i've been a member of this community for a little over three years now. in that time, i've seen a lot of things come and go, a lot of people come and go, a lot of hilarity, and a lot of drama. and yes, i've had a blast of a time, and i have you all to thank for that. naturally, there have been instances when i've thought, "i wish this were a little different". up until now, i've really not said much (except to those on irc who have asked) but i actually consider it very important that we constantly be evaluating the status quo, and if there's ever a way to improve on it, we should make it happen. smogon may have come a long way since its inception, but i still believe it can be improved, and such is the purpose of this thread. i'm asking that several things be completely revamped. i want to fundamentally change the way we view this community. the way things have been done in the past has rarely been optimal (i think we can agree to this) and as such, i think it's time we take a completely different approach to competitive pokemon on the internet. this thread will concentrate heavily on transparency and efficiency, and it's my hope that at least some of these suggestions can be implemented in the near future - but the main point is not to make these specific changes; rather, it is to rethink everything about smogon's current organization and operation. --- scms editing should be open to everybody. smogon currently has around 200 badged users - users with permission to edit the site. yet, it has thousands of readers - many of whom are very capable and willing to make positive changes to the site. under the current system, they can't easily make changes to the site until they join the badged users, which is a great waste of resources. i believe that the site would be maintained far more efficiently if it could get assistance from anybody who happens to read an article: wikipedia-style. "but umbreon_dan! that opens us up for vandalism!" actually, it doesn't make the site significantly more vulnerable than it currently is. anybody who wants to vandalize can just get a badge easily enough. however, there's no point in getting a badge to vandalize the site, since all changes have to go through site staff any way. my current proposal is not to remove the function of site staff. i do, however, think the ability to save changes to the site should be given out more broadly than it currently is. i think every badged user should be given the ability to save changes to the site. this will greatly increase the speed with which the site is updated. secondly: does it matter? the worst that can happen is somebody replaces all the text on a page with "YOU SUCK". the smogon site has thousands of readers. if any reader of the site can vandalize, then any reader can also revert vandalism upon seeing it. with that many eyes, how long do you really think graffiti will stay there? bear in mind that this only becomes an issue if the role of site staff is eliminated. with thousands of people to make changes and a few hundred trusted users to review them, the site will be far more dynamic than it currently is, and will almost definitely result in higher-quality information. analyses and articles should not be allowed to rot in the c&c forum. i know from dozens of reports and from firsthand experience that the time it takes for an article to get from the c&c forum onto the main site can be months. this is not the way smogon is going to stay on top of competitive pokemon. i've heard a lot of talk about "streamlining the c&c process" but i've what i've seen is not the kind of improvement i'm talking about. new analyses should be posted directly on the website. they can be quality- and grammar-checked there by the thousands of users who have editing access. there does not even need to be a c&c forum. simililarly, there's no need for grammar and quality assurance teams. which pokemon sets work best can be achieved through community concensus. grammar, obviously, becomes a non-issue with so many pairs of eyes. this follows the "release early, release often" philosophy that linux was built on (see: the cathedral and the bazaar). the c&c forum can be converted to play more of a background role in the writing and management of site content. for example, if people can't agree on a particular set, this would be a good place to talk it out. it could also be a great archive. however, it does not need to be a central resource for everything that goes on the site. the policy review forum should be discontinued or opened to everybody. policy review was originally restricted to a select group of users because it was assumed that average users wouldn't be able to handle its level of formality or complexity. since then, the suggestions forum has been created, which serves almost exactly the same purpose as policy review. it's open to everybody, and it's not the shitstorm we thought it would be. every now and then, we get the "new users introductions forum" suggestion, but it's infracted and life goes on. on the whole, smogon has underestimated the intelligence of its userbase. as such, the whole userbase should be able to give its opinion on matters of pokemon policy. one option for opening policy review is to allow only privileged users to post threads, but allow anyone to post in them. honestly though, i would like to see policy review and suggestions merge into one forum with no restrictions on who can post. if somebody makes terrible posts, that can be dealt with. such a forum would have rules and moderators, the usual fanfare. right now, policy review is essentially functioning as a more elitist incarnation of the suggestions box. again, smogon is a forum with almost a hundred thousand users. surely several of those will have some insight that the badged community could not have anticipated. smogon is being held back by these users' inability to post in the appropriate forum. the smog article workshop should not be hidden before new smogs are released. the article workshop is currently hidden from the public, and even from past smog writers. this is a barrier to contributing to the smog. why does it matter if some people can read unfinished articles before the smog is released? let them. there's no reason to force interested readers (who may even make helpful comments) to wait until the official release date. the final released product is worse as a result of having fewer contributors. "but umbreon_dan! that will ruin the surprise and nobody will read/support it!" if you think "nobody reading it" is a problem, you do not understand how the smog works. the smog is not written because people read it; it's written because people want to write and improve the site. the smog doesn't need readers to justify its existence. even if the smog didn't have a single reader, it would still get written because people like to write it. conversly, even if it had millions of readers, it wouldn't get published if nobody wrote it. the smog is not a commercial enterprise; it does not have, nor does it need, 'support'. --- in 1993, microsoft introduced a commercial encyclopedia for windows. microsoft has deep pockets to make such a thing happen - they hired professional writers, they created a marketing campaign, they did everything they knew how to do. their encyclopedia was called encarta, and you probably haven't heard of it - it was a total failure. encarta was eventually discontinued. in 2001, another encyclopedia was launched. this one followed a completely different development design - it would be written by volunteers from around the globe with virtually no regulation. as it turned out, the power and willingness of these volunteers far outmatched all the financial power microsoft could muster. of course, wikipedia eventually went on to be kind of a big deal. i would like to see smogon follow that path. we can make it happen. let's not become the next encarta.