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New forums to be added? Suggestions and feedback encouraged!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014 by  
Filed under Daily Blog

July
22
2014

I think it’s well past time to breathe a little life back into the JSF Forums. The JSF forums were once a thriving community (we have nearly 30,000 members and close to 1,000,000 posts), but over the past few years new posts have died down considerably. Most of the activity these days is found in the two journal sections (the public journals and private VIP journals), and I’d like to work on changing that.

I think there are many reasons for the slowdown in posts. The popularity of social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter have certainly had a large impact, and I’ve seen that on other forums as well. I also bear some responsibility here, as I rarely post or participate on my own forums these days. I suppose part of the reason for this is because I’m more active on social media now, but also because the existing JSF forums are so bodybuilding/transformation focused.

Cycling and Running - Coming soon?

Cycling and Running – Coming soon?

So what I’d like to do is sort of broaden the scope of the forums a bit. A lot of forum members (obviously myself included) are into cycling, mountain biking, cyclocross, running, triathlons, ironmans and so on. Perhaps adding some new forums dedicated to those sports would help spark conversation?

I’m willing to give it a try, but I could really use some feedback. I don’t want to get so specialized that I add 20 new forums, but I was thinking a few general forums: road cycling, mountain biking/CX and running. Perhaps equipment forums for each of those categories, and maybe even nutrition forums specific to those sports?

I’m just spit-balling. What do YOU think? I’d love to hear your feedback, suggestions and ideas for the forums. Please feel free to post them here, on Facebook, PM me, email me… whatever. I’ll take all suggestions to heart.

Thanks!

John Stone Fitness Comments

7 Responses to “New forums to be added? Suggestions and feedback encouraged!”
  1. My feeling is the change needs to be centered around what lights your fire, particularly if increasing your own activity is a goal. Whether by chance or brilliant foresight, you named your site John Stone ‘Fitness’, leaving room for interpretation. Clearly your fitness journey has evolved, and bodybuilding is a mere memory now as cycling has consumed you. The change should probably be complete, a full transition into a primarily cycling forum. Archive the old data so it’s still accessible, end that chapter, and begin anew. I don’t thinking bringing together the gym rats and the roadies in one forum is a formula for more participation, you’ll just essentially be administering two separate forums under one umbrella with the participation in the existing ones remaining largely unchanged. People generally come to and participate in forums for a specific purpose, a common interest. I know I do. I stopped clicking over to the forums here regularly a long while ago, as bodybuilding is of little to no interest to me these days. To be honest, neither is cycling so I doubt a change in that direction would illicit more participation out of me either. I spend more time on twowiresthin these days than I do in your forums. 🙂 But I love your blog updates immensely and commenting every so often here.

    The other question I wonder about is if discussion forums are a dying breed? For all the reasons you mentioned, interacting with people via the interwebs has evolved. Are forums going by the wayside or is there still a niche? I’m honestly ignorant in this regard so I’m genuinely asking the question. I know there are still forum communities that thrive, so maybe I’m way off base here.

    And lastly, what about your own personal desires? When you started this website your were in your early 30s. At this stage of your life how much ‘forum interaction’ do you thirst for these days? Or have time for? Considering what your typical day looks like currently, do you have room for the amount of forum interaction at a level at or near what it used to be considering all the other online platforms you have to tend to that weren’t there 13 years ago?

    So my two cents, for whatever it’s worth, is that dialing in your forums as opposed to broadening them may be what will lead to increased participation from others and yourself. And then, is trying to reignite that platform for JSF even a worthwhile endeavor both for the community you enjoy serving and yourself, or is there a better alternative?

    Damn that turned into a novel real quick. Somebody shut me the hell up.

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    • Thanks for the excellent feedback, Dan.

      I definitely disagree with your idea of making the weight training, fat loss and other existing forum content read-only. Not only am I still personally involved with fat loss and weight training (I love weight training, and it will always be a part of my life), but the JSF forums have always been about about much more than me and my personal interests. In fact, topics like weight training, fat loss and transformation are the very foundation of JSF and that will never change. Why stop people from posting to those threads or creating new posts about those subjects? It just doesn’t make sense to me on any level. So, while I appreciate the feedback, the suggestion to close those sections of the forum is 100% off the table.

      To your second point, about forums being a dying breed, I tend to agree. I’ve noticed that many forums the size of JSF’s forum, and some even a little bigger, have all seen slowdowns, or closed all together (not talking specifically about fitness forums, either). Some of the largest forums, like bodybuilding.com, continue to do well, but they are the exception. Most small forums are dead and gone.

      As for the amount of time I wish to spend on the forums, you’re on target there. My life has changed a lot since I started JSF more than 11 years ago. These days I’m putting much more time into my training, my career, my family and my friends. I also put a lot more effort into this site (the main site), especially my daily blog. Back in the day many of my blogs were just quick, “Busy morning, going to hit the weights (back and biceps) and get to work. Have a great day!” These days I tend to write more (hopefully) informative, in-depth and useful daily blogs, and that’s where I like to spend my JSF time. That said, I love good discussions, and can certainly carve out a little time each day to spend on the forums.

      The interesting thing is that traffic to the forums has not changed much. There are still hundreds of people browsing the forums at any given moment (as I type this the number of people on the forums is 854). Daily traffic to the main site (excluding previous spikes from when my transformation goes viral) has never been higher than it is now.

      So the people are there, but I truly have no idea if expanding the forums is something that people want. I’m merely posing the question, and hoping to get some feedback that can help guide my actions.

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  2. Disagree with the above post. Look at the views for any given forum — They are pretty high. So, even though not posting, a lot of people are looking, so there is lots of interest. And there is certainly more interest than there would be if the site was converted to nothing but cycling (more people are into general fitness than hardcore cycling). I like John’s idea of broadening it a bit, and adding a few new forums.

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    • But is it views or participation he’s trying to increase?

      A conversion of sorts would certainly drop interest in a number of current members, but may reinvigorate participation via new members and from himself, which was a stated goal. Again, not promoting John Stone Cycling here, just saying I think the cycling aspect should be at the forefront just as bodybuilding has been up till now.

      And all the existing bodybuilding forums would still be ‘viewable’, just the focus of the forums as a whole may benefit by switching. The general fitness aspect can remain unchanged even if the focus does.

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    • Thanks Joe, and you’re right–the people are still there, they just aren’t posting as much. I see no downside to expanding the forums a bit, and a lot of downside to closing down sections (I elaborated on this in my reply to Dan). Really appreciate the feedback.

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  3. I think expanding the topics a bit is a great idea. The info and experience of other members on the forums is still top-notch, and we regulars do love the community here. But I can see how it is a bit narrow.

    I see a lot of chatter about certain topics in particular member’s journals–there is a lot of discussion about running, for example, but if a member isn’t hitting specific journals, that member wouldn’t know the discussion is happening and would never participate.

    I recently had an issue with my bike–a stiff link not feeding through the cogs cleanly. I trust JSF members offering advice, but posting about bike repairs in General Discussion would get lost. I could ask in a specific member’s journal, but then I’m only getting one answer…though at least it would have been Philly Dude’s, so likely humorous.

    I got my answers elsewhere and fixed the chain, but now even my experience and knowledge (limited though it is) won’t reach other forum members who might experience a similar thing.

    So I’m all for expansion and revitalization!

    Jaer

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