Pathways to Engagement, August 2023

In January, I shared a flowchart of what I called our ‘pathways to engagement’ — the various ways by which new players can discover and join our community. I’d like to revisit those ideas again, with the benefit of eight months’ worth of hindsight, and look for opportunities for improvement. I’ll also try to keep my own thoughts and reasons brief, because as I’ll get to at the end here, I especially want to hear from all of you.

Let me cut to the chase: here’s where I’m at right now.

(Want to play around with the flowchart? Modify it to your liking here!)

With this revision, I wanted to focus on streamlining our integration pathways themselves. Eight months ago, our approach to integration looked quite different, and focusing on different interests to appeal to was useful for focusing in on the core aspects of our community in a way that appeals to new players. Now, I want to revisit our pathways to engagement with greater attention to how users literally navigate them — paying attention, for example, to which links are clickable or which components actively prompt the user to engage with them.

With respect to more concrete changes, the major ones would be:

  • Interest-focused dispatches. These are useful in places like the welcome telegram and, eventually, perhaps the RMB as well, as Maluhia proposed (legislator-only link, sorry). We already appeal to specific interests in our welcome telegram, but having a clear set of dispatches for those interests allows us to provide direct links in places where links to external sites aren’t allowed.
  • Direct topic creation links. I think our intro wizard is quite good (if a bit out-of-date) in its own right, but it repeats a lot of information we’re already presenting, and there are some inherent limitations to the wizard plugin like the mostly unhelpful ‘you need to be logged in to access this wizard’ message shown to new players. Discourse has a feature for creating direct topic creation links, which actually prompt users to sign in/sign up. I also considered invites here, but those wouldn’t prompt users to create their first post, so we’d lose our first post experience.
  • Clear entry points. I think our welcome telegram, pinned dispatch, and WFE are the primary ways by which new players actually find out about our community. To me, that’s where it might be worth going a more comprehensive route — not necessarily through depth, but with sufficient breadth to appeal to a wide range of interests. In our other materials, I’d tend to favor brevity and directionality.

But that’s enough from me. I won’t be around this coming week, but I think that’s actually a great opportunity to take a step back and collect community input. And that includes you! (Yes, you!) Our integration programs are at their strongest when they are truthful to the community that we are and the community that we want to be. No matter how much I may be convinced of my own ideas, I’m just one guy, and I want to hear from all of you!

Over the next week, you’re all invited to share your thoughts. Anything goes, as long as it’s constructive — please feel more than welcome to agree or disagree with me or each other, to share your own ideas however briefly or comprehensively you like, and to leave me with a very long to-do list when I get back. In fact, I encourage it!


So, I did create a new welcome telegram that implements a lot of what you said here (thanks for the draft TG, btw!).

I wanted the TG to give the impression that I was actually talking to the new nation. Similarly, I also tried to put myself in their shoes and act like I was a new nation. In my design of the TG, I wanted them to ensure that they could first play the base game without thinking that there is so much more they don’t know (but need to know) to play the issues game. From there, when they are settled, the options of what could be done are provided. I think I did that!

I am not sure where we discussed it, but somehow sending a follow-up TG to nations a few days after their founding (so they have time to play the base game) seems like a great option to boost retention.

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I like the suggested ‘pathways to engagement’ and don’t have anything to add. I’ll mostly be interested in the details of the dispatches themselves I believe. Nonetheless good work.

Broadly speaking, I like the conversational tone of the new TG, as well as the use of formatting to draw the reader’s attention.

I am extremely wary of adding any more dispatches than one to have to maintain, even if they’re done via software and you only need to change a line in a google spreadsheet, because that’s one more thing we’re asking future players to have to maintain when they might just not care at all. The less things we have to keep track of and keep an eye over to make sure they’re updated (peep the main Coral Guard dispatch still mentioning the Local Council as one avenue to getting appointed, so imagine how all of the other links going to all sorts of dispatches are outdated too), the better, since that’s less overhead to worry about.

I’ve mentioned this before, but maybe not here, I think we would do better to have most, if not all, of our main informational threads be hosted on the forum, in their respective categories and pinned (Maybe replacing the default topics Sandaoguo put up there when we first moved over?) With exception of RMB and Discord activities and most military day-to-day operations, which operate on the gameside/Discord, almost everything else listed happens on the forums, so it would make sense to me to keep the actual information that is relevant for both existing users and new users here on the forum. @Cryo and @BlockBuster2K43 did a great job with the Office of Assembly Affairs, and @Qwert and @LordGianni have About: Pacifica canon, About: A1-0 canon, and About: Aurora canon, among various map threads and @Maverick’s extensive Guide: Starting in A1-0. I recognize that the only thing missing from the list is the government one, which is my purview, and I’ll rectify that as soon as I can manage, but I’ll reiterate that I think we should keep our major info threads here on the forum.

Should the intro wizard be scrapped and we only have the Get Involved wizard, for people to apply to the Assembly/military/RP?

Could be a good idea to run a survey about this, and also include it in applications/the wizards so we can keep a running tally? In any case. . .

I favor brevity in welcome telegrams/recruitment telegrams, and a simpler code for dispatches and WFEs, so I’ll probably hit up the Delegate here this week to discuss potential changes to the WFE, remaining cognizant of the legal requirements we have. A lot of the changes I’ve made haven’t really been open to public discussion, like bringing back OWL recommendations before sending them back to the shadow realm, but if we end up agreeing on a plan to make major changes, I’ll raise them in an appropriate topic.

The welcome telegram is huge, but it hits a lot of the important wickets we’d want new users to know. I wonder if we couldn’t abbreviate some of it without losing the meat and potatoes of the content, as well as the spice of the tone, but that’s splitting hairs without working on the rest, so it’s no biggie.

Pronoun and I did do this for a test run a few weeks back with SPROUT. I’m down with keeping it up, it’s a huge area we could tap into.

I had more thoughts but they’ve left me over the course of writing this and listening to Death Grips. I will drop them in when I can chase them down again.

Any integration infrastructure — not just dispatches — comes with some degree of maintenance overhead. I don’t think we’re asking future players to maintain our integration dispatches any more than we’re asking them to maintain, say, our informational forum topics.

Honestly, I think that informational topics are a whole other beast. Integration isn’t just about informing newcomers about our community, it’s also about encouraging them to join and explore it for themselves. The forum is a great place to store information, but that information doesn’t have to be the first stop in a more recruitment-focused integration flow.

I do think there’s value in encouraging newcomers to join our forums, and I do plan to link to the forums where we actually can (i.e. not in telegrams or RMB posts), but I think the call to action to create an account is stronger when we’re presenting a community to get involved in, as opposed to an external information source to read.

I’d argue that another notable exception is that all newcomers start on-site :stuck_out_tongue:

It’d probably have to go with this system, since it’s just a simple toggle whether to show the wizard after creating an account, and that wouldn’t play well with direct links to create an account and a post. I may play around and see if I’d rather keep it around in a shorter form and maybe combine it with Discourse invites (and if anybody has thoughts on that, please feel free to chime in).

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This is late but I have some opinions:

  • The structure here looks very solid and luckily we don’t need to do any major change to our existing infrastructure to get it done.
  • I definitely prefer to have purely promotional information where breath matters (e.g. intro to government, roleplay, military,…) as gameside dispatches. Detailed information where depth matters more should be on the forum (e.g. Assembly guide, SPSF guide,…).
  • I strongly support getting rid of the introduction wizard and just use dispatch + topic creation link instead (to make the experience smoother, we can even give the signup link on the dispatch). There is one less source of info to maintain and the login requirement at the beginning of a wizard is a big UX turnoff for me personally and likely for newbies as well.

Apologies for the radio silence on my end — the start of the semester has not been kind to me over the past few weeks, but it looks like things might be clearing up a bit this week (fingers crossed).

In the meantime, a new draft of our welcome dispatch is out here. The changes are minor, but the main thing is the introduction of topic creation links. If anybody has thoughts on what they like or dislike about this system, I’d love to hear it! I personally don’t love it, but I couldn’t think of anything better that preserves our first post experience.

Aside from putting Henn on the CG list and taking poppy off, it looks good.

Do you have the code that Kringle was using for his rewrite?

Yeah. See here for the link (and any additional context as needed):

I swear I get swamped IRL every time I post in here saying I’ll have time soon :laughing:. I think I’ve made some decent progress since my last update here, though. Here are some drafts for new(ish) ‘gateway’ dispatches — some of them are written up mostly from scratch, albeit referencing existing materials in other places; others are modifications of existing dispatches.

Feedback is welcome and encouraged, as always! In fact, there are some things that I already know I don’t love — to be honest, “Social Opportunities of the South Pacific” makes it sound like I, uh, don’t really socialize much — so please do feel free to chime in if you want to suggest any improvements! (And these are also first drafts, so I don’t expect them to be error-free. Catching those is helpful too!)

That caught my eye. Overall, I think these draft dispatches are really good!

I looked at the Roleplay and Social Opportunities dispatches. Apart from some grammar or punctuation errors, I don’t see anything wrong with these :+1:

Might be worth including a bit for the RMB for Social Opportunities, just for fun. :stuck_out_tongue: