Approximately one month ago,
I joined the community, Photoblog, to learn, explore, and share photography related topics. I have enjoyed engaging with the affinity space so far and constantly learning . You can read about my initial observations here.
This post will focus primarily on contribution(s) within the community portion of the site and how I’m interacting with others. Specifically, what Gee and Hayes refer to as “different forms and routes to participation and status.”
Part of what makes Photoblog a community is the discussion board. Bloggers are encouraged to introduce themselves when they join. I had actually missed this when I first signed up so I went ahead and added my introduction to the thread after a few weeks of contributing via blogs. This welcome thread is pinned to the top of the discussion board for easy search. Once a user clicks into the thread they have several options for participation: like, share the post on social media, private notification, bookmark, reply, or simply consume.
If you decide to reply with your response, a nice little window pops up with some guidance on how to mention people in your post along with recommendations on how to create engaging responses. To my surprise, after adding my introduction, I was notified I had received a badge for first mention!
I found myself asking, “how many badges can photo bloggers receive?” Apparently a lot! In fact, bloggers can view badges and see their rank among other photo bloggers.
There are four badge categories: getting started, community, posting, and trust level and the majority of badges appear to be in the getting started category. No one has a badge in the posting category and most bloggers are either basic or member in the trust category. Is this because this is a new feature or is it just that difficult to receive badges in those areas?
After a while of reading through other people’s introductions, I joined a new thread about Photoblog vs. WordPress. The conversation quickly shifted to photoblogger struggles with the platform. Being a WordPress blogger and having experience with various social media communities, I found it a bit surprising. Based on the discussion, it appears a lot of people are feeling let down by the sense of “community.”
At some point,
one of the Photoblog founders, Ram (@cannon6d), chimed into the discussion to guide bloggers back on topic: the differences between Photoblog and WordPress. He then provided a brief overview of the differences along with a link to a different discussion thread on Photoblog 2.0.
Before I jump into that, I want to quickly point out something I just discovered while writing this blog. Going back to the discussion thread, I noticed I could see clicks to my WordPress blog URL. Neat! For anyone interested in tracking visits or clicks to their blog, this is a useful feature.
I really appreciate the level of transparency and input I see here. However, I makes me feel a little overwhelmed with all the recommendations and notifications. But, this happens to me with most discussion boards or online forums. As I become more active in my participation, I may turn off my notifications. I find them distracting and actually make me want to disengage. Does anyone else ever feel like that?
In addition to my participatory actions on these discussion threads, I started my own. I am planning a trip to Cuba so thought I’d ask for tips and must see photo opps! Interestingly, this inspired another blog post by Ram on site search. I hadn’t considered searching on the site but didn’t find much info when searching “Cuba“. I started the thread as a way to explore the response rate and participation when starting a discussion.
So far I’ve had a few views and likes but no more comments. Do I need to keep adding content to get folks to jump in?!? I’m still curious what not to miss in Cuba! 😜
As I close out the week
and prepare for my last work trip and spring break, I’m learning that, for me, it’s challenging to stay fully engaged in this. I don’t think it has anything to do with the site however, I think I’m just feeling burnt out on contributing online. It takes a lot of work.
I’m also learning that affinity spaces likely all take a lot of time and commitment to really blossom. You have to put in the leg work to build a network or following, or, even decide what it is you are trying to get out of it. I feel that I am still really just scratching the surface.
Over the course of our next cycle I plan to spend more time in the “community” and “learn” section of the site. I recently bought Photoshop & Lightroom CC so perhaps there are some goodies to find there. Until then, I’m off to endure and embrace my last “hurrah” with IBM.