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Forum users have tunnel vision. They're not interested in extra features.

Discussion in 'Forum Management' started by Stuart Wright, Mar 3, 2014.

  1. Stuart Wright

    Stuart Wright Well-Known Member

    I am only just now appreciating that forum members are only interested in the forums.
    I added several features to AVForums when we migrated from vBulletin on October 26th. I announced them in newsletters. They have all been online for four months except the Media Gallery, which has been online just a few weeks.
    • Maps of eating challenges. We had people suggesting additions via posts when I maintained the Google map. Now it can be done by the members via Waindigo's Hotspots addon, only one entry has been added in four months.
    • The XenAttendo Events addon. Not a single event added by the members.
    • Showcases. 3 created in total. One by a moderator to test it out, and two by normal members. One of those I personally prompted to create his showcase. People have created threads with images in for years, and it seems that's how they want to continue. Even including the showcase module in the sidebar on the forum list has made no difference.
    • The Xen Media Gallery. Complete disinterest. The enthusiasts use Flickr. That's it.
    • Bookmarks has had a better take-up. Probably because of the prominent Bookmark link under every post and it enhances normal forum use. Still we have only 300 bookmark records in the database.
    Unique Pageviews for all these addons combined account for less than .05%.
    It's depressing!
    Compared to the forums, even our editorial is ignored by a large proportion of our membership.
    People, it seems, are only interested in the forums.
    Have other admin successfully encouraged their members to use these useful addons?
    jauburn, Degrinch, Marcus and 7 others like this.
  2. HWS

    HWS Well-Known Member

    This is correct. ;)
    And to answer your question: No, they aren't.

    However, I can see the games section is loved by users. Too bad that Arcade can't switch to 1.3 because the code is not maintained any more.

    Ah, and the StockTrader Add-On was loved after we installed it. But interest went down soon, so we uninstalled it after a year.
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2014
  3. Brogan

    Brogan XenForo Moderator Staff Member

    I removed most add-ons for exactly the same reason.
    gfc, HenrikHansen and RoldanLT like this.
  4. whynot

    whynot Well-Known Member

    Not much luck with them.
  5. Martok

    Martok Well-Known Member

    Add-ons need to have a raison d'être on a forum if they are to be used by members and even then, they need some encouragement.

    I run a gaming site for mature gamers (25 years and above). It's only got a small membership but we use:
    • XenAtendo on a weekly basis to organise our games nights. This is set up to post the events in a forum as otherwise members would likely miss the events through not checking the Events section.
    • Xen Media Gallery mainly for posting videos for various video games. It's not used as much as I would like (it needs members to add some more content and particularly to use the comments and rating features) but it's a start. It is better now that there are media alerts for new items etc. I'm hoping that the new features in 2.1 will encourage its use more
    Much of the use of these has been led by me. You have to lead by example if you are to get others to use these features.

    Regarding these two add-ons on AVForums, what exactly is the purpose of them? I've only had a quick glance at these so apologies if I've missed anything but from what I can see
    • Looking at XMG, it just appears to be a Gallery with no particular structure to it. Why would a member want to use it? There only seem to be albums on there - why would I want to share personal stuff on a forum about Home Cinema and Technology? Maybe you could use the gallery more to feature various products etc in the categories and users could use their albums to show off their home set-ups? I know when I'm buying a TV I like to see photos of it from all angles including the inputs at the back.
    • I couldn't see XenAtendo (have you removed it?) - what was the purpose of this? What sort of events were you expecting folks to add to this? Did you have it posting to a forum, or just the separate Events section? I'm not sure what an AVForum member would want to use XenAtendo for.
    Alfa1 and wedgar like this.
  6. Russ

    Russ Well-Known Member

    We've gone from full feature add-ons to little add-ons to enhance the users experience around the forums, not outside the forums. Running a gaming site for awhile it's pulling teeth trying to get users to post on the forums sometimes, let alone use the additional add-ons that I have high hopes for :D.
  7. Dakis

    Dakis Well-Known Member

    I would tend to agree - even my gallery which now has more than 50,000 photos, only gets 3% of the site's pageviews.

    Other things I use like invite your friends addon, maps in profiles, etc, get even less participation.
  8. Stuart Wright

    Stuart Wright Well-Known Member

    I hesitated to post this thread because it's not likely to be welcome news for Jon, Bob or Chris who I like immensely and who have put such a huge amount of personal investment into their addons. But I think Martok is right in saying that there needs to be a raison d'être. I thought we had that with the Showcase addon for members' home cinema galleries. But they just haven't chosen to use it. Maybe it could be integrated with the forum more.

    We've integrated our editorial with threads by putting an editorial block at the top - e.g. http://www.avforums.com/threads/tomb-raider-definitive-edition.1838554/
    I think using threads for comments rather than having a separate comments system is a *much* better way to integrate addons with the forums. Locate the comment thread in the relevant forum (in the above example the Tombraider review comment thread is in the Games > PS4 > PS4 Games forum) and have an element from the addon above the thread (as we have done with editorial), and you're *much* more likely to make people aware of the addon functionality. Having said that, editorial is still getting a tiny fraction of page views compared to the forums. Maybe that's down to Google having indexed the forums for years, whereas editorial is fairly new.

    Generally I think extra feature addons like the big ones I've listed need more visibility in amongst the forums themselves to grab the attention of the core forum community.
    Kintaro likes this.
  9. Tracy Perry

    Tracy Perry Well-Known Member

    Agreed. I use @Chris D's Xen Media Gallery on my Apple site as a Wallpaper gallery and @Bob B's ShowCase add-on as a review section. On my motorcycle forum I use ShowCase add-on as a garage. They are targeted specifically at each forum.
  10. Mouth

    Mouth Well-Known Member

    I've gotten good traction with Showcase by using the Options | Home Page tab and using "Enable Node List Items Module" at the top of the forum home page, and "Enable Node List Module" at the bottom of teh forum home page.
  11. RobParker

    RobParker Well-Known Member

    We've found exactly the same thing with a few exceptions.

    We have users regularly using the Sportsbook addon (our "vbookie" successor).
    We used to have the arcade as mentioned above and that was popular.
    We used to have an IRC chatroom addon that was very well used.

    Things like the Events addons were just ignored so we removed them.

    I think that says that users aren't really interested in generating extra content for you. They like the simplicity of just posting threads and it's only really the interactive stuff which will engage them elsewhere on your site.

    I'm hoping that when we start using the gallery it'll be a success but whether it can compete with epic "picture threads" is something I'm not sure of yet.
    wedgar likes this.
  12. Martok

    Martok Well-Known Member

    The raison d'être is down to the site, not to the add-on and so it's not really an issue of the developers' hard work, more that of the add-on not being targeted at the right audience on your site and/or being promoted enough. Just sticking an add-on on a site won't get it used unless there is a reason to do so and for it to be well promoted and ideally led-by-example from the staff.

    I'd have to disagree with comments for XMG being part of the forums. To me, forums are really about discussions. Comments on images and videos generally aren't discussions (from my experience) and for that I don't think they have a place as forum posts. Comments on your reviews though do seem to fit in with forums as they would likely drive more discussion.
    0ptima and wedgar like this.
  13. Ingenious

    Ingenious Well-Known Member

    I've found the same thing over the last 10 years or so. Extra features often tend to be 7 day wonders unless you plug them constantly. You then end up spending a disproportionate amount of time pushing things that a minority uses. I think this is more a reflection of better things "out there" for certain purposes than a malaise with forum members. For example over the years, I've ditched the gallery (people use Flickr, their own blogs, etc), the calendar isn't missed (what few major events we do can have sub-forums for discussion), I no longer host video or collate member's video - everyone uses YouTube.

    I actually see this as a good thing because the net now empowers people to be content creators AND retain ownership of that content in various places they publish.

    So regarding the forum, this now is all community, networking and content. One reason I like Xenforo so much as a platform is the focus on actual content.

    Even things like oversize avatars, massive header graphics, ridiculous signatures all get on my tits these days. Content - what people actually say - is where it's happening. It's the one thing forums have left!!
    MattW and wedgar like this.
  14. craigiri

    craigiri Well-Known Member

    This is exactly the reason for "zen" - simple and uncluttered. I've run my site for 18+ years and, once the forums were installed, most all users gravitated toward them. Nothing I did made this happen - it just so happens that people prefer "hanging out" to lots of the other stuff.

    Even a few years ago my static articles were very popular! Now they have been losing views quickly, a fact which I largely attribute to google changes. My thinking is that good decided forums are where the action is and depreciates stuff which it perceives is not updated often.
  15. Brogan

    Brogan XenForo Moderator Staff Member

    This is why I started looking at making the forum home page a kind of hybrid home page.
    I found that members were also bypassing the home page completely, they just want to use the forum.
    That's how Featured Threads came about.
    cdub and wedgar like this.
  16. Brogan

    Brogan XenForo Moderator Staff Member

  17. iTuN3r

    iTuN3r Well-Known Member

    I removed most of the add-on's due to same reason . Everyone just wants to use forum ...not even interested in portal page or anything . For first few months it was working as time went by those add-ons were barely useful .
  18. Alfa1

    Alfa1 Well-Known Member

    I am not surprised that your media gallery is not used much. Your media gallery does not get a prominent listing on your site, and more importantly: the main media page seems a UXD dead end. Unlike your forums it does not list the categories, it does not show the user area's of interest like forums do. Really, you gallery should have the exact same categories as your forums have, so that you can tempt the same users that use specific forums to use the affiliated media categories.
    Addons should not be separate systems on your site, but should be fully integrated with your forum. Else its a fail.
    Your plasma TV's forum should have a sidebar displaying the latest plasma TV media. Your Plasma TV media category should have a sidebar showing the latest Plasma TV forum posts.
    In regard to your main media page: adding categories would be a huge improvement. But even then: there are way too many elements on the page that are not interesting to your users and only dilute your click through rate. Users are not interested in how many views an image has, when it was uploaded, or a dead end media button. It only distracts users from becoming active and finding what they are interested in.
    The only things above the fold that might be of interest to your users are 6 images. Try decreasing the size of the images so that there is a higher chance that the user will see something of interest. Remove all non-essential elements. Move titles to the overlay. Consider if users would post more if the author is shown or not.
    It would be good to find better ways to present the gallery. I do not think this portal is optimal to showcase categories and content in a way that the average user will always see something of interest and be enticed to participate.
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2014
  19. Carlos

    Carlos Well-Known Member

    Been saying this many times on xenForo, but nobody wanted to listen to me. Welp, guess what? Contrary to what they believe; most people don't really care for "extra features." This [thread] just proved my theory 1,000 times over. Especially the media gallery, photogallery, whatever image plugin there is.
  20. SelfSufficientMe

    SelfSufficientMe Well-Known Member

    I don't think the majority of people can be bothered going through the trouble of adding extra content besides answer or ask a question and add to a discussion in a forum.
    I thought some of these add-ons would help my start-up forums to generate interest and content but it's mostly me using them.
    Without an easy (and realistic) way to encourage participation in media content areas such as a gallery or showcase it's difficult to get on a "content roll" with regular participation unless you have a really unique and motivated community.
    The showcase and gallery add-ons are great! I'm sure if the showcase or gallery add-ons had an inbuilt competition mechanism, which could be used on occasion, it would be easier to encourage participation and kick-start content creation and even more discussion would flow from there.
    I do believe "extra features" are welcomed by users and visitors to forums but to encourage participation or change behaviour there needs to be more motivating reasons than just hoping users will immediately and actively use them.
    Degrinch likes this.

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