Apologies a bit of a community meta thread really. I was wondering based on a fellow member’s comment how is community engagement, growth and churn looking.
I also, can’t prove it seem to notice a drop in the number of people who do comment on the blog, purely an impression, but many of the original posters have gone and others rarely comment now, considering the total membership of the WS the amount of commenters is very small and does not appear to have grown
I wonder with fancy forum software such as that which TWS employs if there’s any truth to the statement? I imagine there is some seaonal impact. Christmas always tends to be fairly post-heavy.
What topics attract community members?
What makes community members churn?
What engages people the most?
For myself some of the top benefits:
a) Crowd sourced expert advice on wine’s to purchase, thoughts of new EP vintages, new wines, discoveries
b) Vicarious enjoyment or education on weekly drinking threads
c) Fellow wine geekery. Not everyone likes to taste, analyse and dissect what they drink. A lot of my friends, family & wife for one, so I do appreciate a like minded community where people might actually care beyond red or white
d) Buyer expert advice. As an example, I still book mark Toby’s excellent post on Burgundy
e) Travel wine and food advice. Always excellent suggestions
Potential reasons for churn:
Are there a limited number of subjects wine related?
Is there lack of diversity?
Does it encourage overspending or overindulging?
Debates that spill in to Ad Hominem attacks? Godwin’s Law etc?
I agree with the ‘reasons to engage’ that you’ve listed. I always enjoy reading about what other people are drinking and have learned loads on what to try and what I like from this (although a minor gripe is when people just post a picture without telling us how it was!)
Engagement from the buyers is a real perk of the community. Toby in particular is extremely generous with his time and honest advice.
I also enjoy the non-wine related discussion - some lighthearted, some more serious. It’s very easy to ignore anything you’re not interested in. Almost everyone remains civil to each other even when they disagree - unlike many other online environments which can get downright nasty.
The issues you raise are mostly valid. Impact on bank balance is a problem, but that responsibility lies with me and no one else!
On diversity, I’d guess that this forum is perhaps a little broader (on gender, age and social group) than other wine forums. Can’t back that up with facts though!
I am an often lurker and occasional poster. I agree with your “top benefits” and these are the posts that routinely engage me. Quite frankly I don’t bother following the “political” threads as we all have our own opinions and know this area can get a bit heavy and heated.
I would imagine, again with nothing to support this, that the majority of regular posters have the financial means to spend on wine and potentially are in the second half of careers and/or retired. As I’m sure was reported on another thread possibly re the AGM, this does present challenges to TWS. The access to the buyers re this community is an amazing benefit but I do wish they’d not recommend so much
I visit this community a lot more than I comment… I’m here almost every day, lurking in the background. I love the weekly drinking threads too and keep a close eye on the en primeur discussions to see what people who clearly know more about wine than I do are buying. It’s really educational and much more fun than reading a book. I’ve made some great discoveries thanks to a few of you.
The reasons I don’t comment too often are a) because I don’t feel I know enough about wines for anyone to be interested (or to guarantee not making an show of myself) and b) some of the threads can feel borderline hostile at times - pedants corner and the brexit thread spring to mind. There’s a simple enough solution to that though - just don’t engage. If others are enjoying it let then get on with it.
PS. My wife and I love the idea of Godwin’s Law. Not heard that one before. so true.
I wonder if it’s because it’s not obvious at all the the Community exists.
I was a member of TWS for years before I found out about it. Other than the subtle link at the top right, which simply reads ‘Community’, what is there to direct people here? I think I clicked on it once by accident.
Maybe TWS need to do a bit more to promote it? They could, for example, include a link in a prominent place in all their marketing emails. Or on the page for each individual wine have a link to the community.
Colloquially - I have no evidence other than my gut instinct - but I feel that traffic/posting in the last 6 months has dropped quite considerably from the (I’m guessing) Halcyon days of lock down (and all the other bubble/rule of 6/other nonsense) we experienced in 20/21.
I’ll also add that a couple of the specialist threads have suffered because their (entirely voluntary) curators (I am so '23) seem to post much less frequently, if at all. I know one poster felt a little aggrieved - I would say probably quite justifiably - that their shared expertise/knowledge was working against them. And consequently the forum is all the poorer for it (I have no solutions, by the way, only observations).
When the Community first started, the Society did do a lot more promotion, and it was regularly mentioned in their emails and Society News. But now, almost nothing. It’s a shame, and seems like a missed opportunity.
I have learned a huge amount - from many community members. The world of wine is a huge place with many niches to explore. I can find inspiration from the vast majority of threads / posters on here. When I have a question to ask, this community has been a superb resource. I hope others find (some) of my comments useful / interesting.
Some members bring amazing regional knowledge (the enthusiasm of Taffy on Tour was a big hook when I first started lurking). It seems to me an inevitable fact that certain threads / regions have a natural (well informed) cheerleader - very valuable they are too.
The weekly drinking threads / notes from tasting events provide regular inspiration. I would never have tasted Greek wine or purchased mystery cases without this community.
I love the travel threads, or those that focus on a specific segment of the society list (cellar defenders / grape types).
Some of the commentary on the likes of “How much wine is enough” / “help with wedding wines” / “burgundy for a novice - help needed” has been super interesting. Likewise discussion of how people store wine.
Some threads are of academic interest - out of my budget / clearly does not match my taste. Still interesting to read though, even if I cannot contribute (or directly benefit). All good, and easy not to engage with anything I choose not to.
Ultimately the community has broadened my horizons and added to my enjoyment of wine. Cannot ask for much more.
Similarly for me it was a few years before I got involved, I think it looked overwhelming when I first had a look… so many threads… where to start… but you’ve got to start somewhere and things build from that (hopefully). I enjoy reading and getting to know people’s tastes, thoughts and opinions, and sharing mine.
Tend to stay away from anything that gets eg political, firstly it’s a wine forum, and secondly it’s what “they” want, ie divide and rule. Let’s try to get along please.
More diversity in terms of contributors would be brilliant, but tricky given - and this is a big assumption based on events I’ve attended - the historically traditional demographic of TWS. Perhaps a greater diversity within TWS staff and management would go some way to address that and influence change… more needed in the industry as well perhaps. I don’t know how you would do that but I’m conscious this is veering into politics… oops. Power and politics is everywhere!
Overall I enjoy taking part and getting to know the personalities on here, and sometimes IRL.
I think the point about lockdown is important: we all have less time for online than we did (fortunately), but I don’t think that there is a serious lack of contributions or new members or new topics. The Society could promote it more (it gets a mention on the last page of the leaflet for new members, but only after some pages giving vague information about member services). It should be more prominent on the home page, but also get some reminders on, for example, the events page? or on the review section of wine pages? Most people don’t want to get over-involved in most organisations; we all have to choose where to spend/waste our time.
Like others I find this a very friendly laid back and knowledgeable forum. I occasionally lurk and very rarely post on a couple of others which I find way too serious. New members do seem to have dried up a bit though.
I suspect the forum is more diverse than some people might think, you never know who is behind a screen name. I can not only say I have met a very diverse group from here many who are now friends but there’s pics of us on here to prove it too.
Sorry to state what may be obvious, but there are members who leave without necessarily any wish to do so, and possibly without much warning. Given the demographics of this group I don’t think there’s much that can be done about it other than trying to recruit new members.
I used to wonder about this myself too - my formal knowledge of wine is nominal, but I don’t really care, and I’m not sure anyone really cares (clearly there are many folk on here with astonishing formal knowledge, but personally I’ve never felt or noticed any sense of superiority from anyone around this).
For me, it’s simply a shared enjoyment of enjoying wine. I have certainly learned bucketloads of things on here, which I do very much value, but for me it’s very much the simple vicarious pleasure of reading & hearing what rocks each others’ vinous boats. Folk post with equal enthusiasm about the whole range, from decent quaffers to the sorts of wines that I will never be able to afford. I love that about this place, I must say. There is no wine-snobbery to be seen IMO.