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Crowdsourcing: New Member Introduction Thread


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Viewing 25 posts - 26 through 50 (of 89 total)
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  • #3749690
    matthew k
    Moderator

    @matthewkphx

    First make them comfortable here, they’ll talk about gear and technique soon enough (if that’s what they come here for).

    Agreed! Any thoughts on how to help our new members feel comfortable here in an introduction thread? That’s the question on the table. We want to encourage them to participate on the forums.

    #3749691
    matthew k
    Moderator

    @matthewkphx

    It helps because we don’t know the scope of the issue. If 100 people sign up a month and you never hear from them, that is a significant issue that probably needs to be addressed. If it’s 10, that is a different issue.

    I am glad you asked that. Perhaps I haven’t articulated this clearly. Most new members access the articles and other content outside of the forums without ever interacting here with you and me. I’m hoping to encourage some of them to participate over here as well! The “problem” isn’t membership, it’s how many of our new members that never interact on the forum. It seems like a lost opportunity for everyone to have a more active conversation and for the more experienced folks to pay back the advice they got five or twenty years ago.

    Sure, some of them won’t ever want to participate on the forums and that is fine. I’d like to ensure they all feel welcomed and are encouraged to participate here with us.

    #3749692
    Jon Fong
    BPL Member

    @jonfong

    Locale: FLAT CAT GEAR

    OK, we are getting better at defining the problem.  That being said, it would be best to clearly define the “problem statement”.

     

    If new membership is not a problem, is new members joining the forum a problem? If so, why?

    Do you want to obtain more members?  I would assume so as that is what tends to fund the site (I assume).

    Do you want Backpackinglight to have a greater impact?

    It is the engineer in me, tell me exactly whta the problem is and I will do my best to help come up with solutiuon.  But the “problem statement” must be clear and precise or I/we can go out in the weeds quickly.  Best regards.

    #3749697
    Ryan Jordan
    Admin

    @ryan

    Locale: Central Rockies

    Here’s the objective:

    What: Increase the % of our membership that participates in the forums.

    How: Encourage participation from new members. Once someone starts participating in the forums, they’re more likely to continue.

    Why: Forum participation increases connection to the community. Connection feels good. And our community is a resource that we’d like to see our members tap into, so they can use the breadth of resources at BPL (including our community) to help them grow.

    This feeds into our company’s core purpose:

    Backpacking Light helps people thrive outdoors.

    And I think our community is a big part of that for those members that do engage in the forums.

    The overarching goal here is to remove any barriers that prevent members from participating in the forums. In most communities (whether internet forums or IRL board meetings, church gatherins’, or town halls), those barriers are related to fear of being intimated, scolded, rejected, trolled, ridiculed. Other barriers are technical (“I don’t know how to post or don’t know where to go to learn how”) or educational (“I didn’t realize I could ask that question here!”). Some of our members face cultural, language, identity, or other barriers – some probably real, some probably perceived due to lack of engagement with the community and as Brene Brown puts it, they’re following the “story they’re making up in their head”.

    #3749699
    rubmybelly!
    BPL Member

    @sleeping

    Locale: The Cascades

    I took a quick look at a couple of articles, especially the end of the two I looked at (hopefully they’re representative of most, if not all, of the articles here).

    While the articles end with the beginning of the forum thread, there’s nothing at the bottom of the article encouraging readers to engage in the forum, so I’d look at that as a possible addition. Something along the lines of: Thanks for reading the article, we’d love to know your thoughts about it. Questions? Comments? Regardless of how long you’ve been a member here, we’d love to hear from you in the thread below.

    I think something like that, better worded, might encourage some folks to engage instead of just reading the article and moving on.

    #3749700
    Jon Fong
    BPL Member

    @jonfong

    Locale: FLAT CAT GEAR

    This is a good start. Again, the engineer in me asks asking a few questions

    What: Increase the % of our membership that participates in the forums.

    What is the current % that participates in the Forums? What is your ideal %? What is the timeframe you would like to meet these goals (or, how do you know that you have met your objectives)?

    It helps to know where you are at, where you want to get to and how long will it take.

    BTW, improvement is WHAT does not necessarily correlate to improvements in WHY and your WHY is not measurable as stated (yes, my engineering background).

    Final note: to be sure, I think that this is all good stuff, and I am willing to help out where I can

    #3749716
    Pat W
    BPL Member

    @thepatwalker

    I can add my own personal and highly specific example. I joined last month mainly for the Gear Swap and Articles.

    I treat the forum as a treat. Meaning, I go to Recent Posts and see what’s happening. They tend to provide daily content as opposed to the articles.

    As far as not posting….well….

    It takes a bit to learn the culture. I live in West Tennessee and a significant amount of my backpacking is in muggy, steamy 90+ summers. From what I see, most of you all are in completely different regions, so the style is different. I love reading about it, but have nothing to add.

    I have no idea how to fix that. Maybe you do.

    Then again, this seemed to work!

    #3749717
    Jon Fong
    BPL Member

    @jonfong

    Locale: FLAT CAT GEAR

    BTW, welcome to the site and thank you for posting!

    #3749718
    David Sugeno
    BPL Member

    @davesugeno

    Locale: Central Texas

    I’ll add my perspective.  I probably started checking this forum about 10 years ago, mainly looking for ways to lighten my kit.  I joined as a paid member in 2014.  In 2015 I bought a lifetime membership, which has turned out to be a good investment.

    In spite of having been a member here for 8 years, I very rarely post, and still feel like something of an outsider.  There are names that I see frequently, yet I know very little about any of you, where you’re from, where you backpack, etc.  Though I very much agree that we don’t want to pigeonhole or shame anyone, I think it would be good to help people to connect.  Just my opinion.  I think this is a very worthwhile discussion, and I’m glad we’re having it.

    #3749723
    W I S N E R !
    BPL Member

    @xnomanx

    I believe good manners would warrant introductions all around, not a process focused solely on newcomers.

    When a new student enters my classroom or we hire a new department member, everyone introduces themselves….unless you want to create a lopsided social dynamic from the start.

    #3749741
    matthew k
    Moderator

    @matthewkphx

    Welcome, Pat! Thanks for jumping in. Sidenote: I’m sure some of our members are familiar with humid and hot.

    It is interesting to hear David and Wisner mention the need for old-timers to introduce themselves. It’s a good point. We do have bios on our profile pages but that might not be the whole answer. Any thoughts on how introductions work for existing members?

    Ryan, thanks for jumping in and helping to define the objective.

    #3749929
    bradmacmt
    BPL Member

    @bradmacmt

    Locale: montana

    I pretty much agree. I’m assuming Todd is referencing another forum, bpbasecamp, which we both frequent. We have a “Trailhead Register”, which is ostensibly a place for new members to introduce themselves, but in practice functions more as a whatever you feel like talking about space. We have a set of questions we often ask newcomers, including opinions on okra, beer, bacon, and kilts. It’s kind of silly, but the point is relationship building, not how experienced you are. Even though the backpacking content has waned in recent years, I stay active on that forum, not so much for the info, as for the community. I think there is a lesson to be learned there.

    Hi David. I guess I’m not clear on the lesson you’ve learned at Backpackers Basecamp as it relates to new members. The site rarely adds any, and to me it’s at least partly clear why.

    I’ve been a member there going back to the original forum at least 15  years ago. I have honestly found it to be an incredibly cliquey forum, mostly given over to politics rather than backpacking. I find it’s political emphasis unfortunate, and I’ve read too many things by members there that cannot be unseen – things that have given me reason to lose respect for many of the members.

    The BPBC forum is a poster child for what NOT to do trying to integrate new members – not in the perfunctory pleasantries of “do you like ocra”, but more in the overall tenor of the forum. Politics are everywhere, and a backpacking forum is the last place I want to deal with yet another loud mouthed partisan of any stripe.

    #3749931
    bradmacmt
    BPL Member

    @bradmacmt

    Locale: montana

    As to new members here, I think most of us start as lurkers. That may go on for days, months, or years. Eventually, or not, one dips one’s toe in and somehow finds a way to integrate into the milieu. Or not. I really don’t think there’s a formal way to make this possible. I’m a member of several sites that have a “new members forum” and I think it’s mostly a waste of time, even though I have participated in them.

    As with any gathering, it’s not how one is greeted at the front door, but how one is treated once inside the party that matters… that’s really up to all we participating members.

    #3749952
    Ray J
    BPL Member

    @rhjanes

    Hi Jon, Forum Member numbers are, to me, meaningless.  I used to moderate some drum building forums.  There was a pissing match about “who has MORE members!”.  The forum I was moderating, we ran a query about once a month.  The query was supplied by the software company.  We had it set so it said “if there is a member who has been a member for 365 days or MORE and NEVER posted, DELETE them”.  If you go browsing around the Member lists on like Whiteblaze, you can bring up a page with 25 member names on it and only a few ever posted.  Lots of people sign up and decide “not for me”.  If the moderators never remove those “members”, are they truly members?  Also if you ever look at the “Who’s online”, you will also see stuff like 90 percent of the objects on the forum, are Spiders and Bots all doing data mining stuff.

     

    I’m THANKFUL to new members who spend some time researching first.  We as a forum need to NOT react to first posters in a negative way.  On those drum builders forums, we had to, privately, ask members to refrain from “slamming” the new members asking “So which drum sticks are best”  (Um….well for MARCHING, for METAL, for light JAZZ….some folks like the feel of the slick lacquer of ProMark sticks while others of us like the slight tack of Vic Furth…and…..)

    I got here on a recommendation from another hiker I hiked with for a few days some years back.  While I had tried to go light, his gear was even lighter.  When I asked him how he’d found some of this gear, he pointed me to this website.

     

    Taco’s.

    #3749955
    Jon Fong
    BPL Member

    @jonfong

    Locale: FLAT CAT GEAR

    I tend to agree.  That being said, Ryan has an object to increase enrollment.  There is an old golf saying “how do you get better at golf?  Start counting the strokes”.  Increasing enrollment is not an easy task.  Coming up with a plan is hard.  Measuring your results is even harder.  If you don’t make any sort of measurement, whatever plan you come up with may be a complete waste of time.  People are driven by rewards: why do people want to post?  Two primary reasons are to share information or opinions or to seek information or opinions.

    The OP was seeking information.  Just posting the question got a few responses from new members as well as longer term members who do not post very often. So that information that was not known before.  The question is, how do we get more people to share or seek information and opinions? (and how do you measure it).  My 2 cents.

    #3749972
    Monte Masterson
    BPL Member

    @septimius

    Locale: Changes Often

    If BPL wants to acquire new members and keep them by getting them more involved with posting, management needs to copy trek-lite.com whereby you can give a thumbs-up “like” to a post you approve of. It invites a deeper analysis and provides the poster with a sense whether or not their ideas resonate with the community at large. If the post is a flop no big deal because there’s not a thumbs-down dislike option. Yet when someone hits upon knowledge or clever ideas that members like the poster can feel a sense of reward and thereby feel more invested in the site as a whole.

    BPL is much less snarky than in years past. It used to be frequented by a cabal of elites who would throw shade at new posters who espoused different out-of-the-box ideas. It was kind of a clique of big egos that would often close ranks on a revolutionary thinker if he/she didn’t show deference to the “experts”. Things are a thousand times better now, way more inclusive, but there’s only so much you can do to get new members to interact on the website. You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make them drink.

    #3749974
    Jon Fong
    BPL Member

    @jonfong

    Locale: FLAT CAT GEAR

    So, to add to this, yes, it gives the poster some feedback which I think is a great thing. If you wanted to increase contributions, you could also provide an incentive to posting. On reddit Ultralight, they issue Karma point (worthless). However, you could take that concept and reward posters who contribute by allowing them to redeem “points” to be applied to the annual membership and that could have an impact. It might get new member to contribute at the start. It goes back to “how important is it to Ryan to increase membership”.

    #3749988
    matthew k
    Moderator

    @matthewkphx

    Clarification: The goal is not to increase enrollment or drive membership on the website. It’s not a revenue grab. The goal is to encourage new BPL members to interact on the forums.

    In my original post, I said:

    We have many new members that join the site each month but don’t interact on the forums and we want to encourage these new members to feel welcome to engage the interactive side of BPL, here on the Forums.

    Ryan said:

    What: Increase the % of our membership that participates in the forums.

    #3750061
    George W
    BPL Member

    @ondarvr

    As a newer member I don’t post much because compared to others here I don’t have much to offer. Also, I never fill out profiles, and rarely do any type of introductory post, although eventually I did do one here. If there is any type of mandatory profile questionnaire or introductory statement, I don’t join. Not because I’m wearing a tin-foil hat, I’m just not looking for a social group or a place to hangout and chat. That sounds a bit rude, but I’m looking for accurate information and well thought out ideas, which this forum/site provides better than just about any other source.

    I may spend hours doing searches for information instead of asking questions. This way I can get the information and also see what the general thought process and philosophy/mindset of the current members are.

    #3750072
    matthew k
    Moderator

    @matthewkphx

    Thank you for responding, George.

    BPL values privacy. We would never require new members to introduce themselves.

    #3750115
    Dan
    BPL Member

    @dan-s

    Locale: Colorado

    As a newer member I don’t post much because compared to others here I don’t have much to offer. Also, I never fill out profiles, and rarely do any type of introductory post, although eventually I did do one here. If there is any type of mandatory profile questionnaire or introductory statement, I don’t join. Not because I’m wearing a tin-foil hat, I’m just not looking for a social group or a place to hangout and chat. That sounds a bit rude, but I’m looking for accurate information and well thought out ideas, which this forum/site provides better than just about any other source.

    I may spend hours doing searches for information instead of asking questions. This way I can get the information and also see what the general thought process and philosophy/mindset of the current members are.

    Well, as noted above, the point of this thread (and this initiative) is to engage members who are interested in interacting virtually with a group, sharing their thoughts and contributing. Not people who lurk in the background and silently mine ideas and information posted by others. I think it’s a good start because it shows that the owners care about participation. However, I think it will be challenging to keep new members engaged on the forums without a larger culture change, and I’m not sure how that will happen.

    #3750117
    Jon Fong
    BPL Member

    @jonfong

    Locale: FLAT CAT GEAR

    Well, as noted above, the point of this thread (and this initiative) is to engage members who are interested in interacting virtually with a group, sharing their thoughts and contributing. Not people who lurk in the background and silently mine ideas and information posted by others.

    IMO, the thread has been valuable to understand what new members are interested in.  If, like George W they are interested in searching for information rather than contributing, isn’t that a success? You are meeting a customer requirement.  It may not be the one that you initially were interested in. but that is what they are interested in.  Expanding on that, it would be ideal to haev an easier to use search methodology.  I find when I do searches, there is a lot of chaff in the wheat.

    #3750310
    Bruce Tolley
    BPL Member

    @btolley

    Locale: San Francisco Bay Area

    Matthew,

    What I am not following is how creating a new forum called new member forum is a solution. The very name itself looks like a forum for new members to talk to each other which is the exact opposite of what you are aiming for, yes?

    #3750312
    Dan
    BPL Member

    @dan-s

    Locale: Colorado

    Yes, it would probably be better to have a “sticky thread” (which stays near the top) in the General Lightweight Backpacking Discussion forum. New members could simply add a reply to that thread.

    Of course, a new member forum could also work, but would require each new member to start their own thread, which seems unnecessary, and would not integrate the introductions into the main forums.

    #3750317
    JCH
    BPL Member

    @pastyj-2-2

    “Expanding on that, it would be ideal to haev an easier to use search methodology.  I find when I do searches, there is a lot of chaff in the wheat.”

    That!  SO that!  I have been on this site for almost 20 years and even when I know exactly what thread/post/author I am trying to locate, the Search feature is tedious, imprecise and just horrible at surfacing anything close to what I am looking for.

    I have much better luck using Googlé with a search string like:
    site: backpackinglight.com <search terms>

    Improving the likelihood of someone finding what they are looking for might just spur more interaction than any new users thread.

Viewing 25 posts - 26 through 50 (of 89 total)
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