Tl;dr: I have a community oriented project, defined goals (perhaps too many) and need some guidance on what the next steps should be to move this project forward. I’m also concerned that the user experience on the site is not quite up to the job of even rudimentary community discussions.
Hey guys. I’m not a community professional, but I’ve always been heavily engaged with community in one sense or another and fascinated by it’s ability to impact people’s lives in some way. Sometimes big, sometimes small.
I’d like to share my project with you and get your thoughts on it. I think you’ll find it interesting.
A big passion of mine is auto racing (motorsport for those those east of the atlantic). Specifically kart racing. I’ve always tried in some way to help more people enjoy this sport.
About three years ago I got a little (lot) more serious (or at least focused and objective) about it and started “a thing” called KartPulse.
This was sparked off when a major player in this space essentially threw out the community with the bathwater with a website update that turned off their old phpbb install which contained accumulated 15 or so years of insights, tips and discussions. Then, when called out on it, their response was basically “Pound sand, the forums were (and are) free, this is our business and we will do as we see fit”
I was amazed and pretty pissed off that there was no value seen in the community that had been built on the site. Also, the “update” was pretty self serving. It provided the same content (race report) but nothing of real value to help people get racing, help businesses find customers etc etc. Nothing that was going to really grow the sport, at least in my opinion.
When I started KartPulse, I made a promise to myself that community would come first and that we were going to change the script and narrative for the sport.
In my view, I have yet to deliver on this promise. We have built a great fanbase on facebook, built some helpful resources (articles, track and business directory) for folks racing (or interested in doing so) but have not really put any skin in the game as far as building a community on the site is concerned. I’ve consumed a lot of content including buzzing communities and I’ve taken a few runs at it, but I don’t think we had the right mix of content, strategy and site functionality for it to work well. The site is based around a social network which works well, but the forums are kinda clunky. While technology Isn’t the #1 thing, for sure the experience has not been great for people that visited the site.
So I’m regrouping again. I’d like to make people’s experience on the site a little better both in tech and IX as well as really get some community activity going on the site. I want to grow and connect the sport, including the industry side too. Ideally I’d like to frame this redesign around our community with their participation and feedback
Here’s a little about what I’d like to do with kartpulse for the sport.
Overall goal of kartpulse
Build a comprehensive resource for karting (content + information + tools + community). Resources for racers, businesses/tracks to improve and level up.
The idea is to create something akin to a travel website for the sport, leveraging UGC. Something visually rich, enticing, engaging that you would want to explore to learn more, built by a community that can help you get racing and encouragement\help to make sure you keep enjoying it.
A community driven “exploreminnesota.com” for kart racing
General Practical Community Goals\Activities
Discussions - racers helping each other out (forums)
UGC - videos, stories and photos
Directories: Tracks, businesses and events maintained and updated by the community.
Wiki\Knowledge base including a glossary of common terms used in karting
Culture change (Based on our observations on why people quit):
While karting is well known as being where many professional racers began this has hurt the sport by attracting folks that are not in it for the long term and merely only use it as a stepping stone. Karting is much more than that, offering great fun for kids, adults and families.
There’s an over emphasis on “winning”. By that I mean finishing first. This leads to people getting frustrated and/or trying to contort the rules and classes to suit themselves. Classes with three entries are pretty common especially at club\local level. We’d like to change that narrative to something along the lines of the journey being the reward, place the emphasis on having fun, redefining what “winning” means and help guide people towards picking classes that suit their situation (location/time/budget etc)
There’s a lot of snobbery and one-upmanship of “my karting is better than yours”. Whether its the level people race at, the type/speed of kart they race or the kind of racing they do (dirt vs indoor, vs outdoor). Our mantra is…. If you’re having fun in a kart, that’s good enough for us. Whether you’re plodding around in your back yard with an adopted generator engine or racing against current F1 drivers at the big events, you’re a badass in our view.
I think we’ve done a good job of emphasizing the change we seek on our facebook page, but again I’d like to take it to the next level.
To summarize, I’m looking for some pointers on what my next steps should be. The site is in need of a rework and I want the community to be a part of that in order to make it effective.
I’m very worried about managing expectations on that, and ending up being overwhelmed and disappointing people. Those expectations being timelines to see changes as well as keeping people engaged without necessarily championing everyone’s ideas. Although this is a community, it is not a democracy and this is a side gig for me.