HansonKerman

What were the "Rocket Builders"?

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Before the november 2015 forum update, there was a subforum in the spacecraft exchange called the rocket builders. To quote @Ted:

"This is a Forum for all your Rocket/Craft Building needs. 
Essentially, if you, or a group of people, are churning out rockets under a single name post them here. Additionally, if you need a rocket built for you, simply post in one of the existing threads asking the 'Company' to design and build you a rocket/craft."

So if you made many craft they could be shown there under one banner, or you could work as a group. Also, you could make requests to have craft built by the "companies".

However, I believe it was started before rules against role-playing were instituted on the forums, and so it was removed from public view entirely during the forum update (the moderators likely have a copy of it). Strictly speaking, the entire concept was based around roleplaying, however many people were upset by the decision to remove it, especially since some of the older threads were entirely wiped because (unlike active threads) the OPs were not active during the grace period to copy their threads over. I believe there were some actual examples of rule-breaking happening in some of the older threads too, and the rule against roleplay makes sense, but many of the threads were simply showcases and requests, although that was allowed to continue in the spacecraft exchange, minus the roleplay.

@zekes said this about it, which I think is pretty much what everyone thought:

"Well this is a large blow to me and I'm going to try to come up with some two cents to say about it, if I end up just blowing hot air in circles feel free to ignore me.

The Rocket Builders have been dying. It's gone on for the past year, and I've been discussing it with a lot of other people. It was a great fun place a few years ago, but now it's hollow, the companies mean nothing anymore, there are no engineers working for them, and partnerships don't have a meaning (if they ever did at all, it's been lost on me). 

Nevertheless, I feel a certain nostalgia to the place that really is tied to KSP. I started on the forums because of SSL and Giggleplex, and their companies. My own company was based off of SSL, and For the past 3 years it's been where I hang out and enjoy KSP the most. Now, granted it's had it's ups and downs and I am partially responsible for a lot of the downs, but for better or for worse it was a part of me, of KSP. Just deleting the Rocket Builders will tear out three years of my life, three years of KSP conversations, of working to build up a community, of the past glory days of massive craft releases and conversations between builders. Getting rid of the Rocket Builders means things that i have worked on, names that I built will be lost. I'm quite sure most of you have at least heard of Zokesia Skunkworks through the years. But now that's *POOF* gone. Three years of legacy just deleted. 

How can I go on playing KSP knowing that most of the things I've built, most of the things I've spent my time in will be gone? I have put in hours and hours of work into running and managing my Rocket Builder Company, and I imagine the moderators see us as nothing but an annoying subforum, but Please at least understand we put so much time into what we built. So much time and memories will be gone if you just delete our forum. I say "our" forum because I really never felt part of the rest of the KSP forum - i'm not a modder, I'm not a craft competetor, I'm not a troubleshooter, I'm not a greeter or game player. Or at least that doesn't mean as much to me as the RB forum does. 

So if you're going to delete it, remember how much love, time, and effort some of us have put into it. Remember that without my company there is little reason to play KSP apart from the occasional craft release. I'm just sorry after all these years our forum's only achievement is being a nuisance to the rest of the forum and that we're not fit to continue on existing, or ever having a record of existing, in the future of the community.

Respectfully,

Zekes, CEO and Founder of Zokesia Skunkworks."

I was not as badly affected, as I had joined much more recently, and never did very much collaborative building.

I tried to backup the entirety of the subforum (there were only 25 pages) to the internet archive, but with only 7 days between the announcement and the wipe, I was only able to archive some of the larger threads.

After that, some of the people (like myself) moved their threads to the spacecraft exchange, but since it used to be more busy, they would only be visible when a new craft was released, and served just as showcases. Which, in many ways, was fine, but it was never the same. Personally, I mostly made replicas of real world or fictional vehicles, so it worked fine. 

However, even later I and many of the serious replica builders began to drift away from the forums, or at least from replica building. I got burned out on KSP, and that, combined with college, meant that I stopped looking at the forums for a while. Even now I only have time for this tanks for summer break, and once school starts in a few days I'll be less active here. I think many others have had similar experiences.

In short, it is a forgone conclusion that all forums will die, and the KSP forum is no exception. At the time of the removal, the rocket builders, as a smaller part of the forums, was already dying. While that meant that objectively, it impacted the forums as a whole less than if it was very active, it still felt like it was being killed instead of being left to die in peace. And I cannot complain about rules against roleplaying, since it is almost impossible to moderate it, I and many others were sad over the loss of what was, even if it was already gone.

Hopefully that's a mostly unbiased and clear explanation.

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Its demise was due primarily to the roleplay aspect, which did keep cropping up in that sub, causing arguments which resulted in some bans and many warns. 

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Okay...

So what should I do with this thread now?

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2 hours ago, HansonKerman said:

So what should I do with this thread now?

What do you mean, "do"?  If your question's answered and you've got nothing more to say on the topic, no need to "do" anything.  Just let it lie.

Either other people will keep posting and discussing and the thread stays alive... or else people stop posting and the thread goes quiet.  In which case the thread will fade away the same way all threads eventually do, if they're not something ongoing:  it'll start dropping lower on the page as other threads get posts in them and become more recent, and eventually it'll drop far enough that it falls off the front page and everyone forgets about it.

Until somebody in 2022 googles it, doesn't realize (or doesn't care) that it's a dead thread, and necros it.  :)

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20 hours ago, Vanamonde said:

Its demise was due primarily to the roleplay aspect, which did keep cropping up in that sub, causing arguments which resulted in some bans and many warns. 

I should have made it more clear that I have/had no idea how much rule breaking was going on, since successful moderation is invisible. :) 

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24 minutes ago, Mad Rocket Scientist said:

successful moderation is invisible

We are everywhere!  And we are nowhere...  Hahahaha!

(sorry, couldn't resist)

Yes, when successful it may be invisible... but it often leaves visible traces.  For example, a user may make an angry post that's mostly "legitimate" rebuttal of someone else, but may contain a few snide personal jabs as well.  We generally don't remove an entire post unless there's something wrong with the whole thing (belligerent, or off-topic, or spam, or whatever).  In cases where it's a mostly-okay post with just a few rotten bits in it, we snip out those bits-- and when we do, we always leave a visible [snip] or something and a "Redacted by moderator" comment, so that people can see what we've done.  Otherwise it would be unfair to the poster, since it would look like they wrote something they didn't.

The issues with Rocket Builders is not just that it caused a lot of grief that required undue amounts of time from the moderator team, which is 1. not very big, and 2. composed of volunteers who do this for free in their spare time.  It also made life less fun in the forums-- people were exposed to lots of bickering.  (Stuff only becomes invisible after the moderator arrives to do damage control, which isn't instantaneous.)  In general, it was making the forum a less pleasant place to be for everyone, which is why it had to go.

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The idea behind Rocket Builders was pretty cool. The community could always use some collaboration when it comes to launching virtual space missions and building cool stuff. 

The stuff Zekes did always blew my brain back in the day. A lot of the stuff that group did is still amazing even to this day. Its depressing that he essentially quit the forums when the Rocket Builders were shut down, but that's understandable. 

Not sure what damage a little bit of roleplay ever did, as the current spacecraft exchange still sees a modest amount of this. As Mad said though, the damage and subsequent moderation was mostly invisible to begin with; even with me on the receiving end at points. Have to take people's words that it actually got toxic somehow. Even though its hard to image people obsessed with space exploration and engineering to engage in that sort of harassing or hateful behavior. I might be biased due to my continuous presence there, but the spacecraft exchange in general is the least appreciated part of the forum. So much creativity happens in this game and not enough people get to see it these days. 

I think though that in its absence a lot of us senior designers have been trapped in our own worlds making stuff rather than actually collaborating like in the Rocket Builders days, which is kind of sad. 

There was lots of drama and in the end this isn't the type of forum for that lol. 

Edited by Jon144

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20 hours ago, Jon144 said:

Not sure what damage a little bit of roleplay ever did

Two main problems. 

  • First, people who are roleplaying as kerbals ended up taking things much more personally, and were quick to take umbrage at perceived criticism.  (And sometimes feel license to behave in unpleasant ways-- "no, that's not me, I was just speaking in character!")
  • Second, having an organization with defined roles for different people, where person A gets to decide what person B can or cannot do ("I'm the company president, and you're fired!", etc.) was just a recipe for hurt feelings and grudges.  It got seriously ugly, and then those folks brought those grudges into other areas of the forum.  It was bad, it caused hurt feelings all around, and it caused a neverending nightmare for the moderators to keep things sorted out.  (And there are only a few of us moderators, who are volunteers who do this in our scarce free time.  If we're wasting our time sorting out yet another roleplay-caused catfight, it means we can't be spending that time helping out in other ways.  Resulting in a degradation of the forum experience that's very real, but hard to point a finger at.)
20 hours ago, Jon144 said:

Even though its hard to image people obsessed with space exploration and engineering to engage in that sort of harassing or hateful behavior.

Oh, absolutely.  People obsessed with space exploration and engineering are people who are obsessed with ideas.  Meaning their own ideas.  Meaning that personal egos get involved.

Being into space and engineering doesn't change fundamental human nature.  I'm an engineer, and I've worked with engineers for a quarter-century, and I can tell you that on average they're no "nicer" or "meaner" (or even more rational, when it comes to interpersonal interaction) than any other group of people-- they definitely have egos, and their feelings can be hurt like anyone else.

20 hours ago, Jon144 said:

I think though that in its absence a lot of us senior designers have been trapped in our own worlds making stuff rather than actually collaborating like in the Rocket Builders days, which is kind of sad.

There's nothing wrong with sharing stuff, and there's nothing wrong with collaboration.  Plenty of people "get" to see the Spacecraft Exchange-- it's right there.  It's just that it happens not to draw a lot of interest, for whatever reason.

We generally like to let people do whatever they want, as long as it doesn't become a problem for the forum.  So the only things that are specifically disallowed are the things that have specifically shown themselves to be radioactive (i.e. they routinely result in toxic behavior).  In this case, there are two things that are specifically not allowed:

  • Pretending to be a kerbal or someone else-- i.e. you need to write as yourself, not as some character.
  • Having an organization with assigned roles where anyone gets to decide what someone else can do.

As long as you don't do those two specific things, you can do whatever you want.  It's a pity that those two things are disallowed-- there are some fun things that can happen when they go well.  It's just that, alas, the population-of-the-internet, in the aggregate, has shown that it can't handle these two factors without getting nasty.  It's a "this is why we can't have nice things" sort of situation.  :(

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16 hours ago, Snark said:

As long as you don't do those two specific things, you can do whatever you want.  It's a pity that those two things are disallowed-- there are some fun things that can happen when they go well.  It's just that, alas, the population-of-the-internet, in the aggregate, has shown that it can't handle these two factors without getting nasty.  It's a "this is why we can't have nice things" sort of situation.  :(

All excellent points that I agree with in hindsight. Of course there's a lot of ego when it comes to creative minds even when it comes to a more mature audience. 

My main assumption is that due to the relatively low traffic that befell the rocket builders and spacecraft exchange as a whole, it was a simpler decision to disallow all role-play rather than spend the extra time policing bad behavior so the moderators could spend their time better on other parts of the forum. That is, the rocket builders required a disproportionate amount of moderation to the actual size of its regular membership.

Near the end of the rocket builder's life, my collaborations with Zekes didn't see much traffic as is. 

It doesn't change the fact that a good portion of the communities best builders effectively vanished from the forum after this series of events. Short of the release of a whole new game like a hypothetical KSP2, the current forums will never see the same base of creators again. The spacecraft exchange is really only limping along at this point in my opinion. I remembered the days when your post could get 10+ reactions that very day and now you're lucky to get 2 likes on a post or thread by the next morning. 

If there ever is a KSP2, we should learn from our mistakes and have a sort of rocket builders 2 that is either free of roleplay or on a completely different section of the forums where the creators moderate their own threads.

Edited by Jon144

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7 minutes ago, Jon144 said:

I remembered the days when your post could get 10+ reactions that very day and now you're lucky to get 2 likes on a post or thread by the next morning.

Sure, but that's true of pretty much the whole forum these days, to one degree or another-- KSP is a pretty mature game at this point (it's been around for 6+ years, which is an eternity in video-game time), and the general level of traffic has dropped off a lot compared with what it was a few years ago, as one would expect.

8 minutes ago, Jon144 said:

If there ever is a KSP2, we should learn from our mistakes and have a sort of rocket builders 2 that is either free of roleplay or on a completely different section of the forums where the creators moderate their own threads.

Well, given that the reasons why Rocket Builders had to be shut down were due to fundamental properties of human nature rather than anything specific to KSP itself, I don't see any reason why we should assume that human nature will change if-and-when there's ever a KSP2.

And, therefore, I don't see a reason why it's especially likely that the "no roleplay" rule would be rescinded for that, either, unless some new and currently unforeseen circumstances came about to make us think it's less likely to be a problem.

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5 minutes ago, Snark said:

 

Well, given that the reasons why Rocket Builders had to be shut down were due to fundamental properties of human nature rather than anything specific to KSP itself, I don't see any reason why we should assume that human nature will change if-and-when there's ever a KSP2.

Absolutely. I'm more-so suggesting that better rules would be implemented going in to prevent such things from happening again after witnessing what happened to the original. Keeping the rocket builders as a subforum for collaboration and only collaboration to compliment the spacecraft exchange for showcases. It might be a pipe-dream but we have a right to dream. Of course there's no point to do such things now given the loss of traffic as you've pointed out. It's all hypothetical given that a KSP2 may never exist. 

Edited by Jon144

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1 minute ago, Jon144 said:

I'm more-so suggesting that better rules would be implemented going in to prevent such things from happening again.

Well, of course we're always interested in improving the rules, if possible, so we always welcome suggestions.  :)

However, the "no roleplaying as a kerbal" and "no organizations with assigned roles" rules appear to have been both necessary and sufficient... so how would you suggest modifying them?  (I'm having trouble seeing any wiggle room to make them less restrictive without opening the doors to prior bad behavior-- they're as permissive as we felt we could make them without losing effectiveness.)

4 minutes ago, Jon144 said:

Keeping the rocket builders as a subforum for collaboration and only collaboration.

Well, people are free to do that now, in Spacecraft Exchange.  As you've noted, there doesn't appear to be a lot of demand for that, at the moment.  Part of that lack-of-demand might be due to people missing the roleplay aspect-- which is unlikely to change in the future, so anyone who's staying away for that reason, will likely continue to stay away.  But another part of the reason may simply be that KSP has gotten a bit long in the tooth and people aren't as revved up about it as they used to be, these days-- so if there were a really major new KSP coming out, I could see that firing things up again.  :)

6 minutes ago, Jon144 said:

It might be a pipe-dream but we have a right to dream. 

Absolutely, no arguments there!  :D

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12 minutes ago, Snark said:

 

However, the "no roleplaying as a kerbal" and "no organizations with assigned roles" rules appear to have been both necessary and sufficient... so how would you suggest modifying them?  (I'm having trouble seeing any wiggle room to make them less restrictive without opening the doors to prior bad behavior-- they're as permissive as we felt we could make them without losing effectiveness.)

I agree with no roleplay as a kerbal. Its a rule that makes sense for the forum given the complications it could pose. When I spent time in the rocket builders I had a hard time understanding when someone was being legitimate or not. It's unfortunate but makes sense and should probably stay. Could always go on some private forums and do it where people won't get confused. 

The problem is a collaboration thread like the rocket builder's can't exist without some sort of assigned roles and hierarchy... Like... so and so... build this by this deadline... etc. even if it doesn't have to do with roleplay.  

A simple solution could be to just keep these discussions through private messages or emails while later posting progress on these projects in the threads themselves. 

This sort of thing is already possible on the spacecraft exchange.

The problem though is that in a high volume scenario a lot of stuff gets pushed off the front page of the forum if you have people repeatedly posting in these rocket builders megathreads. If you had like 12 of these threads going on at the same time with a continuous presence on the front page lots of personal showcase threads would be pushed off and not many people would get to see them. That's why it would make sense to make two separate sub-forums in this event in my opinion. It only works as-is now due to the much lower traffic compared to the peak days. 

Just my 5-cents. 

 

Edited by Jon144

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You know the kinds of bizarrely acrimonious disputes you see between individuals on the forum? Now imagine that but with coalitions of players hating and attacking each other, not just in a Rocket Builders subforum, but in unrelated threads and ranting PM exchanges as well. Rival "companies" having feuds and insulting each other's designs. That is what got the RB subforum shut down. The worst of it was just before I joined the moderating team, but at least one person got permabanned over it, there were several tempbans, and lots of warns issued. 

Edited by Vanamonde
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On 9/11/2018 at 11:32 AM, Vanamonde said:

You know the kinds of bizarrely acrimonious disputes you see between individuals on the forum? Now imagine that but with coalitions of players hating and attacking each other, not just in a Rocket Builders subforum, but in unrelated threads and ranting PM exchanges as well. Rival "companies" having feuds and insulting each other's designs. That is what got the RB subforum shut down. The worst of it was just before I joined the moderating team, but at least one person got permabanned over it, there were several tempbans, and lots of warns issued. 

Yeah, pretty sure we'd get worked up over manufacturing impurities in tin foil if you let us. :D 

Edited by Vanamonde

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