Sound Off! on Hey! Nielsen
The Problem of Points of Origin
One of the problems that Hey! Nielsen faces is that the fans who reach the site are almost all primarily arriving via other forms of social networking: Message Boards, MySpace, LiveJournal, etc. The problem is that many of these people, then, are used to the systems already in place, and a whole new interface (And a confusing one: opinions, ratings, comments are all unique measurements to the site, as we’ll get to tomorrow) is nearly impossible to understand immediately.
Supernatural fan Franzi, a Livejournal user, notes that “the way livejournal works, it would never occur to one that a new opinion is like an entire livejournal post; at best, we’d think it was the start of a new comment thread and at worst, a single comment. Quite simply: we do not use social networking sites or message boards to any significant degree.” This problem is not new: a great deal of television fans are not tech savvy twenty-somethings who can easily adapt to a new social networking system.
Jericho fans, meanwhile, heard about it through their most universal form of communication: the CBS Message Boards where much of the Nuts for Jericho campaign originated (Although it has grown into a large and great series of other sites).
“I first heard about Hey!Nielsen on the CBS/Jericho Message Board,” says Jericho fan WelcometoCO. “Somebody’s posting listed a link in which you could express your interest in Hey!Nielsen.”
While Jericho fans come primarily from a message board environment, they still faced the same problem: spurred on by calls to action, they jumped into Hey! Nielsen and saw it as an avenue for their fandom. This is fandom that has been well-developed within a certain environment, but when unleashed on something different in even a direct fashion it will (inevitably) run into a few hiccups.
The Root of the Problem
Therefore, when it comes to the problems that Hey! Nielsen needs to address, the root of their confusion issue (Which will be discussed in further detail tomorrow) is that their learning has often been limited to certain systems. The large glut of social networking sites have not forced everyone into conformity, but rather created a dozen different skillsets that are not always transferrable.
In developing the site, then, this really needed to be considered. There is nothing that really explains what Hey! Nielsen is: it’s really an amalgam of Digg, with a little bit of Facebook/MySpace thrown in for good measure, but taking two popular mediums and combining them does not mean people will understand. Fans are a diverse group of people, and any new social networking site needs to reflect this within its design and mission statement.
A relative tutorial that explains what each of the site’s options is compared to other social networking forms. When I first equated “Opinions” to message board posts, fans were shocked that this was the case: if that had been done in the first place, I don’t think that there would have been the same level of problems. Creating an entire new lexicon of terms might sound like a good idea, but all it creates is confusion. Understanding those differences and adapting the system to reflect that is a great way to solve the problem fans have put forward.
For all of the Jericho and Supernatural fan responses regarding how they came to Hey! Nielsen, keep reading after the jump.
Supernatural fan Shoi learned from word of mouth:
I was linked to it by a few friends, around when it was still in an invite only stage. Later it was pointed out that signups were open, so I created an account.
All of the Jericho fans surveyed (azlady4, Starfire, WelcometoCO, foxgray1) all heard about the site through the Jericho CBS Message boards.
Hanncoll, a Supernatural fan who was instrumental in helping me gather this feedback, also discovered it through the LiveJournal Community.
I’m involved with the fan movement to promote Supernatural. Someone saw a post about Hey! Nielsen, and commented about it on an unrelated post I’d made in the promote_spn LiveJournal comm, saying she immediately thought of our campaign when she saw it.
Extending outside of that community, Supernatural fan Dana discovered it through Supernatural Underground, a site designed to give the show’s fandom a professional point of information.
The rest of the fans polled all discovered the site through LiveJournal, which shows the level to which these other social networking forums are working in bringing fans together. Now, it is most important that other sites like Hey! Nielsen start to recognize this.
It’s not too late to make your voice heard: do you have your own story to tell about transitioning between two different social networking forums? How could this have been helped by Hey! Nielsen? Would a point of origin-specific tutorial be effective in helping new users? Leave a comment below to enter the discussion!
11 responses to “Sound Off! Week – Hey! Nielsen – The Problem of Points of Origin”
Myles, some fine insights. We’ve definitely worked on addressing some more overt HOW TO language on the site, and you’ll see some more of them this week. Posts like this help further clarify not only problem issues, but can help us define some short and long-term solutions. You’re right that the interface and concept is an amalgam of the way social networks, bookmarking, and blogs sites work, so there’s definitely room for some confusion. Luckily, it’s all solvable or at least, not terribly difficult to improve with some interface and some text work. Thanks for being such a valuable voice regarding the site.
Always a pleasure, and I definitely concur on the real value of feedback. Yourself and the Hey! Nielsen team need to be commended for being incredibly open to feedback: I have personally received very quick responses, and it is clear that this beta stage is being used to provide real enhancements.
I think it’s taken some of us awhile to actually believe that this site is a work in progress, and that the call for feedback wasn’t simply an illusion of discourse.
I look forward to seeing the further growth in this area, and only hope that other users offer feedback to the level of Jericho and Supernatural fans.
While I appreciate a new venue of connect to other like-minded fans and exchanging our ideas I did find the layout of Hey! Nielsen to be somewhat restrictive and confusing. Even in posting this comment I wonder if I am going to get an email complaining about my post. This is how I felt when as a fan of Supernatural we were accused of spamming the board. That was not my intent nor do I feel it was the intent of the other fans…
The main detractor, as many have already said, is a lack of topic direction. Regardless of the site, what all social networking areas have in common is a category and then a subject to which other users can respond. There are clearly acceptable categories and clearly unacceptable ones. The lack of either in the Hey!Nielsen site for now makes it appear as only so much noise. Two possible ways to solve this would be to leave the posting open as it is now and create a site-admined set of meta tags (like de.lic.ious) to categorize a post, or to create a click-route of categories and topics (like a message board) within the site to help users find others with similar thoughts. Either way, we are more than capable of learning new modes of interaction. I am comfortable with whatever solution helps Nielsen formulate useful statistics, as long as there is a required “new login” orientation that succinctly educates everyone to use it the same way.
Though I applaud the creators of Hey!Nielsen for trying to give a wider audience some say (since we don’t all own Tivo’s and Nielsen boxes), ultimately this site will get the most feedback from whatever fan group enjoys hanging out at a site of this design. Other fandoms such as Supernatural and Jericho will go to the site in droves for small periods of time and then return to the social networking site from which they came, especially now that they have been accused of spamming.
If Hey!Nielsen was set up in a way to count the number of posts made on message boards and social networking sites about a particular show, then it might be able to observe which shows are generating the most buzz online. As it stands it is only counting what buzz is being generated on its own site, and in the long run those numbers are going to be far from accurate.
FYI, I am a Supernatural fan (who was really hoping that the Hey!Nielsen site would have turned out to be a better avenue for fans to express themselves) who hear about the site via supernatural_tv on Livejournal & The Supernatural Underground.
I’ll start off by agreeing with everything Blacklid said. I was going to bring up the idea of site-admined meta tags myself.
A tutorial on how to use the site wouldn’t be a bad idea, but what Hey! Nielsen really needs to do is let us know why we should post there. Most of us are already posting on message boards and blogs and email discussion lists, so why should we post again at Hey! Nielsen?
If Hey! Nielsen was really looking for a way to measure buzz about TV shows and actors, they should’ve just created a spider or something to troll the blogosphere looking for mentions of currently running shows and the actors who appear in them. By creating the site and giving people the idea that the opinions there matter in a way that ratings do, they changed the behaviors they were trying to measure. It’s all just Rock’em Sock’em Robots online now, with people leaving positive and negative comments for the strategic value of increasing their show’s buzz, while knocking down the competition. I’m not really sure what useful data could possibly result.
First I’d like to thank you for helping clear things up about the intentions of Jericho and Supernatural fans–and showing us what we were doing wrong in the first place.
A tutorial would help people get acclimated to the site. Or they could simply call them Opinion THREADS instead of just Opinions. I think simply adding another word to the form would have prevented a lot of this mess.
I didn’t mean to imply that we weren’t 20-somethings or that we weren’t tech savvy! Heh. It’s more that part of being tech savvy is anticipating how technology is going to work, and familiarity with livejournal sets one up to make mistakes with Hey!Nielsen. Perhaps if we weren’t familiar with anything at all online we’d actually fare better with an unfamiliar site.
Thanks for the excellent post.
“I didn’t mean to imply that we weren’t 20-somethings or that we weren’t tech savvy!”
Heh, and I didn’t mean to imply that you were all outside of these categories either. Rather, I was making the note that internet fandom is not just the stereotypical image of a computer-savvy twenty-something who can jump from network to network without a hitch. There are some individuals like this without fandom, and there are plenty who fit one of the categories, but people can’t operate expecting everyone to just “get things.”
Thanks for the feedback, everyone: I’ll be including it in further posts on some of these other issues!
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