RollingStoned

How Do We Expand the CT Community?

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@Xavianangel unfortunately we've already discussed how to improve the site, and seeing my thoughts would cause more issues for obviously reasons until those issues are fixed then my thoughts stay where we discussed.

Though I will  poke my friend tonight when he wakes up and do a quick test of discord seeing there should be time (hopefully..possibly..gf getting me sick may make me nap instead we'll see :P)

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IMO, the site peaked in '09-'10 and has never been able to recapture the membership and activity levels it once had. I'll make a familiar comparison to its spiritual predecessor, Cartoon Orbit. This is just my own personal, pessimistic perspective, and should not be taken at face value as fact.

To get a website community, the site needs to have not just word-of-mouth promotion (i.e. referrals), but corporate-level advertising (at least, this was the case before social media). CT's creator made it clear that he does not want mass advertising for the site because of potential legal issues most likely due to artwork licensing rights. Copyright law is a big, complicated conundrum especially when multiple major animation studios with various licensing rights are involved, and CT's creator was certainly not prepared to challenge those big corporations. That's one reason this site has seen so little advertisement online outside of social media. The other, equally obvious reason is money. To compare, Turner Broadcasting had the means to broadcast Cartoon Orbit commercials and cToon codes to millions of homes via the Cartoon Network TV channel while simultaneously making a presence on consumer goods such as postcards, books, and freezer pops as well as the very popular CartoonNetwork.com site (and all of this happened before social media websites really hit it off). In short, CT has never had the money or power to be able to do any of the things that its spiritual predecessor had the ability to do.

In a sense, CT's growth has been effectively capped due to fears of legal action and lack of funds. If CT's creator had the rights to all the artwork on the site like Cartoon Network had with Orbit, this site would have no trouble getting more members, but we don't have that. CT was never intended to be as big as Orbit or Neopets or any of its other counterparts. High expectations and nostalgia fueled CT for the first few years, but those old coots who visited the earlier online trading card communities like Orbit have either discovered CT already or never will.

For this site to get bigger, CT either has to face the inevitable legal battle for licensing rights or find another way to get widespread presence, probably via social media. The nostalgia factor for getting older users has dwindled to a point where classic cartoons and Orbit connections are no longer a viable option for the site.

Now that my rant is over, I can't say that I have a better quick solution for expanding the CT community other than increasing its presence on social media. It's the only way to get a bigger community without paying for advertising. Social media has indeed worked in the past for acquiring new members, but new members only help the site in the long-term if they stay.

How can new members stay on CT when the site hasn't seen a facelift since 2009? There's the million-dollar question, and we don't have any lifelines left.

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Yeah I think @RollingStoned said it all. The biggest problem is that any potential advertising deals with the problem that there are a number of potential copyright pitfalls, and this place needs to be surviving from "donations" geared towards helping the site, and not "paying" for owned images. It's a fine line, and a fair reason to be wary of this place going too viral. I also think @Ssoldier made a fantastic point earlier, in that this place probably shouldn't have to depend solely on the community, and needs a head that is willing to foot the bills. That's 100% not a shot, because I wouldn't want to foot that bill either, but it's just a fact. 

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2 more points that I think would go a long way.

 

1. The game, in its current condition, is too damaged. Points are way out of hand, way too many toons, everything is a little out of hand. I want to propose that we start clean, afresh again. Reset the game, everyone has fresh accounts, 0 points, 0 toons in game and begin again. We've learnt a lot over the last decade, some things were done well and some things were mistakes. Starting afresh will give fresh motivation to players and mods alike.

 

2. The owners, admins and mods need to start seeing this as a business. I propose that Toon gives share equity, or a % of revenues/donations generated to his admin/moderation team. The mods are great for helping out so generously, but getting real professionals that have backgrounds in; marketing, sales (scaling and growth), operations, community, branding etc will truly help to get this game to another level. Incentivising them with share equity or revenue share will keep them motivated to work on this game as if it were their job too. Everyone working together towards the same vision. Of course, if an admin isn't pulling their weight, they can be removed or replaced too. But this is how you can make it sustainable. 

 

Thoughts?

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3 minutes ago, Ssoldier said:

2 more points that I think would go a long way.

 

1. The game, in its current condition, is too damaged. Points are way out of hand, way too many toons, everything is a little out of hand. I want to propose that we start clean, afresh again. Reset the game, everyone has fresh accounts, 0 points, 0 toons in game and begin again. We've learnt a lot over the last decade, some things were done well and some things were mistakes. Starting afresh will give fresh motivation to players and mods alike.

 

2. The owners, admins and mods need to start seeing this as a business. I propose that Toon gives share equity, or a % of revenues/donations generated to his admin/moderation team. The mods are great for helping out so generously, but getting real professionals that have backgrounds in; marketing, sales (scaling and growth), operations, community, branding etc will truly help to get this game to another level. Incentivising them with share equity or revenue share will keep them motivated to work on this game as if it were their job too. Everyone working together towards the same vision. Of course, if an admin isn't pulling their weight, they can be removed or replaced too. But this is how you can make it sustainable. 

 

Thoughts?

This is a non-profit game so really no money can go towards staff.  Also, realistically, there is no money to spare. At least that's what we've been told about lack of changes over the years. Atm we cant hire an admin so realistically, theres no way wed be able to get any professionals

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6 hours ago, Xavianangel said:

This is a non-profit game so really no money can go towards staff.  Also, realistically, there is no money to spare. At least that's what we've been told about lack of changes over the years. Atm we cant hire an admin so realistically, theres no way wed be able to get any professionals

Non-profits can definitely legally pay their staff. If there isn't money to spare, then give staff a percentage of donations - this motivates them to help the community grow too as they benefit directly from it. This is a variable cost model which means the owner need not go out-of-pocket and take risk either. I use this model for my businesses and the people that work with me. 

(Of course, if this isn't desirable, then the owner again needs to think about injecting some money into the game and pay staff in the form of; per hour rate, per project basis, commission based on player growth, etc.)

 

As with any other business, if the CEO/Owner/leader wants to make it work, they do whatever it takes to make it work. But when the leader has given up hope, then the followers give up too. 

 

I've read a lot of decent suggestions but most of them aren't addressing the fundamental big problems that need to be rectified in order for a game like this to be sustainable and scalable too. 

Small fixes to the TB and Auctions etc are great, but they won't provide any substantial positive impact. The number one key issue is the number of players and player turnover. When the community is thriving, the tradeboards and auctions are busier, HRs are harder to come by and more valuable, therefore players hunt in shops more, therefore activity is boosted. New players want to be able to buy something from the shops, then sell it on the tradeboard for more - that is the fundamental first action of most players. They are only able to do that when there is a big player-base. This will help rectify turnover and increase longevity.

So how do we get a lot more players? It comes back to expending resources by the owner and admin team (money, time, effort). You can't expect the players or volunteers that are mods to fix this - how does that make any sense? They are here to have fun too. Even if they do volunteer to put in considerable resources to fix things, it isn't sustainable because they can't do that forever. However, if they are paid, then that changes the situation. 

 

The fundamental structure needs to be addressed.

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3 hours ago, Ssoldier said:

So how do we get a lot more players? It comes back to expending resources by the owner and admin team (money, time, effort). You can't expect the players or volunteers that are mods to fix this - how does that make any sense? They are here to have fun too. Even if they do volunteer to put in considerable resources to fix things, it isn't sustainable because they can't do that forever. However, if they are paid, then that changes the situation.

You made good points, but this is the main one I want to address.

Money has never not been a problem for CT. The site started out small, and most likely it will end even smaller. There are no CT offices, no payroll, no schedules, no executives, and no employees. It's one website with one man in charge, a small list of volunteers, and no named successor, and all the data stored on the main site could theoretically exist entirely in its creator's house. Donation funds are spread more thinly than melted butter on toast, and a lot of it goes straight to keeping the site on life support.

Time and effort are viable options, but that return diminishes with each passing year. CT's community is growing older, so older members must find more and more time to balance their interest in the site with real-life obligations such as their jobs, their significant others, their social lives, their family members, their other hobbies, their chores, their automobiles, their vacations, their debts, their sleep schedules, etc. If everyone could do twice as much in their day, CT wouldn't have this problem, but time stops for no mouse.

CT just doesn't have any resources to spare for paid employees, even if it is a non-profit.

 

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22 hours ago, RollingStoned said:

You made good points, but this is the main one I want to address.

Money has never not been a problem for CT. The site started out small, and most likely it will end even smaller. There are no CT offices, no payroll, no schedules, no executives, and no employees. It's one website with one man in charge, a small list of volunteers, and no named successor, and all the data stored on the main site could theoretically exist entirely in its creator's house. Donation funds are spread more thinly than melted butter on toast, and a lot of it goes straight to keeping the site on life support.

Time and effort are viable options, but that return diminishes with each passing year. CT's community is growing older, so older members must find more and more time to balance their interest in the site with real-life obligations such as their jobs, their significant others, their social lives, their family members, their other hobbies, their chores, their automobiles, their vacations, their debts, their sleep schedules, etc. If everyone could do twice as much in their day, CT wouldn't have this problem, but time stops for no mouse.

CT just doesn't have any resources to spare for paid employees, even if it is a non-profit.

 

Great to hear from you Char.

I agree with you. My challenge back would be that the site never fully received the investment needed to take it off the ground - hence it was never self-sustaining. 

 

Now if you are saying that CT could never have been a profitable venture, then it was doomed to fail right from the very beginning... (which may be true, but we need to face that fact then)

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On 8/14/2019 at 7:11 PM, Ssoldier said:

Great to hear from you Char.

I agree with you. My challenge back would be that the site never fully received the investment needed to take it off the ground - hence it was never self-sustaining. 

 

Now if you are saying that CT could never have been a profitable venture, then it was doomed to fail right from the very beginning... (which may be true, but we need to face that fact then)

Great to know you're still interested in the site, Ssoldier. It's good to hear opinions from longtime users.

My answer to your challenge is as follows: no, CT definitely did not receive the investment needed to take it off the ground. It hasn't even come close. How could it have? CT was invented without any input from the original artwork licensees. The companies behind Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, Disney, etc. are conglomerates that wouldn't hesitate to put CT to an end if it weren't for existing digital copyright legislation. CT only exists today due to the fair-use artwork rationales in copyright law. If not for fair use, CT would not exist at all. To be self-sustaining, CT either has to have copyright licenses for all of its content or call itself a non-profit. CT has chosen the latter, but that decision isn't without its faults. Simply put, without explicitly licensed artwork, CT is doomed to dwell in the non-profit zone, so it doesn't have a chance at being self-sustaining without massive user donations.

CT could have been a profitable venture, for sure. If CT were owned by Turner Broadcasting, Viacom, or some other big animation corporation, it would be reeling in profits left and right. That just isn't how CT is, though. The way it is, if CT continues to be supported off of donations and volunteer work alone, it won't exist much longer.

That's just my opinion, man.

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On 7/29/2019 at 3:57 PM, Xavianangel said:

Do you guys think it's even possible anymore to expand at all? I'm gonna tag most of the more active players. I would like some honest opinions and stuff. 

I've been a little more behind the scenes lately, rather than being as active in the community as I was before, but even so, i see very little activity, no donations, and just an overall staleness on the site. I guess i'm asking this a lot for myself too, since honestly, I feel like i'm wasting my time here lol (don't let that discourage you though).

@Masoonite @Sora @Sharktibolt @PhotonCyberStar @mongoose @CT_Robin @RollingStoned @Terrie @Fierce Deity @Ssoldier @thelastsith @FredTheFish @dragonwolf @RubixCube @XxGothsCanSmile2xX @kaigeta @indieman19 @deepcanyon1 @MTD_Orbit @Paul @woodstock24 @Josh123 @Draden @oasisx sorry if i forgot anyone. 

I do, per our previous discussions, I think advertising guidelines for the site need to be spelled out clearly. What can and can't we do, then once we figure out what can be done, we start doing it. My youtube ideas are low/no cost, and they are a great springboard/starting point.

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