surfski.info revamp: Your opinions please!

2 years 11 months ago #29845 by robin.mousley
As you know, surfski.info has been in hibernation for the last couple of years... The only reason I kept it going was the forum, which has steadily increased in popularity.

I'd like to ask you for your opinion(s).

What should be the primary focus of the site? For example, my feeling is that for most people, race reports have less attraction than, say, five years ago before the total onslaught of social media... These days, races have facebook pages, they dump the results and a million photos onto Facebook and, "have a nice day".

A future surfski.info should rather have:

- The forum given a more prominent place.
- Manufacturer and model database with reader ratings/reviews
- International race database with reader ratings/reviews and other information (such as tourism stuff)
- Extensive, clear, how-to and training material
- Equipment reviews
- Podcast (manufacturer interviews, training info, paddler interviews, trends and races)

What suggestions do YOU have for your new surfski.info? What priority should we give to new functionality?

If you want to get hold of me directly, rather than here in this thread, email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Thanks!

Rob

Currently Fenn Swordfish S, Epic V10 Double.
Previously: Think Evo II, Carbonology Zest, Fenn Swordfish, Epic V10, Fenn Elite, Red7 Surf70 Pro, Epic V10 Sport, Genius Blu, Kayak Centre Zeplin, Fenn Mako6, Custom Kayaks ICON, Brian's Kayaks Molokai, Brian's Kayaks Wedge and several others...
The following user(s) said Thank You: Impala, Pelle

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2 years 11 months ago #29846 by owenfromwales
Hi Rob,

First off, I like to give you a big thank-you, for bringing us Surfski.info and for keeping the site up and running.

I agree with your suggestions above. The only thing I would add, and this comes down the rest of us too, is to see more articles. Perhaps in depth articles from manufacturers about how they put their boats together, health issues to do with paddling from those in the know, more input from manufacturers and sponsored paddlers on the latest developments, and so on.

Thanks Rob,

Owen

189cm 90~100kg
Present skis:
2017 Stellar SEI 2G
1993 Gaisford Spec Ski
1980s Pratt Spec Ski
1980s UK Surf Skis Ocean Razor
Previous
1980s UK Surf Skis Ocean Razor X 3
1987 Kevlar Chalupsky (Hummel) (Welsh copy!)
1988 Kevlar Double Chalupsky
1992 Hammerhead spec
2000 Fenn copy

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2 years 11 months ago #29847 by robin.mousley

The only thing I would add, and this comes down the rest of us too, is to see more articles.


Thanks Owen, interesting feedback. I thought that articles were of less interest these days. Ok.

Rob

Currently Fenn Swordfish S, Epic V10 Double.
Previously: Think Evo II, Carbonology Zest, Fenn Swordfish, Epic V10, Fenn Elite, Red7 Surf70 Pro, Epic V10 Sport, Genius Blu, Kayak Centre Zeplin, Fenn Mako6, Custom Kayaks ICON, Brian's Kayaks Molokai, Brian's Kayaks Wedge and several others...

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2 years 11 months ago #29848 by owenfromwales
I think it`s a narrow field, ie something that we as ski paddlers find very interesting, are not likely to have read before or to find anywhere else! - but it`s up to the readership / manufacturers to put these things together.

189cm 90~100kg
Present skis:
2017 Stellar SEI 2G
1993 Gaisford Spec Ski
1980s Pratt Spec Ski
1980s UK Surf Skis Ocean Razor
Previous
1980s UK Surf Skis Ocean Razor X 3
1987 Kevlar Chalupsky (Hummel) (Welsh copy!)
1988 Kevlar Double Chalupsky
1992 Hammerhead spec
2000 Fenn copy

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2 years 11 months ago - 2 years 11 months ago #29852 by MCImes
Hi Rob,

- The forum given a more prominent place.
Love this idea. I think this is where nearly all the value of this site comes from (for me at least. There arent a lot of races in the US to keep up with, and as much as I wish I could travel the world to participate in more races, alas finances do not allow.)
The forum is one of the only gathering places for surkskiiers world wide to talk, ask questions, get snarky with each other, ect. I know I have learned a ton by reading and listening to the advice here. I tell everyone with a fast kayak or ski to check out the forums here because of the great information and highly experienced paddlers.

- Manufacturer and model database with reader ratings/reviews
Love this idea. It would consolidate a lot of the information already on the forums. How many topics are there about V10 vs SEI or V10S vs Evo vs SR? These could be articles and it would be nice to have a deposit for the user created reviews like wesley, ludvic, and others are kind enough to write.

- International race database with reader ratings/reviews and other information (such as tourism stuff)
I will be interested in something like this in the future as finances allow me to participate internationally, but not so much right now.

- Extensive, clear, how-to and training material
Great idea. Also would be good to consolidate a lot of the information given on the forums over the years into a dedicated training section.

- Equipment reviews
Same as boat reviews - great idea

- Podcast (manufacturer interviews, training info, paddler interviews, trends and races)
I would occasionally listen. Im not a huge podcaster but do download about 5-10 a month. I could see making skiing podcasts part of my regular in-flight listening

Overall I like the idea of:
-Making the community / forum a more prominent feature of the website
-Consolidating a lot of the information on the forums into hard website sections around Training, Boat reviews, Gear reviews, (also maybe 'everything a newbie should know', or 'steps for going to the next level: intermediate, advanced, elite'

I just googled 'Surfski' and 'surfski forum' and you were the first website to come up in results. You should have good natural visibility of the site; anything you can do to engage the community and keep them active in it is commendable. I think making the forum and gear reviews prominent sections of the home page is a great idea.

Just a thought, have the most recent 2-5 topics of the forum displayed on the main page to engage people immediately.

(Also, if you ever need a surfski.info marketer, you have my email :) I do a fair amount of marketing for you pro-bono with my local paddlers =)

Happy paddling,
Marcus

Currently - Swordfish S in Southern California's ocean waters
Past Boats: Epic V10 g0, Stellar SR g1, Fenn XT g1
"When you've done something right, they wont know you've done anything at all"

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2 years 11 months ago #29853 by zachhandler
Rob this site is the central hub of the online surfski community. There are a handful of other fine surfski websites out there, but the forum on your site is truly the public posting board for anything surfski related. So thank you.

I think surfski paddlers who waste time online are pretty desperate for new content of any type. Personally I'll click on all the surfski websites compulsively for weeks at a time before anything new ever pops up. So I am not at all picky about content. Anything new on any site is a treat.

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2 years 11 months ago - 2 years 11 months ago #29856 by Impala
Hi Rob,

there may be other sites still, but they do not feature more articles to my impression, and they do not have the forum. So making this more prominent on the website is, I guess, something that almost everyone here would agree to.

The other elements you name ... hmm, that depends a lot how much effort you want to put into updating all that stuff. Of course you can run the site as a discussion forum with additional sections with informational content, but even though that will be less work than the initial 'news article' concept, all that stuff has to be checked and updated from time to time. I would not take that on me alone if I were in your place, but maybe some of the members here would be interested to volunteer for the one or other section? (Of course not me ... too imcompetent :-)

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2 years 11 months ago #29857 by Spacehopper
I'd echo the above - the heart of the site is the forum and it's pretty central to the community, especially for those of us in countries where ski paddling is a relatively new thing - so thanks Rob for all your hard work.

I think maybe less categories for the forum (which can make it appear less busy than it is), just a decent search function.

Maybe forging links with some of the other ski/paddling websites and bringing in their content to a central newsfeed (e.g. sportscene for race reports, podcasts from TCSurfski...)

Reviews database would be good, as would just more reviews. That seemed to be the case a few years ago with surfski.info and surfskiracing.com but I perceive there are less and less reviews and most still deal with advanced boats. Would be interesting to see some comparative reviews of some of the entry/intermediate level boats that have appeared in the last couple of years.

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2 years 11 months ago #29858 by Dicko
I understand how time consuming writing articles can be, so why not create a site similar to "The Roar" (a sports site) whereby amateurs (and some professionals) do the writing. These guys do the work and present their stuff and if Rob decides they are acceptable they get posted.

The list of ski based articles could be endless. People could write reviews on stuff, or do a piece on their local paddling area, interview mates with a story, race reviews, etc, etc. Ski manufacturers could submit articles. Elite paddlers could submit articles. After a while certain authors tend to gather a following.

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2 years 11 months ago - 2 years 11 months ago #29860 by feeny
Hi Rob,

Thanks for the site and a potential revamp!

In my opinion, the forum is everything. It's a user community that creates continued interest - without that, it's up to moderators/site admins to craft and curate content.

The forum seems to be wonderfully 100% powered by users - and everything on your list above could easily be part of a more prominent forum.

On every forum I've ever used, the more popular "threads" attract the most attention and the others drop off over time.

That said, if surfski.info becomes a home for curated surfski material, I will be a very happy content consumer!

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2 years 11 months ago #29861 by Bill L

Dicko wrote: I understand how time consuming writing articles can be, so why not create a site similar to "The Roar" (a sports site) whereby amateurs (and some professionals) do the writing. These guys do the work and present their stuff and if Rob decides they are acceptable they get posted.

The list of ski based articles could be endless. People could write reviews on stuff, or do a piece on their local paddling area, interview mates with a story, race reviews, etc, etc. Ski manufacturers could submit articles. Elite paddlers could submit articles. After a while certain authors tend to gather a following.

I think Dicko has hit the nail on the head - Let others do the work Rob, you just act as editor and moderator.

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2 years 10 months ago #29864 by nell
The forum works well, I think we all agree on that.

I like reading articles, too. Articles take a bit more of a time commitment with draft versions and pictures and editing, but they probably don't have to be that formal and conclusive like we're used to seeing on this site. An opinion piece on why you like your new ski / paddle, why one rudder shape is better or worse, a review - even if not all-encompassing, or even a 2nd contrarian (but polite!) review on something, a trip report, or a technical bit on composites, manufacturing, design, gps's, bungee cords? drink mixes, etc - it's all good and I suspect it will all be appreciated.

The way I see it is that if you paddle a surfski or have any interest in anything to do with surfski paddling, then you are worthy of submitting an article to this site.

There were 377 views on this topic at the time of my reply. That's 377 potential articles over the next year - which is a new article each day.
EBorgnes

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2 years 10 months ago #29865 by SurfskiEstonia
First of all, I want to thank Rob for asking this question from the members :) It makes me feel more involved and a part of a real community!

I will write here my initial reaction to this question, so please don't take my negative-nancyism too harshly :)

1) The forum is clearly the center-piece of this website and should probably be made much more prominent (maybe even the landing page?). Most of the new hits come through google search and onto the threads and bypass the other content. Or am I mistaken? The experienced users type in surfski.info and then have to find more or less the least noticeable button on the page to get to the forum :dry:

2) For the owner of the site to put so much more effort into it, there should be a monetary goal in addition to the pure love of the sport already for the simple practical reasons of having to do it full time. There could be general advertisement (there is minimal of it now) and then there could be a model of selling equipment through the site or profit sharing etc. I don't know if Rob is thinking in that direction..

3) Regarding the members posting longer articles and reviews, only the most reputable could have the credibility to be taken seriously. For example, I
also have a lot of opinions on the sport, but noone would take them seriously if I posted those in an article. My opinion is only somewhat valuable in the collective opinion pool of the forum. To make those reputable members write articles, there also need to be some incentives, which I can't see clearly at the moment.

To sum it up, what are my suggestions:
a) make the forum much more visible on the page
b) only in case there is a realistic monetisation plan, to consider investing in the quantity of author-based and other content.

Even if nothing changes, I will be visiting the forum everyday, so thanks again ,Rob, for keeping it up!!

Nelo Ocean Ski L, Jantex Gamma Mid, Jantex Gamma Rio Large Minus

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2 years 10 months ago #29866 by davgdavg
All your planned points seem pretty good. I don't really have any suggestions as to content, but I would say that if the forum continues to grow, as it almost certainly will, it may be best to make the leap to a better software that allows for better searching, etc. I don't see any reason why to not make it purely a forum. You will also be able to benefit from advertising revenues as the popularity grows.

I would say that with the forum and social media, article writing should probably just be left to the forum. You can sticky the good ones or put them in a special forum or something, but no need to make extra work.

Speaking of work, thanks!

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2 years 10 months ago #29867 by Kiwi Dave
Agree with the common thread here that its all about the forum. Unless somebody is really dedicated / into keeping the news / current affairs content up to date it soon becomes stale and detracts from the real value of the site; which is to give the community a voice and place to come together.

On the forum specifically here are some considerations:
- Implement SSL / https regardless of any other changes ... people are asked to put credentials in (in unencrypted / clear text) and I'm betting some folks passwords are the same as other more sensitive sites they use.
- Advertising is the scurge of the internet and should be avoided if possible. Personally I'd be happy to donate a small amount per year say to cover running costs to avoid it.
- The speed is fairly bad from New Zealand ... not sure what its like from other locations.
- The software 'gets the job done' but lacks polish and could be much nicer in general.

Hope the above points are taken in the right light, essentially its the content and user base that makes a forum great which gets a thumbs up.

On an aside Rob I ran a forum for a year or so which I've since shut down due to a lack of local interest. It was based on the Xenforo software which I was pretty impressed with. Its commercial but not expensive (could probably donate my license if interested). If you do end up looking at the software angle and want to have a play let me know and I can fire it up again.

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2 years 10 months ago #29868 by robin.mousley
Thanks very much for the feedback so far - confirms some of my feelings.

@Kiwi Dave:

- Yes, SSL for sure. In fact I'll get on that right now, regardless.
- Advertising: if we go for it, I'll kill the Adsense ads, but we will have surfski/paddling related ads, albeit without shoving it down your throat. Hopefully these will be more relevant.

Thanks for the offer and info re Xenforo. One of the considerations is that we rate highly on Google Search because we have so much existing content. I don't want to kill it all for fear of losing our search rankings...

But the feedback from all of you confirms that the forum really needs to be up front and centre.

We're looking at opening an online shop, and also an Amazon Associate section where we recommend a bunch of useful items (like helicopter tape, light sticks for night paddling, etc, etc) - when you buy from Amazon we then get a small cut.

@dicko, I'll check out the Roar! Thanks.

And thanks to all of you who have replied.

Rob

Currently Fenn Swordfish S, Epic V10 Double.
Previously: Think Evo II, Carbonology Zest, Fenn Swordfish, Epic V10, Fenn Elite, Red7 Surf70 Pro, Epic V10 Sport, Genius Blu, Kayak Centre Zeplin, Fenn Mako6, Custom Kayaks ICON, Brian's Kayaks Molokai, Brian's Kayaks Wedge and several others...

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2 years 10 months ago #29870 by TaffyMick
Hi Rob,

While it's all been said above. My two bobs worth...

The great thing about the Forum is that it brings together views, opinions and experiences of paddlers from all walks of life, ages and on the water experience. Many of us have spent lots of money trying to find that "perfect" ski. Nowadays I value the opinion of the contributors to the Forum which assists me greatly in my deliberations and saves me a bucket load of cash.

Over the past several years my development in paddling surf skis (and K1s / other racing craft) has been boosted and enriched from what I have learned via Surfski info.

Long May The Forum Reign!

Mick

Stellar SEI, Fenn Bluefin S, Sladecraft Comet Long Rec & Vajda K1

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2 years 10 months ago #29872 by kwolfe
I'll echo what has been said before. The forum is really the heart of what people interact with. To mirror what some other sites look like with a General, Gear, Classifieds, Downwind, flatwater, reviews, training, nutrition sections would be great.

All articles can be posted in their own section.

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2 years 10 months ago #29874 by LakeMan
We need more articles on why surfskis are better than SUPs so I can forward them to my paddle-boarding sister.

"Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts." - Winston Churchill
The following user(s) said Thank You: supsherpa

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2 years 10 months ago #29875 by Pelle
I agree with most that has been said above. As a newbie I found the articles on surfski.info through google and stayed for the forum. Still being a newbie I find great value in the discussions. I would definitely listen if there was a podcast.

I suggest that you look at irunfar.com for inspiration. I really appreciater their interviews with pro runners before and after races.

/Pelle

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