So, after a while of chewing my knuckles I decided to get something from Stephen Graham Walsh, the Settlers/Tigris artist. I got the cheapest game-related thing he had: The Catan flag Mayfair uses now for the victory point icon. It came yesterday. It's pretty sweet! And all ready to drop into a six inch frame.
I decided to scan it in, and post it to Facebook.
Step One: Scan. I love my Canon printer/scanner, except when I don't. At some point between when I last used it and today, my computer lost track of the scanner driver. It also loses track of the printer driver periodically. This is a known issue, that has not been resolved in two years of software updates. Anyway, I first tried to screw around with the buttons and dials of the scanner, but to no avail. So I went to Canon's website, in search of the driver download. It was four pages deep, and I had to reload one of them. Finally, it downloaded.
Install took a few steps, and then I was ready to scan. Right? I fire up the scanner software, but it still thinks I don't have any drivers installed. Then I go back to messing with the scanner itself, hit an appropriate-looking button, and Glory Be! it starts scanning.
Crop a little bit, save it, off to Facebook. I'm not on Facebook very often, so I missed the last few changes to the interface. They are always bad. First I had to find my photo albums, which were hiding in plain sight, and then I added the photos twice, since the old way doesn't work anymore. Finally, after all this drama, I have it on Facebook.
So, I get having to deal with less-than-intuitive user interfaces online.
I bring this up, since it feels like there's a lot more of this going on on Boardgamegeek. Queen ran a very popular contest on BGG that asked participants to add an item or three to the geeklist, each item containing an idea for a new whatsit for the game. There are thirty pages of entries and 245 thumbs for this geeklist; like I said, it was very popular. However, there were some stray cats with this thing. You had posts of entries to the forums, entries as entire new geeklists, the occasional person posting that he simply had no idea how to post a new item to the geeklist. (Or a comment, apparently.) And these weren't all new users; some people with avatars who have been here for two years. One complained to me that the site's layout was obtuse; I asked where he would put the "Add Item" link other than where it was--in the header for the geeklist itself. No reply.
Then you have the pople who ask questions about particular games in the general forums--what seems like an hourly occurrence. People who ask questions that were asked days before; I had one person remark to me that she had never noticed that you could page back to older forum posts on the game pages. And, of course, there's the umpteenth "Funny First Player Determinants" geeklist some clever person dreams up, perhaps entirely unaware that you can even search old geeklists.
Granted, BGG's search capabilities are extremely poor.
The guy who complained about the Add Item link also said that those of us (like me) who had been on the Geek for a decade or more wouldn't understand the problems of a newer user--he'd been logged in only two and a half years. ("Only.") He called for a complete site redesign; he's not the only one.
I'm not sure how much good it would do, though. I'm sure it can be improved, but I'm not sure how good the ergonomics can be of a site as complex as BGG. It has a fantastic number of moving parts! Lord knows I don't use all of them; I stay out of Chit Chat entirely, I completely forgot I was a member of a guild, I upload hardly anything, I'm not on the marketplace anymore.
The trouble, though, is that there's always going to be a hard core of users who simply do not understand, or have patience for, any interface. I dealt with a great number of these people when I worked at Missouri State's library reference desk. If what they want isn't obvious in three seconds, they give up. This is a real phenomenon. If the first page of Google results doesn't have what they want, they simply give up and assume that it's unfindable. When I worked the desk, one of the Real Librarians quoted a survey that something like a third or more of undergrads only looked at the first page of Google hits. Basically, if there isn't a pulsing green button in the middle of the screen reading "DO WHAT I WANT" there are going to be problems.
A site reboot for BGG seems inevitable. It is to be hoped that it will be better. I'm hoping for at least a decent search function, and eliminating some of the less-obviously-useful things like The Hotness and spend the space somehow else. There has to be some more coherent way to assign "families" and "mechanics" and "categories" and even "subdomains" than exists now. (Not sure what it is.)
I'm curious how people would do at this task:
"Go to www.boardgamegeek.com and find the oldest review on the Settlers of Catan page."
Ordinary web users, BGG users with less than two years of experience, and those with more than two but less than ten, and then us old-timers. Rules: You can't ask a question on the forums. You have to toil at this until you find it or go crazy. (Or fifteen minutes ticks by.)
Sounds like an Amazon Mechanical Turk job.
In the meantime, I'll keep up my job nudging people towards finding what they really want on BGG. There are a few of us with "jobs;" there are a few vigilant old-timers who give a list of the previous geeklists on whatever theme the less-experienced user has chosen. Just a little self-selected community...
Now, if you you'll excuse me, I have to figure out how you leave feedback on Etsy.