Since I polluted these pristine waters
, I thought I'd answer these Qs.
1. Did you message a new noder in the past 10 days? If so, how well do you think you introduced them to the site?
Oh no. It's been probably 5 years since I've messaged a new noder. At least.
2. Did you receive any replies or messages from new users of the site? How many? What were they generally about? What was your reaction to getting contacted by these users?
Nope, nothing for me. Thankfully. I'm not sure I would know what to say. Sorry?
3. How did you do with communicating in general? What were your reactions their comments?
4. What kinds of things did you do to learn about helping new users out? How much content of theirs did you read before messaging them and what impression did you form about them?
5. What did you think about new users and how well they fit into the concept of E2 ?
Goddamned new users pollute the sanctity of E2!
6. Why do you think they come to this site?
7. Why do you think they leave?
Everything2 is unfriendly to new noders
8. Where do you want E2 to go?
Woof, here's the million dollar question. My main goal for E2 is survival. My own viewpoint is that new users are essential to that. As others have eloquently mentioned, any online community has churn, as old users move on to other projects, or get pissed, or whatever. It's essential to attract new users to replace those who leave, at least if a goal is to have the site survive.
It's easy to discount the lessons of this class exercise. The students weren't given enough time to really learn about E2. But how many users are really going to take that time? The students were forced into participation. But how much more likely will it be for users who aren't forced to flee the site? We only want good writers here anyway. As in all periods of human history, great writers are rather thin on the ground. Isn't there any way to include users who aren't great writers?
The main thing this class exercise tells me, speaking ex cathedra, is that new users hate it when you dump on their stuff. No duh. But how do we balance that with the usual flood of mediocre content contributed by new users? Here's what I believe. Downvotes are harmful, at least to new users. Nate came up with them on a whim based on his MUD experiences, they're not the word of God. Downvotes are mostly there for decision support. Don't bother to read this WU because those who have said it sucks balls. Another effect of rating is to provde feedback about the value of your contribution. Unfortunately, the kids in my class had a hard time interpreting downvotes. Part of human nature is to assign blame exogenously. So if a user receives a negative rating, without knowing why, they assume it's because the raters are elitest or exclusionary, as opposed to thinking their write up sucks.
I think a model to consider is where first level users are treated very differently. Rather than delete their write ups, have all first levels start off in a sandbox where they can write whatever the fuck they want, but other users vote on it to send it to the main database. Postive feedback is more enforcing than negative feedback, at least according to B.F. Skinner. Then you still get control, new users get the instant gratification they are seeking, and all is cool. That's just me thinking aloud though.