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Mike

The Site Is Dead - Life Support Needed

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The site has been slowly dying.  It's starting to get to the point where I'm starting to consider pulling the plug.  I'd always hoped that it would take on a life of it's own and be a place that people would use as a resource and plan their own runs, post reports on their own trips, but it's getting to the point that I can't even get interest in hosted runs.

So, I'm looking for a little life support.  What can we do to save this place?  I feel we can offer a lot better of a product than social media, but it's getting hard to compete.

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The site has been slowly dying.  It's starting to get to the point where I'm starting to consider pulling the plug.  I'd always hoped that it would take on a life of it's own and be a place that people would use as a resource and plan their own runs, post reports on their own trips, but it's getting to the point that I can't even get interest in hosted runs.
So, I'm looking for a little life support.  What can we do to save this place?  I feel we can offer a lot better of a product than social media, but it's getting hard to compete.


Social media is definitely taking away from the forums. JKO isn't what it used to be either. I honestly don't have a solution. People like the FB layout these days. I personally prefer a forum, but lately all of them have been stale.

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Yup, things always slow down in the winter on 4x4 forums.

The thing that made JC popular was there was always a group going out wheeling, even if it was the Pines 99% of the time.  Would be nice if there was some better wheeling closer than RC/AOAA.

 

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I wish I could say it was just that.  Wharton is Wharton, but it was always a good gateway to get people interested in using their Jeeps off-road.  But, the newer wave of Jeep owners seem more interested in parking lots and group stickers than wheeling.  Even if people come out, it's most likely one and done.

Take for instance the last Rock the Clock.  I got out 60+ Jeeps and gave away hundreds of  $$ worth of freebies and numbers went down.

@Ericbg83 and I did the 2 Jeep nights, getting probably around 200 different people attending, outside of existing DOR members, but no increased activity. 

I've put money into the NJ Jeep Invasion for the past 4 years, turning into maybe 5 or 6 new signups.

So basically I am looking for what could possibly be done to make people who view the site not only sign up, but stick around?  Giveaways sometimes work, but I can only do so much on my own.  I do have an idea for an online training / education / participation program than I might try to implement.  It would kind of be a self study in basic off-roading, from getting your rig ready, basic equipment ideas, basic recovery, tips for different terrains, etc.

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My schedule should allow me to attend more things this year if you're planning on hosting different rides and stuff. I'm not even on Facebook, hate to even think about signing up.

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The big difference now is that we all know each other already.  Fresh blood normally drives sites, by having N00bs asking questions, showing intrest, and bringing in new passion when things get stale.  We've always suffered from being a tight group, which I'm sure does scare a few people away.

One huge change I've seen in the last 2 to 3 years is that everyone now has their own group.  Before in the JC days, I could get 30 - 40 rigs out for a Wharton run and almost all were just random people looking to hit the trails.  Now everyone is associated with some group.  If they come out, it's only if others in their group are going.  It's actually pretty strange to see how passionate some of them are about something that all they needed to was click "like" to belong to.  

 

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2 hours ago, rich6700 said:

I do several over night camping trips in Wharton with no interest.

Pissing off my wife since way back
 

Most of the time you inform us without much lead time though. 

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I do have the ability to add groups to the site.  It's an add-on modification and is a lot more integrated than the groups on sites like JKO.  Basically a member of their site would be able to start their own group, have their own little forums area, gallery, control group members, etc.  But, there's a cost & annual cost for it, so I haven't been willing to try it out yet.   I may play around with a demo version if there is interest. 

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16 hours ago, kobbs_77 said:

I'd do recovery classes and 101 stuff quarterly.

PM coming your way

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I don't know what to tell you Mike.  I know you've poured your heart and soul into making the site a big success.  But as far as I'm concerned, the site is already a success, since I can use it to keep in contact and meet-up with you and the other friends I made back in the JC days.  If I need to contribute more money to keep it running at this level I'd be happy to help.  But I look at JKO and JK-F and see the same problems with dropping participation.  Even NJJC has half the active members we had four years ago.  Meanwhile all these social media groups keep popping-up full of people who never did anything more difficult then drive their Jeep in the snow.  I don't see that enabling groups here is going to pull anyone away from Facebook or Instagram.

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I agree with Tom about lead time on the simple runs. I wanted to go on the last one, but it was on a Friday and I couldn't get out of work. Put up a some easy runs with some advanced notice, cross post them elsewhere and I think you'd get some people. If I had any idea how to navigate the pines, I'd do it myself. 

Also, it doesn't help when people complain about how much the dislike Wharton. Maybe it's not what it used to be, and maybe you've become tired of it, but for someone who has never been or isn't as experienced it's a good time. Telling people it sucks isn't going to get them out. 

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A big part of the old JC days was spending time hanging out around the campfire. It's how the core group got to be as close as we are now, and how we really got to bring in new people. We haven't really done that outside of rock the clock.

I know the state is being more of a pain in the ass then ever. But there are still some large drive up group sites available at bodine field and a smaller campground at buttonwood that we can probably just take over the whole campsite.

Running the trails will certainly be different. Need to split up into smaller groups and go out exploring. But we can still make the trip to forked river. And we can still run in Wharton provided that no one does anything stupid.

Trying to gain traction amongst the noobs with RTC will be hard. It's a long drive. The trails are scary. But getting noobs out in the pines. Sitting around a campsite. It's damn near like meeting in a parking lot. Just with dirt trails thrown in.

And yes. I certainly agree with the timing. There would be certain camping trips I would know about for 2 months in advance. That is needed if your trying to get people out.

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I think the question really is what makes the site a success or not? 

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I like groups like Jaxons, but as most of you know that group is greener than Kermit. Ask a tech question and the only ones who will answer are Liquid, Nadel, and us. As Klink stated earlier most of these new jeepers are more interested in a parking lot event rather then an actual wheeling event. I also think many people are "scared" away by how tight of a group this is. Most of us have a history coming up on 6-7 years here. Sometimes people feel like the odd man out with our inside jokes and stories they have no affiliation with.

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3 hours ago, rmm said:

I think the question really is what makes the site a success or not? 

To me, the goal I have always had is for the site be self-sufficient - people from different areas planing their own runs and events without me having to host and post it.  

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Just now, HEAVYMETAL said:

Eric is the social media king of jeeps now.

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No, it's now WaWa's 

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I think this thread has more activity than I've seen on the site in a while.

As fresh blood is always needed, what does everyone think would bring in some noobs?

I still think events are really what draws people in.  Maybe quarterly trail runs with an overnight in one of the camp sites?  That could go a long way to letting folks plan things in advance.  

I hate to say it, but giving out DO decals once back at a campfire may actually encourage people to stick around.  

I think we also need to realize that forums are generally considered obsolete.  The fact that DO has a presence on IG and FB should continue and possibly even be a benefit if we can drive noobs back to the forum.

At the end of the day, is success measured by the supporters fully funding the forum, or that the forum has a certain level of traffic?  There is another forum I'm on that recently stated that only 1% of the users were supporters.  Mike I am a strong believer that this sight should fund itself.  I know all the $$ and effort you've put into this.  Quite frankly, I would have hoped you would be able to be making a few $$ based on the investment in time and $$ you've made.  

 

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2 hours ago, Phoenix said:

I think this thread has more activity than I've seen on the site in a while.

As fresh blood is always needed, what does everyone think would bring in some noobs?

I still think events are really what draws people in.  Maybe quarterly trail runs with an overnight in one of the camp sites?  That could go a long way to letting folks plan things in advance.  

I hate to say it, but giving out DO decals once back at a campfire may actually encourage people to stick around.  

I think we also need to realize that forums are generally considered obsolete.  The fact that DO has a presence on IG and FB should continue and possibly even be a benefit if we can drive noobs back to the forum.

At the end of the day, is success measured by the supporters fully funding the forum, or that the forum has a certain level of traffic?  There is another forum I'm on that recently stated that only 1% of the users were supporters.  Mike I am a strong believer that this sight should fund itself.  I know all the $$ and effort you've put into this.  Quite frankly, I would have hoped you would be able to be making a few $$ based on the investment in time and $$ you've made.  

 

That's my subtle attempt to get replies.  Just like when I post tech questions that I already know the answer to, it's all about searchable content. :grin:

 

Sadly, I don't pay attention to the site finances as much as I should.  I tend to spend a little carelessly if I think it will benifit the site.  For instance, I'll get a $20 subscription in and then go buy a $35 skin theme for the site.  Or, get patches made for over $250+ and then give away most of them.

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7 hours ago, Gruf said:

A big part of the old JC days was spending time hanging out around the campfire. It's how the core group got to be as close as we are now, and how we really got to bring in new people. We haven't really done that outside of rock the clock.

I know the state is being more of a pain in the ass then ever. But there are still some large drive up group sites available at bodine field and a smaller campground at buttonwood that we can probably just take over the whole campsite.

Running the trails will certainly be different. Need to split up into smaller groups and go out exploring. But we can still make the trip to forked river. And we can still run in Wharton provided that no one does anything stupid.

Trying to gain traction amongst the noobs with RTC will be hard. It's a long drive. The trails are scary. But getting noobs out in the pines. Sitting around a campsite. It's damn near like meeting in a parking lot. Just with dirt trails thrown in.

And yes. I certainly agree with the timing. There would be certain camping trips I would know about for 2 months in advance. That is needed if your trying to get people out.

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18 hours ago, bigtom said:

Most of the time you inform us without much lead time though. 

 

9 hours ago, SidSpider said:

I agree with Tom about lead time on the simple runs. I wanted to go on the last one, but it was on a Friday and I couldn't get out of work. Put up a some easy runs with some advanced notice, cross post them elsewhere and I think you'd get some people. If I had any idea how to navigate the pines, I'd do it myself. 

Also, it doesn't help when people complain about how much the dislike Wharton. Maybe it's not what it used to be, and maybe you've become tired of it, but for someone who has never been or isn't as experienced it's a good time. Telling people it sucks isn't going to get them out. 

I do want to get back to a monthly run.  My free time has just been a little too limited to pull it off the way I would want to.  To pull off Wharton and put the DOR name on it now, I want small groups.  This means multiple trail guides.  

But, I will try to get it going again and throw in a few other close destinations to keep things fresh.

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Then why don't we start with a DOR trail guides weekend in the Pines.  We take the NJDEP official maps, or lacking them, record detailed info on where we can and cannot go, then go out and GPS map all the legal trails with corresponding points of interest by day, and finalize the maps back at camp in the evening.  Maybe also in the evening we do refresher courses in laws affecting people driving in the Pines, first aid, communications and recovery.

Then six month's later, after we've put on a few rides in the Pines, we repeat the process but extend it to new people who've gone out on at least one run with us, provided they have joined the site. 

After each "trained" trail guide leads at least one group on a run they can qualify to get a "DO Pine Barrens Trail Guide" t-shirt and decal (at cost).  This way we increase our pool of guides and help increase interest in joining the site.  I remember how popular the JC SWAT and Otter t-shirts were, and maybe I can whip up something similar for trail guides.  

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24 minutes ago, Bump said:

Then why don't we start with a DOR trail guides weekend in the Pines.  We take the NJDEP official maps, or lacking them, record detailed info on where we can and cannot go, then go out and GPS map all the legal trails with corresponding points of interest by day, and finalize the maps back at camp in the evening.  Maybe also in the evening we do refresher courses in laws affecting people driving in the Pines, first aid, communications and recovery.

Then six month's later, after we've put on a few rides in the Pines, we repeat the process but extend it to new people who've gone out on at least one run with us, provided they have joined the site. 

After each "trained" trail guide leads at least one group on a run they can qualify to get a "DO Pine Barrens Trail Guide" t-shirt and decal (at cost).  This way we increase our pool of guides and help increase interest in joining the site.  I remember how popular the JC SWAT and Otter t-shirts were, and maybe I can whip up something similar for trail guides.  

I didn't get on board with the Open Trails people, simply due to several of the players involved trying to preach that they had the best interest in responsible wheeling, as they drive around in Jeeps resembling clumps of dirt, but I do want to do my part to keep access to the pines open.  This could be a good way to do that.  Colorado has a good educational group, Stay the Trail, with a lot of good practices thatI feel would work well in NJ.  

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