When we brought Taylor Baird on board as the newest member of the Defending Big D team, we did so because we knew she would bring a new, fresh approach to the site and we were extremely excited about the future with more talent here on the site. What I never expected was just how quickly her actions would work to improve our community.
Taylor was the mastermind behind the Defending Big D Community survey and I am proud to announce that it was a tremendous success. We had more responses than we ever anticipated, as well as feedback from across all demographics that visit the site. Man, woman, young...seasoned veterans....everyone responded with some incredible feedback for our site and provided some extremely valuable insight into exactly what the readers and members of this site are looking for.
I would say that 99.5% of all comments and suggestions were helpful in our efforts to improve.
Sadly, we cannot start blogging while high. I'd like to keep my day job.
What I wanted to do was to provide some feedback on a number of issues that were raised in the survey, as well as questions and suggestions about how we can improve moving forward. As with any medium where there is a wide range of users, both in age, gender and hockey experience -- we unfortunately cannot please everyone. We'd love to try, but the truth is that we just can't make everyone happy nor can we make every suggestion or request a reality.
After the jump, I'll go down the list of the most common or helpful comments from the survey and let you guys know what we're planning on doing as we move forward.
I'm also going to ask for further feedback and details from you guys on a few of these, so please feel free to respond in the comments.
The Defending Big D Community Guidelines are no longer enforced, leading to a sometimes hostile and "frat boy" feel to the website.
This is something that has come up recently over the past six months or so, especially in the game threads. When I first launched this site I set up some very specific site guidelines and rules that we enforced, all in the effort to keep DBD a friendly and inviting community where anyone -- regardless of gender, age or hockey experience -- could feel safe jumping in and joining in on the conversation.
We've gotten away from the rules a bit lately and that's entirely our fault; as the site and the community has grown, we've become very lax with enforcing the restrictions on foul language. While we've also fought hard to keep the personal attacks to a minimum, we could cut down on these a bit as well.
We don't want to alienate anyone here on DBD and we certainly don't want anyone feeling they must censor our website before allowing their children or grandchildren to read up about their favorite hockey team. I understand that the majority of websites around SBN do not have these rules in place and for the most part are much, much worse than what happens in game threads here at DBD. That being said, hockey -- and especially Dallas Stars hockey -- is extremely popular with women and kids and we want them feeling welcome here as well.
We'll have a post on this later in the summer, but from here on remember the basic rules of Defending Big D.
No foul language.
No personal attacks. Feel free to debate and feel free to debate in a heated manner; as soon as it gets personal, however, warnings will be issued and those comments deleted.
A website with the stature and popularity of Defending Big D should be ashamed by the amount of typos that exist in nearly every post.
This is something we've already addressed internally. We've also hired a "ghost editor", someone who has access to fix any errors they may see. We're working hard to have better quality control of our content and to ensure that any mistakes are found and corrected.
The truth is, both Brad and I are seasoned and experienced writers and have zero excuses for typos -- other than to say that both of us are extremely busy in our personal lives and sometimes we don't take the time to check our work as well as we should. Not exactly an excuse and it's something we don't want happening in the future.
I was a bit flattered by how most people pointed these mistakes out and how a website "like ours" should never have such "amateur" mistakes. For those comments....thank you!
Readers want more in depth player profiles and interviews
Frankly, so do we.
It's a tricky game to play with this one, as we aim to provide something different than what already exists elsewhere at ESPN Dallas, DMN and the mothership. Those sources have a number of interviews, comments, and what not from players but it's always the same thing from the players -- especially during the season.
Those comments and quotes you see there would also be the exact same thing you'd get here. During the season, players rarely provide individual interviews -- other than for television and radio -- and when they're talking to one person with a microphone there's always others around as well. Everyone gets the same quotes and they're always generally the same. It's very tough to get anything different during the season -- and access to the players during the offseason is nearly impossible.
We're working on it, however. We've done enough as a website and as a community that the team understands that Defending Big D isn't full of crazed bloggers working from mom's basement; we've established a very good working relationship with many on the team and many working for the team and we hope to build on that moving forward.
I will say this: any interviews or profiles you get on the players here on DBD will be much different than what you read elsewhere. You said you want to get to know the players better and let their personalities come out; we'll do out best to make that happen. Stay tuned.
Readers want more coverage and information on the prospects in the system
This was a bit of a surprise, as there are other resources that provide weekly updates on all the prospects. Yet we found that over 80% of our readers use Defending Big D as their main source for Stars news -- and they want to hear about the prospects.
While we won't be doing a dry, clinical listing of weekly stats for each prospect -- Mark Stepneski already does that, and he does it better than we could -- what we will do is provide weekly updates of the best of the group, as well as periodic updates on how the top prospects in the system are performing on a regular basis. We'll also do our best to highlight some "unknowns" in the system, and take a look at how these hidden gems could make an impact on the Stars soon.
Did you know that Matt Fraser, recently signed by the Stars to an ELC, is the 2nd leading scorer in the CHL playoffs? Probably not, because we never mentioned it until now. That's going to change.
We've always worked under the impression that readers here wanted nothing but Stars news, so we stayed away from those details...which brings me to the next point:
Readers are hungry for more coverage of the Stars' minor league system -- and perhaps hockey across North Texas.
This is something that I'm going to ask for more clarification and information on. We already provide a weekly update on the Texas Stars, but there were more than a few suggestions for more.
What, exactly, do you -- the readers -- want more of? More game coverage, more coverage of the prospects in the AHL and ECHL? More updates on the Texas Stars, Allen Americans and Idaho Steelheads? This is entirely possible, but only if it's definitely in demand.
We're also interested in hearing if you guys want more coverage of local hockey around the area. We're talking internally about a bi-weekly update on any events and/or news that pertains to hockey in North Texas. Is that something you'd be interested in?
There should be more original content on Defending Big D, especially when it comes to news coverage -- less "rehashing" of news posted on other sites.
A few people commented that with our access to the team, we should have more original news stories and coverage of the team -- especially inside information and behind the scenes content.
This is where it gets a bit tricky and this is where I need to clarify some information.
Defending Big D does possess press credentials for the team. We attend practices, morning skates and occasionally attend games in the press box. We do none of these all that often and attend practices and skates rarely; all of us here at DBD possess real jobs and not everyone lives in the Dallas area. While we do have access to the team, we aren't able to take advantage as much as we'd like.
We also don't take advantage of this access as much as people think; Brad has season tickets that he uses for most games, and I have yet to attend a game in the press box. I attended 18 games last season and I paid handsomely for all of them -- any notion that we receive "free tickets" or amend our content to maintain that privilege is completely untrue.
This also means that our "sources" within the organization are very, very limited and most of the time we just don't have enough ground to be able to post any information we do receive. We fight to maintain our integrity and we're proud that we don't run to the keyboard everytime we hear something juicy. And I hope that our readers aren't looking for that either.
Hence, we have to rely on other sites for "news". When we post news that has happened, protocol says that we must cite this outside source, link to that source and if we quote from that news article we label it as such. It may seem that we're just "rehashing" other posts and news, but the truth is -- that's our only source as well.
We're just doing our best to bring news from around the web to you, and to provide original analysis and commentary on this news as well. What we strive to do is to initially make a post with any news, provide some initial comments on this news, and then post our extended analysis and opinion later once we've had time to sit down and digest it as well.
We do our best, especially with news, to provide more original content in such posts than anything that is lifted from those news sources. There may be a few block quotes, but we hope to offset those with analysis and content ourselves; go back and look at our coverage of the James Neal and Alex Goligoski trade. The news was coming from elsewhere, but we fought to provide as much original content and analysis than anywhere else.
I like to think we succeeded.
As always, we know we can improve. We're working hard to provide more "behind the scenes" commentary and coverage -- at least as much as we'd be allowed to provide. There are a few tricks up our sleeves and we know you want more...we hope to provide that as we move forward.
We need more video reviews and extended breakdowns of the games
I had no idea that these were in such in high demand; in fact, this was the 2nd most commented category in the survey. The video reviews and film breakdown are very, very time consuming but there are ways to do smaller and yet still entertaining breakdowns.
I hope to do film reviews at least once a month now, and we're working hard to provide more breakdowns of plays and games, in an effort to provide better and more in-depth commentary on the game itself as we attempt to decifer just what makes the Dallas Stars tick.
Once again, knowing this is in such high demand makes us know that more of these are needed. We had no clue -- honestly.
WHERE THE HECK IS DEFENDING BIG D LIVE????
This is the one that surprised me the most and the one people commented on more than any other. I couldn't believe it.
The truth is, DBD Live went away due to changes at Blog Talk Radio that made it much tougher for us to put a live podcast together using their website. We also had no idea the podcast was in such high demand.
We've discussed internally ways to get the podcast started again, and we're about 75% certain the best method is to record the podcast and release it as a download, either through iTunes or through a hosting service. What we don't know is if the readers and listeners would still be interested if it wasn't a live show...so, 2nd piece of homework.
Is a live broadcast of the show absolutely essential? Or would a recorded podcast be just as good?
All in all, some very, very useful information was taken from this survey and I'm interested in hearing any comments on the above.
There were a few comments about our writing -- especially our objectivity (or lack thereof) and some of the humor that might or might not exist at times in our posts. Please remember that we are just fans and bloggers and as much as we try to be professionals, we just aren't. We also do our best to remain as objective as possible and to not let our fan side come through too much in the writing.
We're still working hard to provide that perfect balance.
Also, my apologies to anyone who feels I may come across too strong at times. It's certainly not my objective; I find myself challenging ideas and opinions in an effort to spark debate and educate not only each other but myself as well: I'm certainly not infallible and I don't believe my opinion is the only one that counts....I'll certainly try to take it a bit easy, however.
Just not on you, Travis. You're in my crosshairs, buddy.