5

In the last six months or so, we've noticed some, ah, troubling trends on this site. I'm here to see if maybe we can address some of them by having all of us come together as a community to make this site what it ought to be -- a thriving, expert-filled space for production-focused people.

Our biggest concerns break into two broad issues:

  1. A lack of community engagement -- We have a site that is pretty, for lack of a better term, listless. The front page has a lot of bumps by the Community ♦ user, which implies two things: a lack of question-asking activity, and a lot of unanswered, older material. Solving the second may help with the former. Beyond that, I'd love to see more voting, more closures, more flags, more editing, and more meta activity, especially about dealing with your scope/FAQ and site-promotion efforts, or even about handling low-quality contributions and staving off the entropy that comes with age.

  2. Too broad a scope? -- We added video production to this site's scope several months ago, which I believe has helped your traffic. However, it's time to really ask yourselves what your site's identity is now. AVP is a large field that encompasses a number of different practices, from DJing and mashup work all the way to running a truck for a sportscast. It has tons of pieces that fit together into a larger picture. The question is now, how far into the edges do you want to go? Put another way, what is the new scope of this site? These questions should and must be a series of meta posts for the community. You've discussed this somewhat already. I think it might be time to revisit this discussion.

Most importantly: you are not in trouble. There is time to turn this ship around. A lot of work will need to be done, but this community has massive amounts of potential to be something truly amazing. I for one want to see this happen, but it will require all of you to pull together for the site to take off.

  • 1
    The most important thing to remember: this is no magic bullet. This will take focus time, and a long horizon. No quick fixes, no magic wands, no overnight sensations. Bringing a community back together is a constant project. The best tip I can give you: keep your eyes on the prize and take every small victory as proof of success. – Aarthi Jun 7 '12 at 18:53
  • 2
    Plus, there's tons of stuff you can do as an individual user: camp out in chat, start meta discussions, flag bad questions (regardless of age), constructive edit spree, initiate a small contest, start a topic-of-the-week event, plaster "ads" for AVP.SE on forums you hang out on, put AVP.SE in your forum board signature, etc. – Aarthi Jun 7 '12 at 18:55
7

To arms!

I've noticed this too, and it's been bugging me for some time. I've been giving it a lot of thought and trying to figure out how to solve the issues.

I think there are a number of problems facing the site:

Community Engagement Problems

The demographics are all wrong.

The professional audio community, from what I've been able to gather, is generally quite happy to stay where they are. Most of the online communities for audio that I've found are primarily beginners looking to get started. It's hard to find a lot of real experts, and people who will stay engaged. I think that those who are experts aren't asking a lot of questions, because they don't reasonably expect to find answers.

I'm not sure how to fit SE to the needs of the community

A lot of things that are generally not kosher for Stack Exchange sites are really useful for audio, and I presume video - lists of useful utilities that are aimed at a certain problem, troubleshooting issues that require explaining how something works, and 'soft' subjective answers to somewhat vague questions, like how best to approach a given situation. I think this is because so much of production is as much art as science. Come to think of it though, isn't this largely the same situation faced by sites like Parenting? Can we learn from what they've done?

No evangelists with any reach

I don't know of anyone on the site who has far-reaching influence. We don't have a Jeff or Joel like Stack Overflow, and I don't know how to engage any such people.

Not a lot of experts

I'm currently the highest-rep user on the site but most of what I do is pass on things I've learned from reading. I'm a hobbyist, and most questions I run into can be solved by reading manuals. I'm not providing highly-skilled, professional experience, I'm providing mid-level teaching to beginners.

Scope problems

I was in favor of adding video to the site when that was first proposed, but only because we clearly were't getting traction with just audio production. Honestly, I feel kind of weird when trying to sell the site to the audio communities I associate with, since saying "and video!" seems to dilute the concept. Nobody seems interested. But at the same time, the site wasn't taking off when it was just audio production. I'm honestly not sure what to do here.

I can say that as an audio (but not video) enthusiast, my interaction with the video questions is pretty basic, and I would just as soon have them on a different site. I scan them for moderation issues, but that's the extent of it.

Possible Solutions

Targeting

Honestly, it's not clear to me anymore who, in a few words, the intended audience of the site is anymore. The closest I can come up with is "audio and video production enthusiasts." The image is of a high school A/V club. But if we can figure out who would be interested (say, audio pros and people who want to be them, or video producers, or some kind of hybrid of that), then we can use...

Advertising

I've posted links on forums and in my signature. I help out a lot of beginners on sites like Reddit's music production communities and the Ableton social sites. This hasn't generated us much traffic. We do better with question titles that sound like Google searches.

Honestly, right now, I think the professionals are reading print media. I don't have any data to back this up, but I think they are reading Sound on Sound, not websites. We could try to sell them on the interaction of the site by advertising in these publications. I've not been through a growing SE site before, is there a pattern of doing this that seems to work?

Aim for beginners

The other way to get the site to grow (although this may be shortsighted) is to market it to beginners. Music production is very popular right now due to the rise of electronic music in American culture. The key feature of this is that it can be made on computers, and there are a ton of people out there learning to produce in their bedrooms. In the places I've interacted, lots of people seem interested in "how to do X for beginners." In music, "how do I make a sound like this famous artist" is a very common question online, but we haven't seen a lot of these despite it being all but explicitly allowed here.

I imagine that we'd get traffic and users by going for this crowd, but the downside is that we'll have lots of new, casual users, and it's hard to say if any of them will stick around or respect the site's rules.

Perspective

This is all just how I've seen things, but I realize I'm not necessarily representative of everyone. I'm very much on the audio side of things, and I tend to be focused around a few tools and categories of question. I'm very aware that other people may see it differently, and I'd like to hear from them too.

4

We could certainly do with more voting in general. For a mature site, that has remained in the beta stage for over a year and a half, there really aren't a lot of votes on questions.

Pick a a tag, one you like and go through the questions that interest you. You'll find yourself voting, tagging, editing, flagging, commenting and perhaps even answering questions.

  • 4
    I would suggest a key reason behind the lack of votes (I'm going through the Premiere tag at the moment, and this is my experience) is that the questions being asked aren't great. They lack intelligence and simple knowledge about HOW any editor/software etc. works (i.e. a guy wants to export without encoding), so it's tough to give an upvote. Remember the tooltip for upvote is "This question shows research effort; it is useful and clear" - most questions aren't. – nchpmn Jul 3 '12 at 5:47
2

Part of the problem is that most of the pro/prosumer community already have existing venues like CCow to hang out at. And, a lot of the AVP issues that arise are peculiar to the specific tool being used, so the vendor-supported or popular user forums will naturally be the first destination to go to.

  • From my experience, although the knowledge is there on CCow, the interface and the interaction with the website itself is severely lacking. Should we be trying to (I need a better word, but can't think of one) poach the knowledge people? – nchpmn Jul 3 '12 at 5:38
  • 1
    The userbase is the critical input factor. If you're facing an intractable problem in your professional task, then a clunky interface is a small thing to suffer for an informed response. And poaching knowledge people is a catch-22 task. They won't come here if there isn't already a steady stream of interesting questions and a bank of equally knowledgeable peers to interact with. Unfortunately, AVP's future depends on something happening at CCow which leads to an exodus. – Gyan Jul 8 '12 at 5:49

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .