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Kaustubh Katdare
Kaustubh Katdare • May 12, 2012

A Critical Review Of Discussions On CrazyEngineers

This is a long post, but I'd appreciate if you take some time to read and respond.

CEans,

As we gather more information from our visitors/users about how CrazyEngineers is doing, very interesting stats have been revealed. Let me share what we've discovered so far -

Take a look at this screenshot from the reports :-

Screen Shot 2012-05-12 at 3.34.17 PM

Note: "We" means 'all of us, including you".

We're happy with : Usability and visitor loyalty. We're definitely doing awesome on the loyalty part but we can always improve. It'd have been just great if 100% of the survey takers had agreed to recommend the site to their friends and family.

We should be concerned about: Satisfaction with content. Only 53% of the visitors were satisfied with the content. This indicates that 'we' should be concerned about the content.

That's the topic of this discussion!

From the responses posted by users in our open feedback form, we see that most of you want more interactivity. Here's one such comment -

There seems to be very little participation. There must be more interactive threads.
Acknowledging The Problem:

Content generation to appeal all visiting engineers is *the problem* we've been facing for a long time now. Our VoiCE ans Small Talk sections seems to be doing absolutely fine with dedicated bloggers producing content for it. But on the community, our discussions do not generate as many responses they should.

Reasons:

1. The most obvious looking reason that our threads do not get responses is because users do not find the threads relevant.

2. Our most regular users want to see something different, which is missing on CE.

3. Our discussions aren't interesting enough to generate responses.

4. Users do not feel motivated to start discussions and post responses thinking 'What's in it for me?'

5. The 'Like' functionality is actually killing the responses (needs a debate).

Possible Solutions:

1. We need to generate more relevant discussions in each of the sections.
2. We need to offer some kind of incentive to the users so that they become more expressive.
3. We need to make changes to the system to make it easier to understand & interact with.
4. We need to focus on hard-core engineering topics.
5. More DIY, Tutorial-type discussion threads to attract visitors and responses.
6. The mods/members need to be 'easy' and 'less intimidating' to build more friendlier community.
7. Relax the rules for posting; allowing SMS language and use of local, non-English languages.

I'd request all members to tell us what they think and offer solutions. Every solution, thought, idea, feedback is welcome.

PS: Without your feedback, we would be helpless to take any action to improve CE. Take a moment to post your response!


Kaustubh Katdare
Kaustubh Katdare • May 12, 2012
Paradox 😁 !

We're asking to comment on why people don't comment! ☕
The_Big_K
Possible Solutions:

1. We need to generate more relevant discussions in each of the sections.
2. We need to offer some kind of incentive to the users so that they become more expressive.
3. We need to make changes to the system to make it easier to understand & interact with.
4. We need to focus on hard-core engineering topics.
5. More DIY, Tutorial-type discussion threads to attract visitors and responses.
6. The mods/members need to be 'easy' and 'less intimidating' to build more friendlier community.
7. Relax the rules for posting; allowing SMS language and use of local, non-English languages.
The_Big_K,
Could you explain the 2nd point.
Regarding the 3rd point, that will really help newbies. Mostly newbies fail to understand how CE functions.
We can definitely work on point no. 6.
A 'no' for the last point.
Ankita Katdare
Ankita Katdare • May 12, 2012
Users do not feel motivated to start discussions and post responses thinking 'What's in it for me?'
This is the issue that I want all the members to discuss. We log-in daily to CE to 'discuss' things. By discuss we mean each member posts his/her views/opinions/solutions etc. on anything under the field of engineering. That isn't happening.

PS: If this thread doesn't generate enough responses I will tag the most regular members here.
Kaustubh Katdare
Kaustubh Katdare • May 12, 2012
Dancer_Engineer : Incentive could be in any form: It could be a special trophy, more privileges or say a prize to the best contributor at the end of every month.
Kaustubh Katdare
Kaustubh Katdare • May 12, 2012
...? Anyone?
Ankita Katdare
Ankita Katdare • May 12, 2012
bioramani silverscorpion ianoop Punch_a_Tantra Dancer_Engineer English-Scared godfather Sada cooltwins CIVILPRINCESS
I request you all to positively comment here and tagmore CEans.
Gurjap
Gurjap • May 12, 2012
First of all, please do not allow SMS lingo or non-English languages. I think that'd just be irritating. And unlikely to improve content quality.

We could have a "member of the month" based on how regularly someone visits the site. Ps. I reserve the right to disown the idea if it backfires 😛
Kaustubh Katdare
Kaustubh Katdare • May 12, 2012
We used to have CEan Of The Month award. I think it's time to bring it back. Suggestion taken. Looking for more responses.
Pensu
Pensu • May 12, 2012
The system is obviously easy to understand, but i guess its a less little interactive. I mean, categorization is good, but you know if you could come up with some innovation in the layout of community, it might be able to attract more users. Other than that, yeah its a little bit hard to find relevant thread, but that is not a big problem as whole internet works this way, you can never find what exactly you are looking for...😉 But we can make threads more interesting by putting a ranking system to response, like they do in Yahoo answers. Best response appears on top, might be helpful. If someone knows a better answer than the top response, he will like to to post ergo making the decision interesting. I said it earlier too in a post that you should bring back CEan of the month. It was a good thing, attracts people to comment more.
About finding the relevant thread thing, yes CE has a lot of data and its really hard to find what a user actually want. I suggest you should have a look at stackoverflow, their tagging system is so awesome, you can easily find whatever you are looking for. You should think over it. May be, CE can implement a similar system which can help users to find the relevant thread.
And in the end a big NO for sms language, you dont know what level of damage it can do...😉
Kaustubh Katdare
Kaustubh Katdare • May 12, 2012
Pensu: That's good suggestion. Ranking system is good, and I'm sure we can do something to implement it. The question here is ranking system will only be useful when most of our threads have at least 15-20 responses. That's when users can rank the best response.

We'll bring a better and improved search engine in place (most likely, Google Custom Search) which is far better at finding relevant content than anything else.

I'm more interested in knowing what steps should we take to make sure we get interesting threads. The number of discussions staff can start is very limited. The problem mostly lies in motivating CEans to start discussions that attract responses.
Try this (if possible):

Assign a few CEans as 'Discipline Rep(resentative)' according to their Engineering Disciplines to encourage discussions in their respective Engineering Disciplines. They will be responsible to make sure the the discussions are alive and kicking and also make sure no thread is dead (meaning with no responses).
For example: Praveen-Kumar can be made Discipline Rep for CS, CE Designer can be made Discipline Res for Mechanical; CIVILPRINCESS can be made Discipline Rep for PG Entrance Exams section and so on. I think 2-3 Discipline Reps for each section will do good.
Kaustubh Katdare
Kaustubh Katdare • May 12, 2012
We've considered that as well but realized that having a useful and attention-worthy discussion requires contribution from all the active participants. For example, godfather takes care of all the discussions related to electronics. There no reason others shouldn't do it.

What concerns me more is that very generic discussions too sometimes get unattended. For example the ragging experience sharing thread ( a very generic & fun thread ) received just a few responses. Is there something we're missing?
Anoop Kumar
Anoop Kumar • May 12, 2012
We'll bring a better and improved search engine in place (most likely, Google Custom Search) which is far better at finding relevant content than anything else.
We need to focus on hard-core engineering topics.
More DIY, Tutorial-type discussion threads to attract visitors and responses.
👍
I am not aware of other threads but in CS section, I think topics needs to more advance in core sections.
could be applicable for other sections too.
For guest users, finding relevant thread is critical.Most of the people who comes through search they just need a search or two on CE to find their relevant things to get interested.
Kaustubh Katdare
Kaustubh Katdare • May 12, 2012
Yeah, but staff has limitations on how many innovative discussions they can start. The question I'm essentially trying to ask is how do we make non-staff to start more discussions?
I have a few suggestions.
Shall we have the recent activity by members as a ticker format like the facebook does?
And also, we need to highlight the link of unanswered and newly created posts...
What say The_Big_K???
Kaustubh Katdare
Kaustubh Katdare • May 12, 2012
Nope, noticing unanswered threads isn't the problem, I guess. Everyone can see newly created threads by clicking 'What's New', which shows new content along with the responses each thread has received.

I want to bring focus on making non-staff members create discussion topics. What can we do and how will it address the problem?
ISHAN TOPRE
ISHAN TOPRE • May 12, 2012
AbraKaDabra I have already conveyed my thoughts to Biggie.
Ankita Katdare
Ankita Katdare • May 12, 2012
The_Big_K
I want to bring focus on making non-staff members create discussion topics. What can we do and how will it address the problem?
Expecting responses on this question.
Ambarish Ganesh
Ambarish Ganesh • May 12, 2012
The_Big_K
Nope, noticing unanswered threads isn't the problem, I guess. Everyone can see newly created threads by clicking 'What's New', which shows new content along with the responses each thread has received.

I want to bring focus on making non-staff members create discussion topics. What can we do and how will it address the problem?
A person starts a discussion topic when he has something worth sharing/or worth discussing. Now the responses to these discussions would need other like-minded people to voice their opinion on the thread, which is bound to happen if their response ensures some kind of an incentive.
Also, the thread starter should be encouraged with the same, if his/her thread, even though could not gain enough responses, is all the same informatory. That should motivate more people to start threads!
CIVILPRINCESS
CIVILPRINCESS • May 13, 2012
Dancer_Engineer
The_Big_K,
Could you explain the 2nd point.
Regarding the 3rd point, that will really help newbies. Mostly newbies fail to understand how CE functions.
We can definitely work on point no. 6.
A 'no' for the last point.
Yeah i second dancer. Most of my friends who had joined CE too found it difficult to understand how a forum functions and would only check out some sections. This might be the problem faced by many Non-CS/IT engineers. Mostly the core branch students have this problem. We need to focus on this.

And no! please don't relax the rules for posting or it may make people take CE for granted as an informal platform for discussion.

Gurjap
First of all, please do not allow SMS lingo or non-English languages. I think that'd just be irritating. And unlikely to improve content quality.

We could have a "member of the month" based on how regularly someone visits the site. Ps. I reserve the right to disown the idea if it backfires 😛
Yeah bringing back CEan of the Month is a very good idea! 😀

P.S: It made me active when i was new and i so wanted to win it. Displaying the title "CEan of the month" under the user id makes any CEan feel good you know 😉 Then as time passed i didn't need it to motivate me 😀

And one thing i have noticed is that people who join CE do it out of interest. But soon it wears off and people rarely comeback to see what CE has. So why not motivate the newbies by announcing something like "Newbie of the month" or something like that. 😀 What say?
Kaustubh Katdare
Kaustubh Katdare • May 13, 2012
CIVILPRINCESS : Those are nice suggestions.

I'm not sure whether we should really work on making CE even simpler to use. I'd not expect any quality discucssion/participation from those who cannot understand the most basic forum structure.
CIVILPRINCESS
CIVILPRINCESS • May 13, 2012
The_Big_K
CIVILPRINCESS : Those are nice suggestions.

I'm not sure whether we should really work on making CE even simpler to use. I'd not expect any quality discucssion/participation from those who cannot understand the most basic forum structure.
What i'm trying to say is maybe we could have a video tutorial which every person who is signing up must watch or something.
And i thing it is essential because I have seen many core engineers who are very strong in the subjects and can add so much value to discussions in their domain if they feel comfortable with it. Some core engineers are not so fluent in using forums for the first time. So we don't want to lose those members who get confused without knowing where to start. Do we?
Even if they found the threads that would help them it would already have consumed a lot of their time. lets make thing simple for the newbies by having a tour showing them around. That is my suggestion.
Kaustubh Katdare
Kaustubh Katdare • May 13, 2012
The question here is *not* about new members being active. It's about regular members not being expressive in discussions or starting newer discussions.
CIVILPRINCESS
CIVILPRINCESS • May 13, 2012
Here is what I've seen... Though regular members keep trying to increase the discussions and add a lot of posts it doesn't motivate them to post more if their threads have no activity. It is evident from the civil engineering section. Not many who start a discussion are back to create more. And they are the ones i'm talking about. They need to know how to use the forum to their advantage and to others. We can't run the show with just countable number of "regular members". we need more regular members to keep contributing to the discussions and regular members come from the new ones who join. This is when we keep CE's long term growth in mind.
Kaustubh Katdare
Kaustubh Katdare • May 13, 2012
Shall we summarize it as we lack leaders who can take discussions forward? Because once a discussion has few interesting responses, it can attract new members and other lurkers to contribute.
Possible Solutions:
1. We need to generate more relevant discussions in each of the sections.
Yeah, why don't we select 2 or 3 regular CEans for every section to take care of them.
2. We need to offer some kind of incentive to the users so that they become more expressive.
There is a chance for this.
3. We need to make changes to the system to make it easier to understand & interact with.
I don't think the system is difficult.
4. We need to focus on hard-core engineering topics.
This is quite true.
5. More DIY, Tutorial-type discussion threads to attract visitors and responses.
We have lots of tutorial threads. And it is also good if we write more good tutorials for the users.
6. The mods/members need to be 'easy' and 'less intimidating' to build more friendlier community.
Staff Online Widget helping in a good way.
7. Relax the rules for posting; allowing SMS language and use of local, non-English languages
BIG NO. I request you, do not relax the rules.

Change has to come and it is always good.
Harshad Italiya
Harshad Italiya • May 14, 2012
I can see there are more number of students coming to CE for searching of projects and Ideas So we need to something which can convert those students to share their works and thoughts on techonology and as suggested by Biggie DIY projects can help in that case.

Right now we have very few CEans who can share their Hobby works, Codes, Circuits and etc. If we are going to share such things people would like to discuss about the same in the threads like their experience with that code or circuits, or any suggestions to make project advanced or even if there is any bug they would like to share it and by this way we can increase the discussion topics.

Once we have good number of CEans who are sharing such stuffs they attracts more such members and by this chain reaction we have good number of CEans who are going to share their hobbyworks and projects. And this can also wake-up our CE-LAB section.

7. Relax the rules for posting; allowing SMS language and use of local, non-English languages
We already lost some GEEK members just because of SMS Languages and Local Language Usage So I think it is better that we avoid this point.

If CEans want to be relaxed on forum other than technical part then we can conduct Fantacy games like CCFL but we have to keep it on small bases as we need not to loose the charm of Technology on forum.

6. The mods/members need to be 'easy' and 'less intimidating' to build more friendlier community.
I am trying my best to make Environment friendly so that newbie can settled to our system
i don't know past and future but i can give only one suggestion
always new is not possible by only one person
a technology is a system which is developed from a group of scientists and a bunch of engineers
so we can develop a new trend
this is my personal view
CE is always thinking about its members that's making me happy
there are a lot of interesting topics in this world why can't we include it here
A new CE project topics for a new generation and it attracts many students like me when they wanted to do projects and this should be new
I have an idea why can't a engineer from a group start a new topic of projects and helps to the others by giving solutions
May be this is risky and plenty of time taking actually i mean is a group of cean's start of thinking a new project which is not present existed and we think of designing a circuit as i done in my project
think about this
This is not only gives a ready made project a student should work on it in practice and it also attracts the many researchers to this if we publish it in our voice
what you think guys
considering to other problems we are not responsible for mistakes of new comers for that we need a group of ceans to advice them and correct there mistakes exactly what our mods is doing
Harshad Italiya
Harshad Italiya • May 14, 2012
narayana murthy
i don't know past and future but i can give only one suggestion
always new is not possible by only one person
a technology is a system which is developed from a group of scientists and a bunch of engineers
so we can develop a new trend
this is my personal view
CE is always thinking about its members that's making me happy
there are a lot of interesting topics in this world why can't we include it here
A new CE project topics for a new generation and it attracts many students like me when they wanted to do projects and this should be new
I have an idea why can't a engineer from a group start a new topic of projects and helps to the others by giving solutions
May be this is risky and plenty of time taking actually i mean is a group of cean's start of thinking a new project which is not present existed and we think of designing a circuit as i done in my project
think about this
This is not only gives a ready made project a student should work on it in practice and it also attracts the many researchers to this if we publish it in our voice
what you think guys
considering to other problems we are not responsible for mistakes of new comers for that we need a group of ceans to advice them and correct there mistakes exactly what our mods is doing
We are already inviting CEans to join as a team an develop a project for CE Lab and CE-BOT was one of the initiative. We can think for such projects again and start working with help of students or industry experts that will surely bring more value to CE.
godfather
We are already inviting CEans to join as a team an develop a project for CE Lab and CE-BOT was one of the initiative. We can think for such projects again and start working with help of students or industry experts that will surely bring more value to CE.
hahaha bro i am not talking about these software's
Harshad Italiya
Harshad Italiya • May 14, 2012
narayana murthy
hahaha bro i am not talking about these software's
Agree but we can work together. 👍
godfather
Agree but we can work together. 👍
ok then soon i will come with a new idea
Kaustubh Katdare
Kaustubh Katdare • May 14, 2012
The question we are discussing is very generic. It's not about any particular section. What we should worry about is -

1. Generating more number of quality discussions every day.
2. Encourage our active CEans to participate more in existing discussions.
CE Designer
CE Designer • May 14, 2012
The_Big_K you are on the right track. Getting your present members to participate more is a more focussed approach rather than targeting new members. P.S. I dont like to use the term 'newbie' i think it is offensive.
CEan of the month can't take effect just yet. We need to get more participation from members, or else we will have the same CEans winning over and over.
What we should do is get the most experienced members to generate a list of topics. Topics can include new technologies and things that are big right now. Like solar.
Also we can have a list of everyday problems and have our engineers find innovative solutions to them. One topic at a time. You create competition, interest and enthusiasm. Award points accordingly.
Engineers have ideas and love to solve practical problems, design the forum is such a way to allow them to express their ideas and they will keep coming back. You will create a storm in the Forum, a BRAINSTORM 😨
P.S. Students can get ideas for projects in this way too.
People can be sensitive where it comes to intellectual property so we need to give credit where credit is due. Its tricky, people can take your idea and make money off of it so there are a few things you would have to sort out first, legally.
Kaustubh Katdare
Kaustubh Katdare • May 14, 2012
CE Designer : Points well taken. Competitions have had a mixed response but we can definitely work out something better. It's true that CEoM may help only when the contributors are more in numbers; but I'd like to try it out before discarding it. I think it will bring us some good results. Incentive could be in the form of money and/or special badge on the mini-profile etc.

The last point is something we've been working on for a long time; but the progress got thwarted because of platform changes we had to incorporate.

I'm really happy the way this discussion is forwarding. Thank you for wonderful ideas and feedback 😀 . Keep them coming!
The_Big_K
The question we are discussing is very generic. It's not about any particular section. What we should worry about is -

1. Generating more number of quality discussions every day.
2. Encourage our active CEans to participate more in existing discussions.
actually for this there exits lot of problems like quality discussions means what?
is about good English or for good doubts
and 2nd point is to making an active cean is not in our hands many ceans come for some data and leave only some are responding to answers and improving topic
how can we overcome it
Kaustubh Katdare
Kaustubh Katdare • May 14, 2012
Okay, here's what I'd call a discussion as 'Quality Discussion'
  1. Starts with an interesting topic, question, feedback, idea, thought etc.
  2. Has a proper subject which gives the idea of the discussion.
  3. Explains the subject with all the necessary details. For example, if it's a question; then it does not make any assumptions about readers. If I'm posting question about "Modem not working" then simply saying "my modem is not working, please help" isn't the right start. But a detailed information about what stopped working, error messages, troubleshooting steps tried, and other relevant information would be expected.
  4. Contains well thought, to-the-point responses by other members; which add to the progression of the discussion.
  5. Contains multiple responses from multiple members.
  6. Comes to a solid conclusion, or leads to multiple points for discussions.
CE Designer
CE Designer • May 15, 2012
The_Big_K
Okay, here's what I'd call a discussion as 'Quality Discussion'
  1. Contains well thought, to-the-point responses by other members; which add to the progression of the discussion.
With this point in mind we must ensure members that there are no wrong or stupid answers, what you think might be silly can actually be genious. I am a strong believer that the best solutions are the simplest ones.
gohm
gohm • May 15, 2012
I agree with the main challenge, that it does indeed exist. I disagree with possible solution #7, I think that will actually hurt the CE forums. Options #4 & #5 are great ideas and will be a huge help if we get a good sized core group of members to assist. Also, things like being sure your posts are detailed but open ended enough to foster discussion, answers and debate is helpful in thread activity. Avoid posts that are just a statement of fact or only require a basic answer as those posts will not foster replies and participation.
In my opinion a community is only as good as (which can be outstanding actually) as the members. What I am getting at is that we are each individually and collectively as a group responsible for the state of the union.
I see that trivial, humorous or inconsequential issues generate a lot of traffic and quite heated (never offensive in so far as I have seen) discussions. Serious topics requiring researched or thought out response rarely get much mileage and peter out to a short and untimely end. I am all for comic relief and light banter. But more of it is too much.
It is possible that CEans actively engaged in engineering are too busy to spend time on discussions except for some quickies. Some at least are put off by what appears to be blatant fishing expeditions for solutions to homework or other scholastic assignments. Personally I have some sympathy for a harassed student, whose teacher perhaps did not do a good job. Though not always easy, it is usually possible to tell a student genuinely in trouble from a lazy one out for a quick answer. I try to help in such cases with some attempt to guide the person into solving things for her/himself. Though I do not like private messaging, I have used that also when I felt that the issue was specific to the person and not of general interest.
I am in the minority when I argue that IPR is irrelevant. If someone makes money out of some lead given by me that person deserves it for putting in the effort to make it work, which nobody prevented me from doing if I wanted to. I am not talking here about detailed engineering or technical consultancy, which is a specialist service for which a person is entitled for compensation. Even here the responder should not put his views in the public domain, in which case any one that has access is automatically enabled to use the ideas.
I for one am not too much for rewards, virtual or real. If CE comes out with a scheme of rewards, there should be an option to decline such. I can make 1500 posts like 'Oh, yeah?' and be called a mentor, which does not make me a mentor. We were talking of labels in another thread. Are not these labels?
Perhaps each one should make a resolution to start at least one serious discussion/month. She/he should keep it going for a reasonable time by supplementary info. Likewise each should make at least one non trivial response at least once a week. I do not know how much effort is needed to put up an optional reminder service for potential people, who want to do this in case they ask for such a reminder. I usually try to do this.. I do another thing. Whenever I am in any discussion or at work I keep asking myself:'Is this a valid discussion for posting in CE?'. This has become semi automatic and in no way intrudes into the conscious mind. At times if I am at a comp, I quickly put the idea in a word file which I later post on CE when free.
However, what all this implies takes the argument back to the start. The individual has to put in an effort to make CE outstanding.

I have been meaning to put in my response to the core issues raised by K. Could find time only now.

Let us "Just do it" not as in the NIKE ad but as described in this blog:
https://dirtsimple.org/2006/07/hidden-meaning-of-just-do-it.html
Kaustubh Katdare
Kaustubh Katdare • May 15, 2012
^ Got me thinking. Some of the questions that popped up after reading above posts are exactly the same questions ash & I discussed few years ago.

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