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Report on the Forum Revival Initiative

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10/29/2015 7:51:38 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
Aloha, DDO!

This is the official report I've put together on the forum revival initiative. In one of my prior Presidential Updates, I noted that I would be using 2 criteria to determine whether this initiative was effective or not. Those two metrics were actual, raw forum posts, and user perception. I don't think either standard on its own is a sufficient measure of whether the forums are lively and healthy, because the number of raw posts says nothing of the quality of those posts, and because user perception can be skewed by what forums people participate in, as well as other factors. However, user perception is, to me, the more important of these two considerations, if only because the goal is to create a good user experience, and so if the users are happy, I've done my job.

With this framework in mind, we can consider how these two factors played out. In terms of user experience, the initiative seems to have been a clear success. I conducted a series of polls [], all of which received at least 10 votes (usually more), which expressed the following:

Q: Has there been an increase in quality content on the forums over the last 4 weeks?

Yes - 11 votes (84.62%)
No - 1 vote (7.69%)
Unsure - 1 vote (7.69%)

Q: Has activity, in your opinion, increased on the forum?

Yes - 7 votes (63.64%)
No - 0 votes (0.00%)
Unsure - 4 votes (36.36%)

Q: Have you been more engaged in the forums over the last 4 weeks?

Yes - 9 votes (81.82%)
No - 1 vote (9.09%)
Unsure - 1 vote (9.09%)

Q: Do you think forum revival has been...

Successful - 10 votes (90.91%)
--- Very - 4 votes (36.36%)
--- Moderate - 3 votes (27.27%)
--- Slightly - 3 votes (27.27%)
Unsuccessful - 0 votes (0.00%)
Neither Successful nor Unsuccessful - 1 vote (9.09%)
Unsure - 0 votes (0.00%)

The key takeaway from these polls, to me, is that the vast majority of respondents classified the program as successful, not just in their overall rating of the program, but in their assessments of whether the program met its objectives (increasing engagement and quality content).

I also conducted a private poll (via Surveymonkey) of the 27 people who signed up to receive PM updates about good forums to check out on the site. I asked for their feedback about that particular program, and received the following responses:

Q: Did you use the links provided in the forum update PM?

Yes - 100%
--- Usually - 9.09%
--- Sometimes - 81.82%
--- Rarely - 9.09%
No - 0.00%

Q: Did you find the forum threads that were recommended in the PM to be of good quality?

Yes - 100%
--- Usually - 72.23%
--- Sometimes - 27.27%
--- Rarely - 0.00%
No - 0.00%

Q: Did this PM encourage you to be more active in the forums? Did it get you to post more?

Yes - 81.82%
No - 18.18%

Q: Would you recommend having PMs like this in the future when forum activity is low?

Yes - 81.82%
No - 0.00%
Unsure - 18.18%

Q: Did you feel as if the updates were too frequent or spamming your inbox?

Yes - 10.00%
No - 90.00%

These results also seem to attest to the effectiveness of this individual initiative in sparking engagement. More than 80% of respondents said that they got more active in the forums as a result of this program, and 100% of respondents said that they got engaged through reading one of the links provided. The vast majority would also recommend re-implementing this if the forums hit the doldrums again. So, I would just say that user feedback, both on this survey and the 4 polls, seemed very positive regarding the initiative.

In terms of raw posts the average for the 30 day period from Sept. 28th to Oct. 26th was slightly down from the average for the whole month of September (down about 141 posts). I think, however, that this is largely attributable to a lack of active mafia games during the first 2/2.5 weeks of the initiative, and doesn't reflect the activity levels in other forums. My own impressions indicate that posting in politics, arts, philosophy, and personal (possibly others) were up. Max also suggests that the dip isn't significant, noting that a bad wave of ad spam or some site drama could easily have changed that number. According to him, fluctuations of about 100-200 average posts are to be expected per month, and so we stayed within this average in terms of raw posts.

Additional things to note that may be of interest are the the Arts forum had it's first thread to go over 200 posts in more than a year [] and currently has 2 30+ post threads on its first page, all of which were started during forum revival. Activity in the Tech forum has, in my view, gone up, and the Sports forum has seen 2 20+ post threads since revival started, despite no major US sporting finals occurring during the period. Also, forum revival saw the single most active posting day since at least Sept. 1st.

I think these observations illustrate that a lot of underused forums saw increased activity, and that there has been a steady, healthy amount of activity on the site.

My final analysis of the initiative would be that it was successful. It stayed in a healthy range of raw posts, while boosting the vivacity of underutilized forums, and while increasing quality content. I think we can say that quality went up, because users, who are the primary judges of what constitutes quality, agreed in sizable numbers that the quality of posts was better now than it was before the program. So, the core objectives of the initiative have been met: more users were engaged in more forums, and users were given access to more quality content on the site.

I, of course, am open to feedback and commentary, and I hope that this data was interesting, useful, and/or informative. Thanks!
I'm a Bish.