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MacNN Proposal
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besson3c
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Oct 3, 2012, 10:26 AM
 
Hey guys,

There has been some discussion as to what this community should do as MacNN continues to face what seems to be business related problems. What do you think of this idea?

- I create a new forum I host under a yet-to-be-unveiled domain name, using open source forum software such as phpBB

- If the mods/ex-mods here are willing, we govern this forum the same way that has worked so well here with the same mods, same rules, etc. I stay out of this picture. We would probably start without a PWL at least at first so that the forum is Abe-free.

- I turn over the keys of the forum to whomever we would trust with making forum modifications, but they will need to stage their code changes to a test domain running a separate database, synced with the production database periodically. After these changes have been vetted we apply them to the production site via Git. We can invite whomever to help test these changes as they are being made.

- We get the mods and other elite Mac heads to help hand pick the RSS feeds of Mac news sites and blogs, we aggregate this content and post the best of it to the forum

- We do not take credit for this content, we clearly label the source of this content in the post

- Mods are notified of new content pulled from these various RSS feeds via email with links embedded in the email to either post or not post each story. This way content can be vetted and the boring stuff weeded out, while approving a post is as simple as clicking on a single link. I have ideas for how these notifications could work without them being too annoying or onerous on the mods which I'd be happy to share at a later point

- We can optionally categorize some of these posts into geek and newb categories. I'm undecided whether we should go after the more fanboyish crowd of Macrumors and whomever else, or the more geek-friendly crowd of ArsTechnica or Slashdot and whomever else, or both.

- The new forum will be mobile optimized, images lazy-loaded, navigation perhaps PJAX driven, all of that good stuff



Does this interest enough of you guys to want to go through the trouble? I definitely do not have time to take care of the regular content vetting myself, nor the modding, I'll need the help of you guys! I can take care of the programming and hosting related things and other such geekery though, although it would be lovely to have help with the forum code modifications too. The site would likely be hosted on an Amazon EC2 VPS, so we'll have pretty fine control over performance which will be particularly important to making a mobile-friendly version of the forum, which would be an obvious goal.
     
MacinTommy
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Oct 3, 2012, 10:48 AM
 
I like this idea. Can we at least cuss?
     
MacinTommy
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Oct 3, 2012, 10:48 AM
 
I'd even chip in a dollar or two.
     
mattyb
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Oct 3, 2012, 10:57 AM
 
I'd chip in.

I vote for Glen as Forum 'god' - even if he did issue me a warning a while back.
     
besson3c  (op)
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Oct 3, 2012, 11:02 AM
 
Originally Posted by MacinTommy View Post

I like this idea. Can we at least cuss?
Those interested in joining me on this venture would have to discuss whether in the long term future we would want to get into corporate sponsorship, and whether or not this sponsorship would be turned off by the cussing. I'm inclined to say that this would be a non-issue, and that more important than the swearing vs. no swearing issue would be whether the place would be a positive environment in which will reflect well on the sponsor. We can create a positive environment simply by striving towards civility and intelligent discourse, which I personally think is far more important than simply censoring bad language.

As far as porn/nudity goes, some boundaries might have to be established, because if people posted stuff from Brazzers or something that might infringe upon the wishes of other people to not come across this imagery (especially in a possible work environment), and while the same might be said of bad language, I think that bad intent is far more offensive than the actual language.

That's just my take on it, but again, I guess this would be something that would have to be discussed collectively.
     
iMOTOR
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Oct 3, 2012, 01:35 PM
 


I could also put some time into dev, and I have access to a small x86 cluster for testing purposes, if nessasary.
     
subego
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Oct 3, 2012, 01:51 PM
 
If it's Glenn, r50, and Demon running the show, I'm not only on board, I can be of significant help when it comes to funding.

However, I still think there's the elephant in the room of what this is other than a place to go die. We need a model for growth.

It doesn't have to be spectacular growth, it just needs to be more than a place to die.
     
besson3c  (op)
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Oct 3, 2012, 02:12 PM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
If it's Glenn, r50, and Demon running the show, I'm not only on board, I can be of significant help when it comes to funding.
However, I still think there's the elephant in the room of what this is other than a place to go die. We need a model for growth.
It doesn't have to be spectacular growth, it just needs to be more than a place to die.
Do you think that the model I laid out in being an RSS feed aggregator is a viable model? You can be honest and blunt!
     
besson3c  (op)
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Oct 3, 2012, 02:21 PM
 
If you are interested in doing development for this project, please PM me your email address? I'd like to propose to you a possible way that your development could be subsidized and this turned into a money making business venture to see if you think that this idea has legs. If it does, we could hopefully work out a profit sharing sort of system, using this community as our early adopters.
     
sdilley14
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Oct 3, 2012, 02:25 PM
 
#Brazzers
2.3 GHz Intel i5 MacBook Pro
iPhone 4 - 16 GB - Black
8gb iPod Nano
     
subego
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Oct 3, 2012, 02:30 PM
 
@besson

Knee-jerk reaction. I see RSS and my brain shuts off. I dislike RSS. I didn't even read that part of the post.

After your request, I went back and looked at it. I'm a little confused. Is it an idea to draw traffic, or just something which would be cool?
     
besson3c  (op)
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Oct 3, 2012, 02:54 PM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
@besson
Knee-jerk reaction. I see RSS and my brain shuts off. I dislike RSS. I didn't even read that part of the post.
After your request, I went back and looked at it. I'm a little confused. Is it an idea to draw traffic, or just something which would be cool?
The idea would be that in addition to our own threads, threads would be created using the content aggregated from the RSS feeds, just like the NewsPoster account does here with MacNN content. There would be a homepage with these story summaries with links to the parent site, as well as to the discussion thread that we'd host. It would be a way of growing the community, in theory, and providing the site with some content. Over time the RSS feeds could be supplemented with our own content as desired.

Let's go about this this way, guys...

I want more smell test sort of feedback on this idea, please and thank you, and I'd like to share a possible extension to this project which has a larger scope with interested developers and/or savvy entrepreneur types for that same sort of smell test. Your feedback based on this conversation will influence what the domain name(s) should be, and what elements of this project should be kept private. If we decide to go ahead with this, once I/we secure the domain name(s) we can figure out the best messaging medium to figure out a game plan for getting started.

So, please do like subego did and weigh in on this either here, or send me a PM so I can contact you privately via email

I know this whole pitch is a little weird, I'm waffling on how much to get into this here, but please don't be shy to PM me and give this a chance so you can decide for yourself whether this could work and to what extent you might wish to be involved. I'm a pretty normal person in real life, honest!
     
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Oct 3, 2012, 03:09 PM
 
I can donate one slightly used wombat.
     
subego
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Oct 3, 2012, 03:51 PM
 
@besson

I ultimately think this is only half an idea.

There's no question that a feed curated by, let's say Glenn, has value.

The problem is the Internet is way too crowded for that value to gain recognition on its own. There needs to be someone (or someones) actively hawking it.

At the minimum it needs a real human managing a Facebook and twitter account. No one will do that without getting paid. Boom. Shit just got way more complicated.


I think a front end built out of a scraperbot and people flagging stories as a side job to a side job will be about as popular as it sounds.
     
besson3c  (op)
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Oct 3, 2012, 06:03 PM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
@besson
I ultimately think this is only half an idea.
There's no question that a feed curated by, let's say Glenn, has value.
The problem is the Internet is way too crowded for that value to gain recognition on its own. There needs to be someone (or someones) actively hawking it.
At the minimum it needs a real human managing a Facebook and twitter account. No one will do that without getting paid. Boom. Shit just got way more complicated.
I think a front end built out of a scraperbot and people flagging stories as a side job to a side job will be about as popular as it sounds.
I have no grand lofty plans for this to become the defacto source of Mac news ala the Huffington Post or something, that wasn't what I came into this thinking. Therefore, I hadn't thought of a big social networking presence (although we could potentially have the most popular forum thread summaries programmatically posted to Facebook).

The main impetus behind the RSS aggregator is to improve SEO, and to sort of spark conversation in the forum much like NewsPoster does here. The main product here would be a discussion forum, not the news. By improving SEO, I mean that if people started talking about a popular subject that was coupled with troubleshooting a specific problem or talking about a specific substory within the story that was discussed at length in a thread, having the lead story summary in there will help provide some of the keywords a search engine might latch on to in addition to the main subject matter that emerges from the thread.

The scraperbot component to this may not be the most vital piece, but just lubricant for the most vital piece which would be the forum itself.


Does this change your thinking? It's cool if you still have some reservations, I'm still mulling all of this over myself, I literally just thought of this today.
     
Shaddim
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Oct 3, 2012, 06:55 PM
 
Originally Posted by Dork. View Post
I can donate one slightly used wombat.
and rubber walrus protectors.
"Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it."
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Salty
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Oct 3, 2012, 08:19 PM
 
I'd probably visit the new site. I think a new front end can be helpful, but what I always found super useful was that when I was new to the Mac there was a place to come and learn how to fix things, how to break things, and how to be an arrogant stuck up Mac users ... (who thought Altivec was the shiznit).

I think if we do do a new forum it needs to be something a bit more focused, IE three forums:
Apple Hardware
Apple Software
Lounge

Within Apple Hardware you can discuss Apple's hardware, trouble shooting and how it can interact with third party hardware. In Apple Software, you can discuss OS X, iTunes, iOS, Mail, Pages, and third party titles that run on those platforms like Pixelmator or Evernote.

Having fast moving new pages of threads makes a forum feel alive, it gives the modern ADD user something to refresh and check back on later. If you want to foster community and dialogue don't ask people to post things on forum indexes that look like ghost towns. (Even if it will get posted to one massive index that isn't evident to normal users.)
     
mduell
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Oct 3, 2012, 11:40 PM
 
Don't lazyload images, that's annoying.
     
Shaddim
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Oct 4, 2012, 01:52 AM
 
Lazy load images?
"Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it."
- Thomas Paine
     
subego
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Oct 4, 2012, 03:06 AM
 
Originally Posted by besson3c View Post
I have no grand lofty plans for this to become the defacto source of Mac news ala the Huffington Post or something, that wasn't what I came into this thinking. Therefore, I hadn't thought of a big social networking presence (although we could potentially have the most popular forum thread summaries programmatically posted to Facebook).

The main impetus behind the RSS aggregator is to improve SEO, and to sort of spark conversation in the forum much like NewsPoster does here. The main product here would be a discussion forum, not the news. By improving SEO, I mean that if people started talking about a popular subject that was coupled with troubleshooting a specific problem or talking about a specific substory within the story that was discussed at length in a thread, having the lead story summary in there will help provide some of the keywords a search engine might latch on to in addition to the main subject matter that emerges from the thread.

The scraperbot component to this may not be the most vital piece, but just lubricant for the most vital piece which would be the forum itself.


Does this change your thinking? It's cool if you still have some reservations, I'm still mulling all of this over myself, I literally just thought of this today.
First, I want to make clear I'm not trying to shoot down your ideas at all. Any proposal is going to have issues, and I'm laying them out there with the goal of solving them.

Secondly, all I really need from this enterprise is for it to be just slightly more than a place to go die, so I think we are on the same page WRT modesty.

All that said, I guess my point is I'm unsure it would do much to draw in new members versus the effort involved. Mind you, that's a separate question of whether having it would be cool or not.

We are on the same page about the community being the main draw, which is why I brought up Twitter and Facebook. I wasn't imagining it as part of some world-girding NotNN "empire", it's because they're social and what we're selling is social. It's a natural fit from that standpoint, if not others.

Of course, the whole point of social is people. A bot presence on Twitter or Facebook isn't really a presence. It's noise.
     
MacinTommy
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Oct 4, 2012, 04:20 AM
 
I like the idea of getting Apple "news" from other sites but that sort of renders the idea of Twitter/Facebook useless because we would just be re-posting and re-tweeting stories to people.
     
mattyb
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Oct 4, 2012, 04:27 AM
 
I get the most important Apple news in the Lounge. I get the most important Gaming news in the gaming section.

I don't need no stinking Twitter/Facebook shite.
     
subego
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Oct 4, 2012, 04:43 AM
 
Originally Posted by mattyb View Post
I get the most important Apple news in the Lounge. I get the most important Gaming news in the gaming section.
This is a good point. One of the first things which occurred to me when besson presented the idea was "wouldn't what users post as stories be a better way to generate 'front page' content?"

Not just because it would make for a good collection, but also be more thematically in tune with what's being offered by a forum.
     
besson3c  (op)
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Oct 4, 2012, 05:03 AM
 
Originally Posted by mduell View Post
Don't lazyload images, that's annoying.
How so?
     
subego
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Oct 4, 2012, 05:21 AM
 
Originally Posted by MacinTommy View Post
I like the idea of getting Apple "news" from other sites but that sort of renders the idea of Twitter/Facebook useless because we would just be re-posting and re-tweeting stories to people.
I've probably gotten ahead of myself here. Ignore Facebook and Twitter for a moment.

What I'm saying is the new site won't grow unless someone is tasked with making it grow. This leads to the question of who wants to take on that responsibility.

That's where Twitter and Facebook come in. They're tools a live human would use to entice new membership, not places to repeat the front page.
     
besson3c  (op)
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Oct 4, 2012, 05:39 AM
 
My Twitter and Facebook ideas were intended to be possibilities moreso than a core part of this concept. I'm happy to leave this out, or at least postpone this. The ability to Like or Tweet a thread using the social plugins might be a better idea, if at all, cause this way at least it would have more of a human element to it...

As far as the idea that this site would only grow if there was a person tasked with this, I wouldn't discount SEO entirely. If you mean that the site would not grow substantially without a person working on this, I'd agree with this, but SEO optimization would at least provide us with some non-zero benefit, I would think.
     
subego
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Oct 4, 2012, 05:49 AM
 
As I said above, I agree. It's merely a question of whether it's worth the effort.

Not just building it, but maintaining it, as well as the work on the staff's part to curate.
     
shifuimam
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Oct 4, 2012, 06:27 AM
 
That's the part I'm most concerned about.

We could just set up a facebook group or a google+ circle or something and use that if we still want to keep in touch and post about random crap, too...
     
besson3c  (op)
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Oct 4, 2012, 06:34 AM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post

This is a good point. One of the first things which occurred to me when besson presented the idea was "wouldn't what users post as stories be a better way to generate 'front page' content?"
Not just because it would make for a good collection, but also be more thematically in tune with what's being offered by a forum.
Excellent point! There definitely needs to be a way to post the best of the threads to the front page if we are going to fuss over a front page at all. A WordPress based news feed supplement (or the RSS aggregation being a supplement to WordPress, if you prefer) would be low dangling fruit for this task.
     
besson3c  (op)
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Oct 4, 2012, 06:35 AM
 
Originally Posted by shifuimam View Post
That's the part I'm most concerned about.

We could just set up a facebook group or a google+ circle or something and use that if we still want to keep in touch and post about random crap, too...
We may need to do that to keep this conversation moving if somebody from MacNN wakes up and figures out that we are talking about creating possible competition on their turf
     
besson3c  (op)
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Oct 4, 2012, 06:38 AM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
As I said above, I agree. It's merely a question of whether it's worth the effort.
Not just building it, but maintaining it, as well as the work on the staff's part to curate.
I'm persuadable either way. If there is doubt that is shared something like this could also be something we put on the backburner and focus on later, if at all. If we do though, how do we solve the problem that was posed before this thread even existed, and that is how do we grow a forum without a parent site of some sort?
     
MacinTommy
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Oct 4, 2012, 07:28 AM
 
We should all get on "Ping"... oh wait...
     
Waragainstsleep
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Oct 4, 2012, 08:29 AM
 
Are there any other good Mac sites with less than stellar forum activity? I'm wondering if we could persuade some others to get in on a sort of hub deal. Our new site could be an amalgamated front end for several other sites in order to facilitate exchange between them. So 'our' new front page would collect news only from 'member' sites chosen to complement each other a bit and then maybe some kind of gradual forum merge. I dunno, I'm typing this as I think it out. Its not massively different to what Bess suggested about RSS but would be limited to certain sites. A Mac-related "news network" if you will.

AFP548 is a great site with moderate forum traffic. 9to5mac haven't long launched their forums I think. Last I looked XLR8yourmac forums had been closed to new members for years and years. That would cover rumours, servers and general/technical. Maybe find a more specialised iOS site, maybe look at the enterprise mac/iOS sites. Macmod died when it got bought out so there is probably a small gap left there.Recruit a good cartoonist too and we'd be laughing I reckon...
I have plenty of more important things to do, if only I could bring myself to do them....
     
mattyb
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Oct 4, 2012, 08:43 AM
 
After reading War's post, I wonder if a 'forum hostile takeover' might be in order.
     
besson3c  (op)
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Oct 4, 2012, 09:23 AM
 
Do any of you guys hang out at the ArsTechnica forums?
     
subego
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Oct 4, 2012, 10:16 AM
 
Did back in the day.

OMFG! New Towars!
     
knifecarrier2
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Oct 4, 2012, 06:07 PM
 
I think it'd further fragment the forums, much of the way the Lifeboat took some great personalities away.
     
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Oct 5, 2012, 09:38 AM
 
Originally Posted by besson3c View Post
Do any of you guys hang out at the ArsTechnica forums?
I read and post in the Mac forum over there for technical stuff since I stopped doing that here years ago. I lurk in their lounge a follow a few ongoing threads. But I primarily hang out here for the Lounge and the PWL.

OAW
     
ort888
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Oct 5, 2012, 09:47 AM
 
I think moving en masse to an already existing forum would be the best bet.

Starting a brand new forum would most likely result in a slow death.

I've seen it happen many times.

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