44
   

A2Kers, where are you? Where is everyone?

 
 
msolga
 
  1  
Reply Mon 2 Mar, 2009 12:54 am
@Gelisgesti,
I'm sorry, Gelisgesti, could you elaborate a little on that last post, please? I'm honestly not clear about what your concerns are.
Gelisgesti
 
  1  
Reply Mon 2 Mar, 2009 01:25 am
@msolga,
There comes a time when the dregs sink to the bottom and the mead rises. Is judgment never ending?
0 Replies
 
Robert Gentel
 
  3  
Reply Mon 2 Mar, 2009 02:03 am
@msolga,
msolga wrote:
My impulse for starting this thread in the first place, was a nagging feeling that something was happening here and I couldn't figure out quite what it was. I just kept seeing the numbers of folk "online" & those posting fall & fall.


Here are our daily traffic numbers over the last couple of months:

http://img90.imageshack.us/img90/4664/a2ktraffic.jpg

What you do see here is two huge stumbleupon spikes. The first one in December was to the Funny Signs thread, and the second one in Jan/Feb is to the Ostrich in a bar joke thread.

During the spikes, the online count was higher than average, usually for a few weeks. Then it drops back down to normal.

Quote:
Which worried me because, apart from the A2K "boredom" factor, which many of us have been felt recently, there was also a nagging, pragmatic concern that, if this continued, A2K could find its self in trouble supporting itself. I was worried about advertising revenue, as much as anything else ... which (in a time of recession spending cut-backs) could well be affected by low site participation rates. I want the people employed to run the site to feel secure in their employments as much as I want the A2K to be interesting & engaging for all of us who really value this site . It matters enormously to me, as it obviously does to so many other "regulars", that A2K remains "healthy" & viable.


Don't worry about that then. If we were depending on a2k to support ourselves we'd have been dead a long time ago. This site is profitable without labor factored in. In other words, our ad revenue clears our basic operating costs (e.g. hosting). The many thousands of hours we spend developing the site make it a net loss for us in labor, but a2k isn't putting bread on anyone's table so the only thing that really matters for a2k's survival is if it's revenue clears the operating costs. As long as we have the time to do so we'll work on a2k because it's something we enjoy (most of the time).

Quote:
But then, this may well be a temporary glitch. Who knows? As others have mentioned, A2K goes through it's heights & troughs. This might well be just another of our troughs, for all I know.


Traffic ebbs and flows, and yes we are in the trough of the last spike, but despite the perception of some here we aren't hurting for traffic in any way. In fact, if you look at the last year's trajectory, you'll see the site actually declining on the old software, and trending up on the new software. We didn't start using the analytics program in the above screenshot till last December, so I don't have as nice of a graph (for one, it didn't have a daily view, and I can only show by month) but here's the same data from our old analytics software graphed in excel from Jan-08 to Jan-09:

http://img13.imageshack.us/img13/407/yeartraffic.jpg

We launched the new software in the middle of August on that graph. The number of visitors to a2k was tanking prior to the new software, and rebounded with the new software, then set the #1 and #2 monthly traffic records in a2k history in December and January respectively.

Sometimes, perceptions deceive, and ever since this site opened, people have been asking about the users online, and why they don't see as many people posting as they think should be.

And ever since the beginning of the site, people have occasionally said it was in demise.
msolga
 
  1  
Reply Mon 2 Mar, 2009 03:15 am
@Robert Gentel,
Thanks, Robert. Now to take a bit of time to digest those stats & figure out why the perceptions appear to be so different to the stats. (Off the top of my head, it's could be because fewer "established" A2Kers seem to have been posting/participating much of late. And a lot more "light" threads, as opposed to the meatier discussions. But as I say, that's off the top of my head .....)

Quote:
Don't worry about that then. If we were depending on a2k to support ourselves we'd have been dead a long time ago. This site is profitable without labor factored in. In other words, our ad revenue clears our basic operating costs (e.g. hosting). The many thousands of hours we spend developing the site make it a net loss for us in labor, but a2k isn't putting bread on anyone's table so the only thing that really matters for a2k's survival is if it's revenue clears the operating costs. As long as we have the time to do so we'll work on a2k because it's something we enjoy (most of the time).


Thank you. I wish it did provide those of you putting in all the hours with "bread on the table". Doesn't feel right that it doesn't. And I worry that one these days you may tire of putting in all the time & effort involved in keeping the site going. (Selfish, I know.)
Izzie
 
  1  
Reply Mon 2 Mar, 2009 03:46 am
@msolga,
Here too MsOlga - (eventually)

Thomas wrote:


..........What I care about is particular individuals that have become special to me, about a dozen of whom I happen to have met on Abuzz and A2K. (I think you know who y'all are.) Whether I talk with them on this site, on some other site, per e-mail, or in real life, is secondary to me. Indeed, if it was my choice, I'd prefer to have them all within driving distance in my real life. Maybe we can start up a commune together somewhere sometime.


yuppers! I care about the community side of A2K here but do read as much as possible (except politics) - sometimes, just don't feel in enough of a comfort zone to post on many threads and if someone is being particularly venomous - continuity of the thread can be difficult when people are posting vehemently on a post which was a few pages back. Being housebound also makes a difference because it does provide a community lifeline 24/7 for me. (as Soz says - when she found a real life community - things changed - I can understand that). Perhaps it doesn't seem as much as fun as it used to be. When I joined A2K we used to play the game threads for hours - loads of people and it was fast and amusing. That just doesn't happen now because to me it doesn't feel so easily accessible and there also appear to be very few newbies who join those threads or regulars who wish to join in anymore.

msolga wrote:


And I worry that one these days you may tire of putting in all the time & effort involved in keeping the site going. (Selfish, I know.)


Yep, worries me too MsOlga. Some people seem to believe that they have an inherent right to A2K and how it should be set up - opinion is fine, but dictating the odds isn't gonna make it happen. To be honest, there's some things I'm not so keen on - but I would hate to see it disappear either due to incessant whining about the owners or hamsters or because it's no longer financially viable.

I do long for PM's back - I know a lot of people have gone over to chat on FB now (which doesn't hold as much appeal to me as for most it seems - which is a bit strange coz it's more community based I suppose) - there are times when I would just rather send a quick PM to someone, knowing they will get it straight away etc (rather than emails constantly) - and if I don't feel comfortable going on a particular thread or if I just wanna say hey to someone without having to post it out loud - PM's provide the opportunity to do that privately. You can do that on FB - but I mean talking about a thread, or whatever, here on A2K.

Hey ho. Look forward to return of PM's and seeing whatever is going to happen with A2K next, hope that people do stick around.
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Mon 2 Mar, 2009 04:41 am
@dlowan,
ABC comes on here at 5:00 am local time, and as i've always been an early riser, i frequently hear it. (If i'm up really early, then i hear Deutsche Welle, the English language service of German radio--they're easier to understand when they speak English.) I enjoy the "Radio Australia" programming because they provide news of the Solomons, the Societies, Fiji and such parts of Micronesia as don't usually make the news. But they also do the sort of programming one would expect from a national radio's international service, which is to say, international in character. This morning, they did a piece on a graffiti artist in Bucharest who known as "the Square Cat."
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Mon 2 Mar, 2009 04:44 am
@Dutchy,
Thanks, Boss--that means the time difference is 16 hours (the time stamp on my side of the monitor for your post is 11:30 pm)--i had thought it was 13 hours.
0 Replies
 
maporsche
 
  1  
Reply Mon 2 Mar, 2009 06:58 am
Robert, not sure if this is on the horizon, but are there plans for improved search capabilities?
0 Replies
 
Endymion
 
  2  
Reply Mon 2 Mar, 2009 09:43 am
For me personally, I have forced myself to take 'time out' before i ended up really losing my head with one or two right-wing agitators
(Not saying that might not happen yet). Those guys are a serious head ****

Also, as I've said before here, http://able2know.org/topic/126438-1#post-3500716 I am more nervous about posting my work now because it is MORE available to more people and gets more hits.
As difficult and strange as this may be for some people to understand, (and i have trouble myself) the MORE my work is read, the more inadequate i feel.
It's a personal thing. (and I understand - MY problem).

The thing is, I believe i'm only experimenting as a writer (I've no illusions there) and when my work was tucked away LESS NOTICED except by other writers on the creative writing forum, i felt HAPPIER. Just want to clarify that (again.)

I suppose i felt easier when the damn thing would only go to the top of the 'writing' forum and not 'out there' at the top of the one giant conveyor belt of threads. BECAUSE I DON'T WANT SO MANY PEOPLE READING IT. GET IT?

However, i realise a2k isn't a workshop and has never professed to be one and so, it is up to me to adapt. Either i stop putting out the personal stuff - or accept that some people may think i'm promoting my work (when i'm not ready to do that).

One other reason (for me) that the separate forum system worked so well was because i could ignore the political posts. Now they are much, much harder to ignore, because i like to look at New Posts and see who is around and posting.

None of this is a criticism of a2k - only personal observation. I mean that.
a2k is a lifeline and I fully understand how lucky i am that i found this place.
Our lives are all so different 'outside' - Robert is right to say you can't please everyone.

respect
e
Foxfyre
 
  1  
Reply Mon 2 Mar, 2009 10:35 am
@Robert Gentel,
Robert Gentel wrote:

Let me see if I understand this then, you think the new software is less conducive to communities because on it you vote topics down? Why not just not vote them down


Because if you don't vote them down all you see is stuff that you're not interested in at the time and trying to find something you are interested in becauses excessively time consuming and tedious. Wasn't that the whole purpose in removing threads we weren't interested in?

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If you don't vote down threads, 'new posts' beocmes almost unusable to keep up with much of anything...


This page works just like the old new posts did, with two key exceptions. 1) it doesn't reset every time your session dies, which was a big complaint on the previous software. 2) it doesn't have read tracking, which is a big deal that few people note how much affects them.


I rarely used 'new posts' on the old A2K but rather went to a few forums of interest to see if anything new was cooking there. Now we are forced to use 'new posts' to know if there is anything new of interest for us. I don't know what others do, but I try to clean it up to make it more user friendly and see any interesting new stuff more easily.

Quote:
Call me crazy, but if your problem is that you are voting down topics then why not just not vote down topics?


Sigh. I must be communicating poorly. Right now there is one thread of interest to me on the entire first page of New Topics. I didn't check, but I don't know how many pages I would have to click through to find anything new of interest I might want to participate in. When I would check in on the old forums, however, almost all the active threads I was interested in would be on the first page.

Quote:
Quote:
The problem of unanaswered posts is sometimes inadvertent and sometimes just because the threads move off the page so quickly, folks who would have resonded to that post never see it.


How is this any different than it always was?


Because when the threads were organized into the smaller forum areas, a thread would be there on the first page for some time--certainly usually for most of at least a day, usually more--and that gave time for members checking in at different times of the day to see it and participate if they chose to do so. Now a thread can cycle off the first page or two fairly quickly, especially when the board is really active, and many who might be interested in that thread or adding another post to it will never see it. The problem is exacerbated in that some of us don't always remember to tag every thread we post in.

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This isn't a complaint. It's just an observation of why it is much less user friendly for somebody like me.


And there's the rub. There are plenty of legitimate problems with this site, and there's a lot we have to work on. But the most vocal people complaining about the software really don't tend to have any actionable feedback. If your problem boils down to how you are voting topics down and find this regrettable then just don't vote down topics. It'd work a lot better than blaming the software.


When have I ever blamed the software? I am just saying that when my only options are voting town topics or not voting down topics, the board is way too much of a mess to be user friendly or conducive to community building.

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How many 'like me's' there might be, I have no way of knowing. But I do think it is isn't conducive to building community and is likely why we have lost so many of the folks who used to visit regularly.


If you don't think it's conducive to building a community then don't do it.


Don't do what? A2K? I suppose if everybody leaves that I enjoy discussing things with I probably will too.

Quote:
Quote:
But if we don't voice complaints and/or suggest ways to remedy what we perceive, then you have no way of knowing what the perception is.


It's not useful if it's not founded in reality. Since this site opened I've listened to people go on and on about what's wrong with it. Since the site began there have been people who are unhappy with it, and who leave.

Sometimes there's really good feedback, but a lot of times it's not actionable feedback and is not something that can be corroborated.


Well I hoped giving my impressions woulld be helpful and perhaps even useful, but apparently that isn't the case; and I assume that what I would prefer is not actionable. It was not intended to say 'what was wrong with it' but rather intended toward expressing what would be more user friendly, eliminate the worst irritations if that was possible and reasonable, and restore some of the ease in building community that most of us felt was there previously. If I have been out of line, I apologize.

And I'll try to avoid putting my two cents in when somebody else brings it up. Smile
caribou
 
  7  
Reply Mon 2 Mar, 2009 10:45 am
I think there are times of the year that A2K seems boring or lacking. I think it cycles.....

I get so tired of hearing the same complaints about the new site. Especially the ones that don't make any sense to me. I can't imagine what it must feel like to Robert.
I appreciate his patience and explainations on what is actually going on and the plans for the future.

0 Replies
 
Robert Gentel
 
  2  
Reply Mon 2 Mar, 2009 11:43 am
@Endymion,
Endymion wrote:
Also, as I've said before here, http://able2know.org/topic/126438-1#post-3500716 I am more nervous about posting my work now because it is MORE available to more people and gets more hits.


Endy, it's just not "more available" either though. You really shouldn't worry about this.

Quote:
I suppose i felt easier when the damn thing would only go to the top of the 'writing' forum and not 'out there' at the top of the one giant conveyor belt of threads.


Endy, on the last software, there was a new topics list and a new posts list as well. This site is not different from the last software in that regard.

Quote:
BECAUSE I DON'T WANT SO MANY PEOPLE READING IT. GET IT?


Not really, like Foxfyre complaining about how she votes stuff down that she shouldn't, it's one of those things where I wonder why you say you want one thing and do another.

If you don't want it read, don't post it (personally I think you should just get over the part where some might read it). The new software is not fundamentally different in the ways you seem to think it is.

Quote:
One other reason (for me) that the separate forum system worked so well was because i could ignore the political posts. Now they are much, much harder to ignore, because i like to look at New Posts and see who is around and posting.


Why? Why don't you just go to original writing, or any of the old forums that you used to frequent? The old site had "New Posts" as well, this site is just not different that way at all.
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Mon 2 Mar, 2009 12:02 pm
@Robert Gentel,
I have been under the impression - and haven't double checked by reviewing the Blog - that in our Preferences we can choose to Not Filter threads or posts, and that this means any amount of other folks' collapses don't affect what I see.

Do I misunderstand on that? And if I do understand, will that still continue?

(thanks)



adds, not as important at all, but wondering: Could the Top and End letters be just a wee bit darker (not really bold, that could be distracting, but just a tad darker coloring). That would help me to see them - not sure that is any problem for others.
Foxfyre
 
  1  
Reply Mon 2 Mar, 2009 12:04 pm
@Robert Gentel,
Quote:
Not really, like Foxfyre complaining about how she votes stuff down that she shouldn't, it's one of those things where I wonder why you say you want one thing and do another.


Respectfully, I did not say that. I said that once something is voted down, there is no opportunity to have a change of mind about that because whatever you vote down is almost impossible to find again after awhile. Unless you spend all your time here, it is impossible to track everything on that huge conveyor belt using Endy's metaphor. In the past, active threads that I initially didn't pay any attention to would stay near the top and often subsequently peaked my interest due to the number of replies they were attracting and the names appearing as the last to post. Once the topic is voted down, there is no chance for that to happen.

So my choices are to vote down threads of no interest and lose them--for me--forever or put up with the huge conveyor belt that is generally moving so fast that I don't see most of the stuff that is on it. (Yes, I could click through many pages to catch up, but I usually don't take the time to do that either.)

I've accepted this as my problem and nobody else's. And I've also stated that I certainly don't expect you to accommodate me or what I would prefer. The only reason I mentioned it is because if enough of us feel the same way and there IS a remedy, then perhaps it would be helpful. Apparently I am in a minority on my preferences, and that's okay too. The majority should win.

Okay I'm done. (Unless I'm misquoted or mischaracterized again. Smile)
Robert Gentel
 
  4  
Reply Mon 2 Mar, 2009 12:07 pm
@Foxfyre,
Foxfyre wrote:
Because if you don't vote them down all you see is stuff that you're not interested in at the time and trying to find something you are interested in becauses excessively time consuming and tedious.


Yeah, but on the last software you couldn't do that. You said this new software is worse for building community. When pressed for why you think so you basically say it comes down to the fact that you are voting down topics that you might later regret voting down.

Well the last site didn't have voting, and you didn't seem to complain about the need to not see stuff you aren't interested in, so if this is your big problem with this software, just don't frikin' vote stuff down.

Quote:
Wasn't that the whole purpose in removing threads we weren't interested in?


Not if you are going to then turn around and complain that it makes it worse for you. You complain that by voting it down, you are deprived of finding it interesting later.

So just don't vote it down silly!

Quote:
I rarely used 'new posts' on the old A2K but rather went to a few forums of interest to see if anything new was cooking there.


Then go to the specific tag pages here.

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Now we are forced to use 'new posts' to know if there is anything new of interest for us.


At gunpoint or something? Look, from a read perspective, the tags work just like the old forums did.

Quote:
Sigh. I must be communicating poorly. Right now there is one thread of interest to me on the entire first page of New Topics. I didn't check, but I don't know how many pages I would have to click through to find anything new of interest I might want to participate in.


But these pages sort the topics the same way the previous site did. This is nothing new except that you've decided that you are "forced" to do it this way.

Quote:
When I would check in on the old forums, however, almost all the active threads I was interested in would be on the first page.


On the old forums, it would sort the same way. In this regard it's not software that has changed.

Quote:
Because when the threads were organized into the smaller forum areas, a thread would be there on the first page for some time--certainly usually for most of at least a day, usually more--and that gave time for members checking in at different times of the day to see it and participate if they chose to do so.


Threads continue to be organized into smaller areas, just instead of calling them forums you call them tags.

Quote:
Now a thread can cycle off the first page or two fairly quickly, especially when the board is really active, and many who might be interested in that thread or adding another post to it will never see it.


Yeah, and that would happen on the "New Posts" on the old site too, just use the specific sub-forums (tags!).

Quote:
The problem is exacerbated in that some of us don't always remember to tag every thread we post in.


There's no need to tag every thread you post in, you couldn't do that on the old site and you don't need to do it here either. Why do you feel that you'd need to do this?

Quote:
When have I ever blamed the software?


When you say you are now being "forced" to do things differently are you actually saying that humans are forcing you? You said that the new format is not good for building community and I take that to mean the software.

Quote:
I am just saying that when my only options are voting town topics or not voting down topics, the board is way too much of a mess to be user friendly or conducive to community building.


And I'm just saying that those certainly aren't your only options, and am trying to show you how you can do things just like you did before.

Quote:
Don't do what? A2K? I suppose if everybody leaves that I enjoy discussing things with I probably will too.


No, don't vote things down if you find that you later regret missing interesting content.

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If I have been out of line, I apologize.


Don't apologize, figure it out. You have the mistaken impression that you are being forced to use new posts, and forced to vote things down that you later regret. You aren't being forced to do so, so it sounds like figuring that out would make your use a lot more palatable to you.

Quote:
And I'll try to avoid putting my two cents in when somebody else brings it up. Smile


Why? I don't object to you putting in your two cents. I just think that there are easy ways to address your complaints by not doing the very things you complain about being forced to do.

I've spent time explaining this because I think it sounds like if you stopped voting so much down you'd eliminate your objection to the new format. You describe use cases that you seem to think you must use. I'm trying to explain to you that you really don't have to do it that way if you find it so objectionable.

If you want, you can still just go to specific tags of interest just like you could go to specific forums in the past. You just need to learn which forums were poorly named on the last software to know which ones are going to shift here.

For example, the old forums that were too broadly named (e.g. Philosophy & Debate, Religion & Spirituality, Science & Math) aren't going to be as natural to use in tags, so the topics that used to be posted there are more likely to be posted to more aptly named and specific tags (e.g. philosophy, religion, science, math).

One of the things we are working on, is filtering out tags you don't want to see in a global list (like new posts) or making an opt-in format where you can add tags you are interested in, and make a list only of those, but those would be things you couldn't do on the last software anyway, and there's really nothing stopping you from using the new tags like the old forums.
Cycloptichorn
 
  6  
Reply Mon 2 Mar, 2009 12:09 pm
@Robert Gentel,
Actually, I like the new site just fine now that I'm used to it, and wish I hadn't bitched as much when the change happened, for which I now heartily apologize.

(though I miss PM's and the search function!)

Cycloptichorn
Robert Gentel
 
  2  
Reply Mon 2 Mar, 2009 12:09 pm
@ossobuco,
ossobuco wrote:
I have been under the impression - and haven't double checked by reviewing the Blog - that in our Preferences we can choose to Not Filter threads or posts, and that this means any amount of other folks' collapses don't affect what I see.

Do I misunderstand on that? And if I do understand, will that still continue?


You don't misunderstand the feature, her complaints are about voting down topics herself (instead of the affect of others voting), and then not seeing them due to her own vote.
Setanta
 
  2  
Reply Mon 2 Mar, 2009 12:10 pm
It seems to me that Miss Olga was just asking why it seems that fewer people are participating these days. Whether or not people like the new software was a side issue, and The Wabbit basically answered that when she observed that many people don't care for change.

Now this thread has been trashed by all this whining about the new software. If people don't like the new software, specifically, as opposed to simply being uncomfortable with change, then they should avoid the place. This whining is pointless and annoying.
0 Replies
 
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Mon 2 Mar, 2009 12:15 pm
@Robert Gentel,
Thanks, that's a relief. (I did understand Foxf's complaint was different, it was a secondary fear.)




0 Replies
 
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Mon 2 Mar, 2009 12:18 pm
@Cycloptichorn,
Cyclo - you have probably tried this, but I rather like (while we wait for a redeveloped search) using the google-a2k space on the upper band to the right. I've found a lot of what I've been looking for easily through that, surprisingly easily. (I use tags too.)
 

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