Clucky

Bringing back the Shoutbox

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We started this discussion some on old sparkbomb. Rift wanted to continue it, so here is the thread.

 

To me, the Shoutbox is a key part of what makes the Sparkbomb community special. Its immediately there, so you can just go on sparkbomb and join and talk about whatever (it would be nice if it live updated though so you don't have to refresh the page. Sure that functionality exists by now). Moving this discussion to a forum of its own means you have to go through more steps to join in. Also shouts tend to be very short, so the chrome that full posts get, while it works for a lengthier discussion, means the amount of whitespace to text ratio is too high.

 

Rift apparently has some logic for removing the shoutbox, but whatever removing it on Sparkbomb 2.0 was supposed to accomplish I doubt it worked.

 

So yeah, Rift what are the reasons for not having a shoutbox?

 

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Back when the shoutbox was first removed, I was very much against its removal. I think we can all agree that the shoutbox is a ton of fun and provided a quick, easy way to build memories with each other. Just like people snapchat each other today, shooting out photos to each other that are only viewable for up to ten seconds, Sparkbombers used the shoutbox to create real bonds and connections.

 

And that is awesome. Sparkbomb has been successful and survived to today because of these bonds and connections. Sparkbomb is special. But this is a new Sparkbomb.

 

Sparkbomb v3.0 is in its infancy and it needs to be nurtured. If you implement the shoutbox now, you will be smothering it. The shoutbox is awesome, but it cannot sustain a community alone. Sparkbomb v3.0 needs to learn how to walk before it can run. 

 

I certainly believe that in half a year, Sparkbomb will be capable of supporting and benefitting from a shoutbox-like system. But not now.

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Back when the shoutbox was first removed, I was very much against its removal. I think we can all agree that the shoutbox is a ton of fun and provided a quick, easy way to build memories with each other. Just like people snapchat each other today, shooting out photos to each other that are only viewable for up to ten seconds, Sparkbombers used the shoutbox to create real bonds and connections.

 

And that is awesome. Sparkbomb has been successful and survived to today because of these bonds and connections. Sparkbomb is special. But this is a new Sparkbomb.

 

Sparkbomb v3.0 is in its infancy and it needs to be nurtured. If you implement the shoutbox now, you will be smothering it. The shoutbox is awesome, but it cannot sustain a community alone. Sparkbomb v3.0 needs to learn how to walk before it can run. 

 

I certainly believe that in half a year, Sparkbomb will be capable of supporting and benefitting from a shoutbox-like system. But not now.

 

How would it be smothering it? If anything I think it would increase the likelyhood someone sticks around if people are actively shouting in the shoutbox.

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I think the 'what's on your mind' feature would be enough. Possibly make an extension that allows you to see your frend's latest 'what's on your mind' comment. This would allow for some communication, such as 'Zen: I want to find someone to play DoTA 2 with. ~ 2 minutes ago.'

 

However with it only showing friends it would pretty much prevent any real conversations from taking place, so posting would still be the main form of communication.

Zen likes this

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Just make a group skype chat... would help with doing sparkbomb hour too.

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It needs to integrate into the site. Dunno if Skype Chat can do that.

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I think the 'what's on your mind' feature would be enough. Possibly make an extension that allows you to see your frend's latest 'what's on your mind' comment. This would allow for some communication, such as 'Zen: I want to find someone to play DoTA 2 with. ~ 2 minutes ago.'

 

However with it only showing friends it would pretty much prevent any real conversations from taking place, so posting would still be the main form of communication.

 

That just serves part of the purpose of the shoutbox. The shoutbox was also nice for random pointless how-was-your-day-type conversations that don't really warrant a full forum post.

 

 

Just make a group skype chat... would help with doing sparkbomb hour too.

 

The problem with that is that there would be a disconnect between the chat and the forum so its easy for people to miss out. Plus if you get on sparkbomb on a different computer, you'd want to still join in on the chat.

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Well, I'd like a skype chat either way. It's more convinient for my phone to notify me without having to check the forum directly when stuff is happening.

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We started this discussion some on old sparkbomb. Rift wanted to continue it, so here is the thread.

 

To me, the Shoutbox is a key part of what makes the Sparkbomb community special. Its immediately there, so you can just go on sparkbomb and join and talk about whatever (it would be nice if it live updated though so you don't have to refresh the page. Sure that functionality exists by now). Moving this discussion to a forum of its own means you have to go through more steps to join in. Also shouts tend to be very short, so the chrome that full posts get, while it works for a lengthier discussion, means the amount of whitespace to text ratio is too high.

 

Rift apparently has some logic for removing the shoutbox, but whatever removing it on Sparkbomb 2.0 was supposed to accomplish I doubt it worked.

 

So yeah, Rift what are the reasons for not having a shoutbox?

Having a Shoutbox thread certainly wasn't the ideal replacement. It's very difficult to find something that emulates the quick ability to make an announcement (an argument I agree with) or a quick comment or joke or the like. The problem is that Shoutboxes stifle forum activity and replace it with non-permanent activity. This thread, for example, will exist for the next n months/years. It will continue to turn up in Google results. Some random person may find this debate on the Shoutbox (let's add the word Chatbox for Google's sake) and have it be the deciding factor on whether he does or doesn't add a Shoutbox to his community. And there were several discussions that took place in the Shoutbox that would have had value keeping long-term.

 

Here's the problem: the Shoutbox being easier makes people default to it. That in and of itself isn't bad (though one can make the negative comparisons to Twitter and the like). The problem is that, during periods of low activity or inactivity, a Shoutbox brings a forum's inertia completely to rest and makes it nearly impossible to get going again. You made the point that a Shoutbox would allow a forum to be more active, and Sparkbomb would have been more active these past six months had a Shoutbox existed. I agree with that. But it also would have been much more difficult to get Sparkbomb going again.

 

So my argument so far rests on "the Shoutbox is bad if the community is experiencing low activity." What about high activity? I suppose the Shoutbox is fine in a case like that, but I'm sure a handful of the older members will recall how quickly shouts flew by during those periods. The Shoutbox became ineffective almost for the reason that it was too used. There's a weaker argument here, but the risk of losing inertia is still a big concern. Let's face it: Sparkbomb has never experienced high activity for a period longer than... two years at a time?

 

Lastly, I've never seen an active community with a Shoutbox, but I've seen several communities with Shoutboxes dwindle. Correlation is not causation, but for what my opinion is worth, I do consider myself to be an expert on the subject of forum activity. (And my track record on that front isn't too shabby either: Sparkbomb's still around when every other remote community we knew has died.)

 

tl;dr: I veto the Shoutbox, even more than other ideas. (I'll still reply to various things, but I think most points have been made at this point.)

 

Oh, and somewhere along the way you mentioned the Shoutbox not auto-refreshing. It, uh, did after a minute or two. So not super constant, but even Dean (that's the name of the Shoutbox for the curious and future SparkWiki citation) had that functionality.

 

I think the 'what's on your mind' feature would be enough. Possibly make an extension that allows you to see your frend's latest 'what's on your mind' comment. This would allow for some communication, such as 'Zen: I want to find someone to play DoTA 2 with. ~ 2 minutes ago.'

 

However with it only showing friends it would pretty much prevent any real conversations from taking place, so posting would still be the main form of communication.

There's a status update functionality on user's profiles, and I'm pretty sure there's a way to track the updates your friends make. The friends feature in IPB v2 didn't really do much (except in bigger communities where it did a better job of letting you remember who you talked to), but it seems to do at least a little bit more here. I'm not sure what all it's capable of. Feel free to find out.

 

Just make a group skype chat... would help with doing sparkbomb hour too.

I'm hoping to make Sparkbomb Hour a weekly thing on Sunday evenings. (Or maybe Saturday evenings, but I'm more likely to be doing something on Saturday evenings.)

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Right. Old shoutbox would refresh every couple of minutes. Ideal solution would be more like a chat -- you type and the message appears using ajax magic. This helps the "shout overload" problem as you can process new shouts as they come in rather than seeing two minutes worth at once. Obviously at some point that falls apart too, but I don't think Sparkbomb has ever been that active.

 

Sure, sometimes content in the shoutbox might also be appropriate for a thread. But I find that generally only happened during periods of high activity when that doesn't really hurt. During low activity, people would still just use the shoutbox for the "hey whatsup" trivial kind of stuff. As you saw first hand with Sparkbomb 2.0, removing the shoutbox didn't help generate activity elsewhere. Maybe you got a few more posts, simply because people were posting in the shoutbox thread.I don't see how having a shoutbox makes it harder to get stuff going. If anything, having the shoutbox means if sparkbomb is going through a dry spell and I see Red is also randomly online I can be like "hey red" and we can start a conversation whereas if there is no shoutbox I'll probably go "eh no new posts I don't really feel like making a new thread so I'll just leave and come back in another month"

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As you saw first hand with Sparkbomb 2.0, removing the shoutbox didn't help generate activity elsewhere. Maybe you got a few more posts, simply because people were posting in the shoutbox thread.I don't see how having a shoutbox makes it harder to get stuff going. If anything, having the shoutbox means if sparkbomb is going through a dry spell and I see Red is also randomly online I can be like "hey red" and we can start a conversation whereas if there is no shoutbox I'll probably go "eh no new posts I don't really feel like making a new thread so I'll just leave and come back in another month"

That's impossible for us to measure. I would argue that it did generate activity beyond the Shoutbox thread (though, again, the inability to measure it makes it difficult to say how much, and my saying it's one way holds as much merit as you saying it's not that way). The Shoutbox allows Sparkbomb to have some activity (in Shoutbox form) during dry spell eras, but it made it nearly impossible to get momentum going. There were a few times when I tried mass-posting in threads and it simply didn't stick and people continued to use the Shoutbox. Compare that to just a couple of weeks ago where people started posting on Sparkbomb and suddenly more people were posting on Sparkbomb. We weren't very active, but posts were coming in. I can't think of a time that it was ever that easy when the Shoutbox was around.

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That's impossible for us to measure. I would argue that it did generate activity beyond the Shoutbox thread (though, again, the inability to measure it makes it difficult to say how much, and my saying it's one way holds as much merit as you saying it's not that way). The Shoutbox allows Sparkbomb to have some activity (in Shoutbox form) during dry spell eras, but it made it nearly impossible to get momentum going. There were a few times when I tried mass-posting in threads and it simply didn't stick and people continued to use the Shoutbox. Compare that to just a couple of weeks ago where people started posting on Sparkbomb and suddenly more people were posting on Sparkbomb. We weren't very active, but posts were coming in. I can't think of a time that it was ever that easy when the Shoutbox was around.

 

Maybe a few posts were coming in, but it certainly didn't help with this "momentum" you're talking about. Sparkbomb still stayed pretty dead. I'll admit that it can certainly contribute to the image of a dead forum, but I feel like optimizing sparkbomb for functioning during prolonged periods of inactivity is just asking for prolonged periods of inactivity.

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Crosspossting ideas with different details to the relevant threads:

 

A TeamSpeak/RaidCall server where people could drop in and out as they wanted could be pretty cool.  It might serve the transitory nature of the shoutbox without taking away permanent discussion.  Not everyone would want to talk by voice chat instead of text, though, and it could still take away some of the forum activity, I'm not sure.

It's a thing that would have to be thought of more before doing.

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I feel like group chat would get far more adoption than voice chat. Sparkbomb hour is cool every once in a while, but often I'm listening to music/doing other things so wouldn't want to do voice chat.

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Everyone just make a twitter account and we'll use like #SBCommunity or something like that xD

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But I dun wanna make a twitter, or a tumblr, among other things I would spend all my time scrolling through :3

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Maybe a few posts were coming in, but it certainly didn't help with this "momentum" you're talking about. Sparkbomb still stayed pretty dead. I'll admit that it can certainly contribute to the image of a dead forum, but I feel like optimizing sparkbomb for functioning during prolonged periods of inactivity is just asking for prolonged periods of inactivity.

That's because I didn't put any effort into getting Sparkbomb moving again. And you say "optimizing a forum for functioning during prolonged periods of inactivity is asking for prolonged periods of inactivity." I agree, but when I agree I think that the Shoutbox encourages that while you do not. Or perhaps you misunderstood me. I think the Shoutbox causes inertia problems. Its existence makes it more difficult to get moving again, because people see no advantage to posting when they can shout. Or because it's easier to shout than to post. Or some possibly subconscious thought along those lines. "What does posting offer me when I'm getting a sufficient level of interaction by shouting instead?"

 

Another example comes to mind. I don't know if you'll remember this (and I wonder if anyone but Rex, if he even does, will), but when the Shoutbox was introduced at the very beginning, forum activity immediately dropped off. I have no doubt the same thing would happen if I reintroduced it today (or even any time in the next two months).

 

Crosspossting ideas with different details to the relevant threads:

 

A TeamSpeak/RaidCall server where people could drop in and out as they wanted could be pretty cool.  It might serve the transitory nature of the shoutbox without taking away permanent discussion.  Not everyone would want to talk by voice chat instead of text, though, and it could still take away some of the forum activity, I'm not sure.

It's a thing that would have to be thought of more before doing.

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I guess it depends on if you value shoutbox activity lower than posting, doesn't it? Sure posting activity will drop, but I know at least for me the shoutbox made me more active overall. 

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Zen made an interesting comment to me tonight. He feels that the new status message feed on the Pages page (I should really just rename that "Home" or "Site Feed" or something) in large part replaces the Shoutbox. People can post what's on their mind and, because it's comment-based, people can directly reply to things.

 

Thoughts?

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It doesn't really work like that if a status does not get bumped up on comment. If that was changed then everything would probably be fine.

 

The notification change does somewhat fix that problem though although I haven't been able to test usability of it yet.

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but its more annoying to post in and doesn't appear in every page. Its better than no shoutbox at all, but I don't think its actually a good replacement for the shoutbox

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