comments 2

Ending the TL;DL Experiment

For the last month (since October 26, 2016), I’ve been running an experiment to see if the following project would have any impact:

I listen to .NET Rocks! to keep up with what’s going on with .NET development. The episodes are about 50 minutes each, and are very well done; however, there are occasions when I’d just like to know the highlights. If I have the time, I may go back and listen to the whole conversation and dig deeper. Therefore, I’m trying a TL;DL (too long, didn’t listen) format here on my blog.

It dawned on me that providing summaries for shows I’m already listening to could be a way to give back to the community. (The shows used to have transcripts, but I think with three shows a week, their production staff probably could not realistically keep up.) We’ll see where this goes!

I committed myself to keeping the project going for 1 month, and then I would evaluate things to see what (if anything) came out of it. (Note: I was not asked by anyone to do this project, and I was not compensated in any way for my efforts.)

Goals

  • Save people time by having the information of an hour-long podcast summarized into a text format that can be consumed in less than 10 minutes
  • Get feedback from the hosts (Carl Franklin and Richard Campbell) to find out if these summaries would be useful to them (e.g., helps promote the show and its guests)
  • Get feedback from the guests to see if this helps promote them and the knowledge they share with the community

In short, I want to know if this project is of (enough) use to the community.

The data

My main means of promotion was by tweeting the link to the show. Where possible I would mention the guest via their Twitter handle so they could be notified of its existence. There are also a handful of subscribers to my blog, either via e-mail or through RSS readers.

Legend:

  • Impressions — number of Twitter views as measured by Twitter
  • Clicks — number of click-throughs to the post itself from the tweet
  • Retweets — number of times the tweet was retweeted
  • Likes — number of times the tweet with link was liked
  • Hits — number of page views according to WordPress
  • Time spent — number of minutes spent creating the post content
  • Guest engagement? — whether or not I got any response from the show guest

These were the values near the end of the day on November 27, 2016:

Show Impressions Clicks Retweets Likes Hits Time Spent Guest Engagement?
1366 (Angular 2 docs) 66 1 0 0 4 94 No
1367 (WiX Toolset) 522 8 3 0 22 120 Yes
1368 (Azure API management) 140 6 0 1 11 131 Yes
1369 (Web accessability) 91 0 0 1 6 117 Yes
1370 (data lakes) 75 0 0 1 1 151 Liked tweet
1371 (.NET Standard) 76 0 0 0 5 140 No
1372 (MFractor) 189 1 0 1 2 122 Yes
1373 (DC lighting geek out) 71 0 0 0 4 165 No
1374 (JavaScriptServices) 67 0 0 0 3 132 No
1375 (mobile dev with F#) 968 16 2 5 33 112 Yes
1376 (Connect debrief) 46 0 0 0 7 150 No
1377 (marking .NET) 59 0 0 0 1 151 No
1378 (science of great UI) 377 5 1 5 7 132 Yes
1379 (SQL choices) 62 0 0 1 0 133 No

Conclusions

Based on the quantitative and qualitative feedback I’ve obtained, I have decided to discontinue this project. Personally, I’ve invested 30 hours of my discretionary time this past month on a project with a lukewarm response. I believe it was a net-positive outcome; the magnitude of that positive amount is not enough to sustain the effort, though.

Checking in with my goals…

  • Save people time: Unclear whether this goal was met.
  • Get feedback from the show hosts: Not met.
  • Get feedback from the show guests: Somewhat met. There were fewer than 5 guests that thanked me for my work; I made sure to reach out to those individuals afterward. For all 14 posts, only 50% responded at all to the tweet about their show.

Some other things I learned:

  • Of the more specific feedback (e.g., something other than a simple Like or Retweet), I received several compliments on the quality of the summaries. (Note-taking is something I would call a strength in my book; so this feedback was useful to let me know those skills are still sharp.)
  • Having to listen more attentively and find links to topics mentioned on the show helped me engage with the content more deeply.
  • This may seem like a no-brainer, but marketing is key. The two most popular posts were retweeted to well over 1000 followers of well-respected people in the industry. Word-of-mouth marketing is quite powerful.

In closing, I think the biggest nail in the coffin was that I received no feedback from the hosts — positive or negative. I would have accepted any range of responses from “please stop stalking us” to “can we please pay you to do this.”

Next month (December 2016), I’ll be using my discretionary time toward getting ready for next quarter’s group fitness programs that I teach. Although fitness is not my career, I’m more directly able to see the impact of my work on those whom I teach and connect with in my classes. Perhaps 2017 will present opportunities for me to use my skills to make an impact on the technology community. I look forward to finding out!

2 Comments

  1. Hey Geoff – sorry if you felt we weren’t aware of what you were doing – I certainly was.

    And I was sure I tweeted about it a few times, actually… I guess I’ll have to go back and find them.

    I appreciate your efforts – it’s a ton of time you put in, and I understand if you want that time back.

    I do hope you’ll keep listening.

    R.

    • Thanks for taking the time to reach out. I know you mentioned me positively in one tweet. I’ll definitely keep listening to the show — it’s my way of keeping up with the industry; you guys have an amazing thing going! The overall feeling was that the amount of work I was doing wasn’t commensurate with the return I was seeing. (Perhaps I had a good product, but no one wanted to buy it.)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *