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The true purpose of the relaunch?

post #1 of 186
Thread Starter 
Was the purpose of the the change to Huddler to improve the experience for its members or to further line the pockets of the AVSForum ownership?

Huddler wants to turn your online forum into a moneymaker
post #2 of 186
Yeah I just read some background on these guys. Not good for the community members but great for the owners. They fetch advertisers and such for you. A lot of these converted huddler communities are losing loyal members left and right. Now I can see why... How unfortunate AVS went this route frown.gif
post #3 of 186
Yup. And YES there is upside if your forum survives the attack, er takeover. Well, upside to the guys who own the forum and hope to make a few bucks from it anyway. They gain cash (hopefully) and lose control and creative direction.

If you want to see how that's gone and how happy forum members are a year out from such transitions take a look at the feedback of forums like HTF and EpicSki.

Hint: It's not pretty and you WILL lose users. It probably won't be as bad for AVS as it was for the early victims, er guinea pigs, but it won't be fun.
post #4 of 186
To improve the experience, absolutely. One thing I've quickly found out about AVS's founder David Bott is that his decisions are not motivated by money. AVS means so much more to him than that.

Of course, this is coming from someone who works for Huddler... but I joined the company because I believe in what we can do for communities, not for a fat paycheck.

Make no mistake, the new AVS is also better designed to make money -- but that's a good thing. More money can lead to better user experiences and functionality. The world's not all evil.
post #5 of 186
I have to sift through my emails because I believe these people have contacted me as well. I run 9 very large forums within my own media group.

The only forum software upgrade I'll consider is xenforo and that's solely because kier who is the original vbulletin designing launched a new platform. I'm testing A forum on it now. This huddler stuff isn't compatible at all using my iPad. Tsk tsk

Looks like I wont be very active here nowadays. I do not like this software and the end user experience is in the toilet for me.
post #6 of 186
Quote:
Originally Posted by capnsmak View Post

To improve the experience, absolutely. One thing I've quickly found out about AVS's founder David Bott is that his decisions are not motivated by money. AVS means so much more to him than that.
Of course, this is coming from someone who works for Huddler... but I joined the company because I believe in what we can do for communities, not for a fat paycheck.
Make no mistake, the new AVS is also better designed to make money -- but that's a good thing. More money can lead to better user experiences and functionality. The world's not all evil.

Empty promises, just like those at HTF. Fix mobile and then we'll talk.
post #7 of 186
Quote:
Originally Posted by RedOctober205 View Post

Was the purpose of the the change to Huddler to improve the experience for its members or to further line the pockets of the AVSForum ownership?
Huddler wants to turn your online forum into a moneymaker

Outside of that sensationalistic headline, the rest isn't the damning piece I was expecting to read.

There must be something wrong with me, I like the new features, and the layout isn't frankly all that different. I guess these are what I'd call first world problems.

The OP paints some sinister picture of tons of money to be had with crooked shadows all about. I find it a little bit far fetched.
post #8 of 186
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by chirpie View Post

Outside of that sensationalistic headline, the rest isn't the damning piece I was expecting to read.
There must be something wrong with me, I like the new features, and the layout isn't frankly all that different. I guess these are what I'd call first world problems.
The OP paints some sinister picture of tons of money to be had with crooked shadows all about. I find it a little bit far fetched.

David Bott was part of a panel not too long ago and discussed the challenges AVS faced with ad revenue. That was the problem with AVSForum before and he solved it with Huddler. It's a cash cow.
post #9 of 186

Hey guys – I don’t mean to hijack the conversation, but I thought it might be helpful to jump in here so we can have an accurate perspective on what’s going on at Huddler. My name is Dan Gill; I’m the co-founder and CEO at Huddler. As I’m sure we all know, sometimes journalists take some liberties within an interview and ultimately focus much more on the story they want to tell, and the article referenced is certainly one that I regret (Thanks for understanding Chirpie).

 

When my brother and I founded Huddler in 2007, the founding vision came 100% from a love and respect for online forums – AVSForum was actually one of the sites that inspired us to quit our jobs and work for free for the first 15 months to try to make our dream a reality. We believe that online communities have some of the best content and knowledge to be found anywhere, and yet we fundamentally believe that content to be somewhat captive and closed off to the larger audience that could really benefit from the great content shared within communities like this one. 

 

We are acutely aware that without engaged communities, there is no sustainable business to be had. We do our very best to put the community and technology first - you can see that evidenced by the fact that in a 54 person company, 35 of those are focused on product management, engineering, partner success, and content/community efforts. Our vision is certainly not to take over communities and ravage them for ad dollars - on average Huddler sites grow monthly Unique Visitors up by 76% over the first 8 months. We're far from perfect, but the Platform has a lot of great innovations for the forum space, and more iterating happening every 2 weeks. 

 

I wouldn't expect anyone to sit through 35 minutes, but the below is some slightly dated context about Huddler, but I'm happy to keep the conversation going:

 

 

edit: I realized that I actually talk about AVS and wanting to work with AVS around minute 13. 

post #10 of 186
David: do you consider the HTF transition a Huddler success story? By what metrics? when is Huddler going to make mobile a priority?
post #11 of 186
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by djgill View Post

Hey guys – I don’t mean to hijack the conversation, but I thought it might be helpful to jump in here so we can have an accurate perspective on what’s going on at Huddler. My name is Dan Gill; I’m the co-founder and CEO at Huddler. As I’m sure we all know, sometimes journalists take some liberties within an interview and ultimately focus much more on the story they want to tell, and the article referenced is certainly one that I regret (Thanks for understanding Chirpie).

When my brother and I founded Huddler in 2007, the founding vision came 100% from a love and respect for online forums – AVSForum was actually one of the sites that inspired us to quit our jobs and work for free for the first 15 months to try to make our dream a reality. We believe that online communities have some of the best content and knowledge to be found anywhere, and yet we fundamentally believe that content to be somewhat captive and closed off to the larger audience that could really benefit from the great content shared within communities like this one. 

We are acutely aware that without engaged communities, there is no sustainable business to be had. We do our very best to put the community and technology first - you can see that evidenced by the fact that in a 54 person company, 35 of those are focused on product management, engineering, partner success, and content/community efforts. Our vision is certainly not to take over communities and ravage them for ad dollars - on average Huddler sites grow monthly Unique Visitors up by 76% over the first 8 months. We're far from perfect, but the Platform has a lot of great innovations for the forum space, and more iterating happening every 2 weeks. 

I wouldn't expect anyone to sit through 35 minutes, but the below is some slightly dated context about Huddler, but I'm happy to keep the conversation going:

The size and quantity of the ads on every single page contradict your claims. You have taken over a healthy forum following a lengthy, yet apparently inadequate amount of testing...even though it would appear that every site that uses Huddler uses the same basic template. I'm not so sure that I would call that innovation.
post #12 of 186
Quote:
Originally Posted by RedOctober205 View Post

David Bott was part of a panel not too long ago and discussed the challenges AVS faced with ad revenue. That was the problem with AVSForum before and he solved it with Huddler. It's a cash cow.

I don't think you know what cash cow means. (To the best of my knowledge, AVS isn't the finanical provider of other products/services) My point is this isn't going to make anyone rich. (Heaven forbid.) By my estimate, it will simply make it sustainable for the future.
post #13 of 186
Well I've been tracking Huddler on large admin forums. You make life easier for large boards... However, they lose all control and customization. Your community is good for an owner... But the user experience needs a lot of work. Why doesn't this software work fluid with an iPad? I can tell the creator Dan Gill has never ran a forum before, especially a large scale one of over a million posts. I read the your interview on admin zone btw... I too run big boards... If you look at what vbulletin did to 4.0 when Internet brands bought them, you will see the users aren't very happy with their experience using huddler. The editor is one of the biggest quirks of all. Tiny MCE should of been the chosen editor.

Anyhow, I understand that AVS is a large success story for your company. However, people like myself can make the end user much more successful as I've been doing this since 1995. This is a very drastic change for users of vbulletin who have come comfortable using the software for many years.

At what point does ad revenue take priority over the membership? You can answer this question when you see users start jumping ship.
post #14 of 186
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by chirpie View Post

(To the best of my knowledge, AVS isn't the finanical provider of other products/services)

False
Quote:
Originally Posted by chirpie View Post

My point is this isn't going to make anyone rich. (Heaven forbid.) By my estimate, it will simply make it sustainable for the future.

False as well.

The move to Huddler will be greatly benefit the owner of AVSForum. The rest of us can either endure it or move on to greener pastures.
post #15 of 186
Quote:
Originally Posted by RedOctober205 View Post


The size and quantity of the ads on every single page contradict your claims. You have taken over a healthy forum following a lengthy, yet apparently inadequate amount of testing...even though it would appear that every site that uses Huddler uses the same basic template. I'm not so sure that I would call that innovation.

 

There are actually substantially fewer ads per page on Huddler than on AVS of yesterday. AVS kept the "button ads" on the top of the page, then lined the entire right column with skyscraper units, as well as 300x250 ads within threads. We have turned off more than 50% of ads and will keep it that way. We also enable AVS Gold members to turn off ads, and even the whole right column if they choose.

 

I certainly wouldn't want to hide the fact that Huddler is in the business of selling advertising online. The campaigns we're most proud of and are trying to replicate are opportunities where companies give product to users, engage directly with communities in a symbiotic way, and other opportunities that are more than just putting banners in the pages, which is all that AVS has had resources to do historically. We want to get Panasonic and Epson and Sony and Samsung and all the major brands on hand in a way that the community gets excited about. Are there brands that you'd actually be interested in talking with on the site? I've heard stories of having Microsoft and Sony on hand during the format wars as a great thing (though hugely confrontational, ha) for the site. 

 

As far as the sites appearing templatized, we are a Software as a Service model - I can spot a vBulletin, phpBB, etc. site within 3 seconds of landing on any page. There is some element of commonality that is expected. We've innovated in terms of some of the other areas that David talks about in his post. 

 

Thanks all!

post #16 of 186
Thread Starter 
Oh, I see. We have to pay in order to avoid that large ads. Just like we have to pay to use a mobile app now. Got it. More money in the bank.

By the way, you will not get those major brands involved. It will not happen. There is a long and messy history there.
post #17 of 186
Quote:
Originally Posted by RedOctober205 View Post

False
False as well.
The move to Huddler will be greatly benefit the owner of AVSForum. The rest of us can either endure it or move on to greener pastures.

Look. I get that COULD make them more money. Don't throw some lazy label of false on the statement, as you should be able to decipher the context. AVS will potentially get more money out of this, but you're insisting some scrouge mc duck diving into his gold coins swimming pool (how he could do that I'll never understand) and it ain't so.

Also, what products and services have AVS bankrolled in the past? I must have missed them. Certainly not the cruise, as that does not meet the criteria. And it can't be their av products they sell, as that was before the site came into being...
post #18 of 186
All I know is I'm just one member and a paying one at that. I support communities I enjoy visiting daily. But now I cannot even use this site as I did Monday. When one member has difficulties like I'm experiencing, we move on to another forum that's a lot more friendly to visit with our devices. This adds up over time as people spend less time on AVS. I should not be forced off the forum because the software isn't compatible with my device. My iPad is central in my household as it controls my audio, video and browsing from my chair.

I'm very sad at the state of AVS at the moment.
post #19 of 186
Quote:
Originally Posted by RedOctober205 View Post

Oh, I see. We have to pay in order to avoid that large ads. Just like we have to pay to use a mobile app now. Got it. More money in the bank.
By the way, you will not get those major brands involved. It will not happen. There is a long and messy history there.

AVS doesn't see a dime from the purchase of another 3rd party app.

Paying to get rid of ads has been a staple of the site for years, so I'm not sure where you're upset on that one. (Or are you simply referring to the actual size? That's valid.)
post #20 of 186
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by chirpie View Post

Look. I get that COULD make them more money. Don't throw some lazy label of false on the statement, as you should be able to decipher the context. AVS will potentially get more money out of this, but you're insisting some scrouge mc duck diving into his gold coins swimming pool (how he could do that I'll never understand) and it ain't so.
Also, what products and services have AVS bankrolled in the past? I must have missed them. Certainly not the cruise, as that does not meet the criteria. And it can't be their av products they sell, as that was before the site came into being...

Not could, but will. It's the true purpose of Huddler.
post #21 of 186
post #22 of 186
Doesn't seem too nefarious to me. AVS is after all a business. Its the first day, I'm not too worried about little bumps in the upgrade, they'll get sorted out.
post #23 of 186
Quote:
Originally Posted by Venomous View Post

Read this...
http://www.theadminzone.com/forums/showthread.php?t=84922


It reads like a typical B2B article.
post #24 of 186
Thread Starter 
Well, I have to leave for a while. I won't be able to communicate with the forum however. You see, this "innovative" Huddler startup didn't bother to get mobile accessibility in line prior to this relaunch.
post #25 of 186
Yeah I'll check back next week. Perhaps the other forums will pick up more steam because of this. I've always loved this place but it looks like this new platform upgrade is going to affect the quality of the forum now.

I've be in the forum business for a very long time... show me one successful huddler forum since their upgrade...
post #26 of 186
Quote:
Originally Posted by Venomous View Post

At what point does ad revenue take priority over the membership?

Never, because without the members there is no site and therefore no revenue. This is really a pretty basic equation. I could say a lot more about how passionate I am about working with online communities, how it's been the driving force that gets me up in the morning since 1999, and how I think online communities have improved our entire world through the power of free information, but if I got started I would probably blow my entire day...

Seriously, though. I work at Huddler because I love online communities and believe in them. And no one sane would ever try to make money on a website by chasing its members away. That's just illogical. So if you ever have any direct feedback about how we can make the site work better for you, PM me anytime. You bring up Mobile, which is perfectly valid. I've been in a room with 8 people for several months working on that. We'll be demoing it for David next week, after which we'll spend a little more time working out the bugs and polishing it up. Then we can all turn that page. I'm as eager as you are.

Cheers

Andy
post #27 of 186
Well, my major complaint with the old AVSForum was the daily problems with getting the zillions of 3rd party ad links to load every time I'd open a page. So far the loading issue seems better to me. Hopefully it'll stay that way.

IMHO, the old UI was slightly friendlier. But not by much. But I haven't tried posting any screencaps or embedding any Youtube videos yet and at a glance it looks like those tasks might be a lot worse in the new UI. So I might change my mind later.
post #28 of 186
Andy, looks like you and I could spend hours discussing this. I get offers each week of some company wanting to buy me out. Funny thing is, I don't rely on ANY ad revenue.

I think if you guys reworked the ui for the users, then made it possible to inject a plethora of mods like vbulletin, you could have a successful platform. However, all forums but huddler work natively with my iPad. The thing I don't like about mobile versions of sites is a lot of options are stripped out of the mobile interface. So you're left with a real plain interpretation of the site.

Anyhow I'll shoot you a pm.
post #29 of 186
For heavens sake... The owners should dragged outside and have a good ol' fashion public execution! Venomous, you make it sound like they are committing a crime by getting money from advertising. Please enlighten us on why you run so many forums? and please enlighten us if they make absolutely zero revenue from ads? If you don't make one dime off your forums then I believe you can have the floor, but if you do you are just being hypocritical IMO. B/c all you are doing arguing on how much money someone should make off a forum and you sound like a bad sport b/c yours does not make as much. Like it or not, people have to make a living and running a big forum in the future may have the potential to be someones full time business and with that I can only see benefits for the end user. If I am totally off base , please say so, I have eaten crow before and I will do it again if I have to.
post #30 of 186
Quote:
Originally Posted by RedOctober205 View Post

The size and quantity of the ads on every single page contradict your claims. You have taken over a healthy forum following a lengthy, yet apparently inadequate amount of testing...even though it would appear that every site that uses Huddler uses the same basic template. I'm not so sure that I would call that innovation.

I am NOT pleased. Since the "old" AVS worked fine, had mobile access and was very responsive, the ONLY reason for the do-over was financial gain of the new owners. "For the love of forums" ---give me a break. For the love of money would be more accurate.

"Went without pay for 15 months!" Whoopie. It's called starting a new business so why should we be impressed. I started a company 9 years ago and went without pay for 5 years. I did it to earn a living just like the new owners of AVS. "For the love of forums" Sure
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