Re: [nbos] [FM8] blogs, forums, email lists
"Christopher Rodrigues Macias"
Fri Aug 3rd, 2007
The irony in this discussion is that in some ways it mirrors the discussions
of last year, and in other ways it is the very opposite.

It is different in that last year we had several people volunteering (almost
to the point of competing) to take control of the project and set up a web
site. It is the same as last year in that many people are obsessing over the
technology instead of the content.

Here is what I think I observed from past experience. (Feel free to
disagree!)

1. The mailing list is the preferred means of interacting for the majority
of the community. While several of us (and this includes me) think there is
a need for other tools to share certain kinds of information that are not
suited to the list, creating something that attempts to *replace* or
directly competes with the list is both unnecessary and unwelcome.

2. Some (not all) people believe the list does not (and cannot) meet all our
FM information sharing needs. In particular, there is a need for a
searchable repository of information for those cases where it is not
convenient to just re-post the info to the list every time somebody asks.
This may be because the answer is too complex, and/or because it is best
answered using screen shots or other media.

3. The FM community does not appear to be active enough to create the
critical mass needed to keep a full-scale fan-run site going. IMHO, this is
in part a 'good thing'. The CC3 community is active and organised, at least
in part, because that software has such a steep learning curve that you
almost *have to* seek out help to learn to use it. Fortunately, for basic
mapping needs, FM is reasonably easy to learn. Whatever the cause, IMO, any
attempt to create something outside of NOX with all the bells and whistles
(file uploads, forums, news posts, yadda-yadda-yadda) is going to repeat the
failure of last year. Small, targeted web sites might fill a gap, but a
Yahoo group (for example) is probably overkill.

4. Because of (1), significant additions of content to any 'searchable
repository' should probably be announced on the list, with a link directly
to the new content included. This will go some way to alleviating the
concerns of people who prefer to rely on just the list for information,
rather than having to also periodically check a web site to see if anything
has been added. Note that, while such emails would be annoying/spamming if
it was a large volume, given past experience that isn't a danger. I think
we'd be lucky if we saw people contributing two items a week.

5. We never really discussed it then, but I got the sense (then and now)
that people would prefer that information be delivered through an 'official'
mechanism--that is, one sponsored/operated by NBOS. Fan sites are a good
answer when the developer can't meet the need, but in an ideal world there
would be a 'one stop shop' for everything FM-related. [Of course, in an
*ideal* world I would have a small army of artists and graphic designers at
my beck and call to create whatever maps my little heart desired, but, alas,
this is not the world we live in. ;-) ]

6. As with most on-line communities, the number of people who 'want stuff'
vastly outnumbers the people with the time/interest in contributing content.
This is normal. It does, however, mean that the desires of contributors
should outweigh the desires of lurkers, at least for now. If that sounds
backwards to you ("doesn't the majority rule?!?") then I think you need to
adjust to the world of web-onomics. Community sites survive on content. You
have to make it as easy/enticing as possible for people to contribute
material. Without a constant stream of new 'stuff' for people to see, pretty
soon, no matter how pretty it is or how easy it is to *get* material, the
community dries up. As an example, teens are not going to move en masse from
MySpace to some new site, no matter how many extra features it has, because
all their friend's pages (the interesting content) is on MySpace.

Where does that get us? Well, here is where I stand...

If/when Ed is able to put up an 'official' means for sharing complex
material (e.g. a NOX wiki) then I will lean toward moving everything there.
The exception would be if by some weird twist of fate an 'unofficial' site
grew so big and well-developed that it becomes unwieldy (and unnecessary) to
move everyone back to NOX, but unless it takes Ed years to get something up
I can't see that happening.

In the meantime I'm happy to investigate and discuss options for how we
share things until a NOX option happens. The blog is just one experiment in
that process. Maybe it flies, maybe it doesn't. Other suggestions and
experiments welcome.

*However* when it comes to questions like what technology we use, right now
I just want to hear the opinions of people who have a serious interest in
becoming a contributor of material. This isn't because I think end user
opinions are not valuable, but simply because I've seen that 'fan' web sites
live and die based on content. Content, not delivery technology, is the
biggest issue we have to solve. If we can't get enough people interested in
posting material, the rest of the conversation is moot, really.

So, besides Joe and I, who is looking for a place to put stuff?

-Christopher

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