The silence....

General discussion on entomology
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Trehopr1
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The silence....

Post by Trehopr1 »

I must say that I don't quite understand all of the relative silence here on the forum. We now have a membership of 281 members of which (I would like to think) most have some measure of honest insect interest. Yet, it seems that maybe 15 or 20 of us EVER have anything to post, comment on, or otherwise bring up for conversational purposes.

I fully understand that most of us have jobs, family responsibilities, and perhaps even other interests but, we are supposed to be here to discuss the wonders of the insect world and insects in general. It doesn't matter what your interest may be because there is bound to be someone who will respond.

If you want to talk about antlions (can do), grasshoppers (can do), just about any insect order other than leps or beetles (can do) etc etc. One only has to put forth the effort to bring up a topic that is of interest to you and (under most circumstances) I will be happy to engage you in conversation.

I have had a lifelong passion for this science all of my life and I can keep up with most conversations whatever they may be. Others here too are equally well versed and in some cases are on "another level" of specialization.

So I encourage all to do a little something (here and there) to keep this wonderful forum lively, interactive, and above all interesting to most everyone.
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Re: The silence....

Post by Cabintom »

Having close to 10% of registered members engaging is actually pretty good, I would think.
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Re: The silence....

Post by Chuck »

Well, it is summer. Up this way, we have to pack so much into summer that there's little time for other activities that can be enjoyed all winter long.

And, not all the registered users are inclined to be regular contributors; "what bug is this" and "hi I'm a naturalist" types are highly unlikely to participate. And, for those that might participate regularly, many entomologists are focused (e.g., Saturnids or Cicindella) and use those dedicated forums.

That said, we've quite likely already hashed out part of this on the old forum https://archive.insectnet.com/thread/10519/ride

The success (or conversely, lack thereof) of a web forum is based on a number of factors, beyond topic.

1. Momentum. How many users, how active, how many new topics daily. Moving from the old forum to the new forum will inevitably lose participants, it just happens. That said, there used to be a lot more activity here a decade ago.

2. Ease of use. How easy is it to drag in photos? Photos are a huge momentum builder, we are humans and like images. If it's a chore to attach photos, it isn't going to happen, and there simply won't be new topics/ posts.

3. Phone friendly. See #2; most people (especially youths) use their phone. I'm looking at statistics from a marketing email I sent out and 56% of openers were on a mobile device...and that's for an aged, conservative group. If one cannot easily upload a photo from the phone, no activity.

4. Moderation. People want the freedom of expression, for good or bad. They don't want to be deleted, they don't like biased political moderation by those with opposing views, they want to schitt post ("I didn't read the whole thread but here's my already debunked opinion").


There are really two elements that impact web forum traffic: drawing new participants, and keeping the old participants. Drawing new is tough for a small, boutique forum because Farsebook has the momentum. Retaining new member is tough because of #2 and #3 above, and lack of constant activity (#1 above influenced by #2 and #3.)

Retention of long-term and active members warrants review. Anyone in sales can tell you the best customers to satisfy are your existing customers. While doing some late night research on the old forum I was shocked at the number of former high-volume (and in many cases, high quality value) members who had left. Why did they leave/ quit? Read their posts and find out.
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Re: The silence....

Post by wollastoni »

Well, the new forum is MUCH more active than the previous one. Thanks to easy photo attachment mainly.

I personnally post less on Insectnet right now because I have TONS of work for my company... but I am glad to read the various topics and to see the success of the new forum.
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Re: The silence....

Post by Chuck »

wollastoni wrote: Wed Sep 14, 2022 12:33 pm Well, the new forum is MUCH more active than the previous one. Thanks to easy photo attachment mainly.


With all due respect, I must disagree. I do so not to annoy you, but to hopefully change your perspective so this forum can flourish.

Attaching photos may be more easy than the old forum, but the users' benchmark is not the old forum, it's alternative forums. Some forums it's simply drag in. And the 800kb limit severely restricts what can be attached directly (most of my phone photos are about 1.3M, and when I upload them to the computer they are still 1.3M.) Having to edit them for size or host them is a chore that many don't care to take on. I fully recognize the cost to host images, that is a business decision; the fact remains that it's not "easy" by today's standards.

There may be more traffic on the new forum than there was on the old forum at the time the switch was made. There is not more traffic than say five or ten years ago; there is not more quality posts than in years past; not as many participants; not as many "high value" (interesting, rare, detailed, etc.) topics as in years past. While I have not run statistics to prove this, I believe it to be so based on review of past topics & posts on the old forum.

Again, I'd really like to see this forum flourish. I've seen other boutique, high-value forums dwindle or die, and extremely important information lost forever, and this is one I'd sorely miss both as a resource and for entertainment. So my apologies for any perceived offense, it is not intended.
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Re: The silence....

Post by wollastoni »

I meant before the software change indeed. You can't compare with a period when facebook wasn't as developed as today in entomology.
We have lost some good members due to "lack of moderation" in the past, not the contrary.

Dragging in pictures is already available in the "Full editor". I will check if technically feasible to add it in the "Quick reply"

About picture size, your post gave me a technical idea. I will check if we can "automatically" reduce pictures below 800 kb when someone try to upload a bigger picture. This way, people will be able to upload their picture and Insectnet forum future won't be undermined by picture hosting costs.
Thank you for these inputs.
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Re: The silence....

Post by kevinkk »

I think topics wax and wane, it is end of summer, and maybe that's an issue. The picture issue, I am pleased to have figured it out, and can post
photos, I'm probably erring on the side of caution and could post ones with more data.
Sometimes there's just nothing going on, I have some interesting things going, in the bug dept. I had some fun with A. atropos this season, and
R. verecunda, but you know how it is. I had an unusual mortality rate this season with H. euryalus, which is a PNW native, so besides a disappointment,
it was a surprise. We got out more this year, and maybe some biotope pictures would have interest, and that goes for any locale.
I can't punch out species lists observed out in the field, I'm not there yet, and my subjects seem to fly away just before I can snap a picture..
Phone savvy? It is amazing how quickly that tech has dominated lives, frankly, I think it's a mixed blessing at best. Freedom of expression- not
possible with all subjects, and it's not why I visit the forum, I can watch the news to see which way the wind is blowing when it comes to the
topics that have been absent, and I get tired of even that at times.
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Re: The silence....

Post by eurytides »

I agree, the 800kb limit is very, well, limiting! None of my iPhone pics are below 1MB and even when I take a screen capture of a photo on my phone, it somehow still remains the same size. As a result, I have not posted any new photos here, even though I have many. Chuck can attest to this since we regularly email each other with interesting photos. If this technical issue can be resolved, that would be a huge leap forward.
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Re: The silence....

Post by joachim »

We muss Leroy. Made lots of threads
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Re: The silence....

Post by joachim »

I ma miss
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Re: The silence....

Post by Trehopr1 »

Really ??? 😂
Cry me a river on that subject.
Let's keep suggestions sensible !
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Re: The silence....

Post by Chuck »

Let's have a little respect. Leroy contributed more on this forum, and of greater value, than many frequent posters. He ran a successful business for decades, and provided light traps numbering in the thousands. He shared specimens with others; his contributions to the Swap Box included unobtainable rarities.

Leroy wasn't some Ebay trolling bauble collector. Even in his 70s he was afield- even in winter. His reference collection was remarkable and included thousands of specimens bauble collectors would have loved. He donated specimens, sometimes by the order (how many here have donated anything?) Leroy attended face-to-face Lep events, and shared his insights. As a result, Leroy had an extensive network of professionals and accomplished citizen scientists who could rely on him.

When Leroy lost his wife his life changed in a manner I cannot fathom, and dread facing the same. At 78 years old as well, one might expect memory and capability to degrade. He was forced to give up his home of 45 years. His late business failures and trash posts can be quite reasonably traced to his circumstances.

I won't disagree with how it was handled, but to denigrate a guy who gave so much is shameful. I hope this part of the discussion ends here, with silent personal reflection.
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Re: The silence....

Post by wollastoni »

For those who ignore it, Leroy has been banned for scamming other Insectnet members and refusing to refund them for many months. We gave him decades of opportunities to act correctly.
I agree it is not a sensible suggestion to have him back here.

This said, we miss his entomological posts and knowledge but our priority is to protect our members.

Same for Greg Watson by the way.
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Re: The silence....

Post by livingplanet3 »

Trehopr1 wrote: Wed Sep 14, 2022 4:49 am I must say that I don't quite understand all of the relative silence here on the forum. We now have a membership of 281 members of which (I would like to think) most have some measure of honest insect interest. Yet, it seems that maybe 15 or 20 of us EVER have anything to post, comment on, or otherwise bring up for conversational purposes...
I was just thinking about this very thing over the past week or so. I have real doubts that insect collecting will ever again be as popular as it once was. The world is changing faster than ever before. Like various other old-school hobbies / interests, it's gradually dying out. New enthusiasts are not replacing the old. At least, not at a rate that can sustain the hobby, in the long-term. At this point in time, I think it's safe to say that insect collecting is now a quite rare pursuit, and very likely one that the mainstream public would find rather strange, if not downright eccentric, and possibly a bit macabre. I imagine that eventually, even commercial dealers of insect specimens will largely disappear, as the business will simply no longer be viable. Many of those that currently exist, only continue to operate because a large percentage of their sales are to the decorative crafts market, rather than collectors. Lately, I often find myself wondering why I've spent so many years at this, and accumulated so much material, perhaps to the point that it's already become a burden to deal with. Is having the specimens even important to me, or was it simply the thrill of managing to acquire them? Of course, the same could be said of many other hobbies, especially those that focus on collecting. Sooner or later, I think a lot of us start questioning why we've put so much time, effort, and money into it.
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Re: The silence....

Post by Trehopr1 »

I concur with many of your points however, I have ABSOLUTELY NO REGRETS for having pursued this as a passion in my life. It is the one thing that has brought me the most happiness --- outside of my children !

I still to this day enjoy every moment that I can find myself out in a field, and I have enjoyed 3 tropical excursions in my life in pursuit of my passion specifically.

I still buy things (here and there) as others do because I know I will never be able to catch them myself. During the long winter months, rainy days, and even "low points" of life I look upon the many marvels I have acquired (whatever the manner) and I become absorbed at their beauty, the memories they bring back, and a life that I feel has been fulfilling because of it.

We few, are who we are.... It is a calling !
Others too feel the calling early in life to eventually become medical doctors (who actually care), fireman who want to save lives, airplane pilots who just feel at home (when they are in the air) etc.

If you have this natural passion in your heart and in your mind then I say grab it with both hands and enjoy it. One does not have to be a rich man to pursue this passion and you can still enjoy a fruitful family life alongside it.

Work life ranks a distant third and I only see it as a means but, not something I have ever wanted to consume me.
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Re: The silence....

Post by Bub »

This is an interesting thread. I've hardly posted because I'm such a newbie that I don't have anything to contribute. I've seen this same discussion on other forums that are hobby related.

I have posted photos here and don't find it that big a deal. I always do some cropping and re-sizing anyway.
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Re: The silence....

Post by Trehopr1 »

Hello Bub,
I have seen your photographs and posts and have always enjoyed your consummate curiosity in the small creatures which we enthusiasts delight in !

NEVER FEEL as though you have little to contribute. A picture of something that you have seen, a question as to (why), or even a discovery new to you is always worthy of a mention and is bound to get a reply.

It really is all good and I feel enriches the very broad spectrum that entomology encompasses.
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Re: The silence....

Post by nomihoudai »

Well, the issue at hand has two components. One of them is why only around 10% participate in topics and the other is why there is a perceived lower number of people on the forum or in the hobby.

I think that the hobby is still going strong, not as strong as 10, 20, or 30 years ago, but still strong. Insect fairs are packed and you have a large crowd of young people entering. They don't get there because of our forum, but most likely because they have started to hang and frame insects on their walls because of instagram.

Now for the forum, most of the topics posted are not open question topics but way too narrow. If we start a thread on Morpho or Ornithoptera it only draws people that have those groups and we have seen a large number of those threads over the years. Not that I don't enjoy reading them, I read all of them and enjoy most, but it limits the number of people that can participate.

The show your favourite section used to be a single thread in the original insectnet forum (the one with cgi script and subthreads from the 90s). Every year when it reached too many pages we would just start a new one.

So good threads to start are things like:
- Show your favourite 2022
- Your entomological highlight 2022

In these we can at least hope to get 20 or more interesting reads as anyone can participate.

My 2 cents.
Lepidoptera distribution maps: lepimap.click
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Re: The silence....

Post by Chuck »

We've hashed through a lot of this before. The size of the potential audience drives +new members and from that we deduct those who quit participating.

Most hobbies, in USA at least, are dying. Sailing is a fraction of what it was 50 years ago; gun collecting has dropped markedly despite an increase in the subjects; muscle car forums have about died. There are of course the hard core crowd but if you look at them they're all 50+ with so few new entries. The reasons are variously "another brick in the wall" but in the last decade the killer has been SM, and before that (some argue) school athletics. All part of the "dumbing down of America." Grandpa collected Corvettes, and Dad has one, but now the whole family spends Saturday at Junior's baseball game, with their noses buried in FB.

It's the Amazoning of mentality. As a species we enjoy instant gratification of easily posting something generally useless. FB facilitates that. On boutique forums one has to expend some amount of effort and with some thought. Rather than going over the 1968 SS and photographing all the OEM parts and posting them on a forum, Dad now just posts the same old photo of the car in response to somebody else's post of their 1967 SS.

Why read a book when I can be on FB? Why go to the store and look at options and talk to the experienced assistant when I can buy it on Amazon based on reviews from people after they've owned it for 3 hours?

Anyway....

Despite the social conditions killing hobbies, it is well demonstrated that boutique forums can thrive (for now at least), both in valuable participation, and in revenue for the owner. The big driver to both participation and new member draw (as well as SEO) is content. And, volume of content is driven by use. You want people to come back every day (at least) to see what's new; in most cases even FNGs will join the party and contribute whatever they have. So it's new posts that matter most. Of course, new posts have to have value (not necessarily scientific value) that moves others to post.

And then that leads back to the "ease of posting" and photos. It's a double edged sword. The ease of use and posting is benchmarked and expected, and part of the dumbing down by SM. When one writes a paper it's an investment; when one posts it may be nothing, but it took nothing. Like it or not, to survive a forum needs participation, and these days participation means "easy" or perhaps more accurately "just like FB."

We have had some stupendous running threads lately on African leps. I have no proof, but I would be willing to bet these, and more like them, would generate both new members and participation. True, I have not commented on those posts as I have nothing to offer; however, they HAVE given me though to do likewise with other series. It's notable that people like "one stop shopping" so ONE thread on the various Acrea is better than twenty different threads.

It's all momentum. How to drive momentum. Sometimes it happens by itself, sometimes it needs guidance.
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Re: The silence....

Post by Jshuey »

Trehopr1 wrote: Wed Sep 14, 2022 4:49 am I must say that I don't quite understand all of the relative silence here on the forum. We now have a membership of 281 members of which (I would like to think) most have some measure of honest insect interest. Yet, it seems that maybe 15 or 20 of us EVER have anything to post, comment on, or otherwise bring up for conversational purposes.
I can give you a quick take from me. The forum has morphed into a picture board of pretty store bought specimens. Something that has no appeal to me - although obviously others feel differently. I must admit though - that I always tune in if field-based people add to the discussion - Cabintom jumps to mind as a great contributor. I want to discuss insects and their ecology, not just look at pictures, and that seems to be lacking of late.

John
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