Author Topic: A Word to the Wise for Newbies!  (Read 9962 times)

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Offline Chicago Bob

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Re: A Word to the Wise for Newbies!
« Reply #100 on: July 10, 2012, 09:28:00 AM »
From a marketing point of view, only 15 out of 4620 is an indicator of a serious system problem, but that would only be true if the goal is to grow the forum's membership. On the other hand, if the goal is to filter out non-serious pizza makers and to LIMIT membership to more of an elite group of pizza makers, then I say leave things as they are.  ---pete---


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Online Pete-zza

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Re: A Word to the Wise for Newbies!
« Reply #101 on: July 10, 2012, 10:14:57 AM »
petef,

You make a lot of good points and you are asking all the right questions. I also took note of the fact that existing members would be as well served as new members by things like FAQs and stickys.

When I joined the forum in August of 2004, there were only a couple hundred members. There were around 4750 posts on the forum at the time. I read every one. Today, with 194,828 posts on the forum, it is no longer possible to read them all. Even back then, I knew the day would come where it would become increasingly difficult for members to find things on the forum, and that they would be forced to use the forum's search engines. I crossed my fingers hoping that search algorithms would become so much better that those algorithms would bail us all out. But, we also saw that there were too few boards in the indexing system and that they eventually would become so large as to make it harder to find things just by scanning or searching the existing boards. So, Steve and the Moderators did a re-do of the entire indexing system and added a lot more boards and sub-boards (child boards). All of the existing posts were then moved into the appropriate boards and sub-boards.

Fast forward to today, now many of those boards and sub-boards have become bloated. For example, the top board on the forum--the New York board--has 43 pages. What happens when we get to the point where we have, say, 100,000 new posts a year (we are now on track for about 55,000-60,000 new posts this year) and 8000 new members each year, and climbing. This would be far less of an issue or a problem if the forum was a chronological forum, as is the PMQ Think Tank, but once you have an indexing system, this means that every post has to be looked at to be sure that it is in the right (or best) place in the indexing system. At some point, if the forum is to continue and be successful, Steve is going to have to find a solution to the growth problem and its impact on the forum's operation. I am not sure that using things like FAQs and stickys will be enough.

In due course, Steve will weigh in on the FAQ matter and offer guidance.

Peter

Offline Chicago Bob

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Re: A Word to the Wise for Newbies!
« Reply #102 on: July 10, 2012, 10:26:47 AM »

I'm starting to come to the opinion that perhaps we need to just live with what we've got, or possibly do away with the requirement to register and then post an introduction in the new members thread before being able to search. Maybe by doing that, people who just want to use the search function will drop out of the statistics, and those who do register will do so because they really have a desire to become active members of a fabulous online community. 40 out of 200 has a nicer ring to it.


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Offline bfguilford

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Re: A Word to the Wise for Newbies!
« Reply #103 on: July 10, 2012, 10:32:57 AM »
Barry,

At one time, new members were not required to register with the forum although they were encouraged to introduce themselves in a thread devoted solely to that purpose. Some new members introduced themselves but others did not. More importantly, as non-members--i.e., Guests--they enjoyed some of the same privileges as members, most notably being able to use the forum's search engines. At the time, I thought that it was better that they become members and hoped that some of them would like the experience of being members and become Supporting Members or click on ads to help pay the costs of running the forum. At the time, there weren't many members and hosting costs were modest. Now, with a server dedicated to just this forum and not shared by other website owners, they run to several hundred dollars a month.

About a year ago, Steve decided that all new members should introduce themselves by way of an introductory post. That would allow the existing members to learn at least a little bit about the new members. But, there was a second reason for the introductory posts. As Steve noted in his post at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,13789.msg138493.html#msg138493, requiring introductory posts "helps weed out spammers, spambots, and other undesirables". That measure, along with many others that Steve (who is an IT professional) took behind the curtain, dramatically reduced the amount of spam and mischief that the forum had been experiencing before he made those changes. The forum is now cleaner in that respect than it has ever been. We still get some new members who try to sneak ads and spam into their introductory posts or in the signatures and avatars of their profiles that become visible in their posts but they are almost instantly detected, most often by our members.

Steve's objective as the owner of this forum has always been to have a free and open, not-for-profit forum where members can share their interests and experiences in pizza making with others of like mind in an environment that is free of influences by advertisers (and no annoying pop-up and dancing ads and related SEO initiatives). It is not a business model that is calculated to generate profits. As such, it is inevitable that the forum will attract people who are acting out of self interest and whose interests are not aligned with those of the forum. As a Moderator, I can live with the present arrangement even though I would be happier as a Moderator if there were some way to limit the number of new members who do not offer any meaningful value added to the forum.

Peter




Thanks for clarifying, Peter. I saw Steve's post when I joined, and appreciate the lack of clutter from spam, undesirables, and meaningless promotion. I've noticed that when the do try to "sneak one by" the posse rides down off the ridge and escorts them out of town.

On my morning walk (which I have re-started to counter the side effects of this forum), I thought about the issue of "one-post wonders" who disappear, and offer this as a possible solution to think about. I believe (no data to prove this... just a hunch) that if a new member doesn't post in one of the forums soon after they join (say 45 days), they likely won't post in 45 weeks, 45 months or 45 years. Perhaps a policy could be put in place that an annual (semi-annual, quarterly) purge of inactive members will be done in order to clean things up (and hopefully reduce the costs of running the forum). People who have not posted in the past 6/9/12 months (whatever interval Steve and the Mods... sounds like a 70's rock group) will lose their membership privileges (and the one-post wonders won't even realize it, if my assumptions are correct).

+1 Supporting Member as of today.

Barry
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Offline pizzaneer

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Re: A Word to the Wise for Newbies!
« Reply #104 on: July 10, 2012, 10:50:36 AM »
I like that proposal, Barry.  And congrats on becoming a supporting member.   :)

I'm not sure that this thread is the place to discuss this topic in depth, but I can appreciate the huge amount of work that must go into data collation, sorting and filing in a forum this popular.  As a former moderator of a now defunct forum, I was wondering if Peter could think of any areas he would identify as absolutely needing trimming, like the member list does.  Example: retire old boards? Archive some threads? Is space a consideration?
I'd rather eat one good meal a day than 3 squares of garbage.

Offline Chicago Bob

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Re: A Word to the Wise for Newbies!
« Reply #105 on: July 10, 2012, 10:52:57 AM »
There he goes again....see what I mean. Dang Barry, yous embarras'in me heeeey!   :'(

"Steve and the Mods"....dat der's too funny!!!   :-D

Pray they don't become a one hit wonder band or we're all doomed...... :chef:
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Online Pete-zza

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Re: A Word to the Wise for Newbies!
« Reply #106 on: July 10, 2012, 11:28:02 AM »
I'm not sure that this thread is the place to discuss this topic in depth, but I can appreciate the huge amount of work that must go into data collation, sorting and filing in a forum this popular.  As a former moderator of a now defunct forum, I was wondering if Peter could think of any areas he would identify as absolutely needing trimming, like the member list does.  Example: retire old boards? Archive some threads? Is space a consideration?

Brian,

These kinds of matters are usually handled by Steve, since he is also the Administrator of the forum. However, I believe that in the past he has done some pruning of the membership rolls. However, I do not see that as an imperative.

As far as the data collation, sorting and filing functions are concerned, actually our members have become quite good in posting their posts in the best or right places in the indexing system. For some reason, some people like to post everything about the Neapolitan style of pizza in the Neapolitan Pizza Making board, which is really intended only for the pizza making aspects of that style, not sub features like flour and other ingredients unique to the Neapolitan style, restaurant reviews, resources, etc. However, I am aware of this tendency and, hence, am always on the lookout for misfilings. I simply quietly move the misfiled posts to the right boards or child boards. Of course, new members often file in the wrong place because they are unfamiliar, quite understandably, with the forum's indexing system. From time to time, I will look through a thread here or there and move some things around that were missed before or are better kept elsewhere.

Most of my time as a Moderator is spent looking at new posts. If I decide to post in response to another member's post, I usually try to do it as I am viewing the member's post for the first time. Otherwise, I may have a hard time finding it again later after the post has been read and taken out of the list of unread posts. That is also the time that I move things around or take any other action dictated by the moment. The increased volume of posts on the forum has forced me to become more efficient in what I do. But I view good moderation of the board to be an imperative. It is the glue that holds everything together. It also helps to have Bill/SFNM as a fellow Moderator in keeping everything in order. It also allows us to play "good cop, bad cop" when member eruptions occur :-D.

Peter

Offline Chicago Bob

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Re: A Word to the Wise for Newbies!
« Reply #107 on: July 10, 2012, 12:07:38 PM »
Starskey & Hutch.....man I loved that show!   ;D
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Offline weemis

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Re: A Word to the Wise for Newbies!
« Reply #108 on: July 10, 2012, 12:25:07 PM »
I believe (no data to prove this... just a hunch) that if a new member doesn't post in one of the forums soon after they join (say 45 days), they likely won't post in 45 weeks, 45 months or 45 years. Perhaps a policy could be put in place that an annual (semi-annual, quarterly) purge of inactive members will be done in order to clean things up (and hopefully reduce the costs of running the forum).

not that I'm a regular case, but it took me the better part of a year to make my first post.
Nick Gore - just a dough eyed wanderer

Offline Bill/SFNM

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Re: A Word to the Wise for Newbies!
« Reply #109 on: July 10, 2012, 02:28:10 PM »
Starskey & Hutch.....man I loved that show!   ;D

More like the old 5-0. Peter is McGarrett and I'm Dano.


Offline petef

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Re: A Word to the Wise for Newbies!
« Reply #110 on: July 10, 2012, 03:42:05 PM »
.......Fast forward to today, now many of those boards and sub-boards have become bloated. For example, the top board on the forum--the New York board--has 43 pages. What happens when we get to the point where we have, say, 100,000 new posts a year (we are now on track for about 55,000-60,000 new posts this year) and 8000 new members each year, and climbing.....

Good point about the thousands of posts. As the board grows you will eventually hit a point where it will be necessary to delete thousands of posts to make room for the new ones. The challenge then is how to preserve the most valuable info contained in all those deleted posts.  ---pete---

Offline Aimless Ryan

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Re: A Word to the Wise for Newbies!
« Reply #111 on: August 09, 2012, 01:24:51 PM »
After reading most of the posts in this thread, as well as reading and participating in the recent SeriousEats-related NY thread (http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,20199.0.html), I'm puzzled.

What is the appeal of SeriousEats? I assume SeriousEats gets a lot more traffic and interaction than pizzamaking.com, but I can't figure out why (aside from a fancier presentation and stuff like that). I am a registered user on SeriousEats, but I've never commented. And the only time I ever read SeriousEats is whenever someone here posts a link that seems worth checking out. And usually when that happens, I find myself unimpressed. I'm not saying I think SeriousEats is worthless, nor do I mean to talk any crap about the site, but I don't see what's supposed to be so great about it. Even though I don't get it, I know a lot of the members here are very active on SeriousEats.

So again, what is the appeal? Pizzamaking.com, to me, is a million times more interesting and more appealing than SeriousEats.

Even Scott123 (who I have a ton of respect for, and who tends to be very critical) seems mezmerized by some kind of SeriousEats mystique that I just don't see. For example, in the thread I mentioned above, Scott said:

I have, in recent years, said some really harsh things about Kenji, mostly stemming from the fact that I think he's an incredibly smart guy, and when he teaches people poor pizzamaking practices, my disappointment in him has gotten the best of me and I've lashed out.

The reality is, though, that when it comes to serving the cause of pizza, no one is in a position to do greater things than Kenji.  Of the people in the industry that can match Kenji's audience, no one is anywhere near serving pizza's best interests.


Why?

Why doesn't pizzamaking.com match his audience? All he seems to do is talk about pizza (from a pizza-eater's perspective) and tell you how to make bad pizza while pretending it's the best stuff on Earth (kinda like Food Network has done over and over). Conversely, at the same time, there are dozens of people on pizzamaking.com who show and tell you how to make the best pizza on the planet. Then, when someone has questions, we answer them to the best of our knowledge. And if someone calls us out, saying we're wrong or that we could do better, we take them seriously and try new approaches.

Personally, I don't care if I/we reach a larger audience than SeriousEats; there's not really anything in it for me if we do. And even if there was something in it for me, I probably still wouldn't care, because in a world that has always treated me like I have nothing to offer, this web site has presented me an opportunity to give something I think is very valuable, and I know a lot of people appreciate what I've given here. But this web site has also given me countless new avenues to learn and grow as a pizzamaker, and I appreciate that immensely. So it's a win/win situation for me regardless of whether pizzamaking.com ever reaches a larger audience.

But by having read this thread, I can see that some members do care how much traffic pizzamaking.com sees. I can see why Steve might care, too.

Do you guys realize that you are the most knowledgeable pizza people on the planet? You/we prove it every day, yet I never see any members acknowledge it (which is cool in a way). Yes, the operators of the most famous pizzerias may be more knowledgeable than us when it comes to making their own pizza, but most of them wouldn't know where to begin if someone asked them to make a different style of pizza, or if someone asked them to make ANY kind of pizza in a consumer-quality oven. Furthermore, there are countless threads on this site in which members attempted to clone a particular pizzeria's pizza, beginning with very little knowledge about the particular pizza, only to end up creating something much better. I've done it myself with Tommy's, and I probably never would have realized it if not for a couple comments from other users.

So why isn't pizzamaking.com known as THE pizza web site?

Is that what you guys would like? If so, let's start talking about how we might make pizzamaking.com THE pizza web site, because it should be THE pizza web site. But if you don't care, no big deal, because it will remain the best pizza-related web site on the planet regardless of whether it becomes the biggest.

Steve, if you're reading this, I hope you realize that you've made something out of nothing; something really important to a lot of people; something that makes our lives considerably more complete than they would be without it. You should be very proud of yourself. Thanks.

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Re: A Word to the Wise for Newbies!
« Reply #112 on: August 09, 2012, 02:20:14 PM »
After reading most of the posts in this thread, as well as reading and participating in the recent SeriousEats-related NY thread (http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,20199.0.html), I'm puzzled.

What is the appeal of SeriousEats? I assume SeriousEats gets a lot more traffic and interaction than pizzamaking.com, but I can't figure out why (aside from a fancier presentation and stuff like that).


It's a very different audience at Slice with a very different objective. The focus there is heavily on restaurants.

I'd be very surprised if Slice gets even a fraction of the traffic of this site. The interaction there is almost nonexistent by comparison. It's a blog not an interactive forum.

Pizza is not bread.

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Re: A Word to the Wise for Newbies!
« Reply #113 on: August 09, 2012, 02:28:50 PM »
After reading most of the posts in this thread, as well as reading and participating in the recent SeriousEats-related NY thread (http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,20199.0.html), I'm puzzled.

What is the appeal of SeriousEats? I assume SeriousEats gets a lot more traffic and interaction than pizzamaking.com, but I can't figure out why (aside from a fancier presentation and stuff like that). I am a registered user on SeriousEats, but I've never commented. And the only time I ever read SeriousEats is whenever someone here posts a link that seems worth checking out. And usually when that happens, I find myself unimpressed. I'm not saying I think SeriousEats is worthless, nor do I mean to talk any crap about the site, but I don't see what's supposed to be so great about it. Even though I don't get it, I know a lot of the members here are very active on SeriousEats.

So again, what is the appeal? Pizzamaking.com, to me, is a million times more interesting and more appealing than SeriousEats.

Even Scott123 (who I have a ton of respect for, and who tends to be very critical) seems mezmerized by some kind of SeriousEats mystique that I just don't see. For example, in the thread I mentioned above, Scott said:

Why?

Why doesn't pizzamaking.com match his audience? All he seems to do is talk about pizza (from a pizza-eater's perspective) and tell you how to make bad pizza while pretending it's the best stuff on Earth (kinda like Food Network has done over and over). Conversely, at the same time, there are dozens of people on pizzamaking.com who show and tell you how to make the best pizza on the planet. Then, when someone has questions, we answer them to the best of our knowledge. And if someone calls us out, saying we're wrong or that we could do better, we take them seriously and try new approaches.

Personally, I don't care if I/we reach a larger audience than SeriousEats; there's not really anything in it for me if we do. And even if there was something in it for me, I probably still wouldn't care, because in a world that has always treated me like I have nothing to offer, this web site has presented me an opportunity to give something I think is very valuable, and I know a lot of people appreciate what I've given here. But this web site has also given me countless new avenues to learn and grow as a pizzamaker, and I appreciate that immensely. So it's a win/win situation for me regardless of whether pizzamaking.com ever reaches a larger audience.

But by having read this thread, I can see that some members do care how much traffic pizzamaking.com sees. I can see why Steve might care, too.

Do you guys realize that you are the most knowledgeable pizza people on the planet? You/we prove it every day, yet I never see any members acknowledge it (which is cool in a way). Yes, the operators of the most famous pizzerias may be more knowledgeable than us when it comes to making their own pizza, but most of them wouldn't know where to begin if someone asked them to make a different style of pizza, or if someone asked them to make ANY kind of pizza in a consumer-quality oven. Furthermore, there are countless threads on this site in which members attempted to clone a particular pizzeria's pizza, beginning with very little knowledge about the particular pizza, only to end up creating something much better. I've done it myself with Tommy's, and I probably never would have realized it if not for a couple comments from other users.

So why isn't pizzamaking.com known as THE pizza web site?

Is that what you guys would like? If so, let's start talking about how we might make pizzamaking.com THE pizza web site, because it should be THE pizza web site. But if you don't care, no big deal, because it will remain the best pizza-related web site on the planet regardless of whether it becomes the biggest.

Steve, if you're reading this, I hope you realize that you've made something out of nothing; something really important to a lot of people; something that makes our lives considerably more complete than they would be without it. You should be very proud of yourself. Thanks.


Ryan, I'm not sure I understand the point you're trying to make?
If you like the way pizzamaking.com runs and benefit from the information shared/discussed here then surely that's all that matters? Why is it important to be "THE" pizza web site?  As Craig rightly points out the two sites you mention (this one and serious eats) serve two different purposes - the clue being in the name! ;)

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Re: A Word to the Wise for Newbies!
« Reply #114 on: August 09, 2012, 02:35:02 PM »
I would add that I feel the same about a lot of other criticisms that have been expressed on these forums recently: everything has its place. Whether that's a certain author, or pizzeria or website - it's all good. Why sling mud when we can be slinging pies?

Offline Aimless Ryan

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Re: A Word to the Wise for Newbies!
« Reply #115 on: August 09, 2012, 02:36:34 PM »
It's a very different audience at Slice with a very different objective. The focus there is heavily on restaurants.

I'd be very surprised if Slice gets even a fraction of the traffic of this site. The interaction there is almost nonexistent by comparison. It's a blog not an interactive forum.

OK, that makes sense to me, even though what I said surely suggests otherwise.

So why do you suppose Scott123 considers Kenji such an important voice? I mean, because I consider Scott a very important and knowledgeable voice, even though sometimes I think he's full of it (just like sometimes I'm full of it). And I admit, I know very little about Kenji. Also, more than one person said that particular article was not representative of his usual work.

Offline Chicago Bob

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Re: A Word to the Wise for Newbies!
« Reply #116 on: August 09, 2012, 02:39:22 PM »
I like the way things are here for right now....I certainly would not want to see commercialism creep in the door. Popularity has a way of doing that sometimes.
Also, we're already over taxed with adm. duties...so something there would need to change also.
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Online Pete-zza

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Re: A Word to the Wise for Newbies!
« Reply #117 on: August 09, 2012, 02:41:15 PM »
Craig,

Here is the Alexa report for seriouseats.com: http://www.alexa.com/siteinfo/seriouseats.com. The corresponding report for pizzamaking.com is http://www.alexa.com/siteinfo/pizzamaking.com#. As the Alexa seriouseats.com report notes, 6.65% of visitors go to slice.seriouseats.com.

Peter

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Re: A Word to the Wise for Newbies!
« Reply #118 on: August 09, 2012, 02:43:19 PM »
So why do you suppose Scott123 considers Kenji such an important voice? I mean, because I consider Scott a very important and knowledgeable voice, even though sometimes I think he's full of it (just like sometimes I'm full of it). And I admit, I know very little about Kenji. Also, more than one person said that particular article was not representative of his usual work.

I can't speak for Scott, but speaking for myself, on more than one occasion, I've referenced Kenji's work (on foods other than pizza) with good results.
Pizza is not bread.

Offline pizzaneer

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Re: A Word to the Wise for Newbies!
« Reply #119 on: August 09, 2012, 03:19:03 PM »
One of the things I like best about this forum is that it's not just a website.  It's a community of dedicated, talented amateurs.  Most of them don't think they're God's gift to pizza.  Most of them have a humble attitude when it comes to learning more about our shared obsession. 

I really like that it is not commercialized. No product retailer is paying per click-through on glaring, flashy banner ads.  It's all about learning more about pizza.  That's all it needs to be to stay my #1 visited site.

It's ok to be proud to be a member!  I am, and I tell people about this forum whenever I can.  Spread the word, educate and illuminate!

I'd rather eat one good meal a day than 3 squares of garbage.


 

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