Many Years Ago,
just after the dawn of time, the Gangbunch Fora was established by a group of friends from the Artist's Corner on the Penny Arcade Forums. What started off as a small chat forum began to grow and grow, with more and more people trekking across the frozen wastes of the Internet to register, until finally it had become a slightly larger chat forum.
When I joined in December of 2008, there were just over 300 registered users. Only five months later, when Problem Sleuth ended, the forum had doubled in size. By the time Homestuck reached its first anniversary, 6,800 had joined the ranks. The forums were now the MSPA Forums, and no longer a simple little chat between friends.
We have tried hard to maintain some of the traditions and ways of the old Gangbunch Fora, but the truth of the matter is that the purpose of this place has changed. The re-purposing into the MSPA Forums, the server software upgrade and a pair of server moves have all been part of an effort to build a better community hub as the official forum for the MSPA fandom.
With that in mind, we have put together a number of changes and upgrades that will better serve the core function of this forum. This the MSPA Forum, and it's here for the discussion of MS Paint Adventures and related things. When you look at the other forums that we've seen larger MSPA contingents at - Penny Arcade, 4Chan, Something Awful - the difference between this site and those is that they are community sites without a directed discussion topic, whereas the current comic and the works of the fandom have always been at the center of the MSPA Forums. Off-topic discussion has always been secondary to things surrounding the comic, such as new updates and theories, fan adventures and fan art.
Recently, the forum opened its arms to Ryan North and fans of Dinosaur Comics. While the main focus of the forum is whatever Andrew is putting up on MSPaintAdventures.com, there are some old friends and Gangbunch members who also have comics and Andrew is opening his forum to them as well. This doesn't detract from the main message here, we're just sharing the love.
Also, to prevent spam, the Wiggler group was created, which keeps new users from starting threads (outside of the Cradle) until they have 12 posts. While there was a thread about it, the delivery of that message (along with many other rules and guidelines) has been very poor on our part.
SO, WHAT'S CHANGING?
First off, the new forum structure will look like this:
Forum Questions and AnswersMSPA
MSPA Comic DiscussionWebcomics
Dinosaur ComicsCommunity Forums
Can TownForum Games and Adventures
-- The Advice Column
-- Group Art Projects
Forum AdventuresDiscussion Forums
-- The Cradle
-- Completed Forum Adventures
-- SBURB/TrollSlum Roleplaying
Nerdcrap (Movies / Music / Books / Games)The Grand Forum Archives
Some of you might notice right away that some things are missing, some parts are new, and some are in different places. General Chat, as a concept, is outdated on the forum. It had a long and vibrant run of continuing the old ways of the Gangbunch Fora, but the exclusivity of the community and the nature of the threads there brought us to believe that the same purpose can be achieved in a better way.
The new forum in its place is Can Town. The description we are using right now is
It's a place for members of the forum to mingle and interact and talk about themselves. Many of the current, thriving threads from General Chat will move there, but the focus will transition from a general off-topic chat to a more directed conversation about the members. Threads such as the current pictograph exchange thread, the introduction thread, and the achievements thread are all good examples of what Can Town is meant for. Off-topic forum adventures, random threads or things that would exist better in the discussion forums will not make the transition over.
The forum's social lounge! Hang out with your fellow citizens. (not an RP board)
Another change is the removal of Serious Business. By its very nature, the way that area operated was not fitting with the goals for the forum and the community. We initially created the subforum to keep those sorts of debates out of the normal discussion areas, but that was only a halfway solution. The real fix is to remove those sorts of threads altogether, as they don't fall under the design of what the forum is.
The new Webcomics General forum will have stickied threads for a few selected webcomics by friends of the forum or former Gangbunch members, and will allow new threads to be created for constructive discussion of other webcomics.
Since Fan Projects is specifically about things that the community is doing together, it's been moved to the Community Forums category, and the defunct Suggestion Boxes will be moved to the archives until such a time (if ever) that Andrew decides to use them again.
Another change is going to be the Revamped Registration Process. To better inform new users of rules and processes, there will be a multi-step registration that ensures that a member is aware of features and policies before they start posting. Currently, after verifying your age, you fill out a simple form and accept a boilerplate rules agreement that mostly just expunges the staff of liability and then after an email activation is sent, you are ready to go. Now the process will consist of an introduction to the forum with age verification at the bottom of the page. After that, the rules and some information about Wigglers, The Cradle and the staff will be presented. After that will be a question or two that you have to answer in order to show that you have read the information presented.
Once you have reached that point, you fill in the information on the form to sign up. One of the new fields will be a text box for you to verify that you are not a robot or spammer. After that is done, you get the email activation (which should be working for everyone very shortly) and you are welcomed to the forum where you are invited to stop by the introduction thread and make a post about yourself to get started towards graduating from Wiggler status.
We believe that these steps will help further reduce spam, give us a more accurate indication of real users on the forum and help new members get acclimated to the community in the easiest and quickest way possible. All-in-all, it's a bunch of good outcomes from just a few minutes more during registration.
these changes won't be happening right away. I'm posting about it here so everyone has a few days to get used to things and give feedback before anything is done. The realignment will happen first, followed by a process of moving threads and archiving. The registration process requires some code and other updates, so that will take some time and hopefully correspond with the next vBulletin update.
Thanks for your time and for your comments and thoughts!