A few weeks ago, we held our second survey for 2016, this time less so about features as about community communication in general. We've received 17 responses through the survey. Members are, for the largest part, satisfied about the things that were asked. We assume that anyone who didn't elaborate on the points while checking a positive value (2-3) in the scale questions as well as anyone who didn't send in a survey is generally satisfied.
We have since discussed your responses internally, and now present you the survey round-up.
- Forum Organization
Some topics at the forums have been rearranged for more visibility. Forum Guidelines, Contact Information and the Guides Masterpost are all global annouces now. Know that the Contact Information topic always has up-to-date info about who to contact for what.
We've heard a few voices during and before the survey say that they didn't know we had a community chatroom. While the chatroom is one of our branches and we want to promote it, due to the way it's set up (anyone who has the link can join, for ease of handling), we don't feel comfortable linking it in public, which includes the main site and public forums. We don't want people from outside the community to be able to casually peek in, especially due to the very personal nature of some conversations in the chat.
At the moment, the chatroom topic is located in the Guides and Help forum, which is only visible to members. We hope that by making the Guides Masterpost (which includes a list of Amassment's features along with the link to said topic) a global announce, members interested in the chat can find the topic with ease.
- Chat Organization
New chatroom channels, #personal and #shrining, have been created to address various things that were brought up. We hope that they'll help keep things organized while allowing for more simultaneous conversations and for members to join and keep up with conversations depending on their interests. If your main interest in joining the chat is to talk about and get support for your shrines, it's absolutely fine to stick to the #shrining channel!
For the time being, we will not have specific channels for plugging or events. You are welcome to drop links to your projects in the chat, but for an overview of plugs, please refer to the forums (in particular Monthly Rewind and Directory Updates).
We have also implemented some things to make the chat more newcomer-friendly: A bot will message you with a welcome message when you first join to make sure you have the information you need. Channel descriptions (namely in #general) have been rewritten to clarify usage. Also know that you can reach out to admins if you need help settling into the chat.
- Discussions Boost
A surprising amount of people wrote that they don't frequent the forum as much, or at least not regularly; the reasons for this differ. As several have positively commented on the #flash-news channel of the chat, we will strive to plug new forum discussion topics on Twitter and in #flash-news from now on. We hope that will help people check out discussions more often and take part in them if a topic catches their interest, especially since our forums are the heart of the community.
We'd like to take some time to respond to specific things that were said in the survey in hope that it encourages you to participate more in the community without fear. No responses will be quoted.
- Forum Participation
Please never feel as though there are useless, dead-end or redundant conversations. If you feel like posting a discussion or are personally curious about something, please post the topic - we love any and all activity at the forums! (Psst, there are plenty of topics that were posted with the "omg is this even necessary" sentiment. As you can see, once posted, people participate in discussions!)
Likewise, if you think that you'd benefit from posting something for input and help on the forums, don't ever think you're not good enough. Being at Amassment is a learning experience. We're not just here to show our finished work to one another. We're always very happy to show each other how to do something, and by asking your questions, others who read the topic benefit as well. (I've personally piggybacked off sooooo many topics, so I'm glad people asked their questions!)
As for plugging: If you aren't comfortable with critiques, we'd like to remind you that we have a Sweet setting: If it makes you more comfortable to plug by marking your topic with the heart icon, please make use of it without shame!
- Admin Availability
Please know that all of our admins are at your disposal. Our activity may differ, and not all of us may post on the forums as much, but we're here for you on the communication channels outlined in the Contact Information topic, which includes PMs, chat and email. Don't hesitate to poke us if you need something!
- Vague Remarks
We'd like to state that giving negative input in the survey is absolutely okay, and we value your honesty. The survey is there to help us make the community better, and to help make you feel more comfortable. As with the survey earlier on this year though, we'd appreciate examples of incidents mentioned so that we know how we can help or what we should look into; without orientation, we can't do much, either because it's too vague or because there are many things we can think of that may not be what was meant. If you're referring to certain incidents or people, we ask you not to leave it at allusions in the future, but to tell us what in particular is bothering you.
The following relates to the community as a whole and requires everyone to work together, especially with member integration and overall community activity being a group effort.
- Clique Perceptions
A few members have, in the survey and in private, brought up perceived cliques especially at the forums, such as not feeling included, namely with regard to shrine plugs. Your feelings aren't invalid; we know that some have more difficulty than others to settle in or to make friends.
We'd also like you to consider other viewpoints though, such as what was brought up in the recent Commenting on Shrine Plugs topic: What is perceived as members being cliqueish might actually be insecurities on the side of the commentors or lack of time. Based on internal discussions and feedback received from other members, we believe Amassment to be welcoming and supportive overall. Thanks to recent open conversations on the subject of plugging though, we hope that even more people will comment on plugs from now on - regardless of their familiarity on the subject and their insecurities with commenting. We hope that that sentiment will reach you.
As we know that Amassment can be intimidating due to some people having been around for quite some time, which may create a "me versus them" mentality when it comes to plugging or trying to make friends, we'll be planning more bonding activities in the future. The plan is to launch some of them in the coming two months.
If you haven't seen the Mentor Program yet and think that it might help you to make more connections around the community, please make use of it! Likewise, posting/reposting your contact data in the restarted Connections topic is a good start!
- Chatroom Activity
There's concern that the chatroom overshadows the forums, replacing it when it comes to member interaction, and thus forcing members to join the chatroom in order to take part in the community. This is a valid concern, and we understand that it can feel like that especially if you aren't comfortable with chatrooms and aren't taking part in the chat. (The same sentiments are voiced regularly about Twitter.)
We have been and will continue pushing for more discussions at the forums, whether by encouraging people to continue an interesting train of thought or by asking them to sum up and restart an ongoing discussion at the forums for others to take part in. This happens quite often, conversations on Twitter and in private included. We also hope that plugging forum discussions in the chat and on Twitter (as stated above) will help with that, as some people just aren't at the forums often, with or without chat and for various reasons.
Still, in the end, instant messengers (group chatrooms included), Twitter and forums are different types of communication that serve different purposes. Even without the chatroom, people would be socializing elsewhere, because the forums aren't all that ideal when it comes to getting to know people individually and casually; it's more of a group medium, and there are time delays (not to mention personal expectations with regard to what to post).
It is absolutely fine if chatrooms aren't your thing - please don't feel as though you're forced to participate, and please don't feel that you're missing out. But for those who do want to socialize in that kind of setting, we want to offer that option to help bring the community together. That is something that happens on platforms such as Twitter anyway, but Twitter isn't "central" and happens on a more private, individual level, which may only add to feeling left out and there being cliques.
We can only keep assuring you that the forums are the heart of the community and of shrining - especially with regard to events, intros, plugs and discussions, which no other Amassment branch handles better. Here's a brief rundown of the purposes of the different branches:
- Main Site: information, archive
- Forums: community interaction (geared towards shrine discussions), information, updates, archive
- Chatroom: community interaction (geared towards casual conversations), updates
- Twitter: updates
Thank you to everyone who took time to take the full survey or to message us privately with their feedback (even if just to let us know they have nothing to comment on because they're happy)! We appreciate it all and it has helped us with understand what direction to take.