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Discussion vs commentary? I think I'll take...

Share your views on the state of the Animation Industry.

Discussion vs commentary? I think I'll take...

Postby Charles » Wed Dec 01, 2010 12:14 pm

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At last night's AN Night, I was in a conversation with a prominent fellow from a prominent organization in the animation industry. During the course of our talk, he mentioned how surprised / impressed he was at the size of the crowd we had. I told him we normally get around twice as many people. It was an odd night. Traffic was worse than usual, the time of year, finals coming up at the local colleges, so we kinda had an AN Night Lite with Joe Pearson and his entourage. It was very pleasant none the less and we could kick back a little more.

Later, after things wound down and the one on ones and socializing was over, I thought about how successful AN has been even though our format has changed with the new forums and the discussion activity we had has pretty much turned into postings of assorted kinds that I mostly publish along with Skynet and Snakebite on occasion, and viewership.

Recently I tried an experiment. I was travelling for most of the month of October, and couldn't work the forums like I normally do. After I came back and checked out was was happening, I noticed that nothing much was happening. The forums were almost void of participation by anyone, and our traffic to the forums was as low as it has ever been.

So I took it upon myself to have some fun. If few to none of our many registered members are going to utilize this site, especially in consideration of its great history and legacy in the modern animation era, than I will.

Ever since, unique traffic to the forums, although still low from what we used to have in the heyday of the blistering bulletin board, tripled in a couple of weeks from the bottom in October. After that, we placed direct links to the forum on the home page where the video player was previously, and that's helped too. Our new visits are up around 50%, our pageviews per visitor are way high, and so's the average time that each visitor stays on the forums. We're about at the best level that we were when we switched over last June, with more consistency in the number of visitors day to day. Best of all, our unique visitors for the past 30 days are at the highest level since the new forums were launched last June and the number continues to rise. All of the data is from Google Analytics.

I asked myself, is discussion that important on AN anymore? Although it could be great on the old forums, it was also a source of endless trouble and abuse. It appears that our visitors aren't necessarily interested in discussion on the AN forums for it to be a destination. It seems my personal activity on the forums has enough of a following to keep people coming here in good numbers, especially considering that many of our visitors consist of the creme of the animation community.

So now that December has rolled around, and I have data to substantiate the results of the past month, I've decided to keep having fun with AN even though I may be the only one posting. It's a different experience for me to be a commentator without having to deal with the aftermath of sometimes very hostile people who purposely distort what I say and turn it into a hate fest. I like this new environment much more.

On top of it all, the media aspects of the new forums are great. It's very easy to post images and video, and makes working the forums a real treat for me.

So here's what I plan on doing in the days ahead. I plan to continue to do the same. I'll be checking animation news oriented sites for relevant items of interest for our community to be aware of. I'll continue to post notices in Festivals and Events, and the Business Forums as they relate to the community. And I plan on taking advantage of the exposure the AN Gallery offers. It's helping to motivate me to create once again. There's Current Events and Live Action that I'll be updating with things I feel are of interest to our members and visitors. We also started a new Education Forum that I'm excited about using. And of course our members can chip in too if they're so inclined.

Personally speaking, it's great to come to AN and not have to worry about the things that went on before, knowing that I can publish in peace in a friendly environment. I also assure you friends, that I will remain diligent in addressing the topics that are important to our community, subjects that some people may not want to face but are issues that matter in the world of the animation artist and support groups.

Thanks for reading this, and thanks very much for reading the AN Forums.
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Re: Discussion vs commentary? I think I'll take...

Postby Charles » Wed Dec 01, 2010 4:55 pm

Something else I'd like to mention. In the 5 1/2 months since the new forums went up, we haven't had to delete one comment much less close an account. What a difference this new format makes. If we moderated comments like they do at other sites, and had the option of seeing beforehand what was going to be posted on the old forums, we could've stopped a lot of the hostility and abuse and kept everything even keel. Even with the new format our members have the freedom to use the forums without having their comments reviewed prior to posting. I'm happy that in all this time, our members, when they do post up, have been super cool with what they publish. So thank you folks, I appreciate it.
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Re: Discussion vs commentary? I think I'll take...

Postby EAllen » Wed Dec 01, 2010 6:18 pm

You may be the only one posting Charles, but many are reading.

The challenges I've been facing over the past couple of months, some personal but most professional, have all but annihilated my ability to participate regularly on here. But I read, 'cause reading is easier than the torture I put myself through to formulate an astute, thoughtful and (sometimes) provocative comment.
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Re: Discussion vs commentary? I think I'll take...

Postby EAllen » Wed Dec 01, 2010 6:32 pm

You won't be solo in your posting activities for long, Charles.

There's a following, Charles. Since the site's transformation, and by connection its trimmed-down membership, naturally there are fewer posters and readers. But as you said, the trollish activity has disintegrated and the amount of comments subject to deletion have become a distant memory. (Not too distant, to be sure, but I hope you get what I was attempting to convey.)

At any rate, the following's there, even if they have to be reminded to visit from time to time. AN will get to its next level. It'll be a matter of time, as these things usually are, and largely dependent on those posters (like me) who love it so--and who love it enough to want to do something substantial on the forum's behalf. I'll be focused on my project (which will soon be unveiled--I've been saying this for the past few months, but trust me, it's something I'm going to be proud of) but rest assured, I will come back (I keep coming back) hardcore, along with the resources I said I would have to do my part in getting AN to that next level.

Thanks for keeping this fire burning for all of us, Charles. Words cannot expound how vital your work here is, especially to artists like myself, still finding their way through this industry.
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Re: Discussion vs commentary? I think I'll take...

Postby SNAKEBITE » Wed Dec 01, 2010 11:04 pm

I always thought the intent was to clean house to make room for better quality guests who got the vision behind ANs movement. And thats exactly whats happening.
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Re: Discussion vs commentary? I think I'll take...

Postby EAllen » Sun Dec 05, 2010 4:22 pm

I thought it already happened, Bite! :D
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Re: Discussion vs commentary? I think I'll take...

Postby Charles » Mon Dec 06, 2010 8:55 pm

The old forums were beyond saving. From the hostility and indifference and abuse of some of our members, to the mistakes I made, to the changes in the climate of the industry, they saw their day.

The new forums, although pretty much a different animal, have made a big difference for me personally. I can go on with daily life in a more productive manner. I have the time to attend to the development of new things and I'm not distracted by the oftentimes ugly activity that would appear on the old forums. This is a far better environment.

I have some ambitious ideas for the future of AN, but they're gonna take some time to form up. Once we're in a position to implement these concepts we'll be building out the site in a very unique way.

I'm getting ready for some new ventures which I'll be bringing folks up to date with soon. I don't think it would've been possible without reinventing AN. The changes to the forums have made a positive difference in this regard.
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Re: Discussion vs commentary? I think I'll take...

Postby Charles » Sun Dec 19, 2010 11:09 pm

Continuing with the positive difference the New AN Forums have made, it looks like this approach seems to be working.

With a focus on content and commentary, I'm happy to report that last Friday, December 17, we had the best Friday in unique visitors since the switch to the new system in mid June of this year. Also, last week was the first week where the highest amount of unique visitors we had was on a Friday. We never peaked on a Friday before on the new forums.

Add to that, even though the day's not over in LA, we broke the record for unique visitors for a Sunday. Both previous records have held up since our first week in the new forums in June.

I'm encouraged by the increase in visitor activity and I'm also glad that the community seems to be agreeable to what the AN forums are providing. This is fun for me and it's my pleasure to provide content and commentary you would not normally find at other industry centric forums or blogs.
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Re: Discussion vs commentary? I think I'll take...

Postby EAllen » Tue Dec 21, 2010 7:17 pm

Oh, it's gonna grow some more Charles. Wait and see. Exciting times coming up.
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Re: Discussion vs commentary? I think I'll take...

Postby Charles » Thu Dec 23, 2010 1:35 am

You may be right EAllen. On Monday we came close to the all time record for unique visitors to the new forums and on Wednesday we tied the record. It was first set on June 29.

Traffic to the AN Forums has nearly quadrupled from our lows in October, and I attribute it as a positive response to the varied content that people are discovering here.

This is much more along the lines of what I originally envisioned AN to be all the way back to around 1996 or '97. There may be some that pine for the old discussion forums in their heyday, but they served their purpose and we had to move on. Now that we're getting visitors returning or new visitors coming to the site, personally I much prefer featuring content. This transition is a good one for AN and I hope that folks are enjoying it and benefiting from it.
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Re: Discussion vs commentary? I think I'll take...

Postby Charles » Thu Jan 06, 2011 11:48 am

I'm learning a lot from the new forums, and perhaps the biggest lesson may be that you don't necessarily need heated back and forth discussion in order to make a forum work.

As long as the content is compelling, pertinent and entertaining, people will come.

So far this week, the first week of the New Year 2011, we've had the best traffic to the new forums since they went up in mid June of last year.

We broke the record for unique visitors on Tuesday, a record that's held up for more than 6 months, and it looks like we're in new territory for daily visitors in general.

Encouraging, and further confirmation that content and commentary can be the primary factor in what brings visitors to a forum, and that you don't need anonymous users calling each other names and behaving maliciously to make it work.
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Re: Discussion vs commentary? I think I'll take...

Postby Charles » Thu Jan 13, 2011 5:22 pm

In 2011 the New AN Forums have been doing the best they've ever done so far. We're maintaining consistently high levels for unique visitors ever day, especially since the new year started.

We're also approaching the tripling of unique visitors to the site over the past 30 days compared to what we were doing last October.

Commentary and content is getting more and more people to discover AnimationNation and what our movement over the years represents.
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Re: Discussion vs commentary? I think I'll take...

Postby Charles » Tue Jan 18, 2011 11:24 am

We're at the best level for we've ever been at for visitors since we switched to the new forums last June. We're consistently at record levels on a daily basis, and for visitors over the past month we're at an all time high for the new forums and the number keeps going up every day.

The current forums are doing better than they were at the time we switched from the old forums.

You don't need snarky comments and mean spirited discussion to drive traffic to a forum. On the contrary.

Thank you folks, for following AN.
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Re: Discussion vs commentary? I think I'll take...

Postby Charles » Wed Jan 26, 2011 2:14 am

Well, why not bump this up once more to share more good news along this subject.

We handily established a new record for unique visitors in a day for the new forums yesterday on January 25. More than quadrupling the amount of visitors we had on a daily basis in October.

Thank you for your interest in our content ladies and gents.
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