Grockles.com
Where and What are we - Introspection Episode 1
By Grockle
June 12 2018

During a slow day at Taunton I sat talking to a couple of people whose views I respect and a bloke I didn't know who doesn't like me or Grocklesit seems (possibly because I don't think our individual views have 'meshed' online at some time in the past). Both camps commented on the fact that the site had changed over time.  For the better? For the worse? Was it fact or perception?  Well now's as good as any time to investigate that and test the wind. Join the chat......

"The Grockles Obsession" started sometime in the spring of 1994 at Henbury School in Bristol as an Advanced Applied ICT project.  The first match report was sometime in June and it was left up over the winter and rumbled along with traffic of sorts. It was picked up by Rivals.net sometime in 1996/7 after a couple of webspace transfers and expansions where it was turned into "Grockles.com" with its own URL, webspace and some sort of structure. Here we are some 20 odd years later and it's still here.

Before opening the debate about what Grockles should be, maybe it would make sense to identify what it isn't.

It is an independent site for Somerset cricket NOT necessarily a Somerset supporters site.  Obviously the majority of posters and readers are supporters but forum membership is not based on the need to support the club and never has been.

Grockles has NO club affiliations or loaylties though we are appreciative of the interaction and access that we have been afforded over the years by the organisation.  Contrary to the belief of some I am NOT employed by the club. I have not been a member of Somerset for more than a decade.

Grockles is NOT a vehicle soley for my views on Somerset.  I do post my views.  So do many others.  We agree or we don't and the world turns.  I am not the Kim Jong Un OR the Donald Trump of Grockles whether you like me or not. The conversation is what is important to the readers (that may be a fundamental point in this investigation) but I am afraid that some of you have to get used to the fact that without me there is no Grockles.com so I'm probably here to stay.

There were never 'good old days' of Grockles when the posting forum numbered in the hundreds.  The regular posting population of the site has never been in 3 figures.  It usually has had a core of about 30 to 50 with others who floated in and out.  It has rarely (if ever) been over 70 regulars.  This is not unusual. most forum sites are 'iceberg' like with far more readers than contributors.

Grockles readership has varied over the years and is of course affected by the development of other social media etc but suprisingly our figures are pretty much where they have been.  Grockles is NOT a marketing exercise, we do NOT chase a market, we are a 'word of mouth' site and we have no agenda of becoming the 'number 1' site or anything else.

Statistics can be used in many ways but in the days before universal wifi, smartphones, Twitter and video streaming we counted our traffic in millions of page hits a year.  Unique users were in the thousands and page hits monthly were in hundreds of thousands.

Today? Well yesterday we had 4173 page views from 350 unique users.  I can log on 10 times a day.  Grockles is what is known as a 'sticky' site.  People log on and look around at more than one page per visit and they visit more than once a day.  A 10% user to view ratio has been pretty much normal for us.  The average daily rate for 2018 is about 2,400 views from about 230 unique users.  The highest daily rate in the last month has been 5567 from over 400 users.

On a monthly basis the use of Grockles is obviously related to the time of year.  Last month there were 139,393 page views by over 2000 unique addresses.  The present average for the first 5 months of 2018 is 89,630 which will probably rise as that only covers two of the 6 months of the season.  2017 had a monthly average of 131,000 with a highest monthly total of 368,000 and a total for the year of over 1.5million.

The number of different users is not as easy to sort out.  19,531 users were identified in 2017 but many of them come back more than once and log on from more than one location.  I have used 5 locations in two seperate countries and that doesn't include airport terminals, trains, planes and automobiles.  In our hayday we did have over 3000 unique users per month in the days of few other sources.  Now? we have a monthly average of about 1600.

Grockles tends to moderate itself. As the only moderator I feel I need to interfer very little. Maybe that is another issue as some seem to think I need to interfer more?

I have in the past given posters the opportunity to complain and request specific moderation.  Almost none have taken me up on that though they do seem to moan about the lack of it on a semi regular basis. Some say the 'feel' of the site is different but nothing I have tried to get people to identify their issues has resulted in any of those people helping me identify what has changed that feel. 

I have had demands to remove posters for minor indiscretions, I have had posters leave the site over the use of a word they disagreed with.  Posters move on, leave and come back or just get bored of it all.  Almost no one in the life of the site has identified the issue they have had with a poster or a post and asked for specific moderation or have been willing to identify evidence that back up their demand.  I have found myself more than once demanding that a poster change their posting habits for the good of all and then having to defend the same poster from demands for bans once they have improved and become less prococative. 

Grockles does NOT ban if it can help it and will NOT ban because an opinion is disliked.  We may ask for evidence of that opinion and for more factual rigour in the argument and may hide a post until it is provided but we look to ban trolls rather than people with opposing views and I do need some help occasionally to identify the former from those who see this as suddenly important from time to time.  Most of the time it is demanded without reasons being given and I may need to be persuaded because to be honest it isn't always that cut and dried with some of the population on the site.

One of the people I was talking to yesterday gave an analogy that has been used in the past that Grockles is like a room in a pub where people familiar with each other sit and discuss the day.  That aspect of the site is where its value lies in my view and we are fortunate to have a particular membership that creates that environment.  That is where the life is and that is where the gems are.

I would add to that analogy. It IS like the back room of a pub but with an intercom to the public bar.  Occasionally something sparks the interest of the public and they either pop in to the pub to listen or they actually come into the back bar to involve themselves in the discussion.  That involvement may not always be welcome and we do get have situations where the pushing of the comfort zone of regulars can occur until someone leaves, adapts or is evicted.  One question is at what point is eviction the solution rather than allowing the opposite view to possibly move regulars on who do not want that conflict in their familiar place?  Are the regulars important or is the debate sometimes of more importance?

So people. 

What is the point of Grockles.com?

What do you believe the policy should be towards 'dissenting' voices?

At what point would you like to see 'agent provocateurs' being sent on their way and how can you help the moderator to identify when that point has been reached?

What do you like about the site?

What bothers you about it (positive suggestions to remedy those things would be welcomed rather than just moaning)?

What would you like to see that is not here?

I am asking these questions not because I am looking for some 'product development' to increase our internet footprint or market share. It is more because many of you have invested a lot of time in the relationships you have in this 'pub backroom' and you have the right to be asked what bothers or warms you about Grockles because you make it what it is. If improvements mean we get more crowded then it might be worthwhile but it will be what it will be.

If you want to make this personal then can I please ask you to reply by PM rather than using a public forum to vent your spleen?  I'd like the discussion on the site to be positive.  If you can't do that without aggression then please be aggressive off site and I'll calm it down and put your point on the site with a little less provocation. I do reserve the right to do that anyway if some posters can't manage to do that themselves (it has been known in the past)

I am looking for an open and honest conversation and some movement forward.  There is no requirement to comment, though to some extent that also means you forgoe the right to complain at what you get.  As Jim Jefferies says at the end of each of his shows 'I think we can all do better'.

We shall see how we go.  Over to you lot.

To start you off, one thing I would love (and it was suggested by someone here) would be a like and dislike button - damn that would make my life easier.