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I had a few people email me about this. I replied back but I wanted to let this thread develop some more before I addressed some of the questions or points that I've come to live with.
Spudding is a rotating hobby. I've been around the hobby about 15 years now and I've seen a lot of faces come and go. Sometimes I wish that wasn't true so we had some aspects back of the good ol days, but people come in and out of this hobby. The primary group that gets into this hobby is the adventurous younger teenager. When the website redesign happened, that is the audience I focused on capturing (if you couldn't tell ). I've had people love the new layout, and people absolutely despise it. That is going to happen with any change I make. It is indeed possible to have multiple layouts but 1 always has to be default and that default is what a huge percentage of people will see.
There is indeed less innovation now than say 8 years ago, but it is understandably so. There is only so much we can do with plastic launchers and prefabricated parts. There was a great period in development from the ultra basic combustion/pneumatic cannon to what we see now, but until someone else has a wild bright idea (that isn't extremely dangerous) then we may be stuck here. Some elitists hate this, but you need to remember what it was like when you first joined the hobby. That's what the forums are for, helping people not shrugging off anyone not building the craziest of launchers. The hobby is a fun sport, which is why there are various rules in place to keep people from going "too" wild and someone getting seriously hurt.
Exactly as others in this thread have said, those teenagers grow up and suddenly have to focus on other things and suddenly find new things that become interests. Some stick around more, some float away and come back, some may be lost forever. Now it is indeed true that many members are older adults but the younger generation definitely outweighs them. It's hard to keep the 20-45ish age range because that's when a lot of "life" suddenly starts and keeps happening. Then you age a bit and find more time and suddenly find hobbies to return to. This is what has happened to me. I have a house, cars, and a major career I keep building. SpudFiles is too dear to me to let go so I will always keep things going because the hobby is in my heart even though I don't build or discuss it often. I fire my cannons perhaps once a year when some friends get excited because the conversation of SpudFiles comes up. Lots of people that know me in person have no clue that I own and operate the largest potato cannon website in the world.
To address a few other particulars...
-SpudFiles web traffic has indeed seen a bit of a drop the past several months. Last year at this time compared to now we are about 8k unique visitors short. This isn't abnormal but I would like to increase this.
-We don't have HTTPS pages because that would require me to pay and maintain the SSL certificate required for this to not give certificate warnings to every visitor. I pay for SpudFiles out of pocket and while it isn't crazy expensive, the ads just barely keep it self sufficient (not always). There isn't any critical personal data being transferred so unless there seems to be some wild large need for this...
-If other themes are desired, lets come up with some solid ideas. Last time I tried to do this people were all over the place, the SpudFiles die hards wanting an old "Matrix" looking dark website back, others loving this style.
-I do finally have some sufficient property to fire cannons and I've considered hosting a spud meet, but I truly don't know how many people I could get interested to travel to the St. Louis area for this since so many of us are spread so far apart.
-If anyone else has ideas for SpudFiles for spudding promotion or anything like that at all, I am always open for suggestions. I know people may have specific ideas but if you have an idea you need to get other people with you on this as well. Perhaps start threads in the Website Discussion section and if there is enough interest we can do it. This is the #1 area that I look at because I'm the one responsible.
Yes, I am the guy that owns & operates SpudFiles (along with our extremely helpful moderators).
You probably misread what I posted, I wasn't asking for HTTPS for the site, I was merely pointing out that loading the site in HTTPS https://www.spudfiles.com tries to take us to your hosting's cPanel.
Collage girls in short shorts drinking beverages out of brown long neck bottles shooting spud cannons wearing http://www.Spudfiles.com tee shirts....That would generate some traffic!
When life gives you lemons...throw them back they suck!
Well I just got some milling facilities to complement the lathe, but I'm too big a procrastinator to post anything much these days. Focused my attention on other things (ATF ) and so on. Anything I do make is hardly worth posting, who really needs to see yet more smallbore QEV based launchers?
PCGUY has it right, I started working full time and I all of a sudden do absolutely nothing. Hardly ever do any hunting, get a bit of time on the lathe in the evenings if I'm not too buggered, haven't even caught a fish in over a year. But my alcohol consumption has gone through the roof.
As a member who started upon this hobby at a very young age, and being here from what could be considered the 'industrial revolution of spudding' throughout it's gradual decline I can speak from experience about the behaviour of the 'modern new member', and can give some observations of how advancements in internet culture has effected traffic.
I think the problem with reduced traffic to the website isn't as much a problem of the way people act, but more their outlets for showing it.
With the advent of popular 'creative' project based youtube channels, such as Grant Thompson's and the rapid expansion of sites such as Instructables, you find a lot of people new to these hobbies come across them via these types of format.
However I see three fundamental Problems with this.
Firstly is the fact that it brings with it a lack of necessity.
These formats are laid out in such a simple nature anyone can understand, while this isn't a bad thing, much of the traffic we had to the site and how we got new members is from people coming here under necessity, coming to learn and discover how to build cannons.
Now what happens is people simply don't need to find out things any more, it's all given to them straight away.
Also, what this brings is a 'spoonfeeding' culture, people who do come to the site expect to be spoon-fed information in the same way as these other formats do, which has lead to many new members feeling quite rejected at times, unfamiliar with our policies on the matter.
Secondly is a humans behaviour to tend to stay 'loyal' to the source from first they encountered a hobby.
Many people of the people entering the hobby do so at quite a young age, and human nature tends itself towards staying 'loyal' to a source, if for nothing other than pure laziness, creating a new account or getting acquainted with a new style of forum can be quite an effort. Banks exploit this behaviour all the time in the uk, pushing 'young age' accounts and bonuses for student members to try and get them at a young age.
The thing is, because of the simplicity and nature of these other formats, easy navigation, easy information etc, they often attract younger people, and as a result keep them there, especially with offers of 'cheap' and 'easy' builds. I know as a fact that when I was first getting into the hobby I was first drawn to instructables a long time before I even dared go into spudfiles.
My final point is that these formats offer very little scope for development.
If someone gives you exact instructions on how to do something, it requires very little brain engagement, what you produce isn't yours, it's a copy. Anyone who has ever designed something and built it can relate to the 'designers high' that comes from it, and new people don't get that, that which is also a driving contributor to further involvement of the hobby.
So how can we address these issues?
In short, I'm not sure. I personally can only think of extremes to address the matter.
But What I can see is that spudfiles as a community is gradually becoming more separated and exclusive.
We need something fresh to bring in new members, but at the same time we need to do something that allows new members to express their own creativity instead of just leaching off others.
Sorry for this being long by the way, but I felt my points haven't really been gone through in detail as of yet.
I made this new account on behalf of this very same matter, i forgot the password of my older account and the mail i registered is gone.
I been lurking this forum for almost 6 years, here goes how i found this forum. when i was on my early teen's i wanted to make a coilgun then i found Sam Barro's powerlabs and learn't about electrothermal guns, i sent him a mail praising him but i never got a reply, i was young and he was my hero for some time but as i got older my english improved got involved on hv4all then i realized he was an arrogant fork that stole ideas, i was searching more about this and i found Larda's ETG on google images, i was dumbfounded by what i just found, not only the ETG but all the creations on this place, i was lucky to have found this community when what i presume was the era of biggest accomplishments and advancements were done, i witnessed the creations only intellectual beings on higher planes of consciousness can conceive like Larda's HyGaC20 or DYI ETG.
I got busy by school and distracted by other projects for a couple of years, now that i am on summer break got the opportunity to continue my spudgun project i started to want to get involved with this devices again, i decided to see whats new on the community. I was greeted by a new layout, my first reaction was of worry as i thought the best had been purged and only spuds and nerf were all about, the root of the idea was the "childish" and colorful layout, fortunately my fears were partially put down after i checked the existence of my favorite threads, almost everything was as i remembered, still i miss some videos that doesn't exist any more like spudfarm's huge hybrid, unfortunately also noticed that this site was in fact as it were when i leaved a couple of years ago! no more records! no more revolutionary ideas materialized! why!? the only launcher of godly specs its stalled (Big Assed Mother Farker by striker), then i saw this tread.
I want to approach from the back seats pridefully raise my hand and inform that i at least i am one who seeks to get actively involved with the community, this site holds a really important place on me, just like PCGUY said i was an adventurous teenager when i discovered this place and was doing all sorts of crazy and dangerous stuff several members of this forum probably have done, i remember when i was doing experiments on my garage, the sightings smells and sounds of science are an experience only a couple thousands out of 7 billion had experienced as teen play, things like the sound of high voltage or the feeling on your chest caused by a big oxy-hydrogen balloon exploding inside a bathroom, the smells of uncommon solvents or nasty gases like sulfur or nitrogen dioxides, chlorine, ozone or the color of it when is pure and liquid, the use of "artificial lungs" to propel objects on single use blowguns (i still remember when i saw that thread haha!) all the phenomena that made my heart pound instants before a test and made my teens the most vivid and full of wonder stage of my life, i feel this place to be home, it is full of mature intelligent and knowledgeable people, something extremely rare on the contemporary internet, no other community i've been a member approaches what this one has done concerning the advancement of a hobby, from spray and pray launchers to metered fuel to 200X capable spudguns in a little bit over a decade is something admirable, if this site disappears it will leave an appreciable void on my heart.
Now i am a bit older and can't do the most adventurous stuff but i have more knowledge and capabilities, my old "horse spudgun" project seems like a good prospect to continue and improve without having the risk of getting in trouble with teh laou, soon i will post more about it or if some one are curious just ask.
I read JSR is absent, i never interacted with him but he is a very familiar face to me, i always identify him as the one with the cereal guy avatar, the persons more iconic to me on this site are Larda, DYI, spudfarm, Mrcrowley, Ragnarok, killjoy D_Hall and other bunch of dudes i only remember their avatar.
Adding to cammyd32 post, i agree all the way what you say, i also realized most people on the internet now prefer to be spoon feed predigested knowledge, the DIY community is bigger than ever but it seems it is quantity over quality, most DYer's just imitate what they see on all those kind of mediums to feel cool and geeky, the worst part on my opinion are the authors of such things because what they only do is cherry pick from individuals or established communities like this one what could make people impressed, simplify it and present it on a glittery way so mediocre people with hivemind gets lured to get views or clicks, they don't have the intention to transmit knowledge they want to make money, this could sound elitist but i prefer to keep persons who like to be spoon feed knowledge away, the ones with the true discovery spirit are likely to find this place, and to me those are the ones who should have access to this knowledge base, you don't want this place to become filled with dem 12 year old's obsessed with dank memes which are likely to shoot themselves in the eye with a frog. The comment section of popular Youtube videos are a good representation of the majority of mindsets the internet has. Spud Files is one of if not the most pristine and cozy place i found on the internet.
So i salute PCGUY for creating and maintaining this site and all members of this community especially all those decided to make breakthroughs, long life Spud Files!
TLRD: Yes looks only few people has interest on this, i am one, thanks to PCGUY and all members and contributors for still being on board of this crazy ride.
Cammy, couldn't agree with you more, you made some very solid points there. As for the solution,
I think a good thing will be to adapt and go with the flow. I'm quite new to the forum, and what I miss and search for mostly are good and accesible tutorials. If there'd be a thread similar to the canon build showcase, but with a lot of big pictures and not in the impractical list format, I think spudfiles will become more accesible for the new and younger folks, that don't have the patience to search for hours for a good thread which they can use to enhance their build and skill
Re: Is spudding dead?
Tossing my two cents in... I think that the problem is the push for too much innovation! All the fancy cannons that utilize intricate designs and moving parts are great and show an impeccable technical understanding and application! I think this demotivates those who want to but may not know how or be able to. Build what you want! Now that I'm back from my hiatus, I think my first build will go back to the basics... a good ole hairspray combustion.
BTW, PCGUY, long time no talk bro!
Good point Drac.
My main reason for not tackling any new projects has been partially my obsession with 'bigger/better' being a requirement to any new build.
VERA may not be the most technically complicated build on this sight, in fact it's very simple in operation (okay maybe it's actually very complicated to fuel correctly) but it's sheer scale makes it the most amazing evolution next to Larda and DYI's work of spudfile's related builds.
'keep it simple stupid'
Vera isn't all that simple. It has an accurate fueling and mixing system and extensive instrumentation for example. Indeed, I believe it has a lot more instrumentation than any other "spud gun". And the crane mechanism needed to replace the burst disk is a nice bit of engineering. (It aint easy to remove a barrel that weighs as much as Vera's does... a ton?)
Thanks for the kind words, but I'll throw this out about VERA....
Yeah, she was pretty heavily instrumented in the beginning. We wanted to know what was going on inside her and all that. However, once we'd shaken her down and got a feel for her we cut way back on the instrumentation. These days she has exactly two pressure transducers. One for 0-25 psia (to measure the fuel), and one for 0-100 psia (to measure the air). Mind you, they're high precision gauges; about $1200 each. This means that I can hold my shot to shot velocities to within a few percent, but her instrumentation really is pretty simple (albeit high quality).
The mixing system involves some venturi pumps and air-driven fans, but it's nothing too exotic and I believe in hind sight that it's largely overkill (the venturi pumps could be pulled out and I suspect I wouldn't notice the difference).
And the barrel weighs 4200 pounds.
You could put that on a T-shirt!
Gun Freak wrote:
Oh my friggin god stop being so awesome, that thing is pure kick ass. Most innovative and creative pneumatic that the files have ever come by!
Can't ask for a better compliment!!
Is spudding dead?
What about the frontpage? When a new user or guest sees that it was last updated like three years ago,
maybe that's a discouragment and an indication that the spudding community they are looking for is inactive. I think we need a weekly update with either a gun showcase or a useful tutorial or an update to an ongoing project of someone. This should bring more life back in the spudding.
You should've seen the Spud tech site's front page if you think this one is outdated
I do like your idea of a new showcase weekly - and maybe I can 1 up that idea:
How about a banner that refreshes every 5 seconds that shows a picture of a spud gun built on this site. clicking on the immediate picture would take you to the forum build log.
Kind of goes along with the modern trend of click bait and keeps the kids attention these days with only being 5 seconds long - because I can only assume attention span hasn't gotten any longer in the age of mass media consumption!
I'm sure PCGuy is gonna be all like "Yea I can't wait to program that lol" so maybe we could get a user on here to help out if interested, host it on GitHub and possibly have PCGuy merge it into this site if he likes it!
The ~2006 Spudfiles had that feature: see here.
Not too tricky, but it requires people to actually use a thumbnail image.
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