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

For various reasons I don’t like “like” buttons but, that being said, if it turns out to bring more good than ill, I will suffer and (eventually) use them. Maybe.

Cool, the timing was quite timely in that case.

This; as long as flow of conversation remains unchanged, I wouldn’t fight against a like button.

With regards to the Pit I would be in favor of not allowing Pit threads against other members. It seems like bullying to me. I don’t think it’s a problem when members are cursing each other out in a Pit thread, but creating a Pit thread specifically to disparage a member seems like bullying. If someone has a problem with a member, report them to the mods. If the mods think their behavior is bad enough, they’ll be banned. If not, then that’s the way it goes.

But why not try it? Even with the ‘dislike’ button. If the board is on its last legs here, why not try something completely new? Hell, there’s probably just as many posts I’d ‘dislike’ as ‘like’. I agree with having the “button pushers” identified like on facebook.

I’ve been on this board since New Years Eve 2020. I didn’t sign up till later but, as someone who’s been here for 20 years, even I don’t visit as much as I used to because I don’t have much to say. But I regularly ‘like’ and react to posts elsewhere.

I’m not against the Like button, I’m actually in favor of it. But the Like button is not going to be a panacea. But hey, it might help a little and so I’m all for it.

I will say I with the other nay-sayers against animated graphics. To me those don’t belong. But as no one is really calling for them, no problem I guess.

Yes, I am with @Ludovic and @Kron in regards to a Like button. In fact, I was just thinking it would have been nice to have said button so I could have Liked @What_Exit 's post above (about unnecessarily calling things “dumb.”)

Certainly won’t solve everything, but I doubt it would hurt, either.

I started a separate thread about The BBQ Pit and how it effects this dilemma here:
Revisiting the BBQ Pit- Boon or Bane? - About This Message Board - Straight Dope Message Board

Part of the problem is the Omnibus pitting of other members. It used to be you just brought your specific grievance against the poster and it had to be something big enough to warrant a Pit thread. With the Omnibus pittings, it’s just endless petty sniping. Which really does get to be, “We’re dumping on this guy, again?”

So, I’m going to repeat myself:

To return to the restaurant analogy: This place has some good food. It also has some bad food. The neighbor hood it’s in doesn’t get a ton of foot traffic any more and there’s really nothing we can do to change that. And we’ve never updated to take credit cards, so we end up giving away some food if people happen not to carry cash (view ads).

But we can update the menu so that people who DO happen to wander in can find the stuff they are looking for, and might actually leave as happy customers. And yeah, we should look into making it easier (possible) to pay. Separately, marketing is probably called for. But there isn’t a direct interaction between marketing and retaining the people who do show up, so why not work on both?

Are the admins able to provide stats like: “How many new members are we currently adding every month?”

Completely and utterly true for me. I’ll sign this pledge also.

There are millions of people in the older demographic we currently have, there’s no reason to change to attract younger people, we need to reach more than the vanishingly small percentage of our current audience.

Every once in a long while a thread comes to prominence somewhere and we get a big influx of visitors. The trick is to capture those visitors, and actively promote threads so that it happens more than twice a decade.

Things like renaming forums and changing Pit rules can help capture visitors who wander in.

As for promotion, maybe the media company that owns the board can, like, put a link on their website? Maybe throw up a Tweet once a month with an interesting discussion?

And a face-saving way for posters to ask for a gift membership or scholarship because reality is you can be a good poster but life circumstances don’t leave you with $30 a year. Only on Social Security, disabled, retired, whatever. Have a poster coordinating it privately collecting posters who will donate X memberships, matching privately with posters like me whose reality is such that they’ll need to request a scholarship. We do this kind of behind the scenes matching for book exchanges and Secret Santa. I happen to know @Czarcasm is good at this (sorry Czarcasm :sunglasses:). From each according to their ability, to each according to their need, done in a dignified, face-saving way for all parties. Let’s blaze the way for message board socialism!

Some of us woild be happy to donate a membership to someone else we value on the board.

If it could be set up, one fun way to do that would be board contests run by users who want to donate. If I could open a thread for a funny poetry contest and offer the winner a free membership, I’d do it. I would need to be able to pay the board with paypal and then have an admin assign the payment to a membership for the user of my choice.

If that became a thing, maybe others would do the same. It cokld also be the source of some good threads.

Speaking of Paypal, one of the annoyances of the old system was that the page seemed to suggest that you needed a PayPal account, although it wasn’t necessary. So I hope any new system is better in that respect; it should allow for credit card payments but also allow those without credit cards (and those outside the US) to also pay. Perhaps allow payment via Venmo, Google Pay or Apple Pay?

We might attract more people if the articles posted on the SD homepage changed once in awhile. I think the same ones have been gathering dust there since we switched over to Discourse.

Not a fan, but I’m not adverse to trying it if that’s the consensus.

I don’t like them at all.

Re the Pit: I do like it, but agree some rules changes may be in order. The endless battering of certain posters doesn’t add anything of value to the board. Still, some really good discussions occur there.

Re forum name changes: God, yes.

‘General Questions’ is a misleading name for how we use it. If a new person arrives, it looks like a good catch-all spot to start. Then they get jumped all over for not realizing what we actually mean is, ‘Factual Questions with Factual Answers.’

MPSIMS is awful for its total current purpose. I think it’s a good forum, but I would suggest adding another called something like ‘Significant Personal Events.’

I will reiterate the statements made by others that how we treat new people here is unfortunate. It’s tough to be a newbie on this site. We can all be more welcoming and understanding to help new people feel comfortable – or at least not actively shunned.

Lots of good thoughts in the last 3-4 hours. [And I successfully suppressed the urge to make a snarky nitpick in this thread! Yaay me! :slight_smile: ]

As to animated gifs specifically, now that I have a browser extension that lets them animate once then force-stops them they are not nearly the source of anger they once were. It’s an easy enough extension to create that I’d be surprised if it wasn’t available as an add-on for darn near every brand of browser. Phone browsers would probably still be a problem.

Another way to square that particular circle is to demand by rule they be placed inside a spoiler. With the mods sweeping up the inevitable mistakes, not by removing the link, but by wrapping it in a spoiler tag. Users can open it once, enjoy the joke, then hide the damn thing again. Call it a variant of the two-click rule. Which is how we’ve handled folks posting potentially noxious content since the Dayes of Yore.

Note I’m not advocating for animated gifs. Just suggesting that, like adding “(Warning: PDF)” to cites, our traditional level of concern over this relative minutiae may be anachronistic / obsolete / perceived as elderly fuss-budgeting here in 2021. Lighten up, Francis!

(Hoisting up support hose and sucking teeth…) I don’t know what you’re talking about.

Perhaps if you speak a little louder.