Since starting Hang With Friends, my biggest headache has been what we might call the discussion-starting threshold. It's ever so much easier for members to contribute comments or replies than to add discussions. My husband identified it as a design function flaw. Ning hosts us, and their software designers made choices embedded in our medium of communication.

 

We get comment and reply windows, right  in our faces. But they almost hide the add a discussion feature.

 

Marshall McLuhan said that the medium is invisible, we only pay attention to its message.

 

 

Frankly, people, I'm at a loss as to how to overcome this psychological barrier to adding discussions.

Am I misinterpreting what's going on here? Do you have a different take? Within minutes of Roz and Russ starting their discussion on updating, contributions flowed in. Sometimes almost a day goes by with no new discussions added. To me the response rate seems three orders of magnitude higher for replies compared to starting discussions.

I'm open to suggestions.

 

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Replies to This Discussion

I think of it as a dance hall.  Plenty of people, male or female, want to be asked to dance, but only a fraction of them are comfortable asking someone else to dance.  I'm not that familiar with this site so I haven't added a discussion, and actually I think this is my first reply here.  I'm not sure how one would go about getting the ball rolling but I've seen some great discussions open up on various boards.  Lately it seems that a great topic is: Which is more dangerous: Islam or Christianity?

Heather, you said, "I'm not sure how one would go about getting the ball rolling..." Please check out Hints for Newbies, where we clarify how to add a discussion.

Your dance hall analogy brings up the issue of social risk. Initiating discussions is perceived as risky. I'd like this group to feel like a safe place, but I'm not sure what else to do. If anybody makes a personal attack on another member, I can remove him or her from the group and delete the attack. What would reassure you? Does that question seem too personal? Maybe if people shared their horror stories of having been shot down after posting. I might learn something from that. We should get this fear out in the open to deal clarify the underlying issue. I only have my own social network experience to guide me as moderator.

I have absolutely no inhibitions about posting new discussions or being 'shot down' - I shoot right back.  For my part, however, I am rather well otherwise engaged in thorough debates already, on other sites.  It is my tendency here to maintain only a cursory observation for topics which capture my fancy or points to which I feel I may have a relevant counter point or elucidation.


John, you said that starting something "opens me up for all sorts of abuse." Not as long as I'm moderator! If anyone abuses you verbally, let me know right away. Their post will be deleted and they will be history (as for as this group is concerned).
Well... I'm not sure which type of BB (forums posting software) that's used here, but in most cases, it's easy enough to change the coding. This could mean reconfiguring the skin or placement of buttons so that whatever feature you desire is wherever you want it to be, eg making the "add a discussion" feature the most prominent thing on the page.
As moderator I don't have access to the coding. Perhaps the Atheist Nexus administrators do, but I fear they're understaffed. We're not a money making success, as far as I can tell. I asked two weeks ago if a particular video was OK to post, and never got  a response. I've also seen a complaint that a group which included racist content was allowed to stand far too long before removal. Something like that should have been done the first day it started.
I wouldn't worry about it - too much - or start lots of discussion yourself - or contact people directly to find out what they are interesting in and then start discussions based on those topics. It's all about relationships - so don't do a poll that is non personal as it's connection that people want and respond too - not polls.
You're right, Alice, people want connection and relationships when they come here. It saddens me to see that 90% of new people just drop out instead of finding connections. Just pick any page from the members list that's a few months old, and see how many people found nothing and never came back. I've been trying to reach out to them. But, *sigh*, as moderator I have to care about barriers to making connections here in our group. You're very outgoing and confident, well above average from what I can tell. Most people, I get the impression, feel as if they've walked into a big convention full of strangers and everybody in the room is ignoring them. I'd like to change that feeling here, so I worry and try stuff. BTW, I appreciate all you've contributed, Alice. You're great!

I don't think it's due to site mechanics.  For me personally, I'm the last person to start a conversation, much less one where I'm requesting multiple people to direct their attention to me, and that unfortunately transfers to the online realm.

 

That isn't to say I am not interested in what's going on because I do read everything, however, I only post where I think my response isn't just a rehash of someone else's thoughts, and when the topic isn't a nitpick fest over things that I don't feel are relevant to the overall picture.

So, are you saying Tara, that starting a discussion feels uncomfortably as if you're raising your voice to get lots of people to pay attention to what you're saying? It always felt to me as if I were speaking in a normal tone of voice in a group sitting in a circle, where people were already curious about my opinion and we were expected to take turns talking. I think members here are interested. BTW, I love your description of Hang With Friends as a group to bum around in.

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