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Mysteries revealed: update scheduling

Posted at 08:56 on October 8th, 2015 | Quote | Edit | Delete
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Admin
Reborn Gumby
Posts: 8791
We're in a pretty busy period of the site right now, with a lot of updates. Those who have already submitted an update know that they will usually receive a message from me, along the lines of "your contribution is scheduled for xx". The date xx is sometimes a bit in the future. So the question may very well be: why? "I worked so hard and now they make me wait?", one may think. Rightly so. I'll try to make the major criteria of the scheduling process transparent.

First thing to understand is that we distinguish between major and minor updates. Major updates are new game additions or new reviews (in that order), because those are the main contents of the site. New files, links, videos etc. are usually simply posted as time allows without a big announcement in the news (may be different in slower periods).

It is our primary goal to provide somewhat regular major updates. The foremost goal is to have an update every Saturday. Now, the naive way to ensure this would simply be to take contributions as they come and assign them to the next free Saturday. This, of course, could lead to major "overflow" situations, where many Saturdays are already taken and new contributions are therefore scheduled in the far future. So the planning usually only goes into the next eight weeks.

So when many things are being submitted (more than to fill the next four weeks), we slowly start to increase the update frequency. The first step is to also use Wednesdays. If even that is not sufficient, Tuesdays and Thursdays are used instead of Wednesdays. I.e. we are usually in one of the three following modes:
  • Updates every Saturday
  • Updates Wednesdays and Saturdays
  • Updates Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays

If things become too busy even for that… well, we'll have to see :) On that topic, you have to understand that I am currently a bottleneck of sorts. For most contributions, I have to at least push a button to make them appear publicly. Sorry to say, but usually, it is not just a push of a button. In more than 90% of all cases, I have to convert strange file formats, resize and crop scanned images, rename files etc. First and foremost, if a text is part of the submission, I go through it to add markup, correct spelling and grammar (as far as I'm able to). New game reviews submitted only in one language (~100% of all submissions), I translate. All this takes time.

Some criteria may lead to strange effects. If we're in "default mode" (update every Saturday) and your contribution has been scheduled to go live in three weeks, but than all of sudden, a lot of new things are being sent in, some of that stuff submitted later may appear publicly earlier. That is because your contribution is now already scheduled. While we may shift some in such cases, we try not to do so in too extreme ways. I.e. if I told you before your new game entry (e.g.) will go online next Wednesday, it may be shifted to the adjacent Tuesday or Thursday if frequency needs to be increased. It is unlikely it will move by more than a week from the original plan. Another possible reason is the preference of major updates. A new game entry may push a "plain" new review out of a Saturday slot.

Rule of thumb: Saturdays are filled first (at least four weeks). What comes after is distributed to work days.

Example illustration (extreme case):
  • Saturday: Game 1
  • Wednesday: Game 5
  • Saturday: Game 2
  • Wednesday: Game 6
  • Saturday: Game 3
  • Wednesday: Game 7
  • Saturday: Game 4

All this is, of course, also subject to my personal workload. Submissions which are very thorough (e.g. new games including not just the bare minimum, but comparisons, videos, links, external reviews etc.) and complete (e.g. I don't have to do a lot of editing on the text, don't have to translate) do receive preferred treatment. Makes sense, doesn't it?

The other thing is a sort of subjective fairness. If somebody submits 10 new games on the same day, but there are also other users sending things in, we will try to shuffle between contributors a little so that not too many consecutive updates come from the same person. May happen nevertheless.

One frequently asked question with all this is when credit points will be attributed. This is very simple: everything is credited when it goes public.

Finally, the big question: why? Why not just post everything straight away when it is sent in? Well, first of all, there is said workload issue. Only about 5% of all contributions are really ready to post straight away, the rest needs work. This is the practical reason. Second, there is a more philosophical reason. The goal of the site is to give games exposure. Newly entered games and reviews should therefore get come exposure as well. This is ensured by such items staying on top of the news at least for some time. Our internal statistics clearly show this relation: the tighter the schedule becomes (there was a time when we'd actually post daily updates), the less attention each item receives. If you spend time to prepare a thoughtful review or even a whole new game entry with all bells and whistles, you'd like it to be noticed, don't you? This is what we're trying to achieve with this system.

OK, now it's your turn. All this is very clear in my head, but can you follow? Do you have further questions? Comments? The system is open for discussion!
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Now you see the violence inherent in the system!
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Edited by Mr Creosote at 06:02 on October 10th, 2015
Posted at 19:38 on October 8th, 2015 | Quote | Edit | Delete
Member
Bachelor Gumby
Posts: 73
can u give me a small german translation? What u want to know from us?
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Link, der oder das

Wortart: Substantiv, maskulin oder Substantiv, Neutrum
Posted at 11:49 on October 9th, 2015 | Quote | Edit | Delete
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Global Moderator
Retired Gumby
Posts: 1278
All clear, Herr Creosote.. :)
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Cheer up! Remember the less you have, the more there is to get.
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