GameBanana Icon GB Article

The Art of Being Helpful - Your way to EF land (Part II)

Hey, you! We are one of the oldest mod sites on the Interwebs. Sign up and maximize your browsing experience.

  • Subscribe: Get notified of new submissions like this.
  • Say Thanks: Show your appreciation by sending will2k points.
  • Post: Give will2k your thoughts on this Article.
  • Watch: Get notified when this Article is updated.
Mascot

Interested?

Join GameBanana

Already a Bananite? Login

Part II (continued from part I)

III – Being Helpful leads to EFs

Now that I showed you how to be helpful in a general sense, how about we move on to what really matters to you: being helpful on GB and getting those sought-after EFs.

The first thing that you need to do is gauge your areas of expertise and your corresponding level of knowledge. Ask yourself the essential questions: what am I good at, and how good am I?

Before helping others, you need to help yourself (ironic, isn’t it?) by knowing what areas of expertise you are most comfortable with and you are most likely to deliver useful help (“selectivity” criterion mentioned earlier).

If you are a level designer/mapper, your best place to hang out would be the maps section and maps-specific part of the forums. A skinner would find it more convenient to linger in the skins section and forum. This does not mean that other sections are off-limits to you, but you should focus your helping efforts in the sections most relevant to your background and expertise. And the G-Man will have to forgive me for modifying his quote that holds true in this situation: the right man in the right place can make all the difference.

The more knowledge you have on a subject, the higher the chances are of being helpful. You should focus on an area of expertise and try to maximize your knowledge of it, by reading various tutorials and experimenting first hand with it. The more you master your subject, the more confident and helpful you become; you have higher chances of getting EFs if you are an expert in mapping (or skinning, texturing,…) than if you are a jack-of-all-trades, knowing a bit of mapping, modeling, skinning, scripting and what not. This is not to say that you should not strive to learn more disciplines; on the contrary, acquiring those is recommended but you need to have 1 area of expertise that is mastered.

Whenever you are reviewing a submission (map, skin, model…), you need to be genuine and show enthusiasm in what you write. Remember the fakeness discussed earlier? It will easily show here if you are writing just for the sake of EF (which you won’t get by the way). The submission owner needs to feel your passion and authentic concern about his submission in what you are writing, regardless if this submission is a 1/10 or a perfect 10. He needs to feel that you are on his side, that you understand the problems he faced and want to improve the submission as much as he does (“empathy and understanding” criterion). Show him what you liked/disliked, justify your choices and give him alternatives to improve his work; remember, you need to be genuinely helpful, and for this to work out well, you need to dive into the details (“personalization” criterion).

The worst thing that you can do in an evaluation is to be generic and vague, and to slap almost the same assessment in all the submissions you bump into and review.

Let us consider the following review of a map:

  • Good lighting
  • Good gameplay
  • Good textures
  • Good atmosphere
  • Bad optimization

This is way too generic and quite unhelpful, and will not get you any EF (even if you write down a foot-long wall of text). Another example consists of the following:

  • I don’t like the lighting, it’s too bright
  • The gameplay is boring but that’s OK
  • The textures fit well but can be improved
  • The map has low fps, try to optimize it a bit
  • The music is loud; maybe you can lower it a bit?

Although this feedback/review appears to be more helpful than the first one, in reality, it is not. It is actually worse; not only is it generic, it is also indifferent (gameplay) and indecisive (music).

Do not be afraid to go into specifics about the map as this is the only way to be helpful and genuine about it. Let’s rewrite the above reviews with details pertaining to the map we are reviewing:

  • The lighting (especially around bombsite A) is a bit on the bright side. The bright projectors, coupled with HDR, are too blinding for players coming down the narrow hallway. This can create an unfair advantage for the CTs who will be camping in that spot. Consider lowering the brightness or changing light direction.
  • The gameplay is nicely balanced but the multitude of connecting hallways take away from the action, and can prove tedious and repetitive for players to travel them round after round. You may want to shorten the distances for the ones connecting bombsites and completely eliminate the one in the middle.
  • The textures are well chosen and implemented further improving the overall appearance of the level. I especially liked the wall textures around “T” spawn.
  • The map suffers from fps drops near the middle area. This area is missing areaportals to separate it from other areas and to reduce engine rendering and overhead. It would be wise to add 2 areaportals on each side of the courtyard.
  • The music is way too loud for a smooth gameplay; you may want to remove it or replace it with another track that is less loud and irritating.

This feedback is clearly much better and is specific enough to warrant an EF. I don’t know about you, but I’d be happy and satisfied if someone gave me this honest and helpful assessment. You can clearly see that the review went into intimate specifics about the map and was very personalized for this submission. You can sense that the reviewer is genuinely concerned about the submission and really wants to help improve it.

However, going into details and specifics has two pitfalls that you should avoid at all costs: you should never sound patronizing, and should always remember that you are here to help and not brag. When writing a detailed review, you could easily get carried away and start writing with an air of superiority and act like “Mr. Know-it-all that is never wrong”; this defeats the purpose of the review and the help offered in the first place.

I can see a question looming in the horizon of your minds right now (The Mentalist, anyone?): You want us to go into details, to offer specific solutions and be decisive but without being patronizing? Exactly.

But isn’t it contradictory? Not at all.

Remember what I told you earlier that being helpful is all about being graceful and tactful. You need to be assertive in your help but at the same time, you need to let the person you are helping feel that he is part of the solution, and not feel that the solution is being forcefully imposed upon him.

How can this be achieved? By using the correct terminology and the selected choice of words. Going back to the revised review I wrote, you may have noticed the choice of words that I used:

“You may want to”, “it would be wise to” and “consider” are the syntaxes I used. I practically gave the solution in a very clear and specific way but I did not force the submission owner to use it, at least, not in a coercive way; I left the final decision at his discretion. Believe it or not, people are more likely to accept and implement your help when they feel they are part of it, rather than practically ordering them to execute the suggested changes.

The second pitfall to avoid is getting repetitive and boring in your review. I see many members on GB trying their best to be helpful by writing long posts full of repetition. While a long post might be an EF candidate, it does not guarantee that you will get one; do not confuse helpful with long, repetitive and boring.

You need to go into specifics but in a clear and concise way. Filling in long paragraphs of repetition and jibber-jabber won’t get you anywhere (and certainly not to EF land).

Consider this example about optimization in the review:

“The map has low fps which can kill the gameplay. FPS was dropping which is making the map lag. Players are lagging while playing your map and they are not happy. People on my server don’t like the map because it lags. The fps is very low, it is affecting gameplay. Please optimize your map more so we don’t have lag. Optimize it more to have better fps and better gameplay. Maybe put some hints and areaportals to have better fps so the map won’t lag. I must say the map is good but fps is not which is affecting my gameplay.”

That was horribly boring, mind-numbing and unhelpful to say the least. Now imagine if we write similar paragraphs for lighting, texturing, sounds, gameplay, details, and we will end up with a huge review that will stretch the boundaries of GB (literally). The reviewer will be eagerly waiting to receive his EF that, sadly, will never come. I, and fellow staff members, will not award such post with an EF, much to the unhappiness of the reviewer/post submitter, who wrongfully thought he was being helpful.

When you are offering help and replying to a forum thread, take your time to read the question not once, but twice and even thrice (“reflective listening” criterion). Put yourself in the shoes of the person asking for help and try to understand his motives. Do not jump straight into replying using the first idea that comes across your mind. When you let the question sink into your head, you’ll be able to read between the lines and offer useful, targeted help.

In some occasions, you might need to read about the issue you’re trying to help with, and even experiment with it before offering your reply. You might be positively surprised by the amount of learning and the help you’ll be offering to yourself before the person you’re attempting to help.

On several occasions, I found myself reading further articles about certain issues in level design and I even made several test maps to experiment with concepts to check if they work, before going back to the thread and submitting my full reply to help the original poster. You will be helping someone with his problem and you’ll be learning something new along the way; this is a win-win situation at its best.

In further elaboration on the “personalization” criterion, always remember to keep the person you are trying to help in perspective; craft your tailor-made reply accordingly.

If the person needing help is a beginner, then there is no use in going full technical jargon on him; it will further confuse him rather than help. Use simple words that he can understand, and keep your technical prowess for advanced members that can easily keep up with what you are suggesting.

And this brings me to another important issue when you are trying to help: paragraph formatting and punctuation. As you might have noticed, the example I gave earlier about repetitiveness was tiresome; similarly, a badly formatted reply can prove even more tedious and unhelpful for the reader (regardless of your good intentions).

Let’s have a look at the following paragraph (I used the traditional “lorem ipsum” text found in Microsoft Office templates because I need you to focus on the paragraph formatting and not be distracted by the content):

“Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet consectetuer adipiscing elit sed diam nonummy nibh euismod tincidunt ut laoreet dolore magna aliquam erat volutpat. Ut wisi enim ad minim veniam Duis autem vel eum iriure dolor in hendrerit in vulputate velit esse molestie consequat vel illum dolore eu feugiat nulla facilisis at vero et accumsan et iusto odio dignissim. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet consectetuer adipiscing elit sed diam nonummy nibh euismod tincidunt ut laoreet dolore magna aliquam erat ad minim veniam quis nostrud volutpat.”

As you are reading this paragraph, your eyes and brain start losing coordination and that’s pretty normal since the human eye needs defining patterns to stay in focus, otherwise, it will wander freely and lose concentration.

I am sure that after reading several paragraphs like the one above, your eyes will become stressed and you will find yourself cursing in several languages you never knew you could speak before. Obviously, the helpful element of the content is negated and greatly outweighed by the poor formatting of the paragraphs. Let’s rewrite the reply with proper indenting, punctuation and line breaks:

“Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit, sed diam nonummy nibh euismod tincidunt ut laoreet dolore magna aliquam erat volutpat. Ut wisi enim ad minim veniam.

Duis autem vel eum iriure dolor in hendrerit in vulputate velit esse molestie consequat, vel illum dolore eu feugiat nulla facilisis at vero et accumsan et iusto odio dignissim.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit, sed diam nonummy nibh euismod tincidunt ut laoreet dolore magna aliquam erat ad minim veniam, quis nostrud volutpat.”


You have to admit that it looks much better now and is easier to track and read. The person asking for help will actually appreciate your assistance as well as the ease of access with which you provided help. And to tell you a secret, moderators and administrators will also appreciate your clear and structured reply since they have to read it too before deciding its EF worthiness.

Lastly, don’t forget the “politeness/friendliness” criterion; people are more likely to accept help from and listen to people who are friendly and polite, rather than rude and abusive. As I mentioned before, use words and syntaxes that show courtesy and empathy such as “you may want to”, “it would be better to”, “please consider”, “I don’t recommend”, “you could do this, however…”, “granted that you can do this, but…” and other similar arrangements.

No matter how low-quality a submission is (skin recolor or full-bright rectangle map) or how irrelevant a question is, you need to refrain from being unconstructive, rude and abusive if you ever wish to be helpful and get EFs.

I, and fellow staff members, are constantly on the hunt for abusive and unconstructive posts to trash and remove them from GB. Feedback such as “this map sucks”, “this map is crap”, “ultimate fail, go hang yourself”, “noob, go learn something first”, “you should be ashamed of yourself” and the likes should be omitted from your GB dictionary. Not only they won’t get you EFs, they might get you into trouble of being gagged or banned for breaking site rules (section 1.2).

IV – Conclusion

If you are the helpful type of person in real life, then being the same on GB will be a breeze and a nice walk in the park. However, if you are not, then following the approach I illustrated in this article will surely get you closer to being really helpful, and earning the corresponding reward of EFs.

As with any systematic approach, you need to keep practicing until the art of being helpful becomes second nature and you won’t resort back to your old ways.

I hope that I have given you a good and helpful read, and that you, in return, will give other members on GB an interesting and useful read of their own.

Will2k

January 26, 2013

Posts

  • 4y
    pRopaaNS avatar
    pRopaaNS Offline
    Member Joined 10y
    3,409 points Ranked 1340th
    11 medals 1 rare
    • 6 years a member Medal icon
    • One month a member Medal icon
    • 6 months a member Medal icon
    • 1 year a member Medal icon
    • 2 years a member Medal icon
    • 4 years a member Medal icon
    Can't eat EF...

    Anyway my problem is... Like this. I feel like I write rude things based on my personal opinion. And when I give feedback, I often say too much criticism and feel a bit like a rude jerk anyway. - But I don't care about that, if I wanna give feedback on something, I will give it regardless. :D
    Bananite
  • 4y
    will2k avatar
    will2k avatar Offline
    Super Moderator Joined 6y
    29,619 points Ranked 146th
    30 medals 2 legendary 7 rare
    • 1st Place - Tutorials Contest Medal icon
    • 500 posts awarded Exemplary Feedback Medal icon
    • 50 posts awarded Exemplary Feedback Medal icon
    • 100 posts awarded Exemplary Feedback Medal icon
    • 200 posts awarded Exemplary Feedback Medal icon
    • Achieved Super Moderator clearance Medal icon
    will2k avatar
    will2k
    Map Critic
    > **Posted by captain0terror**

    > Thank you for this!
    >
    > This clears up all my question about EF, and provided me helpful insight on giving feedback in the future! I mean it's quite long and i admit i skimmed a bit, but anyone who reads this is 100% guaranteed to give more useful/pertinent comments. Well done sir! =)

    Thanks :)
    cosa dici! avatar
    Mantra
    cosa dici!
  • 4y
    captain0terror avatar
    Member Joined 6y
    2,639 points Ranked 1706th
    14 medals 1 legendary
    • 1st Place - Tutorial Contest Medal icon
    • Junkyard Mapping Contest Entrant Medal icon
    • Kepler-22b Mapping Contest Entrant Medal icon
    • Secret Society Mapping Contest Entrant Medal icon
    • GameBanana/CEVO CSGO Mapping Contest 2014 Entrant Medal icon
    • Reached 1,000 Points Medal icon
    Thank you for this!

    This clears up all my question about EF, and provided me helpful insight on giving feedback in the future! I mean it's quite long and i admit i skimmed a bit, but anyone who reads this is 100% guaranteed to give more useful/pertinent comments. Well done sir! =)
    Bananite
  • 4y
    Clener74 avatar
    Clener74 avatar Turned off.
    Pyro-Zone Flag Affiliation: Pyro-Zone
    Member Joined 5y
    55,760 points Ranked 66th
    28 medals 6 rare
    • 50 posts awarded Exemplary Feedback Medal icon
    • 100 posts awarded Exemplary Feedback Medal icon
    • 200 posts awarded Exemplary Feedback Medal icon
    • Returned 1000 times Medal icon
    • Reached 50 subscribers Medal icon
    • 8-14 Entries! GameBanana’s Christmas Giveaway 2016 Medal icon
    Clener74 avatar
    Clener74
    Pyro-Zone Flag
    Pyro-Zone
    Bug Journalist
    > **Posted by will2k**

    > > **Posted by Hermit.**
    >
    > > I have a question also,if I use everytime the same structure to give feedback,would that be bad?
    > >
    >
    > Having a predefined paragraph structure is OK, although I recommend having a bit of variation from time to time to break the monotony. You don't want to sound like a robot in your posts by having the exact same format and layout.
    >
    > What you should not do is have the same paragraph content and the exact sentences/structures in all your posts (just as I mentioned in the article).
    >
    > And lastly, as I clearly explained in the article, avoid being repetitive in your reviews: mention your idea one time in a clear sentence and you should be fine without the need for repetition and long posts/reviews ;)

    Thank you
    I ain't giving you a dollar. avatar
    Mantra
    I ain't giving you a dollar.
  • 4y
    will2k avatar
    will2k avatar Offline
    Super Moderator Joined 6y
    29,619 points Ranked 146th
    30 medals 2 legendary 7 rare
    • 1st Place - Tutorials Contest Medal icon
    • 500 posts awarded Exemplary Feedback Medal icon
    • 50 posts awarded Exemplary Feedback Medal icon
    • 100 posts awarded Exemplary Feedback Medal icon
    • 200 posts awarded Exemplary Feedback Medal icon
    • Achieved Super Moderator clearance Medal icon
    will2k avatar
    will2k
    Map Critic
    > **Posted by Hermit.**

    > I have a question also,if I use everytime the same structure to give feedback,would that be bad?
    >

    Having a predefined paragraph structure is OK, although I recommend having a bit of variation from time to time to break the monotony. You don't want to sound like a robot in your posts by having the exact same format and layout.

    What you should not do is have the same paragraph content and the exact sentences/structures in all your posts (just as I mentioned in the article).

    And lastly, as I clearly explained in the article, avoid being repetitive in your reviews: mention your idea one time in a clear sentence and you should be fine without the need for repetition and long posts/reviews ;)
    cosa dici! avatar
    Mantra
    cosa dici!
  • 4y
    Clener74 avatar
    Clener74 avatar Turned off.
    Pyro-Zone Flag Affiliation: Pyro-Zone
    Member Joined 5y
    55,760 points Ranked 66th
    28 medals 6 rare
    • 50 posts awarded Exemplary Feedback Medal icon
    • 100 posts awarded Exemplary Feedback Medal icon
    • 200 posts awarded Exemplary Feedback Medal icon
    • Returned 1000 times Medal icon
    • Reached 50 subscribers Medal icon
    • 8-14 Entries! GameBanana’s Christmas Giveaway 2016 Medal icon
    Clener74 avatar
    Clener74
    Pyro-Zone Flag
    Pyro-Zone
    Bug Journalist
    Thank you very much,in a pretty serious way this helped me a lot.

    I have a question also,if I use everytime the same structure to give feedback,would that be bad?

    It's because there's only one form to post that I can handle well :(
    I ain't giving you a dollar. avatar
    Mantra
    I ain't giving you a dollar.
  • 4y
    will2k avatar
    will2k avatar Offline
    Super Moderator Joined 6y
    29,619 points Ranked 146th
    30 medals 2 legendary 7 rare
    • 1st Place - Tutorials Contest Medal icon
    • 500 posts awarded Exemplary Feedback Medal icon
    • 50 posts awarded Exemplary Feedback Medal icon
    • 100 posts awarded Exemplary Feedback Medal icon
    • 200 posts awarded Exemplary Feedback Medal icon
    • Achieved Super Moderator clearance Medal icon
    will2k avatar
    will2k
    Map Critic
    > **Posted by USF|Jack**

    > EF granted for this :P
    >
    > Really nice written, detailed and helpful article. :)

    Given the length of this article, I'd say I should be granted 15 EFs (negotiable) lol :p

    And thanks for dropping by and commenting :)
    cosa dici! avatar
    Mantra
    cosa dici!
  • 4y
    USF|Jack avatar
    USF|Jack Offline
    Member Joined 6y
    2,445 points Ranked 1870th
    EF granted for this :P

    Really nice written, detailed and helpful article. :)
    Savvy?

Share

Shareable Image:
Share banner
HTML embed code:
BB embed code:
Markdown embed code:

More embeddable images

Bookmark and Share

Submitter

will2k avatar
will2k avatar Offline
Super Moderator Joined 6y
29,619 points Ranked 146th
30 medals 2 legendary 7 rare
  • 1st Place - Tutorials Contest Medal icon
  • 500 posts awarded Exemplary Feedback Medal icon
  • 50 posts awarded Exemplary Feedback Medal icon
  • 100 posts awarded Exemplary Feedback Medal icon
  • 200 posts awarded Exemplary Feedback Medal icon
  • Achieved Super Moderator clearance Medal icon

will2k avatar
will2k
Send a Private Message to the submitter

Category

Stats

Posts
8
Views
4,419
Date Added
4y
Date Modified
10mo