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The Power of the loops

posted on #1
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Hard to believe it was 2014 when I first jammed here. A lot has changed the loops has grown The guys I started jamming with are not around much anymore. My first tracks had a lot of noise my equipment was not great I had much to learn but with the help of other loopers things got better met great people and most of all had lots of fun. I hope to jam here for many more years PEACE my Friends <3
posted on #2
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Posts: 246
Joined: 19.08.13
You are absolutely right! Time hurries, it seems. I could only listen to few songs but I have noticed a big fluctuation in membership, too. Some seem to be overwhelming rockets, there is a short explosion of creativity with many uploads in very short time...to short to notice the developement of the artist. :)
If someone is really interested to understand the secrets of music, this is the best place to be because of the people you meet and watch and the creation processes that develope before your eyes.
I love it. Thanks and peace, too.
Edited by Neronick on 09-09-2017 10:12
Was born in an analog world.
posted on #3
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Although it's slightly "off topic" I'm interested in why people leave and have speculated about this. With large numbers of members but a relatively smaller number who are very active I suspect that we form cliques or circles of people we follow while excluding others. It's not that others are less capable or creative, just that there's not enough time to listen to everybody, especially new members. It's easy to imagine a talented musician uploading a few tracks, not getting much feedback, and feeling like they don't belong. This is a group that deserves our attention as they may have much to give and are more likely to become financial supporters.

I know that this topic has even less to do with support for the project, yet those of us who have been around for a while and value this place shouldn't take it for granted. I can honestly say that it's my impression that if the support doesn't improve this year that this site is likely to disappear.

I'd love to hear ideas from any/all of you about how you think members could be kept and enticed to be financial contributors. I'll come back later and offer some ideas as well.

Thanks axenvocs for this post.
posted on #4
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Hey,
I noticed this thread yesterday and was wondering what kind of reaction Wades post might get, let me offer one from my end:

This threads title is "the Power of the loops", and even tho axenvocs mentions that things have changed, he also mentions the good things like the nice contacts and the motivation to improve his recording / musical skills he was able to "take" from wikiloops.
Now, I read those to be the "power" part, and as far as I can tell, they still exist and we can witness new generations of wikiloops users getting "drawn in" and experiencing what axenvocs describes.

I believe we humans do not like changes, ideally each christmas should be like that one time when we were eight years old and the world was still allright - and whenever something we like changes, we will feel irritated at first, feel we lost something.
That is part of human nature I guess.
What axenvocs describes by saying "many of the loopers I started with are not around any more", and what may be seen with an emotion of loss might as well be called "member fluctuation", and that does not have to be a bad thing.
What you make out of that really depends on your perspective, let me try to ellaborate on that a little deeper:
If we were running a car dealership kind of project here, we would be used to short customer appearances, maybe consisting of one or two visits to check out our offers, then in the best case followed by a visit to buy a car, and then hopefully not followed by another visit to complain.
We would probably appreciate visitor fluctuation in such a scenario and would not think how to improve our car park so people come back over and over again - its OK if they come back whenever they need a new car.
The second example that springs to my mind is a dentists... very different expectation towards fluctuation there as well, right?
So, let's come back to wikiloops and wonder what a healthy user fluctuation on wikiloops should look like, and if we are really that far away from that.
If we focus on "how many tracks are uploaded to wikiloops every day", then that number doesn't seem to be negatively affected by user fluctuation. No need to complain about any lack of new material there, so that doesn't seem to be it.

From what I have seen, the "problem" which Wade addresses is of a rather social kind, and it is a phenomenon that has more to do with the long term users than with newbees (and that's what axenvocs describes, too):
We all have careers of entering the loops, making positive contact with the currently active group at the time of our arrival, building musical friendships with a sub-set of the active community. That's the best phase IMO.
Now, we probably wished we could freeze that moment in time and hang out with our buddies exactly like that until we die.
Any change to that golden state will naturally appear as a loss to us, and since that feeling may come unexpected after having been very excited, I have seen a lot of long term users who expressed irritation about the experience.

Maybe I'm risking to over-simplify the process, but I'd try to sum it up with a pinch of humor as:
- I notice some folks have turned to other hobbys, "it is not as it was before" - some folks turn away at this thought (who wants to be the last to leave?).
- If I decide to try to revive my experience by collaborating with some other folks, I take a carefull look beyond my homely newsfeed and notice "holy cow, I'm overwhelmed, theres just too much out there now, and I hardly know anyone anymore" - some folks turn away here. We have forum posts stating "I feel so bad I can't keep up with all the stuff", and such negative emotions tend to drive people away, even tho they are quite irrational.
- If I still stick around, I might share my experience by opening a forum thread to publicly wonder where the good old days have gone and focus on "there must be a problem" (sorry, now that was mean - but there are quite a number of such posts). These posts rarely end up in anything constructive, there simply is no way to keep the loops from changing and the members from coming and going as they like.

Now, if you read the above and feel like: "yeah, that somehow does sound like my experience of change on wikiloops, and somehow I have found a way not to get stuck there", then it would be interesting if you would care to share what did the trick for you.

What seems the most constructive advice to avoid the experience (and let me say again, this is a long term user experience, not a new member integration issue) can be summed up like this:
- try to never end the "discovery" mode on wikiloops. If you can make it a habit to collaborate with someone who's new once a month (meaning you'll have to look for new peoples stuff first), your pool of contacts will be constantly evolving. Tying your wikiloops experience to the presence of your preferred three guys is simply not recommendable, nor does it wikiloops justice.
- Take a different view on your own role within wikiloops:
Being around for more than two years and having witnessed the positive power of wikiloops, you have something to give back. The question wether new members will get to experience what axenvocs described rests in your hands, you know it took friendly and motivating users to keep you going and improving, so instead of dropping into some kind of "I feel its not as good as it was"-emotion, you have the option to move on into
"now that I am a veteran user, I can pass on that wiki-power". There is a zillion things one can do in that field, and I believe we wouldn't be here today if there had not always been people who embraced the role of the experienced passing on the wiki vibe to new folks. Going in this direction, you will not end up back in the golden days stuck in your memory, but you may notice there are different aspects to discover about wikiloops, new challenges and a lot of room for creativity. The good old days are not coming back, but we can try to make today a good one instead of circling around that.

From the top of my head, let me list a few things you can do to re-engage with the changing community:
- If you have benefited from people giving you constructive feedback (sometimes on tracks which were really...*cough* below your todays quality level), dare to give such friendly feedback to new users. "Cool track" may be encouraging, but maybe you got some more advice to give by now?
- If you have felt "the power of the loops" the moment you had uploaded your first track, and then BOOM some phantastic veteran member remixed your first try... well, realize that you are in the position to make someones day very easily. I openly admit to having done remixes on new members wich I found phantastic players, just to motivate them.
- If you share the feeling of "It has become hard to keep track of new members" and noticed you are not alone with that, why not go back to recommending findings of new and old members tracks via the shoutbox and following those if some other veteran recommends something. I hope its clear I am not talking of self-promotion here.
Write a continuing "new members I spotted you should not miss"-blog-type of forum post. It is in your hands, and theres a lot of potential reward coming from other veterans who appreciate that.

If you follow some of those hints for a few weeks and actively play a new role of being a veteran member, I would predict you will not feel any lack of activity or have reason to overly miss your initial crowd.

I do hope it is understood that what I have been doing in this post is to try to suggest you question your perception of what the "problem" is. Of course I am monitoring and evaluating user fluctuation, and I have an interest to keep engagement as high as possible, but my role is a little different, too.
It may sound very provocative to say it this way, but ask yourself: What is better for wikiloops, someone who has a great time and takes benefit from the power of wikiloops and then moves on to something new, or someone who takes the benefit and at some point starts complaining that things are moving on?
In the end, we all need to keep moving, and wikiloops offers a great playground to move on and on.

Now, last before I end, I'd like to comment on the slight off-topic move Wade introduced by connecting the "user fluctuation" aspect to the "wikiloops funding situation". That caught me by surprise in a way, especially because I do not recall having said anything along the lines of "this site is likely to disappear".
The thing is, this site exists for 6.5 years now, and it has always been very likely to disappear since it has always relied on a few people who put in great amounts of money, time and love to keep it going.
Right now, it is not any more likely to disappear than anytime before, so I was surprised to read that's how you feel.
I'll openly admit that it does also sound a bit odd to me when people seem to be certain wikiloops will be around ten years down the road, but to predict "disappearance" is wrong in the opposite direction.

I do understand Wades visit to what you know as "the wikiloops headquarters" and the direct experience of meeting me and seeing the kind of price I'm paying for having started wikiloops must have caused the concern, and I do appreciate that in some way.
Even if you would like to offer a post on "How I felt different about wikiloops after spending a day with Dick", I wouldn't mind, and maybe that would be interesting to some.

Still, it seems important to keep two things separated:
When speaking about wikiloops, there really is no need to predict anything scary. wikiloops is online, engines running smooth, and I can see little benefit in creating doubts about that, "disappearing" has never been an option that has been publicly presented, and I have little intention to do that.
If you feel the urge to address the funding situation of wikiloops, which is indeed closely tied to what me and my family have to carry, then I'd like to ask you to do that right-out.
It definetly is one aspect belonging to wikiloops, but let's please not confuse that one aspect with the whole of wikiloops.
Not sure if you can follow my thought here, but to damage the way people see wikiloops by predicting disappearance is something I have to reject.
To try to round up support for wikiloops is something I know needs to be done (dont ask how many hours I've spent), and I appreciate any efforts to keep the thought present, just not necessarily at the expense of irritating people - just think of some potential sponsor stumbling on your statement... not done wikiloops any good there, then.


Last, to end on a constructive note:
For those who may have missed the feature, let me end by once more stating that it is quite easy to check out new members quickly, just visit the member search page at
https://www.wikiloops.com/members/finder.php
and switch the "ordered by" selector to new members.
"Sorry - had to do it!" - Les Claypool

yes, you are looking at the administrators signature.
posted on #5
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My sincere apologies if the "disappearance" reference seemed negative or something that a potential sponsor would pickup on. The intent was to stir the troops into action as funding can not be taken for granted. Those of us who are currently "supporters" may sit back feeling like we've done our bit so everything is OK. The challenge is to recognize the continuing need by encouraging others (especially new members) to become supporters by helping them fit in and helping them understand that without support the site can't exist. I don't think that would be an untrue position although it may seem negative.

I'm again thinking of the Joni Mitchell song saying "you don't know what you've got till it's gone". I personally value this site enormously, and think/hope others do as well. It's way too easy for something on the internet to seem impersonal, commercial, and quasi-permanent. Wikiloops is none of those things yet as the saying goes "the medium is the message". Developing an alternate message and recognition for the need for funding is certainly a challenge. IMHO that message needs to be clearly stated and repeated. The challenge is there for members to actively support and encourage others to do likewise.

It would be irrational for anyone here to think that you and your family will support this site forever. Why would you? If 50,000 members can't recognize and appreciate the value in what they are using/receiving why should you support them?
posted on #6
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Good read, interesting thread. Dick is right, we should try to help new users get into the whole thing.

Here is my take on why some people leave:
I noticed that for many new users there is a very brightly burning first period, with lots of uploads, spending a LOT of time here, chatting, having a lot of fun. We all tell them "be careful it's addictive" and it is :) . But then often life or the wife (or husband) intervene, and you find yourself with not as much time as before. Then there is the creativity thing: Not everybody can continue to upload track after track after track, every two or three days for years - you get "tired", suffer "wikiburnout" - the tank is empty. Also, once you get into the Loops, you tend to get more into the mixing side, and you find that this takes longer than laying down a track - so it becomes a bit more time consuming and difficult.

These in a way are all things that I noticed on me, but I also noticed it on others. That's why I pace myself - take it easy - but everyone is different. I want to be able to Wikiloop for years and years, and that's why I am happy for what Dick wrote:

"...there really is no need to predict anything scary. wikiloops is online, engines running smooth..." Toot toooooooot :D
posted on #7
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A very interesting read all round. Wade is correct that supporting new members is key to continued success and I also agree that it's hard to keep on top of all the adds - I struggle to respond to peoples' uploads I'm following or have added to a stem in truth.

At risk of wandering a tad off-topic, could I offer a potential technical solution? Feel free to ignore it but how about the following:

If someone joins the site and uploads, how about they get a 'new joiner's push'? Perhaps they get a week's worth of advertising in everyone's feeds or, better still, how about their first five uploads gets pushed onto everyone's news feed, that way the time constraint is removed? This would give all new joiners a push of exposure for a short time whilst they settle in.

I for one would be very happy to have a new joiner's uploads advertised in my feed - would really help me keep on top of it. Perhaps offer an opt-out option for existing members if they don't want this feature?

Thoughts?
Edited by mpointon on 12-09-2017 12:08
posted on #8
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Joined: 07.01.13
i am checking on new members uploads with admin tools and one thing i can tell you is : that's alot of jams posted !! i am not entirely sure you'd want this many on your feed ;)

i am very glad to be able to expand my musical horizon discovering and getting to know and interact with new members as a musician :) ... this doesn't mean i forgot old members or don't like the music that was produced until now anymore !
clusters Clusters CLUSTERS !!!!!!
posted on #9
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Joined: 25.11.13
As it is there are always new member's introductions that come up and anybody (so inclined) can check new members out as Richard stated in his post. The problem remains that few of us are so inclined or have the time to do so (just to be blunt). As OliVBee says there's just too much new stuff coming in to wind up in member's inboxes.

OK, what can be done? Here's some throw away ideas:

1. A creche for new members (maybe month by month?). They go into a group where they interact with each other but can also interact with all other members. There could be emphasis on their jamming with each other so that a support system is in place. Possibly a older member could volunteer to be a mentor to interact with the new members. I'd be up for a one month volunteer service.

2. As it is there are members who do greet new members and welcome them. If they are actually listening to what those new members post, then they could sort them into a number of groups (could tie into a different type of creche?). Among new members we'd really like to find those who are a good fit and encourage them. To be rather blunt, we're mostly 40+ years old OK to good musicians, love music and have the funds to pay for a membership. Those "good fit new members" could be promoted as people to check out/watch and interact with. A good clue is to add to a track that very active members will be watching.

3. Students of music are IMHO an untapped resource. Although we often imagine students being "poor" that's not always the case and membership costs a lot less than a a packet of cigarettes a day. Students are also used to the idea of education costing. I can't think of a better musical education than you can get here...yet it also could take some mentoring so that the student gets the most of the opportunities here. Once again, I'm volunteering to help.

These ideas don't require funding, but would require volunteers to assist. Hopefully among us we have members who have grown and benefited from what we have been provided and are willing to give back. I'm sure that there are other ideas that could come forward and I would hope that each considers what they can do rather than loading further work on Richard.
posted on #10
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I remember way back when some members here mentioned the growth of new members..and how it would be increasingly difficult to listen to them. 😎. Great idea to become a mentor. You sure helped me alot. If I could..I would help other sax players. Maybe some instrument specific volunteer mentors would be the place to start? Certainly worth thinking about. I know I would be interested 😁
posted on #11
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Spot-on, Wade.

I could certainly make more of an effort to listen to newcomers (I'm hopefully moving soon to a place where I can play my drums so my recent sporadic activity will be a thing of the past!) and will make a point of it! I'm also happy to volunteer myself to help mentor new players if they wish. It's not just about the musical support but the technical challenges of uploading good tracks (especially drums as they're a pig to record even with good gear!) too.

Perhaps a directory of 'players willing to offer support' might help?
posted on #12
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Good morning guys,
I love to see you guys are up to investing thought and time to help new people getting started and to improve the loops - seriously, that means a lot to me.
On the other hand, I notice this thread here is bouncing very much between several topics which all deserve proper thinking, and I feel somehow obliged to attempt to structure that somehow.
To tell you the bold truth, my personal objective could be summed up as:
- make sure the offered potential is put to good use
- make sure none of the good-willing end up frustrated because some of the well-intended things may have less impact than one may imagine
- make sure no-one gets the feeling wikiloops was to completely fold up in some way (hope thats already settled).
- make sure I don't spend two days on all of the above ;)

Let me try to address the "loose ends" I feel have evolved in this threads:
1st: Let's not forget this thread was started by axenvocs, I've been wondering how his feelings about our discussion here may be?
2nd: We are talking about "new member integration", "veteran member re-connecting with new members" and "turning members into supporters" at the same time.
The whole "mentorship / tutoring"-thing goes into the "new member integration" subject, and I would second Martins idea of simply offering such "service" in a forum thread "Veteran wikiloopers offering new member guidance", where each one willing to act as a mentor can introduce him- or herself, ideally with the scope of things one can tutor on. Thinking about it, one must be aware that new members might need instrument related advice, digital recording advice, gear advice, mixing & mastering advice, listening and playing for the song advice and general computer help - if the volunteer mentor only covers some instrument and some extent of some of the other fields, that should be communicated up front not to raise false expectations. Start it, and let me know how many requests you are receiving, it's a nice experiment. More about the tutoring idea a little further down.

Now, concerning the "Re-connecting old and new members"-issue,
the idea to place random new members tracks on the newsfeeds is valid, but as OliVBee pointed out, many first-time-uploads are of a rather "testy" kind, so I'm not sure that would really work unfiltered. Besides the list of new members I linked to earlier, you may always navigate to the wikiloops homepage by clicking on the logo in the top right corner - there is a random new members track featured there. There really are ways not to get stuck in a "I dont get to see the new stuff" situation, all it takes is leaving your newsfeed/profile every now and then.

Last, the "turn members into supporters"-aspect has been added to this discussion, and that is a very different aspect. While the other ideas could be summed as "improving community interaction and increasing user engagement", these things get a different spin if you aim to use them as tools to collect funds for wikiloops.
We need to collect funds to keep the ship afloat, no confusion about that, but I'd like to point out that it might be wise to address that topic outside of the other thoughts context.
Both the "new member integration" and the "veteran member re-connecting with new members" aspects are absolutely worth considering because they will improve wikiloops. If you want my honest opinion on wether they are likely to be of great help when it comes to funding the project in a short or mid-term, then I am not that sure they will, and I might have some other ideas which still need to be presented to you.
At this time, we do not even have any public numbers on funding development after the recent update, so,
I think it might be wise to hold that topic untill I have had a chance to give you an update on the current budget situation, give you an overview of which fields of activity I see and would love to get some help on, to then return to discussing budget-relevant activity.
We will have to talk about that, so much may be told, and since Wade is part of a very small group of people who chipped in with a large chunk of money to keep wikiloops around in 2017 and has just recently had a chance to take a look at what I'm putting in, I totally understand the urge to press the budget topic, and I'm touched by the protective thinking aimed at keeping me from giving more than I should.
If you insist on tying the "tutoring" idea to budget, you could add the sentence "I will only accept premium supporters requesting my mentorship" to your offering help - like I said, I'm not sure if thats the best way to connect the two things...

Let me end by saying that I really do appreciate your being out there and valuing the loops as much as you do.
I will write a follow-up thread on the current state of the project and the fields of action I am facing, which will give you a somewhat clearer idea on which kind of activity might be suitable to get involved - what should be mentioned right now is:
Your interaction right here in this thread already helps by raising awarenes.
Awarenes on "wikiloops is not invulnerable and guaranteed to be there", awarenes on "wikiloops is a project run by someone human" and awarenes on "wikiloops is only as cool as what the members have put in so far".
That awarenes may be more key to having more people eventually support the project than any added function or service.
"Sorry - had to do it!" - Les Claypool

yes, you are looking at the administrators signature.
posted on #13
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On the newbies integration topic, the idea of augmenting new members visibility by passing their new upload to other members newsfeed without following them still sounds like a nice one ... like i said i am monitoring new members' uploads to some extent with specific admin tools : this means that i could easily tag an upload (check a box or whatever) adding the upload to a pool of tracks that could be passed ...

the only downside i see is the developing time ...
clusters Clusters CLUSTERS !!!!!!
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