We'd like to make it easier by allowing members to reply by email, although we don't have that on our Product Roadmap right now. One thing to consider is that some Network Creators want the traffic, so they want people to click through and participate. We'd like to be able to make that an option for NCs to choose. But, again, this isn't something we have slotted for development right now. But, it's a great idea.
When you force people to click through, you're losing anyone on a mobile device. That alone cuts participation in half. Then you probably lose another 25-30% of people who don't want to waste time clicking through on an email link. By the time you're done, you end up cutting participation to 1/4 of what it should be. Without people participating in the discussion, we lose critical mass and the whole site becomes far less useful and compelling.
We've talked in the past about having "reply via email" as an optional feature. I hope Ning can make it happen! Without it, I'm dead in the water. I may have to switch platforms for my community.
I understand where you are coming from, Peter. Just trying to provide some background as to why it's historically existed as it has. We've been focusing on a number of requests like this that we've heard on Creators over time, so we do hear you. We've added your feedback to the product request around this.
Thanks Eric. I greatly appreciate your attention and responsiveness. For me, this fix is a 10 on the scale of 1-10. My sense is that it should also be a priority for the Ning team. Per Michael Combley's post below, discussions are central to the success of a network.
No disrespect intended, but what are your numbers based on? are you saying 50% of YOUR members participate via email notifications on mobile phones, and then another 25%-30% who are not on mobile phones, simply do not want to click thru to the site to participate, and overall 1/4 of YOUR members are all that participate, simply because they cannot reply through email for whatever reason? I'm sorry, but those numbers seem grossly convoluted and inflated. Yours would be the first network I've ever heard of that the fact you cannot reply via email notification has affected in such a destructive manner.
As Eric stated MANY of we NC's rely on pageviews, mainly for monetization purposes. As our pageviews go down (or up) so do our monetization efforts, so, to be able to reply to a comment in a discussion (or in any aspect) from an email account is terribly counterproductive. We need people ON the NETWORK.
Also, I have no reports of people not being able to click thru a link in their email to the network. I just don't really see how that's likely on today's cellular handsets. I've personally used iphones, blackberries and android capable phones and been able to click thru links in my email to my network.
The way I have my network setup is actually the complete opposite of what you are requesting, and it works fine. I actually initially set this up to help reduce spam complaints, and it has been a fantastic solution for that, as well as, it turns out to have increased my pageviews, due mostly to human curiosity I'm guessing. With that tip I linked, it turns off text in member communications, it just sends a notification that someone has replied/interacted with something the notified individual performed on the network, and provides a direct link to see it. I'm wondering if, you spin it to the members as a method of fighting potential spam, would they be ok with it since it is a concerted effort by you to protect them from spam, but will ALSO set it to where they have visit the site to read the comment they are being notified of. This will put them on the site as they read the comment, and at that point will have no issue in replying in the manner that works, since they are already there. This could help you in the engagement area, as well as give your members a security blanket in that you do fight spam.
Thanks for your thoughtful response Speed Racer.
Here's the answer in a nutshell: I've used both Basecamp and Ning for my communities. Discussion activity on Basecamp (which allows email responses) outpaces Ning by a factor between 10-1 and 20-1.
I understand that many NCs rely on clickthroughs for traffic, so I'm asking for this as an option instead of a forced change. With that said, I think it's worth considering the impact of making it easier for members to contribute. Taking out steps makes it easier for people to contribute.
PS What about creating an optional sponsor link in the emails? That would create new ad inventory and enable NCs to monetize discussions regardless of whether members were on the site.
Discussions are central to the success of a network - it is the hub of community interaction
If Ning wants success are a corporation then this becomes a key component of the product offering that needs to perform for it's customers
At the present time the discussion component is inflexible and clumsy
The phpbb offering is the usability benchmark for non portable devices
I have been using phpbb for my forums because I'm personally less than satisfied with Ning's very basic forums and groups system. It needs more than reply by email. On the downside of phpbb I had membership closed unless by request because of spammers. I'm moving back to your forums Ning, because my members are used to them. That is because most of my members are Ning users from a variety of other Ning sites. I will keep using my phpbb forums for the sheer convenience of being able to back up my own material. (Another feature I wish I had)
I would like replay by email and click through because a reply is a reply and it starts the conversation which can bring traffic to the site again once the person gets home to finish the conversation. Activity = Good no matter how it got there.
More comments from members:
Not loving it. Don’t think I’m getting much, if anything.
PS. Love the Subject line, though
Don’t know if it sucks…haven’t used it enough. Have not received notice of your posted “ideas”. (Just saw them and responded.)
Will check more frequently.