The end of an era…
For anyone that follows me on Twitter, or has any interest in the design/development area has probably heard of a pretty swell site called Forrst.
For those of you that don’t know, I loved Forrst. The direction that it was heading was brilliant, the users on it were equally great, and the feedback that I got & provided really sparked some thoughts over what you were doing etc.
Overall, the community helped me get to know some awesome people. People that I have had the pleasure of working with in the past, in the present - and as of earlier today, in the future (I hope).
One thing that was key in Forrst’s success, I think was that it was a simple, invite only community. The people wanting to get in had to have some skills, and some demonstration of them to show these skills off.
For the intuitive amongst you, you’ll probably realise that a lot of this post up till now has been in the past tense. Yes, unfortunately, Forrst is no longer what it used to be, and I feel that now it has tipped over the edge.
So what happened to the community that I used to big-up so much, and fully supported? Well, I feel that the downfall can possibly be tied to one simple problem:
This is where the site changed. For quite a while you had to request an invite, and people would explicitly send you an invite. Your actions would then tie into their reputation & have impacts on that.
Furthermore, invites were very scarce - as the community was rather small, people wanted in fast.
Voting people in to a community is a very poor way to grow a community, and actually is the cause of the downfall.
People were now requesting an invite, and if they got 4 votes - they would be given an invite into the community. If the community actually cared about their own quality & expansion, they would actually have vetted these users, instead many simply randomly clicked through their 4 invites that they got each day. So people who probably didn’t deserve (or have the skills to get in) where getting into the community.
Elitism is crap, and that is not what an invite community is. An invite only community is one that self-manages its expansion and the ability of the users within the community. I invited many users who were just starting out in the area but benefited hugely from the ecosystem that Forrst offered.
Aside from the simple vote in system, there were bouts of ‘Invite Codes’ being given away - simply entering this code in would get the user in, something that would let *anyone* in. There was no vetting here at all. Hell, my pet dog could have got an account if he actually existed.
Too Little Too Late
This is a common comment that is made in hindsight, saying that a site should have done something different or whatever. The vote-invite system has been disabled for quite a while. However, that’s not going to increase the quality of the community.
Forrst has added some Staff to help monitor, maintain & manage the influx of crap. However, it’s hard for the staff to read every single post, especially when there’s so much. Also, when a staff member tries to amicably resolve a bad post through commenting (instead of the super-powerful admin notes area), they get jumped on by a user stating that it hasn’t fixed the situation or questioning the acceptability of it etc.
Well, I guess there’s two routes forward:
- Forrst relaunches, with reduced posting rights for all users until they have built up the priviledge (or ability) to post. This will reduce the amount of crap on the site, but might turn some people off.
Of course a relaunch should bring about a new focus to the site - removing the edge cases that are trying to get around the rules. Stop people posting links off to their sites all together, prohibit people from posting non-complete pieces. Stop people posting crap, and pointless questions that can be answered simply by Googling the answer.
- An alternative opens. With the focus, and restrictiveness that is mentioned above, and doesn’t ever fall foul to the same flaws that Forrst did at some points in its cycle. Don’t allow just anyone in, keep it invite only. Increase the moderation, add more community oriented moderation. ie. Flagging a post multiple times causes it to be unpublished.
More readily remove users’ posting rights if they post absolute inane crap, or if they have a post that is flagged more than 10 times, or whatever.
Forrst was brilliant, amazing & ideal for the problem that it solved. A lot of this was evident from its success, and the large user base that it soon accumulated. However a few poor decisions which were possibly made to increase community size without actually paying attention to community quality at the same time were its downfall.
So who wants to play with Codular?