Why is the SDMB membership declining, and what's the best way to add younger members?

Continuing the discussion from A modest proposal for the Straight Dope:

Cecil_Adams is proposing a plan to crowd source ideas for a new column. In the proposal, this is the problem he identifies. The current SDMB membership is aging out, and there needs to be new and younger members for the Dope to survive.

Perhaps the answer to the issue of declining membership could also be crowd sourced. Maybe there will be other options available to remedy the problem of declining membership that can be done concurrently with or instead of the current plan.

How can the SDMB bring in more (and younger) members?

To play the sequential thread game…

Why is the SDMB membership declining, and what’s the best way to add younger members?

Real music died in the 1970s

Well, he already indicated a youtube channel was out of the question, and that podcasts, while theoretically possible, would require assistance, teamwork, and time, so was a more distant possibility. Not trying to dismiss the thread, just figured I’d mention what had already been discussed in the source thread but not H&R’s OP.

Although I do think a youtube channel in lines of The SCIENCE or this gem from Cracked about Andrew Jackson would be a good fit for Cecil and the Dope. The problems are of course the cost of producing such a thing would likely be quite high - and if it increases the costs it is totally counterproductive. Although for all I know we have 1-2 pro or semi-pro individuals who could manage it among our many members.

I have heard several dopers have their own shows or channels on various media, so perhaps a shout out there would bring in a few. I could also see a ‘live’ reading of several past top columns in a short video posted wherever that might draw interest.

Or we could reach out to the Pastafarians - I could see Cecil getting honorary Pirate and Prophet status. It’s silly, but the FSM has a lot of adherents and I think we’d have fun overlap.

Isn’t this a universal problem: that the big (such as Reddit, Facebook…) are getting bigger and the small (the tens of thousands of small independent forums) are getting smaller?

Why is that happening? Reddit is text based and thread based just like the forums. What’s the draw to Reddit?

Our only hope is to find two current members who are still fertile and encourage them to mate.

Are you volunteering? /s

I’ll volunteer for doing the encouragement.

The Up/Down vote option would be one Reddit draw – it’s a simple, effective feedback tool & a good way to push the annoying troll comments out of sight. On SD, the only way to respond to a comment is a reply, which seems silly when you just want to agree with or ‘second’ a comment.

Reddit has a variety of sorting options for viewing comments (Popularity, New, etc). SD comments are listed in order of response.

Firstly Reddit is only kinda text based. The front page particularly the newest version is substantially video/image/meme based.

Secondly it’s just the age old problem of wealth begetting wealth. There doesn’t have to be any great reason why one person gets wealthier, but once they do, their very wealth causes them to get wealthy faster than everyone else.

Also this place is a bit stolid. It only has a handful of forums. It lacks a “like” feature to enable people to ride along with simplistic opinion, which is unpopular (much as I prefer it as it is). We are hard on dumbasses and at least 50% of people are of below average intelligence. This place is heavily moderated and bans people who are jerks - which would result in the banning of about half of all reddit users and about 90% of youtube commenters.

Oh, and porn - it doesn’t have porn.

There’s an obvious factor; there’s no longer a newspaper column steering people to this message board.

(Concatenated without further comment.)

The problem is YouTube channels like Cracked and BuzzFeed aren’t thriving as businesses.

All of this.

We’re still a traditional message board (though with a lot broader range of content than most message boards had, which tended to be focused on a particular topic). Message boards are dying all over, so it’s not just us – most younger readers don’t engage with old-style message boards anymore; they prefer social media, or sites like Reddit.

I honestly don’t see us – or any message board, honestly – being able to pull in large numbers of new, younger users anymore. It’s like wondering how you could convince Gen Z to use land line phones.

I did bring that up in that high costs would be counterproductive. But in terms of driving a bump in membership, it could be effective. Whether it would draw enough people in and retain them? That I don’t know, I suspect unless it was a frequent (say at least bi-weekly) it would just make the churn more volatile. Right now though, I think we’re in the brainstorming stage.

I still think if we got people with a good reading voice (entertaining, calming, charming, what have you) and did ‘live readings’ possibly with a few member illustrated images/doodles/etc, doing ‘best of’ classic columns, we’d have fodder for at least several videos on whichever platform we chose. And the shortness of the columns would actually be a pro in the current video-bite style - no tl;dr or tl;dw as it were.

I suggest introducing a new character.

By not being what it is? (A board that leans to a Boomer demographic with members who kvetch about aging, make frequent cultural references to items of their youth, and who often are less than welcoming to well anyone, including those who have been here, with a definite get off my lawn to condescension vibe to younger posters )

By hiring some influencers?

Have it featured as a nerd thing in some sit-com?

This was a niche product at its peak. Then its niche included slightly edgy critical skeptical discussions often with some humor where those with intellectual interests could play with others of perhaps different intellectual interests, learning something from each other.

It doesn’t meet that niche as much now, it has more competition in the niche, and no marketing outreach to those who might be interested (which the alternative papers were).

None of those have easy answers.

Reddit is popular because its almost completely uncensored and you can discuss almost anything that isnt racist. That kind of site builds a diverse community of members. Here at the SDMB a question of who is hotter, you or your wife? gets closed because it makes the aging mods uncomfortable. The appropriate response/moderation to this type of non-graphic thread is to remind people if it makes them uncomfortable dont open it. If we want a diverse membership we have to adapt to diverse tastes/opinions. This site was a lot more fun to read when there were a wider range of opinions/experiences and people posted more colorfully. These days a thread gets closed if it gets ‘heated’, whatever that means. The point of discussing controversial and interesting topics is to be passionate about your beliefs while holding a conversation. Heated is more interesting.

Pretty much everything that you just said.

I’d buy a couple ads on the podcast Omnibus. Probably real cheap ad space, and basically the Dope demographic but younger.