So, we have a burning question for you all... :)

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Dave_HH Posted: Fri, Feb 22 2013 8:43 PM

Hi All and Happy Friday! Smile


So, I'm writing in to understand your perspective on something here.  It's a very important word to those of us in the web biz these days.  It's called "engagement."

We've been on the net now for well over a decade.  We've evolved over the years, from a PC enthusiasts, components and DIY hobby site, to a full-fledged Tech magazine and forum community, offering reviews and news on leading-edge computing technologies, not just PC parts.  We cover it all now; everything that, if you're a "techy" really matters.

Over the years we've developed a fairly large community of daily readers and forum members, of which you all are a valued and appreciated part of the common good here.

What I have been baffled by on occasion, though we provide the tools and access, is the lack of interaction in the daily happenings of the site.  Comments in the news and here in the forum, one would think, would be more robust than they are now.

So my question is: What are we doing wrong?  Is the system not easy enough to use? Do we have some access issue I'm unaware of?  Is the content not engaging enough?  What else do you need to be a part of the conversation here?

I'm asking this question sincerely, as the founder of this place, from what seems so long ago. Smile

Tell us what we need to do better or differently.   I'm (we're) listening.

Thanks!

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Dorkstar replied on Sat, Feb 23 2013 12:26 PM

I believe you need to evolve past a... magazine.  Right now the only reason to come to the site is news, and before your giveaway back in December, I honestly never was dedicated to one site.  If I wanted reviews I either googled it, or went directly to larger known sites.  This site is very broad, I really have no interest in quite a few articles written everyday.  It's looking shopping at wal-mart when you just wanted to buy a coffee.  I can go a lot of other places and get my coffee a lot faster than I could if I had to walk around wal-mart for 30 minutes, get more than I came for, and leave feeling bloated.

  I believe you need to expand out of the articles and step into something that will draw the crowd to the page.  For instance, I know many people who use PC Parts picker to build their computers, simply because it's easy to get a list together, and it automatically finds you the "best" deals out there.  Or when I'm looking for performance of a certain video card or CPU, I head over to Tom's hardware and check their hardware comparison pages.  Sure, a lot of man hours go into large projects such as the ones mentioned, but it draws people who would have otherwise never been there.  Perhaps while they're building a budget PC they see an article about a rumored price drop next week, and now you have a new follower.  

I think you guys did a great job in making this website look like it's a fully functioning page, but i'm sure many people come here, look in the forums and realize this is nothing but a fancier looking forum type website.  It seems you guys get more hits from people goggling for articles and finding user responses in the comments rather than actually coming here for the initial article.  I could be completely wrong since I can't see the individual page views, but that's the way I perceive it.

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Dave_HH replied on Sat, Feb 23 2013 2:13 PM

Interesting perspective DS but I can tell you people come here in droves for the content, the full reviews and news channel.  Yes, the forum is secondary, by design, but the forum/comments engine are also integrated. So when you comment on an article, it's populated as a thread in both the forum and on the main site.

What I would call a "sticky" feature is something we've noodled on from time to time. It's what you're referring to with your parts picker example.  We will likely be kicking ideas around again on that soon however.

Thanks for your input.

 

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Inspector replied on Sat, Feb 23 2013 6:29 PM

I don't find a need to respond to most articles i read. Mainly because i don't really have anything to say. I'm on here multiple times daily and when ever an interesting article pops up i would read it, say cool and move on. If i had to reply it probably wouldn't be too relevant to the article it self...

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realneil replied on Sat, Feb 23 2013 11:51 PM

I like to respond, but a lot of it I just don't know a lot about. As far as Phones go, mine is 7 years old. My tablet is an iPad that somebody gave to me as a present. So if I don't know what I'm talking about, I may not be comfortable posting on it.

I do like to build my own PC's but I don't build my own water cooling systems, I use AIO Coolers. I can't afford the really expensive Video Cards, but I love to learn about them. I like that this site doesn't choose favorites between hardware vendors. Everyone gets a shot at glory if they earn it.

Also, there is a lot going on in my life right now that I have to deal with, so I'm not online as much as usual. Times like these seem to happen every now and then.

Don't part with your illusions. When they are gone you may still exist, but you have ceased to live.

(Mark Twain)

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rrplay replied on Sun, Feb 24 2013 9:31 AM

I know that I have not been hanging around here as much as  I would like , and still always learn something whenever stopping by.I don't have a the latest type of smartrphones or use tablets , and may not feel comfy posting about it. But  I do feel comfy knowing that my pal Neil has an Apple product and that alone makes my day. :) 

Not all that much of a gamer, but  I do know without a doubt that I can get the same and similar performance out of whatever hardware  I come across that happens to reviewed around here by Marco and the gang.

Well anyhow I like the HH  interface and that way it is , with comment on the articles being  linked to the forums the way it is once I got accustomed to it and the HH community.

I guess I can see Dave point about being 'baffled' because  I honestly can say that at times, I actually looked forward to each day as to how some members where actually doing with some the of the off topic how your day stuff, couldn't  wait to see what they might say about something, the occasional light hearted fun stuff and HH family style bickering lol that at times it seemed like I could actually hear folks speaking.

Made some friends around here too. Still nothing could prepare me for that Major Southern Drawl that Billy Barnes has when I happened to just call him up one day and say hey :)   Neil accent not much  btw  ..maybe my Chicago accent if I have one sounded amusing to them too... I dunno  lol

Maybe it is just sort  of a transition phase in the HH cosmos of things  to coincide with changes in the tech industry, still would have to say . I liked the way the articles,reviews and content are presented around here since  I find them to included a wide variety,  easily accessible and very well presented.

Finding the time for me to participate more, has been a bit challenging lately.

 

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Dorkstar replied on Sun, Feb 24 2013 2:51 PM

I've been tossing this question around in my head since commenting on it yesterday.  (I was also slightly intoxicated at the time and had difficulty forming thoughts... who knew Tradee Joe's had $3 bottles of wine?)

I think HH is lacking interaction.  Not necessarily from site Admin's as most of you guys have addressed someone directly at least once, and that brings a feeling of user appreciation.  I'm thinking more along the lines of  "if I go here, I gain something", something can be tossed in any direction you want to throw it, however in this instance i'm talking about knowledge, or something that gives me an edge over other hardware users.  

Everywhere you look there is a technology blog somewhere, and 9 times out of 10 that blog only survives for a year, if even that long.  However, what sets apart the failures from the successes is the content within that blog.  Right now HH is a playground with only 1 swing on the swingset (and a very good swing at that), that's not necessarily bad, but if I show up without the intent to swing, I've got nothing else to play on.  

What's the average amount of time spent by an individual user on this site?  Out of say 10 articles published in one day, I read maybe 4, and comment on 2.  After I've caught up with what was published to the page today, I've got nothing else to do, and move on to something else.  However, I get a little tingle when I see someone asking technology related questions in the forum, it gives me the opportunity to interact.  Give us a reason to stick around longer, it doesn't need to be giveaways, just something "more", it doesn't have to be innovative, hell it could even be user generated.  As that not only improves the site, but also allows the loyal readers to get a feeling of satisfaction by contributing to the site.  

 

Edit: If there is anything I can do, just let me know.  I've been dabbling in writing hardware/technology news just to get my thoughts and obsessions on paper.  I'd be interested in getting more involved, I just consider myself very new to the entire technology world as I generally only did my research when building a new PC, and was left ignorant until the next build came along.

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realneil replied on Sun, Feb 24 2013 3:34 PM

This is a good point, I love to be able to answer user's questions when I'm able.

Don't part with your illusions. When they are gone you may still exist, but you have ceased to live.

(Mark Twain)

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digitaldd replied on Mon, Feb 25 2013 10:17 AM

All the big tech sites like Gizmodo, Engadget, The Verge, GDGT don't offer much if any community, its just people commenting for the sake of commenting. In other words it is just noise nothing different from reddit.  If you get to the point where you have hundreds of comments on every article then you've become PCmag or Cnet where less than 1% of the comments are worth anything. 

 

What is a shame is you have no way to ask the casual surfers that come to the site why they do not interact..

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Dorkstar replied on Mon, Feb 25 2013 11:02 AM

digitaldd:

All the big tech sites like Gizmodo, Engadget, The Verge, GDGT don't offer much if any community, its just people commenting for the sake of commenting. In other words it is just noise nothing different from reddit.  If you get to the point where you have hundreds of comments on every article then you've become PCmag or Cnet where less than 1% of the comments are worth anything. 

 

What is a shame is you have no way to ask the casual surfers that come to the site why they do not interact..

I really think that's all publicity or early adoption.  CNet has been around since I can remember using the internet, I can chalk up their success to early adoption.  However the others generally gained fame from some sort of media publicity.  In fact wasn't it Gizmodo and/or Engadget that got their hands on the Iphone 4 before release?  I look at those people, then swing over to a site like Tom's Hardware, where not only do you have people commenting on the articles, but you also have a HUGE base of people utilizing the forums.

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Dave_HH replied on Mon, Feb 25 2013 12:57 PM

I think you should "surf on over" to HH more, DS. Wink

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Dorkstar replied on Mon, Feb 25 2013 1:13 PM

Dave_HH:

I think you should "surf on over" to HH more, DS. Wink

I'm typically on HH more than any other page honestly, just been busy dealing with life's little curve balls and starting a few projects to see where they take me.  My wife has a chance at landing a decent job, assuming that happens, I'll get to be the stay at home dad while I finally have an opportunity to finish my degree.  Assuming that happens, I'll bring my surf board and head over here.

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FreeJet replied on Fri, Mar 1 2013 12:17 AM

Dave_HH:
So, I'm writing in to understand your perspective on something here.  It's a very important word to those of us in the web biz these days.  It's called "engagement."

There's another word I find appropriate as well.  It's called "saturation".  The Internet is coated with tech review sites now.  I'm an information junkie and have been ever since the World got webbed, so I sense the "flood water rising" every time I surf.

One problem I find:  there is only so much news out there and so it gets repeated or duplicated or re-hashed or whatever dude.  So which news do I pick?  The news that gets to me first.  How often does news from HotHardware get to me first?  How the heck do I know, the HH paper-boy doesn't throw it on my porch...especially in a 20-story apartment building.   This is 2013...the year of the Snake...and according to Ancient Chinese wisdom, a snake in the house website is a good omen because it means that your family will not starve...but according to Samuel L. Jackson, snakes have no @#!%& business being on an airplane.

But enough about snakes.  As you can see,  it is quite easy to be distracted and overwhelmed by the abundance of information out there. So is HotHardware "engaging"?  Uhh, yeah.  In fact, I got married to HH when you folks were generous enough to give me that diamond ring killer Marco-built computer a couple of years ago.  You can't divorce me that easily.  Yeah, I act crazy sometimes when I show up here, but  I really appreciate the work you folks put into this site.  But you got plenty of competition, my friends.

Oh, and you know how I found out about this particular thread...a week after you posted it?  I was surfing around for a fire to put out and I saw the words "burning question" .

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Dave_HH replied on Fri, Mar 1 2013 2:42 PM

FJ, WORD, on the competition, it's fierce.  Not sure there is a market that doesn't have fierce comp these days.

 

Love your perspective on things though.  Too funny!  Good to have you with us.

 

And thanks to all for your feedback!

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CDeeter replied on Fri, Mar 1 2013 11:03 PM

First of all, sorry I didn't see this sooner. I really should check the forums more often. And that brings to mind an idea, instead of it being a tab, add a box for the most recent forum posts that are not linked to a story. This would allow us to see more readily see posts like this one, and it would enable us to respond more readily to those asking questions. Plus it would draw more attention to the forums as a whole.

Second, you really need to get 2 1/2 Geeks back up and running. I wasn't kidding when I said it used to be the highlight of my techweek. One of the things I loved about it was being able to actually see the tech, instead of a static picture. Articles are nice, but actually hearing you guys discuss the pros and cons of a case or video card is much better. I would often go back and reread an article after having heard something you said. Even it's just you and Marco, that would be fine.

While I'm on the subject of videos, one thing I don't see around the web too often are build videos for case reviews. Cases are a different animal when compared to most other components, in that outside of noise and temperature, there isn't too much to benchmark. However, how easily components go into that case is something that can be shown quite nicely with video. I'm not asking for an hour long video, but long enough to show off the features you like, and don't like. Sort of like the contest build videos. Plus it would give us a nice perspective of the size of them. For me they are one of the hardest components to shop for, in that I don't know of anywhere that has them on display.

Variety is the spice of life, that's why there are so many flavors of Doritos! Big Smile And there are a few other tech sites I visit. I like Tom's for the system builder's marathon they publish regularly. It gives me a good feel for what's possible at different price points, and what kind of performance to expect from that price point. Two other running series of his I like are the Best CPU and Best GPU for the money. When people ask me what to buy I often look at those articles, and would welcome your opinions too.

Another site is Tech Report because of the work they are doing with GPU frame latency benchmarking. I feel this is an increasingly important measurement as it possible to have a high average FPS and still have high latency frames that spoil smooth gameplay.

At the end of the day though, this is the place that feels the most like home to me. Each day this is the first site I check. I may not always comment on a story, but I do read most of them. There's just something about the writing that makes me feel like I'm having a discussion with my friends. And the kind of comments that are posted have a very different feel to them on this site. Very often other sites comment threads read like an elementary school yard. I appreciate being able to discuss things without the trolling and flaming. You run a tight ship here and it shows, and it's a good thing!

Keep up the good work, I for one will be sticking around!

 

 

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Good post Craig, it's well thought out and has some good ideas too.

Don't part with your illusions. When they are gone you may still exist, but you have ceased to live.

(Mark Twain)

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3vi1 replied on Sat, Mar 2 2013 6:23 PM

[Cdeeter] >>  add a box for the most recent forum posts that are not linked to a story. 

I wholeheartedly second this.  The forums and the news articles might as well be two entirely different sites with the way it is now.  I check out the news frequently, but seldom check out what's going on in the forums.  If I could see it at a glance, I would probably participate in those discussions more.

Then again, that might be a great argument *not* to do it.  :p

What part of "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn" don't you understand?

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3vi1:
Then again, that might be a great argument *not* to do it.  :p

I like what you have to say.

One thing for sure, we may not always know what you're going to say, but we know that you're sure as hell gonna say it,......

Don't part with your illusions. When they are gone you may still exist, but you have ceased to live.

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3vi1 replied on Sat, Mar 2 2013 6:43 PM

Are you trying to say I'm opinionated?!?!...  because I have no strong feelings on that, one way or the other.  Hahaha...

What part of "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn" don't you understand?

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3vi1:
Are you trying to say I'm opinionated

 

Yeah maybe, but you usually make sense.

But what I really like is your smart-ass delivery. Smile

Don't part with your illusions. When they are gone you may still exist, but you have ceased to live.

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Dave_HH replied on Sun, Mar 3 2013 9:21 AM

3vi1:

[Cdeeter] >>  add a box for the most recent forum posts that are not linked to a story. 

I wholeheartedly second this.  The forums and the news articles might as well be two entirely different sites with the way it is now.  I check out the news frequently, but seldom check out what's going on in the forums.  If I could see it at a glance, I would probably participate in those discussions more.

Then again, that might be a great argument *not* to do it.  :p

Got it!  We'll consider better exposing the latest forum threads feature we have on the site now.  Have you seen it??  Smile  It's on the hOT Stuff on HotHardware widget, top of the right margin column on the site -- the HOT Threads Tab.  But agreed, it could be broken out on its own.

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CDeeter replied on Sun, Mar 3 2013 12:20 PM

Yes, that's the tab I was referring to. The hard part would be filtering for posts not related to articles, as they are the ones that need attention drawn to them.

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CDeeter replied on Sun, Mar 3 2013 12:23 PM

Thanks!

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