Well, as you may know from our April update article, we are getting very close now to the accounts launch as we’re almost ready to enter into the main testing phase of the project. This means that we will be using accounts internally at Nitrome Towers and taking down notes on any problems that we come across.
So what’s next?
Until recently, due to the amount of man power it would have took to simulate the usage of accounts beyond a single user, I’ve pretty much been holding private messaging conversations and comments between two, three and sometimes four user accounts by myself. This meant I was opening multiple browsers and logging in to different accounts simultaneously. Needless to say, this type of testing is best carried out when a single person is locked down to using a single user account, as this better mirrors real world usage.
The main tests will consist of the all of us trying to mess around with the user accounts to see if any of our calculated mischief gets past our moderation system. We’ll also try registering (with both Facebook Connect and Nitrome sign up processes) and using our accounts like the average community user to test for usability issues. The main reason we take such attention to detail on these types of tests is because we want the accounts to feel as natural and intuitive to use as possible (and we also want to have some fun with them too!).
Abusing the report button
Some of you have already expressed concern (on our Facebook feedback from last month’s accounts article) in regards to the way that the reporting badges may be obtained via abusive means (i.e. users may create dual accounts or users might spam the report button on every comment/user they see).
Well, you will be happy to know that we share the same concerns as our fans on this subject and feel that although there are no real foolproof ways to completely eliminate cheaters, we will do the best we can without hindering good community users that are interacting with the system as intended. We’ll be making use of a variety of measures to avoid account abuse as much as possible. This phase actually became a task in itself!
There are many mechanisms that are already in use by existing web communities to stem the flow of bad user activity. Things like CAPTCHA, IP based bans, duplicated email address checks, user assisted moderation, up/down voting of user generated material etc. For each of these effective methods, there is usually some way of defeating them. The more tests we use to insure that genuine user activity is carried out, the more we might negatively affect the user experience flow for genuine users.
So, with usability in mind, our “anti-bad guy” measures that we intend to deploy are going to be mainly frictionless for the end user. By frictionless we mean they should not interfere with user experience whilst browsing the Nitrome site in any way.
We know cheating can take place in pretty much every online community in which there is something of worth to gain (such as badges and avatars in our case). We will diligently enforce the community rules as best we can. As we said in the previous post, the accounts are going to be considered to be in beta as we monitor the use and miss-use of the website. The more we understand about the community trouble makers, the better we can implement preventative systems.
Collecting new avatars
As well as having a lot of awesome avatars to choose from when you first create an account, there are also going to be some even more awesome locked avatars that won’t be accessible straight from the start.
Your Avatar acts as the graphical identifier for your user account. Along with your username, it will be one of the first things somebody sees. Some avatars are going to be more difficult to collect than others.
You will be able to unlock avatars primarily by finding them as objects in certain Nitrome games. You’ll need to check out the descriptions for avatars on the selection page for ways to unlock them. Some of the avatar descriptions may be written in a slightly more cryptic fashion than others which may, in-turn, involve you thinking about the unlock message and making educated guesses as to where you want to start the hunt for them!
We really feel confident that the harder to collect avatars will make for fun challenges for our community!
We hope you are all as excited as we are!
Also, as a quick teaser, we thought that we’d include the profile page with updates since the last post
Screenshot Before: Click Here!
Screenshot After: Click Here!