WELL Hosts Manual PART VI: OPENING THE CONFERENCE FOR ACTION
Your conference messages are in place, your first topics have been created, you’re all set to go… mail confteam to ask that the conference be “unlocked.”
You can announce the Grand Opening of your conference in the News conference topic “News from Around The WELL” and invite people in. You may also want to send email to users you know will be interested in your conference, and mention it in related conferences.
Having set up your conference and announced its opening, sit back and relax a bit. There’s no hurrying the birth of a conference. Users will begin checking in by ones or twos or threes — who can say? But it usually takes a little while for a conference to build up speed. So don’t worry if a frenzy of postings doesn’t appear right away. There is time. So good luck and have fun with it!
In Parts III and IV, we’ll take a look at some of the tools you have at your disposal for running your conference, checking its progress, keeping it in shape, customizing its appearance, and adding a few other bells and whistles.
6.1 Taking Over Hosting an Existing Conference
But first a word of encouragement for the host who is taking over a preexisting hostship. Reading through the manual, from creation to topic trimming, is as an excellent way to get a feel for the choices that have been made by the hosts who’ve gone before you.
Another perspective you need is how the conference looks to newcomers now.
In the PicoSpan text interface, go to your conference, and type
You will find yourself at a mysterious no conf prompt, but never fear — just go back to your conference by using the go command as always. You’ll get to experience the sensation of going into your conference as a newcomer might. Pay attention to the banners, and take a look at the last several days of responses as a newcomer would. At the OK prompt, type browse
You may decide this is just the time to spruce up your conference and make a browse more useful.
You should have a pretty good idea of whether some topic trimming is in order, and Part III of this manual will give you the tools to make the choices and weed your informational garden. Your choices of what to edit and what to keep are yours alone, but you may wish to ask the conference participants for advice, or at least list topics and warn users that it’s time to download them if they want a copy. If you want to do some topic trimming and don’t know where to begin, contact the Conferencing Manager for help.
6.2 Building Traffic
So, you have a fabulous conference, but it’s pretty quiet?
While it’s possible your conference just doesn’t currently command the audience you could gather in a good topic within an existing conference, it’s more likely people simply don’t know you’re conference is there.
First off, encourage the visitors you do have, even if it’s just your cohost, by continuing to post and trying to start a topic every week if nobody else does. If you do get a good topic going, you can promote it in The WELL News conference, where there is usually a topic called “News From Around The WELL” for that purpose.
Plugs in related conferences can be effective too, as can good linked topics. Say you’re the host of a fictitious conference about Dinosaurs and the Mesozoic times. If you can come up with some active linked topics to share with other hosts, pretty soon you’ll see posts like “Linked to the mesozoic conference? Wow, I didn’t know we had a conference about dinosaurs!”
If you have a delightful topic, type “tips” and read the instructions on getting your topic reviewed by the Tips Team.
Start more topics, and set up a few you post to every week, even if you are the only poster. You might try “What fossils have you collected?” with the intent of describing one of your fossils or field trip adventures in a post each week, whether others post there or not. Or “Dinosaurs in the news” where you can post mini-reviews of any media coverage of your area of interest.. Start topics relating to natural topic drift whenever the conversation strays off course, and if they don’t blossom, cheerfully retire them and get them out of the way. So what if you end up with a topic called “Other Kids Toys (Beyond Dinosaurs)” so long as it’s interesting digression for your participants. There’s nothing like experimenting.
Check out the newtops conference for lists of topics which you might want to link. This conference provides an index of all the topics started in open access conferences each day.
Use your own online bio, your web home page or .plan file. If you’re visible and colorful in other conferences and people are always looking you up, give them something to read about that great conference where they can usually find you.
Visit the Welcome conference and greet newcomers who post, ask them what they are interested in, and help them find places to visit. Help them add your conference to their conference list!
Build a fabulous Front Page web site for your conference. Either do this yourself, or put out a call for a volunteer conference webster to help create a web site with your conference members.
And last but not least, read the hosts conference to learn what other hosts are doing to promote their conferences.
copyright 1996, The WELL