Random LISNews Bits Again

I forgot all about these notes I took during the WebJunction talk at CIL in March. This is just a bunch of random thoughts inspired by what they were talking about. I might have touched on some of these already, and some of these will be worked into my talk @LITA this fall. So I thought I'd post them here and see if I could get any feedback.

A couple of neat phrases they used "Nonstop community to learn" and "Blended Librarians Online Community"

An open and diverse librarian community devoted to educating and informing it's members and the entire information science profession. We bring together diverse viewpoints and people that might otherwise never meet and interact. People are free to share their ideas and beliefs in an open forum. You could think of LISNews as an ideas portal, where people devoted to keeping current and sharing news meet to share and educate each other.

LISNews brings together a truly diverse group of people interested in libraries in a uniquely collaborative and creative environment that enables encourages the open exchange of ideas.

Can we do original reporting me? Our original reporting would be a new and fresh voice, the first new voice in decades and something not supported by advertisements.

As a blogger I've learned there is no way to engage people (that is, make people participate), they must engage themselves. The best thing to do is post things that interest you. The best way to encourage participation and engagement is to make the site available

There is no way to force people to participate or even visit the site. Gentle reminders like what Tara does weekly for Research Buzz would certainly help. We should really start doing that. Building site audience only encourages participation with participation comes better content, which brings more people, which raises participation… and so on. To what end? What do I gain if we get a million people visiting LISNews every day? I have no idea.

Its not really up to us as managers of the site to create participation and content. It's up to us to provide the tools, provide the opportunity for participation and allow people to find it themselves. By moderating or controlling the discussions in more than we do we'd probably stifle discussions rather than encouraging them. I've always been very hands off.

So how do we raise the LISNews profile? How do we make LISNews a respectable and integral part of every librarians daily routine? We post stories that matter, we provide good content in an open environment. We report the numbers, everyone can submit and comment, things are very open. We make the site easier to use. We make all the content easily accessible. We encourage friendly relations.

The site is heavily personalizable. While usability isn't our strongest suit, much of what Slashcode does well is personalizable. Very few people use much of what the site can do. It's all just a pain in the ass, who has the time.

We are underutilizing our sections. Each section could have an editor, or 2 or 3 that would be responsible for everything that goes on there. They would be good advocates for the site and would help to raise our profile and standing in the profession. Is thinking of the site as different sections a good thing or something that works against us by fragmenting our audience? Good question.

More integration of the three components they really think of these things as different components and separate areas within the site. Would we make the site as a hole more interesting to more people if they had their own sections? Maybe, librarians do like to specialize.

How do we get more advocates that work to promote the site and make it more high profile to more parts of the profession?

The one advantage we do have is we're not just another new blog, we're the original, one of the first. We were the first to have RSS feeds, open commenting, and multiple authors. We're an established site that has been around for ages. I think what we do is a sustainable model in the blog space.

What about our participation rates? Is it low? Is it important that we have 50% of users logging on any month, or is it better that we have 40,000 unique IP addresses a month, more lurkers than participants? I'd say more the former, because if people participate it's more interesting. A million lurkers don't entertain, but 10 active participants will.

What’s the Center of LISNews and how do people decide to participate? What are our strengths and why do people keep coming back? What's our hook?

A few different monthly things would be good. Enough so that once a week a "something of the month" shows up on the homepage. I'd look forward to that. Another monthly thing would be some kind of monthly summary that happened on each section. Bentley's blog summary on Monday's is my favorite part of the site right now.

We need to start pushing more things out by email to more people, more blogs, more lists and all that jazz. We need better content to push out to people. We have so much stuff, I know a lot of it is overlooked.

Comments

your thoughtfulness and your continuing reevaluation of how LISNews works is very valuable. You're right, it is a work in progress. Part of what makes it work is that it has personality,and personalitIES...people are what make the site interesting. And a sense of humor makes it more fun (ergo, the "skank" business).

My only point of disagreement with you Blake is the the site is certainly not A HOLE (sorry, my proofreader coming out)..

I've learned from some industry consultants that 10% participation (posting at least once in one way or another) was (still is?) considered the standard for online participation (beyond lurking). At WebJunction we are very interested in the number of unique IP visits to the site because we know that a lot of our value to the library community is there before you register, or login. But we are also constantly engaged in moving our visitors through a trajectroy that looks something like this: (1) awareness (2) visit (3) repeat visit (4) registration (5) participation (take a course, contribute an article, say something) (6) get involved (for this last one, we have a number of volunteer roles about the community such as editor, advocate, moderator, etc. You can view these from our Community Center > Get Involved area.) We've hit the 50% participation number if you count course enrollment, but that still seems a bit passive to me; when we hit 10% participation for conversation and/or contributions, I will smile quietly to myself, and then keep on facilitating...People do really like to feel like they are a part of something. Our active "get involved" groups meet quarterly (in a live meeting space and/or on the phone) and talk about the site going-ons, and its purpose/meaning in library land. I think that really helps folks feel engaged and a part of things - to have that connection beyond our online environment.

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