Critique of Neskania

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For the past three months I have been following Ralphie’s subreddit project, Neskania. Neskania is a subreddit where users are able to submit content to build an alternative world. The aim of the project was to build a world from a complete blank canvas, where users would submit historical events, native music, food ideas, agricultural products that the local economy survives on and maps.

Ralphie’s methodology has changed over the past thirteen weeks. Neskania started as a simple subreddit where Ralphie merely had an introduction post which was not receiving much traffic. His marketing methodology only consisted of posting in subreddits and promoting it through his personal Facebook. This resulted in individuals on his Facebook not understanding the concept or know how to use Reddit.  This led Ralphie to change his methodology in an attempt to build a greater audience. Ralphie broadened his marketing externally of Reddit and Facebook, by tackling websites and forums for content creators (such as DeviantArt) and alternative world creators. He also attempted to repost content from his subreddit to other subreddits to gain interest.

Ralphies trajectory has slightly changed focus from the start where he was driven to gain readers rather than content creators. This resulted in Neskania achieving  sixteen subscribed readers, though he was not achieving  audience engagement within his subreddit. Ralphie started to engage with the subreddit more by creating a weekly update of the developments within Neskania and detailing what needed to be created. This was in an attempt to keep people interested and updated although his audience did not respond well. Resulting in the weekly updates becoming biweekly.

In an attempt to generate a further interest Ralphie utilised some of the features of Reddit by creating a Wiki and help section. The Wiki was a learning curve for Ralphie and required him to do extensive research on how to use ‘mark down’ to create the Wiki. The Wiki is inventive and adds realism to the project, thus would hopefully result in further engagement.  Though this did not happen and it seems this was due to the platform Neskania was built on. This led Ralphie to add a help section, this explains the aim of Neskania and how to contribute content. However, the issue with this section is that you have to go to the Wiki tab to find it. I was unable to find this at first because I am not a Reddit user and I believe this help section would only be helpful to avid reddit users and even then it is in an obscure place.

Ralphie also spent some time creating flairs for events, craft, ideas, etc… This allows all the content to be aggregated easier into topics and adds some colour to his page. Especially as he was unable to create a banner for his subreddit. He expressed his expectations that flairs would increase engagement.

Neskania has not succeeded as first expected and I believe perhaps the marketing and platform choice were what let this project down. Ralphie noted that he utilised websites that have a community whom make alternative worlds. Although I feel that if he perhaps used one of these sites to make his community on or attempted to develop a website to host all submitted content, the project may have been more successful. A website would have perhaps allowed the Neskania world to be further digitally built and allow its features to be visual. Though the subreddit would still be necessary as it would be a good platform to aggregate ideas and implement them to the site.  A website and perhaps in conjunction with a Facebook group would allow multiple platforms that users could submit content to. This would maybe help solve the issue for the individuals whom are not sure or willing to learn how to use Reddit.

The Wiki is a fantastic idea, however; the help section should not be placed under this segment. The help section is too hard to find and this renders it redundant. It perhaps could be within the description box before or after the brief description of Neskania, or simply have the help section’s content in this description area with reference to where to find facts about Neskania. Therefore, directing the users to the Wiki,as  if a person is unsure how to post or what to post it is unlikely they would be able to find this section or even look for it, if it is not obvious. Alternatively the facts in the description may fair better as a pinned post to the subreddit allowing room for the help section to be placed by itself in the description.

Overall I feel Neskania is a niche project that would only appeal to some individuals. Resulting in the difficultly to immerse users into this world and create content. Especially as the project was hosted on a platform that can be hard for first time users to comprehend. The concept of the project was fantastic as it was not just providing individuals with content but encouraging creativity through submitting content. If this project was hosted on a different platform with perhaps a better marketing plan it may have been better received.  I firmly believe that a large percentage of individuals prefer to observe rather than contribute. If this project continued by branching out onto other platforms it could possibly become quite successful though it would require better marketing and a better setup.

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