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Newgrounds: The System

2014-08-22 08:20:57 by EvilRaccoon

Hi everyone, as someone who is an artist, animator and composer, game developer with some web development history too I wanted to make a post about the system in place here.  The scoring system and other things and why they not only impact on you as a user but how it impacts on the progression and impression of this website, Newgrounds.  I am a fan of Newgrounds, and I would like to initially point out that I write this to help the website.  Not to bash it.


Newgrounds:  The System


Newgrounds scoring system by nature is created to define sorting, but the problem  when doing so therein lies that it also makes a representation of quality.  This by in no means reflects an average of how people have responded to a piece of creative work, no matter how much you argue for  it that it does.  The scoring system is a collation of people who vote fairly, people who are jealous, people who repeatedly vote, self voters and  people who randomly have never looked, watched or listened to your creative piece.  Yet even though these problems are recognised this is used as Newgrounds defining mechanic.  This is the ultimate sorting algorithm.


From a creative person's point of view it's a disaster that users are represented by an averaged digit on something which is subjectively likeable or not.  Not only that, but it condemns and chooses who has the better taste as the current system ranks opinions of people who have voted more than those who have voted less.  So those people who give consistent false scores randomly are the ones who are being empowered more as time goes on.


This is counterproductive to any artist, animator or composer who wants to be recognised. Newgrounds design should enthral and entice people to join.  But as a creative person being represented by a number which by no means reflects the likeability of a piece, in fact does the exact opposite.  With scores being represented as a reflection of the quality of a creative piece you can't externally link it and be taken seriously as a professional.  I once linked a professional in the industry to a creative piece I had here who I was skyping at the time and the first comment they made was at all the scores people had left, and the score I had received.  Whereas what I wanted to show was the creative piece, whether the feedback was good or bad, it showed me that people are seeing the numbers, and this is impacting on their opinion.  Art, animation and audio is certainly subjective, so therefore to have a system in place which can impose on a person's opinion and feedback, even on a subconscious level  is counterproductive. Even though Newgrounds represents itself through a fun, light hearted and attractive appearance the underlying mechanics which supports it should not deface it's usage.   Something like this is damaging to the users appearance and it is damaging to the websites integrity.

The scoring systems usage and dependency unfortunately is a reflection of a poor management and a poor thought out system.  It's taken Newgrounds long enough to realise how damaging their Flash only vector dependent system was, and now it struggles to pull in those who are diverse in other areas.  Such as 3D animation, stop motion animation, hybrid and experimental animation, those who didn't work in vector.  When Newgrounds was in its infancy the scoring system sorting worked due to the scope of content it had.  However, as the number of users and content over the years has increased the scoring system now cannot be used to sort and arrange the content and should not be used to represent their community.  Newgrounds should be showing off  their community. They should be proud of what people are producing, and I'm sure that they are, so therefore it makes no sense to damage them through misrepresentation. 


Users are aware of the abuse of the voting system.  Which is why you read multiple times a month in the forums 'you should ignore the scoring system'.  Making users question why it even exists.  For Newgrounds to progress they need to eradicate this website defining mechanic.  It's a must, to progress.  To be able to compare themselves to the likes of YouTube, Deviantart and Soundcloud they need to be on par with the sorting of the content.  As you can see, YouTube has a system of likes, and feedback statistics but they don't depend on it to sort their information.  The statistics show things such as when interest spikes and falls, and other vital information to expand and be recognised.  If Newgrounds want to really push to their level, they should consider pushing to a system which doesn't average out a score and defines that content by using a score to sort itself.  It could split into likes, like SoundCloud, and YouTube (and if it chooses dislikes), but this should only be used as an additional feature not to sort content, and best to be login available only once per user.  This information is much more usable and helpful to a creator and isn't damaging.  We can see straight away what independent users like and what they don't like as much.  Therefore if they choose so they can strive to improve and produce to what the community enjoys.  These sort of statistics and mechanisms are vital for a creative community to bounce off each other, to see what works and what doesn't. 


The scoring system defines popularity right now, but it shouldn't.  What it should be defined by is quality of content, popularity and sharing and although the scoring system was defined to be that gauge of quality for reasons above it does not do so.  So if it doesn't do its job, then the website needs to use a system which does.  Newgrounds compares itself to Youtube, but they don't look at it from a sorting solution.  Only in content.  With all three Art, Animation and Audio the website should be looking at the sorting of Youtube, Deviantart and Soundcloud.  See how these websites sort the content and see how they pull in flocks of new users every day.  See how they empower users and don't discriminate with things like voting power, progressive avatar status and scouting.  These are things that put Newgrounds users down, and makes them a lesser member than everyone else already in the community.


Newgrounds should also partner up with social media too.  Like SoundCloud and Youtube so playability can be imbedded on Facebook.  Whether you like social media or not it's arguably the best way to increase awareness of the existence of Newgrounds on the internet.  With all three under the websites belt, (Animation, Art and Audio) every click to youtube, soundcloud or deviantart could be a potential click to Newgrounds.  Creative people are given more variety at Newgrounds than at any of the other three and sign up is really easy.  So the question therefore lies in why hasn't the website pushed in Social Media? Why hasn't it jumped straight at this knowing that it can make so much more money, and use that cash to feedback into its website and expand? Why did it stagnate so much?


Newgrounds is indeed successful, but sometimes I'm left wondering do they know how they should progress with the website?  Are they happy and proud that art is sorted by votes and therefore pornographic art has risen to the top of the portal because young adolescent males are hitting 5?  They should be asking themselves, why Deviant art, (which has adult art in it) not flooded by it and ruled by it?  And it's simple, it's because they don't depend on the voting algorithm to sort their content.   We see countless changes to the Animation area, to the Audio area, but the same destructive defining mechanic is depended on.  A poor algorithm which mathematically tries to define a sorting of something subjective.  My solution may sound like "Do what they are doing."  But it's not just that.  Through a massive amount of costly research Youtube,Soundcloud and deviantart has defined itself knowing what works and what doesn't.  You'll never see them implement a scoring system, they define themselves with searches in similarity types of  such as suggestions.  They don't discriminate against users, but give the ability for memberships and to go pro.  Giving more usage than just taking adverts away.  Newgrounds has the opportunity to expand and hit that next level of popularity, but until they realise their website defining design is flawed and should be thrown away they won't be able to.  Like before they need to envision that next stage of evolvement look at profile websites like Facebook, Video websites like Youtube, Art websites like Deviantart and sound websites like SoundCloud and think, how can they bring all these elements that work together to make Newgrounds take storm amongst the creative populous on the internet that it should have years ago.  Like the rest of the internet Newgrounds needs to mature but in no means does this ever have to detract from the face, aesthetics, fun and vibrant community that drives its current existence.  It has the agility, skills and ability to maintain their appearance and status but rid of the problems that hold them back and push forward to be a bigger and better website.


All the best to you all!

If you got this far, thanks for reading!  Feel free if you want to share this.  Maybe it can make an impact, or maybe it will get lost in the sea of information. Who knows?



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2014-08-22 09:40:34

If only I could upvote this.
You forgot a small thing:Kongregate and ArmorGames are also competitors,not only Youtube,Deviantart and Soundcloud,because they feature flash games just like Newgrounds,they also offer sponsorship to the talented game devs,and sometimes they pay to get exclusive games (games that get to other websites YEARS after their initial release).
Neither Armor nor Kong is relying on voting,Newgrounds needs another way to determine experience and voting power.

(Updated ) EvilRaccoon responds:

Absolutely! Newgrounds should be supporting these developers. and things like the Unity3D Webplayer.


2014-08-22 13:01:56

The reason I upload music here where people can download the stuff for free is because I’m putting “Stock” per say that this website will be better. I’m on board to what Tom Fulp plans to do with it, but this place is not quite there yet. Trying not to be near sighted, and I can only hope that the developers here won’t become content nor lazy.
Good post.
This is key here: “With scores being represented as a reflection of the quality of a creative piece you can't externally link it and be taken seriously as a professional.”

EvilRaccoon responds:

Yeah! We can only hope. Thanks for reading.


2014-08-22 23:30:39

I mean... yeah.

I don't see how the scoring system can have any credibility when you are allowed to vote multiple times on your own work. I was visibly shocked when I realized that this was possible. That's just the tip of the iceberg too. It's just not a very fair or helpful system. I've started putting absolutely zero stock in the rating of anyone's music. Actual reviews are a far better indication of the quality of a track. So what's the point of the rating system for me or anyone who feels the same?

You see tons of people making suggestions. "Put more weight in the actual review scores for sorting". "Make votes public". "Make reviews mandatory to vote". I honestly can't see the downside to any of these suggestions at this point.

EvilRaccoon responds:

Yeah. Totally agree, I think many of us would like to see NG's step into that direction.


2014-08-23 09:04:54

The Art portal scouting system gets on my nerves, I can't call myself an artist just yet but I like to do it
and getting reviews from other people on MY work is the best feeling even its bad or good feedback, but if you are not scouted (in the system) your art can be seen only on your user page.

EvilRaccoon responds:

Yeah, absolutely. And this is example of the voting and scoring system not working. You have joined, you have art to show off, but you can't be found until someone deems you of worthy. It's not a good way to entice you to stay at the website. So the mechanic isn't serving it's purpose.


2014-08-23 14:04:25

NG is always the solo type of community. Once in a while the staff would ask everyone if we want to 'sellout' like Kongregate did. What they meant was to became mainstream like Miniclip or ArmorGame. Unfortunately majority of us voted against it, so did I. We have had heated arguments about this so many times. However, it took me long times to realize the counterproductive side of staying solo.

NG always have this perspective of mainstream communities are boring and unoriginal. Unfortunately, we have become an endless cycle of circlejerks. We praise ourselves. We hate ourselves. All happening in the circle. And we used to it so much that majority of us will become asshat apologists nonstop defending the wrongs and hiding the rights.

And of course, my conclusion is, these are the reasons why NG took super long time to push a change onto something that we all knew it was broken. The older we are, the more stubborn we become. Afraid of changes, because the fear of changes will break something. NG traffic is declining. Popular people are leaving the community. We fear that changes will cause more people to leave.

I definitely think NG partners up with Youtube or Facebook will save us a lot more than just the Audio Portal. We need life saving's actions.


2015-02-13 09:20:05

Nice comments Peter. As a newbie and wannabe artist, creative designer, idealist animator, mature yet back to school student studying a degree in Illustration & Concept Art, it is hard not to reflect/react (positive or negative) on the scores that one is given.
That being said from your experience how would you rate my recent publication? Understanding that few care or even understand the work that is put in.

I'm not being too self centred here but I would value your opinion, someone who has taken time to write this article.