It's finally here: After 12 months of other people defining, and committing to support it, one of the latest StackExchange sites to enter public beta is LEGO Answers - Bricks.StackExchange.com*, the place to ask all your LEGO and compatible brick building questions.
This is the first time I've been really actively involved in the private beta of one of these sites - I was in the WebMasters one enough to fulfil my obligations and earn the Beta badge, but not as much as this time, so here are my thoughts on the process.
Remote collaboration is hard
Working with a group of others remotely, on a site that doesn't encourage "chatter" is hard - Chat is there, but it's not that heavily used at the moment - when what you really want to do is sit down with a few drinks and discuss some of the issues: I had to remind myself on a few occasions not to take things personally, especially as there is a large group of users for whom English isn't a first language - they're doing a lot better than I would do if the site were in German or French , I just hope I didn't cause any offence either...
Moderation requires effort - let us help!
One of the features of StackExchange sites is that as users gain reputation, they gain access to tools and features on the site that give them more say in the running of the site - as is pointed out on the FAQs:
At the high end of this reputation spectrum there is little difference between users with high reputation and ♦ moderators. That is very much intentional. We don’t run LEGO® - Stack Exchange. The community does.
But also, during the beta phase, the reputation requirements are lowered so that the actual users rather than CHAOS moderators do most of the day to day running of the site.
During Private Beta, the reputation requirements are very low, around 1000 rep gets you access to moderation tools - by the end of private beta, we had three or four users who were just over this threshold and helping out Dori and Robert (the two mod's I've really seen around, no disrespect to Geoff, Emmett or Rebecca). Suddenly the site goes into Public Beta, and the threshold's instantly raised to 2000 rep, and a load of new users join the site (that's a good thing ) but suddenly, it's left to Dori and Robert to manage the influx (it probably wasn't that big) of flags, suggested edits, etc., and my edits suddenly need approval again - I mean, I've proved myself already haven't I?
I guess part of this would have been resolved if the influx of users had actually been asking questions that people could answer and vote on - then the reputation would have risen fast enough to counter this - as it is, after nearly two weeks in public beta, I've nearly regained access to the moderation tools .
We need your help - come and ask questions - come and give better answers - and don't be put off by thinking your question is silly, or someone's edited your answer - we're here to help, and craft the best resource for LEGO Q&A's there is - we really need to increase our daily question rate for example.
As some examples, I've had some great answers to building graveyard rooms for Heroica games and building a roof with a 60º pitch, others have been trying to work out how to invert the direction of bricks so that the studs are touching.
* The name may well change - The LEGO Group understandably don't want "LEGO" in the title. Vote for your choice over on the meta question: Site may not be described as LEGO Answers - call for alternative titles
Filed under: Lego, StackExhange, Websites