Why do you use FR?

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Why do you use FR?

Post by cyber ratty » Fri Jul 24, 2015 3:04 pm

Following on from discussions about using social media to advertise the existence of FR and hopefully attract more people to join, I think it makes sense to find out why our members use FR...

What does FR offer you that one of the many facebook groups doesn't?
What are the benefits that you think we should highlight in our advertising?

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Re: Why do you use FR?

Post by Random_Bob » Fri Jul 24, 2015 6:15 pm

I used to enjoy the chat section because, a few years ago, it contained a decent variety of subjects. These days, that seems to have faded out. I guess that a lot of people have moved away to social meeja such as FB. I don't use any of that.

On the plus side, I think FR does provide access to a lot of experienced rat owners and breeders who are willing to share their knowledge and to help. The tone of the discussions is also well moderated and generally polite.
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Re: Why do you use FR?

Post by starstar » Fri Jul 24, 2015 6:22 pm

I love forums like this, they can be more more personal. I do have a FB account and use it occasionally, but I find just pressing "like" is not having a conversation with people.

Also if your facebook account is busy and lots of people like or post things, you can miss things that are not on the page in front of you. Where on this forum you can click of view new posts or view unread posts and see instantly everything you may have missed.

Having a forum, you can search for an answer to a question that you maybe too shy, when first joining, to ask.
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Re: Why do you use FR?

Post by alijane » Fri Jul 24, 2015 6:46 pm

There is something about this Forum which is very special and hard to put into words. Unlike FB, people on here are genuinely helpful and will go out of their way to support you. I have made a large number of genuine friends on here, many of them in 'real life' and some purely on-line. But they are real friends and not just people who post.

Like any community, tempers can get frayed and people can feel angry or hurt, but this seems less of an issue on here. Trolls get identified and dealt with fast. There is also a massive amount of real expertise and willingness to share it. I know exactly who to ask about particular issues and people have always helped. When we had the bordatella outbreak, I remember Anne spending ages talking to my vet about what was best ... When I found Mac, it was FR people who stepped in first and told me what I needed to do.

I think having content areas with threads which are searchable is a big help. It makes conversations easy to find and follow. FB can be really difficult. The Mods are brilliant at keeping it as under control as it needs to be.

Twitter is good for keeping up to date with stuff and knowing what is going on, but useless for more detailed stuff. FB is better for more detailed stuff, but much harder to get to know people. Thinking about it, my FB favourite people are very often folk I met and got to know on here.

I don't do the forum as much as I did, largely because I am busy and it is quicker to chat to FR people on FB, but thinking about it has made me realise how valuable this forum is.

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Re: Why do you use FR?

Post by squeakrat » Fri Jul 24, 2015 7:46 pm

Just repeating what has been said already really:

Organisation of the forum (into topics and being able to see recent threads easily) is much better than on a Facebook group, and the ability to search through old posts is useful.

The forum is well moderated (which obviously you could do with a facebook group, it's just that you often see groups which don't have this) which means that trolls are quickly dealt with, the tone of posts is generally polite and helpful, and you try and stop people posting in txt spk (which again seems more common on Facebook because the nature of it encourages people to leave brief comments).

Also there is a lot of experience on here, and there are many experienced breeders/owners who must invest a lot of their time in replying to threads and offering support to people (thank you :D )
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Re: Why do you use FR?

Post by ElizabethW » Fri Jul 24, 2015 11:30 pm

I've never used Facebook - I find the hugeness of it impersonal and a little intimidating. I think one of the really special things this forum offers, and it would be good to promote, is its sense of community. AliJane summed up really well what I feel too - there really is something very special about this forum. There are people here with vast ratty knowledge spanning years, who are generous and patient enough to be willing to share that knowledge with others - this could be highlighted to prospective members. It's personal advice too, coming from people who have very often helped you out before, and remember something of your situation. Sometimes you might need a bit of emotional support rather than actual advice, and there is always a shoulder to lean on here. I have always found the forum a friendly place to be, and I would definitely say I've made friends.

I would definitely highlight the fact that there is a wealth of information here on health, behaviour etc from old posts, that often go back years. I for one have found this incredibly useful to have, and use the 'Search' function regularly. Just being able to browse through a section in order to learn more is invaluable.

The moderation on FR is another good thing, like everyone who has posted before me has said. The moderators here do a fantastic job at keeping the forum ticking over, despite having busy lives outside FR and I think the 'safe' atmosphere of the forum is another thing to promote. It is probably a safer place for junior members to be than Facebook for this reason, (although I don't know whether this is something that could be advertised as such.)

I think FR has a lot to be proud of :hearts:
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Re: Why do you use FR?

Post by Caza66 » Sat Jul 25, 2015 7:22 am

I've never used Facebook. I'm a bit of a technophobe and refuse to be sucked into new technology that is 'forced' upon us. I found this forum when I had an issue with my first rat and have never been off it since. The wealth of information and knowledge on here is wonderful. I have met a member who is now a really good friend and feel like I have other friends on here too.

Love every thing about the forum, it is well managed, well maintained, some lovely and funny stories and the wealth of information.

Thank you all.
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Re: Why do you use FR?

Post by Pirate » Sat Jul 25, 2015 9:21 am

The same reasons as other people have mentioned, mostly.

This was the best place to ask for advice, or to find information, which is why I first started to visit here, and there's also a sense of community. Even if, like me, you rarely have direct contact with other members, it's still a comfortable place to come to with lots of familiar posters. Any new members are likely to introduce themselves, and have display pictures and/or signatures that help you to remember who they are, what pets they have, etc. On sites like Facebook you lose that. Information gets lost because everything you see is 'current' and disordered (newest post first, and a need to sift through lots of posts if you want to see new comments, etc).

This also means that you tend to know that you can trust the advice people give, because you've seen previous posts, know of their experience and knowledge, and also know of their reputation amongst other members (even being recommended as someone it's worth contacting for advice on a certain issue).

I find some things on Facebook quite hard to follow because of how frequently things are misspelled, or text speak is used, or things are posted in other inaccessible ways (like all capitals, for example), whereas I think that on forums people are more likely to type well enough that posts are easier to read. This also includes self-monitoring as well as being moderated, because on Facebook I've noticed people are more inclined to post angrily with lots of swearing and threats, whereas here things are usually much calmer and more reasonable, even on topics that do upset or anger people.

It probably makes a huge difference when people really do have to think about what they're going to say (rather than posting one-word responses, or being able to quickly re-post anything that catches their eye).

EDIT: Another important one! People here tend to have the same kinds of ideals as to their views on pet care, so there's rarely any cause to feel uncomfortable or concerned about other people's animals. Where anyone isn't meeting the standards others have set, members will explain and help that person to improve things (and it's usually done calmly and kindly, although it's also reassuring to know that people will be blunt when necessary).

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Re: Why do you use FR?

Post by jenniferrose » Sat Jul 25, 2015 10:15 am

I started to reply to this post yesterday and then got called away. I have returned to find that everyone's replies so far match my thoughts! Probably not very useful for Mary, but nice to know :D

I don't use social media at all, so I can't comment on Facebook/Twitter groups, but the reason I use the forum is the amount of experience and knowledge shared on here. It's really invaluable and helps build rat-owners' confidence.

I choose to use FR because it's a resource that people value highly enough to take the time to join, and that is frequented by knowledgeable people I trust and respect. I think most people try to put as much in as they get out of it, by helping others as well as asking their own questions.

I've made local rat friends through the forum, so that is another benefit for me, from a social point of view and a practical point of view e.g. ratsitting, sharing food orders, etc. Although I appreciate you can do this on a social media page too.

I love the forum and hope we can help you attract more members/revitalise it in whatever way is needed! :luck:


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Re: Why do you use FR?

Post by [cub] » Sat Jul 25, 2015 4:53 pm

I'll mostly be repeating what other people have already said, but thought I'd add my voice anyway just to underline how important FR's unique features are:

The main advantage of actual forums like FR over social media sites like Facebook is the fact that forum posts are organised and easily searchable. This obviously benefits rat keepers looking for advice, since they can not only post about their own situation and receive timely replies, but they can also search for other posts about similar situations and potentially learn from them. Less obvious but just as important, in my view, is that it helps knowledgeable people share their expertise without requiring them to repeat themselves all the time: if someone makes a particularly informative and generally useful post, it can be fairly easily dug up again so that similar queries in future can simply be given a link to the post. This may even subtly encourage people to be more verbose in their replies: if you know in the back of your head that your wisdom isn't just going to scroll off into oblivion in a few days' time, but may in fact benefit countless future rat keepers, you might be inspired to go just that little bit further. (Maybe this is one of the reasons why posts here are more helpful and respectful than the ones on Facebook tend to be?) On the other side of the coin, as a new rat keeper on FR, I have learned not only from FR's current active members as they've answered my questions and assuaged my worries, but I've also been able to learn from inactive members who have stopped posting on FR for whatever reason, but whose tidbits of wisdom are still preserved here. Social media sites like Facebook are great for chatting and socialising, but because they're so focused on what's going on right now, everything posted on them is extremely ephemeral. Posts on forums like FR are much more lasting.

And the main advantage of FR in particular over other forums is that, in my personal opinion, it manages to combine in-depth knowledge, high standards of care, and respectfulness to a degree that no other current rodent-keeping forum I know of can match. This is a unique place and though I know I'm not hugely active here (I'm shy :oops: ), I really value it. Everything I know about rat keeping has been due to this forum, and quite frankly I would be lost without it!
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Re: Why do you use FR?

Post by shiprat » Sun Jul 26, 2015 9:53 am

[cub] wrote: ...."Everything that you wrote" ....
Great post.
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Re: Why do you use FR?

Post by BasilTheRat » Sun Jul 26, 2015 4:58 pm

Obviously when I was a rat owner the health forum was essential and an incredibly useful resource. Similarly the behaviours forum was also useful when I had the occasional difficult rat. These days without rats I like to have a look around from time to time, but mostly just to look at the lovely photos of rats from the other members... I do agree with Bob as well - the social side of the forum has died away from how it was a few years ago. But I guess it keeps the forum more 'on message' rather than being a social hangout, but its a bit of a shame as the old discussions that people used to have, especially on the old beige forum were often good fun and entertaining!

I'll still poke my head in every now and then, if only to squeee over rat photos ;-)
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Re: Why do you use FR?

Post by NellyNoodle » Sun Jul 26, 2015 6:39 pm

FR is important to me because it does have a clear ethical stance which most regular users agree with, meaning that if you direct someone here for help you know the people advising them aren't going to be shouted down by those with differing ethics.

I don't use FR much myself anymore although I do keep an eye for where I might have useful advice to give people - I feel like I gained so much from this community as a novice that it's important to give this back. I'm not always good at doing this so will try harder.

If I have a problem though I tend to go to the nfrs forum where I'm a littler fish and there are specific people there who can advise. I do like to share pictures on here though and try to be 'present' as hopefully an example of a good breeder.

I also link extensively to the articles when advising pet homes or people on fb groups as I think the articles on here are some of the best out there, again I think this comes back to not being afraid to have a specific stance on best practice which others eg. nfrs don't have (this is not a criticism of the nfrs, there are reasons for the differences and these are good and important). I also really encourage people to actually join up wherever possible although I'm not sure that's always been good for FR!!

However, perhaps a better question is why I'm not using the forum so much anymore - as I said on the other thread there is so much demand on our time from social media and I think we have a bit of a chicken and egg situation here in that I don't spent much time here because I don't like the sound of the tumbleweed, I'd rather be actually interacting with people. Many of my favourite peeps from on here are also fb friends and/or nfrs members, and because I show I have a lot of 'real life' interaction with rat people. I'm not really sure what would make me spend more time on fr so I'm probably the wrong person to ask though! I'm not sure I'm still the target market?

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Re: Why do you use FR?

Post by ElizabethW » Sun Jul 26, 2015 10:14 pm

NellyNoodle wrote: I'd rather be actually interacting with people. Many of my favourite peeps from on here are also fb friends and/or nfrs members, and because I show I have a lot of 'real life' interaction with rat people. I'm not really sure what would make me spend more time on fr so I'm probably the wrong person to ask though! I'm not sure I'm still the target market?
This is where FR is so important to me. I'm a stay at home mum; neither my husband nor me drive or own a car. I don't have a busy social life and tend to be quite shy. We live in West Wales, where there is very little going on rat-wise and no registered breeders. We can't afford to travel much, so I've never been to a rat show and have never actually met anyone else who keeps rats. This forum is the only contact I have with other rat lovers and I'd be completely lost without it.

I'm still very novice when it comes to keeping rats so sometimes don't feel very confident with answering posts, but when I do and it helps somebody out it's a great feeling...I really want to be able to give something back, even if it's only a little and that encourages me to keep learning.
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Re: Why do you use FR?

Post by RatBubble » Mon Jul 27, 2015 10:19 am

I found you whilst doing a search into Rat Care last year before we had even found our breeder, when I did locate her via our local vets she pointed me to you also (Thank you Shiprat). As everyone has already pointed out, the way in which this forum is moderated and managed by you all means that the search function rarely fails to answer a question I have. I feel informed and secure on here, there's no 'oneupmanship' in sharing knowledge. Every new member is welcomed with the same kindness.

I can understand the desire to branch out into other social networks as a means to attract members to keep the buoyancy and traffic flow. Since being a member here, I have followed a lot of facebook rat related pages that have been mentioned from members on here, including FR's now! Facebook is a powerful tool. I think if your FR page is ran and handled by your core group of informed mods from here it could become a powerful tool by citing thread links from here and pointing towards recommended breeders or sound suppliers. As I'm sure has been said there is a lot of miss information around.

As for twitter, I use that for work as an illustrator and have done for years. It can be a great signpost tool for work, in this case your site. Building up a rat related following and sharing top posts from here to encourage new memberships.

I will add that running social networks take an awful lot of time but you'll already know that from the work you all invest in this site.

So thank you
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