Future of Fan Sites - Board Discussion (that means YOU and the guy with the face in the place...)

Discussion in 'Fan Sites' started by Brandon Rhea, Jun 28, 2009.

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  1. Brandon Rhea Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 26, 2004
    star 5
    To the noble citizens of the Fan Sites board,

    Like that? Noble citizens? :p Anyway...

    I wanted to let you all in on the fact that the future of this board is currently under intense discussion, a discussion that I started in order to deal with the fact that this board just isn?t working. Along with other members that are currently active in this board, I have tried to prop this board up. Past mods, such as DVEditor, also tried to do so. I used to say that DV wasn?t doing enough, but that was until I became the Fan Sites mod. I don?t think it?s really fixable due to a lack of community interest.

    THAT SAID (and I put this in screaming caps because it?s important), no decision has been made. If a decision had been made, the title of this thread would have reflected the decision. While we are talking about potential mergers or just shutting this board down completely and perhaps salvaging the important information, we want to make sure that you, the Fan Sites board participants, have your voices heard in this. We?re looking for you and what may be your great ideas for the future of this board. If you have them, say them, whatever they may be! That?s what this thread is for.

    Again, just to recap, no decision has been made. No decision is close to being made, really, because we want your input as well. Speak away!
  2. Jedi Gunny Yahtzee Host

    Game Host
    Member Since:
    May 20, 2008
    star 8
    I am against the closure of this board primarily because I find that it is worth something to those out there who like to create Fan Sites. If there isn't a place for them to post those kinds of things and try to share them with the rest of the community, less people will be wanting to do such a thing.
  3. Brandon Rhea Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 26, 2004
    star 5
    Just to play devil's advocate, since I'm not going to take any sort of stance in this thread, wouldn't you say that the vast majority of people that have posted in this board for the last few years have posted their thread, said "join my site", and then left? There are, after all, very few people who are actually looking for legitimate feedback, because most just want to advertise.
  4. Jedi Gunny Yahtzee Host

    Game Host
    Member Since:
    May 20, 2008
    star 8
    You have a point. However, I'd miss this board if it were closed.
  5. Brandon Rhea Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 26, 2004
    star 5
    So would I, which is one of the reasons I avoided this discussion for so long. Still, if it's decided that the board would be closed (and, as I said, nothing is decided yet), I wouldn't want to oppose it based solely on nostalgia.

    And also as I said, there are other ideas that have been thrown out there to preserve some element of this board elsewhere in the event that it closes, so it wouldn't be a total loss or anything.
  6. darth_nemisis Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 15, 2004
    star 6
    I am going to have to say that I am against the shut down of this forum. I think the main problem is, the JC is seeing a decrease in total activity, and as a result, the lesser boards, such as Fan Sites, are losing interest.

    What ever happened to the competition that was discussed?
  7. Brandon Rhea Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 26, 2004
    star 5
    There was a complete lack of interest in the competition, and two or three people that are just in this board would not have sustained it nor would it have solved any problems. A competition like that was meant to bring people in, but there was just no interest to it whatsoever.

    And as far as the decrease in JC activity, one thing you have notice when talking about that is that Fan Sites, in terms of active user participation, hasn't changed. Historically, at least as far as I've been involved with this board, the Fan Sites board has only had around five or six active participants. That's more or less what we have now, although some are on and off again participants. We have me, you, JEDIGUNSHIP, Trika_Kenobi, Kev-Mas_Colcha, and NarCranor. That's who I can think of. It's a nice group and all, but (in playing devil's advocate) it's not enough to support an entire board.

    Also in regards to the decrease in JC activity, you're right that it does have an effect. You can tell right off the bat that Fan Sites has taken a hit because of it. There is one thing that has sustained this board for years on end: people advertising their websites. It's been about people coming here saying "hai i just create site come join u can be adman kk?" I don't mean that derogatorily as if to suggest that it's how people advertise, but it's the general impression that's given off when people do advertise. People don't come looking for feedback, they come to drop a link hoping they get members. It's like this on virtually all sites that have boards like this.

    Now, we don?t even have that anymore. Three, yes three, new threads have been posted in the last month. At one point we could at least count on a lot of people putting up threads. Now that?s gone too. It?s unfortunate, but it?s true. If we don?t even have what?s kept this board alive for years on end, we can?t expect it to grow to what it could be, aka. a legitimate feedback and discussion forum.

    If push comes to shove, we can?t say ?well it?s a total JC activity decline? as a justification for keeping it open. That just comes down to us wishing it didn?t have to be shut down, and it?s just us feeling nostalgic. It?s like in a business; if a department isn?t pulling its own weight, even in a time where the entire company may be taking a hit, you don?t keep it because you have nice feelings about it. Sometimes the tough decisions need to be made.

    Again, I?m not advocating the closing of the board, nor am I advocating that the board be kept. These are just the facts as I see them, and the facts as I think most of the JC sees them as well.
  8. Jedi Gunny Yahtzee Host

    Game Host
    Member Since:
    May 20, 2008
    star 8
    What was the competition about, again?
  9. Brandon Rhea Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 26, 2004
    star 5
    Design. General stuff like that.
  10. darth_nemisis Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 15, 2004
    star 6
    There was a complete lack of interest in the competition, and two or three people that are just in this board would not have sustained it nor would it have solved any problems. A competition like that was meant to bring people in, but there was just no interest to it whatsoever.

    Was this lack of interest just in the Mod Squad? Because I don't ever remember seeing it mentioned except in PMs.

    People don't come looking for feedback, they come to drop a link hoping they get members.

    Yeah, you're right there. Most of the threads here have very little replies because of that fact.

    we can?t say ?well it?s a total JC activity decline? as a justification for keeping it open.

    I wasn't saying the JC's lack of activity is the sole reason this board is suffering. I was merely stating it is probably a factor. Now, you're correct in saying that there has always been a few dedicated members. But, I think as the years have gone by, the number of those dedicated members have shrunk (and by that, from maybe 10 to 5, so not much :p)

    I would like to be optimistic and say that, if we bring in some new ideas, then maybe this place could survive. I had a lot of ideas stored in one of my offsites that I gave to DV when he was mod and I think a couple to you. If I could find those, would you want me to bring them up? (But, like I said, it is probably just an optimistic point of view; it probably will not solve the problem)
  11. Brandon Rhea Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 26, 2004
    star 5
    The idea of it was shopped around a bit in private to other people. There just wasn't really any interest in designing, even just a competition for TF.N banner designing.

    Yes. This is an open suggestions thread. If you have them, by all means post them.
  12. Kev-Mas_Colcha Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 15, 2002
    star 5
    Maybe a merger isn't such a bad idea. Perhaps we could merge with Fan Art? Because Web Design IS an Art form, but then again, so is Costuming and Props and Fan Films as well. However, I feel that there hasn't been enough done to facilitate more posting. I think the best way to do this would/would have been to reach out to those who don't know how to make their own site, which is most likely the main problem, by offering tutorials and information, and then advertising them in some way.
  13. Jedi Gunny Yahtzee Host

    Game Host
    Member Since:
    May 20, 2008
    star 8
    I see potential there; instead of being a "see my site; here's the link" forum, Fan Sites could encompass all aspects of web design. It could be renamed "Fan Design" or something along those lines.
  14. Trika_Kenobi Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Nov 4, 1999
    star 6
    I debated posting last night and couldn't find the "give a crap" within me to post.

    I'm still not sure I've got enough this afternoon to be tactful.

    I cared for a while because I saw potential in here. Sure, the board is slow. So, WTH do we do when the board is slow? We come up with ideas. And oh, did we ever. That contest? "Lack of interest" is a swell disguise, in my opinion. We morphed the heck out of that thing until we came up with something that would work, and then it got lost in MS, according to your last comment to me. And that's after I pulled the information out of you. Who were the private parties that added to the "lack of interest" pool? How many people did you ask? I'm curious because I never knew about this apparent private messaging war you waged behind the scenes. Why didn't you keep the regulars informed of this? Why didn't you ask for help? I sure as hell would have done my part to drum up interest, and I'm sure I'm not the only one.

    The quick responses you're receiving in this thread show loyalty, and the dedication that I and others have shown for months about discussing and even creating the contest shows that it's always been here.

    On that note, I won't sugarcoat my feelings and say I really care anymore. Had I more time, I'd dedicate a considerable amount of effort to going to find the activity.

    You know, work for it.

    There are old regulars who still post here at the JC. Ever think of inviting them into the board and getting to know them? Hell, anyone ever think of actually visiting these one-time posters' websites and e-mailing them to return for a debate about some topic? I got to know NarCranor late last year. Why? I actually went to the site, got to snooping around, and started chatting with him on Yahoo!. He doesn't post too often, but a simple IM to him or any number of other posters, one-time or not, could generate more discussion. "Hey, come tell us how you designed such-and-such."

    How about interviewing any number of designers and artists around the JC? "How do you create those awesome banners?"

    Anyone ever take a look at Fan Films? Most of those JCers go through a lot of trouble to put their work on websites, but their real passion is not designing for the web, and sometimes it's rather obvious. Adopt a site a quarter and have users input design changes and additions, and maybe have a contest designed around bettering those sites.

    Keep up with the times. Facebook and MySpace are huge. Widgets, desktop apps, and cellular phone apps are getting big. Implement backgrounds, templates, and apps for stuff that people actually use. Search for Star Wars fans and find good pages. Invite them to talk design. Or just give a crap and talk design with them without wanting anything in return.

    Call me an idealist, but I don't buy the whole "people aren't interested" bit. I will buy the fact that it's hard and it takes work, and seriously, I don't see that anyone's willing to put in the work necessary. I just came up with these ideas in the last ten minutes, so I know it's not for lack of avenues of opportunity that the board suffers.

    Sitting around and waiting for business hasn't worked, obviously, and the trend of a lack of new websites and a lack of new website discussion isn't changing. That being said, close it down, merge it, or actually give a crap, meaning get to know who else gives a crap and take some initiative in working to bring the business. "Propping" the board wasn't going to work to start with, and I'm pretty sure a lot of people could have guessed that, too. Work hard and this could still work. Work hard and it won't get lost and die in the merger.

    Otherwise, just forget it.
  15. Brandon Rhea Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 26, 2004
    star 5
    I?ve given a crap for four years. There was a time when I was the only one who did give a crap. Because of that, I don?t really appreciate the insinuation. You can say ?care more? as much as you want, but there?s only so much five or six people can care. Since that was part of your post, let me respond to individual parts:

    You?re right. A lot of work was put into that proposal. Anytime you had to ?pull the information out of me? was because the discussion was still ongoing and information wasn?t changing. Would you have preferred daily or weekly PMs saying ?don?t worry, we?re still talking about it? until we got to the point where I could actually tell you something. It?s not exactly a newsflash when I say that a lot of discussions take time.

    As for the private parties that added to the lack of interest pool, I think you know full well that I can?t start going around talking about private messages. Call me a liar if you want. I can live with that.

    About why I didn?t keep the regular users informed of it, would it have mattered? They can?t exactly start mass messaging people or else people might start complaining of spam. Again, call it an excuse if you want. Fine by me. As for why I wouldn?t keep the regular users informed of the game, the five of you that are here, one of you being the host, would have participated in it anyway. Seems rather redundant to preach to the choir if you ask me.

    In regards to visiting one-time poster?s websites or e-mailing them, I can only speak for myself when I say I am vehemently opposed to unsolicited advertisement, even if it?s just one person. I despise when people do it to me, so I won?t do it to others. I also refuse to send people out to do it for me. That?s just the way I roll when it comes to advertising websites or parts of websites. You may disagree, but okay. We can agree to disagree on that.

    But that?s just my opinion. I didn?t exactly put it into practice that way. Even before I was a moderator, I did go to websites to try to drum up support. Did I go to all former posters websites or all one-time posters websites? No, that?s impossible. I?m only one person, and my opposition to sending people out to do that sort of thing for me still stood. I tried to get to know the websites and members a little bit because I didn?t want to just post a link and bail, but when I did there was simply no interest.

    People are looking out for their websites. They don?t particularly care about other people?s. The few of us who actually participate here are a minority. That?s been my experience for years.

  16. Trika_Kenobi Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Nov 4, 1999
    star 6
    Just a few quick comments.

    First, you sure have an answer for everything. Since you've deftly sliced through my post and answered everything with an approving or dissenting vote, I suppose that's that for suggestions.

    Second, please don't go to the extreme of everything and act like I want you to post full PM discussions or spam the hell out of people's sites. I mean... really? I do have common sense.

    Third, what good would talking to us mean? Oh, I don't know. Keep you in touch with the user base? I don't care what you talk to us about, either... it could have cleared some confusion that seems to at least be somewhat prevalent around here.

    Fourth, thanks for giving a crap for four years. But since that didn't work, I'm really not sure any suggestions will ever work, then. Close 'er down.
  17. darth_nemisis Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 15, 2004
    star 6
    Ditto on this one. I don't remember hearing anything past the fact of it was being discussed, and I'm the one who thought of it. Now, I guess that could be because I disappeared for a while, but I still checked my PM's and I don't remember ever getting a PM about this...

    I like her idea of interviewing people. Maybe I took this idea a bit further than what she was insinuating, but perhaps we could have a weekly/monthly interview with some prominent website creator/administrator. I am sure it wouldn't be too hard to scrounge up an interview with the creators of some fairly big websites. I think that would be pretty cool.

    Then perhaps those people shouldn't be mods? I mean, it is part of their job description to do what's best for the boards, no? This board is a part of the forum at large, and if they don't want to talk about Fan Sites or help this board out because they "have no interest", then they should not have that position.

    Now, don't take what I am about to say in a way that makes you upset, but I am just stating what I seen over the past year since you've been mod: it seems to me that you did not try too hard after becoming a mod. Correct me if I am wrong, but there were periods of weeks and months where you did not post anything in this forum. I distinctly remember asking for a new mod because of that reason. Now, I don't know what's going on behind the scenes, so, like I said, correct me if I am wrong.

    Perhaps we should focus more on fixing this place than complaining to one another. ;) Quite frankly, I like the idea of a weekly/monthly interview.

    PS: I am trying to find my off-site that I had all my ideas on. I can't seem to locate it at the moment (a broken computer = losing everything including bookmarks).
  18. Brandon Rhea Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 26, 2004
    star 5
    I don?t want to clog this thread up with too much debating, since that was never my intention and I probably shouldn?t have been so forceful, but I do just want to briefly reply to a few comments.

    Just want to make sure you?re not mistaking what I?m saying as shooting you down. I?m just stating my opinion, even if it did become a rather blunt dialogue. :)

    I didn?t say you said to post full PM discussions or spam people?s sites. I?m just saying that I can?t really discuss PMs at all, and that I don?t like going to people?s sites for the sole purpose of only advertising. Sorry if you misinterpreted what I was saying.

    That?s not fair to say. Everyone has their own opinions about what?s best for their boards and the JC as a whole. You can?t just say that they have to do what you want because you feel it?s best for the board, and if they don?t then they shouldn?t be mods. If I?m misreading what you?re saying, I apologize.

    I tried as hard as I personally could. Yes, there was a specific period of a few weeks where I wasn?t posting much. I accounted for that to multiple people. It?s water under the bridge at this point. In the beginning, I would post all of the time in Fan Sites. I would reply to a lot of threads, give good feedback, etc. You have no idea how disheartening it is for a moderator to do all of that and then see the feedback go unresponded to because someone just wanted to drop a link to their website.

    Let us know when you find your stuff, Nemesis. :)
  19. Jedi Gunny Yahtzee Host

    Game Host
    Member Since:
    May 20, 2008
    star 8
    Would it be possible for you to mention what possible mergers there could be for this board and what information would be salvaged? Where exactly would all this stuff end up if the board closed?
  20. Brandon Rhea Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 26, 2004
    star 5
    Well, I don't want to discuss specifics of potential mergers, but I'll say that one of the ideas is to have a thread in one or more boards about websites, much like the icons thread in Comms.
  21. darth_nemisis Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 15, 2004
    star 6
    So, I happened to find my offsite thread. Turns out, some of these may not do much in the way of helping keep this forum alive (in the sense of bringing new members in as to just having more for us to discuss). But, I will post a few.

    I had ideas for different question threads (polls). I think this was done to some extent, but I think we could hash out a lot of good poll questions.

    Also, I think it would be pretty helpful for us if we integrated a little bit with fan films. Fan film directors/makers probably have their own website or have need for a website. They could post links to their sites here, we could critique them, etc. Or, we could even have a few people offer to build websites for them (this could be stretching it. I am just throwing some stuff out there).

    I had an idea that we have a "featured" web site. That site would be featured as a sticky thread or have a link at the top in the header of the forum (along with our username and such at the top). That would give more visibility to a single thread. We could make a list of criteria that would be needed in order to be featured. Said list could include things as maintaining a presence here. That way, it could benefit both them (getting their site visibly seen) and us.

    Something that I think could work is evolving this forum a little. Not just fan sites. Web design encompasses more than just web site creation. There is banner creation that goes into it. Software. Why not make this a sort of tech forum, we we can talk about other things besides just web sites? Something that could really, really help us out is incorporating the JC's Banner and Icon making threads into this forum. I could see this not going over with the MS for some reason, but I think that would be a wonderful idea.

    I think it would be a good idea to put a few more links up at the top next to the social thread and stuff (I think it would be especially important to update those links. They are outdated). I think the "Guide to Building a Website" that I created would be fitting. A quick look back into the pages of fan sites would probably allow us to find some threads that could go up there.

    We could also PM some former regulars to try and come back. I am not sure how many are still around, but I know one member is for sure. In fact, he is the current Head Admin. As Head Admin, I think he should be willing to help this forum out a little. Grimby the Hutt use to have what he called Web Workshops that he posted a couple of times. Why not bring that back?

    I think I also mentioned to bac (maybe DV back in the day) about trying to integrate a little bit with theforce.net's main page a little. Perhaps see if they could reserve a section on their site for us. It wouldn't be too much to ask, and definitely wouldn't hurt to ask.

    So, that's what I came up with a while back. I think some of these could definitely be helpful.

    Just a little suggestion. Perhaps you should edit the title of the Welcome thread at the top to include that there is an index in there. I was a little confused just now. :p
  22. Brandon Rhea Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 26, 2004
    star 5
    Asked and refused, unfortunately.
  23. darth_nemisis Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 15, 2004
    star 6
    Bummer. Did they give a good reason? Or just a simple no?

    What do you think of the other ideas?
  24. Brandon Rhea Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 26, 2004
    star 5
    Most of them are good ideas, but it just gives those of us who are here something to do as opposed to actually bringing new people in, as you said yourself. The featured website was also tried by DVEditor for a number of months awhile back, but it didn't really produce any noticeable results. The websites were even mentioned on TF.N main and really didn't do much of anything. When I was actually operating my website then, there was no real spike in views because of it. It ended up being a bit of a dud.

    Another one of your ideas is very interesting, but I can't comment on why at the moment. Let's just say that it's something we've been discussing for the last few days.
  25. darth_nemisis Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 15, 2004
    star 6
    Yeah, but I still don't think you should rule any of those out. Even if they do only give us more to do, that is still more than what is happening now. Who knows, if there is more activity going on in here, maybe other people will come in just because of that.

    I think one thing that may be causing the Fan Sites Forum slowness is that people are unaware that it even exists. I know that on multiple occasions when I have mentioned this place to other people, said person is always like: "What's the Fan Sites forum?" Perhaps we could do something with the Welcome New Users forum. I know the RPF just recently posted their "adoptions" thread in there and I have seen a bit of a growth in activity. What we could do exactly, I am not sure (I doubt we can just create a thread and say, "Hey, come to Fan Sites!"). I know we could direct people to our forum in individual threads with something like: "Hey, if you're interested in web design, go here (and link to Fan Sites)!"

    Which idea are you referring to, out of curiosity...[face_thinking]
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