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Topic: Fully Utilizing Site Suggestions - A Guide on Suggestion and Response

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Rodents210
 
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Emmett
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How Site Suggestions Works

Site Suggestions is a board owned and maintained by the Researchers and Developers, where users may post ideas contributing to the improvement of Animal Crossing Community. As suggestions are made, users are given the opportunity to post feedback and contribute their own opinions and ideas within these suggestion threads. These threads are read and reviewed by the site staff and the R&D team, after which they are either rejected or go into private discussion by R&D. Depending on the attention a suggestion receives, it may be added to the R&D Work List to be rolled out in a future update, or potentially added to the List of Restricted and Conditional Suggestions.

The Site Suggestions board is vital to the constant improvement and evolution of ACC, as well as allowing members to have a voice. Because of the opportunity members have to voice themselves, however, the board is open to misuse. People can post "junk" suggestions (suggestions that have not been thought through) and members can reply to these suggestions with either brief, cliché, noncontributory responses or will be harsh without providing any real reason behind their opinion. The purpose behind this guide is to allow the average user to understand how the Site Suggestion board works and to be able to post in the most effective and efficient way possible, and with no hindrance whatsoever to their ability to express their opinion. In fact, the member using this guide will be empowered, able to express their opinion in a clearer, more concise way that will be more attractive and taken more seriously than an unenhanced post.

-BowserBasher (11/15/2009 2:41:20 PM)
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Rodents210
 
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Emmett
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Posting a Suggestion

What most users don't understand about suggesting is that, when done properly, it should be an involved process. You should not come up with an idea and have it suggested ten minutes later. If that is how it works, then the suggestion is not done very well and will take a lot of discussion to polish before it’s remotely usable.

The Preliminary Evaluation

The first step in suggesting is a preliminary evaluation of what you want to suggest and how it should work, before you begin posting anything. The first thing you should do (after of course, checking the  List of Restricted and Conditional Suggestions to make sure your idea hasn't already been brought up) is ask yourself, "Is my idea useful?" One of the biggest problems with suggestions is that many are just impractical. We don't need them, and they don't make a significant enough difference to bother. These are the types of suggestions that will not even make it to the Work List as a rejected idea. Small suggestions are always welcome, just make sure they aren't pointless.

Next, you should work on developing your idea in your mind. This is especially true if this is a full-fledged feature rather than a simple, superficial change. You should work on making sure there are no "what ifs." We should not have to speculate about anything in your feature just because you left something out. Another important thing to do is to predict any possible oppositions to your idea. Would this cause a rift in the community? Can the feature be used maliciously? If so, ask yourself what can be changed to maintain the integrity of the original concept but not result in these problems. And since you already addressed practicality before this step, that opposition is out of the way already!

Posting the Suggestion

Now that you've made the suggestion as good as you think it can be, you need to post it. Otherwise, who will know about it?! Your first step in this, of course, is the title. Make your title appropriate, descriptive, and not full of symbols like tildes and asterisks. People should have a general idea of what your idea will be about when they click on your thread. It can be irritating to have to wait until the first post to have any clue what the suggestion will be about.

Next, put all that thinking you did about the idea to good work. Post a thorough and clear description of what you want to be included. Note all features and parts of your idea. Leave out no details at all. Especially important to include is the demographic to whom you're directing this idea (in other words, what type of member will this help? Not every suggestion helps everyone, after all). Remember all the time you put into thinking about those potential oppositions to those ideas. You fixed them, right? Well, include those oppositions anyway. Post what arguments you'd expect against your idea in your idea, and explain what you did to make them inapplicable. This will prevent those arguments from coming up if they are truly fixed.

Don't just post willy-nilly, however! If it's going to look like a well thought-out, professional idea, you need to make it organized and nice. Have several paragraphs separated at important ideas rather than one giant block of text (and if you’ve done this procedure correctly up to this point, it will be a large block of text if left in one paragraph). Make sure your ideas flow in a natural way, so that one thought leads smoothly into another. Don’t jump around without transition, or else your readers will be confused.

Finally, before you hit that "Submit" button, do a spell-check. In fact, do a grammar-check as well. For many people, it can be a real turn-off to thinking an idea is good if someone uses "your" instead of "you're," uses chatspeak, or has incomplete (or run-on) sentences. Also use an appropriate vocabulary. Don't go consult a thesaurus just to seem professional; it will draw away from what’s being said if people need a dictionary to understand it. Use some sophisticated vocabulary if you wish to sound good, but don’t post like a poet or lawyer or we won't know what you're trying to say.

What Not to Do

1. Like I said, you should be using descriptive titles. You should never have a title like "~*~ STAFF MUST READ ~*~" or "Suggestion" otherwise people begin to form a negative opinion of your idea before they even read it.

2. Do not suggest new staff positions. We have enough as it is, and this is too common a topic of suggestion. We currently have the work load spread out and specialized well. Also don’t suggest new staff be added to preexisting positions. If the staff feels that’s necessary, they will.

3. Do not be vague or brief in your suggestion. We should not have to guess or speculate about anything. If the suggestion is less than three paragraphs long, unless it's changing a typo on a page or something small and superficial like that, it’s short enough to require individual interpretation, which prevents people from discussing the heart of the idea.

4. Don't bump your thread. If the idea is good, attention will come naturally. If not, usually a thread will get at least a couple responses. Regardless, just don’t bump.
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Rodents210
 
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Emmett
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Responding to a Suggestion

Perhaps even more major than suggesting an idea are the poor quality of the responses people make to the suggestions. Since feedback and response is the reason Site Suggestions is a board rather than just a suggestion box page, the procedure a user should use for responding is similar to the procedure for suggesting.

The Preliminary Evaluation

Read the suggestion thoroughly. If you don't understand something, before asking for clarification, read the suggestion a second or third time. It should make itself clear if the suggestor followed the guidelines in the previous section. If something still isn't clear, ask! You can't make a good response if you don't thoroughly understand the suggestion. Also be sure to read all the responses to the thread so you aren't being redundant. Plus, by reading other responses you have more to draw from to emphasize and back up any points you will make.

Now visualize the site with the feature implemented. Imagine your daily routine on the site. Does the feature improve the experience? Does it hinder? Or would you not use it at all? If you wouldn't use it, put yourself in the shoes of a member that would. You can't respond if you haven't experienced the feature, even imaginarily. If you can't imagine any user other than the OP that will use the feature, then address this in the thread. Perhaps suggest a change to the suggestion that will make it more appealing to a wider range of members.

Finally, examine any other problems you come across in the suggestion. Take note of them and attempt to come up with a way that they can be fixed. Even if you can't, don't disregard the problem, because it's always possible someone else will have that solution up their sleeve.

Posting the Response

The first step to posting a response is to plan how you're going to organize it. Plan to use the blockquote markup, because it makes it easier to point directly at what you're responding to. When responding to multiple small parts with blockquote, go chronologically. Respond in the same order the quotes appear in the original post, and when quoting from multiple posts, quote in the order they were posted. Also make sure to make your thoughts flow as you would when suggesting. You want to be equally as legible and professional as a suggestor. Don't forget to be polite, either. If you aren't polite, even the best responses will get a negative reception.

Now it's time to point out those flaws you noticed in the idea. Quote the part where you think the problem lies, if it doesn't pertain to the suggestion as a whole. Don't leave any potential problem unmentioned. It's important that every feature is ironed-out as well as possible, even before the R&D Team gets hold of the idea for their own discussion. Don't forget to suggest those ways you came up with to fix  the problems you found. If you don't, you're just complaining and not really offering a response. However, if you can't come up with a solution yourself, don't be afraid to post about the problem. Just mention that you couldn't think of a solution. Someone who didn't even notice that potential issue might read your post and get an idea of how to fix it.

Don't forget to point out all the parts you like. Treat parts you like with just as much care as parts you don't like, or else the OP will think everyone hates his or her suggestion. Quote parts you like, tell us why you like them, and post any improvements or additions you may have (just because you like it doesn’t mean you think it can't get any better, after all).

What Not to Do

1. Don't post a generic response, ever. These are responses that everyone knows about and nobody really cares about. These responses include posting "It requires coding," "It might cause flaming," "If you don't like it, then leave ACC," or just a general approval or disapproval of the idea without saying why.

2. Never complain, either about the OP or about ACC. Note how I define "complain." I refer to complaining in this guide as posting negativity without adding a solution or asking for help finding a solution. Also remember not to flame or troll. These are not only against the rules, but one word of flaming or trolling can destroy even the most brilliant and thorough response.

3. When responding, do not be vague. You want to be just as specific as someone suggesting an idea. This is why you should be utilizing quotes, addressing suggestions piece-by-piece, and posting solutions to the problems you see. Otherwise, it's just no good.

4. Though I mentioned it in number two, I will reiterate what I said because it’s just that important: never post how you feel about an idea or any part thereof without saying why and posting actual feedback.
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yankees24cano
 
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Cano
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This is a great guide!  Only there are a few parts I don't agree with.

"Next, you should work on developing your idea in your mind. This is especially true if this is a full-fledged feature rather than a simple, superficial change. You should work on making sure there are no “what ifs;” we should not have to speculate about anything in your feature just because you left something out. Another important thing to do is to predict any possible oppositions to your idea. Would this cause a rift in the community? Can the feature be used maliciously? If so, ask yourself what can be changed to maintain the integrity of the original concept but not result in these problems. And since you already addressed practicality before this step, that opposition is out of the way already!
"
I don't think it is a good idea to know exactly what you want to do and not be open to variations of it.  The SIC spent 500 pages talking about a SIC icon someone said.  If someone went is and only wanted their variation of the idea, it would never work.

And also "If you don't like it, leave ACC" type responses are not that bad.  Just tell them that the SIC will not like the idea, because whatever, and the idea is good though.  Don't spend forever to find another way to say no to an idea that will never work.
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Rodents210
 
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"I don't think it is a good idea to know exactly what you want to do and not be open to variations of it. The SIC spent 500 pages talking about a SIC icon someone said. If someone went is and only wanted their variation of the idea, it would never work."
I never said or implied anything like that. I said to make sure that there is nothing that is left vague, because if people have to infer something because you weren't clear on your suggestion, it makes it harder to get good feedback.

I also said to make sure that your idea is as solid as possible. If you can think of anything wrong with it, then it probably isn't a good idea to post it until you fix it, otherwise it would seem sloppy. This does not in any way imply that you shouldn't be open to discussing your idea, or else this guide would have no "Responding" section and I wouldn't have been over the character limit to fit it within one post.


"And also 'If you don't like it, leave ACC' type responses are not that bad."
Those responses completely contradict the entire point of my response guide in the sense that I explicitly advise multiple times not to give an opinion without following up to that point with why you feel that way. That is exactly what "if... then leave ACC" responses do.

The response is about as useful as a Mod coming in, posting "No," and locking the thread. Sure, we get the point that the idea isn't approved, but why doesn't come up and there's no chance for any actual discussion behind it, which makes it a bad response.

Also, there is another part of that specific generic reply that is absolutely unacceptable. They give a sense of futility to the suggestor, because it sends the message that not only is their suggestion bad, and that their fellow members don't like them, but also that the site cannot be changed. We all know (or should know) that that is not true.
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Poncho95
 
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3/23 12:28pm
Thanks for posting this thread Rodents. I've read it through carefully and I agree with everything, I'll be sure to use this whenever I want to make a detailed post when responding to suggestions (or otherwise.)
Flagged.
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Sonic_Link
 
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This is a really good guide.
*Flags*
*Yawn.*
Read it thoroughly tomorrow.
4am here, and I have got a wink of sleep yet.
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Varil
 
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Nice guide. I agree with most of this stuff. *flags*
Nice work.
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iPenguin
 
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I think 500 pages is a bit of an exaggeration.

Great guide.
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Dougieowner
 
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This is a really nice guide, well done!
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FriedLemon
 
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This guide is absolutely amazing, particularly Responding to a Suggestion because it truly helps me find a way to get my point across efficiently and intelligently. I came across a mixing of words that caused a misunderstanding in a suggestion topic, and I now realize that I should have quoted what I was referring to. I also agree with most of what you've said. You've really put together a solid reference sheet for compiling a decent and well-built suggestion, or suggestion response. Thanks!
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Mark1119
 
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Very nice guide Rodents.

[bq]1. Don’t post a generic response, ever. These are responses that everyone knows about and nobody really cares about. These responses include posting “It requires coding,” “It might cause flaming,” “If you don’t like it, then leave ACC,” or just a general approval or disapproval of the idea without saying why.[/b]

That's my favorite part.
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Hadger
 
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This is a great guide!

*flags*
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FwAlex
 
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Amazing guide!!

*Flags*

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Site Suggestions Board » Topic: Fully Utilizing Site Suggestions - A Guide on Suggestion and Response

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