read comments too much.

I do love Penny Arcade, even if I don't get all the game references.
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