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Contributors and Supporters - September 2016

Posted September 1st, 2016 at 11:34 AM by HS Codex

Contributors and Supporters
Interview with Xotli
Author: The Grim Reaper’s Friend

Equal rights has always been a bit of a thing with me. And I’m not talking about the popular political issue. I’m talking about equal rights for contributors and supporters on this very site: HSers.

You see, site supporters have far more privileges than contributors do. It’s just a fact. This has always struck me as wrong and imbalanced. Certain site supporters long ago pointed out to me that without them, the site simply could not exist. But without the contributors, there wouldn’t be a site to exist. At least not the way it is today.

I know a lot of readers at this point will probably roll their eyes and move on, and I don’t blame them: this is clearly just the idea of one person, probably turned against site supporters early on by several incidents which will not be related here. In other words, what I have to say honestly doesn’t have much weight.

That’s why I brought in an admin to express his thoughts on the subject. Hopefully he can shed some light on why the structure is the way it is, and what exactly the differences are between contributors and supporters.

I’ve tracked down Xotli for this interview. After some minor delays involving a graduation, a wedding, a lot of wind, some allergies, and delays spanning three months, we finally meet in a Private Messaging room, festooned with virtual tropical plants.

“Hi Xotli,” I begin, checking over my list of questions. "Before we begin, I figure we should lay the groundwork by establishing to any potential newcomers out there what exactly a supporter and a contributor are. Could you give us a definition for that, from an admin's point of view?"
Well, as I'm sure everyone knows, web sites cost money to maintain. Web servers and forum software are the primary ongoing costs, but there are some other, smaller costs as well. And, every once in a while, we have to bump things up: a few years back, when Xorlof took over primary ops from truth, he upgraded to a bigger server, which really fixed a lot of the slowness that everyone had been complaining about.

Many years back, when we switched from phpBB to vBulletin (that's the forum software that we use), one of the new features we were excited about was "subscriptions." People who purchase subscriptions can go into a different "usergroup" than you get when you first sign up for the site, and we can take that money and use it to defray the various costs I mentioned above. That usergroup is what we dubbed "site supporters."

In order to encourage people to contribute to the site's expenses, we decided that site supporters should get certain perks. For instance, site supporters can upload files, have blogs, keep more PMs, have bigger avatars, leave negrep, etc. Some of these extra permissions were set from the get-go. Others were added later, as we thought of them (or just stumbled across them in the admin control panel).

"Contributors," on the other hand, is a newer usergroup which we created in order to allow certain people to be able to contribute without becoming site supporters. The basic idea was that some people might not be able to afford a subscription, but some of those folks might still be able to contribute to the site. So contributors have more permissions than regular users, but not as many as site supporters.
“Thanks, Xotli,” I say. “Being a contributor myself, I know that we have our own set of privileges, but I can’t recall them all. Could you refresh my memory on what privileges supporters and contributors get?”

That question is harder to answer than you might think: there are hundreds of permissions, and the ones from different usergroups overlay each other in non-intuitive ways. But here's what I came up with, as long as you don't hold me to it being completely exhaustive:

What Site Supporters can do that regular users can't:
  • Can upload files and images to the Downloads area, can link to those files, edit those files, and uploads aren't moderated.
  • Can upload attachments to forum posts.
  • Can keep over 65 thousand PMs (vs 150 for regular users).
  • Can deny PM receipt requests and send PMs to people who otherwise can't receive them.
  • Can negrep.
  • If you go to "Show Groups," you can see all the Site Supporters listed.
  • Can have a blog: post entries, edit or delete them, manage their comments.
  • Can delete their own comments on other people's blogs.
What Contributors can do that regular users can't:
  • Can upload files and images to the Downloads area, can link to those files, edit those files, and uploads aren't moderated.
  • Can upload attachments to forum posts.
  • Can have a blog: post entries, edit or delete them, manage their comments.
  • Can delete their own comments on other people's blogs.
I pause, still trying to grapple with 65 thousand allowed PMs. How, how had this escaped my attention for all these years? I recollect myself after a minute of awkward silence and resume the questioning.

“So Xotli,” I say. “I know before we started this discussion you said you might not know the reasoning behind every decision made, but in case you do, or know at least part of it, I was wondering if you could enlighten us as to why the privileges are so drastically different. I know I’m probably in a minority here, but to me at least, it seems like contributors and supporters should be roughly on par with each other. How come they aren’t?”

Well, I suppose I have a three-part answer for that.

Firstly, I'm not sure I agree that they are radically different. If you look at the list, site supporters have 8 "special" privileges, whereas contributors have 4. So there are only 4 privileges that site supporters have that contributors don't, and 2 of those are not really that impressive (at least in my opinion). So I'm not sure that "radically different" is really accurate.

Secondly, I'm also not sure I agree that the two groups should be on par. We still want to encourage everyone to become a site supporter ... even contributors. Contributor status is for those folks who maybe can't afford to become supporters, or for whom becoming a supporter is otherwise problematic. Especially with some of our younger members, just because they don't have their own credit card doesn't mean they don't have anything to contribute. But, on the other hand, people's financial situations change, and younger members become older members as time passes, so I think it's appropriate to still have some incentive for contributors to upgrade to site supporter status.

Now, all that having been said, I'll come to my final point: I'm not necessarily opposed to expanding the contributor list (or the site supporter list, for that matter). Remember that I don't speak for all the admins, but things like the "Show Groups" page--which, honestly, I didn't even know existed until I went poring through the list of permissions--I personally think that contributors should be listed there too. It doesn't seem that controversial as far as I'm concerned.

Why are they different? It just gradually happened. There was never any plan about who should get which permissions, you know. We just threw various things into various groups as they came up, that's all.
I sit back in my non-existent chair, pondering. “I honestly hadn’t considered that part about contributors having incentive to become supporters,” I say. “That makes sense.” Holding the rest of my opinions for another time and place, I move on to the next question:

“It makes sense to have incentive in the form of extra privileges for contributors to become supporters. What about incentive for supporters to become contributors though? Do you think it could work both ways – i.e., have contributors have privileges that supporters don’t? I know you can’t speak for all the admins, but what’s your opinion on this? Do you think it’s plausible?”

Well, I think that the original concept was that contributors would be a subset of site supporters: i.e., that all site supporters are contributors, in a sense, but it's not the case that all contributors are site supporters. "Contributors" indicates those folks who contribute in other ways than financially; site supporters are inherently contributors in the financial sense, plus they have the ability to contribute in other ways if they so desire.
I ponder for a moment. “I guess I don’t really see supporters as inherently being contributors. I mean, they could be defined as contributors in the technical sense of the word, but that doesn’t make them part of the group of contributors. To me, the two groups are very separate. It makes sense that one started out as a subset of the other, but since that’s no longer the case, wouldn’t it make more sense if they both had privileges the other didn’t? That way site supporters would still have incentive to contribute non-financially as well.”

You say it's no longer the case, but I guess I'm just not sure I agree there either. The permissions of contributors are in fact a subset of the site supporters' permissions, as we've been discussing. It was never the intention of the admins, as far as I know, for the contributors group to represent anything other than a subset of site supporters in any sort of abstract form, but perhaps some people have come to think of it that way. Which is fine, if that's how folks see it. It's just not something we ever considered, I don't think.
I ponder. “I’ve never come across anyone who mentioned considering contributors as a subset of supporters, so I think the general feel is that they’re two different groups. But I digress. It’s time to wrap this interview up. On that note, I have one last question.

“Obviously there’s some difference of opinion on the last answer. Based on that and everything else we’ve discussed, do you think things should change? And if so, do you think they could change?”

Xotli takes his time in replying
To answer the last question first: sure, things could change. The other admins and I could decide to rearrange the usergroups in any number of ways, and your suggestion is just as viable as any other. Certainly it would be something we could talk about.

As to whether or not they should change, that's a tougher question. I'll be honest with you: until this interview, I had no idea anyone was unsatisfied with the status quo. I think the existing system is adequate for the original goals we admins had for the contributor status, but, if there are new goals that the community wants to see for contributors, then we should definitely have more discussion about how to achieve those.

I hope the discussion has been helpful in understanding some of the history around contributors! I'm interested to see where things go from here.
“Thanks, Xotli,” I say, leaning forward to shake his virtual hand. “I’ll be interested to see what the readers think of this interview. To the best of my knowledge, I’m the only one who’s ever taken issue with the system, so it will be interesting to see where others stand on this.”

And now for some breaking Codex news: we recently had a lot of articles fall through. The writer of the C3V articles hasn’t been heard from for a month, and the writers of both the Customs Creation and Classic Scape articles have important RL matters to attend to. That’s roughly half our articles gone at the moment. The writers haven’t left, but at least temporarily we may have trouble getting their articles out.

As always, we at the Codex will continue to endeavor to bring you the best articles we can. They might be a bit spread out, but we’ll keep them coming. You can stay up to date on our progress by watching our facebook page. Until then, this is TGRF, signing out.
Total Comments 4


IAmBatman's Avatar
Based on the comments here, seems everyone else was OK with the status quo as well!
Posted October 17th, 2019 at 07:36 AM by IAmBatman IAmBatman is offline
TGRF's Avatar
I'm still not comfortable with hard work being less rewarding than money, but that's just me. Apparently.

Posted October 17th, 2019 at 02:23 PM by TGRF TGRF is offline
TREX's Avatar
Just got a chance to read here. Good article. My thoughts on this were that it was a very informative article getting at my exact question I had in the forum. I wanted a list of perks spelled out, and also the differences in said perks being given to contributors. I like being part of the Heroscapers community. I love the site. Others have said, just do it out of love for the site. I personally look at things I spend my money on as an investment. If others don't think that way it is on them. If I spend money, I want to know what I'm getting from said money spent. I've enjoyed this site for a long while, and appreciate the folks that have supported it with money to keep the lights on. I've put plenty of time and efforts into this site for no monetary gain, but I'll have to disagree with TGRF on his opinion. Putting forth the money to help keep the lights on is just as important as helping produce free content for the masses of scapers. Putting money towards the site, generally for most was made by hard work. The only reason I'm hesitant of spending the money to be a lifelong supporter is that I don't come here for much these days. Though I love the game, I just don't do much with it anymore. So the investment would be pulled from my other hobby funds. If you weren't using something as much, you wouldn't invest in it would you? Also, one other comment would be on the contributor status vs the site supporter status. There isn't enough difference there for most of those people to pay the money to upgrade to site supporter status in my opinion. Some may, most probably wont. Overall a very informative article, and appreciate being pointed in this direction. Thanks.
Posted October 17th, 2019 at 06:46 PM by TREX TREX is offline
TGRF's Avatar
[...]but I'll have to disagree with TGRF on his opinion. Putting forth the money to help keep the lights on is just as important as helping produce free content for the masses of scapers.
I think you're agreeing with me there, because that is exactly my point. I agree that the two actions are equally important. Therefore it only seems logical to me that the two groups should have roughly equal privileges.

I can see how my comment above might have been taken the wrong way - I'm pushing for equal privileges, not imbalanced ones in either direction.

Posted June 19th, 2020 at 02:09 PM by TGRF TGRF is offline
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