In 2015/2016, with the help of dedicated forum members and media mentions, HO grew to a 1500 member forum with a reasonable amount of good dining and cooking discussions. We still have some ways to go before getting to critical mass for every board, though. I mentioned at the beginning that, over time we’d convert the forum to a collectively run forum. It is the right time to make this switch now for HO, so the forum can more easily get to critical mass and be more useful for all users, on a platform run by members who understand the power of a collective body of expert food/ dining knowledge and the community aspects of a dining/ cooking forum, free of external commercial pressure. It is similar to the way how LTHforum in Chicago first started out as a Chowhound spinoff years ago. At the time 14 posters split off from Chowhound and decided to run their own forum and share the responsibility of growing and managing it. Today the forum is vibrant in Chicago. LTH’s story is here.
Why do we need a group of members to run the site for it to grow?
Long story short, I’ve been focusing on improving many aspects of the site last year. Over time I am spread too thin- community building effort from me on a specific board once every 6 months (because there are 20 other boards) doesn’t do any board any good- Individual boards are much better nurtured by users who value and frequent the boards, and want to build a better community.
What will these users do?
Everyone in the Hungry Onion Collective will be running the site together and figuring out how they want to grow and run the board they frequent. And everyone is doing this for the love of food only. None of us gets paid. Individual users may focus on all or certain aspects they have the most personal interest in:
- contributing content that invites quality participation/ outreach to potential users who like to contribute (the chicken for a newish forum)
- getting the word out to get to critical mass (the egg)
- moderate discussions when needed
- identifying/ recruiting other/ future HO users who are interested in building the community
Who’s in the @HOCollective?
Ideally we’d want to have a few folks as a group to run each board so everyone can complement and lean on each other’s skills. I have only had the chance to reach out to very few so far. So the site is still looking for users who are eager to build the community! If you are interested in joining and running the site in an official capacity (even if you are unsure what you can do), please give any of us a shout- we’d love to grow the community that belongs to all of us, with you. We have a number of users who signed up so far. Please say hello:
Why not just let the forum grow organically?
‘If you build it they will come’ is the biggest misconception there is. Successful forums/ social networks made conscious efforts to build up their communities at the beginning. People can’t join a party if they don’t know about the party. And if there isn’t enough people in a party then it isn’t too much fun for anyone already at the party.
What are you doing after this change?
I am definitely around. My main task in the short term will be to share what I learned in the first year- what worked and what didn’t in running the site, with the group. And I am the IT person as well. (If anyone loves IT and wants to get their hands dirty on web site infrastructure, let’s talk!)
What do we want the site to become?
A vibrant site to talk food with fellow enthusiasts, nothing more, nothing less.
You haven’t reached out to me, but I am interested. Does that mean anything?
No, not really. Lately I just haven’t had the time to reach out to many, even when I wanted to, because of various commitments.
Interested? Have an idea? Write us!