Creating Forum Projects 101

By DittoCrow. Art by Bummer.
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The Smogon Metagames forum is the place to be for competitive discussion. From suspect discussions to mini-tournaments, there is a variety of different projects to participate in and learn from. Metagame discussions are such a huge part of Smogon, and there's even a badge for the sole purpose of rewarding high quality discussion. With so many projects already out there, you might have trouble coming up with new ideas. Creativity is key, and there is an infinite amount of new projects that have yet to be posted. The only thing in your way is writers's block. Hopefully, the few tips I share will help you to become more innovative and think of some cool new projects.

Being Creative

A good way to start off the project creation process is to figure out what you enjoy the most. Do you enjoy strategy? Gimmicks? Tips? What would you personally like to read and/or participate in? For example, in RarelyUsed I started a project called RU Playstyle Classification. I kind of wanted to take the resource route (which I will explain more of below). At the time, I was struggling with teambuilding and wanted a list of Pokémon that could fit the roles I was looking for, instead of rummaging through the list of RU Pokémon one by one. I figured that having people post the Pokémon for me and an easy-to-access list would be a solid idea for a project. The thread would be beneficial to both me and any RU player in general.

Another good way to create a new project is to look at the trends of discussions on IRC. If a channel you're in is frequently discussing a certain interesting topic, it might be a good idea to make a forum discussion out of it. For example, #rarelyused and #ubers users enjoy laughing at ridiculous sets seen on the ladder. Thus, threads like "Silly Things You Have Seen On the Ubers Ladder" and "Don't Use This, Use That" were created based off of those discussions.

Another option is to take a look at a project from a different metagame subforum and either modify it to fit your primary metagame or try to make it better. There is usually always room for improvement and innovation within specific threads.

Project Themes

Just to get you started, you could base a project around these topics:

What could make a good resource for people to learn from? You can specifically direct it towards newer players or just about anyone. Things that compile helpful data or Pokémon sets are usually the most successful. However, make sure that people will actually be able to contribute and start a discussion, as otherwise your thread will just sit there and collect views, which would be better placed somewhere else on the site.
Projects that involve battling, such as mini-tournaments and battle of the week, or voting, such as The Next Best Thing, are a great way for people to get involved in a tier since anyone can join. These types of projects are usually more fun than anything else. Ladder challenges usually aren't too successful, but tournaments with a twist or something like NUgget Bridge are perfect when there isn't anything going on in the Tournaments forum.

Executing Your Project

Now that you've thought of a project, posting it is the next step. Your post actually needs content, though. It needs to catch the reader's attention and make them want to participate. Activity is a big part of creating a successful project. A good way to start off is to state the purpose and goal of what the thread is trying to achieve. Examples of what types of posts you are looking for, discussion starters, and useful links will all help encourage posting.

How you present the thread is also very important. You want to make the thread visually appealing, so a few images, such as Pokémon that represent the project, or art, such as banners, will brighten it up. Even a good title is important. It's good to see something other than a giant wall of text, which leads to my next suggestion: DO NOT make the thread too long. No one wants to read a ton of complicated rules, irrelevant info, or even your own opinion in the OP (save it for later). Basically, just don't beef up your introduction to the project. This isn't an article. Also make sure that you can actually manage the project. Don't create something that you don't think you can update consistently. Threads like Teambuilding or Viability Rankings take a lot of time and effort to run, so make sure that you will stick with the project. Finally, make it professional. Proper grammar and formatting are essential.

Something to Look Out For

There are a few general ideas that are always tossed around or have some kind of variation posted. This mainly includes single Pokémon discussions and something about underrated threats/new movesets. In general, these types of threads do not see much activity and die out quickly. However, there is a way to make good use of these discussions, and that is in a tier's "np thread." Unless there is a suspect discussion going on, this is a good place to start a discussion about a single Pokémon, an underused threat, a specific core, or a creative set. You could probably even get away with running some sort of a mini Research Week in there.

Threads for asking questions are also a bad idea. You should almost always use a simple questions thread first before making a thread. Otherwise, the thread will probably be locked or just die once the questions are resolved. This doesn't really start a long-lasting discussion.

Get Out There!

Again, just think of something that you would be interesting in discussing, and make sure that it is long-lasting. The more passionate you are about a topic and can keep it going, the better the project will be. Finally, now that you've come up with a project, go post it! If you're still unsure about an idea or want help, the absolute best thing to do is talk to someone about it. When I make projects, I almost always pitch the idea to one or two people or ask someone to look over the OP on PiratePad. The best thing to do is to talk to a moderator of that forum (you'll probably also need approval from them to post) or a mentor in the area you want to post in. Once you've started, you'll be on the path to the Community Contributor badge!

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