before i get to the heart of the matter, i just wanna hit you with a disclaimer: i am but a simple Routian, and i don't know what goes on behind the scenes here or any statistics about the site or anything like that, so i'm just going on what i've seen, in my personal experience. any ideas i give, are just that - ideas. i appreciate how hard the staff work on this site, and i don't mean to step on anyone's toes!
so, rt50 has always had a small userbase, which is what makes it feel like a community, very tight-knit and cozy. and i personally love that about the site. ive made many valuable friends over my time here. im not looking for route 50 to be a bustling metropolis or anything like that, i'd just like to give the site a little jolt, you know? now, it's not like i can make people come back to the site or join the site or anything like that. i just feel like the site has sort of lost it's luster... it feels emptier. like its becoming obsolete.
let me break it down into my three main concerns:
another thing i find worrying is the activity of the staff (btw i do NOT mean for this to be a callout or anything like that!): looking at the staff page, all 3 Social Media Posters are inactive. both Artists haven't been online since 2014. a handful of other high ranking staff members also appear to be inactive. rt50's userbase, like i said, is really small, so it's not like we need some sort of Elite No Fun Moderation Squad or anything like that. my beef is not necessarily with the "moderation" of the site (like keeping the site sfw and stuff like that). i think we need to look at "the bigger picture"...
chat: at the time of writing this, the times of chat messages are from September 29th (the earliest message) to October 14th. (btw shoutout to DarkPegusus's messages in chat, which i agree with, and kinda gave me that final nudge to make this post). i remember chat floods, people's signature entrances into the chat room, and things like that. i feel like the chat really gave users character.
groups: groups may as well not exist, to be blunt. there are like, NO active groups. there are many spam groups with like 1 or 2 inactive members.
forums: shoutout to those who try to post more often, and especially to Sparkleaf, who is trying his damnedest to revive the forums. but straight up, they're just Not Active. which sucks.
~ here is my biggest worry. i know, im probably just being paranoid here, but im wondering if route 50 is safe/sustainable (by that i mean, will route50 ever die? is the domain under threat of being lost/unable to be maintained? etc) questions like these may seem like prying, but if rt50 is declining, well the users don't need to know everything. but it would be good to have some reassurance, some information, some transparency.
~ the staff who are inactive is worrying me. especially the high ranking staff. theyre the ones who know the most about the site.
~ by far, the stream is the most active part of the site, so maybe we should base our solutions around the stream, and focus even more on the stream?
~ route 50 is hard to find On The Web. should we promote the website? how would we go about doing that?
~ make route50 more mobile friendly maybe? i know its not a mobile centric site, but its blocked at my school and i can only access it on my phone, and it's pretty buggy. having the site be more accessible On The Go would surely draw more users in. maybe have a rt50 app?
~ the "theme" of route 50 is Pokemon, and that's a shared interest of many users. but from what ive noticed, Pokemon is not as popular in the site as it used to be, people aren't invested in it anymore. what if rt50 were to lose the Pokemon motif, and just be a small community website? or would you feel like that is losing a core aspect of rt50?
~ the rt50 discord was created, which is Neato. but it's not so Neato when it's more active than the site's chat. discord just has more features than the chat. maybe we can add new features to the chat, like voice chat or something?
~ maybe we should have more integration with other social media. for example, the chat thing i just mentioned... is there a way to integrate the rt50 discord into the website itself? i know we have a twitter widget for our bases. another idea would be to implement a music player on the site, and people can contribute their favorite songs (it'd have the song title/artist/name of user who submitted it).
~ the users here at rt50 are very good at welcoming new members. i have an idea to help newbies even more. i think all new members should automatically be PM'd a message. as for what the message would say, i would make it contain something like this: an obligatory "welcome to rt50 blah blah". a very simple guide to the features of the site/how it works "our userbase is incredibly creative, so don't be shy and share your creations through the gallery", "the stream is the cornerstone of rt50. post anything you want!" (it would have a very brief description for each section of the site), "you can use emojis and other commands to liven up your posts!" (include a link to a list of all emojis and commands) etc.. a link to a very simple guide to customization (user customization like changin your title/icon, and base customization) "click here to learn how to spice up your look". a link directly to the welcome wagon "posting about yourself in the welcome wagon is a great way to get your feet wet on rt50 and make new friends!". and a link to the staff page/specific members who are "flagged" as new player guides/trustworthy people "if you have any questions, our members are very friendly! these users in particular are extra knowledgeable, and would be happy to help with any issues you may have". and then an obligatory "go out there and have fun!".
~ the following points are just some miscellaneous suggestions stuff to make the site more appealing.
~ new themes for route 50. i remember we used to have a suicune theme that was pretty sick. holiday themes maybe?
~ more/updated art. recruiting active staff Artists.
~ custom colors for your username.
~ custom tags for your username. like how cooltrainers who have the "cool" tag, but you can make them whatever you want (there should be a character limit though). having custom tags may confuse people with staff, so maybe staff should have something else to differentiate themselves, like a gold star or something by their name.
~ increasing signature size... tbh i thought it was always a bit too small.
~ making titles more visible. i wish it was visible in more places than just the forum.
~ updating the roulette... sometimes it shows old posts or things that are irrelevant to me, so maybe just improve the way it works? OR changing it up to maybe a "user spotlight" or "user of the week" that updates weekly. it would be on the front page, so it would have to be small. the "user of the week" would be either chosen randomly or voted on by members. someone reputable, a staff member or something, would write a short blurb about the user and handpick a few things that the user has created to be featured. for example "_____'s nature themed paintings are beautiful! [insert smaller versions of a few of them]" or "_____'s stream posts crack us up! [insert a few posts]"
~ status updates of some sort. you can post a short message "currently at the mall, i love shopping!"
~ a way to see which members are online (we have something like that now i think?? idk). members can tag themselves as online, afk, busy, and cooltrainers can be invisible.
~ update ribbons! how even do those work? is there a list of them we can get, and try to catch em all? can we display multiple ones on our base (via a widget maybe)?
~ ways to disable certain things on the site. for example, if we were to implement "user of the week", or "status updates", i could see how those would annoy some people.
i know its hard to branch out and be more active when the rest of the site isn't. kinda like leaving a message on someones answering machine. its 2017, people. anyway thanks to my fellow Routians for posting more on not just the stream, but other parts of the site as well. lord knows i can pitch in when i can as well. in general, i am more than willing to do what i can to help the site.
and again, this post isn't meant to call anyone out/offend etc. i don't pretend to know Everything about the site, and i apologise if im out of turn here, i'm just talkin about what i feel, and listing random ideas on how to help/improve the site in general. i dont want this post to give off the vibe of All Of You Must Be More Active Or Else, cause i cant make you do something you dont feel like. maybe the stagnation of the site is just how things are now, and its totally okay to be content with that. just... basically, speaking for myself here, i think it would be cool to see route 50 be a bit more active.
i would love to hear you guys' input on this post... do you agree/disagree? do you have any ideas for the site? let's start a discussion!
i know that was a lot to stomach. i wrote this in the AM hours and i have a headache lmao so sorry for any errors, and thanks for reading