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

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.

My apologies for the reading incomprehension.

My God, people, Facebook and Twitter have like buttons and they’re not exactly bastions of groupthink. You can form bubbles, of course, but the multiplicity of opinions on both sites show that “likes” and “oddball” can co-exist.

Twitter is different because the user base is huge, and it’s not the same people engaging in discussions all the time.

And Facebook definitely has this problem. People post to fish for likes all the time, and there is plenty of groupthink. And special interest pages often have the same problem we do - the user base becomes toxic over time, with a few high profile posters dominating and controlling the conversation and fights breaking out constantly.

I subscribe to a page for owners of Border Collies, which you would think would be about as mild as can be, and it’s become a waste of time because of all the fighting and virtue signalling. Asking for dog food preferences will trigger a war between raw food believers and packaged food believers. Showing a picture of your dog is likely to get you a lecture from someone who thinks your dog us too fat or too skinny, or they see something ‘problematic’ in the picture background, triiggering a round of 'How dare you!'s from the virtue signallers fishing for likes.

Maybe we are all just doomed to be assholes on the internet, where people interact without all the social cues we get in person which limit our assholery.

Given the SDMB does not have a marketing or advertising budget, the only way to get the membership to increase is for current members to evangelize on behalf of this Board. I have done this to no small success - my promotional efforts for my Nahployment thread got it on the Alexa rankings, with well over 1,000 people from outside the SDMB… including MSNBC editor Hayes Brown, a one-time Doper… coming here to read the thread. Or my OP. Or to make the judgement, “wow, too much to read, maybe later.”

But at least they learned we exist.

Same thing with my Joaquin Castro thread - I promoted that for over 2 years, and while I have zero idea how many clicked in total (since the old software didn’t track this for the user), I do know one tweet alone brought over 400 visitors here to read my OP, so I’m comfortable concluding ‘well over a thousand new visitors over 2 years for that one thread’.

Anyway, that’s the tried and true way to bring engagement to this Board - we, the users, the ones who want this place to have a future, must spread links far and wide.

I don’t really agree, and I was speaking of style over substance.

I think the consensus opinion of the board us already well known, and like and dislikes aren’t going to decrease the “groupthink”*.

I just think feedback might help those improve their expression of that opinion.

As someone whom primarily posts in political threads, I’m very aware of the liberal lean of the board, but I think it’s sort of inevitable as some subjects just don’t lend themselves to the conservative viewpoint.

For example, a thread on whether or not single payer healthcare is desirable is a subject that lends itself to a conservative opinion.

However, if the subject is “What , if any role should the insurance companies play in the administration of single payer health care?”, anyone that repeatedly jumps in with the conservative POV that we shouldn’t have single payer care at all is threadshitting and derailing the subject. It’s not prejudicial to ban such responses.

  • “Groupthink” has been so overused lately that it’s lost all meaning, to the point where those of us that think the sun rises in the East and sets in the West are accused of being guilty of “groupthink”.

Who would’ve though that the day would come when a doctor asking a head injury patient who the President of the United States is would be accused of injecting politics into his job? Reality has a liberal bias.

Yes, those are the bubbles I referred to. Regardless, to other people’s points here on other issues (like the Pit), I can just ignore the likes a post receives, right?

I know someone who can tweet that thread to 500,000 followers.

The Chicago Sun Times

It’s also, literally, their own product they would be promoting.

You’re right. Because if somebody isn’t doing something, I shouldn’t do it either.

I mean, if that’s the attitude even among Charter Members, maybe the place should be closed.