Every year or so I do a bit of a stock-take - which in Community Management terms means that I take a look at what we have, how we use it and how it's working for you guys - the community. This year I'm feeling a little bit down about it. I'll be honest with you - community engagement is down and I feel like we're losing some of the spirit that this place used to be known for. I want to know why you think that is and what I can do to make it a better place to hang out.

Rather than my usual approach, which is just to ask you what you like and don't like around here, we've done some brainstorming behind the scenes and have come up with some strategies that we think might be interesting and I'd like to hear what you think.

Before I go into those, I'd like to bring up the forum upgrade. As with any redesign, ours has been polarising. I'll be the first to put up my hand and say that we have teething issues and that we're still working to resolve those. On my urgent list of fixes are the Tapatalk app, installing Sphinx Search (which will resolve the frequent search errors), the new homepage (which will have Featured posts, the left-hand navigation tree, recently viewed posts etc) and finalising the style and accessibility issues. If you want to give feedback on the upgrade, please do it here rather than hijacking this thread.

I also know that (like every forum) we have an ongoing issue with spam and fluff posts, and we're still battling those as hard as we can.

So, what I want to know now is how you feel about these ideas:
  1. Revitalising the forums a bit to move with the times: opening some new forums (perhaps Git, SASS/LESS, node.js)
  2. Kill some of the dinosaur forums which are spam traps (SEO comes immediately to mind)
  3. Overhaul the current incentive system - develop on the pips idea so that there are extra incentives for making high quality posts
  4. Start some short fun quizzes and graphics wars - competitions that could be done in a lunch hour, rather than the current ones which sometimes run for a week or more.
  5. Have a repository for valuable go-to threads - all you ever wanted to know but were afraid to ask. Somewhere where we collect all the most useful threads and use no jargon, just a brief explanation of the concept of the post. Somewhere welcoming for newbies to go and find out the basics without having to trawl forums for stickies. Somewhere especially welcoming and accommodating.
  6. Have a fun 'who are we?' section. Forum Staff/SPHQ staff/SP authors spotlight: Interviews, what they do, how they work, how they plan, how they interact.
  7. Have a greater presence from SPHQ staff. Perhaps expert Q&A sessions. Interviews on subjects that you request.
  8. A new forum called "News From Our Members" where you get to talk about what you're working on and blow your own horn a bit. It would be moderated so that it doesn't become a spam trap, but it would allow you to showcase new and exciting things.


I'd also be interested to hear if you have any ideas of your own which you think might go some way to reenergizing the forums a bit.

And as always, I'm interested in your feedback whether it's positive or not, but I do ask that you're constructive and tell me WHY you don't like something.

Thanks.