The "busy status" debacle

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L'oisleatch McGraw
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The "busy status" debacle

Post by L'oisleatch McGraw »

When someone first discovers Apterous, they are greeted with this "About" message:-

"The first thing to say is that apterous is definitely not Countdown. It is not endorsed by Countdown, Channel 4 or anyone important at all. However, it is a game with rounds including numbers, letters and conundrums. This may sound familiar. You can play against your friends over the Internet, or other people's friends if you don't have any of your own. To play, just register and then log in. If you're having problems, head over to our FAQ and, if that doesn't work, please do email me and I'll do my best to help."

(The most interesting part I put in a bold underlined font.)

There has been a trend over the last few years toward staying on "Busy" all the time, and I mean ALL of the time.
There are many varied reasons for this.
1. Only wanting to play bots.
2. Wanting full control over who they challenge.
3. Fear of losing rating points.
4. Not being able to commit to finishing a game without taking breaks, childminding demands etc.
5. A general anxiety that an unsolicited challenge could come in at any second.
6. Peer pressure because the majority of players in the room are on busy, (often aside from those who are lower down in the rolling ratings).
7. General mean-spiritness and/or a lack of respect for Apterous.

The above list is not exhaustive... people have all sorts of reasons (some more worthy than others imo), and there is a strong case to be made that any paying subscriber is entitled to use the site as they wish. Of course, it goes without saying, there is a spectrum here. At the extremes, some players stay on 'busy' all the time... some never go on 'busy', but in between those extremes are a variety of styles, some of whom use the 'busy' function sparingly and only when they are genuinely busy, and some of whom make the rare cameo where their name ceases to be grey.

Earlier on this evening was my first time (though I'm sure it's happened quite a few times by now) seeing the game room completely grey-washed:-

Image

^^^That's welcoming! :roll:

----------------------------------------------

Surely I am not on my own in thinking this is a problem?

In my opinion, it's not acceptable, and something should be done. I'd suggest one of these things:-
1. Change the bit in the Apto description where it says you can play against "other people's friends if you don't have any of your own".
2. Allow the busy status be enabled only for those who have paid an extra £20 or £30 on top of the regular annual Apto-subscription price.
3. Introduce a quotient of how often you are allowed set yourself to "busy" per month, e.g. somewhere between 30%-70% of the time.
4. Something else clever that someone else thinks of that makes the game room more welcoming without pissing too many people off.
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Fiona T
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Re: The "busy status" debacle

Post by Fiona T »

It is what it is. An ignored challenge is even less welcoming that people on busy.

Thinking about other games sites, you can set a filter on ratings etc for challenges you want - that might go some way towards the solution.

Personally I tend to be available, but go on busy once I have a game so that I don't get a second challenge the instant my game ends.
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L'oisleatch McGraw
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Re: The "busy status" debacle

Post by L'oisleatch McGraw »

"It is what it is" is a strange response, and one that can be applied to anything... including endemic sexism and racism.
Try harder to find a better reason why no action is required.

If nothing is to be done about this, then the Apto welcome text must change, because as it stands, it verges on false advertising.
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Fiona T
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Re: The "busy status" debacle

Post by Fiona T »

L'oisleatch McGraw wrote: Sun Nov 21, 2021 1:45 pm "It is what it is" is a strange response, and one that can be applied to anything... including endemic sexism and racism.
Try harder to find a better reason why no action is required.

If nothing is to be done about this, then the Apto welcome text must change, because as it stands, it verges on false advertising.
Why so confrontational? I suggested an improvement.
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L'oisleatch McGraw
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Re: The "busy status" debacle

Post by L'oisleatch McGraw »

Sorry you're right.
I suppose I fixated on the "it is what it is" part.

Filters -like on ISC- is one idea, yes.
The only problem with that is it would feed into a culture of elitism... but certainly better than the wall of grey.
But here's the thing, there was a time when the wall of grey was a far less common occurrence... I understand that was organic, and it has somehow -organically- changed so that grey is a majority colour.

Perhaps there is an inherent ebb and flow, and in a while the pendulum may naturally swing back the other way.
But are we prepared to wait for that possibility, or does some artificial manipulation need to take place to give it a nudge in the right direction?
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Thomas Carey
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Re: The "busy status" debacle

Post by Thomas Carey »

FWIW, I don't think an ignored challenge is less welcoming than busy. Althoguh that might be because I leave myself logged in, tab out and forget about it a lot. But even if I'm clearly active in chat, I don't think there's anything wrong with just typing 'sorry joe too tired' in chat. I very rarely put myself on busy - often I'm not up for a game, but I find that sometimes I get challenged by someone and even though I didn't expect to play a game, I think 'sod it, why not' and accept. Generally, I think people should be 'allowed' to challenge you to whatever, but you should be under no obligation to accept.

A few years ago there was a 'busy amnesty weekend' which worked pretty well iirc. Perhaps it's time for that again. https://www.apterous.org/ticket_view.php?ticket=2991
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Adam Latchford
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Re: The "busy status" debacle

Post by Adam Latchford »

Busy when i'm there just for chat + doing other things in life, available when i'm fine with someone challenging me, seeking when I actually want a challenge. There's definitely people i'd rather have challenge me at that specific time than others which is why i'm also sometimes on busy - such is life. Equally, if i'm looking to play a specific variant (or at least just "not normal") then i'll be on busy and ask people who I know are into those variants.

If people wanna be on busy let them, if they wanna be available let them, if they wanna be seeking let them.
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Rhys Benjamin
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Re: The "busy status" debacle

Post by Rhys Benjamin »

Adam Latchford wrote: Mon Nov 22, 2021 1:30 pm Busy when i'm there just for chat + doing other things in life, available when i'm fine with someone challenging me, seeking when I actually want a challenge. There's definitely people i'd rather have challenge me at that specific time than others which is why i'm also sometimes on busy - such is life. Equally, if i'm looking to play a specific variant (or at least just "not normal") then i'll be on busy and ask people who I know are into those variants.

If people wanna be on busy let them, if they wanna be available let them, if they wanna be seeking let them.
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L'oisleatch McGraw
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Re: The "busy status" debacle

Post by L'oisleatch McGraw »

Rhys Benjamin wrote: Mon Nov 22, 2021 9:28 pm
Adam Latchford wrote: Mon Nov 22, 2021 1:30 pm If people wanna be on busy let them, if they wanna be available let them, if they wanna be seeking let them.
Image
Oooh, don't do that Rhys... It's a little embarrassing. You remind me of one of the nodding dogs from the churchill ads. What Adam wrote is a broad platitude that means very little in real terms. Like when people say "It's nice to be nice" or "Love is love" or some bland shit. Of course everyone should be able to do what they want to do... duh. It goes without saying. And it goes without saying that most people are going to agree with that anodyne sentiment.

This thread was being discussed in Aptochat on Sunday... Andy SC stirring shite (which, of course, is much easier to do when you are hiding behind a fake name and refuse to show your face, but I digress) and he got a few responses. One person in particular described this posting as "stupid and pathetic"... which I must admit I was taken aback by, as I thought it read as rather measured. I contacted her by pm to enquire which parts she found to be "stupid or pathetic"... and what transpired is that it was more a defensive reaction as she prefers to stay on busy and felt the post here as a criticism of how she uses Apterous.

Anyone who sees this that way is missing the main point of the post. This is not about shaming or attacking any individuals for their preferred playing habits... it is about the bigger picture. Just that an overabundance of grey -in general- is not the best look for Apto.

My suggested solution is as follows... Each Apterite should do a small bit of "community service" every so often. I mean yes, there are the sound people like me, Paul J, Jojo, Brendan, J Bartram, Maria etc. who will stay available most of the time, and thanks to those people the ever-greys have the luxury of staying grey forever (ye should thank us! ;) ). However, if none of those usual suspects are there, and you find yourself in a room that is mostly grey... be aware of your surroundings and be prepared to put yourself forward now and then. Doesn't have to be too often, just on the rare occasion. If we all were to take that approach, then it would ensure that while the shyer/busier members will still get to stay almost exclusively on grey, at least we won't end up with a situation where the whole room gets greyed out. At the moment, the trend seems to be: if there is too much grey in the room, then even players normally marked as "available" can tend to also turn themselves grey out of -what I can only assume is- peer pressure. That is *definitely* a trend we could do without!
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Fiona T
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Re: The "busy status" debacle

Post by Fiona T »

I think most people would recognise that having a greater number of people available to play newbies and other humans is a good thing.

If people get defensive, it's because they feel attacked. If attacking is not your intention, it may be worth considering your posting style.

For example, you suggest a list of reasons why people might be on busy, that include "fear, anxiety, peer pressure, mean spiritness (sic), lack of respect". You say that some reasons are more worthy than others. People will immediately feel the need to defend their reason as a worthy one.

You then say it's "not acceptable".

You've then go on to insult the posters that have responded to your post.

One might conclude that you're more interested in confrontation than constructive discussion. :roll:

FWIW, my reason for being on busy is usually "general mean-spiritness" - people online who I don't fancy playing at that time who I know will challenge if I'm available, so I stick myself on busy and pick and choose who/when I play.

In my experience, most newbies don't respond to a challenge. One nice idea might be to have 'newbie volunteers' - people who have a flag/badge as being good people for a newbie to play - someone who is happy to talk them through the numbers rounds, explain the process etc etc...
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Mark Deeks
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Re: The "busy status" debacle

Post by Mark Deeks »

Yeah, basically what Fiona says. The idea of proscribing or forcing people to do things is daft anyway, however innocuous said thing is, but to then be so unnecessarily heavy-handed about it is pretty tone deaf. You really are extremely bad at talking people around to your way of thinking.
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L'oisleatch McGraw
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Re: The "busy status" debacle

Post by L'oisleatch McGraw »

Fiona T wrote: Wed Nov 24, 2021 12:36 pm mean spiritness (sic)
Good point! That DOES make me feel sic (sic). I hate making spelling mistakes! :?

Fiona T wrote: Wed Nov 24, 2021 12:36 pm "fear, anxiety, peer pressure, mean spiritedness, lack of respect". You say that some reasons are more worthy than others. People will immediately feel the need to defend their reason as a worthy one.

You then say it's "not acceptable".
I don't see a problem with that. If people feel guilty or ashamed for going on busy all of the time... good. They should. I am very judgmental on this topic and am not interested in being duplicitous or trying to hide it. Even though that is my attitude, with the exception of the point about "general mean spiritedness & lack of respect for Apto", each of the other 6 points was made dispassionately, and merely as statement of fact... because these are real reasons why people go on busy. Plain and simple. If anyone got defensive reading any of those, that was on them.

Also, on the few occasions where I did veer into judgmental territory (e.g. some reasons more worthy / it's not acceptable) I made sure to qualify those bits with the inclusion of "in my opinion".

Fiona T wrote: Wed Nov 24, 2021 12:36 pm You've then go on to insult the posters that have responded to your post.
Not quite. I insulted one person who hides behind a fake name, and who made some childish remarks in Aptochat. If he's happy to dish out, then he should be equally happy to have some served back.

Fiona T wrote: Wed Nov 24, 2021 12:36 pm FWIW, my reason for being on busy is usually "general mean-spiritedness" - people online who I don't fancy playing at that time who I know will challenge if I'm available, so I stick myself on busy and pick and choose who/when I play.
Yep, I'm aware of your reasons, and would be upfront with you as I would with my friend Alan, and anyone else who imo is over-using the "busy" function, and say that I would rather you not use 'busy' that way... but ultimately it is up to each person. Perhaps a higher price plan could be introduced to cater for users who rather stay on 'busy' for more than, say, 70% of their game time?

At first when Spotify decided to make something as basic as 'the ability to skip a song' a premium feature... people thought they were insane. Why would anyone stay on a service that would do such a thing, and who would pay for something that should just be a matter of course...? Yet Spotify are doing pretty well for themselves. And many other App makers have followed suit, by hiding basic features behind a paywall. Something along these lines could be a solution for Apterous, if the need arises.

Fiona T wrote: Wed Nov 24, 2021 12:36 pm In my experience, most newbies don't respond to a challenge. One nice idea might be to have 'newbie volunteers' - people who have a flag/badge as being good people for a newbie to play - someone who is happy to talk them through the numbers rounds, explain the process etc etc...
I do that all the time anyway - as do a few others, but yeah... it is not a bad idea.
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Re: The "busy status" debacle

Post by Fiona T »

L'oisleatch McGraw wrote: Thu Nov 25, 2021 2:17 am Perhaps a higher price plan could be introduced to cater for users who rather stay on 'busy' for more than, say, 70% of their game time?
Ignoring the daftness of forcing users to be available when they don't want to play people, % game time is a terrible measure. I'd wager I spend many more hours available than you do - and will accept all challenges when I am available (except where two come at once!), but as a % of my game time it's obviously much lower than yours as you never go on busy but respond in chat to challenges that you can't accept.

As an aside - anyone got tips to help with apto addiction...!
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Re: The "busy status" debacle

Post by Paul Anderson »

[/quote]
As an aside - anyone got tips to help with apto addiction...!
[/quote]

Get a new addiction to squeeze out the old ;-)
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Re: The "busy status" debacle

Post by Gavin Chipper »

Taking the personality side out of it, as was pointed out by Thomas Carey in this thread and Matthew Brockwell in that Apterous chat, there was the amnesty weekend Apterous ticket, and that seemed to go down reasonably well. So it seems that people accept that there might be something in this, specifics aside.

I tend to only go on to play the duel occasionally or when I was still in the Weakest Link numbers to play a game in that, and do tend to stick it on busy before playing because I'm generally only there for the one game. But unless I'm particularly in a hurry and only have time for the one game, I could leave it off busy and accept a challenge if one comes in.
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Re: The "busy status" debacle

Post by L'oisleatch McGraw »

Fiona T wrote: Thu Nov 25, 2021 9:49 am Ignoring the daftness of forcing users to be available when they don't want to play people...
Before Spotify introduced it, forcing users to listen to songs in a playlist without being able to skip may have been considered 'daftness' too, similarly being forced to sit through adverts before you play a YouTube video. Many self-respecting websites will force users to do their bidding as one of the conditions of getting the service for (close to) nothing.

Fiona T wrote: Thu Nov 25, 2021 9:49 am you never go on busy but respond in chat to challenges that you can't accept.
Well, I go on busy from around 7:30-11:30 of a Monday night. A couple of us do a Zoom CD night using Apto as the game engine... so am completely unavailable during that. I'll only ever decline a challenge if I am about to leave the room, or as you say, if it's a double challenge.

Gavin Chipper wrote: Thu Nov 25, 2021 12:42 pm But unless I'm particularly in a hurry and only have time for the one game, I could leave it off busy and accept a challenge if one comes in.
Gonna absolutely take you up on that kind offer.
In our Apto H2H I have a 100% loss record against you (i.e. 2 played 2 lost).
This is unacceptable and must be rectified post haste!
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Re: The "busy status" debacle

Post by Martin Long »

I usually play Apterous from work so often need to disappear quickly during games so I prefer to play bots and I'm permanently on busy these days.
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