How Can We Attract New Members...?

Discussion in 'Feedback' started by Namaste Jesus, Sep 13, 2020.

  1. Namaste Jesus

    Namaste Jesus Praise the Lord and Enjoy the Chai Staff Member

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    Here of late, IO seems to have become a troll magnet. The last one however, brought up an interesting issue. That being, the lack of new members and always the same few members posting. So how can we attract decent new members and by that I mean serious individuals not out to disrupt things and encourage existing members to participate? I'm at a loss myself, so I put it you guys. What do you think we should do?

    I was thinking back to when I first joined several years ago and what prompted me to do so. There wasn't really anything that directed me here, I just stumbled onto the site be chance. It was during a low period in my life and something I read from a poster made me feel a little better, so I joined. I'd imagine that's how most people find us, by chance, but should we be doing more to promote our site and if so, what?.
     
  2. RJM Corbet

    RJM Corbet God Feeds the Ravens

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    I was directed here by Brian Turner (who originated IO) from the busy Science Fiction and Fantasy Chronicles Forums that he now runs:
    https://www.sffchronicles.com/

    They don't allow faith discussions there, so he directed me here and advised me to look up a few posts by @Thomas and I stuck around.

    I joined Religious Forums for a while:
    https://www.religiousforums.com/

    But I was immediately set upon an aggressive wolf pack of fierce new atheists basically demanding: 'If God exists, so prove it'. Some of them were ridiculously self opinionated. It was not a good experience for me.

    I lasted there a while but eventually closed down my account because the admin couldn't seem to get themselves sorted out about flooding my email inbox with email notifications. No matter what they tried to do, the notifications would stop for a while and then start up again, and really the debates weren't worth the trouble.

    I check out the forums there now and again, but I don't find many sensitive debates there with give and take on both sides. However they do allow the prophets and the visionaries and literalist preachers to have their say there.

    They have certain "safe space' sections for members of individual faiths to discuss without being attacked by the aggressive new atheists, where those who don't belong to those faiths are allowed to ask respectful questions but not to interrogate or argue.

    Perhaps we should let more new members speak here without shutting them down? As long as they're not out just to troll us, or spam us?

    Then there are the ones who really just post unintelligible walls of text which most people cannot make head or tail of. All the same, imo they should just be allowed to do their thing without interference? It doesn't hurt anybody to let them have their say?

    I'm a bit uneasy about having had to ban that last new member IAMinyou. I realise my mistake was to respond dismissively to his first post, which immediately upset him of course.

    All internet sites and services require applicants to tick a terms and conditions box.

    But why do existing contributing members disappear? That seems to really be the problem? What's happened to people like @KnowSelf and @Devils' Advocate? Why have they left us? Why don't they actively contribute to debate here?

    I myself am responsible for having driven someone away: the Thomas Merton pure land Buddhist guy. I regret that.

    People like @bhaktajan no longer post, and Baha'i and Theosophist discussions have disappeared from the boards.

    (post edited ... sorry it was mostly dictated by voice so had to make corrections)
     
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2020
  3. Cino

    Cino Big Love! (Atheist mystic)

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    OTOH, @seattlegal has reappeared.

    What drew me here were some of the non-superficial discussions on topics I was researching on the internet.

    So let's keep the discussions going, start new ones, and my hunch is, the oracles at Google and Bing and so on will keep sending the right candidates our way :)
     
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  4. Namaste Jesus

    Namaste Jesus Praise the Lord and Enjoy the Chai Staff Member

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    My personal feeling is that people like that need to be dealt with swiftly rather than engage at all. It was quite clear from his very 1st post what he was up to as myself and Thomas advised. IMO, keeping folks like that around drives the good folks away and encourages more like them to join. The same with those that make post after post of unintelligible walls of text. Both these instances create unnecessary tension and discourages participation.
     
  5. RJM Corbet

    RJM Corbet God Feeds the Ravens

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    But the good folks aren't sticking around anyway NJ! Where are they all? And how much does it take to tolerate posters that we don't like or agree with or fully understand?

    It's not that those sort of posters are deliberately trolling or provoking anybody; it's actually that people choose to be provoked by them, imo?

    There's a difference between that sort of thing and actively trolling the site, imo.

    Eventually that member IAMinyou actively refused to accept our code of conduct? Which includes aggressive proselytizing. That was cause to get rid of him, imo

    "Both these instances create unnecessary tension and discourages participation"
    -- or people can just turn the page on them and concentrate on stuff that does interest them?
     
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2020
  6. Namaste Jesus

    Namaste Jesus Praise the Lord and Enjoy the Chai Staff Member

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    All I can tell you is, to a lot of people that sort of thing is very disruptive. I've nearly left a number of times during in the past couple years because such things were tolerated far longer than they should have been. That last guy though, was a troll plain and simple. He's done the same thing on many sites and pretty much admitted it in his initial post. Like someone committing a crime then taunting the police about it.
     
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  7. RJM Corbet

    RJM Corbet God Feeds the Ravens

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    I agree he was a troll. He's gone because of that.

    However there's a difference between what is really upsetting and disruptive -- and what a person chooses to be upset and disrupted by, imo?

    There's a difference between shutting out the real kooks and trolls, and shutting down ideas, because we may not like the way they are expressed for instance?
     
  8. A Cup Of Tea

    A Cup Of Tea An ordinary cup of tea

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    If you want to do the same thing again, I would advise you to just keep directing to our code of conduct and avoid engaging in other ways. I don't think you did anything wrong last time, it was inevitable, but just focusing on the legal aspect sends a good message.

    I don't actually think there's a solution for this, the good and bad with internet is how wast it is. Millions of sites are competing to attract visitors. Unless we want to spend money on ads I don't think anything but chance will have a say on the matter.
    This is a frustrating hobby we have, and it takes a lot out of some of us. They might have found another outlet for their interests in other ways.

    We could always ask Brian on his thoughts, he knows this site well and the ways of the internet. He might have some insights?
     
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  9. RJM Corbet

    RJM Corbet God Feeds the Ravens

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    I completely agree with you. I regret engaging with his first post, that was my mistake, imo
     
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2020
  10. RJM Corbet

    RJM Corbet God Feeds the Ravens

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    He does know the internet well. SFF Chrons is a big and active website, with quite a lot of moderators. I joined in 2011. The parameters there are quite strictly contained. Politics and religion and so on are completely forbidden.

    It is also platform for new and aspiring writers to publish a bit of their stuff and get critique on it. There is some incredibly bad writing, and some real gems too. There are large sections on writing and grammar and how to write well, as well as monthly writing competitions between members.

    It's a unique and valuable site for writers, and for sci-fi enthusiasts and readers too of course.
     
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2020
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  11. Namaste Jesus

    Namaste Jesus Praise the Lord and Enjoy the Chai Staff Member

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    Nobody's talking about shutting down ideas on the basis of differing opinions or the way said opinion is expressed, so long as our code of conduct is adhered to. I think there's a difference though, between posting an apposing point of view in perhaps an abstract way and posting mindless dribble.
     
  12. RJM Corbet

    RJM Corbet God Feeds the Ravens

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    However I don't think we have any need to actively go out to start recruiting new members. They won't stay long anyway if we won't let them speak? Sorry.

    I think we just need to expand our platform of tolerance here? We need to exclude the real kooks the trolls. Aggressive proselytizing is not accepted anyway under our code of conduct. But apart from that I think we should allow people pretty much of free rein. It shouldn't really be about supporting the comfort zone of established existing members really?

    That's stagnation, and that's just my own opinion, and that's what we're all here for to discuss it?
     
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2020
  13. RJM Corbet

    RJM Corbet God Feeds the Ravens

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    But which someone else might find new and interesting? Bad writers are difficult and irritating, but often there's some stuff in there worth considering? If it's not doing any harm, we can just ignore it if we don't like it. It's not against the code of conduct to write badly?

    Of course there is real schizoid stuff out there too. No question. And there are those who flood the boards with stuff which nobody else can really read at all, who need to be discouraged.

    But I don't think a first knee-jerk instinct to ban and delete stuff really should be part of open religious discussion?
     
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2020
  14. Thomas

    Thomas Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Well, a quick note to say I'm 'going dark' (off camping) for a week, so if you get 20 new posters while I'm gone, there's a clue!

    I have more reflections than thoughts or ideas.

    I had a look at a couple of other faith sites and yes, it was generally quite aggressive, with the smattering of outspoken "Proofs that Christ is God" and "Proofs that Christ is Not God" that had me thinking, 'are we still arguing this?' as if that fact that we did here umpty years ago should mean everyone knows!

    So:
    I mean, heaven forbid, the only people actively looking for forums like IO are trolls ... OTOH Mikken is a welcome breathe of air!

    Social media generally is empowering the trolls, the wind-up merchants, etc. Indeed racism is on the rise (here in the UK at least, and I suggest elsewhere in Europe), so an upswing of religious bigotry wouldn't surprise me ...

    I wonder whether it's simply a case of this kind of dialogue is not the thing it once was? I get the feeling a few of us are senior citizens ... do younger folks talk about this any more? Just a thought, I have no basis on which to say yay or nay ... the New Age/Age of Aquarius has come and gone ... Congregations are shrinking ... the New Atheists that were all the rage have virtually disappeared ... Pope Francis hasn't caused a media flurry for Lord knows how long ... perhaps people have other things in mind?

    As for dealing with people ... I hope some have noticed I've tried an, ahem, less strident approach in recent times. I was always in awe of
    Vajradhara for the way he was always so utterly polite and reasonable with everyone ...

    ... I learned a lesson when discussing politics with friends, and how some could appear so obtuse in the face of certain facts: "It's not that they necessarily believe what they say," someone replied, "It's more the point that they know it incenses you, which is what they're all about ..."


    So maybe, when all the alarms go off, as was the case with me when IAm announced he was in direct comms with the Holy Spirit, an ├╝ber-polite response is the way to go, "OK, that's really interesting. Thank you for that." One that quietly and discreetly closes down without confrontation?
     
  15. Namaste Jesus

    Namaste Jesus Praise the Lord and Enjoy the Chai Staff Member

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    You know, you may have just hit on something there old chum. Mention God or religion to someone older and they typically display at least some interest. The younger the audience though, the more they just roll their eyes....

    Oh well. Enjoy your camping trip, wish I could join you. :)
     
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  16. RJM Corbet

    RJM Corbet God Feeds the Ravens

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    Yes, it's like on the TV quiz shows: throw a religious question at most people under ... say 35 ... and they're out, nearly every time. Even very basic stuff. But they get the food and entertainment questions right. Lol, but sad too ...
     
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2020
  17. RJM Corbet

    RJM Corbet God Feeds the Ravens

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    Interesting observation.
    I didn't have a problem with that. Who knows? IMO it was following it up by cutting and pasting strings of Bible quotes that was his problem, rather than providing links -- and escalating after being asked.
    I think so too. I'm 67. When I was younger I enjoyed books and ideas that I've by now 'grown beyond' but there are still a number of younger active members. And sites like 'Religious Forums' are still busy and active?
     
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2020
  18. RJM Corbet

    RJM Corbet God Feeds the Ravens

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    Sorry ... so I've been talking too much here, as usual
     
  19. A Cup Of Tea

    A Cup Of Tea An ordinary cup of tea

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    Why would you say that!? We are connecting, engaging, you know, the thing IO is for!

    Most of the people I'm around are in their 20s (uni), there are a few who scoff at any mention of religion, everyone else appear completely disinterested. It is sad of course, but there are probably many topics of great interest and importance that are left unexplored by the greater population.

    I wonder if religious discussions has always been popular until recent times, or if it has waxed and waned throughout for various reasons...I'm also forgetting we all represent a somewhat narrow part of the cultural spectrum....many thoughts
     
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  20. Cino

    Cino Big Love! (Atheist mystic)

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    Go, open a thread on this, outside this "feedback" forum, it's an interesting topic. New users are more likely to be attracted by lively discussion.

    (To practice what I preach, I updated the "Flower Garland Sutra" thread a few minutes ago ;) )
     
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