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    • 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.

    • We agree and think the Q&A feature for panels is the most important thing we're doing. The majority of the team is devoted to it.

      Right now if you're not on the panel you see a lock icon and a grayed-out sentence at the end of the conversation that says "Only conversation panelists may post." Bummer. The plan is to replace that with a way to let anyone ask a question of the panel.

      This would make panels a cousin to Reddit's popular AMAs (Ask Me Anything). The thing about AMAs that are so exciting is they provide a chance for anyone to ask a question of Bill Gates and for the community to upvote the best ones.

      The downside to AMAs is when the community scales, it can get crazy. I interviewed an r/askscience moderator who said she had her Astronomy professor at MIT to do an AMA and she was mortified at some of the questions she got asked.

      Hopefully we bring something to the Internet it has never seen: a way for Taylor Swift to answer questions from her fans without any of us having to get overwhelmed by zillions of awful questions because the questions go to the panel and then are made public as the panel answers them.

      In one way, it's less exciting, but in another it's more sane — especially as we scale.

      The other day Kara Swisher tried to Interview Jack Dorsey on Twitter at his request and she wrote an article afterwards with this title: "How hard is it to have a conversation on Twitter? So hard not even the CEO can do it."

      Hopefully we solve this problem for her. It's one of my life's dreams to see this succeed, as it has in real-life panels.

      While I was typing this I got an email from Richard Saul Wurman, the founder of TED, to ask how it's coming. I can't tell you how thrilling it would be to create something he would use. I adore him. He ended his 60 Minutes interview with this: "The greatest thing in life is a conversation between people."

    • Okay, final wrap up!  Let’s dive in with the


      Every panelist here creates conversations that are outstanding enough to be recognized on the FEATURED timeline.  When you see their quirky avatar on the left hand side of a timeline, consider it a seal of quality and click on their conversation even if it’s not your usual fare.  You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how much you’ll enjoy them—the quality is THAT high.

      Ultimately, if you’ve read this far, you’re someone who aspires to be that consistently excellent.  To be that someone who people are willing to take a chance on with your latest conversation—because you’ve never let them down with your prior ones.

      The tips shared today in this workshop will get you several steps closer to that goal, so pay close attention to the key points summarized here AND re-read the original posts for further guidance.


      If you removed all the topics, would I still be able to tell what your conversation is about from just the title?

      A title posed as a question will often work, so definitely consider that as a possibility.  But clarity of purpose for your conversation should be the key consideration.


      Before you decide on the topics to add, type in the topic name or a keyword into the Cake search bar.  If there’s only a handful of followers for a topic that you think is appropriate, add it AND find one or two more related topics that are more widely followed.  AND FOLLOW THOSE TOPICS!!!

      Conversation Ideas

      I would suggest reading @JazliAziz ‘s Anybody can write for a front row seat into the writing mind of a multiple FEATURED conversation contributor.

      All of our panelists seemed to share the sentiment that passion for the conversation is paramount.  If your interest is lukewarm it will come across in your posts.

      passion + subject matter expertise is the Golden Ticket to high engagement.  


      Both @ChrisJenkins and @Chris stress the benefits of more deliberate formatting: shorter blocks of text make scrolling easier for smartphone readers.  But don’t be afraid to write 7 or 8 sentence paragraphs if proper flow demands it: just make sure to give your readers an occasional break with shorter paragraphs.

      Or even a one sentence paragraph.


      @JazliAziz argues that a photo or lead image is incredibly important to stand out from the crowd.  I argue that a clearly written title is all you need to obtain meaningful engagement. ⬇️

      Title of this workshop challenged

      @Felicity challenged the very premise of the workshop: How to get more Responses to your Conversations on Cake.  We shouldn’t be keeping score on the number of responses.

      @Denise made the great point that as visual artists, writers and creators, we want to know that our work had a positive impact on readers.  And if someone chooses to give up their time to join in conversation with us, that’s meaningful validation.

      Photo Walk conversations

      Both @Glenn_Smith and @Denise shared a ton of tips for creating engaging photo conversations that get other users to share their own related work.  @Denise suggested an initial collection of 5 to 10 images so as to not overload your readers.

      And so much more

      I try to write these highlights from memory, which is imperfect, and there are additional valuable bits of wisdom from @lidja , @Ravi , @Vilen , @edgeoftheplayground and others that I’ve overlooked.

      Thank you

      Pulling off a panel like this is a huge undertaking that spanned across time zones and countries, including Malaysia, Australia and the United States.  Our panelists put so much time and effort into creating something amazing.

      Thank you all for this.