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We Need New Blood

jar546

Forum Coordinator
Joined
Oct 16, 2009
Messages
11,096
Location
Somewhere Too Hot & Humid
I just looked at the numbers, and we have 255 former Sawhorses who have not renewed over the years and are down to an all-time low of 75 active Sawhorses.

Looking for ideas to help retention and growth in the Sawhorse community here at the forum. I will be making another big change with our server setup for the protection of the forum with the IT company I use to maintain this wonderful place.
 
I just looked at the numbers, and we have 255 former Sawhorses who have not renewed over the years and are down to an all-time low of 75 active Sawhorses.

Looking for ideas to help retention and growth in the Sawhorse community here at the forum. I will be making another big change with our server setup for the protection of the forum with the IT company I use to maintain this wonderful place.
I hate to be the broken record, but the minute you drop the ads (or even drastically reduce them) I will become a paying member. Honestly, it's a huge turn-off.
 
I just looked at the numbers, and we have 255 former Sawhorses who have not renewed over the years and are down to an all-time low of 75 active Sawhorses.

Looking for ideas to help retention and growth in the Sawhorse community here at the forum. I will be making another big change with our server setup for the protection of the forum with the IT company I use to maintain this wonderful place.
You may already do this, but if not it is the only thing that pops in to my head. Have you considered promoting the forum at code official events, such as code hearings, educational institutes, or anywhere "vendors" can set up a booth? I have no idea what it takes, how much it costs, or how it works, but I do know that every event I attend there are multiple vendors, touting their products, software or company. Many give out trinkets, which I find inspectors love. For regional or local events, I bet there are some of us who would take the time to sit in a chair and give away pamphlets or keychains. Not sure if it would increase support enough to be worth it, but it is a thought. As I sit at my desk I quickly count 7 items with the name or logo of a trinket I have collected over the past few years. Pens, notepads, laser pointers, flashlights, pocket knives etc. Not to mention the business cards.

Ultimately, this forum is largely supported and/or read by those of us with an interest (passion?) to be the best we can be in our given profession. Sadly, interest and passion are waning. I have said before I am astonished that more don't utilize this forum, but every day I realize why; more and more are just punching a clock.
 
I have told many people about this forum. Inspectors, managers, contractors, engineers and architects.... I guess that's about covers it. I provide them a link ... I am aware of only one following through, and that was but for a moment. They have a habit of calling me for answers that they could easily get here... I used to bring their questions here.

There was a Superintendent Of Building at LACDPW that I introduced to this forum. He showed an interest in creating an in-house forum. The idea faltered immediately upon introduction to the department managers at large. That happened at a forum of inspectors, office managers and all of the department engineers. This forum was put up on a big screen as an example of how slick it could work. As soon as I made this statement, "A forum could render every inspector on a par with the best inspector"... An office manager stood up and said, It won't happen in his district office because, "I need to know what the inspectors are doing."

As soon as I said "render every inspector on a par with the best inspector" you could see the tension in the room as a hundred sphincters tightened. That's the last thing management types want. Imagine the increased workload if the inspectors knew what they were doing.

The SOB was not a construction sort. He came from some division like IT or Airports that had nothing to do with a building dept. He didn't last long and the idea of a forum left the building with him.

The forum has become less interesting to me as an inspector. The forum has become focused on plan check type questions and answers. I suppose it is a natural cycle as there was a time when most of it was about accessibility issues which has tapered off as of late. When I first started there was a lot of code violation stuff. The thread that I started called an average day has had just shy of 600,000 views yet even that thread is on its' last legs.

There's nothing special about the thread An Average Day. The 600k views is because of pictures. I have advocated for posting pictures a dozen times but now that this is mostly a plan check forum I suppose pictures won't be important.
 
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I hate to be the broken record, but the minute you drop the ads (or even drastically reduce them) I will become a paying member. Honestly, it's a huge turn-off.
I see just as many as you do and they don't bother me. If they bother you, then I am sorry but I do not have the ability to turn them off for Sawhorses. If I did then I would but I don't. It is unfortunate you are basing your decision on the value of this forum, not on the information and but on seeing ads. Maybe some day I can remove ads for Sawhorses, but as of right now, it is not possible.
 
You may already do this, but if not it is the only thing that pops in to my head. Have you considered promoting the forum at code official events, such as code hearings, educational institutes, or anywhere "vendors" can set up a booth? I have no idea what it takes, how much it costs, or how it works, but I do know that every event I attend there are multiple vendors, touting their products, software or company. Many give out trinkets, which I find inspectors love. For regional or local events, I bet there are some of us who would take the time to sit in a chair and give away pamphlets or keychains. Not sure if it would increase support enough to be worth it, but it is a thought. As I sit at my desk I quickly count 7 items with the name or logo of a trinket I have collected over the past few years. Pens, notepads, laser pointers, flashlights, pocket knives etc. Not to mention the business cards.

Ultimately, this forum is largely supported and/or read by those of us with an interest (passion?) to be the best we can be in our given profession. Sadly, interest and passion are waning. I have said before I am astonished that more don't utilize this forum, but every day I realize why; more and more are just punching a clock.
Thanks for the good idea. I did do that one year at an ICC conference but since I did not buy a booth as a vendor, I had to be careful. I had cards printed up and some of our members passed them out.
 
I see that. Sometimes a thread gets too big for someone to look through. I think that is part of the problem.
I tend to agree. I think about that when I am looking for answers by searching the forum and then add to an old post (like I just did on an old post). It is a toss-up...add to a post or rehash everything again. And, personally, I would rather put up with a few ads to help support the forum than pay more.
 
I tend to agree. I think about that when I am looking for answers by searching the forum and then add to an old post (like I just did on an old post). It is a toss-up...add to a post or rehash everything again. And, personally, I would rather put up with a few ads to help support the forum than pay more.
I do the same thing when I search subjects. When the thread gets too long I won't even click on it if I see there are a lot of pages or posts.
 
As a city I am a member of a number of organizations. Some local or state. All I need to join and support those organizations is a membership form/invoice and then a receipt for payment for the finance department. How about annual dues for AHJ's or a company based on the number of users that may access similar to the majority of licenses to use a particular software limit. There are two of us that currently use the site

Also, I think a little more info upfront on the benefits of being a Sawhorse for those visiting the site and/or creating an account might create some interest.

As for to many ads, I do not see any here at work. IT does a great job of blocking them.
 
A few initial thoughts:

I know ads are somewhat of a necessary evil in the forum "business" but one of the amount of screen real estate dedicated to ads here seems excessive. It makes for a difficult read at times. Can that be scaled back a bit, or a lot? I participate in a number of forums, but have never seen this many adds on other platforms.

Perhaps a corporate sponsorship by code related entities?

AHJ paid memberships for staff? I have encouraged all of the inspectors in our office to spend time here. I know some have benefited greatly. I would advocate for our office to buy a staff membership for our team if this was available.

I’m curious, Jar - do you have others helping with all the admin tasks, or you still flying solo on this thing?
 
One other thing that caught my attention - I found it odd that I could not use a credit card to pay for my Sawhorse renewal. I did my best to use paypal, but still have not been notified of my upgrade, so I'm wondering if I did something wrong with paypal. I would much prefer to use a CC.
 
A few initial thoughts:
First of all, thank you for taking the time to offer some helpful ideas.

I know ads are somewhat of a necessary evil in the forum "business" but one of the amount of screen real estate dedicated to ads here seems excessive. It makes for a difficult read at times. Can that be scaled back a bit, or a lot? I participate in a number of forums, but have never seen this many adds on other platforms.
My primary use for this forum is a desktop computer with a decent-sized screen. I understand how this can be unpleasant to people. I actually don't pay attention to the ads because I am focused on the actual content and just don't get distracted. To me, they are sort of invisible because I am only focusing on what I am reading. I understand this is not the case for everyone. With that being said, the ads are the main source of revenue to help keep this forum operating. The Sawhorse memberships certainly help, but they are inconsistent with a relatively low retention rate. I tried to make the ads disappear from Sawhorse members but as of right now, that is not possible. The ads are generated by Google. I wish I could turn them off for Sawhorses.

Perhaps a corporate sponsorship by code related entities?
We've had two corporate sponsors over the years, and both are no longer sponsoring anything. I have a full-time job and would have to find time to cold-call companies to set up a sponsorship. This is much easier said than done, albeit a great idea that I have explored several times in the past.

AHJ paid memberships for staff? I have encouraged all of the inspectors in our office to spend time here. I know some have benefited greatly. I would advocate for our office to buy a staff membership for our team if this was available.
I could probably do that. I would have to figure out how to set it up and take care of it manually vs the automatic system that tracks payments via Stripe or PayPal for individuals. I will explore this further.

I’m curious, Jar - do you have others helping with all the admin tasks, or you still flying solo on this thing?
I have some volunteer help with moderating and another admin who checks for spam, but for the most part, this is a solo venture. I am doing all of the software maintenance, much of which I have to contract out to an IT company, renewing and updating the server, paying the bills, renewing licenses and SSL certificates, performing updates, moderating, checking spam, answering emails, reports, updating terms and conditions to comply with changing laws, etc. It has been a labor of love for over 14 years, but as it has grown, so has the responsibility and technical aspect. Trying to keep relevant is another job by encouraging educational and informative content is another aspect. Protecting the site from attacks, ensuring compliance with the protection of members information is another aspect that is always changing. I could probably work full-time on this site if I wanted to.
 
One other thing that caught my attention - I found it odd that I could not use a credit card to pay for my Sawhorse renewal. I did my best to use paypal, but still have not been notified of my upgrade, so I'm wondering if I did something wrong with paypal. I would much prefer to use a CC.
That is an issue on your end or with PayPal. We have Stripe & PayPal now. Two different options and both take credit cards. In the past, we only had PayPal.
 
A few initial thoughts:

I know ads are somewhat of a necessary evil in the forum "business" but one of the amount of screen real estate dedicated to ads here seems excessive. It makes for a difficult read at times. Can that be scaled back a bit, or a lot? I participate in a number of forums, but have never seen this many adds on other platforms.

I agree. I think most of us understand that ads help pay for keeping sites alive. But the signal-to-noise ratio on this site is (IMHO) waaaaay out of balance. The ads are interspersed anywhere and everywhere, making it extremely difficult to pick your way through a discussion. I have never worked with this software -- the forums on which I'm an admin or moderator are all (except one) still running vBulletin, and there's flexibility in how and where ads are allowed to appear. The ads here are definitely excessively intrusive.
 
OK, so I figured out how to disable ads for Admin and Sawhorses inside a forum

However, the main forum page still has ads.

Once you open up a thread, the ads come back.

I suppose I will have to hire the IT company and spend some more funds in order to see if I can remove ads for Sawhorses. Is this expense an investment?
 
When the thread gets too long I won't even click on it
590,000 views---5,545 replies and only 232 pages. In some circles, that would be a record. That happened because there's thousands of pictures. The views count goes up a thousand a month which is a 1/4 of the rate when I was posting new pictures. That single thread could be an entire education. I would say more here but I'll trust that you can read between the lines.
 
There's now ads between the "Latest Posts", Kinda like sand between your toes!

Almost missed the fifth topic, cuz it was 1ft below the other post!:eek:
 
That is an issue on your end or with PayPal. We have Stripe & PayPal now. Two different options and both take credit cards. In the past, we only had PayPal.

I get that the issue was on my end with PayPal. That's exactly why I would prefer to not use PayPal. Many potential Sawhorses may not have PayPal or stripe, and some like myself, would prefer to never use PayPal again. I'd pay with a CC today if I had the option.
 
I get that the issue was on my end with PayPal. That's exactly why I would prefer to not use PayPal. Many potential Sawhorses may not have PayPal or stripe, and some like myself, would prefer to never use PayPal again. I'd pay with a CC today if I had the option.
I agree. Heck, I'd mail a check before using either of those options.
 
Too bad you don't have a stack of flyers or cards at the code hearings in Orlando.

Probably out of the budget but an ad in the BSJ might attract some.
 
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