All of you have probably noticed how NP sort of died a few months ago. I accept responsibility for this, so...
I'm not too terribly worried since NP has died about 5 or 6 times in its history and always comes back in some capacity after a few jolts from a PHP-written defibrillator which is now due to make another appearance. I've made other sites that have picked up swiftly starting from an audience of 0 so it'll never truly be over for NP.
So here's what I'm thinking...
NP6 was okay. However content generation was closed from the public and I was getting to a point in my life where I couldn't regularly generate content. My solution for this was NP7 (this version) which had extremely high ambitions and was based on crowd-sourcing content generation. Unfortunately I was never able to finish a single feature in full with the exception of the forum. That's right. Not a single one. The various UI's across the whole site are half-cooked and giving any potential visitors salmonella poisoning. So it's time for me to make some changes.
I'd like to run this plan of action by you guys (all 4 or 5 of you) to see what you think or to let me know if I'm totally out of my mind.
People don't generate content
Or rather, only .1% of users generate content. With 10,000 users, that's enough content to keep all 10,000 people interested. With 100 users, that's not enough to keep anyone around. The same sort of chicken and egg logic can be applied to the Knowledge Base. Speaking of which...
The Knowledge Base is inherently flawed
On a site designed for people considering themselves intellectually superior, it's kind of intimidating to post a question that could possibly show a breach in nerdiness. There's always the fear of getting a pompous let-me-google-that-for-you response.
Browsability of blog posts is terrible
It is. I never finished the UI. On purpose, actually. I wanted people to post a bunch of articles first to see what kind of content was rolling in which would help me determine the best way to present that sort of information. It's been a while and even though I have a small set of data, I really need to finish this.
Incomplete features obscure discoverability of things that are actually working
Learning Graph, Pulse, Nerdiverse, and Contests have quite a bit of screen real estate and definitely sound more exciting than "Blogs" or "Snippets" or "Search". It's easy to feel like the whole site is under construction and to give up on it. Anything useful is buried, even when you happen to click directly on them.
Removing stuff that doesn't meet the quality or completion bar
I'm going to remove the Learning Graph, Pulse, Nerdiverse, the Nerdity Test, and Contests completely. For now, at least. I'll post my Convention-Logic-Art Learning Graph Node as a regular blog post and be done with it. Pulse and Contests are nice and help keep the community entertained but only work when there are at least a few hundred active people to propel them. I never really had a concrete idea of what I was going to do with the Nerdiverse. The Nerdity Test was novel when I created it in 2002, and although it still has a small ounce of traffic, it doesn't carry any of that traffic over to the other features of the site, which is the focus of NP. I'd like to re-invent the Nerdity Test into something new and novel and not just another spammy facebook feed-esque quiz. Perhaps the best way to describe the ideal incarnation of it is a cool feature that is actually "nerdy". But I don't have the energy or the users to justify focusing on that right now.
Redoing the UI of important things
I'm going to redo (and by "redo" I mean "actually finish") the UI for the Blogs/Snippets. The idea of NP7 is it would present itself like a tech/academic magazine. There would be thousands of half-assed articles written, of which perhaps 20 or so gems per month would float to the top of some hand-picked or user-rated ranking. These would make it to the snippets page and the front page. A random user visiting NP would see the front page and be presented with the best articles and a browsing experience that resembled flipping through a magazine. The other posts would still be picked up by search engines and would hopefully lead the user to the front page and eventually to the forum. I don't entirely know what this UI will look like, but I'm going to work on some mock ups and post them here for feedback. I would like it if someone nagged me each day that I don't do this.
Automating how articles "float" to the top
The current means by which an article floats to the front page is an admin has to hand pick it and manually post it on the front page. We are all lazy, so this needs to be automated somehow. By a user rating system, a traffic heuristic, or some such.
Actually writing stuff
Users don't come without content and content doesn't come without users. When I posted regularly on my own people came, so I will attempt to post regularly. If you feel the urge to write something, go for it. If you have the urge to read something you know that I know about, please let me know and I'll see what I can whip up, since I do spend a lot of time wondering what people wonder about.
Also, people who tend to write about this stuff in blogs anyway won't do it for another blog for free. That means I'd usually have to pay them in green pieces of paper that I don't have. The other means of compensation is back-linking to their site. I'd be paying in free advertising for them. This is how the very successful Zen Habits
blog works and I'd like to give it a try. This was actually my original intentions. Notice the empty column on the right side of all blogs posts. That space was going to be a customizable mini-profile/bio/back-link-shout-out of the poster.
Using the KB
It's not just about adding more content, but also lowering the "fear bar" of being a first poster. If you have a question, go ahead and hit the KB up before Google.
Set clear goals for blogs and make a workspace
If people think it'll be useful, I'll create a drafts dashboard/workplace page or something.
The one problem I didn't address is the inactivity of the forum. I don't think this is something I need to address specifically and will take care of itself once the site starts building enough momentum to perpetuate itself. People will naturally find their way over here. In the mean time, everyone go create 5 threads!
Let me know what you think or if there's anything else that you think I could do that would liven up this place.