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Purpose of this forum?
Posted Wed July 11, 2001 @08:49AM
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CFD Review Philip Jones writes "I read cfd-online and Usenet, then this forum appears. Looking at it, there are 101 registered users and in the current postings there is only one reply and the vast majority of postings are from the owner of the site: and most of these are just the news from other CFD sites. Do people want this forum, if so what should it do and how? The format is very nice but if it is not a forum and just a soapbox for an individual we may as well all go home and leave it to die.

Come on, lets get one article with a few replies and see what the water feels like!"

A very good point - read my reply below.


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Philip Jones makes a very valid point about the lack of reader involvement in the content of this site. I attribute this to a number of reasons:

It's a new site

I started the site in April 2001. While the past 3 months may have seemed slow, I think things are going fairly well. I am learning more about online content and trying to better gauge what interests CFD enthusiasts. When the site started it (obviously) had zero content and adding content is something that happens daily. Over time, the site becomes more and more useful as a place to find things you are interested in. I'm sure the people who visited the site in the first month wrote it off as useless and have not returned. It's like that at the beginning of any project, but this is something that I will continue to do as long as I enjoy it and other people are reading it (they are - I check the web logs periodically).

Grassroots advertising

I don't have the resources to properly advertise the site. It is here that the site relies on it's readers the most. If more people learn about the site and visit, then more will "stick" as regular readers. I have posted the site to the Usenet groups and sent email notices to my colleagues. I hate spam so I will not resort to blind mailings. The site is just now making it onto the search engines. It takes way too much time for this to happen, but in the end it is probably a good thing because the site is now much more mature and appealing to a first-time visitor.

The community is small - but growing

Right now there are around 100 registered users. This is growing, on average, 2-3 users per day. It is difficult to tell how many more individuals are "lurkers" who read the site, but have not registered. I feel that the lack of active participation is due to the fact that the community is small and that a story hasn't hit a nerve yet. Additionally, engineers and scientists tend to be less outspoken than most people. To combat that, I am trying to make this as comfortable an atmosphere as possible. Unlike the trolls on Slashdot, no one here wants to go first!

Small amount of original content

Yes, most of the posts are things you could find elsewhere. The idea here is to collect them in one place where the readers can easily find them and discuss them with other CFD enthusiasts. On the other hand, the grid generation article was very well received (if not heavily commented on). There are more articles in the works. An expert in the CFD post-processing field will be posting a "state of the art in post-processing" article and a turbomachinery application article is in development. In addition, I have been working with the commercial CFD vendors to develop content. So far, AEA Technology and Fluent have been very responsive (AEA Technology contributed a feature story). In time, I hope the content drives itself as the interests of the readers are reflected in the site. The key is that readers who have or know of content for this site need to send it in.

People do find this site useful and interesting

As far as I can tell (web logs are an inexact science), people do visit and read this site. This can only mean that the site is useful and/or interesting. If I am wrong, tell me so and I can change the site or shut it down. I have no reason to stand on a soapbox. I am not selling anything. I am doing this because I enjoy learning about CFD and what people are doing with it. It is costing me money and time to do this.

Summary

In the end, it is up to all of us to make this site into a place that is worth reading. If significant active involvement fails to develop then, yes, the site will die. I don't want to see that happen, but the site will only succeed if there is a need and desire among the community for a site like this. Overall, I am upbeat about the rate of growth of the site and it's potential for the future. What do YOU think?

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