Author Topic: The Future of SCN  (Read 8400 times)

Offline Makaveli

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The Future of SCN
« on: May 23, 2012, 09:34:40 PM »
Onto other matters, if we are going to be renewing for yet another year then I think we need to do SOMETHING about the activity level of the boards. I know that this has always been a "Trek" board but if we want to survive I think we need to open that up a little more. I know we have sections for pretty much everything but there is nothing that really draws people into the place. I feel like we need a new direction, need the community we have to actually be doing something interesting...

I think we need some sort of community project, back in the day we had Renaissance, we had The Breen War... another project like that, even if its not Trek related is what we need. Along with that would probably require and actual SCN website and not just the forums... can anyone think of something that seems to be trending on the internet that we could use to bring people into our little fold... maybe inject some new life into this place.

--Just a bit of cleanup. lol
« Last Edit: May 24, 2012, 11:16:45 AM by Jimi James »
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Offline Jimi James

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Re: The Future of SCN
« Reply #1 on: May 24, 2012, 10:16:56 AM »
If we could work out the logistics of it, possibly though skype, though it would require some decent mics and headphones, a sci-fi/trek themed podcast might draw people in.  Start it out small, 30 minutes once a month (or possibly more regularly than that even) in order to get the bugs worked out, and talk about either a Trek specific topic, the new movie, an episode review, or some other piece of sci-fi news that's currently going on.  If and when it gets going, it could become more frequent with longer episodes.  We could also talk about the STO game, particularly when new content is released.

In regards to other creative projects, I'd be up for something, though as we've seen with projects in the past, keeping people involved is always difficult, creatively and from the standpoint of the audience, even more so now I think when written pieces are trying to compete with video and audio productions.  Perhaps its just me, but it seems like people would rather watch a five minute clip, then sit down and take the time to actually read something and in that case, pulling the audience in and getting them to stay long enough to sign up on the boards and contribute becomes an up hill battle.

Not to sound defeated already, because I think we should try something, just that whatever we do end going with, needs to be something that will really pull people in.

So in that regard, I'd suggest we try something small and highly focused, rather then trying to create an entire series, or an entire Tech Manuel, or an entire community ship, or short story anthology; all of which have been done and failed here.  So as for writing projects, I would suggest that rather then multiple stories or even a long multiple season series, we focus on one novel or novella length series.  Something that stands alone as a complete series, but leaves the door open to something more should we wish to revisit it.  Whether or not this project is even Trek related, well that's a matter to consider on down the road.

Also, we should consider branching out more into social media, which I'm surprised no one has brought up before, though admittedly I didn't think of it either.  As much as some people might not like them, Facebook and Twitter are both powerful advertising tools with a global reach.  We could and likely should make use of them, if for no other reason then they're both free and cost us nothing but a little time to maintain.

Something else to consider, for a website; SCN has always been home to a variety of artists, so it might help to draw more attention to that if we did some sort of monthly artist highlight, perhaps featuring some sort of interview, either written or via the podcast if that happens.  Granted, this is something that will play better once our numbers get back up, but it's something I wanted to mention so I wouldn't forget later on.
« Last Edit: May 24, 2012, 11:16:56 AM by Jimi James »
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Offline Makaveli

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Re: The Future of SCN
« Reply #2 on: May 24, 2012, 10:59:35 AM »
I like the idea of using Facebook and Twitter to help us bring people in but to do that we need some sort of hook, a podcast would actually be a cool idea if we could come up with a schedule and actually stick to it... I think that bringing in enough content would make things kind of hard, I remember a podcast a while back called SciFiSurplus, dont know if its still around or not but I actually used to listen to them all the time, it touched on news, scifi topics of interest and had occasional little funny "commercials" in it.

Anyone know someone that knows how to put a podcast together? I'd be willing to give it a go atleast.

Also, I was approached a couple weeks back by Josh Maley, most would know him as TheGrimmSleeper from back in the day. Hes still working on his own project called Star Trek Frontiers and he asked me to build him a new website for it. I think both of us are in the same sort of situation, both are trying to hold onto something that was huge years ago but has really dwindled lately.

As you said people want stuff that they dont have to work for, people spend hours and hours on youtube watching the stupidest shit around but its too much work for them to sit down and spend an hour reading something that took days, if not weeks to write and edit. Fact is people are getting lazy, and thats whats killing us. People really dont want to have discussions like they used to. So for us, and Frontiers, its adapt or die.

What I was talking about was actually trying to get a little outside of what we already focus on, it says right in our banner that this is a Star Trek and SciFi message board, but when you actually look at it that part of the forum is probably the most dead section here. Might be time to throw in the towel on that side of things and try to focus on something thats actually going to bring people in and get them talking.

I'm wondering if we should put it out there in the public and see if they have any ideas, if anything good comes up then atleast we will have something to work with.
« Last Edit: May 24, 2012, 11:17:20 AM by Jimi James »
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Offline Jimi James

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Re: The Future of SCN
« Reply #3 on: May 24, 2012, 11:15:17 AM »
Another idea;

Something I wanted to do several years ago, but wasn't able to at the time, was to have SCN feature a community viewing party.  The Community would pick something to watch, either a movie or an episode of trek, and then we'd run some sort of chat during the episode, either seriously discussing it, or tearing it down, Mystery Science theater style.  Now, with stuff on Youtube, and Hulu, and other sources, I think we can make this happen.

I used to listen to SciFI Surplus as well and a few others, but like many podcasts, they sort of fade away as those involved either lose interest or don't have the time to do it anymore.  
I know some about podcasts, through my own research online as well as having listened to many podcasters be repeatedly asked what it takes to make one, and really it depends on how professional you want to make it.  The base level could be done with little more then the mic built into your computer, something like Garageband or Audacity, and skype if the podcasters aren't in the same room, which would be the case with us.  On the upper end, you're talking about thousands of dollars worth of professional audio and recording equipment, though in most cases you don't need to go that far.

As for content, I think going over the news, some sort of basic genre film/tv reviews, (for example, right now we could spend a a good chunk of time reviewing Game of Thrones) and then one main topic.  Plus, if we're starting out at once a month, we'd have a month worth of material to draw from.  I don't foresee content becoming a problem, unless we started doing it every week and even then, surely we could talk sci-fi/fantasy/video games/tech for 30 minutes every week.

I would agree though, that perhaps we should open this up to the rest of the community, or at least the handful of people that are here.  

And Mak, I agree with your sentiments about trying to hold on to the past, while needing to adapt.  The struggle will be, trying to find some sort of middle ground between the two.  The ground to stand on is there I think, we just have to find it, even if that means reinventing ourselves in some way.

I'll go ahead and split this thread into the public bulletin board, so the rest of the community can comment as well.  I think at this point, not taking into account the financial aspect of SCN, it's as much about them as it us.  Because I think I speak for all us when I say I have no desire to see SCN die.

So now that it's open to the community at large, speak up and let us know what you think.
« Last Edit: May 24, 2012, 12:14:46 PM by Jimi James »
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Offline Data007

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Re: The Future of SCN
« Reply #4 on: May 24, 2012, 04:37:37 PM »
I can get behind most of those ideas, though I am not so completely sure of my schedule for such things.
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Offline Bernd

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Re: The Future of SCN
« Reply #5 on: May 25, 2012, 05:37:23 AM »
Regarding possible new community projects I'm at a loss because so much has been tried before. Also, I won't be able to take care of them, except for giving my two cents on people's efforts.

I am all for changing the focus of the SCN, which at this point, to the outside world, looks like a Trek & Sci-Fi board with decreasing activity and with projects that don't come to pass. The SCN should be a place where people come on a regular basis, for which we may need more features than just the discussions, and possibly more diversity. I agree with Jimi James that we need to adapt.

In my view the SCN needs some technical changes/enhancements before we can shift the focus or present new features. Here are some ideas.

- As already mentioned by Makaveli the SCN should be on Facebook and Twitter. The setup is easy, and with the "New Topics" feed we could provide some basic content that could be included automatically (via dlvr.it that I'm using for EAS too). This won't be a big deal, I can take care of it.
- We should also consider going into the opposite direction and including social media content to the SCN. Perhaps there are modules in the SMF software? Otherwise we would have to add custom HTML code. I don't know if it is possible but including galleries of SCN members such as from Deviantart would be an attractive option, in addition to the usual suspects that can be included with very little effort, using tools such as Feedburner (as e.g. here: http://www.ex-astris-scientia.org/feeds.htm).
- Regarding an SCN blog, it probably wouldn't be too much work to set up something separate from the forum, with a different software. But I wonder whether we could update it on a regular basis. Well, it could contain highlights from the forum and general Trek news (usually reposts from the news sites). The question is whether the same couldn't be achieved with the SMF software. Is there an option to spotlight threads or posts? Or to display a thread in blog format? Or to compose a gallery of posted images? I imagine the message board of the future as something that looks like it is more than just a collection of threads to the "lazy" visitor who expects spoon-fed information - but without an additional effort on our part.
- A podcast is something I have no clear idea of, also because I never thought of producing one (actually mostly because I know listening to me is tiresome, and I can do without people mocking my accent and occasional mispronunciation anyway). I imagine that the podcast could simply pick up topics that have already been discussed at the SCN, but its success depends most of all on the speaker(s). There are many people who can write good articles but not so many to whom I like to listen.

Offline Makaveli

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Re: The Future of SCN
« Reply #6 on: May 25, 2012, 10:34:07 AM »
I've kind of lost track of what exactly you can do with SMF these days but I'm sure there are probably more and more social networking features included in it. The only problem is that right now we are using an older version of the software that I am unsure about updating. As it stands right now I have updated quite a few of the files manually to bring them up the the standard but there are still some in there that I cant without breaking the forum...

One of the things holding us back is actually the forum skin, it was based on an older version of the software (was the latest at the time) but so many little tweaks and changes have been made that I dont know if I could tweak it back to the way it is now. Its actually been so long that I dont even know if I remember what I did in the first place.

Setting up a blog would actually be really easy, with wordpress you can get something up and running in minutes and the software is pretty solid, only problem is that what would we even put up on it? If we were to go the way of a podcast atleast that would give us something to post about, upcoming episodes, guest stars (if we could get them), topics of conversation, feedback from past episodes... lots of stuff... and on top of that in wordpress you can set up multiple users so anyone involved in the posdcast would be able to post their own stuff.

Same would go for if we were to set up a group twitter or facebook account, any one of us could post to it but then again what would we be posting about.

So in my mind a forum upgrade is in order, but to do that I am pretty much going to have to scrap our theme and go back to one of the generic ones out there. After that I can see if we can get the forum up to the latest specs but there really isn't any point in doing that if we dont have some sort of plan in place.
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Offline Jimi James

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Re: The Future of SCN
« Reply #7 on: May 25, 2012, 11:23:43 AM »
For what we're talking about right now, I think a blog is unnecessary and in most cases even down the line would be redundant.  Whatever is on the blog, news, reviews, podcast info and feedback, would likely be on the boards already.  So I think there's something to be said for consolidation on this point, in that rather than splitting members between the blog and the forum, we could just divert everyone here, to prevent people from commenting on the blog and then never stepping foot on the forum.

So it seems like the immediate plan, needs to be upgrading the forum to the current standard and getting the theme and new features sorted out.  Once that's completed, we can begin to integrate various social media options available in SMF.  I don't think that it would hurt us to go ahead and setup a Twitter and facebbok account now, just to get things going, though we may want to avoid any direct push for new members until we've sorted out the upgrade and a new theme.  We may want to reach out to Clawhammer, to see if he has the time to help create a new skin/theme, since he had a hand in crafting out current look.  And as a side note, it would be nice if the new theme could carry over in some way to Twitter and facebook.

How much more of a detailed plan do you need Mak?
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Offline Bernd

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Re: The Future of SCN
« Reply #8 on: May 25, 2012, 05:04:59 PM »
For what we're talking about right now, I think a blog is unnecessary and in most cases even down the line would be redundant.  Whatever is on the blog, news, reviews, podcast info and feedback, would likely be on the boards already.

Yes, that's what I meant to say. Perhaps something like a blog, newsfeed, galleries could be (automatically?) compiled from the board content, without the need to set up something completely separate and to always create new content for it.

Regarding a new skin, my suggestion is to start with a predefined skin and apply only cosmetic changes (such as custom buttons and a custom page header). The options to customize Twitter and Facebook pages are limited to defining a logo and a background image, which I can easily carry over when the new look is completed.

Offline Jimi James

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Re: The Future of SCN
« Reply #9 on: May 25, 2012, 08:16:26 PM »
Yeah, ok that makes sense as I've seen a lot of message boards that have some sort of blog system built in as well as a side bar type setup that feeds the newest threads.

So I was thinking about the podcast, one way to get it started, could be to do a number of dry runs.  So rather then recording and releasing our very first attempts, we could do some sort of community chat with those that want to get inolved, and then move to doing it over voice, and then finally once we've recorded a few tests runs, we could start the legit podcast for release.

And that gives me another idea.  We could hold some sort of scheduled community chat, perhaps every friday night, or whatever time we agree one, with a host of topics and/or games triva to burn through.  Assuming our chatroom still works, or will work once we get upgraded, this is something we could do here, rather than through Skype.
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Offline Razor

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Re: The Future of SCN
« Reply #10 on: May 25, 2012, 10:17:09 PM »
Sounds like a plan.
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Offline Makaveli

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Re: The Future of SCN
« Reply #11 on: May 27, 2012, 10:01:56 AM »
It would be nice to see a little more feedback from the rest of the community on this issue.
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Offline TNC

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Re: The Future of SCN
« Reply #12 on: May 27, 2012, 10:04:36 AM »
The plan so far sounds good to me.
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Offline Xero

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Re: The Future of SCN
« Reply #13 on: May 27, 2012, 12:12:48 PM »
I don't think there's anything I could add. You guys covered everything.
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Offline Fiery Little One

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Re: The Future of SCN
« Reply #14 on: May 27, 2012, 02:57:25 PM »
Twitter and Facebook and any other sites like those should do for now in terms of drumming up members, anything else I think we can deal with later.
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Offline Razor

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Re: The Future of SCN
« Reply #15 on: May 27, 2012, 08:39:44 PM »
Im pretty much with Xero the twitter and Facebook are cool ideas.  The Podcast is an intriging idea and i'd love to participate in one with you guys.  Hell Xero and I could do our own spinoff.  Though I dont know how to do one.
“The boat dipped and swayed and sometimes took on water, but it did not sink; the two brothers had waterproofed it well. I do not know where it finally fetched up, if it ever did; perhaps it reached the sea and sails there forever, like a magic boat in a fairytale. All I know is that it was still afloat and still running on the breast of the flood when it passed the incorporated town limits of Derry, Maine, and there it passes out of this tale forever.” ― Stephen King, It"
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Offline Jedigreedo

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Re: The Future of SCN
« Reply #16 on: June 04, 2012, 05:31:45 PM »
It sounds like you guys have a lot of good ideas and I'm really glad you're all looking into revitalizing SCN.  I've never been much of a prominent poster, but I'm sure I'm not the only one still frequently lurking the boards that has been waiting for it to get more active.

Something I wanted to do several years ago, but wasn't able to at the time, was to have SCN feature a community viewing party.  The Community would pick something to watch, either a movie or an episode of trek, and then we'd run some sort of chat during the episode, either seriously discussing it, or tearing it down, Mystery Science theater style.  Now, with stuff on Youtube, and Hulu, and other sources, I think we can make this happen.

Some friends and I do this pretty commonly through the usage of Livestream.  Only one of us needs to have the material either supplied via DVD or some other means and then everybody else can just watch it streamed.  A problem I could see with that, though, is my friends are generally no more than a group of 6, whereas something like this might get quite a few more people joining in so I'm not sure how bad of a hit it would be on bandwidth.

Also, I'm not fully certain of the legality of it.  It doesn't seem any different from just having a bunch of friends watching your own DVD copy in person, as long as nobody's recording the stream, but... who knows really.

One suggestion I have for improving the board is to add a costuming forum and a prop forum to the Creativity and Design area.  Costumers and prop builders tend to be very active on message boards and I think having a place where they could settle into if they came across SCN would be helpful to building the community.
« Last Edit: June 04, 2012, 05:34:37 PM by Jedigreedo »
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Offline Jimi James

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Re: The Future of SCN
« Reply #17 on: June 10, 2012, 04:25:40 AM »
Here's our Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/SubspaceCommsNetwork
Like us, and please pass along the link to anyone you feel might be interested.
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Offline Stoo

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Re: The Future of SCN
« Reply #18 on: June 15, 2012, 06:39:46 AM »
I sort of like the Podcast idea. Although it would probably take a lot of comittment to make something anyone actually wants to listen to. Preparation of talking points, editing etc. Decent sound quality would be good too.

I mean there must be a lot of nerds out there talking about videogames and prometheus or whatever. Can we stand out?

I saw the facebook page. May as well exist, I guess, altho it won't do anything to gain us members right now.

I know I'm being pessimistic right now. I've seen this happen elsewhere, forums fading as the media that inspired them trails off. Also I think forums are, in general, yesterday's internet. The kids are all on social media and reddit these days. (I say this with some sadness as an old fashioned guy myself).

Jimi's throwing forth a bunch of great ideas for a new focus for SCN, but it's going to need willpower and initiative to carry through to something lasting and worthwhile.
« Last Edit: June 15, 2012, 06:41:44 AM by Stoo »

Offline Rick King AIFD

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Re: The Future of SCN
« Reply #19 on: July 02, 2012, 04:45:15 PM »
Due to ongoing problems......I am not able to be as active a member as I have in the past......however, there was a project that got off to a bad start....primarily due to personal egos getting in the way from all I could ascertain.....but it was a viable idea then and it is still now...that is a signature ship design.....Could be Trek, Could be another genre, could be an original design...that is the signature ship of the scn.

Also....Publicizing and inviting public opinion to comment, participate in, and so forth with the CMP's is a viable idea.
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Offline Jimi James

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Re: The Future of SCN
« Reply #20 on: July 03, 2012, 05:52:04 AM »
Not to dismiss any idea out of hand, but I doubt we have enough active members to begin the SCN ship project again, without creating a large amount of work for a small number of people.  And even if we did manage it, I don't think a signature ship is as uniquely special as it once might have been.  At least not unique enough to actively draw in many new members.

Stoo and Bernd brought up some good points about the podcast, particularly the level of commitment and finding people who are actually interesting to listen to.  These are both vital because the fastest ways to lose an audience is to not release a podcast when you say you're going to and to have it hosted by people who have never actually talked to each before, let alone not being engaging with one another to the point that people want to hear what you have to say.  While those obstacles aren't insurmountable, they are formidable and likely place the possibility of a podcast beyond our reach.

I don't know.  Maybe I'm just feeling more pessimistic about the whole thing today.

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Offline Charles

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Re: The Future of SCN
« Reply #21 on: December 28, 2012, 11:17:34 PM »
Have any of you ever read any blogs on the SB Nation family? I think some of them at least they do a really good job merging the blog with something like a message board by posting blog-style content but then having a very free-ranging comment stream. I often click through to the comments and forgot to read the original posts at first. Rocky Top Talk is the one I read, and I think it's one of the best: http://www.rockytoptalk.com/. They also incorporate a podcast which I think it quite successful and essentially amounts to the content creators chatting for an hour. Of course with a blog like that you have to have the core of content creators. But it's a thought on an alternative format.

I actually posted here under a different account here back in the SCN golden age, 6 or so years ago. You all helped a very awkward, isolated teenager learn some social skills, and even shaped my political orientation. It does grieve me to see the site in something of a decline.
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Offline NRSD Moonshadow

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Re: The Future of SCN
« Reply #22 on: July 17, 2014, 12:58:12 AM »
I'm open to anything that can help bring this site back to its former glory. After GameCapitol's demise this place for a long while became my internet "home" so to speak. It was the first place I tried out my then new handle Moonshadow after retiring GameGear4ever as my handle. While I have been more of a ghost the last couple of years, I'd love to see this place continue and would definitely try to contribute more if it picks back up. So far these ideas seem to be pretty good.
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Offline Starlost

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Re: The Future of SCN
« Reply #23 on: August 01, 2014, 07:41:41 AM »
I have been trying to find useful star maps All the ones I have seen are okay, but none of them seem to have been vetted to match canon, and other issues.  That could be some of the big project.  I know Bernd at Cartography site has done a massive amount of background, but......... The use of the PhD Physicist plotting schemes is just too much if you are trying to play a game.......

This graphic probably sums up the issues and I know someone will recognize it, I think from The German cartography site:

http://www.stdimension.org/Cartography/Source/chart312d.gif

By the way, Memory Alpha has the Tholians in the Alpha Quadrant "South" of Cardassia but with a 20ly or so buffer......
« Last Edit: August 01, 2014, 03:45:54 PM by Starlost »
Life is a sexually transmitted social disease

Offline Starlost

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Re: The Future of SCN
« Reply #24 on: August 01, 2014, 03:55:49 PM »
I have watched podcasts and streams in relation to Warcraft and the guys that did a good job are rare, and the effort is extensive from what they say.  But links to facebook and crosslinking to other hub sites like Memory Alpha, and The Campaign for 5th Season Enterprise on Netflix page on facebook would pull people in.  Deviant art has some awesome ship art with no Specs as well, so that would be a place to maybe recruit some artists.....
Life is a sexually transmitted social disease