Why isn't the Asterisk more popular?

Introductions, Rules, Announcements, and Feedback
User avatar
RJN
Baffled Boffin
Posts: 1493
Joined: Sat Jul 24, 2004 1:58 pm
Location: Michigan Tech

Why isn't the Asterisk more popular?

Post by RJN » Thu Feb 25, 2010 3:44 pm

Although biased, I find myself really liking the redesign of the Asterisk. For one thing, it just makes the forum more fun to browse -- for me, anyway. For another, I think it is a better voluntary support mechanism for APOD. Next, another plus in my book is that the Asterisk is now more geared toward discussing current space events and images, and less geared toward discussing people's own speculative theories. Perhaps the Asterisk now leads the web in "rapid topicality" in space items, being much faster and broader, for example, than APOD can be.

Perhaps such thoughts are egoistical, but I do wonder why the newly redesigned Asterisk has not become more popular than it is. The main "trunk" link from the APOD front page is creating at a trickle of prospective new members to browse the greater board every day, but very few of them are staying past their initial foray. Why not?

Tuesday's APOD (2010 February 23) mentioned and pointed right at the Asterisk which gave me another angle to see how "the public" might view the new Asterisk. The main discussion link was popular (over 5000 views) and did lead to a very interesting discussion of those strange air ripples, the deepest scientific discussion of the ripples of which I am aware. Still, given the Asterisk attendance numbers today, few have stuck around to contribute images or social bookmarks, or even browse those posted by bystander and others. Why not?

Are people today already committed to their own social networking sites? Are those who follow the BAUT forum, the space.com forum, Facebook discussions, or leave comments on Bad Astronomy, etc., already committed there and have little want for "yet another astronomy forum?" Or is our discussion too technical so that the average browser feels too intimidated to post? Or is it that the Asterisk doesn't carry the "NASA brand" that APOD does?

Now as I said before, I enjoy the Asterisk just as it is and do not need to see it change at all (beyond minor updates, topical updates, and continued spam removal). Since becoming more active again, I see better and feel closer to the established board members who have been here for many years. Nevertheless, a forum with perhaps twice the current active members might make the Asterisk even more vibrant and interesting for everyone. Any thoughts on how to get there?

- RJN

User avatar
rstevenson
Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?
Posts: 2588
Joined: Fri Mar 28, 2008 1:24 pm
Location: Dartmouth, NS, Canada

Re: Why isn't the Asterisk more popular?

Post by rstevenson » Thu Feb 25, 2010 5:59 pm

Some immediate reactions to your question...

It may well be the density and quality of the information in many of the posts here that causes some to run for the hills. I try not to be terminally cynical, but I have noticed in my six and a bit decades on this planet that a very large percentage of the "general public" have little or no interest in science, nor do they have any understanding of the scientific basis of our lives. So rather than being intimidated by what they find here if they drop in, I'd say they just aren't interested enough to come back for more.

A completely unrelated reason would be time constraints. I spend an hour or more a day here (and in the exploration of links I find here) over the course of a few separate visits each day. I'd bet many people can't devote that much time. If I had a life, I couldn't. :)

As to posting new topics, that may indeed come down to intimidation, to an extent. The topics being posted by the regulars are excellent and create, in effect, a high barrier to participation.

The recent changes have made a big difference in the way I perceive the Asterisk -- for the better, I should add. I expect this will, in the long run, create a solid fan base of lurkers, readers and occasional commenters. Whether or not it also leads to new topic posters remains to be seen.

Some things to consider...
Are there blogs pointing back to the Asterisk?
Is it being mentioned elsewhere on the web regularly?
Can you get the four or five largest astronomy sites in the world to mention the Asterisk in a small article about its recent changes? (Write the article for them, of course.)

Rob

User avatar
BMAONE23
Commentator Model 1.23
Posts: 4076
Joined: Wed Feb 23, 2005 6:55 pm
Location: California

Re: Why isn't the Asterisk more popular?

Post by BMAONE23 » Thu Feb 25, 2010 8:17 pm

I visit the Asterisk probably 3 times a day and almost every day, and APOD daily, unless I'm on vacation.
Insofar as the Social Bookmarks go I have attempted to submit 4 or 5 since the page was initiated but
some innocent Bystander has beat me to the post (keep up the good work bystander). I can't speak for
popularity or a lack thereof in the realm of newbies but once hooked, the path to regularity is just A Pod away.

User avatar
neufer
Vacationer at Tralfamadore
Posts: 16153
Joined: Mon Jan 21, 2008 1:57 pm
Location: Alexandria, Virginia

Why isn't the WITAMP thread more popular?

Post by neufer » Thu Feb 25, 2010 9:14 pm

rstevenson wrote:
It may well be the density and quality of the information in many of the posts here that causes some to run for the hills. ... So rather than being intimidated by what they find here if they drop in, I'd say they just aren't interested enough to come back for more.
I know that I, for one, feel a little intimidated by Chris. :roll:
Art Neuendorffer

User avatar
bystander
Apathetic Retiree
Posts: 18685
Joined: Mon Aug 28, 2006 2:06 pm
Location: Oklahoma

Re: Why isn't the WITAMP thread more popular?

Post by bystander » Thu Feb 25, 2010 9:38 pm

neufer wrote:I know that I, for one, feel a little intimidated by Chris. :roll:
And I am, at times, more than a little bewildered by neufer. :? :shock: :o

The Code
2+2=5
Posts: 913
Joined: Sat Mar 07, 2009 6:39 pm
AKA: Swainy
Location: The Earth, The Milky Way, Great Britain

Re: Why isn't the Asterisk more popular?

Post by The Code » Fri Feb 26, 2010 5:09 pm

neufer wrote:I know that I, for one, feel a little intimidated by Chris.
Are you having a laugh?


I do not go to medical forums Because:
I do not understand medical technical terms. So I could not say anything interesting on there at all.


I do have other interests. :wink:

Mark
Always trying to find the answers

makc
Commodore
Posts: 2019
Joined: Tue Oct 12, 2004 5:25 pm

Re: Why isn't the Asterisk more popular?

Post by makc » Fri Feb 26, 2010 9:37 pm

mark swain wrote:I do not go to medical forums...
not even to discuss latest house m.d. episode?

StephanieOsborn
Asternaut
Posts: 1
Joined: Fri Feb 26, 2010 11:06 pm
Location: Huntsville, AL

Re: Why isn't the Asterisk more popular?

Post by StephanieOsborn » Sat Feb 27, 2010 1:28 am

Speaking as a brand newbie here - albeit someone who's enjoyed APOD for many, many years - I didn't know the Asterisk was here. I had never before noticed the little link under the picture on APOD that brings you here. I'm delighted to find others who enjoy it as much as I do.


(BTW, bg info: My graduate degree is in astronomy, my others in physics, chemistry, math; I used to work for NASA MSFC. I ADORE APOD! W00T!)

User avatar
neufer
Vacationer at Tralfamadore
Posts: 16153
Joined: Mon Jan 21, 2008 1:57 pm
Location: Alexandria, Virginia

Re: Why isn't the Asterisk more popular?

Post by neufer » Sat Feb 27, 2010 3:03 am

StephanieOsborn wrote:Speaking as a brand newbie here - albeit someone who's enjoyed APOD for many, many years - I didn't know the Asterisk was here. I had never before noticed the little link under the picture on APOD that brings you here.
Well, that should be an easy problem to fix:

Change:

< | Archive | Index | Search | Calendar | RSS | Education | About APOD | Discuss | >

To:

< | Discuss | Archive | Index | Search | Calendar | RSS | Education | About APOD | >
Art Neuendorffer

User avatar
bystander
Apathetic Retiree
Posts: 18685
Joined: Mon Aug 28, 2006 2:06 pm
Location: Oklahoma

Re: Why isn't the Asterisk more popular?

Post by bystander » Sat Feb 27, 2010 8:58 am

Welcome aboard, Stephanie. It's nice to have someone of your expertise join us.

User avatar
geckzilla
Ocular Digitator
Posts: 8973
Joined: Wed Sep 12, 2007 12:42 pm
Location: Modesto, CA

Re: Why isn't the Asterisk more popular?

Post by geckzilla » Wed Mar 03, 2010 7:40 pm

They taught me in design class to put my two best pieces first and then last in my portfolio. Those two apparently get the first and second most views. I wonder if that works for links too? I think it's the same concept.
Just call me "geck" because "zilla" is like a last name.

User avatar
RJN
Baffled Boffin
Posts: 1493
Joined: Sat Jul 24, 2004 1:58 pm
Location: Michigan Tech

Re: Why isn't the Asterisk more popular?

Post by RJN » Wed Mar 03, 2010 7:45 pm

Interesting insights. This is only part of the problem, though. It seems to me that there are a significant number of people who follow the Discuss link and browse the Asterisk forums -- but don't come back. So a related questions is: what can we do to keep more of the people who have already followed the Discuss link?

makc
Commodore
Posts: 2019
Joined: Tue Oct 12, 2004 5:25 pm

Re: Why isn't the Asterisk more popular?

Post by makc » Wed Mar 03, 2010 8:26 pm

RJN wrote:what can we do to keep more of the people who have already followed the Discuss link?
how about running astronomy related comic embedded on main forum page? xkcd style :D

seriously, they go where content is. that is, apod. if discussions were in the same page with the image (like blog comments), the problem of following "discuss" link or "staying there" wouldn't even exist.

The Code
2+2=5
Posts: 913
Joined: Sat Mar 07, 2009 6:39 pm
AKA: Swainy
Location: The Earth, The Milky Way, Great Britain

Re: Why isn't the Asterisk more popular?

Post by The Code » Thu Mar 04, 2010 1:48 am

Give the New layout time. Post more questions on your Apods. The reaction to your latest question on Apod, Is there for all to see. :wink:

Great Job All.

Mark
Always trying to find the answers

User avatar
neufer
Vacationer at Tralfamadore
Posts: 16153
Joined: Mon Jan 21, 2008 1:57 pm
Location: Alexandria, Virginia

Re: Why isn't the Asterisk more popular?

Post by neufer » Thu Mar 04, 2010 3:27 am

mark swain wrote:Give the New layout time. Post more questions on your Apods. The reaction to your latest question on Apod, Is there for all to see. :wink:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quiz wrote:
<<The first appearance of the word "Quiz" is from 1784 and means an odd person. This sense survives today in the word "quizzical". It was also used in the term quizzing glass, a common accoutrement of British Regency dandies.
Image
It later acquired a meaning of to make fun of, or to mock. How it acquired its current meaning of a test is unknown, but that sense did not appear until 1867 and then it was in the United States. The OED2 has a citation from 1847 where the word appears: "She com back and quiesed us", which could be a clue to its origin. Quiz as a test could be a corruption of the Latin Qui es, meaning "Who are you?" American Heritage says it may be from the English dialect verb quiset, meaning to question. In any case it is probably from the same root as question and inquisitive.>>
  • The Caterpillar and Alice looked at each other for some time in silence: at last the Caterpillar took the hookah out of its mouth, and addressed her in a languid, sleepy voice.

    Image
    `Who are YOU?' said the Caterpillar.

    This was not an encouraging opening for a conversation. Alice replied, rather shyly, `I--I hardly know, sir, just at present-- at least I know who I WAS when I got up this morning, but I think I must have been changed several times since then.'

    `What do you mean by that?' said the Caterpillar sternly. `Explain yourself!'

    `I can't explain MYSELF, I'm afraid, sir' said Alice, `because I'm not myself, you see.'

    `I don't see,' said the Caterpillar.

    `I'm afraid I can't put it more clearly,' Alice replied very politely, `for I can't understand it myself to begin with; and being so many different sizes in a day is very confusing.'

    `It isn't,' said the Caterpillar.

    `Well, perhaps you haven't found it so yet,' said Alice; `but when you have to turn into a chrysalis--you will some day, you know--and then after that into a butterfly, I should think you'll feel it a little queer, won't you?'

    `Not a bit,' said the Caterpillar.

    `Well, perhaps your feelings may be different,' said Alice; `all I know is, it would feel very queer to ME.'

    `You!' said the Caterpillar contemptuously. `Who are YOU?'
Art Neuendorffer

User avatar
wonderboy
Commander
Posts: 569
Joined: Sun Jan 31, 2010 11:57 am
AKA: Paul
Location: Glasgow, Scotland

Re: Why isn't the Asterisk more popular?

Post by wonderboy » Mon Apr 12, 2010 1:32 pm

mark swain wrote:
neufer wrote:I know that I, for one, feel a little intimidated by Chris.
Are you having a laugh?


I do not go to medical forums Because:
I do not understand medical technical terms. So I could not say anything interesting on there at all.


I do have other interests. :wink:

Mark

You could have fun trying to annoy the medical folks, just like I do you guys with my non chalant random stupidness hahah.


Personally I blame Neufer for the non returning apoders because of his baffling quotes (sometimes)....

Just joking neufer.



I do however, blame lack of advertising. I never knew this place existed until earlier this year when i read the voynich manuscript post which told me about an online discussion, I thought to myself.... "im gonna have some of that." If there was a big clear as day advertisment for this place i think it would be inundated with newcomers.



Paul
"I'm so fast that last night I turned off the light switch in my hotel room and was in bed before the room was dark" Muhammad Ali, faster than the speed of light?

User avatar
bystander
Apathetic Retiree
Posts: 18685
Joined: Mon Aug 28, 2006 2:06 pm
Location: Oklahoma

Re: Why isn't the Asterisk more popular?

Post by bystander » Mon Jun 07, 2010 1:18 pm

Image

User avatar
RJN
Baffled Boffin
Posts: 1493
Joined: Sat Jul 24, 2004 1:58 pm
Location: Michigan Tech

Re: Why isn't the Asterisk more popular?

Post by RJN » Mon Jun 07, 2010 2:05 pm

So are you saying we should do (another) complete Asterisk overhaul?

makc
Commodore
Posts: 2019
Joined: Tue Oct 12, 2004 5:25 pm

Re: Why isn't the Asterisk more popular?

Post by makc » Mon Jun 07, 2010 5:14 pm

yeah... how about we turn asterisk into recipe exchange? these could be themed recipes, e.g. for cat eye apod we could post/discuss this:
Cat's Eyes Ingredients:
  • 1/2c Peanut butter
  • 8 Ritz crackers
  • 1 Banana; cut into 8 slices
  • 8 Raisins
Cat's Eyes Instructions:
  • Spread peanut butter on crackers and top each with a slice of banana
  • Place a raisin in center of each banana to form a cat's eye
  • Repeat for all banana topped crackers
Source: Healthy Treats and Super Snacks for Kids

The Code
2+2=5
Posts: 913
Joined: Sat Mar 07, 2009 6:39 pm
AKA: Swainy
Location: The Earth, The Milky Way, Great Britain

Re: Why isn't the Asterisk more popular?

Post by The Code » Mon Jun 07, 2010 5:53 pm

mark swain wrote:Give the New layout time. Post more questions on your Apods. The reaction to your latest question on Apod, Is there for all to see. :wink:

Great Job All.

Mark
Since its been over 3 months, from when i posted this, The new asterisk is doing just great. And getting bigger everyday. Long may it continue .

Mark
Always trying to find the answers

User avatar
bystander
Apathetic Retiree
Posts: 18685
Joined: Mon Aug 28, 2006 2:06 pm
Location: Oklahoma

Re: Why isn't the Asterisk more popular?

Post by bystander » Mon Jun 07, 2010 6:16 pm

RJN wrote:So are you saying we should do (another) complete Asterisk overhaul?
No, just kidding. Maybe we need a marketing solution. :)

I saw the cartoon, thought it funny, and thought it would fit well here. Maybe I'm trying to be too Artsy!

mfortsm
Ensign
Posts: 22
Joined: Tue Jan 25, 2005 11:22 pm

Re: Why isn't the Asterisk more popular?

Post by mfortsm » Tue Jun 29, 2010 7:37 pm

Well let me ask a couple of questions. If I told you the name was wrong -Asterisk-and I wanted to get a picture posted to APOD again, would this hurt my chances? :?:

Second. What if I said that I have visited as a member for a while and was looking for a specific subject being discussed or possibly want to post something and frankly didn't know what location to go to as there might be more than one choice and some topic link titles were close and not clear nor to the simple point. Would this keep my image from getting on APOD? :?:

If you answer yes to either of these questions then I don't have any thing to say. :roll:

User avatar
RJN
Baffled Boffin
Posts: 1493
Joined: Sat Jul 24, 2004 1:58 pm
Location: Michigan Tech

Re: Why isn't the Asterisk more popular?

Post by RJN » Tue Jun 29, 2010 7:46 pm

No, I don't think either of those things would keep your image from being posted on APOD. First of all, we try to be fair in our image selection and those items just don't seem to matter. Second of all, you can post either of those items on the Asterisk anonymously and so we would not even be able to connect you to any submitted image. Last of all, please know that APOD rejects about 10 images for every image that eventually gets posted. Therefore, just submitting your image either by email or on the Asterisk does not mean that it will be selected for APOD, regardless of what your Asterisk posts contain. - RJN

mfortsm
Ensign
Posts: 22
Joined: Tue Jan 25, 2005 11:22 pm

Re: Why isn't the Asterisk more popular?

Post by mfortsm » Wed Jun 30, 2010 9:12 pm

I guess my lame hummor has struck again. I wasn't a bit serious about the use of images used on apod. I have been published 3 different times over the years. I did mean that the name might be a little off and I do think that the topic links should be refined or maybe shortened for a quicker eye contact. I remember when I found apod that I was and still am just blown away. My first thought at each images was HOW WAS THAT DONE. Would be nice if the creators could answer visitors questions somehow. Once again my appologies for my foul sir, did not think you would take me serious.

User avatar
Chris Peterson
Abominable Snowman
Posts: 14458
Joined: Wed Jan 31, 2007 11:13 pm
Location: Guffey, Colorado, USA

Re: Why isn't the Asterisk more popular?

Post by Chris Peterson » Wed Jun 30, 2010 9:44 pm

mfortsm wrote:Would be nice if the creators could answer visitors questions somehow.
While this doesn't happen everyday, neither is it all that uncommon.
Chris

*****************************************
Chris L Peterson
Cloudbait Observatory
http://www.cloudbait.com