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You all requested, so I’m providing (as a one-time only deal) some feedback from the team based on your evaluation. Before I proceed any further, I want to tell you that these evals should be a time for your community to take a look at itself and determine how you measure up against the rest of the internet. You should take these evaluations as a chance to be critical of yourselves, take the role of the outsider coming into the site and seeing you as you are for the first time. We learned a lot from observing your self-evaluation; thank you all so much for taking the time to engage in some introspection.

The majority of our commentary about this evaluation was reflective of the how of the evaluations themselves, but I will do my best to distill the site-relevant stuff back to you.

  1. Too much trivia. Look, I love trivia. And movie buffs love trivia. But, and this is a question that deserves a meta post all its own, is that who we want here? Do we want movie trivia people or do we want those people who love the art of movies? Do we want Comic Book Guy telling us that Star Wars Ep.3 is the Worst. Ever... Or do we want the next Roger Ebert, James Berardinelli, and Laura Mulvey to be finding their voices here? Perhaps I’m being extremist, but my point remains the same: who is your audience? You all MUST figure this out, because this site feels undecided until you do.

  2. Not enough analysis. This goes pretty much hand-in-hand with the above. We’re seeing what we feel are pretty surface-level questions about various film and TV works. This is really saddening to me, because shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Battlestar Galactica (2005) or even films like The Artist and Marvel’s The Avengers have deeper, meaningful questions that can be asked, from mise en scene questions to purely character-motivation and storyline impact questions. Yes, Stack Exchange is not a discussion forum -- but multiple perspectives that are supported with evidence are perfectly acceptable and useful. We want to see either better curation of the content -- strive for better, more thoughtful questions! -- or a stronger push for analytical content.

  3. Traffic. Perhaps the least of our worries, but M&TV’s traffic is fairly flat and we’re seeing a loss of user engagement. The latter, specifically, is what worries us. We believe that the lack of really engaging content is driving away potential contributors. This is the crux of all our concerns. We are confident that addressing the above two issues will help resolve this one.

Again, thank you so much for your participation in the self-evaluation. I hope that the feedback is useful to you in deciding where to focus your efforts, whether they take the form of meta posts, chat discussions, more critiquing/edits/flagging/closing, and/or FAQ improvements. There will be more evaluations coming, so you'll have a chance to examine your progress and work towards reaching your full potential.

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    Thank you Aarthi. I've always struggled with coming up with deep questions for this site, i guess i know everything! – DForck42 Jun 8 '12 at 16:37
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I do thank you for the time @Aarthi and let me address a couple points for general reference.

The Scope of the site, while never explicitly stated, has always been for experts and enthusiasts alike.

As far as the trivia subject goes, we have a very nice write up from phwd explaining what should be expected of trivia questions; basically stating that if the asker cannot justify why the item has deep significance to the plot (think Pulp Fiction's case) then it should be closed.

As far as analysis goes, I will agree that we are lacking very much in that department, something I hope our newly launched Topic of the Week will help solve. I think our greatest problem in this department is that we haven't attracted enough experts to get really deep content.

Discussing in chat with some users, we have come to agreement that the current majority of the user base comes from enthusiasts, people who like going to the movies then asking about things they did not understand or are curious about. The next largest group are those who attend a few film appreciation classes, like to discuss some deeper meanings behind things but don't hold those types of conversations everyday, or have bigger things on their plate (this is where I fall in, personally). And then finally, we have only a handful of actual professionals.

In the next coming days I'm going to try to push for more analysis on my own content and encourage our users to do the same through Meta and some comments on answers that could be a lot deeper.

Finally, in regards to traffic, we were very pleased to see we broke 1000 visits/day when Avengers dropped, showing that we can, and should, capitalize on major movie releases and TV premieres. This, again, I hope to accomplish with Topic of the Week but obviously we could use with more user based promotions (Twitter, Facebook, G+, etc).


I am definitely taking this feedback to heart and will help work with people to better this site. I do enjoy coming here and getting in discussions in chat and when a good question comes around and would love to see it succeed :)

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    This seems to hint that the only thing important here is DEEP. Movies are only sometimes deep, and those are boring. If we want a DEEP site about boring movies, then your user base will be flatter than flat. We seem to drive the interested away too quickly be being harsh up front. – wbogacz Jun 8 '12 at 13:30
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    @wbogacz What? The Avengers has ample room for DEEP analysis, and NO ONE would call that movie boring. – Aarthi Jun 8 '12 at 15:37
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    @wbogacz Is this some kind of weird sarcasm or what? If yes, nice one, but I fear it is not. – Napoleon Wilson Jun 20 '12 at 13:12
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To be honest, I think there has to be a decision about priorities - is traffic more important, or the weight of the content?

For example, I am equally happy answering questions about Kurosawa's Drunken Angel as I am solving the riddle of why James Bond likes his drinks shaken, not stirred.

Five times as many users upvoted the Bond question as they did the Kurosawa question, and the 'shallower' Martini question was viewed over 300 more times. This isn't to say that I am advocating trivial content, but I am trying to highlight the current audience expectations and demographic.

I suspect that most of us who are actively promoting SE are doing so via social networking sites (namely Facebook), and these are not necessarily the ideal hunting grounds for learned types who would appreciate underlying themes in the Avengers such as the ego, narcissism, the impact of corporate America on patriotism etc etc, but rather these are the folks who want to know why Loki didn't escape while the Avengers were infighting. An equally valid question.

I'm not trying to ruffle feathers here, but I firmly believe that we can't have traffic without the trivia - it's that old balancing act of good and evil :)

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