How to frame situation when a project has a low number of patrons


#1

Once a project has the kind of patron numbers we’re hoping projects will get, that project’s presence on Snowdrift.coop will unambiguously communicate that crowdmatching is working. But before that point, we need to think about how to frame the situation in a way that both (a) encourages more patrons to join that project, and (b) gives even those who aren’t interested in that project per se a positive feeling about crowdmatching.

We also might need to consider introducing some rules for staying on the platform, so that if a project joins but then fails to attract a meaningful number of patrons within a reasonable period of time, they don’t get to stay on the platform.

I’m thinking that some sort of “stage” framing may help. Maybe something along the lines of “attracting a crowd”, “growing the crowd”, and “maintaining the crowd”. Maybe projects could specify their own thresholds for these stages, depending on what level of support makes a meaningful difference for the project, and how big their audience is. “Attracting a crowd” would mean you’re working toward a crowd big enough to provide a basic meaningful level of support. “Growing the crowd” means you’re working to go from a basic level of support to a level that enables improvements, new public goods that couldn’t otherwise get started, etc. “Maintaining” means you’re getting the support you need to do what you want to do. You’re not trying to add to what you do, e.g. hire more people, or work full time vs. part time, etc.

I think a framing like this plus some reasonable time limit on getting past the “attracting a crowd” stage may be what we need so that all projects on Snowdrift.coop at any given time show crowdmatching in action, and not crowdmatching either not being given a proper try, or having been tried unsuccessfully.

Thoughts?


#2

Here I am again being a big bummer. :grimacing:

Generally my thoughts are very similar. We need to constantly try to be positive and optimistic about what we show and say, I just see a major obstacle in a few very important points:

  • these “stages” would have to be arbitrary in connection to the mechanism, and be subject to change over time. That removes much of its meaning.

  • I’m skeptical about superficial framing. When I personally recognize arbitrary framing I feel some strange kind of being “duped”.

In that case it is just bad numbers, and the dark side of our mechanism: we are here to make “superstars”. There is a certain pressure to be popular, there is no way around it. If we somehow got away with still finding a positive framing about it we might even be doing something wrong.

That said I like the idea of projects establishing “stages” and forcing them to describe what they expect to happen when reaching them. I could see how we allow them to change those only once a year. But it won’t help the patron morale if the project isn’t getting close to them, either :stuck_out_tongue:

It almost sound like you are searching for a magic trick to give losing a good spin. :hot_face:


#3

It almost sound like you are searching for a magic trick to give losing a good spin.

That’s really not what I’m aiming for. I’m aiming to distinguish between actually “losing” and being at an early enough stage in trying that it would be a misperception to interpret low numbers as a sign of “losing”.

I’m also trying to set up a system so that we don’t keep projects that are actually “losing” (whether due to lack of effort or whatever reason - it doesn’t matter) around on the system for too long. I think it’s fair, and important, to make it not possible for projects to stay on the platform just because “you never know, maybe someday a crowd will magically show up and wouldn’t that be great!” They should be on the platform either because they’ve succeeded in getting sustainable crowdmatching established at a meaningful level (relative to the project’s needs), or because they’re currently in the process of giving crowdmatching their best shot. If either they fail to give it their best shot or despite giving it their best shot, it doesn’t work out within a reasonable period, then I think we need a process for getting them off the platform so as not to demoralize others.


#4

That is why I think we should start with a project that is “winning” already. You bring up the interesting question whether we should – or how exactly – we should refuse our services? Given that all requirements are met (apart of the “winning”) :stuck_out_tongue:

I’m not sure we should do this at all.


#5

I agree they should be “winning” already in terms of having a large enough audience who value what they’re producing enough to be potential patrons. Have you seen my draft forms for assessing whether a project is a good fit? If not, please check out the revised versions here (not at the top but further down) and let me know in that thread if you have feedback about them.

But they obviously can’t actually be “winning” at crowdmatching itself before getting on the platform, since nobody can pledge to them until they’re on the platform. What we’re talking about here is a situation where a project that seems to have a sizable audience of potential patrons (which is part of our criteria for letting them get on the platform in the first place, per the forms I mentioned) gets on the platform but then after some time the anticipated crowd hasn’t shown up.


#6

more specifically: it will be a small crowd for at least some time. Even if it’s just one day before the crowd really grows.

So, this is about when someone shows up and is one of the early patrons, how to make sure they understand that they are early, that they should go ahead, and that they shouldn’t feel pessimistic.


#7

Maybe project pages could show how long they’ve been on the platform, and have flags like “Just joined!” “Joined in January” until they’ve been there some period of time, like maybe a year. If some sort of “recently joined” flag or flags appeared in the project listing that could help when people are browsing projects.


#8

let me be intentionally hyperbolic, pessimistic and absolute here:

How can we ever know what “small” means?
How can we ever know what “some time” means?
How can we even raise hopes of growth when there is no guarantee?

We can’t. And therefore should not. It is the only honest position.

It is embarrassing approach people with a mentality of “hold-on-we-know-this-looks-really-bad-but-wait-it-may-get-awesome-very-soon-if-you-just-give-us-your-money-too-then-it-will-really-be-awesome”

If we made sure we conveyed everything you would love people to just understand we probably could start handing out PHDs on social economics as well.

Using kinder words: let us not get taken away by all the good angles that we see in what we do, and not ask our audience to do the same. They should make use of their privilege to build an opinion based on facts that we hopefully can present. If we achieve to gain peoples trust without that we are awfully close to fool them – I want to avoid that direction despite the good motivations I see behind that.

Maybe we can come up with less direct “manipulation” and be more facts based, instead of trying incredibly hard to point out where positive facts are really, really realz for real expected from a “freetard community” :wink:

Damn I can’t help it :zipper_mouth_face:


#9

I agree with your position @mray

Perhaps simply getting the project listing in place including the history graph that you’ve mocked up is all we need. As long as people see how long a project has been on the site and that patron community is changing, that should give the perspective we need.

Either we will or won’t get the growth we hope for, and I agree that we shouldn’t try to spin the facts too much.

I do want people to at least understand the facts about the platform state, like being alpha testing vs beta and be able to judge in that light.

What about the Snowdrift project specifically?

The only question applies to the unique case of the Snowdrift project because we have been live on the site but doing very little promotion, not even announcing the pledge being available. I’m not sure we should do anything about this, but I could imagine such things as:

  • starting our own graph at the point where we first really announce and when we first have graphs (rather than from the day of first testing), or otherwise take the first 18 months or something and squish that into a shortened time on the graph for us
  • making a specific mark of when we actually announce pledging and full alpha state so that it’s understood that prior to that was more internal testing

But maybe that’s not needed.


#10

I’d generally hesitate to whip up a graph unless I know we “more or less” like what it shows. See, this kind of manipulation is ok I think :wink:
It might needlessly backfire on us, and we don’t expect people to get active either because that graph is just so low, or so high.

I can see a real benefit once we have some real data to look on.


#11

Thanks @mray and @wolftune for this helpful discussion.

Maybe the best thing is to not do anything about this to start with - not even show how long projects have been on the platform. I just checked @mray’s latest mockup of a project page on Seafile and it doesn’t include that info, though the Updates section would probably tend to give people some idea how long a project had been on the platform.

One way of looking at this is that it is not a problem for the site itself to solve, but for individual projects to solve in how they communicate when seeking more patrons. One way to provide support for that would be to have a place for some kind of high level statement from the project, with the option to have different statements for potential patrons vs. current patrons. In addition to the Updates section for general updates relevant to everyone, there would be a prominent space for a “Dear Potential Patron” / “Dear Actual Patron” type of message that could be updated from time to time as the project’s situation changes. Projects themselves could opt, if they saw fit, to present themselves in terms of goals of the sort I had in mind at the top of this post (“attracting a crowd”, “growing the crowd”, and “maintaining the crowd”), or to present themselves some other way. The key point would be that they’d have some way other than Updates to provide people with some context for their current crowd size.