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

:rofl: And they come up juuuuuust short of their goal and get that sad puppy look and then it’s a miracle! Old Man Gunderson gets his first, um, happiness in 57 years after watching Ma’s bit with the feather boa so he donates his old jalopy that turns out to be a vintage Pierce-Arrow in mint condition! The playground is saved! Then Cyrus and Mailman Carl kiss and it starts snowing and everyone applauds!

I MIGHT watch too many Hallmark movies!

Then have I got a thread for you: Hi, my name is BaldDude and I'm a Hallmark network Cheesy Christmas movie Addict

Someone needs to see A Christmas Prince.

What I’m seeing in this thread thus far is a lot of suggestions on how to improve the board experience. That’s all good and well, but that has little relevance to increasing board membership. To get more people to join, more people need to hear of, or see, the Dope board in the first place. The things suggested here - such as changing how moderation is done, or amending the Pit, etc., - are things that would only be noticed by someone who’s already been lurking or reading the board for a long time.

Tellin’ ya right now, banning all insults and personal attacks in any forum would be a good move.

Well, it’s not exactly true to say it has little relevance. You’re right in that awareness of the product is important and improving the experience is not advertising. But it’s of zero value to raise awareness if the reaction of a prospective member is to see the board and just bounce off when they see the place isn’t their cup of tea.

Suppose you wanted a Board member to spread awareness of the SDMB through word of mouth - let’s call this member NickJay, and just pretend he’s, I dunno, a baseball maniac from Canada who’s been on the board a long time. He’s not going to be inclined to do that if he thinks his friends will come here, see a place where everyone’s flaming one another, a core clique harangues and reports new posters for the slightest error, and the forums are weirdly organized, and say “Nick’s such a moron, screw this” and never join or log in again. What did that accomplish? Your conversion rate will be zero and your referral rate will, as a result, drop to zero.

Make the place welcoming and even a mild referral rate might make a huge difference.

Here’s a suggestion; create a forum just for new members to introduce themselves and be welcomed.

At the risk of launching our own in-house CT …

Sun-Times doesn’t really know this place exists. Yes, it’s on their books and some clerk writes the A/P checks every month, but as folks suggested above, the bigger business isn’t aware this place exists.

Ed knows it exists and knows it loses buttloads of money and has for years; the accumulated hole is truly huge. Even the current operating expenses are more than can reasonably be recovered without an unrealistically big per capita fee given our current small numbers or massive growth in headcount that will take a long time to manifest.

He/they can’t figure out how to start a revenue stream at all without raising the corporation’s awareness. IOW, somebody is going to start asking awkward questions when Ed brings them a Paypal vendor agreement to sign. Or later when they start receiving the whopping $500 checks every month or so. And once they can lay revenues alongside costs, they will, then see the losses laid bare and the jig will be up.

In other words, we’re like a lizard hiding under a rock from a circling bird overhead. We’re 100% safe until noticed then 100% screwed. Meanwhile we’re starving under here. The difference with the lizard is that birds eventually fly elsewhere. Sun-Times management is up there circling all day every day.

Why do I think that? Whenever a business does something that’s economic nonsense, it has to be due to internal organizational behavioral issues, AKA “office politics”.


That’s my crazy / tongue-in-cheek théorie du jour, and worth every penny you paid to read it. Which of course is zero since there’s no way to pay here. Catch-22! :wink:

LOL I’ve found my people!

One of them! One of them!

I like that. I’m on another board that has an impossibly long thread devoted to that. But a forum would be more manageable.

We’d have to manage who can respond there.

Lots of folks who are sorta shut-in, introverted, etc., are avid board users. But their opening posts often read like Dear Abby letters that will attract the usual chorus of SDMB hostile sceptics ready to pounce on what they see as glurge-trolls = attention whores.

Keeping those current members at bay would be important. While also not letting the newbie forum get too full of actual glurgetrolls.

We have a recent thread for lurkers which, while not exactly the same, might be the sort of place to start.

It’s not either/or. This is called “top-of-funnel” vs. “bottom-of-funnel.” The analogy is this: to maximize engagement, you want a large number of initial users - the top of the funnel. You reach them via a variety of techniques: traditional marketing, word-of-mouth, tweets, whatever. Some of those people who show up are going to decide the place isn’t their cup of tea and leave. It’s inevitable. That’s the funnel narrowing. The more of them you keep, the more engaged users you have at the bottom of the funnel, which is what you want.

You can break this into as many substeps as you want, but ultimately the equation is the same: u = p * f. (Engaged) users equals prospects times conversion factor. You’re right that increasing prospects will lead to more engaged users. But you’re wrong that we should also ignore the conversion factor. They both matter.

I want to make the case for the LIKE button.

First, I think it’s expected, the SDMB not having one is an anomaly.

I think we need one, and I think it will help attract thoughtful posters and posts. When I see a thumbs up next to my posts in other forums I get a little hit of dopamine or whatever the feel good brain chemical is and it makes me want to spend more time writing and posting there.

It promotes engagement. It gives new posters a way to engage before they start posting. It give lurkers a way to engage. People, especially the coveted young people, expect it.

If people are going to put time into a thoughtful post- or even a clever one liner- they LIKE knowing people read it and enjoyed it. There are times when I spent a lot of time on a post that didn’t get much response in terms of replies and I was left feeling ……was I totally off base or did I just say this so well that no one had anything to add? Did this suck? Do I want to post another response, since no one seemed to engage with the first one?

I remember once I spent a lot of time on a thoughtful post, one that didn’t get a lot of response. It was vaguely disheartening…what happened? was it not that good? Was I off base?

Then, a LONG time later, definitely over a year, another poster linked to that response with praise, which was echoed by many others in the thread. It was good to know, but I wish I’d known it sooner. Possibly this makes me sound insecure, but I can be insecure about my writing. And when I know it’s well-liked, it makes me a more secure and confident writer. It improves me. Many of the longer pieces I posted here I put in another forum first, mostly because I wanted the feedback.

The absence of a LIKE button almost serves as a filter, weeding out insecure writers. It’s discouraging simply because it’s not encouraging. Which is fine if that’s what you want, but I don’t think that’s what we want at this point in time.

And, in the larger sphere of board quality, I think it provides some evolutionary pressure, as it were. If something is liked, maybe that will encourage others to post more responses in that vein, which might also be well-liked.

It also minimizes the “me too” posts.

That’s my case for the LIKE button. Please at least give it a try.

PS I’m not in favor of thumbs down or any sort of downvoting , though.

The flip side of this is that it encourages group-think, and discourages more novel ideas or controversial views.

I hope this doesn’t come off snarky and is not intended as such, but you know this how?

Some sense of what the expenses are was requested by several posters and no answer given. The labor cost here is mostly unpaid. The Discourse fee is not huge. How do you conclude that this place bleeds money? My suspicion is that Zotti doesn’t know what the P/L is, that even Tuba didn’t. The small ad revenue and the small costs are just small lines on books they are not privy to. Every so often the administrator gets a bean counter call with a requisite implied threat but that’s it. My suspicion? Make a little or lose a little this place either flies under the radar until someone decides to clear the books of all small shit, and make a little or lose a little the plug gets pulled without warning that day.

So do posters here WANT more bodies posting or do they want a better experience here that may include more bodies posting?

And while marketing and demographic awareness is not worthless step one is having the quality product.

Getting people in the door does not help if they never return and spread no word.

I think it would have the opposite effect. An insecure writer (say, John Doe) would post something, and it would get 3 likes, and then it would get criticized by someone else, whose critical post of Doe would get 20 likes. Doe is going to see that outcome and decide he doesn’t want to write anymore. It would reduce his confidence, not increase it.

Sure, a negative post or comment already has that deflating effect on posters, but a like button makes the unfavorable math even more visible.

That ‘evolutionary pressure’ simply would mean “go with the consensus.”

If most people support Political Cause X, then someone who wants to harvest ‘likes’ would…have to jump on the bandwagon. It wouldn’t make sense for him or her to go against the majority. Eventually you’d end up with almost everyone parroting the same opinion, and it becomes an echo chamber.

I do agree about the “like” meaning fewer “me too” posts though.

I don’t know it.

As I said at the time, that whole post is me surmising a semi-plausible theory that fits the vanishingly few actual facts we actually have. More for humorous effect than for realsies.

And like most good CTs, it assumes more outlandish stuff than is in evidence. IOW, when hearing hoofbeats always assume the rarest sort of zebras not plain old horses.

I agree with your broad position that unless they’re foolishly paying some IT guy to watch the paint dry full time, this place costs well less than $1000 / month to run. I can’t even WAG what offsetting income it may have.


Unrelated to the above …

Something for us to consider about Ed’s ideas to grow / save SDMB. He’s probably about our age too. And so subject to all the biases and long-ago acquired but now obsolete conventional wisdom just as we are.

Well, you just moderate it. You don’t have to cut people off pre-emptively, just establish clear rules and enforce them.

You should cut me off preemptively. I don’t think I could manage not snarking sometimes.