Where do we go....? Where do we go now?

Cammeh

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Hi guys, my name is Cameron Taylor, and I am a 23 year old based in Nashville, TN. Figured I'd introduce myself, given that I've lacked a legitimate presence within this community for at least 2-3 months. I've made a few posts every once in a while when I've been able to log in, but I've really had little to no actual participation here. Just ask my staff members. I recently posted in our staff Skype chat a couple days ago, and that was my first message in that chat since July. I know, it's terrible.

I'm sure people want to know why. Why am I not dedicating a proper amount of time to FP? This forum is my home. I've grown up with this community. Registered here back in early May 2010. It's been over nine years. I remember sneakily getting on FP during a pointless computer class in middle school. I remember being an absolute post whore on FP during a number of different classes in high school, since I was bringing my laptop to school each day. I was introduced to the world of working and all that not so fun stuff, which meant plenty of free time would no longer be free. I started and finished college with you guys. I graduated from Trevecca Nazarene University in December 2017 with a Bachelor's in Business Management. In July 2018, I was approached in regards to becoming the new owner of this community, and it's something that I was immediately all for. Regardless of the price, regardless of the circumstances, I wanted to continue the tradition of FP. It's been going since 2007. I'm not saying the last few years have been perfect by any means. We've had some bad times, and I'd say we're in the middle of some of the worst. C'est la vie.

In October 2018, I was able to officially obtain a job truly relevant to my career, and something that I was actually interested in pursuing a career in. This was a step away from the typical hourly roles that I had before, and this was an introduction to the salaried life. I guess it should have been obvious that I'd be signing away my life though. I went from working typical full time hours (40-45 hours) to working 60-65 hours a week consistently. With this position, it just seems like free time is never free anymore. Having this position over the last year has opened my eyes plenty though. I'm 23 years old, and in the back of my mind, I'm thinking "Is this what I want to do for the rest of my life?" I'm just not sure if this corporate management world is for me. I'm someone with different ambitions and aspirations. I've always had a number of side hustles going on, whether that meant buying and selling video games on eBay, offering freelance services through Nashville Web Services, or simply buying/selling websites. This job pretty much caused me to job everything. With all of these thoughts in my head, I've really been thinking about what I want in the future. I recently started taking college courses again. I'm now looking to get a degree in IT. This is something else that is a pretty serious time commitment of course.

Anyways, it's now October 2019. I've been the owner of Forum Promotion for well over a year, and we all definitely had a lot more to be optimistic about back then. The bottom line is I'm not entirely sure what direction FP needs to go in right now. I have adored this community for so long, and even when there's so many things that we could be negative about, it's a blessing to log in and still see a number of members still doing what they can to support this community.

So... Where do we go from here? What are you looking to get out of your experience here at FP? If you're a regular FPer that has been AFK here lately, is there any particular reason as to why? Is it because of the lack of the activity on my part? I can totally understand that. Why would anyone dedicate any time or effort to a community when the owner isn't doing the same? It makes sense. Or are you someone that just has a lot going on in life, like myself? Feel free to share as far as what you've got going on. Forum Promotion is one gigantic dysfunctional family, and it's always a delight to hear from each and every one of you guys. I care, and I know I'm not the only one that does. So many of us have literally grown up together. It's crazy.

In all seriousness, I greatly appreciate all of you guys that have stuck it out and tried your best to contribute to this community during my absence. You're all assets to this community.
 

Chase.

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You should not let it get in your head from those who only have nothing but negativity to share. In life things come and go, offline and online. Do what you think is best for you. I’m sure things will work out in the end.
 
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I don't blame you Camron. Even myself that just let my site go downhill so badly. It can't be helped at all if an activity is going downhill. I don't know if anyone noticed but I have also been low in the past month and I myself have not been active. That's sinceI have a busy life at the moment that's taken up my darn time and FP isn't my worry. Then again when I do login there isn't much new content so. Shame but that's how it is. I saw most people not bothering with new content or just looks around then leave.
 

Jason5

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It happens to me a lot unlike you i suddenly take a decision and close the forum and i leave no trace. But you have kept it running and i am glad you do that. I visit daily, you can see my log :D My first promotion site,.
 
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Lämmchen

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So... Where do we go from here? What are you looking to get out of your experience here at FP?
I'm looking to promote my forum :D

I would love to see more organization of the site that expresses clearly its purpose and an easy way to find out HOW to promote a forum/blog/website without having to hunt it down.

I would love for more forum owners to get involved in post exchanges without limiting posts to specific sections of their site.

I would love for new ideas to pop up on HOW to promote my forum.

I would love for experienced forum Admins who have been on longtime existing forums to share advice on what works and doesn't work.
 
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ChrisGrigg

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Since we are speaking out in public, which I like, I will express a few things.

Moderation needs to change.
Sending all these verbal warnings, posting on the mod topic that we sent a warning, then having to trace back through the thread to see if the member has been previously warned is completely unnecessary. We should be using the warning system built into xenforo and once a user accumulates so many "infraction points", then privileges get automatically taken away.
So for those members that are always talking negatively to one another, those members that spam, all this needs to be taken care of with a different approach of moderation.

We, the staff, need to listen to the community more and get a more clear understanding on what is expected and what they would like to see here. We have often shot down good ideas that could be a good conversation just because it either costs too much or one part of the staff sees no need for it. I say if the community mentions anything, we have a mature conversation and hear every angle of it.

I am also to blame, as my activity has been terrible lately and I do have some reasons why.
I am head of operations of a security department in a large hospital, which takes up a large amount of time, especially trying to hire officers.
I just recently became engaged, to my other half who I have been with for almost 6 years.
I am having urgent surgery to remove a cyst in my back, which can put me down 2-10 weeks.
To top it off, my dog died today.

I am all ears on how we can effectively turn FP around and begin going in the right direction. I feel that the whole "forum" era is quickly approaching an end and we need to change our niche to be able to expand.
 

Thomasss

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Moderation needs to change.
Sending all these verbal warnings, posting on the mod topic that we sent a warning, then having to trace back through the thread to see if the member has been previously warned is completely unnecessary. We should be using the warning system built into xenforo and once a user accumulates so many "infraction points", then privileges get automatically taken away.
So for those members that are always talking negatively to one another, those members that spam, all this needs to be taken care of with a different approach of moderation.
This. This was a big issue when I was CTL, moderation process should be more simplified because honestly, it was pretty confusing and tine consuming.
 
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Webster

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You should not let it get in your head from those who only have nothing but negativity to share. In life things come and go, offline and online. Do what you think is best for you. I’m sure things will work out in the end.
Keep on keeping on my friend! :) I haven't stopped visiting this place for a long period of time in some time now :p
....what they said, Cameron. :free-hug:
 
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TechWiz18

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with all due respect and tbh, leadership should not be asking the community what to do with FP. FP is lacking vision and strategic leadership, it may be in your best interest to sell the forum and move on.
FP has been sold so many times now, I honestly think we've gotten pretty lucky so far with folks that have picked up FP and haven't actually just left it for the traffic and ad revenue (what little there is from my understanding). While I may not 100% disagree with you, I am also not 100% sure selling right now would be the best option either.
 

Webster

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with all due respect and tbh, leadership should not be asking the community what to do with FP. FP is lacking vision and strategic leadership, it may be in your best interest to sell the forum and move on.
I gotta' disagree here, Dan; by asking the above, that is precisely what Cameron is doing - namely, showing vision and leadership because, among other things, he still cares about FP (as do the rest of us here).
 
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ChrisGrigg

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I just visit this place for the nostalgia. I know it will never be what it once was. I just like the fact it’s still going.
With the appropriate planning, leadership, and community; it can. It's just getting a solid plan into place with a strong community support.
 

Van1lla ™

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And I’m sure it can. As you say with proper guidance. I have personal doubts but shouldn’t have sowed them out there. It’s just making that plan. Who is going to make the first steps towards it? And how do you recreate that community vibe that people crave back? Does FP need to change to bring life?
 
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JoelR

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I gotta' disagree here, Dan; by asking the above, that is precisely what Cameron is doing - namely, showing vision and leadership because, among other things, he still cares about FP (as do the rest of us here).
Hi, I'm going to be objectively candid here as a guy who is new to FP. I recognize that you and the others want to emotionally support the webmaster because, well, that's what supportive members do. Good for you.

But I think you should also be crystal clear about the webmaster and the OP. He wrote a puff piece. All emotion, nostalgia, and personal backstory. It was completely devoid of any future planning. He literally asked the community what he should do and didn't offer any of his own details.

He did not ...
- outline a strategic mission or vision grounded in reality
- identify clear functional objectives that could be accomplished
- candidly discuss the problems of the website
- candidly discuss his own successes / failures as admin
- hold himself accountable to any commitments
These are hard. These require meaningful thought, understanding of his niche, and a commitment to follow through. What he did was easy.

He wrote a puff piece. It's sweet and sugary, but will ultimately leave you unsatisfied and empty in the long run. This community is in crisis mode - the most popular and substantive discussions are "what to do with the community?" And your webmaster writes a puff piece in response. That needs to be clear.
 

Lämmchen

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Hi, I'm going to be objectively candid here as a guy who is new to FP. I recognize that you and the others want to emotionally support the webmaster because, well, that's what supportive members do. Good for you.

But I think you should also be crystal clear about the webmaster and the OP. He wrote a puff piece. All emotion, nostalgia, and personal backstory. It was completely devoid of any future planning. He literally asked the community what he should do and didn't offer any of his own details.

He did not ...
- outline a strategic mission or vision grounded in reality
- identify clear functional objectives that could be accomplished
- candidly discuss the problems of the website
- candidly discuss his own successes / failures as admin
- hold himself accountable to any commitments
These are hard. These require meaningful thought, understanding of his niche, and a commitment to follow through. What he did was easy.

He wrote a puff piece. It's sweet and sugary, but will ultimately leave you unsatisfied and empty in the long run. This community is in crisis mode - the most popular and substantive discussions are "what to do with the community?" And your webmaster writes a puff piece in response. That needs to be clear.
A good leaders asks questions and then formulates a plan based off the answers. It wasn't just a puff piece. Cameron is interested in hearing constructive ideas according to the needs of the members so he asked questions.
 
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Van1lla ™

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Swings and roundabouts. You can ask the members all day what they suggest, however most of the time it doesn’t happen. Cameron would have known he has big shoes to fill when he took this on and kudos for doing it. I couldn’t. But as I said before, someone needs to take the first step and it shouldn’t have to be the user base. For months I have seen users plugging ideas in to the suggestions forum. But in all seriousness a plan has to be formed now.
 

JoelR

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By the way, I have nothing against Cammeh / Cameron. He sounds like a nice guy who really wants the best for FP.

In any case, if this were me in his shoes, these are the things I would implement:

Internal conversation
An honest conversation with the staff to prune inactive staff, ask about the pain points of existing staff (and immediately implement any solutions), and to get them reinvigorated. Community building is for the long haul and requires staff who can be consistently active.
- Host internal conversation. Publicly publish all suggestions and changes made to site.
- Don't take on any new staff until existing staff can be evaluated.

Survey of members
It's important to solicit feedback from existing members in an authentic and meaningful manner.
- Identify and host private conversations with Superusers and active members. Compile and publicly address all of their concerns.
- Host poll of all members. Publish all results and address top concerns or suggestions.

Audience and mission
This would probably requires the most thought for deliberation:
What would be my audience? Do I focus on only Xenforo retail admins (which would be a very tight and narrow but easy focus)? Do I focus on all retail hobbyist forum admins? Do I focus on general communities including Facebook groups, Slack communities, Discourse,etc.? What audience should I immediately focus on versus growing into a new audience?
- SWOT analysis of competitive landscape. It's kind of a tight market with a lot of other competitors. What's the strength of FP versus the others?
- Once I define the audience, what would be my mission? Do I help new sites? Or do I help established legacy sites who are looking to get reinvigorated? Are members just wannabe webmasters who actually just want to hang out with each other?

End to end site review
- Eliminate or remove any low value / non-value sections like Discord, Groups, and Resources. If the section doesn't have 5-12 active members posting, it's up for the cutting block.
- Evaluate all forum sections and question their purpose. Does it strategically align with the new mission? Relentlessly focus everything on new mission
- Budget review to minimize any unnecessary costs while maintain same level of service.
- Consolidate any social media or other accounts associated with Forum Promotion

Content Programming
This would be the biggest change to the site. It requires an all-in focus to build up comprehensive, authoritative, expert information as a major resource. This can be articles, a database, a dictionary, lists, or other forms of reference. All ideas must align with the mission and prioritized between immediate vs intermediate vs long term. Here's a list of ideas:
- Link directory of successful sites running XF, IPS, Woltlab, Vbulletin with custom site reviews.
- Articles on community management concepts, marketing and promotion, SEO, gamification, social media, behavioral analysis, metrics and site measurements, community building, etc. This is probably too broad and requires more focus depending on strategy
- Dictionary of community management reference terms
- Go through old and popular topics to convert them into reference guides.
- Reevaluate forum features like Site Battles and Posting Packages to see how they can become more meaningful for members.

Culture
There's a clear crisis of confidence in the future of FP and it's leadership, a lack of direction, and heavy (and warranted) criticism from recurring members.
- Establish accountability of staff by publishing milestones of staff assignments. Prune staff as needed, and not regrow until team is stabilized.
- Establish escalation where all critical posts are flagged and addressed only by me, where I can be held directly accountable and forthright with answers as webmaster. Culture starts from the top, and this helps establish a clear line of communication and a clear vision of the future from one voice.

That's what I would do.
Joel