As promised, here are my thoughts on the questions/comments on the 2016 State of the FOG. None of this is the "official Festool position" or anything. It's just my personal and candid thoughts. Here goes:
1. I took a deep look at the FOG stats, and I found some interesting things.
• New topics, new posts and new members pretty clearly peaked in 2014 and 2015. The 2016 numbers here are pretty similar to 2013 numbers. However, there was also a drop in 2012 before an increase in 2013, so things can turn around.
• New members had a really dramatic spike in 2014 and 2015. That spike ended last autumn. Honestly, this isn’t a big surprise to me, because increasing FOG memberships hasn’t been a big focus for us this year. When we launch our new websites for North America this spring, we’ll do more to direct people toward the FOG.
• Despite the drop in new topic/posts/members, 2016 was the FOG’s biggest year yet for Page Views. My theory for this is that many people are now using the FOG to find answers to previously asked questions. By this point, most of the critical questions about — for example — the TS 55 — have already been asked on the FOG. Therefore, new TS 55 owners are getting their questions answered without having to create an account or post anything.
2. When we talk about “Festool being less active”, let’s be clear what we mean: I am not as active as Shane was/is. That’s true. Guilty as charged. To best honest, I’m personally never going to be as active as Shane. That said, I definitely should be more responsive, and I will make a concentrated effort to do better in 2017.
3. I’m working to get more global resources for the FOG next year. Phil and I represent only a small part of the world, and the FOG is increasingly becoming a global community. There are a lot of questions that I simply don’t have an answer to as a US employee. Furthermore, as a US employee, it’s difficult for me to justify spending too much time working with non-US issues. I don't know the what/when/how of this yet, but I think that it will be beneficial to everyone.
4. I’m planning to create a survey in the next week or two to get some quantitative beginning-of-year feedback. One struggle with something like the FOG is that everyone’s vision/likes/dislikes are slightly different. Threads like this a good, but they only include the feedback of a handful of people. I hope that the survey gives some helpful insight.
5. There are a LOT of people who just read the FOG and don’t post. (see #1, bullet 3) Is there a way to get those people to start engaging? I’m not sure, but I’d like to try. Hopefully, the aforementioned survey will give a look into that. Which leads me to the next point.
6. There is often a negativity on the FOG that turns people away. Honest feedback and frank discussions are necessary — even when it’s difficult to be on the receiving end of — but the negativity is something that I hear about from people regularly. During Roadshow stops this year, I had a nearly identical conversation with three separate people.
Person: “Are you Tyler from the FOG?”
Me: “Yes, what’s your FOG username?
Person: “Oh, I don’t post. I just read. Those guys are vicious. I don’t feel comfortable posting there.”
Most interactions that I see on the FOG are positive, helpful and productive, but I hear this kind of thing too often to ignore it.
7. Sorry, @bobfog
, but politics is a non-starter. Personally, I love a good political debate, but the FOG simply isn’t the place for it. (And it looks like most people agree on this point.)
8. Lastly, I hate making excuses, but —as one of Festool’s two representatives on the FOG — I'd like to give a little insight from where I'm coming from. There is a huge Festool learning curve, and I wasn't hired for my technical tool/woodworking expertise. During the FOG’s 2014/2015 peak, Shane had been with Festool and on the FOG for about 7 years (if I have my history right), and he’d built up an incredible knowledge and history during that time. I joined Festool and the FOG last year, and I was drinking from the fire hose. Part of the reason why I was respond is simply because I didn’t know the answer, and sometimes tracking down answers takes a while. Quite frankly, I was also intimidated by the FOG, because many of you guys knew more than I did. I know that this has tried some of your patience, but I appreciate that patience nonetheless.