Category Archives: Social Networking

Sound Off! Week – Hey! Nielsen – The Spamming Question

With a confusing system and a new form of social networking, the right way to go about getting used to Hey! Nielsen is taking one’s time. You step back, view the situation, and based on that engage the new medium with a fresh eye.

But fan movements aren’t about taking their time: for better or for worse, they are about mass movement and mass impact, something rarely associated with stopping to smell the roses. The result was a huge swarm of Jericho and Supernatural fans as they rose to the top of the charts, which is seemingly “good” based on the site’s attempt at measuring fandom. However, it was clear that in the hustle and bustle there had arisen some hard feelings. Jericho and Supernatural fans were labeled “spammers,” flooding the site with too many opinions and only focusing on a single series.

While here at Cultural Learnings we provided a certain level of warning to fans about this, we did make note that those who attacked fans for this were missing the point. This was echoed by fans who responded, upset at the lack of patience on the other side of the fence.

“To generalize our fandom like that makes me a little upset,” Supernatural fan Brooklyn writes, “because some of us know how to conduct ourselves accordingly. I also want to say that I think one reason we were so zealous is because we saw this as an opportunity to really get the word out on our notoriously over looked show.”

Similarly, Jericho fan Starfire felt “people should use the Grandmother principle: as in “What would your Grandmother think of your actions – if she would give you a pinch – don’t do it.” However, all sides agreed that a certain level of negativity is to be expected; unfortunately, however, negativity is something that can go too far.

These two fan groups, with so much in common, found themselves not only pitted against overzealous users from other areas but also against one another. A lot of this can be linked to the competitive element of the website: fans from one side trying to regain the top spot placing negative views on the other show in question.

One Supernatural fan notes that they “don’t like Jericho, but I’m not over in the sandbox mucking up thier threads. It’s silly and childish.” And many others agreed: the competitive element of the site brought out some unfortunate behaviour that is not likely to be indicative of normal internet etiquette. It became a race to become #1 as opposed to promoting their show through non-numerical, non-quantitative ways.

And I don’t understand this, I’ll be honest: Jericho and Supernatural fans have a lot in common, and attacking one another was in the best interest of no one. I understand that being #1 became important, but was not also the public perception of one’s fandom through comments/reactions part of that concern. These are two fan groups that should be working together, not at each other’s throats.

There were also other individuals who began attacking this rising fandom by placing negative reactions on all things Jericho, Supernatural, Stargate: Atlantis, Dresden Files and everything else. I think this is the exact opposite approach one should take. These fan groups were overeager, maybe, but is eagerness really such a sin?

However, these fans are not dwelling on the negativity. As Jericho fan foxgray1 notes, “I feel it is the nature of humanity for some people to be heavily defen[sive] in their own thought systems[;]…also, some people will fight just for the sake of fighting.” This attitude promotes the message I received from most fans: they accept the negative comments, feel they’re slightly out of taste, but have not been distracted from the thing that brought them there in the first place: promoting the show(s) they love.

Which is why this isn’t a problem that Hey! Nielsen can really fix. The competitive nature of the site will always bring out the worst in everyone, and it’s up to fans to keep it from surfacing and to not let it distract from the real purpose. This is a solution that is about fans, users and Hey! Nielsen being more understanding of the fandom out there, and I don’t think there’s a “plan of action” that could solve these concerns. However, really, this is more for the fans to decide. I’ll post more of their comments below, and then hopefully more might offer their own solutions to this concern.

Continue reading

9 Comments

Filed under Jericho, Social Networking, Supernatural

Sound Off! Week – Hey! Nielsen – A Land of Confusion

Sound Off! on Hey! Nielsen

A Land of Confusion

Yesterday, in discussing the problem of points of origin, it was inevitable that we’d leak into today’s issue. The established knowledge of other sites is a barrier of entry, but it is only one cause of the confusion that many fans delved further into within the comments section yesterday. Hey! Nielsen’s general design is, in itself, confusing even without any pre-existing views on what social networking represents.

WelcometoCO, a Jericho fan, found that “the Comment, Reaction, and Opinion options sound and seem like one and the same to me, and it took a long while before I could find any explanation that attempted to differentiate them. For that reason, I had already “klutzed” my way through the site and probably violated the intent for each of the options offered — becoming one of those dreaded Jericho ‘spammers’ who were so roundly criticized.”

What I want to do, based on this comment, is actually look at the intention behind the Opinion, Reaction and Comment options to attempt to figure out why they’re there, what they should be used for, and how they are confusing even once you’re used to the system (I’ll be getting to the spamming tomorrow).

Opinions

Opinions are something I equate to a message board post, but they’re also an unfortunately blank template. The purpose of an opinion is simple: expressing one’s opinion. And while I know that it is taboo to tell people what to say, I am personally open to a bit more guidance as to what makes a good or bad opinion.

Opinions have ranged from detailed analyses of new series or premiere episodes to simple statements of like or dislike without any further analysis. Are these examples of good or bad opinions? We don’t really know.

“The main detractor, as many have already said, is a lack of topic direction,” fan BlackLid noted in yesterday’s comments section. “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.”

This seems like a great way to further provide a framework to opinions: opinions about the cast could be separated from general opinions, for example. It doesn’t fix every problem, but it might provide more thought being put into each individual opinion: as BlackLid pointed out, a series of dropboxes would help in streamlining this process.

Reactions

Reactions, meanwhile, are somewhat easier to understand: you agree or disagree with an opinion. However, the problem with Reactions is that I often don’t quite know what I’m reacting to. If someone posts a negative opinion of a series, and I disagree with it, is that registered as a negative reaction to the show or to that opinion? I’m still not entirely sure, but I think it is relevant information that would (for me) clarify the situation.

Comments

I think that, in comments, there lies a great deal of the site’s content potential. In commenting, people are able to enter into a discourse, and there is a sense that each opinion is in fact a discussion, which elevates that discourse to a more interactive level.

But no one is using them: an opinion might have sixty reactions, but only 5 comments. For me, comments are an integral part of people understanding this process: you could make a great opinion, but commenting on others is just as important to the discourse that will follow. If you want to create a social networking community, comments are essential. I think that a larger focus on the importance of this element, even though it is more difficult and time-consuming than a two-click reaction, would help avoid the spamming issue as well (Which, as noted, we’ll get into with greater detail tomorrow).

Conclusion

This is not to say that it is impossible to figure the system out. There exists a certain level of quality in the organization, and it’s certainly possible to have a decent discussion. But, in the interest of more people being involved, it would be great if these three new forms of communication could be both better explained and streamlined to be as representative as possible of their true purpose. There is, in other words, light at the end of the tunnel.

“I was [confused], briefly,” says Supernatural fan Shoi. “I can see where it’s a little difficult to tell how to leave feedback, but I figured out it by going slowly and taking my time. ”

Shoi set a good example, as did several of the other fans who contacted me. However, in a world where many people don’t take their time, I believe we have plenty of suggestions on what Hey! Nielsen could do to improve. For more, continue reading below.

Continue reading

6 Comments

Filed under Jericho, Social Networking, Supernatural

Sound Off! Week – Hey! Nielsen – The Problem of Points of Origin

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.

The Problem 

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.

The Solution

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.

Continue reading

11 Comments

Filed under Jericho, Social Networking, Supernatural

Sound Off! Week: Jericho and Supernatural Fans on ‘Hey! Nielsen’

On a personal level, I think that Hey! Nielsen is an intriguing social networking experiment that, unfortunately, doesn’t fit the type of television discourse I prefer. It is a system based on popularity and volume, whereas I tend to search for more analysis-based discussion. Some users are of the same mind, but it seems like the mass hysteria keeps those elements from resonating.

But this is reasonable, because the site really isn’t designed for me. Rather, it is designed for fans who want a new way for their fandom to be measured. So, when it came time to analyze Hey! Nielsen’s performance over its first two weeks, I decided to go right to the source: the fans of Jericho, oft-covered on this blog for their passion and determination in reengaging their show, and the fans of Supernatural, who fear that their show could end up in Jericho’s boat eventually.

But the site has not met their needs, which is a consensus amongst all of those who responded to a call for feedback posted to various social networking forums. The earliest of the heavy users, these two groups have a lot to say although the main message is clear: fans want a clearer format, a better sense of direction, and to receive something out of the system. Whether or not these problems are solved may well dictate whether Hey! Nielsen can gain any level of relevance within a crowded social networking market.

Over the next week, I am going to highlight five different problems that face the site for new users, and will be posting the feedback I received from a range of Jericho and Supernatural fans. So, come back each day for another glimpse into a fan’s experience of a new social networking forum, and perhaps offer your own views if you’re a user yourself. The more opinions we get, the better Hey! Nielsen can implement these changes. This is a public beta, after all: the whole point is that feedback can and should change the existing model.

And I want to make sure that this happens.

Cultural Learnings’ Sound Off! Week

Jericho and Supernatural Fans on Hey! Nielsen

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

  • The Spamming Question

Thursday

  • Does Hey! Nielsen impact television REALLY?

Friday

  • Suggestions on Improving Hey! Nielsen

So stay tuned to Cultural Learnings for all the feedback over the next week, and be sure to have your voice heard in the comments section! We want to make sure that the voices of these fans are heard loud and clear, so that Hey! Nielsen can live up to its full potential in the months to come.

2 Comments

Filed under Jericho, Social Networking, Supernatural