Guide to the Gamers' Hangout


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Barney T.

After some frank discussion among senior staff, we have decided to change the rules a bit, related to discussion of leaked games. As long as there are no postings of links or how / where to download these games, we will allow talk about them in these forums. Please be advised that the gaming mods will be watching closely, so please limit the discussions to the games, and not how to obtain them!

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  • 1 year later...
Yusuf M.

This is intended to supplement Neobond's announcement.

 

The upgrade to IP.Board 3.2 came with new features and functionality. One of them is the ability to tag topics with keywords that can be used to find other topics with the same keywords. Neobond has created a topic here about the proper usage of tags so please take a look at that if you haven't done so already.

 

In order to make things simpler and more efficient, I've come up with a relatively easy-to-follow "template" for tagging topics in the Gamers' Hangout: [official] [genre] [game] [developer] [platform 1] [platform 2] [platform 3] (without brackets).

 

Here's an example:

 

http://www.neowin.ne...-official-rage/

 

The following tags were used in the example linked above: official, fps, rage, id software, pc, xbox 360, ps3

 

Be sure to check off the box that says "Use first tag as prefix". This will show a tag in front of the topic in the forum index.

 

Tags should be used as they fit. If a thread is about a game that's exclusive to the Xbox 360, then it obviously shouldn't have a PC or PS3 tag. Also, you may be inclined to using other tags like "psn" or "xbox live" so feel free to do so.

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  • 2 years later...
Andrew

Update
 
 
- New Gamers' Hangout Policy
 

 

gigapixels said:

Much discussion has been made amongst the staff lately on the topic of the Gamers' Hangout. Frankly, there is far too much childish bickering and flaming and not enough intelligent discussion. It seems as though regular warnings do not help, and therefore we have decided to implement a new zero-tolerance policy.

The fact of the matter is that we want Neowin to be a friendly, fun place for all of you to discuss what you'd like and speak your mind. However, the anonymity you are presented with while being on the internet does not excuse you of being polite and using basic etiquette when participating in these discussions, at least not on Neowin.

At the end of last year, the staff used a swift and effective method of restricting various users who were seen to be causing the most problems. It was very effective for quite a while, and still has some lasting effect, but there has yet to be an end in sight to these issues. This time around, we are giving you fair warning. We are hoping that being open with any forthcoming moderation will help to prevent more issues. We are also going to be more strict on what is "warnable" behavior.

So, from now on, please follow these guidelines:

  • Do not flame any member directly or indirectly, no matter how right or wrong you believe that member to be.
  • If somebody does flame you, report it. Do not reply to it in any way. Feeding the flames does not help, and can result in disciplinary actions taken toward you as well as the member that flamed you.
  • Trolling will be moderated just as heavily as flaming. Trolling on a certain company or console will not be tolerated at all. Jumping in a thread just to say, "Microsoft sucks!" or, "Sony sucks!" etc., will result in disciplinary actions taken against you. Trolling simply creates a more hostile atmosphere and will almost always result in flaming and arguments.
  • Do not respond to trolling. You should simply report any post you believe to be trolling. Responding to any trolling posts also can result in disciplinary actions taken toward you as well as the member who was trolling to begin with.
  • Do not call out another member by name in a negative fashion. Even if you just want to say, "I told you so" to somebody specifically, do not do it. This sort of behavior can and will cause a snowball effect of flaming and simply cannot be tolerated.
  • Do not respond to somebody that has called you out by name. Report the post and be done with it. Responding to such a post can result in disciplinary action against you as well as the member you reported.
  • If a thread has simply degraded into a full-blown argument rather than a debate (read: unsubstantiated attacks against other members rather than a calm discussion between members with different viewpoints), do not participate. Even if you want to tell those participating in the argument to stop, do not do it. Responding in any way to argumentative posts will only make it worse, and, once again, may result in disciplinary actions taken toward you as well. Leave the argument alone and simply report it.
  • If you're trying to debate with somebody that seems to have an opinion based on skewed or even completely incorrect information, just let it go. You don't always need to be found correct, and you won't always be agreed with by everybody. Frankly, that will never happen, especially in such a large community like we have here at Neowin. People have different viewpoints on all matters, no matter what the facts really are.
If you are caught infringing upon these guidelines, disciplinary actions will be taken, resulting in a warning and, in many cases, a restriction from Gamers' Hangout for a certain period as determined by the staff at that time. Repeat offenders will eventually be restricted from Gamers' Hangout indefinitely.

I, as well as the rest of the staff, will be monitoring and moderating Gamers' Hangout as much as possible, keeping this new policy in mind. Do not misunderstand us -- we do not want to be too strict, but we cannot have the behavior we have been seeing if we want to have an open, friendly, and fun community.

I've said it before: we're gamers, so we know how to have fun. Try to keep that fun-loving attitude when posting on Neowin.

 

 
 
- Discussion of Leaked Games
 

Barney T. said:

After some frank discussion among senior staff, we have decided to change the rules a bit, related to discussion of leaked games. As long as there are no postings of links or how / where to download these games, we will allow talk about them in these forums. Please be advised that the gaming mods will be watching closely, so please limit the discussions to the games, and not how to obtain them!

 
As with the discussion of leaked games, Neowin also permits the discussion of mods in the same vein as Apple jailbreaking, Android rooting and hackintosh builds. This does not change our stance on piracy and asking for or sharing links to copyright protected material is against the community rules.
 
 
- Guide to tagging topics in the Gamers' Hangout
 

Yusuf M. said:

This is intended to supplement Neobond's announcement.

The upgrade to IP.Board 3.2 came with new features and functionality. One of them is the ability to tag topics with keywords that can be used to find other topics with the same keywords. Neobond has created a topic here about the proper usage of tags so please take a look at that if you haven't done so already.

In order to make things simpler and more efficient, I've come up with a relatively easy-to-follow "template" for tagging topics in the Gamers' Hangout: [official] [genre] [game] [developer] [platform 1] [platform 2] [platform 3] (without brackets).

Here's an example:
http://www.neowin.ne...-official-rage/

The following tags were used in the example linked above: official, fps, rage, id software, pc, xbox 360, ps3

Be sure to check off the box that says "Use first tag as prefix". This will show a tag in front of the topic in the forum index (as shown below).

Tags should be used as they fit. If a thread is about a game that's exclusive to the Xbox 360, then it obviously shouldn't have a PC or PS3 tag. Also, you may be inclined to using other tags like "psn" or "xbox live" so feel free to do so.

 
In the last few months I have tried to consolidate the most frequently used tags used in the Gamers' Hangout to provide easier searching for related news and topics. This will be an ongoing effort as always, but you can do your part to help by following Yusuf's guide and some of my own extra pointers. I have noticed some members will tag topics with [Xbox] [One] for example. The [Xbox] tag is relevant but would shotgun a large variety of topics which aren't related to your search, and the [One]  tag would return lots of topics unrelated to Xbox altogether. The correct way to tag the topic would be [Xbox One]. Additionally, if you tag topics with acronyms please try to provide the full name too, e.g [VR] and [Virtual Reality]. I also find it useful to mention the engines which games use such as [Frostbite], [unreal Engine 4] etc. This can also extend to prominent figures from studios such as [Valve Corporation] [Gabe Newell]. Try to pick the most revelant tags as they are limited.
 
It should also be noted that if you're posting a topic relating to an exclusive game for a platform you don't need to prefix the topic with [Xbox One], [PS4] or [Wii U]. Simply posting the topic in the correct subforum is sufficient. You may however wish to prefix tags which relate to a specific topic such as [DirectX] etc.


- Guidelines on posting from other sites
 

Barney T. said:

If you plan on posting news that is from other sources or news sites, please keep the following in mind:

1) Please do not post entire articles from other sources. Most news organizations prohibit copy & pasting of their entire article.
It is against the "fair usage" policy set by most news outlets. They expect a paragraph posted, at most, with a link to their article's web page.

2) Make sure that you link to the original article. Not quoting a copied article is against the copyright laws of most countries.

3) When linking to external sources, keep thread and article titles the same.

If you have questions, please PM any staff member. Thank you for your consideration.

Barney

 
 
- Official topics

Created by members for members, official topics are one of the oldest Gamers' Hangout fixtures. In recent years the OPs haven't received much love like they used to, but going forward please try to include as much information on a game as possible, including developer, platform details, screenshots, videos and previews from the press. This isn't always possible and content will vary, especially games which have surprise announcements. The "unwritten rule" members agreed upon was to create the official topics in the weeks leading up to release, to reduce off-topic discussion.
 
If a game already has an official topic please use it to post related news. Not only does this keep the Gamers' Hangout tidy, it's also more adequate than creating lots of smaller topics for news which may not be "headliner" material, e.g a new trailer or developer diary is released.

 

You can view the current Official topics, here.


- Pinned topics

Pinned topics are usually reserved for discussion on the current firmware/OS builds for consoles and their respective online subscription services. They are usually semi-permanent, pinned for visibility and rotate when a new OS build is released, (more info further down the page). In future they will also include press events which were covered quite heavily in the Gamers' Hangout in previous years (see Event Topics). It is also possible for useful topics to be pinned such as a guide or a recurring topic like the PS3 Media guide and Sharing Xbox Live trials.

 

 


- Event topics

Following Build 2014 and PAX East 2014 events, there will now be pinned topics to provide a one stop place for discussion throughout the year for popular developer and trade shows. You can expect to see the big events in upcoming months receive their own topics, including E3 2014 for each of the platforms, Gamescom in Cologne, Germany and Tokyo Game Show. Anyone is free to create these topics, but please try to provide suffieicent information in the OP so others may catch up with news as it's announced.

 

 


- Gamer ID topics

These topics aren't as glamourous as the old Neowin Gamers Index we had many years ago, but they do the job for now. Unfortunately, the Index wasn't updated after a forum upgrade and it was eventually forgotten about. If anyone has the skill / time and is interested in creating a new one, please contact myself or another member of staff.
 
As for the topics themselves, the PS4 and Xbox One versions have leaderboards provided by TrueTrophies and TrueAchievements in the OP, which you can join and track your progress against other members. Please feel free to also arrange multiplayer games with one another here or share your Twitch IDs for streaming. Make sure to clearly state your ID and which games you're interested in playing and when.

 

 
 
- Giveaways
 
We have some very generous members here in the Gamers' Hangout who like to give away games they've bought duplicates of or received in competitions / with hardware. In order to cut down spam and to reduce the number of freeloaders we attract during these topics, please consider some entry rules. Popular choices are number of posts and/or join date. Once your giveaway is complete, please make it known publicly so that a member of staff can close the topic preventing spam / freeloader sign ups.

 

 
 
- Dashboard & Firmware topics
 
Each console has its own dedicated dashboard and firmware topic. Previously in the Gamers' Hangout, these topics were consolidated into one large topic and only refreshed once a major update releaded, (e.g NXE for the Xbox 360 in 2008). The Xbox Dashboard topic is refreshed monthly due to the preview program Microsoft has rolled out. The PS4, Vita, Wii U and 3DS topics are refreshed less frequently due to their smaller patches and incremental updates. If and/or when this changes I'll make an announcement to reflect the new standard. Please continue to post news about the respective updates in new topics when something is announced. The dedicated topics provide an area for support, speculation and wish list discussion but usually graduated from news topics.

 

You can find the previous topics using the following searches:
 

 
- Games with Gold & PlayStaion Plus
 

Similar to Dashboard & Firmware, these topics are pinned discussions to announce and speculate on additions to the programs. In the past they were split into EU and US regions, but as many of the games overlap it would be beneficial to consolidate them, reducing the amount of duplicate conversations.

 

You can find the previous topics using the following searches:

 

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  • 2 years later...
Andrew

I'm in the process of updating the pinned topics and moving some older ones to "Featured" status, due to their relatively low activity but which still remain useful. Some topics which have changed status are provided below:

 

 

Additionally, please use the following URL to view all of the "Official" game topics throughout the Gamers' Hangout. I will try to ensure they are up to date.

 

I will also be updating the E3 2016 Gamers' Hangout discussion topic to include the press times for Bethesda, EA, Ubisoft and the PC Gamer Show.

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  • 6 months later...
Andrew

FYI, I've setup a Neowin Discord server if people wish to chat & game together. Dedicated text and voice channels for Gamers' Hangout and Minecraft, but more can be created if requested :)

 

Join here: https://discord.gg/tkxRkhM

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      Secondly, we have the SortingLSH algorithm, but first it is important to understand why it is needed. The value of "p" in p-dimensional output vectors generated by SimHash is crucial in determining the potential sizes of cohorts. A smaller value may result in large cohorts while a large value may result in small cohorts, through which we circle back to the privacy-utility tradeoff.

      SortingLSH solves this problem via post-processing the results of SimHash. It does this by sorting the hash values in lexical order and then assign them to a cohort in such a way that each cohort should necessarily have at least "k" users.

      Of course, there is a drawback in this approach too, which may be immediately visible to some of our readers. Since the hashes have to be sorted before being assigned to a cluster, they depend upon other users. As such, a centralized server needs to do the sorting and obviously needs some information in order to do this processing, a disadvantage also present in the vanilla SimHash approach.



      In order to further enhance the privacy-utility tradeoff, Google also tested a technique called Affinity hierarchical clustering with centroids. What it does is that it generates a graph where users are nodes and the edges connecting them depict their similarity. Two nodes very close together will have a very short edge, showing their affinity. Then, this algorithm performs a bottom-up hierarchical agglomerative clustering by calculating new centroids and merging smaller clusters into bigger ones. The minimum size of a cluster is explicitly defined at the start of the clustering process.

      Although this results in better clusters because the information of one user is utilized to proactively find similar users, we have a disadvantage where a central server is generating graphs based on raw browsing history rather than hashes. In 2020, Google stated that this is due to the baseline naive algorithm it has built, and this concern could be resolved with "federated learning technology". We don't have the latest from Google regarding how successful its efforts have been at this point of time.

      How good are these algorithms?
      Photo by Lukas from Pexels Just because something sounds good on paper doesn't mean that it will perform similarly well in the real-world, so it is important to look at both aspects when evaluating performance of an algorithm. When Google tested these algorithms on public datasets containing information about preferences of users with regards to movies and music, the fully centralized algorithm, Affinity Clustering, outperformed decentralized methods such as SimHash and SortingLSH. But it is interesting to note that the latter two algorithms still achieved results that were 85% the quality of Affinity Clustering.

      Additionally, Google used Word Clouds to visualize the semantic meaning behind each cohort and noticed that decentralized methods typically produced large clusters which were somewhat well-defined whereas Affinity Clustering generated smaller clusters which were defined even better.



      After performing validation on public datasets, Google proceeded to test the algorithms on its own dataset. It contained proprietary data including de-identified URLs from publishers in the Google Display Network collected across seven days.

      As such, the input features fed to the algorithms were encoded URLs, domains, and topic categories. All clusters with a size below a minimum of "k" members were dropped from the evaluation process. Google notes that with SimHash, it noticed a 350% improvement in recall and a 70% improvement in precision even at very high anonymity levels when comparing to random clustering.

      Although Google has not reported the results of SortingLSH and Affinity Clustering so far, it claims that the performance was similar to that observed on public datasets.

      What's next?
      The results of the testing done so far has been very promising, showing that there is a potential way forward in protecting user privacy without compromising on utility. In this vein, Google has previously claimed that advertisers can expect to make at least 95% as many conversions per dollar spent compared to cookie-based advertising, so ads can live on and be effective without violating user privacy.

      The company has confirmed that it will be phasing out support for third-party cookies by 2022 and will no longer build identifiers in its products to track individual activity. The firm always uses the term "individual" to indicate the distinction between the two tracking techniques. To be clear, it isn't giving up on getting metadata from you, it's just making it difficult for providers to identify you based on your metadata.

      Privacy-preserving APIs using FLoC-based cohorts will enter public testing next month, and will also be tested with Google Ads advertisers in Q2 of this year. Google is welcoming feedback on its approaches and recommends that ad-tech providers evaluate the proposed algorithms on their own proprietary datasets too. The process will likely go through several iterations of enhancements and feedback before it becomes the norm within the next couple of years, provided that everything goes smoothly.

      tl;dr
      All in all, Google will still be using your data to show you ads, but similar adverts will now be presented to the entire cohort rather than personalized to yourself only. Provided that a cluster size is large enough, your activity won't be identifiable to you unless it is combined with other signals. Similarly, your data won't be shared with a centralized server in raw format. This is in stark contrast to current methodologies where Google has built a complete ad profile unique for you that it can share with ad partners. Provided that the initiative is successful, Google hopes that browsers and ad partners will adopt it as the de facto standard for ads in the future.

      Coming back to the original question: Does this mean that the company won't track you at all? Kind of. It won't track your individual activity, but the activity of a group of similar users will be utilized to show ads, obviously at a lower granularity level than what we have right now, thus preserving privacy to some extent. Google will need to have strong governance and security procedures in place which ensure that users cannot be de-identified by combining their data with other signals, something that the company is already considering.