Dear editors, gods, coders, bears, chickens and things:

It seems to me that, in light of recent increased Catbox activity in general and certain just-transpired events in specific, and seeing as there are often no chanops logged on, it might be time to knight some more of those, as well as (re-)adopt a harsher principle of moderation. If I could make a wish, I would like to put forth the excellent, level-headed and hammer-handed Sam512 as one of these new personages.

That's about it for now.

Stay mëtäl,

Once again, we have seen E2 have some signs of renewed interest and activity amongst the user base, and once again, we have seen that interest flatten out as November ends. It is unfortunate that it had to be the passing of one our best users, dannye, that triggered a lot of old users coming back, but there was a week or so where the renewed interest and connection was rather encouraging. It was nice to feel the energy, excitement and meaning on here again. This also coincided with another Iron Noder, which as always begin with a lot of output from a lot of quality writers.

But alas, it seems that things have cooled down a little. And looking at the site statistics on site trajectory and site trajectory 2, it looks like this Iron Noder will be quantitatively one of the least successful. Of course its not just numbers that make the writing here worthwhile, but they are a good metric for enthusiasm and participation.

But there is a number that I think is more symptomatic than the number of writers generated in a month: New Users and Contributing Users. According to Site Trajectory, there has been a little over 100 new users joining a month this year, which is even a step down from the numbers in the 200s and 300s in the past two years. I don't know how many of those accounts are "real people" as opposed to some sort of spam or bot accounts, but I imagine at least some of them are. The second statistic is from Site Trajectory 2, where we can see how many users contributed in a month. This number is disappointingly low. Although we've had an uptake, it bottomed out at 54 users who wrote something in September.

On my homenode, I have my mission here listed as writing things to attract more people. My thinking has been, for a while, that generating content on niche interests would gather the google hits from the esoterically minded, who would then see our great little community and want to join. But it seems like there still are people joining. And there are old users visiting. But for some reason, they don't seem to want to write.

Taking the time and effort to write is an equation with two factors: costs and rewards. Part of the problem on E2 is that the rewards take a little longer to come, compared to Facebook, where reports of a tasty lunch will net someone scads of approval. But another problem is the costs: it takes time and effort into making a writeup here, and especially for new or infrequent users, it can be intimidating to produce what the user base wants.

If people are following me so far, and agree that this is a problem, I do have a solution that could perhaps be implemented with technical tools at hand, and would maybe solve the problem (at least in part). I suggest that we have open nodes where people can write on an introductory or experimental basis. One of these would be a monthly "introduction node" where new users could write a little bit about themselves, how they found E2, and what they hope to write about. We could perhaps also have open nodes for creative writing. The point of this would be to encourage participation by new users, without the stress of having to wonder whether what they are writing is "good enough". I also imagine that these write-ups would be unvoteable.

I know that the decline in interest of E2 is a complicated subject, and I know there is not a magic wand for it. However, I do believe that there are a lot of people who are interested in writing, but find the process to be too steep of a learning curve, and are intimidated by the prospect of failure. I think we should do something to invite more of the new users, and many of the old users, to be more active.

Dear Editors,

For what it is worth, I would like to second Glowing Fish's concern related to the current site trajectory numbers. On more than one occasion I have written with my own concerns and suggestions, but I too have been following the numbers and once again feel a need to raise my hand. Please accept these comments in a spirit of good faith and friendliness, and not as a "the sky is falling" type of attack. I want to share my concerns for a place that has meaning for anyone reading this in hopes that it will support Glowing's request to rethink a few things. So here goes:

  • Timeliness of Front Page Updates - Since this past summer there have been several instances where information was not updated in a timely manner on the front page. I mention this because it is directly relevant to the user experience and generating user interest in submissions. Two specific examples are the speed with which "News for Noders" is updated and the changeover of the "Current Poll". In the first case, the "News for Noders" is not being maintained in step with Quest announcements. Several days after the announcement of this year's Horrorquest in Jet-Poop's writeup, it still had not been added to the front page. If we announce a Quest a week or two prior to its beginning, users can begin thinking about topics or even start writing drafts. By waiting until several days after it has started, we risk losing some of the early interest and momentum in participation.

    In the second case, in preparation for Horrorquest, I submitted a poll for the month of October that simply asked users about their favorite monsters. This was meant to correspond with the current Quest. However, we have the same poll today that we had in September, with no update in the last two months. While I would agree that both of these taken alone are minor items, they are small steps that are easily rectified.

  • Visitor Feedback - I will admit I have never been a big fan of the change in the front page to a different view from that of a logged in user to a visitor. In either case, I would recommend something similar to Glowing Fish's idea, except instead of writing free-form, we could have an open node for visitors who are not logged in to leave comments, suggestions, or even request for nodes. We could even build Quests around visitor feedback and suggestions for new writings.

  • Experience System - Finally, a long time ago we increased the amount of votes available, and we changed voting rewards from experience to GP. Experience points allow users to progress in levels and earn global, permanent benefits such as home node pictures. But I don't believe we have really found a legitimate use for GP yet. I would request that users think about alternate ways in which GP can be utilized. Maybe for temporary benefits, effects, powers, or some kind of short-term ability. This last point is more of a brainstorming suggestion.

Thank you everyone for taking the time to read this. Thank you for what you do for the website, whether it be volunteering your time as management, or submitting writeups, or providing votes and feedback to other writers.

-- corvus

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