Algorithmize This!

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With the internet slowly replacing television, it's not so surprising that contents like these are popular.
As far as TV goes, stations seemingly decided that they would send things that appeal to the masses almost exclusively, just because it's more profitable. They're companies after all, not a group of people who do it all for fun.
However the internet is still something that anyone can put their content in.

If you really want to sort the wheat from the chaff, you still can. If you're not willing to put the extra effort into looking for the right website then you might as well read some of this "answer factory" stuff, because it's most likely a topic you don't even really care about.

To get back to the comparison to fast food: The existance of fast food is not a bad thing. It can be tasty and useful if you don't have the time, and it's not even really unhealthy AS LONG as you don't eat it exclusively. Everyone has to find their own balance there, and it's the same with mass produced internet content I think.

Archon:
Nor has our pursuit of hand-crafted excellence led to us becoming the largest game-related site on the internet. There are others that are much bigger, fueled by search-optimized blog posts with all the right key words. But we are the best - the best game-related website, according to the Webby Awards, and the best online magazine, according to Mashable. And we aim to stay the best. Which is why we haven't replaced our editors with a Google Trend analysis, nor replaced our content creators - among the highest-paid in the game media - with $15 per feature freelancers.

You -are- the best. And it's my pleasure to have helped keep your traffic levels up, and you guys in motion. And you know what still amazes me? That you guys actually respond to comments on your articles. Alexander, John, Susan, you guys are the BEST! To actually have a discussion with the creators of interesting content is even more engaging than just that interesting content.

I think what SikOseph said before is very likely accurate; there's a greater diversity of content now on The Escapist than before. So what appealed to me in days gone by is indeed still here, as well as some other stuff that I'm less interested in. Which is absolutely not a problem, as long as "the good stuff" (so to speak) is still freely available. Which is to say: As long as The Escapist holds true to itself, and Mr Macris keeps his word (which I don't doubt he will), then I will still come to read from you.

...also, I just noticed. Why does the CEO choose his avatar, the one way I can possibly visualise him, to be the Eye of Sauron? Slightly... disturbing. And John is now 00 Gundam. You're awesome, too.

"Way to be unnecessarily political."

I was NECESSARILY political, editor dude. Unnecessarily political is when one writes or publishes an article with portentous headings like "Vaginaphobia!" There's so much unsaid in the title, and the article, but few people are going to call it 'political' because they've heard all this shit before. It's the equivalent to a poster on a college campus saying "Want to stop rape? MEN stop raping WOMEN!" The sort of thing that might sort of shock someone who's never actually known a large number of women or men, but which everyone with a smidgen of life experience is going to roll their eyes at. It's completely and unnecessarily political without even having the sense to realize it.

Yahtzee was and is far, far, FAR more political in, say, his review of The Sims 3, where he goes further off into 'women are EVIL' territory than any men's rights advocate I've ever read. Matter of fact, there's far more one-off political/religious/social commentary in any one of any ZPs I've seen, and that's arguably one of the reasons why they're so popular (and funny!) Yahtzee will never, ever, ever, EVER quote a dude from the Center for Public Policy and Portentousness, largely because that view will likely be divorced from reality. And be less detailed. And more likely to blame mystic social forces and shadowy hate groups rather than people we might actually know and love/hate.

Right now ZP, and Unskippable, and possibly ENN are still the ones enabling all of your bland, safe, expert-quoting, journalism-school writing, lockstepping, pablum spouting, better-people copying articles to survive. And unlike another group-oriented funfest led by an uber-nerd/social science powerhouse called The Nostalgia Critic, Yahtzee still doesn't have his name/face/imp on the top of the front page.

I mean, at least be like Cracked and have some room for visual puns with mini-captions in every 'feature' article! Have you learned nothing from your breadwinner?

"You know that all the popular things and their archives ARE one click away, right? They're all on sidebars on the right - the front page is for current content. :)"

Oh fnaar and fnaar, already. I'm the guy who thinks the BIG button should be for current content, and the SMALLER button should be for archives. Also that the buttons should not necessarily be contiguous. And I had to click through about 5 different pages after trying the 'latest article' button just to find the 'go back one issue' button, which was only on the 'weekly issue' page. An 'archive' or 'back one issue' button should be available at the top or bottom of every article or page related to the magazine.

Dammit, it's like Miyamoto said, you should know what I want before I read it!

I'm a self confessed elitist, I listen to prog rock, I drive a rwd manual car, I source music from Jamendo and I love the escapist. If you remain like I shall keep visiting although I'm a little more cynical and would point out that nothing is really new or original, I believe the human braing to be incappable of pure creation, just slightly modified, or indeed missrepeated (new word? point made?), versions of old things. These kinds of "creativity is dead, all articles are the same" articles are at-least older than I am (18yo), a few of my recent posts have been very short and simply calling forums or media echo boxes.

The escapist has posted so many articles lately about censorship, particularly in Australia, save for the event that occurred triggering it the articles and the comments in the forum are the same, some short version some long versions but you can get the same message from pretty much any other article on the subject.

I still believe this to be the best news site around and will continue to visit and enjoy the articles, particularly those of John Funk. Maybe because my lack of MMO experience makes what he has to say quite fresh, or maybe I just really like starwars (his articles of late are about SW:TOR)

Great article, Alex. Much respect.

I feel your pain too. During our 7 years of making weekly videos, our most widely seen, most profitable and most successful single video is one that we made as a joke in an attempt to make "the kind of crap that gets big on YouTube".
We did it very well, I guess.

Luckily, it's both depressing and hilarious! So we err on hilarious and try not to think about it.

I'm so thankful to be involved with a website that values good original content, and actually pays well for it.
A model that rest of the internet seems to fail at.

Interesting article...

but two things come to mind when reading:

1.) why does it need an actual implementation of an algorithm to provoke a response to something that has been going on for decades? all publishing companies are _companies_ and therefore microeconomic theory (general equilibrium, game theory, etc.) applies here as well. All these theories have implicit algorithms in them, so implementing an explicit algorithm for market filtering and production planning seems only consistent with history. I don't think that a technological response to market demands justifies the distinction Michael Arrington made, between the crap we are going to get and the crap we got served up until now.

2.) why does this resonate in a magazine, the subject-matter of which is so very algorithmic at its core? Not only are developers using more and more generative approaches for game content, the whole production process (except for maybe drawing concept art on paper) is decidedly algorithmic in nature. Just start with things like version control, content management, build-processes, you don't even have to get to the details of constructing models based on splines etc.

Maybe i am just mixing levels of abstraction here, but i think we have to accept that computers and the amount of data generated through it are the source of complexity and at the same time the solution to complexity reduction. All the producers of "hand crafted content" should really stop the time spent in their work process where something they do is not based on algorithmic workflows. I'm optimistic that human intervention and instinct will always be valued even if we are just an I/O-blackbox in a production-chain (that is, as long as the audience is mostly human). And crap will always be crap. Also your magazine serves as perfect counter-argument to all the media-pessimists, just remember the media landscape for gaming when you started!

cheers m

Epoetker:
"Way to be unnecessarily political."

I was NECESSARILY political, editor dude.

I think that what John Funk was saying (or at least, my interpretation of it, conjoined with my opinion on your post) was that the points of your posting were lost in a haze of off-topic political messages about liberalism, Hollywood, the current Presidential administration, feminism, and the economic recovery stimulus.

May I quote? I shall:
"lost in doe-eyed lefty libtarded flights of fancy"
"Yahtzee, much like John Lennon, allowed the liberal writers of the Escapist to ascend to Hollywood mass-market status"
"liberals in Hollywood should not assume that the fact that they have 'arrived' means that it's a good idea for them to lend their faces to every social cause..."

These statements (among others) cloud the actual message you are trying to convey (at least to me), when I think you were actually trying to use them to illustrate your points. I don't mean to lecture you on clear writing or insist that you write your posts in a certain way, I simply question whether using politically-charged allegories and examples makes other readers ignore or skip over your actual thoughts, due to frustration with preconceptions about your political leanings.

For example, I think that your point was that the Escapist could use some of these "fast food media" techniques to draw in a greater audience, much as Yahtzee and Unskippable have done (I came here from being a follower of LRR, after all), and that it wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing, though it would require some re-working of the navigation systems to streamline searching for topics of interest. But I am not certain that is what you were trying to say; first because it was kind of rambling and chaotic, and second because you finished with a statement that is politically charged and makes me forget what you were talking about. When you write "[The Escapist needs to] do what Obama promised he'd do before getting quashed by feminists-build and maintain some goddamn infrastructure" I am trying to figure out where this statement comes from and why I disagree with it, rather than thinking about the actual content of your post.

I don't think the Escapist should be a place where political opinions or discussions are verboten, especially when it is directly related to video games and gamer culture. I think your point about Yahtzee's commentary having huge political, social, and psychological undercurrents -- especially when it comes to sexuality and male-female relationships -- is very interesting, and I would like to see more of that kind of thinking. I am just not certain that pulling unrelated political opinions into the discussion helps get your point across. In fact, I think it detracts from the statements, and I am pretty sure that is what Mr. John "Editor Dude" Funk was getting at, too.

Edit: I would also like to note, Epoetker, that I hadn't noticed a trend like this in any of your other posts, so I don't mean to criticize you as a person. What other posts of yours I have read have been eloquent, interesting, and often insightful. This one just seemed... egregious? And it was a good example of what I thought of as excessive politicization getting in the way of interesting ideas.

Chasmodius:

Epoetker:
"Way to be unnecessarily political."

I was NECESSARILY political, editor dude.

I think that what John Funk was saying (or at least, my interpretation of it, conjoined with my opinion on your post) was that the points of your posting were lost in a haze of off-topic political messages about liberalism, Hollywood, the current Presidential administration, feminism, and the economic recovery stimulus.

May I quote? I shall:
"lost in doe-eyed lefty libtarded flights of fancy"
"Yahtzee, much like John Lennon, allowed the liberal writers of the Escapist to ascend to Hollywood mass-market status"
"liberals in Hollywood should not assume that the fact that they have 'arrived' means that it's a good idea for them to lend their faces to every social cause..."

These statements (among others) cloud the actual message you are trying to convey (at least to me), when I think you were actually trying to use them to illustrate your points. I don't mean to lecture you on clear writing or insist that you write your posts in a certain way, I simply question whether using politically-charged allegories and examples makes other readers ignore or skip over your actual thoughts, due to frustration with preconceptions about your political leanings.

For example, I think that your point was that the Escapist could use some of these "fast food media" techniques to draw in a greater audience, much as Yahtzee and Unskippable have done (I came here from being a follower of LRR, after all), and that it wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing, though it would require some re-working of the navigation systems to streamline searching for topics of interest. But I am not certain that is what you were trying to say; first because it was kind of rambling and chaotic, and second because you finished with a statement that is politically charged and makes me forget what you were talking about. When you write "[The Escapist needs to] do what Obama promised he'd do before getting quashed by feminists-build and maintain some goddamn infrastructure" I am trying to figure out where this statement comes from and why I disagree with it, rather than thinking about the actual content of your post.

I don't think the Escapist should be a place where political opinions or discussions are verboten, especially when it is directly related to video games and gamer culture. I think your point about Yahtzee's commentary having huge political, social, and psychological undercurrents -- especially when it comes to sexuality and male-female relationships -- is very interesting, and I would like to see more of that kind of thinking. I am just not certain that pulling unrelated political opinions into the discussion helps get your point across. In fact, I think it detracts from the statements, and I am pretty sure that is what Mr. John "Editor Dude" Funk was getting at, too.

Bingo. Well-said, and welcome to the site :)

I come on The Escapist every day and watch 3 of the video series and read several of the regular articles. Why? Because each one is intelligent, funny, sarcastic and 'home grown'. You have a topic, but the writer or producer (of the video series) brings out their take on it.

Kudos, peoples :D

The article wasn't what i thought by the title but it was great.

Fast food content will never replace well thought content, just fast/cheap content that is now made by hand. It was bound to happend, just like in food and production industry.

With all due respect...

1. Did you just compared Yahtzee to Lennon? (From a personal viewpoint, it's valid, but the majority would disagree with you).

2. As best I recall, the simple fact with creativity is that the good stuff tends to rise to the top and become popular (ironically). That-which-is-mediocre tends to sink to the bottom. But doubtless, a lot of stuff get's buried.

It's a tough balance. I could invite some new friends to the site- and they could invite some new friends, etc. But if I invite new viewers to the page I'm trusting that the community and the content on the site will not lean towards pandering to the newer, not-escapist like members.

What you do here is wonderful, and while I wish more people visited, but I'm not willing to sacrifice the community. New members should decide if the Escapist is right for them, not join because it's popular and act like an asshole.

Know what I'm sayin'?

The patting yourselves on the back was kind of odd to read, but you guys have written some of the most interesting and philosophical articles I've ever seen, so I'll ditch the salt.

This is slightly disconcerting for me, since I always thought free, easy-to-access information would be the savior of humanity. But, it's not like this stuff is destructive, it's just not particularly enriching. I'm glad how people brought up Wikipedia earlier, because I think it's a really noble project, as long as it gets more accurate as it continues.

Flamingpenguin:
It's a tough balance. I could invite some new friends to the site- and they could invite some new friends, etc. But if I invite new viewers to the page I'm trusting that the community and the content on the site will not lean towards pandering to the newer, not-escapist like members.

What you do here is wonderful, and while I wish more people visited, but I'm not willing to sacrifice the community. New members should decide if the Escapist is right for them, not join because it's popular and act like an asshole.

Know what I'm sayin'?

This really bothers me. Why does this "There goes the neighborhood" attitude exist? Can anybody explain this to me?

Archon:
Publisher's Note: Algorithmize This!

Much of the content on the internet is as easy to produce as fast food...and about as good for you.

Read Full Article

Yes, Yahtzee is being overhyped, especially for what a cynical depressant he is. And don't worry, I have a feeling that the publishin' business will not be saturated with tabloid trash in stead of the thought provoking literature you porvide. It's just that the internet is absorbing the paper journalism business and is yet to strike a compromise between the trash and the treasure. I doubt it will be much different from what it was...

While i'm not usually the one to overwrite, but I believe i have the answer to your paradox of a question.

Believe it or not the answer is staring you all in the face. It's the comments, it's the people who want to make something great of this website.

in a tally 11 of the 44 first comments were "contributers" to the escapist, who are personally involved, but there is more to it than that. Every single person that commentented on this story gave this website words that mean something to the author. I would say that everyone who commented on this story wants to make this website a better place for everyone. These are people who want to be personally involved, and should be given a way to do that.

Everyone on this site should be able to post an artical, but more importantly the articals should be an opening to a conversation, very much like this one.

There is one thing in particular i wanted to point out for improvement - the video contest. ppl don't watch vids only one time a year, so why not make the process ongoing. As long as everything is economicaly viable i don't see a problem. With a contest everything is set with one pitch idea, and as soon as it's submitted the creative process stops. It be great to evolve a story with the reader, or have live improv. To have a great give and take with the audience.

The key with your future is to just let things grow, wikipedia never planned to have everyone edit, it just evolved into that because it worked so well. The more rigid the rules the less creative everything becomes. At the end of the day it just comes down to what works, and hopefully this comment works enough to make some sort of difference to the site.

Shadow_Kid:
Everyone on this site should be able to post an artical, but more importantly the articals should be an opening to a conversation, very much like this one.

I completely disagree, and I believe that was also exactly the point of Alex's article. The promotion of creative and hand-crafted content relies on a single premise: Not everyone should get a voice.

It's something that a lot of people have a hard time accepting. It's definitely not "fair". But if you think about it a bit, longer than your likely negative initial reaction, it should make sense. Not everyone is good at everything. Most people either don't have anything to say, or they don't have the skills they need to say it properly.

The tough part is that anyone can type. But just because you can type doesn't mean you can, or should, be a published author. There is an art to writing, especially writing well, and it's not easy, and not something that just anyone can do. It's not even something that good writers can always do consistently.

BUT, and it's a big one, we have always given anyone who wanted to try a chance. The large number of contributors you see posting in this thread is a direct result of this - we publish a lot of authors, even ones that have never written professionally before, and anyone can pitch an article. We also treat them like real writers - everyone gets proofed, everyone gets edited. It's something we've always been proud of. That doesn't mean that everyone on the site should be able to post an article, it means that many of the people we do publish are invested here.

There's a reason for that. Here's the thing about "fast-food media", as Alex put it: The people hurt the most are the real creators. The people we publish, the ones that get replaced. It can be argued that their work should be a labor of love, that that would make it "more real", but when it comes down to it not everyone will be able to manage that like LoadingReadyRun has. Creating is work. It can be exhausting. Eventually that time and energy will take a back seat to working for a living, and then we all lose out.

There is a reason I read the Escapist, and not IGN or Game Spot.
I dont really care about game news, I care about interesting things to read when I am bored :D

Bravo.

I enjoy reading the Escapist because I discover so many new things for which I wouldn't have searched. Hand-crafted content is akin to good customer service: you may be able to run a huge, profitable company without it, but at the end of the day, its the personalities, relationships, and knowledgeable expertise that will have people returning time and again.

Funny, I left these forums because of exactly what you describe, drowning in thousands of posts with no wortwhile content, with no effort behind them. The articles are still decent, many of them, but I often find myself skimming them, because there's too many of them, and often about very similar topics.

So, yeah, I agree with your article, but unfortunately, it's starting to feel like you fall into the wrong group. I can understand why, too. Competition's said to be good and all, but it does detract from quality as well, with everyone just trying to keep up, instead of taking their time, loving their work, and really making sure everything's perfect before release.

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