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Upsetting statistic

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For those that don't know, this site has been going for nearly 19 years now. For nearly 19 years I have dedicated myself to helping recreational aviators to stay safe, learn from each other's experiences and help with their aircraft maintenance. I went to a software platform that induced user involvement to help each other. I then changed to a complete web site solution that provided so much more as a service to recreational aviators but the site was impacted...

 

Well, after moving to that new software platform I was told to give it time and my site would recover, "it will take 6-9 months" and other comforting statements that my site will get back to what it was. In its prime it was getting between 2,500 and 3,000 unique visitors per day but then came a competitor using Facebook for the quick and easy posting so I went full on site to offer more than just the interactive forum of facebook. To do this I needed a full blown web site software solution which IPS is compared to the previous platform of Xenforo. I then swapped back and forth panicking due to the drop of user numbers but eventually stuck with IPS as a full site solution.

Give it time they said, well here it is after 6 months and still completely flat, no gradual increase, now sudden lift in numbers, the site has so much more now with the IPS database feature and many addons like Classifieds etc. How much more time does one have to give? If there was a slow and gradual increase I would be happy and go along with "Give it time" but I no longer have faith in either IPS OR Xenforo compared to the all mighty, all conquering Facebook. The stupid thing is this site offers so much more, so much that Facebook could never provide but here we are, the software license now needs renewing, hosting costs $250 a month and I am working on the site every single day trying to improve it. What am I missing? What have I done wrong? Is there a solution that I can do to help recreational aviators more in giving them a way that they can learn and help each other, keep each other safe and have fun?...tell me, please, be brutal if you need to be

 

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For what it’s worth, I left that FB competitor, something I rarely ever do, and the reason I left it was the high numbers of visitors and their low relevance to recreational flying who infest it today, so the first takeaway is that quality needs to be added to numbers.

If you want me to be brutal, it’s probably fiddling with what was the more successful alternative, and the difficulty of resetting computers and I phones to make the site work again that’s slowing the recovery. A dedicated How To thread would help enormously.

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It's a brutal world in the Internet communication field today, and it's difficult to know what works best. I've seen many forums from the early 2000's just virtually fold up and disappear in recent years.

There are many reasons, and possibly the greatest reason is that there are many ways to communicate rapidly today - and most of that communication centres around smartphones and fast, short comments.

In essence, the Internet communication methods have been dumbed down to meet shallow and quick posts and replies.

 

"DRTL" is a classic of the Internet slang that simply says people won't read any more than 80 characters if they can possibly avoid it. It's gotta be short, sharp, and just simple, unthinking entertainment.

In the "good ol' days", people came to forums to find information, parts, get advice, and just generally "yarn" with like-minded people interested in the same passion. 

Now, Google and Facebook have ruined forums because Google supplies immediate answers to any search for anything. Facebook occupies the shallow commentators, and the short mildly entertaining video watchers.

It's little wonder that Internet cat videos are the biggest feature of many websites, and the most watched. People watch cat videos simply because they're looking for a bit of light diversion from boring work.

 

I have never used Facebook, because I trust Zuckerberg like I trust a black snake in the hot sun, and I hate the layout of Facebook.

I also hate the deviousness of Facebook with vast levels of hidden tracking, "monetising" of your personal data with no suitable compensation to you personally, and shallowness that borders on breathtaking.

 

As regards the deviousness of Facebook tracking, which tracks you from millions of other sites, as well as Facebook, I once saw a highly suitable description of this creepy process, of a quick redirection of your expected URL, to a tracking site - "it's like spotting a rat running under your bed. You know it shouldn't be there, you didn't want it running under your bed, you don't know what it's getting up to under your bed, and you certainly didn't ask for it, to be under your bed".

 

But they reckon Facebook is running down, too, and has "run its race" and will eventually collapse. That's why Zuckerberg is into crypto-currencies, and other "features" and services, to try and make Facebook more relevant and to keep up its numbers.

So essentially, that is where the future lies in Internet forums and modern communication and entertainment - you have to look at what services or features you can provide, to keep people coming back. Simple forum discussions aren't enough.

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Ian I reckon you have achieved your aim of increasing awareness and safety. Personally I would not go near Facebook. I have frequented this site for many years, not quite sure how many and I have noticed there is a change in the type op people who post here. There are a few old stalwarts who seem to have common sense. There are a few who want to learn and there are a few who want to have a say. not always a sensible say, but we can sort the wheat from the chaff. There does seem to be a lessening of discussion of the basics.

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What changed in May 2019? Was that when this latest version took over?

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Ian we no longer have the deep technical discussions that were so interesting, people like Daffyd and Maj. many other loud and outspoken people have gone. Even if I didn’t agree with them, they were interesting. I think most of the people who enjoy and support the RAA have been chased away. Say anything positive about it and you get slammed. This is a forum for people to air their grievances about RAA and the negativity wears us down. It was a good idea when you made a rule about not picking  on organisations but it hasn’t really worked. Unfortunately most recreational flyers, thousands, will not come here because of that negativity. Just my opinion.

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Ian has provided the means for like-minded people to communicate, but I guess it's up to we members to make the site vibrant again. Having Whatsup available for off topic fun and games is a great asset to RecFlying. However, we must do out best to inject interest into the aviation side of things. at RecFlying.

 

I've enjoyed being involved in the current discussions about propeller choice. Was a good chance to delve into some physics and also to do some research into propeller function and design. Cessna -v- Piper bogs down due to subjectivity. Some of Ian's ideas are hard to maintain, viz "On This Day". Do we build up the "Learning to fly" areas, or maybe "Aircraft care and maintenance"? 

 

As for F/B eroding the membership of this site, is it perhaps that members have found RecFlying to be their niche, - their comfortable old armchair in the clubhouse, and the younger generation is too busy with their social media commitments to sit a while?

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I like this forum a lot and check it every day for anything informative. I seem to have noticed a decline in the numbers of new threads. I myself haven’t had anything new to comment due to being grounded partly through hassles with CASA over my medical, now sorted and partly through taking what I thought would be the easiest option of ordering a new aileron for my CH701 from Zenith because I didn’t want to buy full sheets of aluminium and the aileron skin and spars are both longer than 4ft which would be a half sheet and the minimum order. Anyway, it has taken literally months and was definitely a mistake. I don’t know what I can tell you, I will keep looking in but it costs you a lot of money so I am not about to tell you what you should do!

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44 minutes ago, turboplanner said:

What changed in May 2019? Was that when this latest version took over?

That was when we moved to IPS

41 minutes ago, pmccarthy said:

Ian we no longer have the deep technical discussions that were so interesting, people like Daffyd and Maj. many other loud and outspoken people have gone. Even if I didn’t agree with them, they were interesting. I think most of the people who enjoy and support the RAA have been chased away. Say anything positive about it and you get slammed. This is a forum for people to air their grievances about RAA and the negativity wears us down. It was a good idea when you made a rule about not picking  on organisations but it hasn’t really worked. Unfortunately most recreational flyers, thousands, will not come here because of that negativity. Just my opinion.

So how do we fix this? It is a damned if you do and damned if you don't although one thing I have noticed is that the moderators don't have to do anything any more (except for the odd spam)

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OK, two suggestions

 

1. May 2019 drop in visitors.

    Survey the reasons people turned away from the site, then fix them to get back up to pre May 2019 levels.

    The pre May 2019 levels showed a stable retention of visitors.

 

2. Out of the claimed 12,000 RAA members, how many know that Recflying exists? probably not very many.

    I notice a number of ads creeping into the Recflying forum section, and I don't have any problem with them, so perhaps some of the repetitive things that people are nopt responding to could be cut back and a few more paid ads can be added to pay for some paid ads in areas frequented by RAA members.

 

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What ads are appearing, I can't see any unless you are referring to the Classifieds section

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11 minutes ago, Admin said:

That was when we moved to IPS

So how do we fix this? It is a damned if you do and damned if you don't although one thing I have noticed is that the moderators don't have to do anything any more (except for the odd spam)

 

Really? I've had a couple of posts edited, and one removed recently, was pretty much called a racist also, for factually explaining how some immigrants were using methods to get residential visas. 

 

In the Alan Joyce thread someone said "I wonder if Qantas gave him a big gift" and I quipped "His husband would give him a big gift" - it was removed. It was a joke, and typical Australian conversational humour at that.  Why the completely irrelevant off topic about someone's marriage was even allowed to run .....

 

Thing is previously we could discuss things here, not racist things, but factual things, it was one of the few forums left you could express yourself. And of course hand in hand with that, you removed Off Topic because a few members forced themselves pain by continually open threads who's content they were well aware of. 

 

Yes, some threads went too far previously, but now you seem to be compensating in the opposite direction.

 

Then you've got the insidious rat Flying Tornado who has been running around for years giving everyone the shites. Do the Facebook thing and when I ignore him he can't see what I post either. I mentioned that in 'Site Problems' but no reply, but a laughing emojie appeared, by guess who ..

 

 

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Hi Ian

 

Ive been on the site for about five-six years now (had a previous avatar -but forgot the login and changed). Ive really enjoyed following the site and learned from the content. I hadn't appreciated you'd been running it 19 years! Thats extraordinary!

 

Like  earlier respondents Im not on Facebook,  and much prefer the style of written discussion and exchange of information, views and anecdotes  that occurs  on here. Unlike one previous respondent I don't in principle object to the  hammering occasionally given to RAA and CASA. Not that I agree with all of it, but its often amusing and in some cases well justified. People need somewhere to vent and I don't agree that negativity towards a governing body is the source of the slow growth in forum users... indeed it might be attracting them if they feel disenfranchised by their organisations.

 

But as somebody pointed out above,  i think this forum tends to attract people who are serious aviation enthusiasts (both students and established pilots) rather than just casual users and drop-ins. For one thing our demography works against a site like this.  About half an hour ago i read an article about 'airparks' which cited that a very high proportion of aircraft owners in Australia are over 55.  Im actually a couple of years younger,  but take the point.  So serious flyers  are  maybe of a generation less inclined to use online forums?

 

Is it possible  that as content  on Facebook pages  is reduced to the lowest  dominator (the aviation equivalent of cat videos),  the pendulum swing the other way, and people genuinely interested in flying will gravitate back here?  

 

 I really like the classifieds section here, also the resources (including training materials which are great for refreshers). What i would like to see more of is individual aircraft flight reviews (perhaps owner penned?) so i can learn about other aircraft types, also flight destination write ups and event write-ups. But I guess that kind of 'magazine' content depends upon contributors generating material -which is out of your control.  

 

Two  further ideas, both rather brutal.

 

Have you 'advertised' the forum?  Could it be better promoted?  If financial support is an issue, have you considered charging a small subscription  fee?  Another special interest forum i use recently did that. It may defeat the objective of drawing in more members  (but if you need members to attract  advertising revenues,  there may be a balance point somewhere between the two revenue streams). Just a wild idea.   

 

Cheers

 

 Alan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by NT5224
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"In the Alan Joyce thread someone said "I wonder if Qantas gave him a big gift" and I quipped "His husband would give him a big gift" - it was removed. It was a joke, and typical Australian conversational humour at that.  Why the completely irrelevant off topic about someone's marriage was even allowed to run "

LoL, I can laugh now, I see your joke. 

AND It was I (that some one). 

I wondered if like an employee, the colleagues do a "whip-round", for the couples wedding present.

Nothing nasty intended.

My nephew has got engaged to his partner last week, so it's everywhere.

spacesailor.

 

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As I said in another thread some time ago, I have been a member of a couple of sites that have virtually no activity, or only about half a dozen active posters.

 

On one site, I think a post I made in February last year is the most recent post, and on another there are very few posts, but 3 or 4 members check into the chat facility each morning to discuss the weather and talk absolute gibberish before heading out to get the paper and a coffee. This site is absolutely bustling by comparison.

 

I am on this site 2 or 3 times a day, and I honestly believe it has saved me from getting depression (I assume I don't have depression). At least the mental activity helps stave off dementia.

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 I generally don't comment very often but check the site virtually every day for new posts, and have been doing so for probably the last 7-8 years.  I thought the site worked well when I first came across it. It had a lot of interesting content largely because there seemed to be many `well-known' contributors who were posting regularly and generating the activity.  I couldn't understand why you were so worried about `improving it' all the time with new features and add-ons, changing platforms, name changes, more complexity etc, but was impressed by your determination to make it `better', although it already worked fine as far I could see.  The site is only as successful as the core activity it generates as a forum, no matter how many extra bells and whistles it has. Take Nev, Pete and a handful of others off the site now, and it would be very quiet indeed, so it might be useful to survey previously active and often very knowledgeable and entertaining contributors to find out why they stopped commenting.

 

 

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It's a wide ranging forum and I have a great difficulty on occasions  assessing as to just what people are interested in . My main thrust is safety and pilot skills and building and one does not know what others know or don't know when composing a post..  I hope people are not discouraged from contributing or enquiring at any point. I'm disappointed we don't have many women here. I confess I don't know what the % figures are in RAAus or the VH section but there's no real reason why women shouldn't enjoy flying any less than men do. Maybe the bang for the buck isn't there as much as it was in earlier times when it was less bucks. and more get togethers?

 WE have lost some very good contributors . Mores the pity. Nev

Edited by facthunter

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23 hours ago, Admin said:

For those that don't know, this site has been going for nearly 19 years now. For nearly 19 years I have dedicated myself to helping recreational aviators to stay safe, learn from each other's experiences and help with their aircraft maintenance. I went to a software platform that induced user involvement to help each other. I then changed to a complete web site solution that provided so much more as a service to recreational aviators but the site was impacted...

 

Well, after moving to that new software platform I was told to give it time and my site would recover, "it will take 6-9 months" and other comforting statements that my site will get back to what it was. In its prime it was getting between 2,500 and 3,000 unique visitors per day but then came a competitor using Facebook for the quick and easy posting so I went full on site to offer more than just the interactive forum of facebook. To do this I needed a full blown web site software solution which IPS is compared to the previous platform of Xenforo. I then swapped back and forth panicking due to the drop of user numbers but eventually stuck with IPS as a full site solution.

Give it time they said, well here it is after 6 months and still completely flat, no gradual increase, now sudden lift in numbers, the site has so much more now with the IPS database feature and many addons like Classifieds etc. How much more time does one have to give? If there was a slow and gradual increase I would be happy and go along with "Give it time" but I no longer have faith in either IPS OR Xenforo compared to the all mighty, all conquering Facebook. The stupid thing is this site offers so much more, so much that Facebook could never provide but here we are, the software license now needs renewing, hosting costs $250 a month and I am working on the site every single day trying to improve it. What am I missing? What have I done wrong? Is there a solution that I can do to help recreational aviators more in giving them a way that they can learn and help each other, keep each other safe and have fun?...tell me, please, be brutal if you need to be

 

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It's not a question of a few people who might have left, or even a few hundred, because before May you can see the graph is slowly climbing as against bleeding away.   Something happened with the software change and people haven't come back. One possibility is casual Iphone visitors, because the current site is not good to use on an Iphone, so that would be an easy fix.

 

The level graph is a marketing issue, with an immediate potential audience in the 12,000 claimed RAA members, which like any other market will respond to promotion.    Each typical market campaign, if effective, will bring in about 3% of  a market, and that would get the level pattern pointing upward in 360 visitor steps.

 

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3 hours ago, facthunter said:

 I'm disappointed we don't have many women here. I confess I don't know what the % figures are in RAAus or the VH section but there's no real reason why women shouldn't enjoy flying any less than men do.

I fly, as do many of my friends.  The Australian Woman Pilot Association is very active.  But sometimes the posts/comments on this forum mean I stop coming back for awhile.  At times it can get very blokey.   

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And some threads get a bit like an autobiography which others may not want to compete with.

Just my view, and maybe i'm wrong, but it's how I feel.

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A bit "Blokey"

You haven't met some of my off-spring & the others partners.

They take a bit of getting use to.

Couldn't put some of their jokes on this forum, I'd get Banned.

spacesailor

Edited by spacesailor
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4 hours ago, turboplanner said:

It's not a question of a few people who might have left, or even a few hundred, because before May you can see the graph is slowly climbing as against bleeding away.   Something happened with the software change and people haven't come back. One possibility is casual Iphone visitors, because the current site is not good to use on an Iphone, so that would be an easy fix.

So what you are saying is that the XF software was better for a conversation site?

 

What is also being said in this thread is the site needs more promotion, which we all know costs money over and above the software licenses and monthly hosting costs.

 

Plus many of those still on the site don't use Facebook

 

Lastly, you are saying we need to find out why users have left the site AND/OR try and get them back BUT what about antagonistic posts also coming back which can push others away

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Word-of-mouth promotion could help. Next time people are discussing something down at the airfield, suggest that people see what has been said here. Things are usually up to the minute here, and there is a wealth of knowledge covering all sorts of topics. 

 

No social media platform nowadays can expect to be free of those people who like to troll. Unfortunately, here is not like a physical clubhouse where you can always tell an obnoxious twit to F-off to its face. Here we must bear the curse of the cloak of anonymity.

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