At the time Mapraider was developed most map catalog sites only asked for a couple of details, such as the map name and description along with a file upload. For the most part, this hasn't changed much.
Mapraider, on the other hand, demands a lot from people submitting maps. The site asks for a myriad of informational bits about the map: basic and extended information, screenshots, alternate download locations, links to other pages about the map... It can be daunting (trust me, I know because I've submitted thousands of maps to the system myself), but collecting this information makes Mapraider's database unique and allows for some powerful searching and filtering.
I originally thought that splitting the submission process into three steps: info, screenshots and review would alleviate the dreaded "form overload." Although this makes it a bit slow and clunky, to some degree it does help and the system seems to work okay.
That was at least until I realized that map packs don't fit neatly into the submission process, or even the site itself (which I previously talked about in my post "Re-evaluating the Database: Map Packs"). Obviously the map submission system needed an overhaul, and I would discover that it wasnt going to come easy.
In analyzing the current submission system, there were a number of things that I felt needed attention, but a few were the most obvious:
- Too much text and information displayed at once, throughout the entire process
- The 3-step, 3-page, 4+ server round trip process is way too slow
- Uploading one screenshot at a time sucks
- The non-integrated file upload causes administrators a lot of headaches (file never uploaded by user, requires java, no archive validation)
- Map pack submission simply doesn't make sense and is incomplete
Not to sound cliché, but Mapraider 2.0 addresses all of these issues and more. Thanks to a little inspiration from StoneViper, the submission process has been significantly streamlined.
Some of the information originally requiring manual entry will now be automatically retrieved. For example, the filesize of the archive, the file hash for P2P sharing, and testing of the archive to make sure it isn't corrupt are all derived from the required file upload.
And because a majority of the submissions today don't include the optional data such as external links, additional mirrors or private beta testers, prompts for these items are now only displayed when the user indicates that they want to provide them.
The entire process has been streamlined into almost a single submission page with a few, well-utilized dialogs where it makes sense. In its default state (with just the basic, required information presented), the prototype for the submission page is less than half the height of the original Mapraider submission page, making it feel much less overwhelming.
It is a very cool change and I hope that it works well. Testing and time will tell.
With the submission process itself out of the way, there's really only one thing on my map submissions wish list open to debate:
Should map submissions be completely open, or should you be required to be logged into your Mapraider account?
As with all of the changes to Mapraider, my quest has been to make the site easier to use and more condusive to participation from the thousands of people who just come to the site and download. I've toyed around with the idea of opening up map submissions for a long time now, but my gut tells me that it'd be better to keep it closed to members only or the site's approval system will become inundated with spammers trying to submit advertisements into the database.
For now, I'm going with my gut, but feel free to let me know what you think.
Comments ported from original blog:
At 8:29 PM, Doug said…
My first reaction on opening up the submissions was the same - you're begging for a spamming script. Signing up for a Mapraider account really isn't that arduous, and you want to keep some kind of accountability built into the process.
Unless you're *looking* for new sources of zipped porn.
At 11:05 AM, John said…
lol - indeed.
You're right, signing up isn't difficult, but there are definitely authors out there not doing so -- which is why one of my few remaining tasks in the redesign is to make sure the site does a better job of attracting authors
At 11:41 AM, Doug said…
Maybe you need to offer zipped porn.