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Forums > Announcements & Site Feedback > The State of the Site - 15 Years and Counting...

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Author: honestgamer (Mod)
Posted: October 25, 2013 (08:00 PM)
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HonestGamers is rapidly approaching its unofficial 15th anniversary, on November 1st. The site is probably already 15, from conception to current state, but I don't have a way to recollect the exact date I started work on it so November 1 has been the compromise for quite some time.

Because we're reaching that milestone, I thought it would be wise to give you an update on the site's progress and, unfortunately, its lack of progress in some areas.

First, some bad news...

Traffic to the site has been dropping steadily since Google began focusing more extensively on video content. Google owns YouTube and will often rank videos from that site ahead of relevant written content in search results, which leads to our content being shuffled. A lot of searchers will then click a YouTube video rather than reading a review. This is hurting us big time, but there are people who still prefer written content. Those people are the audience for this site.

We're also no longer listed on GameRankings, which doesn't affect everyone here directly, but it means less casual traffic to the site and that can mean fewer people who might easily click through to read other reviews on the site after they come here to read a staff or freelance review. The site is now more effectively designed so that people who do show up tend to stay longer and check out more pages before leaving, but it has never been harder to rank well in search engines with game content than it is right now.

Our community also is less active than normal, or it had been until just recently, when both Joe's Halloween reviewing project (thank you, Joe!) and some other actions I have been taking on social media produced a welcome bump. A less active community inevitably leads to less visitors and less interaction, which makes it less tempting to produce more content and keeps a vicious cycle going that can be the death of any site.

What is being done about it...

I am recruiting for readers and writers on Twitter, which is where most of our potential audience hangs out these days. I am finding additional talent for the freelance team, and I'm also seeking out additional people who just want to be involved as readers.

So far, I've found several talented folks to join the freelance team, and I hope that numerous individuals who were already on the team will be able to start writing again soon, as well. There was some trouble paying them, because people were having trouble paying me, but that appears to be almost resolved. I am optimistic that you'll see a significant increase in staff/freelance content going live on the site starting in early to mid-November. The volume of content should be about what it was when we were enjoying a busy schedule around May or June, and you should be seeing content from a number of new faces. I'm also encouraging freelancers and staff to post regularly in the community, because HonestGamers is ultimately a site about collaboration. I want to avoid just dropping content in front of you and running. I want the interaction that has always been the site's highlight, and I'll be doing everything I can to encourage that.

Part of this effort involves reviewing more games that will matter to a wide audience. My editorial intent is to push for as close to 40 new staff/freelance reviews per month as we can manage. I envision us covering at least 20 new-ish games each month (meaning stuff that has hit within the last 2 or 3 weeks), and around 10 games for popular semi-recent systems such as the PlayStation 2 or older stuff for current hardware, and another 10 or so for old retro stuff (particularly the NES, SNES and Genesis). That will likely include a lot of downloadable and niche releases, part of an effort to produce enough new content that GameRankings will re-add the site. There's no promise there, but we can try.

The future...

This is a big push, a push that is needed for the site's well-being in the months and years to come. HonestGamers has never stopped having potential, but its community has shrunk. We have a few loyal contributors right now--probably almost anyone actually reading this message within a few days of me posting it--and I am grateful for each and every one of you. I think we can all agree, though, that the site needs to build a larger audience if it is going to truly offer the experience we know it can, the sort of experience we remember it once offering during its prime.

I'll continue working toward making that experience a reality, and I hope that you all will continue to enjoy reading the site, contributing content, and just discussing games and reviews with one another. I want to do what I can to make this a site that you look forward to visiting daily, and I want to ensure that the site reaches something closer to its full potential.

The goal here isn't to become the next IGN or GameSpot. The goal is to provide a more active and more rewarding version of the community we've always had here. Please don't hesitate to let me know if you have ideas how I can do more to facilitate that evolution. Thank you all for your hard work and for having fun using this site with me and one another. As we head into Year 16, let's do what we can to make it the best one yet!

"Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought." - John F. Kennedy on reality

"What if everything you see is more than what you see--the person next to you is a warrior and the space that appears empty is a secret door to another world? What if something appears that shouldn't? You either dismiss it, or you accept that there is much more to the world than you think. Perhaps it really is a doorway, and if you choose to go inside, you'll find many unexpected things." - Shigeru Miyamoto on secret doors to another world

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Author: True
Posted: October 27, 2013 (12:55 AM)
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