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Discussion Forums » Bloop Site Development
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Helping Bloop Be Better
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16 Feb 2011, 03:42
Rhapsody

Post Count: 53
So, this was originally posted as an entry but the mighty Estella requested for me to post it here so she could read it and maybe get some more Bloopers to respond. There was a pre-entry to this, but you'll have to go see it for yourself. lol.



...............................................




I typically try to avoid site politics, but I realized that I do have quite a bit to say and perhaps I should voice those thoughts. In the last entry I threw out a few hair brained ideas that could work but maybe not be fitted to this particular site. In this entry, I plan on just throwing out ideas to help the site.



Let me just get one thing out of the way before I continue: I would have absolutely no idea how to put a site like this together, nor keep it running for nearly a decade. I do however know a bit about presentation and I can recognize that the site isn’t so much moving forward but being dragged in chains step by step as those of us who do show up regardless trudge through soft ground.



All I want to achieve with this entry is following through on my own demands and brainstorming ideas (the good, bad, and ugly) that could help our Commander in Chief. If we come up with the ideas as a community, then Steve can focus his mental energy on all that background stuff that makes the site tick.



I would also like to apologize if the entry seems a bit scattered. I literally went to work yesterday, grabbed some paper, and wrote down things as they came to me. Hopefully I can read my own writing.



Firstly, what needs to be realized is that things such as not removing retired Mods from the main page and not removing NoJoMo after several months gives the impression to new members that the site is, in fact, dying. That’s not exactly how we need to be presenting ourselves. We don’t need things to be replaced immediately, just the invalid things removed.



Moving on…



I feel there should be a Mod for every thousand diaries. I also think there should be tiered Mods. This idea may have had something to do with my brainstorming at work, but two Mods could be like 1st assistant managers and the other two or 3 could be 2nd assistant managers. The difference? The 1st assistants moderate the forums.



I’m not sure what all the Mods are supposed to be doing. Judging by some comments made about the forums, it sounds like even they didn’t know exactly what they needed to do. Based on that Intel, I would say there needs to be some structure added to what the Mods do, what they are capable of, and the things they should pawn off to Steve as opposed to handling themselves.



Even better is the Mods could also function as event coordinators for the site. They can plan the interactive events from contests to challenges like NoJoMo. They could plan the timeline for such things and the incentives. Or they could “contract” out such ideas like NoJoMo to other diarists who may be able to stick to stricter schedules like posting every day and the Mods could simply oversee the project rather than run the project.



As for incentives, I think there should be more opportunities to get points, however, I also feel that it should require more points to get Plus. I mean, one cheap “welcome” comment to a newbie is one month of Plus. I think it should be revered to get Plus. Say, someone has to comment on a newbie’s first ten entries before getting any points… then they get one or two months of Plus. I realize that there is no simple way of getting that done but monitoring that could be more Mod work. Also, perhaps participation in challenges should get points and winners get a free month of Xtra?



I’m not sure if this is in place or not, but Mods should get Xtra free so long as they are Mods.



Mods should also be introducing themselves to newbies. At least one should, anyway. During surges, this could be difficult, but so long as at least one of them gives a “welcome, this is who I am and this is how I can help” would be decent.



So long as it can be helped, there should be staff meetings. Pick a messenger, chat for 30 or 45 minutes a month then write up an entry about it. Are the bills paid? How’s the server running? Are we looking at a new host? What month long challenge will we have this month? What are the incentives for the challenge? What’s the poll for the month? What will the themes of the week be for this month?



There is plenty that can be discussed and communicated to Bloopers.



I guess the moral of all of what I’ve said so far is that there should be more structure. The site itself is very well organized. I’ve said that in the previous entry already. There needs to be a bit more structure with expectations and staffing.



Why not have a diary that is just used for Mods while they are on official Bloop business? That could get a bit sticky but it may help with some stuff like a central place to communicate with the Mods as a whole without raising a ticket.



Back to the forums. Perhaps Members can view, but only Plus and Xtra can contribute? Pay or earn your right to open discussion. More revenue and participation will equal more opportunities to unlock on the site.



As for events/challenges themselves, we need a variety. We need to focus on what brings us all together. For November we have writing an entry every day for a month. For December, there is taking a photo every day for a month. Let’s have an “every day for a month” challenge for every month. There can be other challenges such as the “12 in Twelve” that I’ve seen around. The 12 in Twelve is to read 12 books in twelve months. There could be a challenge for poetry, either reading or writing. There can be the usual art stuff besides taking photos. There can be a challenge to finding photos or creating ones that fit certain themes (pulling from LIMS here). There can be word challenges such as writing an entire entry with alliteration (think the glorious speech in the movie V For Vendetta when V gives a speech with lots of v-words). Or other word challenges such as having a list of 10 words you have to write a paragraph of 100 words using every word from the list.
Have quizzes, surveys, polls, etc. Use the polls to gain feedback or use the Mod diary to get feedback or similar to the coding used for raising a ticket, make a similar feature for making suggestions like we do with the Theme of the Week.



Do a featured diary of the month. Have people be nominated by peers or even by staff.



Maybe do a gaming event where we go to a separate site to play in community gaming tables (like how you can with online poker or the Scrabble spin-off called Lexulous.)



There are superbly creative people on the site and many who are already doing extra things to make life a little less boring on the site. It’s always the same people who are handling the extras. Perhaps if we utilize their interest in the site and their natural talents with organizing and creativity, we could form Bloop into a social center where people can come to write about their lives and participate in activities where they can get to know other Bloopers and perhaps find a comfort spot or clique they fit into.



I sat down for one day and came up with all this stuff. What else can we come up with? Are there ideas here that totally suck? Can those ideas be improved or are they just screwed? Are there ideas that I didn’t think about? What can we do to help Steve improve the site and it’s alleged reputation elsewhere?

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16 Feb 2011, 21:57
Bellatrix Lestrange

Post Count: 234
Do a featured diary of the month. Have people be nominated by peers or even by staff.

I love this idea!
But maybe a featured diary per week- I would prefer that idea (;
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17 Feb 2011, 06:33
lithium layouts.

Post Count: 836
An interactive monthly challenge/theme diary is an excellent idea, as it would stimulate some hearty contribution/discussion. =) As Gina said, though, it is VERY intensive. The person/people involved would have to be very committed and be able to stick to it for the entire month, or else it would fizzle out. The problem I've noticed with a lot of these things in the past (e.g. Bloop 'Zine) is that everyone's really motivated in the beginning, and then one by one people get busy with real life and the idea falls to the wayside. To avoid this problem, we would need to have some sort of roster/rotation/nomination thing where it's DIFFERENT people doing it each month. If one person wants to do it for 2 months consecutively, fine, but they need to be 100% sure they can actually fulfil the responsibility. And as a mod, I would certainly be happy to oversee such things and make sure they're running smoothly.

And, maybe Steve could provide some sort of Xtra incentive for those who do decide to do it (and complete it fully). ;)

Re the long-standing photo/creative challenge diaries (e.g. Bia's photo challenge diary): I agree they are also fantastic. =) But, and I say this with incredible sadness, it seems to have fallen a bit out of vogue. I know that there used to be a whole bunch of us who used to run these diaries - me, Jessa, Bia, Jaime, Jessica, Keri, Ambi... but with the years that have passed, we've all gotten really busy and been able to commit less time to these things (I speak for myself, at least). So I think a once-a-month rotating thing of different themes and challenges could work, and have the longevity required. =)
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17 Feb 2011, 06:46
Rhapsody

Post Count: 53
I would agree with the intensity. Never on Bloop but back in the day on TOD, I did all sorts of stuff.

I'm glad that you are on board with the idea. I really do feel that monthly activities would really boost morale, interaction, and even give Bloop a marketable quality. Something like "Bloop Diary: Levels of Opportunity." That's dumb, but the point still remains. If all you want is a place to read, write, and communicate with faves, you can do it here. If you want all that plus regular activities to ease those boring days, you can have it here. Whether you want to blend in or stand out, you can pick it here.

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16 Feb 2011, 04:05
Jessica [Private]

Post Count: 1751
I skimmed this when I saw it in your diary ;D Overall I think you have some very good ideas! :D

I mean, one cheap “welcome” comment to a newbie is one month of Plus. - It costs more than one point for Plus. It's 30 for just one month. I cashed in my points for a year in November... and so far other than "select stars" I haven't seen anything else that you get.

I’m not sure if this is in place or not, but Mods should get Xtra free so long as they are Mods. - As far as I'm aware this is already in place :)

Back to the forums. Perhaps Members can view, but only Plus and Xtra can contribute? Pay or earn your right to open discussion. More revenue and participation will equal more opportunities to unlock on the site. - I very much like this idea. It's at least worth considering :)

Do a featured diary of the month. Have people be nominated by peers or even by staff. - I remember doing this for the Bloop 'Zine awhile back. If I recall no one ever submitted anyone, and we wound up having to randomly pick people. Which kind of ruined the fun :( I like the idea though.

Mods should also be introducing themselves to newbies. At least one should, anyway. During surges, this could be difficult, but so long as at least one of them gives a “welcome, this is who I am and this is how I can help” would be decent. - I agree with this idea :) The last time I started a new diary, I believe my first entry got an auto-comment from Steve welcoming me to the site. Idk if this is still going on, but I thought it was a nice thing :)
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16 Feb 2011, 08:34
K♥Blah

Post Count: 65
I just had an idea for the featured diary of the month. Maybe we could find a way to make this work, I'm not sure how, but then if we find a way, we could then put a photo of the person on the front page - a link to to their diary and maybe a little bit of a blurb about the person. Make it really a really noticeable promotion? Also maybe we could send the featured blogger a little prize - you know a little bit of incentive for others to get involved.
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16 Feb 2011, 05:06
Ashalicious

Post Count: 90
I like the idea for forums, having those with Xtra or Plus able to contribute - great way to help sales on subscriptions. But I think there should also be some other features for them. Xtra has it's perks, but like Jessica said there isn't much you get with Plus. I really love the ideas on events here! We need to do things like that here to give Bloop new life again and draw in new people. I don't quite know how to motivate them to get involved but there have got to be ways. Again like Jessica said it's great offering activities but if no one participates then it's pretty much useless. Definitely need to be more mods though, and their job duties clearly outlined to them so they know what is expected of them and what authority they have or don't have. I feel like I harp on this a lot, but I would LOVE to see the diary circles somehow brought back to life again as well. I think any features like that and events need to be on the front page so they get attention and hopefully get used. Great ideas, hopefully others come up with even more! :)
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16 Feb 2011, 05:33
KerriBlue

Post Count: 260
I think you're right about the circles. I think maybe they need to be easier to use. (I have to check the current procedure because I continue typing this). I think - well I know for sure I would post A WHOLE HEAP MORE to the circles if there was a feature when you're actually typing your entry. It would be so cool if I could just click a button after I finish typing my entry and then - it's done, nothing to worry about anymore. As it is at the moment, I have to publish my entry first, then go into the circles and then submit the entry. Yes it's not that hard - but I think convenience makes a huge difference. (I'm pretty sure I've discussed this before).

I can't really talk about meet-ups from my perspective, just because I'm in Australia and as many Australian bloopers as there are - it wouldn't be a massive fan-fair, it would be like 3 - 4 people sitting down to coffee haha. Which I guess isn't too bad, but I'm sure the American meetups would be huge!

I have to agree with people who have suggested a month long "event". Like when NoJoWriMo was on (or whatever the hell it was called) and there was a list of 30 prompts for the month. I didn't stop blogging that whole month - it really encouraged me to write every day.

I hate the idea I'm about to suggest. Only because I HATEHATEHATEHATE change and last time bloop did this, I voiced how much I HATEHATEHATEHATED the change, but eventually i got over it. But maybe...Maaaaaaaaaaybe, bloop needs a bit of a facelife? I mean we all got excited when the colour changes happened a few months back - especially the orange and black over halloween (lets face it the pink and purple was BLINDING). All i'm saying is, when I need a big of motivation or fresh start, I change my room around, move my bed, get new bed covers etc. Some girls like to change up their hair or whatever the case may be . Maybe a facelift will motivate us?

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16 Feb 2011, 05:40
Ashalicious

Post Count: 90
The pink and purple was HORRIBLE! It wasn't true cute light pink though, it was blinding magenta like you said haha. I think different colors would be great! I am voting for green next mainly because I have a small 4 year old telling me it should be green and she's quite the convincer :)

Yeah I think they would get used more if they will on the front page as well, and like you said a feature to add your entry to it from the diary edit page. I miss when everyone wrote daily for NoJoMo! People went back to barely writing again after that, we need more activities like that. In another forum Blue Bella (I hope I said her name right, if not I'm sorry!) suggested a monthly photograph group where you take a picture in the theme and sub-theme for that month, or something along those lines. I think that is another great idea and could also be put on the on the front page.

Maybe online meetups instead? We have a chat feature here but I don't think anyone uses it anymore, I am not for sure on that though. Maybe a way to bring that back to life as well and do a meet-up with those in other countries.
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16 Feb 2011, 06:39
KerriBlue

Post Count: 260
Well...St Patricks day is coming up - so green would be very fitting for a multitude of reasons haha.
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16 Feb 2011, 08:31
.Blue Bella.

Post Count: 743
And green is the best colour ever.
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16 Feb 2011, 14:56
Ashalicious

Post Count: 90
My daughter agrees with you wholeheartedly on that! :) She repeatedly asks me when the website with be green XD
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16 Feb 2011, 06:11
Rhapsody

Post Count: 53
My original intention was online meet ups! Also, the whole face lift thing was in the pre-entry to this one where I actually did compare it to TOD. Click Here to read it.
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16 Feb 2011, 11:32
Estella

Post Count: 1779
When I was a mod, it was decided not to mod diaries any more - a decision I agreed with, because it seemed a bit pointless and also intrusive. I felt uncomfortable opening passes to people's FO or private diaries. It was decided that if a diary was posting illegal stuff, then it was more than likely that it would be reported in a ticket (people love reporting other diaries, I find! Lots of tickets saying 'OMG this person posted a naked cartoon! Go tell them off!'). So personally, I don't think reading each diary regularly to mod them is necessary - it seems a bit like over-policing at the expense of people's privacy. A sort of 'Big Brother' thing.

To be honest, when I was a staffie, we soon realised that there really wasn't a lot for staff to do, and there was no need for so many of us. We wondered why on earth there had been so many staffies before us! There are really not many tickets at all, because Bloop is so small, and most tickets take a couple of seconds to answer. So staff became inactive because not needed. Unless Bloop quadruples in size or something, it makes more sense just to have three staffies like there are now.

However, it seems that some people want staff to get involved in conflict resolution, which we'd decided was not an appropriate job for staff, so if this is what people want, then it makes sense to have some forum mods who can do a bit of that, and work independently. I am not quite sure how this would work, as these forums are so tiny. I can't really envisage a lot of work for mods to do. I can see the possibility of mods wanting to be visibly active and also to remind everyone of their mod-ship and so finding small things to jump on rather than just stepping back and only intervening every couple of months or whenever needed. Judging from the response of Bloopers to when I and others became staff, a lot of people see modship as an ego-boosting power thing! So I think a lot of people would find it hard to take on a role which is very much in the background, and most of the time involves reading and not doing much. And if they were able to do this, I imagine quite a few Bloopers would respond with 'OMG why are they forum mods?! They don't do anything!!!' So it will be interesting to see how it pans out. I actually think it could be quite harmful to the forums, and end up making them a lot more drama-filled than they are now (contrary to popular opinion, there really isn't much drama in these forums!). But then maybe the drama will bring more people to Bloop! Who knows!
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16 Feb 2011, 12:19
Estella

Post Count: 1779
I've had a little think about this while in the bath. If mods were to welcome all newbies, this would be consistent with the more paternalistic Bloop that some people seem to want. People who want a site where they feel staff are looking after them will like this. For myself, I think I'd have found it a bit claustrophobic if I'd been personally welcomed by mods when I first joined Bloop. A lot of people like a bit of anonymity when they join a site. Not that welcoming all newbies is a bad idea - but like any idea, it will appeal to some people and not others, so it involves working out what the overall plan for Bloop is.

In my experience, sites which have a lot of personalised modding tend to be smaller sites, and a lot of people feel a bit stifled and leave, but the few who stay really enjoy the personal attention. Back in the day, before I and my cronies were on staff, the staffies before us wanted Bloop to be a small cosy site. They were like babysitters for Bloop, involved in everyone's business, and some people liked this and others didn't. Steve had a vision for the site to grow and thus for staff to back off, and for Bloop to lose the overall babysitting atmosphere. I'd say a major reason he appointed some of us as staff was that we'd talked to him in detail about our own thoughts about the site, and our thoughts were the same as his with regard to this. We'd had loads of conversations about it, before we even knew that there was going to be new staff. We had the same vision.

I don't know what Steve's vision is now, but I think it has changed a bit. I suspect he wants to keep current members happy - and in particular the members who make the most noise! - for a quiet life. ;D But this is why I was saying before when people were complaining - it's a good idea to actually talk to Steve. Have chats with him about your ideas for Bloop, find out what he wants. Depending on whether the overall vision is for Bloop to grow or for Bloop to be a small cosy site, the plans for Bloop will be different.

A bigger Bloop would be less personal. The onus would be on individual members to find their own groups of friends - rather like on OD. It wouldn't be a case of everyone knowing everyone. It would be like the difference between being in a tiny high school and being in a huge university. People might find the change scary. It would attract a lot more people, because when a site is very small, then a few people dominate and their personality takes over, and so newbies are breaking into a very specific group rather than just joining a site anonymously and feeling the freedom to join in on their own terms. Back in the day, the Big Brother-ness of Bloop attracted me because of pure curiosity - while I felt it stifling, I was also fascinated to see how it worked. But I've never felt part of it - just like an observer watching. In terms of actually keeping a real diary where I feel more freedom and autonomy, then I have chosen other sites.

A smaller Bloop (well, as it is now) would be good for those who want to feel that everyone knows them. A smaller Bloop probably suits most people on Bloop because that is why they are here. It is good for people who want to be a big fish in a small sea, or whatever the expression is! I can see how people who like a small Bloop, where everyone knows everyone, also want some kind of structure, and some authority figures. This is not my ideal, but then I don't have huge emotional investment in Bloop, so I am not going to argue against it. It makes sense to me that those who are hugely emotionally invested in Bloop should state their views strongly, and for Steve to listen.

Good luck, Bloop!
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16 Feb 2011, 17:38
Rhapsody

Post Count: 53
Bloop in no way needs to be the size of OD, but it does need to grow or at least keep people here for longer periods of time besides an OD Breakdown. You did make an interesting point though about being a Mod and the view of them. Something that only a former staffie would understand. However, the reason I suggested my 1:1000 ratio was because I also suggested giving Mods more stuff to do. If you have say 3 Mods (excluding Steve and Doc so they can worry about more important things), they could all handle coming up with the site-wide challenges and events to keep current members entertained or at least, coming back more frequently.

As for the regulation thing, I wasn't suggesting Mods troll diaries and violate privacy. Just to have one send a message or leave a comment letting the diarist know who they are and if they need anything, what they can do. I think that the golden highlight on the entries list and the "who's new" listing is more intrusive than a staffie giving a personal welcome that doesn't just say "welcome to bloop!!!11!!1! .... while i get my free point for greeting you."

The whole point of all of this is that in the pre-entry (which I realize you still can't read! lol) I argued that Bloop is boring. It's uninteresting because there is no interaction. The NoJoMo diary was genius because it gave people a reason to log in every day and the public favorites list gave them the feeling that they were a part of something. It also suggested more than one thing to write about and even gave a photo option for those wanting a bit more than writing. I argued that the forums are important because they encourage interaction. It's all really about interaction and giving Bloop the facelift that it needs to draw in people that aren't just starting puberty. For the site to make revenue it needs to get a bit bigger and bring in some of the older crowd like 25-35 because that's the crowd more willing to pay for a service (without having to get permission).

As for this particular entry, the point was that I challenged my readers and whomever stumbled upon the entry to come up with ideas on things that could benefit the site. To help make it more interesting, more spontaneous, more eye-catching, and more interactive on a healthy level. This entry was just my own follow-up to my own challenge. If you like, I can post the original entry to this thread if you want a look-sy.
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16 Feb 2011, 18:02
Chris

Post Count: 1935
Question for Steve:

If Bloop DID become the size of OD, and you activated ads again for those who don't have Bloop Xtra, how much revenue would that bring in for you, assuming 10% of the community purchases Xtra?
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16 Feb 2011, 18:46
Estella

Post Count: 1779
Ah okay, I thought you meant they should mod diaries, which is what happened in the past. You just mean to welcome people, as a sort of mentoring thing. I personally wouldn't want that - I'd want to be left alone to do my own thing - but that's just me.

As for Bloop being boring, and lacking in interaction, I guess it depends on your friends here. If you have lively friends who are always updating and interacting, then it can be very interactive. For me, the interactiveness of Bloop has always depended on what friends I have here and how active and interactive they are.

I don't think Bloop will attract the older crowd if the staff are acting as mentors and entertainers. I think that sort of thing attracts younger people, who want to be looked after a bit. I do think a facelift might potentially help. The site has a bit of a teenage look at the moment. I also think Bloop Secrets adds to the teenage vibe, and expressions like 'Bloopin' good content'.
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16 Feb 2011, 19:37
Rhapsody

Post Count: 53
I think an older crowd wouldn't mind mentors and entertainers. A variety of challenges and events would appeal to different people at different times. A place like Bloop is hard to publicize because it is a place where people can go to get away from people they know. You can come here to vent about your work without getting fired, your lover without getting dumped, etc. To have activities on the site to help people linger longer in their safe zone would be beneficial overall. The mentor thing would only be a small introduction that has a more personal touch than that of the welcome committee.
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16 Feb 2011, 19:47
Estella

Post Count: 1779
Possibly. I'm going by other sites I frequent. The only sites I know where older people like having mentors is when the older people are quite a bit older - like in their 60s and 70s and new to the internet. The sites I know where older adults in general like to have mods sorting out personal disputes are Christian sites, where people are a bit old fashioned and controlling, and like to have authority figure and strict rules. But on all the other sites I go on, the adults prefer to be left to their own devices, and have no interest in being mentored, entertained or modded. Often for the very reason that they do go to the site to vent about personal difficulties, and would rather just share things with their friends, than be mentored and watch some staff entertainment. The 'small town' vibe doesn't always work when older people want to talk about personal stuff.
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17 Feb 2011, 06:17
Rhapsody

Post Count: 53
I think there is a misunderstanding with the whole Mod thing. It wouldn't be a buddy system... just a simple welcome and that's it. Nothing extra would be modded in a diary or of diarists themselves. The exception being forums, of course. Everything else would still remain the same.

Also, as Ashalicious mentioned in one of these posts is that the events would be for people who wanted to participate in them. Nothing would be required of anyone. And for people who do participate and fully meet all the expectations of say... NoJoMo... could have a small reward like a handful of points or a month of free Xtra or what have you.

A monthly challenge would be beneficial in site interaction whilst encouraging group support from whomever participates.

What I'm not understanding is how a small town feel would be lost by having more interactive options on the site. If all people want to do is show up, write, read, and communicate with favorites then they still can. Just because those people decide against joining in on challenges and activities shouldn't hinder the opportunity to have those options for those of us who would prefer them.

The point being is that daily life for the average Blooper wouldn't change. All that would change is more group-sized challenges/contests/events for those of us who want them. Things like 365Project, NoJoMo, LIMS, etc. Just one a month for something to do.

As for the need to have some 25-35 year old people on the site... they will be the ones who wouldn't hesistate to pay for a service. But to get people like that on this site, Bloop needs to be a small fraction more adult in its appearance. For example: keep the blue, but counter it with a better color than starch white. You can still be youthful without being prepubescent.

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17 Feb 2011, 09:24
Estella

Post Count: 1779
Out of curiosity, what about people who are over 35? Why specifically 25-35?
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17 Feb 2011, 16:39
kein mitleid

Post Count: 592
Be quiet, you old fart.
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17 Feb 2011, 21:17
Estella

Post Count: 1779
:P
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17 Feb 2011, 16:45
Rhapsody

Post Count: 53
I don't know if I can explain the reasoning. They were ages I picked mainly because since there are already so many "youngins" I figured it would be easier to get the next decade up to join and stay than people who are old enough to parent some of us. In marketing, it's always nice to have a target group to start with and if you manage to get a range of interest, then you've obviously done the job well. As Chris pointed out in my pre-entry, Bloop's signature color is the blue. It's a pretty youthful blue. I would love to get Teresa's thoughts, but to keep the blue and pair it with other colors may still leave the site more visually geared towards those under 35.

I could be totally wrong and I stated in the starter post for the forum that some of the ideas were good, bad and ugly. I was really hoping that this forum would get others to post some ideas of their own so mine weren't the only ones on the chopping block. ha ha.
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