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Member Of The Month - Time for a change? Please give your opinion.


Fossildude19

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On 4/3/2024 at 1:01 PM, rocket said:

Did we stop the MOTM? No one voted in Feb and March :unsure:

 

We are currently looking at changing the Format, from every month to a less frequent focus on certain deserving members.

 

Then nature of the Forum's participation has changed, and people who may not have been frequent posters, but have contributed great content in the past have yet to be recognized. And people who participate or post a lot, do not seem to be posting Forum wide, ...  but just focus on ID's, sharing their finds, or asking about the veracity of purchased finds.

 

There is demonstrably NOT as much forum-wide participation as there once was. :(

We feel this requires a change in format, to reflect the changing trends on the Forum. 
We are looking at either quarterly,  bi-monthly,  biannual,  or "at whim" focus-on feature topics, on deserving members.

 

Discussions are ongoing, and member input would be appreciated.

 

 

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    Tim    -  VETERAN SHALE SPLITTER

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34 minutes ago, Fossildude19 said:

Discussions are ongoing, and member input would be appreciated

If I've understood it correctly, members could only win MOTM once in the past.  I think they should be able to win again, as many of the long-time members continue to be very helpful on a regular basis.

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Fin Lover

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An MOTM or Time should be someone who supports the forum and makes contributions that help.

Bringing news that is interesting for many and not just wanting only names for fossils or worth. It is better to elect fewer members to the MOTM but to make sensible decisions. 

So, if we have "only" 3 in a year, it is better than to have perhaps a lot with "less contribution"

Edited by rocket
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3 hours ago, Fin Lover said:

If I've understood it correctly, members could only win MOTM once in the past.  I think they should be able to win again, as many of the long-time members continue to be very helpful on a regular basis.

 

Well, I don't think we want to get bogged down in self congratulatory loops, either. :s_confused: Something to keep in mind, anyway.

We have only allowed one win for MotM, and I think, personally, that should stand.  Please chime in, if you have differing opinions.

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    Tim    -  VETERAN SHALE SPLITTER

   MOTM.png.61350469b02f439fd4d5d77c2c69da85.png      PaleoPartner.png.30c01982e09b0cc0b7d9d6a7a21f56c6.png.a600039856933851eeea617ca3f2d15f.png     Postmaster1.jpg.900efa599049929531fa81981f028e24.jpg    VFOTM.png.f1b09c78bf88298b009b0da14ef44cf0.png  VFOTM  --- APRIL - 2015  

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"In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks."

John Muir ~ ~ ~ ~   ><))))( *>  About Me      

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It became clear early on that MOTM is a motivator device to encourage loyalty, longevity, and contributions to the Forum.  As a motivator, it has to be applied as widely as possible, thus once per member.  It may be that this device, as applied, has lost whatever effectiveness it ever had.

 

Maybe someone will think of a way to alter this motivator to have more relevance, or perhaps there is an alternative way to appeal to esteem needs.  Maybe this bit of research will offer some leads: The Decision to Share Information and Rumors: Examining the Role of Motivation in an Online Discussion Forum (aisnet.org) 

 

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http://pristis.wix.com/the-demijohn-page

 

What seest thou else

In the dark backward and abysm of time?

---Shakespeare, The Tempest

 

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Travis Stewart said it best: "No applause -- just throw money." :)

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Mark.

 

Fossil hunting is easy -- they don't run away when you shoot at them!

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Somehow it's like that in almost all forums about fossils. More and more people "just ask" and then the new members are gone again. I have no idea what can be done to change this. I tried it in another large forum and lost against the dynamics of society. TFF still has a very good level. MOTM should also only be awarded once. As already written, it is a motivation to achieve it at some point. And then to try to maintain the level

 

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10 hours ago, Harry Pristis said:

It became clear early on that MOTM is a motivator device to encourage loyalty, longevity, and contributions to the Forum.  As a motivator, it has to be applied as widely as possible, thus once per member.  It may be that this device, as applied, has lost whatever effectiveness it ever had.

 

Maybe someone will think of a way to alter this motivator to have more relevance, or perhaps there is an alternative way to appeal to esteem needs.  Maybe this bit of research will offer some leads: The Decision to Share Information and Rumors: Examining the Role of Motivation in an Online Discussion Forum (aisnet.org) 

 

 image.png.e13abac38f8bd01fdc7ae1dd96d053ba.png

 

interesting, very interesting research..., looked for something like this the last month and: here it is!

Thank you, sir! :notworthy:

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1 hour ago, rocket said:

Somehow it's like that in almost all forums about fossils. More and more people "just ask" and then the new members are gone again. I have no idea what can be done to change this. I tried it in another large forum and lost against the dynamics of society. TFF still has a very good level. MOTM should also only be awarded once. As already written, it is a motivation to achieve it at some point. And then to try to maintain the level

 

Yes, I agree. For the gamification value of the MotM-badge to work, it should only be awarded once, after a period in which the badge's core values - loyalty and contribution to the forum - can be demonstrated.

 

At the same time, I also find that it's hard to attract and bind people to online fora. It just seems to be an old and somewhat outdated way of communicating, with all the social media we have these days. Communication just seems to be much shorter and more ephemeral in the present-day, and attention is so easily drawn away by so many competing platforms with their notifications, that I think the big threshold to overcome is to actually open a website, and a specific thread within this site, in order to participate in a conversation that is both lengthy, clumsy to respond to individual messages, and connects to a lot of outside information sources. Fora, in my opinion, may just have had their best time...

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'There's nothing like millions of years of really frustrating trial and error to give a species moral fibre and, in some cases, backbone' -- Terry Pratchett

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6 hours ago, pachy-pleuro-whatnot-odon said:

 

Yes, I agree. For the gamification value of the MotM-badge to work, it should only be awarded once, after a period in which the badge's core values - loyalty and contribution to the forum - can be demonstrated.

 

At the same time, I also find that it's hard to attract and bind people to online fora. It just seems to be an old and somewhat outdated way of communicating, with all the social media we have these days. Communication just seems to be much shorter and more ephemeral in the present-day, and attention is so easily drawn away by so many competing platforms with their notifications, that I think the big threshold to overcome is to actually open a website, and a specific thread within this site, in order to participate in a conversation that is both lengthy, clumsy to respond to individual messages, and connects to a lot of outside information sources. Fora, in my opinion, may just have had their best time...


As someone who spends ample time on social media, I don’t agree. This forum is an unbelievable resource, and the information an aspiring fossil collector could want is organized here far better than anywhere else.

 

Forums haven’t really “had their time” either in my opinion. Reddit is a huge media platform based on forums. You’d think they’re competing with us, but to be honest the info there is not as organized and there are far fewer knowledgeable people on their fossil forums. 

 

The hard part of learning about fossils is not learning the information- it’s organizing what information is relevant before learning it- in my opinion. This forum does that well. If not for this forum, I would’ve burned out as a newbie. 

 

That said, I suppose participation is less than it used to be. I notice newbies who are passionate and making a bunch of posts, but I do hope that this forum sees more. I’ll refer people to it more often as the best place for learning about paleo.

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“Not only is the universe stranger than we think, it is stranger than we can think” -Werner Heisenberg 

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Additionally, as for digital rewards: 


I’m still motivated for a few, and those I’m motivated for are dished out very conditionally.

 

For example, I think admins should use rewards like the golden quill (for good writing) a tad more often. I have thought about it when writing trip reports before, and some folks like @Mikrogeophagus are definitely deserving of it. To have it visible but rare would motivate folks to write beautiful trip reports, for example- and such a goal is more accessible than a golden drool bucket- another cool award. 
 

So, that said, maybe the MoM award can be reframed into a member hall of fame type thing, like a sports league does, to recognize those who have made great contributions. It’s conditional, sure, but still an accessible and motivating goal. 
 

 

Edited by Jared C
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“Not only is the universe stranger than we think, it is stranger than we can think” -Werner Heisenberg 

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I didn't even know there was a golden quill award.

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Fin Lover

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2 hours ago, Jared C said:

So, that said, maybe the MoM award can be reframed into a member hall of fame type thing, like a sports league does, to recognize those who have made great contributions. It’s conditional, sure, but still an accessible and motivating goal. 

I like this idea...a general Member Hall of Fame. Or, since there is already a MOTM Hall of Fame, maybe something like a "Member Achievement Award" that can be awarded at the staff's discretion instead of a MOTM. 

Edited by Fin Lover
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9 hours ago, Fin Lover said:

I like this idea...a general Member Hall of Fame. Or, since there is already a MOTM Hall of Fame, maybe something like a "Member Achievement Award" that can be awarded at the staff's discretion instead of a MOTM. 

And now that I think of it a little more, a comparison to sports leagues makes a lot of sense.

 

Per game, you can be awarded VIP,  just like how per month a member can be awarded MoM. But a hall of fame induction is totally different and does not rely on or take away from a VIP award in sports. Perhaps such a system could be played on in a forum. 

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“Not only is the universe stranger than we think, it is stranger than we can think” -Werner Heisenberg 

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I think it makes sense to award prizes more sparingly. Finds of the month and year are good if they are in a fixed cycle. But all others should remain special. Otherwise they lose their value. Perhaps I'm also looking at it from a European perspective. In the US it's more about awards, diplomas and certificates, here it's used less. So I can't really judge it because most of the members are from US. But from a motivation point of view, I would think that if you are a bit more frugal, some have to try harder. 

 

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Off the top of my head I can think of a few members who have joined us in the relatively recent past who could deserve to win this award, so I think it should continue to be awarded on a regular basis, but maybe not so often, since it seems to me that the pool of potential candidates is narrowing down.

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17 hours ago, Jared C said:

As someone who spends ample time on social media, I don’t agree. This forum is an unbelievable resource, and the information an aspiring fossil collector could want is organized here far better than anywhere else.

 

Forums haven’t really “had their time” either in my opinion. Reddit is a huge media platform based on forums. You’d think they’re competing with us, but to be honest the info there is not as organized and there are far fewer knowledgeable people on their fossil forums. 

 

The hard part of learning about fossils is not learning the information- it’s organizing what information is relevant before learning it- in my opinion. This forum does that well. If not for this forum, I would’ve burned out as a newbie. 

 

That said, I suppose participation is less than it used to be. I notice newbies who are passionate and making a bunch of posts, but I do hope that this forum sees more. I’ll refer people to it more often as the best place for learning about paleo.

 

I agree that something like TFF is a good way to organise knowledge on fossils and palaeontology related topics. I'm a fervent supporter of such initiatives as well, and TFF first and foremost amongst them. At the same time, being in charge of its Dutch counterpart, I'm very aware of the issues surrounding the interactions with such a forum and new member uptake reducing. And while we, here, might acknowledge that social media aren't the most ideal channel for the exchange and safe-guarding of the collected knowledge available on TFF, the question isn't so much whether fora have lost their inherent function, but rather whether we aren't loosing out on new members as those are more focused on social media style interactions, rather than the old school message exchange proposed by fora.

 

As such, we've already come up with a way in which we would like to, at one point, reorganise the Dutch forum and website into a more social media style medium - though how and when remain to be seen and up to the amount of time I can invest (which currently is none, unfortunately). In this approach, however, we've looked at what makes people experience a threshold in interacting with our data-stores and message exchange, the core of our being, rather than looking at the specific technology through which this information is disclosed.

 

I mean, a forum is just one way of accessing and interacting with the data collected by it, though in no way the only way. Therefore, when I say fora may have had their best time, I don't mean to speak about the data captured or organised by them, and I wouldn't propose any current social medium is a better alternative - certainly not. And also, at the same time, I think there is a difference in the ease and way people interact with each of these technologies, which is useful insight to learn from.

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'There's nothing like millions of years of really frustrating trial and error to give a species moral fibre and, in some cases, backbone' -- Terry Pratchett

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We have no issues with attracting New Members. 

 

Our issue is that, most of those people are only here for a few days to get their t-rex embryo/fossil snake head/petrified turtle poop identified, or their impending purchase verified, then leave forever.

 

Some people see the value in being a member here, and stick around to learn.  Some contribute more than others. Some are good at writing up reports, some are good at taking photos, some wish to share their fossils/artwork/experiences. Just getting more people engaged is not the issue. KEEPING THEM ENGAGED HERE is where we lose out to all the youtube/instagram/tiktok/X type platforms. 


I've been on Reddit Fossil forums, and some of the "information" there is terrible. It's an echo chamber for a lot of these pareidoliasts, and while some people are knowledgeable there, there are more who are not. And any Joe Shmoe can add their two cents in. (Which is usually wrong.) The absurdity of the comments, the disrespect, and the nonsense karma farmers who think they are being funny with stupid or rude jokes is beyond irritating.  And the moderation there is a joke. I guess that is what many people want though.  :shrug:

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    Tim    -  VETERAN SHALE SPLITTER

   MOTM.png.61350469b02f439fd4d5d77c2c69da85.png      PaleoPartner.png.30c01982e09b0cc0b7d9d6a7a21f56c6.png.a600039856933851eeea617ca3f2d15f.png     Postmaster1.jpg.900efa599049929531fa81981f028e24.jpg    VFOTM.png.f1b09c78bf88298b009b0da14ef44cf0.png  VFOTM  --- APRIL - 2015  

__________________________________________________
"In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks."

John Muir ~ ~ ~ ~   ><))))( *>  About Me      

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49 minutes ago, Fossildude19 said:

KEEPING THEM ENGAGED HERE is where we lose out to all the youtube/instagram/tiktok/X type platforms.

 

I agree. I think that for a long time gamification helped counter this somewhat. However, there's a shift in engagement people are willing to bring up when it comes to forums like this. And the question is - if it should be one at all, that is - how you could counter this, lower the threshold for engagement... :Confused05:

'There's nothing like millions of years of really frustrating trial and error to give a species moral fibre and, in some cases, backbone' -- Terry Pratchett

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1 hour ago, Fossildude19 said:

 

 And the moderation there is a joke. I guess that is what many people want though.  :shrug:

seems to be..., when I see forums at facebook and other platforms the quality is really less..., of the contributions and the moderation

 

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I have tried getting several knowledgeable fossil hunters to join and they all had the same answer...that they used to be a member and left for the same reason (which I won't divulge here but am happy to share with staff).  Even after I told them I thought the issue was fixed, they still were not interested in trying again.  I don't know how to overcome that, so I just let it go at that point.  :Confused05:

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Fin Lover

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20 minutes ago, Fin Lover said:

I have tried getting several knowledgeable fossil hunters to join and they all had the same answer...that they used to be a member and left for the same reason (which I won't divulge here but am happy to share with staff).  Even after I told them I thought the issue was fixed, they still were not interested in trying again.  I don't know how to overcome that, so I just let it go at that point.  :Confused05:

:(, does not sounds good, when people go and do not like to come back...

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Perhaps some members would be willing to serve as Forum "Ambassadors" and take some printed information to fossil shows, etc. to advertise the forum.  Maybe we just need to attract a more targeted audience (someone who is interested in both learning and sharing knowledge, is already addicted to fossil hunting, etc. :)).  

 

Edit: While this doesn't solve the issue of people who used to be members and left, maybe if we advertise the "new" (upgraded) TFF, they will be willing to take another look.

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1 hour ago, rocket said:

seems to be..., when I see forums at facebook and other platforms the quality is really less..., of the contributions and the moderation

 

 

Plus, Reddit among many young people has a bad rap, it comes off as pretty musty and as a place of embarrassing indulgences in odd or disturbing forums. It makes it hard to really get into it- I always defer people to TFF there. 

 

I think simpler places like this forum will win out in the end. A community where you can know the users, ad-free, and free of drama, is a refreshing change of pace with the rest of the internet. People do crave that, so I’m optimistic that retention may yet turn around.

 

I have a big audience on socials for fossil hunting, so I think I’ll link my blogs on here. That’s a fun way to interact and it might inspire some folks to hang around here and read what other people have to say. Hope it’ll help, because I do love this place.

 

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“Not only is the universe stranger than we think, it is stranger than we can think” -Werner Heisenberg 

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1 hour ago, Fin Lover said:

Perhaps some members would be willing to serve as Forum "Ambassadors" and take some printed information to fossil shows, etc. to advertise the forum.  Maybe we just need to attract a more targeted audience (someone who is interested in both learning and sharing knowledge, is already addicted to fossil hunting, etc. :)).  


 

Surprisingly few people know about The Fossil Forum, especially the under 25 crowd, when I mention it to members of my local geology & paleontology societies, and at rock, gem and fossil shows where I show and talk about fossils. Maybe we need a good artist to make downloadable and printable “business cards” and flyers for the Forum that we all can use and pass out. Of course, we would have to get approval from the powers that be. Can you imagine the impact if the great paleontology, geology and natural history museums, had our cards and flyers.

 

I believe that Mindat , a quality, well run mineral and geology website, has outreach events and tables at events such as one of the Tucson venues.

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