How Can We Improve the KB Forums?

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Apr 26, 2007
3,688
336
29
Arizona
#1
Hello, everyone! :gleeWT:

I was browsing the forums a little bit to see what was going on when I discovered this insightful post made by our very own ScorpDK.

That's just a common thing on the forums for the past months :/. Generally, anything that is not a comic page, MLP-related or the emoticon theater, gets literally no comments anymore.

As a moderator (albeit, a somewhat inactive one), it's always troubling to hear about lack of activity. Granted, this has been a sore point for mods and admin alike for quite some time, but it's another thing when a resident forum member notices it on their own. After all, if they feel like there's very little activity going on, then there's the risk that they'll be less active as a result.

It goes without saying that a forum's activity is largely dependent on it's user base. After all, that's why we opened up a suggestions sub-forum, so we can hear what you all would like to see done around here and for the forums to improve over time. Unfortunately, it's mostly just been for tech problems (which Mihari has done an amazing job helping us with!).

Instead, I'm asking for suggestions on ways in which the forum could be a livelier place for discussion. Like ScorpDK said, it seems like the only stuff that gets posts going are new comic pages, MLP stuff, and emoticon theater skits. What else can we do to make the forum a little more active or at least appealing?
 
Mar 26, 2010
1,911
68
Land of the Free
Personal Text
Stand up for what you believe in!
#2
One way to help would be if certain questions in the character sections didn't go ignored. It seems like genuinely thoughtful and intelligent questions are often ignored over...less similar questions(not that thoughtful and good questions aren't). Certain characters also seems less likely to answer than others(sans Minos; he's less talkative as a character trait.)

At least that might make me and maybe some others more proactive? As for the rest of the forum I've just noticed less and less people posting period; it isn't the amount of posts so much as the lack of posters posting.
 
Apr 23, 2008
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#3
Sadly, WT, for me, it's all about technical problems. When I have to click on a thread three to four times to even get there, it becomes frustrating to the point of apathy. Now, I know that Mihari is working her tail off about this, is probably 10* more frustrated than I am about it, and god-bless her for everything that she does! But that is a serious problem. Reorganizing the forum's structure for the comics might also be a good idea; I can't visit every day, but I might want to keep tabs on LL or CB, without having to scroll down other comics that don't interest me much, or even at all. I did enjoy the sub-forums for each of the comics in the past; it kept everything organized for me. I don't know if anything is being considered about that, but there is that issue as well.

I know it sounds like I'm whining, but these are things that are really keeping me from interacting much at all, even on the front pages of any of the comics. I didn't even know about Fungus Farm until just ten minutes ago, when I checked my deviantart account for postings. All I can say is... addressing inward problems is good, but if the architecture isn't sound, the house is gonna become empty anyway.

And once more, Mihari, I know you're doing everything you can...! Not blaming you at all. Just wanted to say that.
 

Mihari

Katbox Mascot
Administrator
Apr 24, 2011
2,836
248
38
Here or There
www.katbox.net
#4
Reorganizing the forum's structure for the comics might also be a good idea; I can't visit every day, but I might want to keep tabs on LL or CB, without having to scroll down other comics that don't interest me much, or even at all. I did enjoy the sub-forums for each of the comics in the past; it kept everything organized for me. I don't know if anything is being considered about that, but there is that issue as well.
Well I can't do much about the other issues, but this one in particular all you need to do is click on the comic prefix tabs within the forum and it will limit it to those prefixes IE LL or CB or whatever else respectively.
 

Urien Lævateinn

Knight- Errant
Feb 29, 2012
1,582
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#5
I wish I could post more but paranoia about upsetting someone or saying something stupid leaves me with writers block and I just leave without posting and hope that I can post something later.
 

Ironfoot

Prime Minister of Fun!
Jul 7, 2010
4,201
431
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ironfootkb.deviantart.com
#6
I have numerous thoughts on the issue, so I hope you'll allow me to ramble a bit.

1) When I first joined, I definitely found entering the forums overwhelming. There were a large number of established personalities and that made it difficult to plant a flag as it were. Now, 2 years and 2000 posts later, talking in the forums is second nature. But I think the lack of a way for newcomers to introduce themselves may hinder new people from joining a bit. I'd say, at least on the LL groups, only 2 or 3 new people have really come into serious activity since I joined. So, and I know there has been resistance in the past so don't be mad, maybe a place for new people to say, hi I'm so and so and I've been reading for X years and really love character X and am excited to chat, would be useful. Just a thought.

2) I'm not sure how active the forums have really been. The comic chats are (rightfully) the most active thing outside the off-topic forum, as are Scorp's various art posts. I think the character subforums problem comes from both ends. Curran or SK or who ever answers them has their own life and job and can't spend all their time answering questions as characters. Similarly, many of the most pertinent questions have been asked and some of the minutiae may not have answers. Optimally, we wouldn't have answer dumps and allow some interplay on some of the questions, follow up etc. But again, I'm wary of distracting the people involved from their other roles in the katbox. Bears thinking about but not sure what a good answer is.

3) One of the previously active place were the bazaar pic/ bazaar idea forum. Those are gone, but a similar area will be active I'm sure once the new bazaar thing opens up.

4) I definitely notice a lack of fanfic/fanart. There used to be a fairly active group of artists drawing fanart and most of them have disappeared. Similarly, the short fanfic thread (where people posted little vignettes) was great, but the most active posters (Lamington, captainvideo, Mirasuke, etc) seem to have disappeared, if not completely, then mostly. This unfortunate, as some of my favorite future visions of LL came from there (one great story about Miles and Rachael have twins comes to mind). Additionally, we haven't seen long form stories like The long Tomorrow or Just Business in a while either. I don't know how to rejumpstart these (as I'm a terrible nonscience writer) but I definitely miss them.

5) I think an invitation is in order. I noticed a decrease in the traffic when comments were added to the main page. Maybe a contest (a blank comic page, fill in your own captions) or something to try and entice new people to come down into the forum. Get some new blood in the house. Air out old theories. Also, the existing forumites need to be careful not to jump down new people's throats. Just because someone doesn't know that X is supposedly verboten or that "jeez, we've talked about Y a million times" is not a good reason to be rude. The, say, 20 of us who are really regular need to welcome those who aren't. Maybe a meet and greet with one character in the character section at time X on day Y for people with less than 100 posts, to start getting them interested in the subforum. Or finding a piece of fanart that really shines, put on the main page and say "Can you do better? Show us in the fanart section".

6) Lastly, at some level, there is going to be a natural ebb and flow. The comic's on the site update the main and sub comics roughly once each week. That means that 2 or 3 days after a comic is posted, there will be a drop in the activity, no more motivational posters or questions or talking, just because everyone has played it out. I wonder if it could be tracked how frequently which areas a posted to and in relation to which comic updates. I'm guessing DC gets the most hits on Mon/Tues, Rascals on Fri/Sat/Sun, LL Wed/Thurs. Also, many theories have been proven wrong or played out. There may just need to be a build up of questions about a new line of thinking to really get some sections pumping again.

Anyway, just my thoughts. I do really love the comic, but I will admit to being guilty of posting mostly off-topic, comic, character and emoticon. But, I'm not a creative type. We need to lure and encourage those who are to join in the forums. I just don't know how.
 
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ScorpDK

The Thread Ender
Mar 4, 2011
1,821
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31
Personal Text
Welp
#7
The comic chats are (rightfully) the most active thing outside the off-topic forum, as are Scorp's various art posts.
Well, no. If you look at my Sketch thread as "most active", then the forums are in REALLY bad state. Unless I hit the nail on the head, it is maybe 1-3 comments, top.

3) I definitely notice a lack of fanfic/fanart. There used to be a fairly active group of artists drawing fanart and most of them have disappeared.
Directly related to the above, people are less inclined towards drawing more fanart if there's little to no feedback. You're more likely to find my non-commissioned fanart on tumblr or FA than on the forums for that specific reason. There is little point to posting anything if people are not going to bother taking a minute of their time to comment XD
Considering I was raised with the "if you got nothing good to say, say nothing at all" mindset, this is quite irritating at times.
 
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Ironfoot

Prime Minister of Fun!
Jul 7, 2010
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ironfootkb.deviantart.com
#8
Well, no. If you look at my Sketch thread as "most active", then the forums are in REALLY bad state. Unless I hit the nail on the head, it is maybe 1-3 comments, top.


Directly related to the above, people are less inclined towards drawing more fanart if there's little to no feedback. You're more likely to find my non-commissioned fanart on tumblr or FA than on the forums for that specific reason. There is little point to posting anything if people are not going to bother taking a minute of their time to comment XD
Hrmm, I don't entirely disagree, but it seemed to me, there was a downtick in stuff before less comments. But either way, I think the real drop off is less active person's on the board. I think if there is a way to facilitate that (and I mentioned few) things will head up. Of course, the fact I'm posting ideas means that I'm one of the more active ones. I really do think the main page comments made a difference and there needs to be some incentive to get more people to join the board. I don't know how often the character interplay is mentioned on the main pages but it probably should be more frequently.
 

Chaos Sepher

Gallery Volunteer
Mar 2, 2008
4,124
495
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New Jersey
#9
Well maybe the comics could advertise the character threads, let non forum goer's know that there is this neat Q&A aspect where they can ask and talk to comic characters.

In terms of fanart, maybe you guys could add a Fanart section to the http://gallery.katbox.net/ Yeah we have all the artists and even ScorpDK has a section, but how about a misc. section for various artists that decent artwork could be placed into, with who is essentially an asscended fanartist, subgalleries based on what comic it is for. That way people would be interested in posting in the forum, and said good fanart wouldn't just disappear into the forum limbo.

I would also point out that Nixie's new "interactive comic" with Fungus Farm is a good step towards getting more forum activity.[DOUBLEPOST=1359999316,1359996451][/DOUBLEPOST]Another thought, currently the link to the forum on the Katbox front page is a broken monitor. While it is neat, perhaps the monitor can be fixed to show something more of a hook to get people to go into the forum.
 
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Ironfoot

Prime Minister of Fun!
Jul 7, 2010
4,201
431
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ironfootkb.deviantart.com
#10
Well maybe the comics could advertise the character threads, let non forum goer's know that there is this neat Q&A aspect where they can ask and talk to comic characters.

In terms of fanart, maybe you guys could add a Fanart section to the http://gallery.katbox.net/ Yeah we have all the artists and even ScorpDK has a section, but how about a misc. section for various artists that decent artwork could be placed into, with who is essentially an asscended fanartist, subgalleries based on what comic it is for. That way people would be interested in posting in the forum, and said good fanart wouldn't just disappear into the forum limbo.

I would also point out that Nixie's new "interactive comic" with Fungus Farm is a good step towards getting more forum activity.[DOUBLEPOST=1359999316,1359996451][/DOUBLEPOST]Another thought, currently the link to the forum on the Katbox front page is a broken monitor. While it is neat, perhaps the monitor can be fixed to show something more of a hook to get people to go into the forum.
I agree with both suggestions, at the very least mentioning the mirror goes to the forum.
 

Flyboy1945

Creator of Jay, Time Travelling Master of Reality
Feb 29, 2012
542
21
27
Traveling the Multiverse.
Personal Text
Among the few with a human-like persona.
#11
I wish I could post more but paranoia about upsetting someone or saying something stupid leaves me with writers block and I just leave without posting and hope that I can post something later.
Same here.

If I may...
I came from the TwoKinds Forums (and still frequent it) and noticed that there is a HUGE difference in activity between the Katbox and TwoKinds. I'm not smart, but I have definately noticed that the Forum is going through some kind of dry spell of inactivity in the short time I've been here. If I may suggest that there could be a Forum Games section, not like the Katbox Gaming section where we talk about games we play, but rather a place where forumites can come up with fun simple games to play with others (and maybe some comic characters as well). Lastly, I'm no artist, all my artistic creativity went into writing and music, so I'm hoping we could get a fanfiction section up and running again for those of us who lack drawing ability.
 

SoulKat

Katbox Forum Member
Apr 17, 2007
243
427
#12
I just wanted to drop by and say I'm listening to your suggestions and will most likely implement them. Just keep in mind the only thing that would prevent us from implementing an idea is moderation (time) cost.

But a big thanks to WT for asking this question. And I will most likely make any sub forum or category suggestions happen if there's enough of a movement behind them.
 

Ironfoot

Prime Minister of Fun!
Jul 7, 2010
4,201
431
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ironfootkb.deviantart.com
#13
Same here.

If I may...
I came from the TwoKinds Forums (and still frequent it) and noticed that there is a HUGE difference in activity between the Katbox and TwoKinds. I'm not smart, but I have definately noticed that the Forum is going through some kind of dry spell of inactivity in the short time I've been here. If I may suggest that there could be a Forum Games section, not like the Katbox Gaming section where we talk about games we play, but rather a place where forumites can come up with fun simple games to play with others (and maybe some comic characters as well). Lastly, I'm no artist, all my artistic creativity went into writing and music, so I'm hoping we could get a fanfiction section up and running again for those of us who lack drawing ability.
It'd be nice to get the fanfic's up and going again. Maybe start by revitalizing the Alternate Pairing thread (it used to be locked to the top post but now has dropped way down after the forum move).
I just wanted to drop by and say I'm listening to your suggestions and will most likely implement them. Just keep in mind the only thing that would prevent us from implementing an idea is moderation (time) cost.

But a big thanks to WT for asking this question. And I will most likely make any sub forum or category suggestions happen if there's enough of a movement behind them.
Good to hear. I think time is the biggest problem with any of these things from your guys end. Especialy if they don't pan out, wasted time. I do think promoting the forums on the various comic main pages might help some, especially noting the character forums. People might not know about them and putting a little banner up or something should be a low time investment.
 

Curran

ʢ•·̫•ʡฅ
The Katbox
Apr 17, 2007
4,217
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35
Washington
#14
And if I can speak up from my end. I do a fair bit of the character posts (and SK) and I can speak for myself that what kind of hurts my motivation to do the character replies are when nobody replies to the replies, or even acknowledges them. It is fun to make the jokes and little stories, but when I see even the people who ask the questions not participating anymore when a character replies, I find the motivation slipping out.
 
Mar 26, 2010
1,911
68
Land of the Free
Personal Text
Stand up for what you believe in!
#15
And if I can speak up from my end. I do a fair bit of the character posts (and SK) and I can speak for myself that what kind of hurts my motivation to do the character replies are when nobody replies to the replies, or even acknowledges them. It is fun to make the jokes and little stories, but when I see even the people who ask the questions not participating anymore when a character replies, I find the motivation slipping out.
My questions always seem to go unanswered :,(
 

Mihari

Katbox Mascot
Administrator
Apr 24, 2011
2,836
248
38
Here or There
www.katbox.net
#16
One way to help would be if certain questions in the character sections didn't go ignored. It seems like genuinely thoughtful and intelligent questions are often ignored over...less similar questions(not that thoughtful and good questions aren't). Certain characters also seems less likely to answer than others(sans Minos; he's less talkative as a character trait.)

At least that might make me and maybe some others more proactive? As for the rest of the forum I've just noticed less and less people posting period; it isn't the amount of posts so much as the lack of posters posting.
Well I can't speak for the LL or any other comic folks, but the reason I don't answer certain questions is usually when a question is so absurd it's not worth answering, or it's outside of the scope of knowledge that a character would normally possess. Another factor is of course time.
 

Radagast

Gallery Volunteer
Feb 29, 2012
1,678
610
#17
I can think of two factors that might - in tandem - be contributing to the slump to some extent. That said, it's more likely to be a lesser contributing factor than a principle cause. The first is as Ironfoot noted, the comments section for the individual comic pages very likely draws users away from the forums themselves. I'd actually go so far as to say that they effectively create a competing forum, albeit one completely devoted to the individual comics themselves and one far more accessible than the forums proper (due partially to the lack of need for a true account and the fact that those accounts created can apply to a LOT of unrelated content, and partially due to the simple convenience of just scrolling down to participate) and one where those with forum accounts would still be likely to make comments, making much of the discussions in the respective forum thread possibly redundant, which is reflected in the way that a typical forum thread for a comic strip will have significantly less replies in it than its respective comic will have direct comments (The most recent Las Lindas page, for instance, lists 70 comments on it, whereas its forum thread has 17 replies in it). Now don't get me wrong, the comments section is a very accessible system that likely draws feedback from at least some users who would otherwise remain lurkers indefinitely, but at the same time, that function likely also discourages the feeling that one needs to make a forum account at all and likely has a hand in reducing overall forum activity both for potential new users and older ones. Naturally I can't speak for anyone else, but I know that I for one have used it as a pseudo-anonymous user (no dedicated account, despite my use of the same name) and feel more than a little apprehensive about needlessly repeating what was said in the comments on the forums, and I'd imagine that others share this tendency (though to what degree, I cannot say).

The second factor is the way the forums are hidden from newer members and especially from those who have yet to make accounts. If I log out to see what those without accounts see, the only parts of the forums that are visible become the "Katbox Updates" board and the "Katbox Bazaar" subforum. Without logging in you wouldn't even be aware that we had an off-topic board for discussions or actual sections of the forums devoted to the comics themselves, much less a section devoted to asking the cast of the various comics questions. Heck, were I logged out I wouldn't have any way to know that this thread existed due to the General Discussion board being invisible to me. What I can see are four boards with comparatively low activity. I can see the sketches board with its two threads, the suggestions board which has a last comment dating back to Oct 27, the stalls where the only recently used threads are "Katbox emoticons" and "Completed Bazaar Items" and "Katbox Updates". On the whole, that doesn't exactly present this forum as particularly active, which likely discourages newer users from registering. As far as such users are concerned, there's very little to weigh in on - at least among that which is apparent to them - to say nothing of fun discussions to be had. Put most simply, the forums simply don't appear active, much less inviting to new users...which naturally discourages their use. Coupled with the convenience of the comments for comic related discussion and...well, you see less forum use and more comment use.

To that extent, my first recommendation would be to simply increase the visibility of the forums. Show prospective users that there's discussion to be had and more people's interest will be naturally be piqued. Getting rid of the competing forum that is the comments system for the individual pages would also likely help (quite possibly to a greater extent, even) but I'm loathe to suggest that in earnest.
 
Apr 26, 2007
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Arizona
#18
Sorry for the late response, everyone. I'm really glad that this thread is getting attention and that there are lots of ideas for how we can improve the activity on the forums. :gleeWT:

My only concern is that a lot of these ideas seem to be geared towards bringing in new blood. While there's nothing wrong with new members, I'm more concerned how we can keep our current membership pool interested and active on the forum instead of occasionally posting to the same areas (e.g., the MLP thread, the Characters sub-forum).
 

Flyboy1945

Creator of Jay, Time Travelling Master of Reality
Feb 29, 2012
542
21
27
Traveling the Multiverse.
Personal Text
Among the few with a human-like persona.
#19
I've been reading through the Character Forum archives (I'm around 2009 or so). You guys had a lot of fun there and the responses and discussions made me wish I signed up for the Katbox Forum earlier. Despite me still being the "new kid in town" I really want to see the Forum return to it's former glory.
 

Ironfoot

Prime Minister of Fun!
Jul 7, 2010
4,201
431
38
ironfootkb.deviantart.com
#20
Sorry for the late response, everyone. I'm really glad that this thread is getting attention and that there are lots of ideas for how we can improve the activity on the forums. :gleeWT:

My only concern is that a lot of these ideas seem to be geared towards bringing in new blood. While there's nothing wrong with new members, I'm more concerned how we can keep our current membership pool interested and active on the forum instead of occasionally posting to the same areas (e.g., the MLP thread, the Characters sub-forum).
I don't disagree, but the reason for new blood to (at least in part) to invigorate the old. Hopefully, they would have new lines of thinking, new art, new stories, new questions that haven't been asked. That said, I'll try and do my part, at least in the character section of replying to replies. I certainly don't want to discourage Curran from answering questions. And Radagast's point about not knowing about stuff in the forums is critical. IF you can't see anything interesting, you won't bother to join and realize, hey we have neat stuff.

Side note, could you guys re-pin the alternate pairing's thread to the top of that board, maybe it will spur some writing.
 

Chaos Sepher

Gallery Volunteer
Mar 2, 2008
4,124
495
33
New Jersey
#21
And if I can speak up from my end. I do a fair bit of the character posts (and SK) and I can speak for myself that what kind of hurts my motivation to do the character replies are when nobody replies to the replies, or even acknowledges them. It is fun to make the jokes and little stories, but when I see even the people who ask the questions not participating anymore when a character replies, I find the motivation slipping out.
I think that sometimes people get their question or whatever answered and their satisfied, and the 'character' doesn't always reply to the replies, in my experience even when I try to continue the conversation or come up with an appropriate follow up question. That isn't to say you guys don't do a great job with it. I love how we can explore into the characters in the Character forums and the time and effort you guys put into it. I would say the Character threads were notably more active in the threads that Characters proactively collected. Still, I will try to keep in mind to be more active in Character threads I make at least.

To that extent, my first recommendation would be to simply increase the visibility of the forums. Show prospective users that there's discussion to be had and more people's interest will be naturally be piqued. Getting rid of the competing forum that is the comments system for the individual pages would also likely help (quite possibly to a greater extent, even) but I'm loathe to suggest that in earnest.
Yeah no, I don't think it would be fair at all to outright shutdown the comic comments.
 
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BadXAsh

Social Media Whore...er I mean Butterfly
The Katbox
May 29, 2008
748
67
42
Kalispell, MT
Personal Text
You're no bunny til some bunny loves you.
#23
There does seems to be a lot of comments on the Comic pages themselves. Comments that would certainly be better here in the forums where people could discuss them directly. Perhaps some way of merging the two? Though I'm not really sure how that would work. You log in at the bottom of of the comic and it posts directly to the Page's forum thread? I'm no coder so i'm not really sure how that would work.

Having run a few forums and tried to start up a few I can tell you Forums are a very delicate creature. They can be sickly and weak then suddenly flourish and then die off just as quickly. The one trick is to keep people invested... Give them a drive to WANT to come back each day and check up on what was said while they were away. I know one thing for me that kept my interest in forums was a Roleplaying section. I love text based RPing in worlds that I enjoy. I've done it all from D&D to Ninja Turtles. They have a forum for everything... Here you guys have a bright vivid well constructed world that people would love to tell their own character's story in.

Another thing that I really enjoyed on this forum for the longest time was the Ask Ambar. That was a HUGE thread and there were some really great no hold barred questions. Perhaps something like that?

That's my two cents, give a penny take a penny! :happyTaffy:
 
Apr 26, 2007
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Arizona
#25
A chatroom would be nice imo.
We had a couple of forum members manage an unofficial one for a little while, but it eventually fell apart due to inactivity and trivial drama.

EDIT: It's also worth noting that there won't always be mods or admins online to manage. It'd be a logistical nightmare to manage both a chat room and a forum simultaneously.