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RiotACT Survey Results

By Jazz - 6 June 2009 31

A couple of weeks ago those of us normally accustomed to keeping our heads down in the RiotACT bunker braved the outside world with the intent of getting your feedback on what we’re doing here.

Asking for feedback at any time can be a scary experience, particularly as its often not what you want to hear. Equally often however that feedback is surprisingly positive and inspires us to put in another day’s effort so we’d like to extend a very big thank you to those readers who took the time to complete the survey.

The response has been fantastic and we really appreciate your feedback.

Now as we know at least some of you are curious we’ll share a few of the details.

80% of respondents think that the amount of content we’re running is about right, with only 7% thinking its too much. 13% are gluttons for punishment and want more.

Overwhelmingly you all want to see more news and more community stories (with less sport and podcasts). This however is easily fixable when you hit the big blue post an item button at the top of the page 😉

43% of you stumbled accross RiotACT while searching google, 31% were told about it by a friend & generally you thought RiotACT was great, informative, amusing, relevant, local, full of whinging public servants, rough, cliquey, opinionated and a bit like canberra. And most readers are on the site every day, with a select few having nothing better to do than read RA several times an hour.

However to dismiss the perception that every reader is a public servant, only 35% indicated that is their primary occupation. That doesnt however mean you’re not employed in some other capacity by government, or working for someone who has lots of government contracts, but hey, Government is the biggest industry in canberra after all.

If you’re amongst the 48% not commenting its because you have nothing to say (which we dont beleive) however following that up is concern about negative feedback, which means those of you who are commenting regularly need to be a bit more civil and supportive of new members. (moderation is apparently a necessary evil – you dont trust your fellow rioters to behave).

Generally where you’d like to see us improve revolve around four areas:

1. Finding older content once it scrolls off the front page;
2. Improvements to the visual impact of the site & design (which we acknowledge hasnt been a huge focus); and,
3. Further reigning in both off topic and unruly behavior.
4. Improvements to the features offered under the RA premium membership option

So, what are we doing about all this?

Well to start with, WordPress (which is the platform that RiotACT is based on) has made leaps and bounds since we first started using it so Kramer has been beavering away in the Bunker working on upgrading to 2.7.1. The upgrade has allowed us to introduce a few changes to our functionality as well.

Those readers who have been a little frustrated with the limitations of our search function will be please that its now able to search comments and usernames as well as post titles and text. However to make sure that content is easier to find we’re also introducing a tag cloud and a section for best riots (a list of the most active posts in the last week).

We’ll be reigning in off topic comments and unruly behavior a little more. Registered readers will soon notice an ability to report a comment to a moderator . However we’ll ask you to give sound reasons as to why the offender/offending comment should be moderated (noting that just because you think something is out of line, doesn’t mean that the mod team will). You’ll also note the introduction of commenting guidelines which give an explanation of the behavior we expect your comments to adhere to.

Premium memberships get a swag of new goodies too. Editing comments will get a guernsey (although will be time limited to ensure continuity of discussion). Gravatars will also make an appearance as will being able to see recent comments made by you, and by others in My RiotACT.

About the only thing not getting some tweaking is the layout & design, but then like all development projects we had to set some boundaries or it would never get released. Keep an eye out in a couple of weeks time while we do some final testing.

In the interim, we’re keeping the survey open and invite any who haven’t shared their views to give it a go. It’ll take about 10-15 minutes and we’re checking it regularly in case someone suggest some real gems.

Thanks
Jazz

What’s Your opinion?


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31 Responses to
RiotACT Survey Results
Skidbladnir 8:59 pm 06 Jun 09

Less childish, belittling, and poisonous should probably be acceptable for most folk.

Being ‘less negative’ to attract any movers and or shakers?
Not so much.

cranky 8:52 pm 06 Jun 09

Hear, hear.

This stuff has proponents on this thread. The belittling, negative, poisonous comments of some are a total turnoff.

ant 8:43 pm 06 Jun 09

I am 100% convinced that, if the nasty and childish stuff was controlled, this site would see more movers and shakers not just eyeing the site, but contributing.

Jazz 7:38 pm 06 Jun 09

Monomania,

We’re not saying that you cant hold a contrary opinion, but there are ways of articulating that without resorting to name calling.

For example “You’re an idiot, what you wrote is a load of crap” is easily replaced by “I disagree, in my experience (opinion or whatever) the opposite is true/more accurate/whatever and this is why..”

On some issues we expect people will get a bit firey, particularly on issues which polarize popular opinion (such as bicycles on roads) however there are a lot of voices out there with equally valid views which we’d like to hear from. Who knows, some of them may even teach us something.

monomania 7:17 pm 06 Jun 09

I actually objected to the concept of playing the man when it first happened to me on RiotACT and appreciate the comment guidelines that you have posted and realise I have stepped over them by saying things that I would not say to someone’s face. However, I considered I was not calling John an idiot, but jo197 and did not recognise that jo179 had their own ‘persona’ on RiotACT.

In the new RiotACT I will try to be nicer and more civil but may end up being moderated riot off. I have actually liked having been able to have a bit of an argument to the point of having been asked to cool it but recognise that my comments may have been boring for others. Not that they couldn’t simply scroll past.

The site could become a hug in (it may have been before I joined it) but that is up to the moderators backed up by surveys about what people want.

Davo111 7:07 pm 06 Jun 09

tbh i actually look forward to see the responses of the older members, there needs to be some conflict, otherwise riotact would be lame.

yes, i spose i clicked “had nothing to say”, but that was because some of the issues i have no idea about, so i’m reading to see opinions.

peterh 6:58 pm 06 Jun 09

Woody Mann-Caruso said :

Most people actually do not want to be met with insults, sneers and comments about how stupid they are, and so a lot of people will draw back from participating.

You only say that because you’ve got a face like a monkey’s bottom and smell like doody.

there was a few comments that greeted me as a newbie that made me sit up and take notice of what I was saying on RA. the lessons I received from Thumper, Maelinar and others were invaluable to understanding the paradigm of the forum at the time. When JB returned, I wasn’t sure who he was, but i was happy to see some of the worse comments disappear. the problem that i now have is the comments that are sarcastic or treat me like a child mainly come from jb. Considering I am self taught with reading and writing to a greater degree, I will make mistakes. pointing out some of my comments as the stupidest that have ever been heard, engage humor module, etc, etc, is fine for someone that has a better understanding of the written word, but, honestly, that isn’t me yet.

I will say things that I am trying to articulate a message and miss the mark. I will look like I am off on a tangent, but that is me. I don’t seem to get the message right first time sometimes. John and the others on riotact that i interact with don’t know it, but it is a way for me to improve my social skills, of which i am severely lacking.

I welcome the changes that Jazz and the others at Riotact are implementing. I will enjoy seeing how the pan out for the interaction I experience on this site.

weeziepops 4:39 pm 06 Jun 09

#1 – well said, ant.

Woody Mann-Caruso 3:13 pm 06 Jun 09

Most people actually do not want to be met with insults, sneers and comments about how stupid they are, and so a lot of people will draw back from participating.

You only say that because you’ve got a face like a monkey’s bottom and smell like doody.

Fiona 3:02 pm 06 Jun 09

Awesome. You’ll soon get to see my face grinning dorkily out at you on my comments. Unless of course I have a panic and decide to change the gravatar I’m using…

Good luck with the tag cloud, it could be huge on a site like this… and yay for finally upgrading your wordpress 🙂

GB 12:51 pm 06 Jun 09

Thanks Jazz. Part of why I asked is because its easy when commenting here to think that you are writing to the few hundred people who seem to comment regularly, or perhaps even the few dozen who make up most of the comments.

But really, I am speaking to many more people than that. Which is why I post some of the things I do, and encourage others to do so, even if the response from commenters is negative or non-existent. This is why I think it is important to keep articles’ links visible for longer, even if no-one comments.

Comment count is only a very coarse measure of a particular kind of engagement and audience.

Jazz 12:34 pm 06 Jun 09

GB,

We can only extrapolate based on the responses we’ve been given (pretty much like all statistical sampling). You’ll obviously appreciate the difficulty of finding out why people don’t comment, when they don’t comment on that question 🙂

The 48% only represents responses of people who answered that question & no, its not consistent with the overall ratio between registered users who can post and lurkers. Nor would we expect it to be.

Lurkers (of those who responded) trend towards reading the site only every couple of days or as something of interest comes up, however for registered readers its an integral part of their daily news fix. The response rate was much higher from those with more engagement with the community here as you would expect.

Davo111 11:44 am 06 Jun 09

I think riot-act is a lot more “n00b friendly” than other sites that I’m a member of. Okay, there is the occasional troll, but i wouldn’t be too worried.

GB 11:43 am 06 Jun 09

Thanks for publishing the survey results.

Re people’s hesitancy to post — does the 48% of survey respondents who do not comment bear any relation to the actual ratio of commenters to viewers (eg from the 64,000 odd unique visitors in a month, how many comment?) I think that might be a better guide than just looking at those who did the survey.

OTOH, 48% of the people who did the survey do not comment, but were engaged enough to do the survey.

ant 11:18 am 06 Jun 09

Jazz said: “If you’re amongst the 48% not commenting its because you have nothing to say (which we dont beleive) however following that up is concern about negative feedback, which means those of you who are commenting regularly need to be a bit more civil and supportive of new members. (moderation is apparently a necessary evil – you dont trust your fellow rioters to behave).”

I’ve been banging that particular drum for some time. Where a forum (ie the site) is perceived to be a hostile, aggressive place, many people will be hesitant to post.

Most people actually do not want to be met with insults, sneers and comments about how stupid they are, and so a lot of people will draw back from participating.

If you look at ‘net forums that have a very high and wide participation rate, you’ll see that nasty behaviour is strictly controlled. Places that have a smallish number of regular contributors have often been shaped by them,they’re hostile to “newbies”, have lots of in-jokes and an overly robust habit in their comments.

What really kills a forum/site is people being personally abusive to others. Ad-hominem comment, playing the man and not the ball. Robust debate about information and opinions is one thing, calling people idiots (or worse) for holding those opinions is quite another.

I firmly believe that shutting down the personally abusive stuff will see a wider range of contributors here, and the site will be taken more seriously, and you might even find some juicy morsels of news being released here. I’d sure like to see that happen as I think this site could really go places in Canberra, I’d love to see its potential realised.

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