Is the internet getting boring?

Zelda

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Joined
Feb 25, 2021
Messages
82
And a manual approval process, to keep a check on who joins
And with that, I already have left and forgotten your site even exists. If I joined through Facebook, I came to post and have my post available now. The idea of waiting for someone to approve my account or approve my post means I am now taking more time than my interest will hold. By the time you happen to be online, I have long since left. The e-mail telling me that my post was approved, I may not even recall what it is talking about, assume it is spam, and flag it as such.

The biggest failing surrounding forums is getting between your users and using the site. Nothing kills productivity quicker.
 
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DigNap15

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Sep 14, 2019
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483
And with that, I already have left and forgotten your site even exists. If I joined through Facebook, I came to post and have my post available now. The idea of waiting for someone to approve my account or approve my post means I am now taking more time than my interest will hold. By the time you happen to be online, I have long since left. The e-mail telling me that my post was approved, I may not even recall what it is talking about, assume it is spam, and flag it as such.

The biggest failing surrounding forums is getting between your users and using the site. Nothing kills productivity quicker.
What you say is very interesting.
But I have 1,300 members.
About 400 of whom registered (and were approved within a day) and have never been back to even look. I dont believe they are all nto posting becasue I did not approve their account within 5 minutes
Annother 300 of my members check in once or twice a month and lurk, but hardly ever post.
I don't think many of my members came from Facebook.
I would like to think that my forum appeals more than to the one post meme type poster

But which of us is right - who knows?
Opening my forum up to instant registration is just opening it up to all sorts of spamers and false membership numbers.
 

Pete

Flavours of Forums Forever
Joined
Sep 9, 2013
Messages
1,923
And with that, I already have left and forgotten your site even exists. If I joined through Facebook, I came to post and have my post available now. The idea of waiting for someone to approve my account or approve my post means I am now taking more time than my interest will hold. By the time you happen to be online, I have long since left. The e-mail telling me that my post was approved, I may not even recall what it is talking about, assume it is spam, and flag it as such.

The biggest failing surrounding forums is getting between your users and using the site. Nothing kills productivity quicker.
This isn’t true for all niches. Though I will admit my niche is out there.

In my niche, multi stage approval is _normal_. I have members who haven’t posted in a month after joining because their application isn’t finished (and this is expected and normal). We keep in touch with them on Discord and hang out while finishing up the applications.
 

Zelda

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Joined
Feb 25, 2021
Messages
82
This isn’t true for all niches. Though I will admit my niche is out there.

In my niche, multi stage approval is _normal_. I have members who haven’t posted in a month after joining because their application isn’t finished (and this is expected and normal). We keep in touch with them on Discord and hang out while finishing up the applications.
I have to admit that is an interesting exception you have there. But during that process, you continue with live chat and regular engagement. Essentially, these people already feel like they are part of your community since Discord is an extension of your community, which works to your advantage.

But that's is the problem where most people lose out. People do not feel like they belong or are welcomed until their posts are accepted and appreciated. They want to have the liberty to jump on in and with nothing holding them back too. If I join a site and start posting, who's to say when (or if) someone will get around to approving my actions. That is a near-automatic turn-off.

I said it before. I almost did not come back here because I had to wait for the approval. I had actually deleted the e-mail out of gut reaction, and if Gmail didn't hold trash for longer than delete, I would have been none the wiser. My membership, the content I have added (for whatever it is worth), would never have transpired.

It is cool that your community has successfully incorporated a live chat server environment into your community. I would be interested in learning more, such as what you imagine is the content vs. chat ratio?
 

Pete

Flavours of Forums Forever
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First of all, it's not just my community, our entire niche does this to more or less degree. Now I'm not on mobile, let me give a more detailed outlook on it.

The roleplay niche is complicated, and it has some complex facets around 'fitting in', e.g. take my site, Harry Potter universe, set in 1969. You cannot just rock up, decide you want to be Harry Potter (who hasn't been born yet and won't be for another decade) and start posting as Harry.

As such many RP sites have some kind of application or character sheet process where the application is vetted before posting, to ensure that what the character is trying to do is consistent with the rest of the roleplay world. It ensures that characters who arrive won't be wildly inconsistent with the universe that exists, such as having a character with all-the-baggage tropes from day 1.

There are also different formats - some sites are rapid fire, posting a line or two as a post; others have requirements of hundreds of words per post or more, and there are typically some vague controls placed in the signup process to align people and expectations.

There are some formats and sites that don't have much, if any, of the signup/character sheet approach and tend to roll with whatever comes in. These tend towards being multifandom (aka panfandom) where universes blur and where by definition more like anything goes.

Now... content vs chat ratio. This one is tough.

There are RP communities who only exist in Discord. Even some of the RP resource sites that used to exist went Discord-only because if they're providing essentially a resource library, you don't... need... a community site where people by nature will dip in and out, and trying to build a community around that is hard when the only reasons people have to share the space boil down to cross promotion.

We're still young as an RP community, we've reached a few hundred posts since we kicked off earlier in the year, and we're OK with that level of progress. Yes, there is a stream of consciousness in the Discord throughout the day (but we only have the one channel in Discord purposely to limit the spreading), yes there is a widget on the forum homepage to show who is on Discord... but that's mostly around making sure that there is a space where people can come say hi easily and become part of the social fabric of the community. More importantly, it gives people a space to talk about their characters, throw around ideas for threads, plots and so on, which can then be written on the forum since for the kind of roleplay we do (typically 200+ words a post, though absolutely no hard requirements) this sucks on Discord. So Discord is for the occasional quickfire 'in character banter', some plotting, some throwing around ideas, and somewhere to hang that isn't on-topic all the time.

I would venture that the RP niche is one of the only niches where having a Discord (or, a chatbox/shoutbox of old) isn't... inherently... or fundamentally flawed because the nature of the content makes it quite asynchronous and you want something to fill in the gaps.
 

Nev_Dull

Anachronism
Joined
Apr 27, 2010
Messages
2,185
But that's is the problem where most people lose out. People do not feel like they belong or are welcomed until their posts are accepted and appreciated. They want to have the liberty to jump on in and with nothing holding them back too. If I join a site and start posting, who's to say when (or if) someone will get around to approving my actions. That is a near-automatic turn-off.
I'm not sure how this is a problem. If someone isn't willing to wait for the fairly simple registration process to complete, I seriously doubt they have the staying power to become involved in a long discussion. In my opinion, the forum registration steps form a good weeding out process. I'm not interested in making it easier for those with the attention span of a gnat to register.
 

Zelda

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Messages
82
I'm not sure how this is a problem. If someone isn't willing to wait for the fairly simple registration process to complete, I seriously doubt they have the staying power to become involved in a long discussion. In my opinion, the forum registration steps form a good weeding out process. I'm not interested in making it easier for those with the attention span of a gnat to register.
Respectfully, that narrow vision is precisely why many forums fail to succeed in the age of social media. People such as myself, and I'll include myself among them, are more than willing to have lengthy and mature conversations well beyond the scope of simple one-liners. I am sure you may presume myself to be among the minority, a simple edge case, where I am the exception and not the rule. But my own experience, looking beyond myself, proves that is not the case. What many forum administrators fail to appreciate or understand in our changing times is people want to be heard, and they want to be heard far and wide. Folks today are not lacking the will or desire to add content through conversations. The depths of society go well beyond the occasional meme or short puns. So I would argue, the content is there and for the taking. But where many forums fall short is they fail to live in the moment. People want to post, but they want to do it now. Not waiting for your approval or process, but now. The lack of now, the failure to live in the moment, is often a significant contributor to forums' death.
 
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Pete

Flavours of Forums Forever
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That said, I have long thought that the low barrier to entry in social media is actually part of the problem, along with its pace.

Social media is a medium that focuses on the 'now'. Everything is about reactions, about escalations, about living in the moment. With that comes an implication of 'living your best life' for everyone to react to. But living in the moment also implies a highly charged reactionary culture - where responses are often misspelled, often angrier than they need to be, because that ever implied fear of missing out, and fear of not being up with the drama encourage people to be there.

The social networks love this, of course, it all adds to the engagement, keeps people around, lets them see more ads etc. so they're always going to be all for it and build in this behaviour to keep people coming back.

I actually think a slower pace doesn't hurt anyone. I look at the topics I've just replied to over on my site... one of them was a whopping nine days between posts. NINE DAYS. Imagine that on Facebook, where it's literally reaction posts in some cases. It would be weird to be 9 days later.

This is not to say that forums shouldn't consider whether to reduce friction on their platforms or not - but it all ties back into the fact that forums are, by design, inherently meant to not be all about the reaction. They're designed to support much longer conversations than social media really encourages. I couldn't imagine this thread on Facebook; the UI would make it hard to read even on a desktop because everything's competing for space in ways it doesn't on forums (generally; it's certainly not a universal truth)

I think they're different tools for different kinds of interaction and we should use them as such.
 

Zelda

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Joined
Feb 25, 2021
Messages
82
That said, I have long thought that the low barrier to entry in social media is actually part of the problem, along with its pace.

Social media is a medium that focuses on the 'now'. Everything is about reactions, about escalations, about living in the moment. With that comes an implication of 'living your best life' for everyone to react to. But living in the moment also implies a highly charged reactionary culture - where responses are often misspelled, often angrier than they need to be, because that ever implied fear of missing out, and fear of not being up with the drama encourage people to be there.

The social networks love this, of course, it all adds to the engagement, keeps people around, lets them see more ads etc. so they're always going to be all for it and build in this behaviour to keep people coming back.

I actually think a slower pace doesn't hurt anyone. I look at the topics I've just replied to over on my site... one of them was a whopping nine days between posts. NINE DAYS. Imagine that on Facebook, where it's literally reaction posts in some cases. It would be weird to be 9 days later.

This is not to say that forums shouldn't consider whether to reduce friction on their platforms or not - but it all ties back into the fact that forums are, by design, inherently meant to not be all about the reaction. They're designed to support much longer conversations than social media really encourages. I couldn't imagine this thread on Facebook; the UI would make it hard to read even on a desktop because everything's competing for space in ways it doesn't on forums (generally; it's certainly not a universal truth)

I think they're different tools for different kinds of interaction and we should use them as such.
9 days?! If I did not know your niche, which I do (story role-playing), I would presume your site was new or only known to a few close friends (a very tight community). Myself, I would be experiencing complete panic if my activity was lacking throughout a day, much less nine. But I guess that is a big difference, your niche, and what you aim for your community.

My members do not refer to my site as a forum. I have not heard the term used in describing my site in a while, but instead, I am the social media site. I embraced the concept entirely as opposed to fighting it. Sometimes, yes, the content is not extensive when you have a group that loves to post one-liner puns and memes. But a fair amount of our content is quite extensive, and my mediocre posts are a small drop in comparison. But it got that way because I chose to embrace everything and be inclusive as opposed to exclusive. Initially, that lead to a lot of activity with entertaining content but lacking depth. But once it reached exponential growth, the content became more enriched and extensive.

But I digress. I guess you put out a very valid point. It depends on what your goals are and how do you envision your community.
 

Nev_Dull

Anachronism
Joined
Apr 27, 2010
Messages
2,185
But where many forums fall short is they fail to live in the moment. People want to post, but they want to do it now. Not waiting for your approval or process, but now. The lack of now, the failure to live in the moment, is often a significant contributor to forums' death.
I understand your argument, and in part, I agree with it. I've spent most of my working life as a user advocate and promoting better usability in everything. On the surface, what you're saying is inline with this: Remove barriers and make it faster and easier for people to get their posts on the forum.

Sometimes, however, barriers are there for a purpose. Removing all the traffic lights and signs from a city doesn't make commuting easier, just more confusing and dangerous. While hardly on the same level, the forum registration process does serve a purpose. Besides helping to weed out a few of the bots and spammers, it ensures a small level of commitment on the part of the registrant. It also slows a new member down, preventing them from posting in anger over something. And of course there are lots of ways the registration process helps forum admins.

I'm not talking here about making registration more difficult. Just filling out the form, perhaps answering an anti-bot question, and then clicking the automated response to verify your email and ensure you intended to join. I don't believe in putting new members into a moderation queue or limiting access to certain areas. Those are not useful barriers.

Keep in mind, too, this is a one-time process. Most forums allow you to remain logged in between sessions, which is a great way to remove unnecessary steps. This isn't a "narrow vision" of online communities. When done correctly, it serves a useful purpose.
 
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