I have the notion that The Downbeat section of this website is one of the most popular features. They are fun to read, informative, and something we all look forward to every business day. We have some of our most spirited debates in their comments sections, and during the doldrums of the off-season you know that they’ll be there for you. The Downbeats were started by Basketball John, and I believe, named by The Shums. So it is filled with the DNA of two of our SLC Dunk heroes. Since the shift towards a more team authored blog, I think we’ve made a number of changes. Instead of having either Clark or I doing all the DBs we share it amongst our group of talented scribes. This is, after all, a fan run blog for a team that champions team based play. We grew up watching a team win the most when they worked with each other. And I think that by working with each other here we can achieve similar success – while having fun.
There are necessary conversations that we need to have this off season about where this blog is, where it came from, and where do we want it to go. This was Basketball John’s baby, and I do not consider it my own baby. Of course not. This baby belongs to ALL of us now – doesn’t matter if you are a manager here or a lurker.
Ancient History and my Mission:
I have tried to give the Downbeat the space that it needs. I never really got into writing them myself – and now that Basketball John has passed the torch, I think there are plenty of guys and gals who are writing great beats. And if I have not given the Downbeat enough space, or prominence, I will correct it. I do think that we have enough writers here that we can do more than just report on the news – we can do independent research and post original content. When we interview a Jazz fan who does art for the community this is original content. When we do an analysis on rebounding this is original content. When we do a review of a previous game this is original content. When we post a funny picture this is original content. When we write a rant that comes from the heart, you guess it, that’s original content. To me the Downbeat is important – but continuing to grow as a blog means also giving readers more and more reasons to keep visiting the blog.
I really don’t think that is wrong. Basketball John handed the keys to us. I want to make it something he can be proud of. After all, he brought us along (Moni and Clark, then Yucca and I) and approved all of the people we added to the team. When he was still the bossman we were added more and more types of content along the way. We were growing with him – and now that he has retired – we’re only going to continue to grow. We’re growing along the path that he set us out on. Sometimes growth means that there are more posts to read a day. It’s only natural.
Some of the more mature blogs on this network post a lot. They have more comments in their articles, they do 2 or 3 game threads per night . . . and they are very solid communities. They are bigger than us and they are older than us. Heck, a group of team blogs do between 5 to 8 posts a day, every day, for the entire year. I have no allusions of growing this blog to that size in the span of one year. I have received a lot of lectures and advice from the managers at the SBN, and I’ve been told that I needed to find out that one thing I wanted – and focus on that.
Do you know what that one thing I wanted to do with this blog was? It was to make the blog big enough that the voice of the fan would finally reach the ears of the decision makers for the team we love, unfiltered. Why? Because fans have no say in the system that we care so deeply for. This was clearly the case during the NBA Lockout – which ended right before BBALL John hung it up. The fans put all the money in the system, buying the tickets, the merch, the food, the parking, the magazines, the dvds, and so forth. We put the money into the system that goes to the owners, which then goes to their employees. We go to the games, wait in line early to get autographs, tweet with the players after the game, and cheer loudly with all of our hearts – only for the players to en masse, forget the fans for months. The media and lawyers made the fans pick sides – and some picked the side of the owners, others with the players. We should have picked the side of the fans. None of our demands were met, and more than half of us were just happy to have the game back that we paid full price for 80% of the content. The fans had no voice – besides being the primary industry that the entire NBA is built upon.
By running a strong blog, with a great community, one that is so robust and rational that the team or radio flunkies can’t ignore I have the power to give a voice to the fans. That’s why I do this. There is a long form game plan towards this. The first was to get more writers – writers that were either established or had passed the own Utah Jazz vetting process (Jazzbots/360). The second thing was to post more opinions –and to post them in step with the speed of the news. Because we’re all such great fans we were able to do this – and post things up in step with the traditional media. The third thing was to develop more original content. This is everything from fun posts about Fesenko to serious hard science. Having broad appeal and consistent content means we, as a group, become more influential.
Why is this important? Because it is this influence which gets us places. The other blogs, like Blazer’s Edge, or Pounding The Rock, or Celtics Blog? The ones that do between 5 to 8 posts a day? They have full media credentials. They get the access that our blog – and other Jazz blogs – do not get. As a result, the flow of information is highly regulated here. The bigger we get, the more we can’t be overlooked – the better it is because it opens up new channels for communication. I did not want to mention this earlier, but because of the new vigor this blog has shown under Q1 of 2012, doors are opening. I’m in the process of getting full media credentials for Clark and I for the Orlando Summer league. I’m also in talks to get Diana a full media credential here for the next season, starting with pre-draft workouts. None of this would be possible if we languished in obscurity – and only posted twice a day. By hustling here we, the SLC Dunk family, are opening doors to have both a stronger voice for the fans – and bring back more direct information to the fans. Unfiltered convo with the team, and unfiltered info to the fans. This is that voice that I felt like the fans did not have during the lockout. And this is why I am working so hard here – to give us the chops to be un-ignored by the team we love.
We’re all working to make this place better and give more of a voice to YOU the Jazz fan who isn’t a dumb Uncle Dale, and you the smart Jazz fan who may not have season tickets – but still have a valid issue, etc. And it may just come at the expense of no longer having only 2 posts a day, one of which is a downbeat that stands at the top of the page for 13 straight hours. It’s only natural, it’s only what was right, for this blog to grow. And it’s growing. The internet is growing. And the Jazz need to grow with it too. We – all Jazz fans who read this blog – are an integral ingredient in that growth.
It would be entirely hypocritical to demand that Tyrone Corbin improve and get better, and that our team should play the younger guys and push the older artifacts to the bench – while not also agreeing to the progressive changes I’m suggesting here. Guys like Derrick Favors and Alec Burks may not be ready to lead the team to 50 wins – but they gotta play in order to ever be able to do that. As a result, the changes we’re doing now, to increase page views, to increase original content – so that we can ONE DAY get the credentials we need in order to be a stronger voice – these changes need to take place too. Otherwise we’ll be the 4 games and out version of a blog, and never be viewed as legit people with legit opinions by the team that we are so emotionally invested it.
Why is this necessary? Well, because the fans are the financial capital which runs the show, and like I said – they take our money but don’t listen to us. Even crazy people like Rammstein listen to their fans who pay to buy all their albums and go to their concerts. Are we expecting the Utah Jazz to act more self-absorbed than Rammstein? Nien.
And am I so self-absorbed not to listen to the concerns of the community that I hope to one day represent? Of course not. So let’s talk about the Downbeat.
I think it’s good that we have the Downbeat. And I think it is good that we have so many authors now that we can give everyone one, more or less. I have no plans to ever propose getting rid of it. If anything, I am playing with the idea of adding a Saturday Downbeat as well. If the Downbeat is the #1 thing for so many people who visit this website loyally – why would I ever try to give you less of it? While you may get more posts per day that "bury it" (not a valid point in my mind as you can scroll, or simply visit the quick link to all the Downbeats from the front page), how about I give you +20% more Downbeats? Would you guys like that compromise? One extra downbeat a week? One more author to give their POV to the SLC Dunk voice? If we’re going to increase the posts per day – why can’t we increase it with something people already like?
Think about all of these points and I’ll ask the question again in a few days.
The Downbeat – and a deep analysis.
I’m serious about this blog because I’m serious about giving the fans a voice. This means a) expanding the SLC Dunk brand – while also b) maintaining the strong community feel. I respect you guys, all of you guys. And I respect what is entrusted to me. So believe me, I did a lot of research on this. Did you know that the Downbeat is awesome? Yes. You knew that. Did you know that we have numbered it incorrectly? The last downbeat is listed as #757. Well, I went over EVERY SINGLE POST ON THIS ENTIRE WEBSITE this night. Basketball John gave us two Downbeat #55’s, and two Downbeat #172’s. So we’re actually +2 downbeats ahead than what we actually write. [Sept 10 #55, Sept 11 #55; Feb 23 #172, Feb 24 #172] This last one, Friday’s, Downbeat was actually #759 – not #757. If I did not care about this site, and did not care about the downbeats I would not have gone into that much detail. So Clarke, for Monday – please use the #760 for the next Downbeat so we’re back on the right number for our most beloved section.
There is recent concern that the comments / discussion in the Downbeats is going down. Why is this happening? Is it because I’m posting too much and pushing the convos out of sight and out of mind? Is it because there is less cool stuff to talk about? Is it because less people are visiting the blog on a daily basis now that it’s the off-season and we were eliminated? Is it because we’re doing a worse job now? Is it a combination of factors – or is it just Amar’s fault for posting so much and the DB doesn’t stay at the top of the page anymore? Well. I looked into this. I looked into the average posting time for the DB, how long it stays at the top of the page, how many comments are posted, and so forth. I did this for the last 50 DBs (#708 to #757). Here’s what we see:
These are the comments per downbeat. There are two huge numbers (94 and 181 comments) and a bunch of low teens (or lower). Seems like a big range. It is. The average, though, is 35.5 comments per downbeat. Surely there are less now than ever before. Damn that mean ol’ mr. amar. Well, first of all, those two outliers cause a lot of problem and boost up that average. So much so that the standard deviation is +/- 27.4. There’s a huge range when the STDEV is 77% of the actual mean. There does appear to be some fluctuation from DB to DB. Is this because some writers are just more popular than others? Self doubt aside, let’s get back to the numbers. Numbers make sense.
This is how the DBs stack up when you group them by frequency, by the # of comments per DB. There are two major humps – either the DB will have 11-20 comments, or 31-40 comments. This is for the last 50 DBs. Otherwise it’s a pretty standard distribution of values. But this still seems to make you wonder – are the DB’s screwed up?
This is the exact same data, for the same data set (the last 50 DBs), but this shows how many comments are in the downbeat – but grouped by an entire week. (So each bar is the comments made by the whole team from Clark-Monday to Friday-Moni) Wow, aside from that crazy DB the comments seem stable. The average is 177.6 comments per week. And if you throw out the outlier data, then it’s 156.8 comments in the DB each week. The eyeball test tells us that 7 of the remaining 9 weeks are just right there.
And this has remained consistent from "woe is us" era before our playoff push, through to our 5 game win streak to get in the playoffs, through our playoff sweep, through to the 6 posts per day era, through the ‘5 hours or less at the top of the page for the DB’ era, and through to current era where I do not post anything until after 4pm my time so the DB retains prominence at the top of the page back to 2009 levels of SLC Dunk. The evidence suggests that we’re having the same number of convos in the DB now, like we have been for the last 10 weeks, or last 50 downbeats. Back when the most fans ever were visiting the site during our playoff push to now, weeks after we were swept from the playoffs – it’s been very stable.
And yes, I want a 6th Downbeat. I want more Downbeats / week. I want to give the fans more of what want. And I think we can accomplish this while also accomplishing the goals of making SLC Dunk more legit. Period. Shut up.
Natural Growth of SLC Dunk:
It took BBALL John a long time to grow this website. It was a labor of love, and a lonely labor for a long time. The first month of this website was way back in May 2008. That month there was only 19 posts, and a posts per day value of 0.61. Slowly John grew the site, and more and more people came, loved what they saw, and decided to keep coming. Daily. At the end of 2008 SLC Dunk had a grand total of 137 posts in 8 months. It was the foundation of something awesome.
It took John a few months but he broke through the 1.0 posts per day threshold for a month, for the month of February 2009. It would take John (and some of us who were also helping out by this time) till September 2010 to double that, and break through the 2.0 posts per day threshold. It took us another 17 months, February 2012, to double that again, and break through the 4.0 posts per day threshold. While it only appears to be rapid – it’s a long time coming, and indicative only towards the number of hours ALL OF US are working on this blog. There were only so many hours to go along when John was one manning this blog. We’re almost at 10 people now. It’s only natural for there to be more content, and that’s because there more people working here to GIVE original content to the fans.
Take a look for yourself
There are some dips there – naturally (like the big dip we get around July ’11 for the lockout); however, we’re still naturalizing. In fact there appears to be a spike that we’re coming down from. It’s not like we were just going to be posting 12 things a day next month. We had a lot of posts to do over the last 2 months because of the playoff push and all the player injuries, and all the player news. There was a lot of debate at the site. There were a lot of posts as a result. And the data from the previous section shows us that the DB did not suffer as a result. We just got bigger, naturally.
There are natural ups and downs during the off-season every year. This blog shows it clearly. The other thing that this blog shows is that people get super excited whenever the season starts again. The last thing this FQ chart displays is that we are growing in chunks – but we have been naturally growing all along. From the first quarter of SLC Dunk where we had 0.51 PPD to right now, when we’re at 3.43 PPD. We’ve gone up, and we’ve had spikes that go up or down during our ride so far (lockouts and then POST-lockout hysteria).
But I’m certain Mean Ol’ Man Amar is ruining things! I’ve seen it with my own eyes!
Maybe so, but maybe we need to look at more frames of references here. Overall in terms of performance SLC Dunk was one of the lowest blogs in the entire SB Network. With all of the hard work by BBALL John, Shums, Utesfan89, and the rest of us writers/fans here – we’ve lifted the blog up. We used to be bottom third, and now we’re in the middle third. The Jazz are the #16th best team in the league right now. I think that the #1 fan blog of our team should be as good as our team is. So my next goal, immediately, is to keep improving this blog so that we move from middle third to being closer to the middle half. (Either top half, or top of the bottom half, if you understand my meaning – close to the middle).
We can do this. And we can continue to do this by growing naturally. And during my wild reign so far (and I abhor that concept – this isn’t my blog, this is the blog I serve. I am not its’ master, it is mine.) look at how we had a good growth and are now finding a good value.
March and April had a lot of news and the playoff push. One post every day is the Downbeat. On game days we get an injury report, game preview, game thread, and game recap – four more automatic posts that have to be done. Those are already 5 posts, and we averaged a little more than 6 per day during our busiest time. We’re back down to where we were RIGHT AFTER the lockout. I think that’s fine.
And the Top blogs at SBN – they’re between 5 to 8 posts a day. At our best, we still rounded down to 6; and now in Q2 2012 we’re back down under 4. We’ll be fine. And I’ll be fine. As long as we keep communicating with each other and you see that there’s a method to my madness.
My #1 goal wasn’t "do nothing and make people do the work". I’m doing the vast majority of the work here, and I think that’s obvious. I want to always share the success, so I’m not doing this to bring ME up. If I ever do a free lance guest post on another blog it’s only to bring traffic back to SLC Dunk – it’s not so I can apply to one day right for HP Basketball or ESPN or whatever. I don’t need that in my life. I need to make the voice of the Jazz fan heard by the Utah Jazz. That, again, is my goal. And in order to reach it – our blog needs to continue being so damn good that it can’t be ignored. Period.
There is a positive relationship between PPD and becoming legit. Especially if we keep up the quality of our work – continue to serve more than just one or two points of view, and so forth. And we try that here. I want everyone to have a voice at this blog as well. And I’m putting ALL of my cards on the table here. I just want to instill confidence in the readers here – change isn’t always bad. And there’s a reason why there has been some changes. I’m not doing this to just sit on a blog and not help the community. Everything I’m doing here is so that the community becomes better.
This blog would have grown still with BBALL John at the helm. He’s not at the helm. And I have the responsibility to keep the ship going in the direction, the course, that he had set. And I’m doing that. We’re growing. I’m not hurting the down beats. And I want all fans to have a voice – one that is heard by the team that we care so passionately about.