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Thread: Why Such Low Forum Membership and Participation?

  1. #21
    Very Active Member Allen Stark's Avatar
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    Re: Why Such Low Forum Membership and Participation?

    I'll admit that i am an old fogey, but I find Facebook very frustrating to use. Between that frustration and it's other well publicized problems I just avoid it. i want a place where Masters Swimmers can talk about swimming that is easy to access.
    "To strive,to seek,to find,and not to yield" Tennyson
    Allen

  2. #22
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    Re: Why Such Low Forum Membership and Participation?

    Allen,

    I agree with you completely!
    Michael

  3. #23
    Participating Member Zwemmer's Avatar
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    Re: Why Such Low Forum Membership and Participation?

    Hello All:

    I just joined USMS and the forums here. So I'm new and have no clue what the old setup was like. I look forward to participating & don't have any trouble with the board itself. Though I should qualify that I have a lot of tech experience & save my frustrations for other things.

  4. #24
    Very Active Member pwb's Avatar
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    Re: Why Such Low Forum Membership and Participation?

    Quote Originally Posted by Allen Stark View Post
    I'll admit that i am an old fogey, but I find Facebook very frustrating to use. Between that frustration and it's other well publicized problems I just avoid it. i want a place where Masters Swimmers can talk about swimming that is easy to access.
    I still go to Facebook, but it's never been a medium to have any meaningful discussion. It has no organizational features by topics, unlike the Forums.

    I think USMS has done a great injustice to their members and to their future growth by not emphasizing the Forums. Most membership-driven organizations CRAVE super-engaged members, who bring new ideas, who bring people into the fold ... those are the folks who keep renewing their memberships year after year ... even before the new website, USMS didn't really promote the Forums; they let it be, but didn't encourage participation. With the new website launch, USMS effectively signaled to its membership that it was not interested in members engaging in discussion about swimming. One would never stumble upon the forums buried at the bottom of the page.

    It's really quite sad because there are many good people affiliated with USMS who want to solve the question of how to better engage their members, particularly those who don't participate in competition. They want to grow the membership ... but, IMHO, to do so, you need a forum where people can commiserate outside of the pool, a place where one can seek advice, enjoy some digital camaraderie from others who love this strange sport ... that's not going to happen at pool competitions and it often doesn't even happen during/before/after pool workouts.

    I think the forums were great ... when I discovered them in the late aughts, it was like I finally found my quirky community. I know that community is out there ... but many aren't aware we have this resource here to convene and build community.

  5. #25
    aka Elaine-iaK & Aqua Dog ElaineK's Avatar
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    Re: Why Such Low Forum Membership and Participation?

    Quote Originally Posted by pwb View Post
    I still go to Facebook, but it's never been a medium to have any meaningful discussion. It has no organizational features by topics, unlike the Forums.

    I think USMS has done a great injustice to their members and to their future growth by not emphasizing the Forums. Most membership-driven organizations CRAVE super-engaged members, who bring new ideas, who bring people into the fold ... those are the folks who keep renewing their memberships year after year ... even before the new website, USMS didn't really promote the Forums; they let it be, but didn't encourage participation. With the new website launch, USMS effectively signaled to its membership that it was not interested in members engaging in discussion about swimming. One would never stumble upon the forums buried at the bottom of the page.

    It's really quite sad because there are many good people affiliated with USMS who want to solve the question of how to better engage their members, particularly those who don't participate in competition. They want to grow the membership ... but, IMHO, to do so, you need a forum where people can commiserate outside of the pool, a place where one can seek advice, enjoy some digital camaraderie from others who love this strange sport ... that's not going to happen at pool competitions and it often doesn't even happen during/before/after pool workouts.

    I think the forums were great ... when I discovered them in the late aughts, it was like I finally found my quirky community. I know that community is out there ... but many aren't aware we have this resource here to convene and build community.

    Patrick, thank you for summing it up perfectly.
    I agree with you 100%! This is the only place I spend any time on social media, because I learn so much from people like you and King Frog. In turn, I like to try and support the newbies that join us here and give them encouragement.

    As for Facebook, I am only on there, because that is where Georgia Masters members communicate with each other at meet time. I am not even there under my real name. I took Ande's nickname for me and added "Chocolat" as my last name.
    It's just not a place I prefer to hang out, because I dislike A LOT about the site. I'm with King Frog on that croak!
    http://ElaineiaKsTravels.wordpress.com

    ~ Believing in your dreams can be far more rewarding than living by your limitations ~Karla Peterson

  6. #26
    Very Active Member Allen Stark's Avatar
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    Re: Why Such Low Forum Membership and Participation?

    If anyone from USMS is reading this, I'd recommend putting the discussion forum link at the top(where it used to be) and put up a little article on the front page for awhile (or permanently) describing the forums and their value.
    "To strive,to seek,to find,and not to yield" Tennyson
    Allen

  7. #27
    Very Active Member Chris Stevenson's Avatar
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    Re: Why Such Low Forum Membership and Participation?

    Quote Originally Posted by pwb View Post
    I think USMS has done a great injustice to their members and to their future growth by not emphasizing the Forums. Most membership-driven organizations CRAVE super-engaged members, who bring new ideas, who bring people into the fold ... those are the folks who keep renewing their memberships year after year ... even before the new website, USMS didn't really promote the Forums; they let it be but didn't encourage participation. With the new website launch, USMS effectively signaled to its membership that it was not interested in members engaging in discussion about swimming. One would never stumble upon the forums buried at the bottom of the page.
    Quote Originally Posted by Allen Stark View Post
    If anyone from USMS is reading this, I'd recommend putting the discussion forum link at the top(where it used to be) and put up a little article on the front page for a while (or permanently) describing the forums and their value.
    I agree that the forums are not adequately promoted. I don't think we can blame the new website for this, at least not completely, because I think the attitude pre-dates the new website.

    Besides the engagement and free advice, there are also the members-only workout forums. They ARE promoted on the top of the new website (as I think they should be). They are usually good workouts but what I don't see is a lot of engagement or feedback between swimmers and coaches. There should be a way to combine the best of both worlds: the expertise of the coaches and the enthusiasm (and also expertise) of the swimming nerds. But I think there is very little overlap between these two sets of people. If you look over weeks of workouts, there are usually only a very small number of "replies."

    Effective coaching, especially for novice swimmers, is not be the one-way street of posting workouts to be printed out and stuck to wet kickboards.

  8. #28
    Very Active Member Redbird Alum's Avatar
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    Re: Why Such Low Forum Membership and Participation?

    Quote Originally Posted by Allen Stark View Post
    I'll admit that i am an old fogey, but I find Facebook very frustrating to use. Between that frustration and it's other well publicized problems I just avoid it. i want a place where Masters Swimmers can talk about swimming that is easy to access.
    Hear, hear! I still go back to Ande's posts on swimming faster faster. And I'm not sure Facebook wouldn't be stuffing a Speedo or Finis ad into ever other thread response!!!


  9. #29
    Newbie Leanna Heiman's Avatar
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    Re: Why Such Low Forum Membership and Participation?

    I have had a number of issues accessing the forum. I think there IT-related issues with linking the MyUSMS with the forum.

  10. #30
    sprint diva The Fortress's Avatar
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    Re: Why Such Low Forum Membership and Participation?

    Quote Originally Posted by tjburk88 View Post
    Oh it's nice to be back in here!!! The reason some of us quit coming in here is that we got banned (usually more than once) for various reasons, some deserved and some questionable. Really nice to see a lot of the same names in here.
    Yes. Active debating was actively discouraged. The bans and warnings squelched discussion and made the forum dull. When Aquageek got a coaching job and had to become respectable, that was the final straw. For awhile, conversation switched to the blogs. But that seems to have dramatically stopped as well. Neither the forums or the blogs are promoted anymore. Sad!

  11. #31
    Very Active Member thewookiee's Avatar
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    Re: Why Such Low Forum Membership and Participation?

    Quote Originally Posted by The Fortress View Post
    Yes. Active debating was actively discouraged. The bans and warnings squelched discussion and made the forum dull. When Aquageek got a coaching job and had to become respectable, that was the final straw. For awhile, conversation switched to the blogs. But that seems to have dramatically stopped as well. Neither the forums or the blogs are promoted anymore. Sad!
    Fort,

    Not only active debating but enjoyable banter was discouraged. My best memories of the forum are when Geek, Wolf, and a few others were active and joking with each other.

    Wook.

  12. #32
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    Re: Why Such Low Forum Membership and Participation?

    This thread provides some great input and you should know that planning has been underway for some time to address many of the concerns you have shared.

    Here's a bit of background on our digital transformation, which includes our online community/forums: 2 years ago, we started to evaluate the benefits we offer and where we could improve. The forums, which include members only features like coach written workouts and blogs, are one of the benefits we provide that fall under a 'digital umbrella'. The active forums community (those that visit the forums at least once a month) has been a small percentage of membership (e.g. at that time about 2% or 1,400 members). Much of the forums content is open to the public, so not exactly a benefit exclusive to USMS members. And many of the active users are members of our highly engaged volunteer leadership that use the forums for committee communication.

    The forums are one of many components of the USMS digital strategy and we are currently in the early stages of a 3-5 year plan to modernize and improve our capabilities and the benefits we provide through My USMS. Step one was a modern website platform with a new design, which we released in April. Focus during our first phase was placed on marketing USMS to new members. The new site allows us to personalize content and target information based on preference and geography. It is fully mobile responsive (i.e. easily navigated on smart phones and tablets). We also transitioned to a more secure and stable environment among other improvements. All provide incremental benefits to our current members, create flexibility for future needs, and help us better communicate the value of USMS to prospective members.

    As active members of the forums, this group will be most interested our next phase, which is to improve the benefits and information provided behind My USMS. While we continue to fine tune the new site and improve the user experience, work is already underway to implement new and improved benefits for members based on their feedback and expectations. You will start to see some updates in the coming weeks and continued roll out of specific functions into next year.

    One of the areas on which we are focusing includes a modern online community for USMS.

    A future USMS online community that will exist as part of the My USMS portal may include the following:


    • Modern discussion forums and blogs
    • User managed profile information
    • Ability to comments on articles
    • Easier access to workouts & training plans with a better format
    • Club and event review
    • Member-to-member messaging
    • Private member-only content (i.e. articles that can only be accessed by members)
    • Modern fitness tracking (incorporating app and smart watch functionality)
    • Achievement badges
    • Fitness app integration with USMS fitness logs
    • Access to all this content on computer, tablet, phone


    Thank you for your feedback thus far. We do monitor the comments and incorporate them into our planning. Iíll continue to monitor this thread if you care to share additional thoughts or comments.
    Dawson Hughes, CEO
    U.S. Masters Swimming

  13. #33
    Very Active Member Allen Stark's Avatar
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    Re: Why Such Low Forum Membership and Participation?

    Thank you for the update. I want USMS to be successful.
    I hope that "modern" means intuitive and user friendly. My experience with Electronic Medical Records is that "modern" means unnecessarily complex and difficult to use.
    "To strive,to seek,to find,and not to yield" Tennyson
    Allen

  14. #34
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    Re: Why Such Low Forum Membership and Participation?

    Thanks Allen. To increase participation and usage, user friendly is part of the goal.
    Dawson Hughes, CEO
    U.S. Masters Swimming

  15. #35
    Very Active Member Allen Stark's Avatar
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    Re: Why Such Low Forum Membership and Participation?

    Thank you.
    "To strive,to seek,to find,and not to yield" Tennyson
    Allen

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