News & Opinion
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A minor update to Conventions has gone live. Events can now show a separate url for it's activities. Remember to add those urls to your Event.
We've added a new survey section. There are polls for game new systems our member's have requested. To vote, click on this tile.
Anyone, including non-members can now submit Conventions or other events. Click this tile to add one now.
Publicly shareable Group Pages similar to Public Gamer Biographies are now available. If you need to share your group, just post the link to your group.
Group expiration has finally been enforced. However it is possible to still search for expired groups. Group owners now receive email reminders to update them.
Adding and updating Groups in the Group Finder have been streamlined. Try adding your local or online game group today to find more players.
News & Opinion
Opinions & Ramblings
- By: Maelish
- 03/15/2016 11:22 am
I spend several hours every month adding and updating our Convention & Local Event pages. It truly amazes me how many convention websites don't have useful information. I see this all the time when adding conventions to Find Gamers. It's a recipe for failure that doesn't help you get more folks to your convention. Taking a little more time to add the useful data to your website will encourage more folks to visit your website and convention.
Let's look at a few things below that sadly, have stopped surprising me. I'm sure you many of you have seen these problems too. All of these examples come from today's update to the Conventions Page.
Conventions website's that:
- Don't have an address for their location anywhere on their website. I see this more than anything else.
- Give the address as the corner of two roads but don't give the city or state.
- Don't actually explain what happens at the convention.
- Have great pages for individual convention activities but don't describe the convention at all.
- Don't have a method of contacting the convention to ask questions. No web form, email address or forum.
- Mix up the previous year's convention pages with the upcoming convention's activities.
Just so you don't think I am picking on small conventions, take a look at the 2016 Origins Game Fair website. It is a great example of failure. While some information is there, the text is fairly illegible. Somebody made a lot of assumptions, they think everyone knows what Origins is all about. There isn't a description of the convention to be found or much useful information that might explain to a new gamer what Origins is all about.
It's very important to get the word out about your event. That's why we support conventions and other local events here at Find Gamers. Just try to keep in mind that there are always new folks interested in your convention but it is up to you to sell it to them. Make sure you have all of the useful information and they'll come.
Speaking of conventions, I'll be headed over to MidSouthCon 34 in Memphis TN this weekend. I'm looking forward to some D&D, Paranoia, Cthulhu and maybe a little Shadow of the Demon Lord. Hopefully I'll see a few of you there.
This blog entry was referenced by the thread Con in a Box on BoardGameGeek's website. He has a lot of good suggestions besides my little rant, so I'd suggest convention organizers read them carefully. It's good stuff!
- By: Maelish
- 03/09/2016 08:59 pm
Migration to our new host appears to have gone well. If you see anything odd, don't hesitate to send a feedback message to Maelish.
Below is a post that was removed from reddit's r/webhosting even though it was receiving positive votes and broke no rules. It surprised me and irritated me. I can only assume the guys running that subreddit must not like Stablehost's success story.
I switched Find Gamers from Hostgator to Stablehost this week. Not only was it painless, my yearly hosting fee was about 40% what it was before.
Hostgator often takes 3 to 6 days to answer any technical issues you might have. Stablehost is answering questions far quicker, usually within 15 minutes and no more than 2 hours for more complex issues.
They did a cPanel migration that moved all of my settings, crons, ftp & mail accounts along with my entire db in less than an hour. My site was offline for less than an hour. My only changes were a single line in my htaccess file and some php code for server detection.
One of my motivations was a to preserve my SEO with good SSL since Google is using it to rank sites now. And since I use Cloudflare as my free CDN it was easy to start that process last year when I configured Flexible SSL on Cloudflare and changed all my html from http to https.
The next step was turning up the free Let's Encrypt SSL in my Stablehost cPanel - took all of about 30 seconds. Then I switched SSL on Cloudflare from Flexible to Strict & turned HSTS on. The whole thing took all of 3 minutes. Should it be shocking with something works so well the first time? It was so easy I kept trying to figure out what I'd missed.
The other benefits of Stablehost for me are Mariadb and PHP 7. The only drawback for me is that they do not allow remote sql connectivity, so I'll need to upload large db changes via ftp. However support has told me they will aid in db import if I have trouble. Hostgator had flatly refused to upgrade PHP to 5.6. However Stablehost allows you to click and select which version in cPanel along with whatever extensions you select.
- By: Maelish
- 02/18/2016 09:39 am
In the next few weeks Find Gamers will be migrating to a new hosting provider. During a migration, unexpected delays and service interruptions sometime occur. So I felt the need to get the word out a little bit early and inform our members of the coming hiccup in service.
On migration day you won't be able to reach the login page. This means you won't be able to log-in, sign-up or recover your passwords during the migration period until it is complete. If we're lucky it will take less than 24 hours. The biggest bump in the road is DNS Propagation, it is the one hitch that can push us out to, or past that 24 hour limit.
Before migration starts, there will be a big bold red letter notice near the top of the main page.
I imagine some of you are wondering why we're migrating to a new provider. There are several reasons.
- I want to provide better SSL to our members, meaning better and more secure https connections.
- The new hosting company responds to technical issues within hours and does not take a full week to respond. This is a HUGE issue.
- Costs for providing you this free service will be easier on my wallet. Many of you are scratching your heads because you've noticed ads on some pages. Sadly, the money generated by those ads over the past few months wouldn't pay for a month of service, much less a year.
Find Gamers is a labor of love from a tabletop gamer who has been roleplaying and wargaming for about 30 years. I won't give up providing this great player finder service for our community anytime soon. I hope you'll share our site with everyone you know.
- By: Maelish
- 02/05/2016 08:49 am
I patched the site yesterday (2/4) to allow members to be logged in longer. Apparently it worked great - until it didn't. Luckily only a very few people were affected by the weirdness, I blame the Geek Zombie.
I've figured out what happened and I'm testing a fix with only myself as the guinea pig. In the meantime, the extended login times are turned off. When the bug is completely fixed, this news article will either be updated or disappear. Either way you'll know it has been fixed.
The good news is that once I make sure it works as designed, you'll be able to stay logged-in for days instead of hours. Why am I doing this at all? That is an easy answer, it is because some of our members asked for it. I love adding new features for you guys. The peculiar thing is that our early adopters, meaning the first 500 members, were very vocal about adding features and more games & genres. I'm surprised with so many more members that the requests for new things has really slowed down. So remember that Find Gamers is still interested in doing more for it's members. If you have a good idea, you just have to ask.
Update 2/5 6:00 pm
There was another bug keeping everyone from reading their email. Yes, it was related to the earlier patch. It was fixed thanks to a quick note from member DukeofVandals. If you find that you cannot log in, delete the cookie called findgamers_user in your browser and you should be golden. If there are any more problems, send me feedback. Thanks guys!
Update 2/8 9:00 am
Everything now appears to be working correctly. Thanks for your patience guys. We are now live with extended log-ins. They only last 24 hours right now but will be extended when I'm sure they are still working right, probably by the end of this week.
- By: Maelish
- 01/19/2016 10:02 am
Apparently adding Kickstarter Events to Find Gamers was more than just a good idea. This morning someone forwarded me the January 14th article from Luke Crane over at the Kickstarter Blog. Let's just say I was pleasantly surprised by what I'd read there.
To quote from the article, "Tabletop games are definitely experiencing a major cultural moment." Based on the numbers in their blog entry, I can't agree more. Tabletop games beat the snot out of video games in every possible way during 2015. Total money pledged to tabletop games (88+ million dollars) was twice as large when compared to video games dollars. But the most surprising to me was the difference in successful funding. Tabletop gaming had more than 3.5 times the number of successfully funded projects than video games.
With that in mind, I'd like to remind our members to add your own tabletop gaming Kickstarters to Find Gamers. Just head to any of the Events pages and select I'd like to then Add an Event. Its also the right place to add your favorite upcoming convention as well.
Opinions & Ramblings
- By: Maelish
- 01/05/2016 11:43 am
Much to my surprise, Online Gaming is a very popular feature among our gaming throngs. As of today 20.9% of our registered users are interested in playing some type of tabletop gaming online. This suggests the folks who develop online gaming software and websites were pretty smart to do so. It also suggests a turning point for gaming overall and might in the very near future change the way roleplaying game systems are developed. I wouldn't be surprised if we see rules modifications or whole chapters devoted to modifying your favorite games for online play.
It's likely you've noticed that some board games and wargames are already ready for play online. For instance: Battletech is the #1 ranked wargame here at Find Gamers (49%) and there are already several turn based applications you can use to destroy your friends mechs online. Don't forget there are a slew of board games playable online as well, check the Board Games section on Steam if you don't believe me. I won't be surprised to see changes in other popular tabletop games within the next 10 years take advantage of the technology changes.
Changing the topic a bit - Over the Christmas holiday, I worked on a a few little things that should add up to a better user experience for all of us. There is now a friendly welcome message for new users delivered to your inbox during new member sign-up. New member information was cleaned up and clarified a bit in several locations. And of course there were lots of little bugs fixed around our site, most visibly a math bug in the Fantasy Coin Calculator.
But the most interesting update was the addition of Online Only as a location for Events. You can now add online conventions, sales & closeouts or web site events in general. You can even add your own Kickstarter Events to Find Gamers. If online events are popular, it'll get it's own search page in the future.