Re: ghost town

Subject: Re: ghost town
From: INKtopia Admin <admin -at- inktopia -dot- net>
To: TECHWR-L Writing <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 13 Feb 2014 17:05:15 -0500

note from Al
###

Hi Everyone,

Connie forwarded me some of the conversations concerning the volume of the
list and I've taken some time to read through most of them. There's a lot
of questions here so I'll try to answer some of them.


*Volume -- Where'd it go?*
We have been as confused as everyone on the list on why the volume really
dried up in Jan and early February 2014. We have wondered if us stopping
the daily email ad hurt the list because it served as a daily reminder that
we existed. Or, people aren't that interested in participating. Funny
enough, the conversations in the last few days show a) there's an interest
b) now the volume is back up. :)

*Forum / Email List Integration*
The company that we use, Vanilla Forums, still has not corrected the email
bug that caused the integration to fail in October. Frankly, they're still
behind in the Q4 release of updates so the fact that this email bug is in
the Q1 2014 road map isn't very comforting. We did everything we could to
ensure a smooth transition back in the autumn, but as you know it was
anything but smooth.

We're trying to find a robust email and forums solution that also works as
blog commenting system to replace Vanilla, but so far none of them meet all
of our needs. We've begged to be part of their testing and will reach out
to some folks on the list if they ever get to it. The plan is to cut-over
after doing some serious stress testing on their system so this separate
but equal stuff comes to a close.

We will be trying to do some joint things with the Forum and List starting
in March. It'll be manual work but should be able to integrate them more.


*Numbers*
We have around 2500 on the list with all but 800 set to the daily summary
email. The list grows in the spring and autumn and then tappers in the
summer and winter. We think this occurs because of the school year and
professors pushing their students to join our list. The list's #s have been
flat since we bought the company in 2011.

The forum, with very little volume, grows by 3-4 people each week. The
saddest part of the Vanilla Forums absolute failure was that the combined
board would be humming along by now. We hope they can get their act
together sooner rather than later.


*Promotions*
I saw some discussions and some people imply that we were more interested
in promoting the forum or letting the list slide. It's absolutely not true.
We want both to thrive and have always been committed to the List. Some of
the points were good ones including the fact that we didn't have the
sign-up for the list on main http://techwhirl.com website. We also don't
have a join button on the Archives site (http://techwr-l.com) which is a
HUGE oversight on my part. I will be adding that link to the menu this
weekend. The sign up is deep in the FAQs, which hindsight is a terrible
design.

Link to help people subscribe to the list:
http://www.techwr-l.com/frequently-asked-questions.html#subscribe

We would welcome and love to work with a group / all of you to promote our
site. Contact us and we can work with anyone / everyone to get the word out.

*SEO*
Another convo mentioned how hard it was to find TechWhirl and thankfully
Mike helped explain some of the gotchas with Google's personalized search.
I can say that since taking over TechWhirl, we've never had as good of
search engine rankings. Currently we rank page 1 for Technical Writing,
Technical Communication and a host of other smaller searches. Our weekly
numbers for visitors are up around 150% from last year. This growth has
remained fairly steady for the last four quarters. Visitors from searches
on Google are up around 350% weekly from last year.

It's a slow process but we're doing fairly well there.

###

Thanks so much for your interest and thoughts on the List, the Forums and
site in general. They're welcomed and appreciated!

Take care,
al
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References:
ghost town: From: McLauchlan, Kevin
RE: ghost town: From: Brian.Henderson
RE: ghost town: From: McLauchlan, Kevin
RE: ghost town: From: Dan Goldstein
Re: ghost town: From: Milan Davidović
Re: ghost town: From: David Renn
Re: ghost town: From: Michael McCallister
RE: ghost town: From: McLauchlan, Kevin
Re: ghost town: From: Robert Lauriston
RE: ghost town: From: McLauchlan, Kevin

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