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    • Hey @Denise

      Over the past few months you’ve shared several of your eye candy worthy photo walks.  In looking at the entire gallery on your blog for Longwood Gardens, I ended up having a few follow up questions that I hope you don’t mind answering.

      My first question is do you try to have a flow to your photo walk posts?  A bunch of red flowers followed by a couple yellows? Close-ups followed by wider shots?  Or do you sequence them randomly?

      Okay, that was about five questions, but here’s my “second” one:

      How do you decide how many photos to share initially?  Is there a number or range you can recommend to avoid viewer overload?


    • @Glenn_Smith , I hope you don’t mind if I make a topic suggestion to add to ShroomshotSaturday.

      fungi photography has only 9 followers at the moment (a travesty for certain).  mushrooms had only 14 followers up until a moment ago (+1 me).  

      I think adding the topic photography would be more than appropriate.

      And I suspect that many of the 539 followers of that topic would be happy to see your weekly updates in their timeline.

    • @apm thanks for asking!

      I don't really have a flow to my photo walk posts except in the case where one photo leads into another. Sometimes that happens when I am taking pictures of murals because I might want to highlight a piece of one of them along with a full view. I usually look through the photos in one of my galleries and select a sampling that I think it interesting.

      I'm still struggling with how many to share initially. I don't want to drive viewers away by posting too many at once. My Orchid Extravaganza conversation may have too many initial photos with 14 photos. I was trying to find a sampling of different types of flowers and I may have gotten a bit carried away.

      The Punto Urban Art Museum conversation that you pointed out was smaller in terms of number of photos. That one had 7 initial photos.

      I'm thinking between 5 and 10 photos is reasonable for an initial set of posts in a conversation.

      While I don't have a lot of words to go along with each photo I like to start each conversation with words. A description of where the photos are taken is a good start. If it's an event of some sort a link to the event is is good because there may be viewers in the same area who might be interested in attending too.

    • About me: I used to be a regular on some (pen and paper) game fora, but I haven't been involved in forum life lately. Before Cake started, I did miss the kind of conversations that used to sometimes crop up in the comments of my (now defunct) personal blog -- more discursive and cozy than twitter or my other current haunts.

      I'm a fiction writer. All my published work is short form, most of it science fiction. I haven't been getting new work out regularly for a few years as I've been working on novel manuscripts.

      About Cake: I second what @JazliAziz said above about ending your initial post with a question to encourage people to respond! This post I made yesterday, now that I think about it, is a good example of what I instinctively tend toward in opening a topic:

      It's short, but it has a basic form of:
      0. Title: topic/question
      1. Why I think this is interesting or important
      2. Sharing my own perspective or example
      3. Restatement of question, preferably with a few offshoot questions to encourage lateral answers

      I definitely like to end with a question to open the discussion up and prompt people to talk about themselves, but I think it helps encourage that if you give your own contribution/answer first. It's like putting a dollar in the tip jar at the beginning of the day -- it sets the example and gets things going!

      I also try for clarity -- in longer form conversation like this, someone can get going pretty far on the wrong foot before you go 'oh, that isn't what I meant!' Formatting helps understanding: I use headings or emphasize important words, as well as breaking up long paragraphs and using inline photos in long posts. I probably should have busted up the middle paragraph in that book post into bullet points! Chunks of text can tire the eye.

      Finally, make sure to read over your post before you make it. On Cake, you can edit, but it's good to just do one more pass for clarity -- and since on Cake I'm writing in an informal voice, I often have to take out a lot of boring or weasel words that make my sentences longer at the expense of directness.

    • Coming up with a title of a conversation is, arguably, the hardest task in writing. Thinking about it and coming up with different wording can make all the difference in terms of engagement. For me starting a conversation is a four stage process:

      1. Write a temporary title.

      Naturally, I already have a title and a first post in mind before starting a conversation. So I immediately write it down. Doing so shows give me a sense of progress and gets me started in crafting the first post.

      2. Write and rewrite the first post.

      Just start... Write something... This is the hardest, yet the most rewarding experience. Seeing thoughts translate into words that others can read, think and react to is fundamentally rewarding. If nothing else, it clarifies my thinking.

      I often rewrite and proof read my posts multiple times, mercilessly chopping words and sniping offending characters. It will never be perfect... But, I like to take my time...

      3. Revise the title based on whats in the post.

      Now that the bulk of writing is done, I come back to the title. Often enough I find myself already having a better title in mind. I like to stay away from ambiguous, sensational and overly descriptive titles. Instead, I try to write titles that are succinct, punchy and intriguing. Like this one:

      4. Add topics.

      After all this writing adding topics comes easy. Even though there is currently a limit of 5 topics per conversation, I don't use them all. Instead, I only add topics that are relevant. Sometimes it is just 1, other times it takes all 5 to add context to the conversation. I can always change topics later, so I hit "publish".

      This has been the process I go through each and every time I post a conversation. It isn't fast but it is effective.

    • @JazliAziz , you always have such eye catching visuals with your conversations.  What size do you typically use for your lead images?

      Since @Vilen already explained how image sizes work on Cake, I won't add to that any more, but instead I'll share about how I choose my lead images.

      Usually whenever possible, I try to use my own photos. That's one way to guarantee originality, as no one would have ever seen your photos before. Lead images should always represent the content of your conversation. Like for my conversation about e-wallets in Malaysia, I took a photo of a point-of-sales monitor in a retail outlet which had several promotional e-wallet stickers plastered on the back of it.

      Sometimes though, you need to put in some effort for your lead images. Don't feel like it's a waste of time. For my "Anybody can write" conversation, I actually asked my friend to pose her hand on a keyboard while I took a photo. Added a filter for some artistic value, and boom. Lead image.

      I know Cake is mostly about writing, but don't disregard your lead images. They can be very helpful in attracting readers to your conversations, which in turn could lead to more engagement.

    • I kinda guessed that you had been involved with forums for awhile—thanks for sharing your lineage back to the 1990s, @ChrisJenkins .

      May I ask a question on the things not to do?  Like excessive formatting and such?

      Most of the people in this panel have previously been active on forums or blog communities. So they’re less likely to make the newbie mistakes with conversations that can cause annoyance and/or getting your content actively ignored.

      Would you mind sharing a tip or three—of mistakes to avoid—for folks who are new to participating in forum conversations?

      I am also going to call out to @Chris as he may have a few tips to share from what he’s seen on advrider.

    • I generally see too little formatting versus too much. No paragraph breaks, etc. The rules of writing syntax apply to forums as well, even if the culture of the forum (4Chan et al.) is crude or primitivist.

      Bolding makes strong points stand out.

      But, it's only good in small doses. The more you bold, the less the impact. Sometimes, you don't really need to use bold if you're using emphasis inline. Italics draw focus and lend weight to a key point. They're also useful for mixing in other languages, capisce?

      It's been my experience that the folks who understand how to use the markdown of the forum in question are also the folks seen as veterans on the forum, which tends to carry some weight.

    • Thanks for the invite, @apm.

      Intro: I am not a Google+ refugee. I’ve never kept a blog. I don‘t have an interactive website. I rarely post to Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram anymore (although I still have open accounts). Why am I here?

      I’m going to hazard a guess that it’s because some of my conversations have spurred a lot of discussion. (As Chris has noticed, I have also deliberately started some “conversations” in ways that discourage discussion, too.)

      Since I really don’t ever start a conversation with the goal in mind to “go viral” or “jack up the views” this workshop got me thinking about what it is I have done that has made these things happen. In retrospect, I think these things have played a part:

      1. I don’t have a schedule I have to meet. I can go weeks without posting anything—I don’t ever feel pressured to keep things current or establish a presence.

      2. The topics I write/ask about are genuinely of interest to me at the moment. My mind is grabbing stuff from all over the place about this particular topic, and I am curious what others think about it, too, so I start a conversation about it. Maybe readers can sense my genuine interest? I hope so.

      3. As others have said, I try to really hone my question(s). I have a lot of experience with questioning (I have been a teacher), so that is really the crux of a conversation-starter in my mind. Be careful with your questions! Thoughtful people (the ones you hope will respond to your post) can spot a fluff-question a mile away. Fluff questions say, “I’m ending this post with a question because somebody told me that’s how I get engagement.” IMHO, the worst fluff question of all time is “What do you think?” When I see a fluff question like that, suddenly the whole post feels condescending, disingenuous, and manipulative so I move on. I don’t even lurk! Hahaha.

      4. I am prepared to let the conversation shape itself. Some discussions move at lightning speed—others percolate over time. I have actually searched for other people’s conversations I remember from months ago in order to post another comment with a new perspective or new information. (When that happens, you know your conversation really did have an impact on someone’s thinking! An example of quality over quantity!)

      5. I have a background in visual arts, so a good image is a powerful bonus in my book, but not absolutely necessary. If the headline is a grabber (that accurately conveys the gist of the post), that works too.

    • Great Idea @apm, just went in to edit the topic as you suggested to add "photography" but I found it was already there in the list, Not sure if you added it in if so thanks, if not looks like I already did, I don't remember that far back. I've got four topics already assigned out of the possible five Fungi Photography, Mushrooms, Photography and Shroomshot Saturday, which is also the title. Though of adding Macro which has 97 followers but these are not true macro and some people get a little excited about that, not myself, but some certainly get a little worked up, So I like to keep things smooth were possible :-).

    • Plenty of great ideas coming through in this panel, at the close of the panel maybe a sumary of some of the ideas in point from collected from the various posts as a closing coment maybe handy. Certainly lots of great points on how to make your writing beter, something I've never been great at. A few common themes coming through as well, ending with a question of substance, though provoking, to keep the flow going.

    • Plenty of great ideas coming through in this panel, at the close of the panel maybe a sumary of some of the ideas in point from collected from the various posts as a closing coment maybe handy. 

      You mean a Highlights post like this?

      Thank you for reminding me of the need for this, @Glenn_Smith . After I lock the panel on Sunday night New York City time (Monday morning, West Sydney time), I will create a summary from this amazing share of great ideas from everyone.

      We may have a few more contributors before then—and if you’re one of them reading please don’t feel rushed to share your insights. However, since we’ve got panelists from Australia here and their weekend is winding down, I want to transition to what normally happens at the end of a workshop.

      Participant Feedback

      This is the first time that I’ve attempted to do a workshop via a Cake Panel. And I’d like to get useful feedback so that I know what to continue and what to do differently the next time I try this.

      So this is my final ask of all of the panelists. @Ravi , @Glenn_Smith , @Denise , @JazliAziz , @ChrisJenkins , @Vilen , @Felicity , @lidja

      Please provide your answers to the following three questions:

      1. What was good about the workshop?

      2. What could have been better?

      3. What CAN we do to make the next workshop even more amazing?


      If you want to make a comparison to outstanding previous panels on Cake, here’s a link to a favorite panels of 2018 list.

    • I'm a fan of short paragraphs like Chris used above 👆. A lot of posts are written where there's a physical keyboard, but they're read on mobile, and short paragraphs really help the readability.

    • One thing I've thought of on this topic is flatly contradictory to the workshop title: don't think of 'number of responses' or 'engagement' as a score in a game. For one thing, we're on Cake to have conversations, not to score points!

      But more importantly still, Cake is the place where we talk about the things that interest us, not the things that we think will get most 'eyeballs'. Lidja touched on this above: genuine interest is the lifeblood of Cake. Some interests are fringe interests. If I make a fountain pen post, it will get fewer replies than someone's photography post, and that's fine! As Lidja said in her point 4, a discussion can be picked up months later, whether it's a current user finding it or a new user who joined just to talk about that topic.

      It's not about the number of replies or reactions, after all -- it's about the great conversations we have :)

    • Closing thoughts:

      1. What was good about the workshop?

      I think the fact that so many people turned up to chip in with their thoughts, opinions and tips was awesome! I was able to learn a lot of stuff that will help me craft better posts in the future.

      2. What could have been better?

      This feedback is not for this panel per se, but more for how panels work on Cake. I understand that the team is working on this aspect, and I think an approach where people can jump into the conversation without having to be invited to a panel will help make panels more inclusive. I understand that this may go against the original vision of panels - maybe I am just used to AMA's on Reddit and relate panels to be a kind of an AMA. I am hoping we can work this out in the future.

      3. What CAN we do to make the next workshop even more amazing?

      I think we did pretty great this time! One thing that I think that you nailed was scheduling this workshop on a weekend. This way people can keep checking in on the post whenever they are free and I would prefer that we keep scheduling future workshops on weekends. Of course, I am open to hearing other alternatives from others as well.

      Finally, thank you @apm for taking the initiative for this panel, and a big thank you to all the other panelists for taking the time to respond and share their knowledge.

      Great job everyone!

    • My closing thoughts.

      1. What was good about the workshop?

      It was good to see how everyone joined in and gave great feedback and ideas. Always interesting to see why everyone made their way to Cake and what they want to get out of it. Agree with Ravi the weekend Scheduling worked well particularly with the time zones involved. Like Ravi I also gained ideas how to make my posts better and a higher chance of better engagement. 

      2. What could have been better?

      For a first go at a panel I think it went well, but one think I noticed was everyone made their point and there was minimal conversation as such, again the time zones come into part of that, but as far as a panel discussion goes, there wasn’t much in the way of a discussion as such, so something I think we can do better at.

      3. What CAN we do to make the next workshop even more amazing?

      Maybe a little more advanced knowledge of the topic to prepare a bit better prior to the panel. 

      Thanks agian @apm for putting this panel together. Was fun.

    • You're right about 'number of responses' or 'engagement' @Felicity - but if I take the time to write I do like to know that someone has taken the time to read my post. Maybe that is "small" of me.

      It's the interaction here that I value.

    • My closing thoughts:

      I found the ideas presented in this panel to be very helpful both for new participants and for those who are new to sharing on this type of media.

      I think it would have been good to allow questions from readers who were not panel participants. Depending on the interaction level that could have been a base to share more information. @Chris are there plans to allow this?

    • 1. What was good about the workshop?

      The participation was excellent. We have almost three dozen posts and over 130 reactions in total. That's pretty good.

      2. What could have been better?

      More participation from non-volunteers. I saw a lot of people sharing tips and advice, but not too many people participating to ask for tips and advice. I'm sure there are many lurkers/readers who didn't participate, so it would've been nice to hear from them as well.

      3. What CAN we do to make the next workshop even more amazing?

      Maybe a slightly longer "registration" period, to allow more time for people to see the post and register for the workshop.

      This was fun, and it was great to see so many people contribute. Hope the next workshops will be even better!

    • 1. I liked the fact that it was utilitarian more than marketing-ish.

      2. Ongoing questions from readers would definitely have contributed to more conversation.

      3. Serve mimosas? I prefer panels with brunch. :D

    • Some great questions are coming out from the panelist feedback.  Thought I’d answer the ones so far that I can.

      From @Ravi

      I think an approach where people can jump in the conversation without having to be invited to a panel will help make panels more inclusive. I understand that this may go against the original vision of panels - maybe I am just used to AMA's on Reddit and relate panels to be a kind of an AMA. I am hoping we can work this out in the future.

      Answer.  From what’s been shared by the Cake team in conversations on the timeline, the future of panels will include an audience portal where any Cake user can submit a question live during the panel.  Only the moderator will initially see it so that troll comments don’t get visibility.  The moderator will then share great audience questions with the panelists. So like an AMA, you’ll be able to ask questions without having to be invited.  For a Weekend Workshop, we could also take advantage of the audience portal to allow lurkers to share questions and comments.  Wouldn’t it be great if that lead to their responding to Cake conversations and even creating their first conversation?

      From @Denise

      I think it would have been good to allow questions from readers who were not panel participants. Depending on the interaction level that could have been a base to share more information. are there plans to allow this?

      Answer.  Both @ChrisJenkins and I have had a chance to see mockups for the new audience portal: from the perspectives of an AMA participant (ChrisJenkins) and a panel moderator (me), we both were encouraged and excited by what we saw.  The audience portal will allow questions from readers who were not panel participants.

      From @ChrisJenkins

      Serve mimosas? I prefer panels with brunch. :D

      Answer.  You may in the future see Cake panels where a sports team, say the e-sports team FaZe Clan , is sharing their thoughts during a team meal break.  So anything is possible. 😉

    • Wouldn’t it be great if that lead to their responding to Cake conversations and even creating their first conversation?

      Honestly, I think this will be a huge driver for Cake adoption. Someone looking for a moderated platform for a Q&A can use this one without being an active conversationalist here, and share the link out to their own audience platforms, which will in turn create new users here.

      Once that functionality is live, I plan on hosting entrepreneur Q&A's here with some of my friends in the technology space.

    • 1. What was good about the workshop?

      Apparently, I assumed some things differently than others did. “Workshop” means something different than “Panel” to me. A workshop, in my mind, is a gathering of people with a similar interest who are ready to share their perspective and actively learn from one another. It is likely they already have some experience with the topic, but they are still open to forming ideas and developing new insights. There is an interesting new synergy that emerges when everyone provides input and they learn from one another.

      A panel, on the other hand, is a gathering of just three or so experts who *present* their experience/opinions to an audience to mull over. (When there is just one expert, the form tends to morph into an “Interview” or a “Presentation”). Maybe there is a Q&A period at the end of the Panel/Presentation when all manner of random questions and statements are posed by audience members and the panelists or presenter respond from the position of expert.

      I love the idea of Cake Workshops where many people with similar interests are invited to come together and learn from each other—and “outsiders” can see it all, but don’t disrupt the synergy with comments/questions. It keeps the topic very clean while the participants can explore various elements that are of interest to *them.* It may be frustrating to those who can only watch—but my response to that is, “Hey, isn’t it cool you get to see the process the workshop attendees went through sharing their experience and perspectives?”

      2. What could have been better?

      I found the invitation-to-participate process to be a little unclear. (Hence my late entry into the discussion-heh.)

      3. What CAN we do to make the next workshop even more amazing?

      Clarify the format a little better?


      Two thumbs up for this experience. I learned a lot, and hopefully contributed something to the conversation. Thank you @apm for being someone who stretches the boundaries while building bridges.

    • Good Afternoon, and thanks for inviting me to join this panel!

      A bit about me, I run a blog and also a medium sized Facebook page. I am an autistic adult and share my experiences as someone who is on the autism spectrum in order to help other autistic people, families, and other autism allies. I have had the privilege to be on a couple of cake panels here as well hosted by @apm including how autism presents differently in women. I have also written several posts that have been featured in The Mighty, Mental Health Talk, and others.

      I have found across platforms that engagement is very important in promoting both my message online and speaking engagements I do within the community offline. I do my best to always make my followers or anyone reading feel like they are part of a community. I promote positivity but also honesty in my posts so that they are authentic. When people see you are authentic they will engage with you. Be yourself online, don't attempt to be what you think will trigger an algorithm or more views, if you are yourself then those things will eventually come. Write about things you are passionate about.

      Positivity also helps with engagement, because you want genuine people to engage with you. Build and reach out to the type of people you want as a part of your community. Think about who it is you are trying to reach and then always keep them in mind as a real person whenever you are creating content. Think about who they are, what their life may be like, and what they would find most helpful. Also do your best to respond to comments, even if it just a "like" to let people know that you are reading. While it does not have to be every single comment, going through several will show people who are following that you care about their story and experiences too. This makes it more of an interaction, and you are then more of a real person to them that they want to engage with.

      Overall, be yourself. You will eventually attract engagement. It is better to grow more slowly and find a genuine, authentic audience than try to use marketing or social media tactics to grow engagement quickly. You will end up with the same numbers and those people will stay because there will be a real connection and they will want to interact with you.