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GobboGobbo Hand of the King
in Your Suggestions To Us Posts: 94

@jacksprat1 said:
Nandemonai and @"Kimuzukashii MEIJI" : At the risk of taking the introduction board in a weird direction, the lower traffic is more a reflection of changes in Internet trends than anything else. Forums were the way people did most of their person-to-person and person-to-company Internet interactions back in 2005, and the great bulk of that work has been taken over by social media (especially Facebook and Twitter) in the intervening years. No matter what anyone here does, this forum will never be quite as happenin' a place as it was in the early 2000s again just because people's Internet consumption patterns have changed.

With that said, I think there's still several things that a forum can do that social media is poorly-engineered for, especially in the realm of detailed discussion. The sheer number of users you get with Facebook and the way it ranks comments by likes makes it really difficult to have a coherent discussion about much of anything on a company FB page. Its non-anonymity also makes it a weird place to discuss eroge--grandma and your uncle Steve may start wondering what this "nukige" you keep liking is all about. So, I think the board may be a bit quieter, but that doesn't mean it can't still be a great source of information and place for us to talk about our mutual hobby.

I would actually be interested in talking about ways to boost traffic to the forum, but if we do, let's start a separate discussion in the "Your Suggestions To Us" section so as not to hijack the introduction feed. Regardless, always good to see more familiar faces here! :)

I'd be interested too, we'd love to know your thoughts.

I belong to several forums that are great communities by themselves, but either don't have a Facebook presence or their Facebook group is a spammy, hate filled place with way too many pictures of cats. Maybe I've got a 2005 mindset, but I do love a well managed forum, particularly because of that sense of community I've never found on Facebook.

And then there's the privacy aspect, as you mentioned. A sense of privacy and safety does a lot to make people feel welcome. Here we can openly share our passion for Virtual Novels and Japanese otaku culture with other fans—it's a good place to be!

Comments

  • Aurora3500Aurora3500 Kohai
    Posts: 52

    As someone who dislikes Facebook and refuses to use it, I do have to say I appreciate having Forums for Companies & Games that allow people to have great discussions.

    I'm quiet in the Waking World by nature, and it is through Forums that I can really express my thoughts and have discussions with other members that share similar interests to me. I've never liked the spammy/ meme nature of sites like Facebook overall, and prefer to have relevant discussion with other people rather than just seeing people post cat pictures all day. It's much easier to type out all the complex Thoughts I frequently have about Anime/Games/Visual Novels on a Forum setting rather than a Facebook/Twitter status system where you can only get a little bit of content in those.

    I do love well managed Forums as well, and belong to a few Forums where I do love the Communities there. In one such Forum I even personally help to keep the Forum well managed as a Moderator there. In the past, I did not have a feeling for what makes a good Forum Community or not. Considering I was a lot younger and began to believe that places like youtube/facebook and how other people could talk there would be the norm, with rude & disrespectful people not being dealt with as they should. In recent years, I've gotten a better feel for if a Forum Community is fun to be in or not from how the members talk, and also what the Rules & Culture are like being setup by the Staff of the Forums to set the tone. I join the Forums I feel have great Communities and are about a game or topic I'm very passionate about, if a Forum doesn't have either of those, I don't join it, or stop using it completely if the Discussions there are not very good to have.

    I've been somewhat inactive here recently, but that is mainly because I've been busy transitioning into my new job in the Waking World a few months ago, and haven't been able to get into the games and Visual Novels I want to play a lot. From what I've seen so far, this is a good Community which requires tolerance and respect for everyone which is what I really value in a Forum. I hope to become more active again here soon, as this is a place I enjoy talking about Visual Novels here. Once the Holidays pass as well, that'll give me a fair bit more Free time to focus on more Visual Novels!

    For boosting Forum Traffic, I do try to talk about the VNs that JAST Publishes when I can. Since they are very fun VNs. I have to be careful with this on some of the Forums I'm on since some of them are PG-13 and do not allow the posting of 18+ material or linking to websites that contain 18+ material. The thought is that if they learn about what the games are, that they will be interested in buying it on Steam, and if it interests them enough, they'll also research JAST who published the VN and the Developers who made the VN which will bring more people to this Forum to create even more discussion. But the Steam all-ages releases of VNs such as Littlewitch and Seinarukana make it easier to talk about those games in places like those. Steam is a blessing and a curse it seems like, and it has been discussed here before about how it can be dangerous for keeping VNs uncensored, but at the same time it allows for reaching out to a larger audience of Gamers who didn't know about Visual Novels like the ones here before.

  • sanahtligsanahtlig MOD Hand of the King
    Posts: 2,884

    Based on past experience, the best way to draw traffic is to release something, preferably buggy or controversial, that galvanizes users to register and participate.

  • NandemonaiNandemonai Kohai
    edited November 2016 Posts: 5,822

    Once it gets to a certain point, activity becomes self-sustaining. This board isn't at that point anymore; it sits mostly-dead until something happens. I wouldn't recommend pulling another Shiny Days, but, well, if traffic in the forum is something you're trying to do ... ;)

    Seriously, though, MangaGamer's forums (back when they had forums) had more people just because there was more to talk about. There's a new release every month. There's new announcements at several different points throughout the year. But that's not the only thing. MangaGamer staff make a point to post discussion-generating content on their blog. "Tester's Corners" where the beta testers hype the game. Introductions from the translators. Character and setting introductions. Year-end retrospectives. Con announcement reports. There's a lot of stuff out there that MG uses to generate buzz and discussion.

    Whereas here, people have asked for a status update (over in the appropriate thread) since it's been awhile since the last one ... to be met with crickets chirping. That's at least something you can do something about; scrounge up a status update (say) the second week of every month. Post here about it.

    Basically, one of the other big things that prompts the community to flourish is involvement from On High. MangaGamer has it. Once upon a time, very early on, Jast USA had it. Right now, there's hardly any, like it's not really a priority for you. That's the one thing you can change. (Well, 'release more games more often' is the other, but it seems like you've already been focusing on that.)

    Post edited by Nandemonai on
  • GobboGobbo Hand of the King
    Posts: 94

    @sanahtlig said:
    ... preferably buggy ...

    Really? Doesn't that just create a bunch of angry customers?

  • NargrakhanNargrakhan Lurker
    edited November 2016 Posts: 6,466

    @Nandemonai said:

    Seriously, though, MangaGamer's forums (back when they had forums) had more people just because there was more to talk about. There's a new release every month. There's new announcements at several different points throughout the year. But that's not the only thing. MangaGamer staff make a point to post discussion-generating content on their blog. "Tester's Corners" where the beta testers hype the game. Introductions from the translators. Character and setting introductions. Year-end retrospectives. Con announcement reports. There's a lot of stuff out there that MG uses to generate buzz and discussion.

    This. So much this.

    Some of the busiest forums I've visited, are those devoted to an episodic medium like web comics or manga series. Why? Because at least once a week (at the most once a month), there's something new for the visitors to discuss. Because of the high forum traffic, threads and topics outside of the medium are discussed. However as soon as the episodic medium stops updating, the forum visitors eventually leave because of the inactivity.

    The JAST forum needs a regular infusion of something that's JAST to keep it alive. Otherwise activity will only occur in small bursts whenever something new hits the streets, and then rapidly vanish as the wait for a new product comes along again.

    Post edited by Nargrakhan on
  • sanahtligsanahtlig MOD Hand of the King
    Posts: 2,884

    @Gobbo said:

    sanahtlig said:
    ... preferably buggy ...

    Really? Doesn't that just create a bunch of angry customers?

    As we've seen recently in the US elections, anger is an excellent motivator for participation.

  • NandemonaiNandemonai Kohai
    Posts: 5,822

    @Gobbo said:

    sanahtlig said:
    ... preferably buggy ...

    Really? Doesn't that just create a bunch of angry customers?

    Who then proceed to generate dozens of pages of angry comments. Remember Shiny Days? He was sardonically observing that if all you want is to generate discussion, that's one way to do it.

  • NickNick JAST USA Barrel Haxor
    Posts: 122

    It's been great reading this. I agree with a lot of what is being said. Like what @Aurora3500 and @jacksprat1 said about the inherit limitations-by-design of modern social media which potentially allows for forums to still exist. Most gamers flock to places where there is critical mass, like Facebook, Steam, Twitter, Reddit, Tumblr, etc., since it's just easier to have constant activity there.

    We saw this trend as far back as 2012. There was not much life on our forums then either, but it was alive. When we moved to connect.jastusa.com we were hoping to centralize all discussions about game issues and topics. Overall that system had a little bit more life, but it wasn't well suited for people who wanted the "real" forum experience. It was kinda of 中途半端 in that way. So, despite the overall trend for us to move away from forums, we relaunched ours. I am very happy we did. Even though it's not very lively right now, I think it was the right move.

    @Nandemonai said:
    Basically, one of the other big things that prompts the community to flourish is involvement from On High. MangaGamer has it. Once upon a time, very early on, Jast USA had it. Right now, there's hardly any, like it's not really a priority for you. That's the one thing you can change. (Well, 'release more games more often' is the other, but it seems like you've already been focusing on that.)

    @Nargrakhan said:
    Some of the busiest forums I've visited, are those devoted to an episodic medium like web comics or manga series. Why? Because at least once a week (at the most once a month), there's something new for the visitors to discuss. Because of the high forum traffic, threads and topics outside of the medium are discussed. However as soon as the episodic medium stops updating, the forum visitors eventually leave because of the inactivity.

    The JAST forum needs a regular infusion of something that's JAST to keep it alive. Otherwise activity will only occur in small bursts whenever something new hits the streets, and then rapidly vanish as the wait for a new product comes along again.

    We are aware of this. Without content there is nothing to talk about. We'd really like to release more than two titles per year, and so we've been trying this year to improve in that area, really putting our nose-to-the-grindstone. This has made it hard for our staff to reach out onto other platforms, now that fans now expect game companies to have some presence on all social media sites. It would be much easier on us all discussions were here, but that isn't going to happen.

    Now, all that being said, any ideas on how to energize these forums?

  • sanahtligsanahtlig MOD Hand of the King
    Posts: 2,884

    @Nicholas said:
    Now, all that being said, any ideas on how to energize these forums?

    An incentive to register and participate would be useful. Perhaps a poll or request for feedback on a topic that followers would care about? For example, you could create a poll about licensing options and ask users what they would prefer. Things like that tend to generate interest. Lure users in with the promise that they'll have a greater voice if they take the time to participate.

  • jacksprat1jacksprat1 MOD Hand of the King
    Posts: 170

    @Nicholas said:

    Now, all that being said, any ideas on how to energize these forums?

    I'll give you one that's incredibly easy as a starter: make it a little easier to find! :) It's not quite the island from the first Pirates of the Caribbean (that can only be found if you already know where it is), but currently the only link to the JAST Forums on jastusa.com is in 8-point font at the extreme bottom-right of your main page, right below the "About Us" and "Employment" links. So, someone who's hunting for the Forums will likely find them eventually, but it doesn't allow for much serendipitous discovery from gamers who might be visiting your page for the first time to look around. How about putting a link or button up at the top-right near the "Account" and search bars? Much easier to find. If you had a little graphic with the JAST Gal pointing toward it, even more people might notice yet.

    My other thought is that your work on social media and the JAST Forums don't have to be separate efforts, and in fact, cycling traffic between them should theoretically increase the traffic at both and save you work. If you have a slow month release-wise and find yourselves low on new content to post on Twitter or Facebook, ask your audience a question there or set up a poll that links to a forum thread for them to provide answers. If there's one thing as sure as gravity, it's that people like to express their opinions, and if people get used to being directed to the Forums to do so, they'll likely start coming here of their own accord more often without prompting. You could even do a contest or something from time to time for user-generated content (fan art, short story, etc.) in exchange for a free download of one of your cheaper games. There might also be ways to make a vice-versa happen, leading people from the forums to your social media accounts, but I'd have to think on the specifics for that one a bit.

    Anyway, just a couple of ideas!

  • NandemonaiNandemonai Kohai
    Posts: 5,822

    Definitely agree with that one. For awhile, MangaGamer didn't even have a link to their blog on their homepage! They said it didn't really seem necessary, until I pointed out that there's no good reason not to provide the additional exposure.

    I didn't know the link was hard to find, because I hardly ever go to the main page anyway.

    One other suggestion: Don't just link to the status updates here. Repost them. (And also, update that more often.)

  • BillybobBillybob Lurker
    Posts: 821

    @jacksprat1 said:

    Nicholas said:

    Now, all that being said, any ideas on how to energize these forums?

    I'll give you one that's incredibly easy as a starter: make it a little easier to find! :) It's not quite the island from the first Pirates of the Caribbean (that can only be found if you already know where it is), but currently the only link to the JAST Forums on jastusa.com is in 8-point font at the extreme bottom-right of your main page, right below the "About Us" and "Employment" links. So, someone who's hunting for the Forums will likely find them eventually, but it doesn't allow for much serendipitous discovery from gamers who might be visiting your page for the first time to look around. How about putting a link or button up at the top-right near the "Account" and search bars? Much easier to find. If you had a little graphic with the JAST Gal pointing toward it, even more people might notice yet.

    This is pretty much exactly what I meant in my other post in the introduction forum. Many people on your site probably won't scroll to the bottom and check all the little links down there. It'd be great to have a link to the forums next to the account button. Still won't get everyone, but it sure wouldn't do any harm.

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