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    • Glenn Smith

      Yes @Ravi I agree once you make that first responce and some one responds to your comment with another not just a thumbs up, your away. You'll be resonding again. Most people on these places are friendly and willing to share ideas. I've found Cake very much like that. A good eviroment to be in. As you say just adding one comment and you'll be caught up.

    • Most people on these places are friendly and willing to share ideas. I've found Cake very much like that.

      This! I have observed that folks here on Cake are very kind and tolerant. Even on topics that are pretty polarizing, the discussion is always civil without any name calling and condescension.

      Although this may be because the rest of the internet hasn't discovered our little utopia yet..

    • Thanks for the invite @apm. First off, just a short introduction. I've been actively participating in online discussions since I was in my early 20s. I joined sports forums and also had my own personal blog. Actually, I had two during my 20s. Then I started writing long-form content on Google+, and now I'm on Cake, where I've had quite a few conversations garner great discussions, and some conversations were featured on the platform. Professionally, I've written several scientific papers which were published in international journals, and I also do proofreading part-time. Needless to say, writing is something that's been a big part of my life and continues to be so.

      The timing of this workshop is actually very good for me, because just over a week ago I started a conversation entitled "Anybody can write". In it I shared some advice for people who want to start writing, or who may have already started writing but want to improve. The reason why I said the timing of this workshop is good for me is because in my conversation I never touched about engagement, which makes this is a great opportunity for me to add on to what I've already shared without repeating myself. So here are a few tips I could think of to help boost engagement on your conversations here on Cake.

      Attach a lead image to your post

      The first step to getting people to engage on your conversations is of course for them to actually read it. Getting people's attention on the internet is difficult. With so much content to sift through your content might slip through the cracks. A good title is important, but a good lead image will attract more eyeballs. If you're scrolling through Cake's feed and you see lines of text, chances are most people will just keep scrolling unless their eyes catch a keyword which interests them. Rather than hoping people will actually read your title, attach a good lead image. If I want to write about wireless earphones, I attach a photo of a bunch of wireless earphones and headphones. If I want to write about a messaging platform, I attach the platform's logo. You should always try to attach a lead image to your conversations. It'll be the first step to getting people to notice your content.

      Be original

      Don't be afraid of being different. If your content is the same as everyone else's, there's no incentive for people to be interested in yours. Share things which other people may not know about. Talk about stuff that you're good at. If you want to talk about something which other people are talking about that's fine too, but bring a new perspective. Don't just parrot what other people have already said. Bring your own spin on things. People will appreciate your point of view, and chances are they'll see things differently too, which can ignite a conversation on your posts.

      Ask questions

      When you end your initial post in your conversation, ask a question to your readers. Ask a few if you can. By ending with a question(s) instead of just a statement, you're likely to get some engagement as your readers will be given an opening to post their thoughts, rather than just a reaction. Questions are a great way to get the ball rolling.

      That's all for now. Hope everyone who reads the content in this panel learns something new and is encouraged to contribute more here on Cake!

    • Denise Goldberg

      Thanks @apm for setting up this panel. Encouraging more participation here is good!

      I am also a Google+ refuge. I have an active photo site and a blog but I also like the interaction on a platform like Cake. Like @Glenn_Smith I wanted to keep some of the community feeling that I found on Google+ - but honestly, that feeling has been fading from G+ for quite a while. From what I've seen so far on Cake I think we have the potential of continuing good interactions here.

      The latest conversation I posted here was about the Orchid Extravaganza at Longwood Gardens. I wanted to share some of my favorite photos from the visit, and I also wanted to have a conversation with others who are also interested in orchids. I was delighted when @Vilen added photos of orchids that he and his girlfriend have in the "kitchen garden". Interaction with others makes the conversation flow and keeps it interesting.

      While my focus in the conversations I've started (so far) has been photography plus some travel, I always try to write about the experience too. My photo galleries are the home of a full set of chosen photos from the activity, my blog and Cake conversations contain words too.

      Here's a link to the full photo gallery from my Longwood Gardens visit to show the difference.

      I agree with @Glenn_Smith that it is good to pose a question in your conversation to encourage others to join in.

      I like seeing reactions since it lets me know that people are viewing my conversations but I really value the interactions in words that are possible here. Multi-person conversations are more interesting...

      Don't hesitate to add your comments to conversations that interest you. It's the interaction between people that keeps the conversations alive.

    • @Glenn_Smith and @Ravi , thank you so much for joining our Weekend Panel!

      As Google+ refugees, you both understand the importance of community. I think that when Google+ Refugees come to Cake for the first time it’s reassuring to see familiar faces.

      So as we get closer to the Google+ shutdown date I would encourage everyone to start contributing to conversations at least weekly. If you’ve been lurking and haven’t done so before, you can always share your introduction here and here.

      @Glenn_Smith , I think you’re absolutely right that asking a question is a great way to start a conversation.

      I also think that starting a conversation with an answer, such as a “How to get the lighting right when it’s raining,” can be an amazing opener for launching a back and forth discussion.

    • You should always try to attach a lead image to your conversations. It'll be the first step to getting people to notice your content.

      I’ve had plenty of good conversations started without attaching a photo to the first post.  Cake’s design is so uncluttered that I find a well-crafted title is enough to stand out. On the other hand, most of my FEATURED conversations have included a lead image.

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

      Best size to use for images?  I know other platforms like Twitter will mess up your images if you don’t use their preferred size.  I’m going to call out @Vilen in the hopes of getting some clarity on what works best on Cake.

    • Hey all. I'm an old school tech blogger and community builder, having been part of Spark-Online back in the late 90s, the Cluetrain Manifesto, and countless forums since then. I'm a ten year veteran on Reddit with a ton of internet points, and I blogged about my industry on my site ImTheirWebGuy.com for about five years. I've had a number of popular posts on Reddit, G+, and Facebook, and have had tens of millions of eyeballs across my posts. I suppose I'm a volunteer because @apm invited me, but hell, I never turn down a chance to talk about something. :D

      I think the biggest tip I'd offer is "play to your strength". I personally like to write thoughtful miniblogs that chew on a topic and pose some questions to get the audience engaged. I also think of specific other users who might have insight I want to gather, and I tag them in the post.

      However, that's definitely not everyone's style. Some folks are more about the one liner or a beautiful picture. If that's your thing, then go with that. However, make sure it's something that's actually yours. Some platforms are basically recycled meme dumps, but that doesn't seem to sell well here. If you're sharing something here, make it something you've created.

    • Hi there and thank you for inviting me to the panel @apm!

      I'm mostly a lurker on social media and forums. Being a co-founder and in charge of design at Cake challenged me to become more open about sharing ideas and looking for feedback online. Whereas on Facebook and Instagram I share some ephemeral and light posts, here on Cake I prefer to post thoughtful and longer content.

      It is often challenging to come up with conversations or even just to contribute by posting. Often I feel like I'm not an expert and have nothing to contribute. However, I've realized that by asking interesting questions of the experts we can all learn from them. After all, this is what learning is: asking questions we can't answer from people who can.

      Reading comes easy to me, but I always wanted to start writing and that is where Cake has become indispensable. I found that by putting in a little bit of thought and effort in my posts, my writing improves and I'm getting closer to becoming a better writer.

      To answer your question:

      Best size to use for images?  I know other platforms like Twitter will mess up your images if you don’t use their preferred size.  I’m going to call out @Vilen in the hopes of getting some clarity on what works best on Cake.

      We've built Cake to work with all image sizes. Once a photo is uploaded it is automatically resized to fit and displayed at proper resolution all devices. I recommend uploading the highest resolution image available, cropped at standard ratios: 3x2, 4x3, square etc. Landscape (orientation) images look better on desktop, while portrait look better on mobile. The only difficult images to display right are panoramas. They only look good when viewed in full screen (lightbox).

    • 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: https://www.cake.co/conversations/zWHBK40/how-do-you-discover-new-books-and-authors

      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.