DDI January Content Calendar "Online"

January 2011 Content Calendar said:
Starting January 2011, magazine articles will be listed in their appropriate Dragon and Dungeon Table of Contents pages, but articles won’t be pinned to specific dates on the calendar. At the start of each week, we’ll post a news update announcing the magazine content that will appear that week.
This change will allow us greater flexibility to fully develop and edit articles as needed without requiring last-minute changes to the calendar. We will continue to evaluate and organize content across the site as needed in our effort to bring you the best possible Dungeons & Dragons material. As always, we welcome your thoughts and feedback; send them to dndinsider[MENTION=17465]Wizard[/MENTION]s.com.

I get why they are doing this - it's clear they were missing deadlines left and right with the online content. The whole Executioner Assassin debacle is clearly the latest instance of that.


That said, at this point in time, my trust in DDI has waned quite a bit. I can't take it in good faith when they say, "You'll get all these articles this month, we promise!" If they were having problems with deadlines before, this isn't going to change anything. Presumably there are still deadlines behind the scenes, and presumably they haven't changed.



I also don't understand why the month's content can't still be listed on the page, albeit not scheduled. The way it's set up now seems to obfuscate what is being offered each month.



I guess my question is, why even bother spending time on the Content Calendar any more? If it's not going to be an indication of the month's content, why waste resources? It's not as if, at this point, we believe you have resources to spare. Heck, I've long thought that DDI is critically understaffed. Just put out the TOC for Dungeon and Dragon each month, end of story.


I think, going a bit deeper, this just reinforces my thoughts that DDI is being mismanaged at every level.
 

fanboy2000

Visitor
Well, that's one way to solve your missing deadline problem: don't have deadlines! It's like they decided to model their online content release dates on the study habits of college undergrads.

"eh...I still have another 20 hours before the paper's due...."
 

the Jester

Legend
I hope this isn't a sign that they're going to let the mags slip even further, but I can't help but fear that it is. :(

Well, here's hoping we at least get the new Monster Builder soon. :erm:
 

Festivus

Visitor
Feeling more and more pleased that I decided not to renew because I felt the magazines were circling the drain. This just reinforces that feeling.
 

Shroomy

Adventurer
They're probably doing this because many people kept on disregarding the previous disclaimer, that the Calendar was a living document that was always subject to change and then whipped themselves into a frenzy of complaint over on the WotC boards, kind of like how this thread is likely to degenerate into.
 

Dice4Hire

Visitor
They're probably doing this because many people kept on disregarding the previous disclaimer, that the Calendar was a living document that was always subject to change and then whipped themselves into a frenzy of complaint over on the WotC boards, kind of like how this thread is likely to degenerate into.
A 'living' document is one thing, but this is not a 'living' document. It is more of a whitewash for WOTC.
 

Obryn

Hero
They're probably doing this because many people kept on disregarding the previous disclaimer, that the Calendar was a living document that was always subject to change and then whipped themselves into a frenzy of complaint over on the WotC boards, kind of like how this thread is likely to degenerate into.
The proper response to, "We're not meeting the deadlines" shouldn't generally be, "Then let's get rid of the deadlines altogether." It should probably be more along the lines of, "Well, let's try to meet them."

Even when those deadlines are mutable, it's important to have a goal.

-O
 
The proper response to, "We're not meeting the deadlines" shouldn't generally be, "Then let's get rid of the deadlines altogether." It should probably be more along the lines of, "Well, let's try to meet them."
Or rather, "Let's take a look at our back end and determine why those deadlines aren't being met, and if the deadlines we are setting are realistic."
 

Scribble

Visitor
Originally they didn't have a calendar. They only added it after people expressed interest... They had the mutable disclaimer, but despite what people say about proper responses et al- if they moved an article even a week- people generally got angry.

I don't think this is a get rid of deadlines thing, it's just make them easiert to deal with.
 

Destil

Explorer
The reason they have the calendar, and deadlines on a monthly basis, is because they're trying to make 'magazines'. Each article still has page numbers and is intended to fit together as a whole.

But it's pointless. Does anyone print out the entire thing? I'd guess not. Some people may download the entire thing for archiving, but I can't buy anyone printing it.

They would be much more helped by abandoning the idea of these as comprehensive, coherent publications. Killing the idea of issues and of these being magazine, and just releasing 'stuff', whatever else they want to call it, would be a lot better for them. They could even keep the final monthly compilations.
 

Shroomy

Adventurer
Originally they didn't have a calendar. They only added it after people expressed interest... They had the mutable disclaimer, but despite what people say about proper responses et al- if they moved an article even a week- people generally got angry.

I don't think this is a get rid of deadlines thing, it's just make them easier to deal with.
This...Hey, I'm all for meeting deadlines, but the dates on the editorial calendar were never actual deadlines. IMO, the only real deadline is the date that the monthly compilation is released, which is why people freaking out when articles moved around the calendar never made much sense to me, especially since very few articles failed to eventually appear. I mean, I understand being annoyed by it, especially if your subscription ended before an article you wanted to read was released, but the way people sometimes reacted was way out proportion to what had actually happened. In any case, we still have the Table of Contents, which will tell us what's coming out that month, and apparently we're going to get announcements of what's going to be released that week, so its not a huge loss.
 

JoeGKushner

Visitor
They could never get away with this in a print publication. Their complete lack of discipline on this matter is disappointing. Dragon and Dungeon continue to fall down the slippery slope of poor digital content management.
 

Dayte

Visitor
They could never get away with this in a print publication. Their complete lack of discipline on this matter is disappointing. Dragon and Dungeon continue to fall down the slippery slope of poor digital content management.
Can you please explain this cause I think I've missed this in translation. I pick up a monthly magazine at the newsstand and it has x articles. All needed to be completed in time to get it compiled and sent to the printer to meet their distribution deadline. I have a limited to no way of knowing which articles had to get shelved in GQ or Sports Illustrated because they weren't ready. I just usually know what made it in at the end. As far as I know, most magazines don't give you their next issue make-up.

So if WoTC followed the same principle - we would just get a compiled issue at the end of the month (sans printing and distribution).

So not sure what you mean.

Now the slippery slope - that I get and agree somewhat. But, I'm hoping with this change they have found a nice leveled off area where they can regain their balance and start a march back to the top. But I've always been the (mostly) forgiving and optimistic one in my family.
 

Aegeri

Visitor
Articles in DDI should be done a month in advance. So every month they are not working on what is in this magazine - they are actually working on the next months articles. The compiled issue would just be changes to those articles that needed it, but otherwise they shouldn't have *any* problems keeping to a date whatsoever. It is good that they release content from the magazines over the month, but they really needed to think about how those articles were going to go up over that time.

Personally though the articles poor quality and general terribleness is far more of a concern than their dates being shifted around. I don't mind an article being delayed ultimately if it is good: Totems and the Executioner were both great. So good I felt they redeemed a pretty poor effort for the magazines in December (where the only other article I thought anything of was the Court of the Bramble Queen).
 
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GreyLord

Adventurer
Articles in DDI should be done a month in advance. So every month they are not working on what is in this magazine - they are actually working on the next months articles. The compiled issue would just be changes to those articles that needed it, but otherwise they shouldn't have *any* problems keeping to a date whatsoever. It is good that they release content from the magazines over the month, but they really needed to think about how those articles were going to go up over that time.
Most magazines work farther ahead then a month even. They'll have everything ready to go two or even three months ahead of schedule. They then send them to print and then get them to shipping, meaning that the magazine for September is shipped off in August, which was written in July or June.

If Wizards followed that manner, then they would never be scrambling to get a magazine article done by a deadline since it should have already been done weeks prior to that.

This is what I think he is getting at.
 

MrMyth

Visitor
The proper response to, "We're not meeting the deadlines" shouldn't generally be, "Then let's get rid of the deadlines altogether." It should probably be more along the lines of, "Well, let's try to meet them."

Even when those deadlines are mutable, it's important to have a goal.
They do have a deadline - the end of the month, when the magazine is compiled as a complete issue. Just like when it was in print - the final issue is the actual goal. We didn't know which articles got delayed or replaced during the month because all we got was the final product with everything in it.

The problem with the content calendar is that many customers - despite everything WotC said to the contrary - began to view the expected dates in the calendar as deadlines. Which they never were. So, yeah, one response can be to get rid of them entirely and remove that false expectation.

Now, that said, I think WotC wants to have regular content throughout the week for people to experience. I think that was one reason for the shift to shorter articles. But there were too many people in the forums making ultimatums, and... this is the response.

Sure, I'd love to have a magazine where they had a backlog of completed articles, could roll out everything on time and without a problem, and could produce regular and expected content every day of the week. But, in terms of the magazine I expect, those options are a bonus, not a requirement. If they get a complete magazine out at the end of the month, then they've met my expectations.
 

occam

Explorer
...And on the topic of what actually is on the calendar... I know some folks who are going to be happy about new Ravenloft scenarios.

However, as a father of two young D&D-playing daughters, I'm especially intrigued by this:

D&D Kids: Character Generation

I wonder if they're going to start making more of an effort to get kids into the game, following up on the Red Box and Essentials. High time, I say.

No one's posted a link yet, have they?

D&D Content Calendar for January 2011
 
Sure, I'd love to have a magazine where they had a backlog of completed articles, could roll out everything on time and without a problem, and could produce regular and expected content every day of the week. But, in terms of the magazine I expect, those options are a bonus, not a requirement. If they get a complete magazine out at the end of the month, then they've met my expectations.
It seems to me there is little point in having a backlog. Print magazines operated well in advance because they basically HAD to. The magazine would need N pages and certain stuff (editorials, regular features, large special feature of the month, etc) kind of needed to be there. Basically there was a backlog because production was a long involved process.

Now that isn't so really. Once an article is finished it is kind of pointless to hang onto it until some arbitrary deadline. Just put it out there. The size of a given 'issue' is not all that important. If a given article shows up this week or next week or last week doesn't really matter.

I tend to agree with the sentiment that producing these 'online magazines' as if they're anything like a print magazine is part of the issue here. We're past the days of regular periodic issues of collections of content. They just need articles that come out on a fairly frequent basis and have a good mix of them. If there are some they want to have come out monthly like editorials then they can simply put them out every month.
 
Sure, I'd love to have a magazine where they had a backlog of completed articles, could roll out everything on time and without a problem, and could produce regular and expected content every day of the week. But, in terms of the magazine I expect, those options are a bonus, not a requirement. If they get a complete magazine out at the end of the month, then they've met my expectations.
And for me, the fact that I'm paying them money for an online magazine means they can and should be held to a higher standard, and one not shackled by traditional media. For me, I expect that content comes out regularly (and for Dungeon/Dragon, that should be daily), that I know when exactly it comes out, and (generally) what it is. I expect that articles have deadlines and be complete with enough lead time to account for the unknown, because that's professional.

Bottom line, it's not enough to be trying when money is involved, which is why I think a lot of people are discontent, and a lot of people have canceled their subscriptions.

The problem with the content calendar is that many customers - despite everything WotC said to the contrary - began to view the expected dates in the calendar as deadlines. Which they never were. So, yeah, one response can be to get rid of them entirely and remove that false expectation.
Regarding the content calendar not being set in stone, I find the whole "living document" idea to be a little naive. If you put dates on a calendar, your customers are going to interpret that as a release schedule, no matter what one might say. Rephrase the idea as "we might get it out by this time, we might not," and it's patently ludicrous, especially when money is involved. I think everyone expects the occasional hiccup; someone gets sick, formatting doesn't get done, wrong document gets posted; it happens. What is disconcerting for me is that these hiccups are becoming increasingly more frequent. Rather than taking a look at why that is, WotC decided to hide the issue behind ambiguity. That's the problem here - a repeated demonstration that WotC is incapable of even holding themselves to self-imposed deadlines, and a seeming unwillingness to address it.
 
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