questionsanyone else notice the vacuum in the shirt.woot…

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j5 j5

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Don't forget

3. Web Site Changes

My overall woot usage has been way down since they changed up the site. It's like information overload.

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How can you notice a vacuum? If nobody is there to see it? Otherwise, is it a vacuum?

Sorry...have not been there to look.

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shirt.woot was how I initially got active in this community. I used to buy/vote a lot, and even dabble in design creation. In the past 6 months, my activity has almost stagnanted, though.

The first thing to turn me off was the lack of creativity and mainstream feel all of the derbies took on. There would be some awesome designs that wouldn't get any attention because people would just vote for the "popular" designers, even if their design was boring crap.

The price hike kind of turned me off, initially, but I still bought a few since then, though usually only with jumbo woot coupons.

I think the biggest factor in my lack of participation on shirt.woot though, was my discovery of other sites like teefury and theyetee, plus so many others. I feel like their designs are fresher and more fun, while being printed on higher quality blanks, and still maintaining a similar price.

Thanks for this question, I'd never stopped to analyze and think about how my habits have changed :)

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@90mcg112: I was going to bet on Roomba. :)

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Yep, it was the switch from AA blanks that did it for me. I've bought a couple shirts since the switch and they aren't nearly as comfortable and don't hold shape. I'm sad to say this but I won't be buying any more awesome community-designed shirts.

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@90mcg112, @jsimsace: I thought it was all about the NEATO these days....

@jeremytheindian: I considered the site changes also, but didn't think the impact was as great. Maybe I was wrong on that though.

j5 j5
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Didn't ramyb disappear too?

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I also think there's been a general decline in the quality of weekly designs that are being selected to print.

The Worst Seller, currently on the Reckoning, has 0 sales. Even though that only counts sales, starting from today, that's still embarassing.

You can form an opinion of the design yourself. I think it's garbage.
http://shirt.woot.com/offers/swiss-gamepad

On a positive note, I think the change they made to the derby winners (having staff and guest editor chose the 2nd and 3rd place winners, respectively) was a great idea, and I hope to see it bring more creativity and fresh designs to the table. Maybe breathe some life back into shirt.woot.

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I'm definitely less interested in shirts now, primarily because of the change in suppliers. I wouldn't mind paying an extra couple bucks for AA's, because the quality was top-notch. The new shirts are not as comfortable and don't fit as well.

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@axphw1: No, he's had entries in the last couple of derbies, and currently in the fog with more controversy.

@dmaz: I didn't see anything on guest editors this week, so maybe that "experiment" is over?

Vote counts since "new rules"
Derby...1st...2nd...3rd
262......719...585...571
263......581...561...448
264......696...622...394
265......783...533...448
266......608...448...409
267......498...470...466 <--double take derby
268......499...419...400
269......505...462...459

j5 j5
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@j5: yeesh! I sure hope it wasn't just an experiment. I really felt that was something they had going for them. Thanks for the stats too! I'm working on something right now, as well.

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I wanted to have a broad view of participation on shirt.woot, while including as much information as possible.

What you are looking at is a full average of the votes that the 1st place derby winner had received (that's our y axis), from the first derby up till now.

I took averages from the derbies in 10s, and averaged them out into 6 periods. Each period runs through 50 derbies, and is an average of the derbies contained within those 50.

Somewhere around Period 5 is where many of these changes we are discussing took place :/

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i liked @slydon's philosophical questions. they were nearly the last reason i was posting semi-regularly at all on shirt.woot, now imma just heckling the derby theme when it comes out.

no1 no1
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I said goodbye two months ago. Except for looking up the usual threads, when I'm called upon, or to vote in the derbies, I have not paid any attention to what's been going on recently.

@dmaz: I don't know if "high quality" can truly be said about Teefury's blanks. Heavier, yes, but the Alstyle 1701 are no longer ringspun by default and has always been carded cotton (instead of combed).

IIRC, theyetee uses Gildan Softstyle 64000 blanks and they start off an inch shorter already. At least they shrink less than the Anvil 980's used by Woot these days; for complaints sake, my gifted copy of UnNinja 3 on Anvil, which is line dried, is shorter than my beaten up copy of TCIAL on AA that's dryer dried.

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Another major issue is the quality control issues. Since the switch over I have purchased 4 shirts. 3 of the 4 are misprinted. I have not worn the 4th as of yet so I may notice a problem when I wear the shirt.

1. Womens print on a mens shirt.
2. Blurred, and low quality print with layers misaligned.
3. Printed off center.

The third I only noticed this weekend when wearing and 3 other people told me it was off center, since it is a design that placement is important the odds of it being worn drop significantly.

2 of the 3 shirts the problem was noticed once they were out of print, and the 3rd I have contacted service because there are still rampant reports that replacements are coming with the same printing issues.

Based on the 230 plus comments on the QA thread I am not alone in my problems. If shirts that are purchased continually are misprinted customers will stop purchasing from the company.

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Thanks, guys! It seemed to be not so popular, so I decided to let the polls get all the attention. I appreciate the love, though!

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I'm honestly just not into the shirts anymore.

The same t-shirt tropes keep coming up over and over again, and I think the quality of the dailies has gone way down. Nothing has "wowed" me in a while--nothing that actually gets printed, at least.

I also have several of them--so many that I've begun giving some of the ones I got from randoms away because I don't want them in my apartment.

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We're still selling plenty of shirts, so it's not totally a vacuum. However, I think you all agree there's a problem. So, I ask: What are your solutions?

Let's forego the "change blanks," thing, as that's been beat into the ground. I'm interested in hearing what we can do to rekindle your interest, especially outside the realm of business decisions. (Shipping, blanks, shipping vendors, etc.) I also don't know anything about contracts, but I'm willing to hear stuff about those too.

Bear in mind, this is purely a hypothetical situation!

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@slydon: I quite enjoyed the discussions, whenever anyone chose to engage that is.
As for the popularity:
a: Polls are linked on the front page
b: Polls, for the most part, require little thought and most certainly no introspection, and therefore are more "accessible"
c: Few people who enjoy thought and introspection is still around to respond.
d: ZOMG! Boobies!

j5 j5
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@gatzby: I'm curious as to the comment that @j5 brought up. That last week there was no "guest editor". Did you guys just happen to not have one for that week?

I really do think that this change in 2nd and 3rd place derby winners was a great idea. At this point, do you see shirt.woot keeping it for a while? Any other thoughts about it from the higher ups? Thanks!

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I don't buy from there anymore either. The Anvil shirts are much worse than the American Apparel shirts. I would have rather had a price raise, even $5 more to keep the AA blanks. I've gotten some Anvil shirts that were just bad - they shrunk even when I washed them in cold water and line dried them. They also wear out a lot faster. It's sad. Woot used to be my favorite t shirt supplier. Now I won't touch them.

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@dmaz: I thought we did, but there may have been a scheduling thing. I know both art directors were working with a guest editor recently, and overheard plans for more. I'm not sure it's been long enough to judge future plans yet -- consider us still in the data collection phase.

There are some other things in the works that are taking up shirt.woot time too.

@j5: Same question applies, but even more so. What do you think we can do?

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@gatzby: "We're still selling plenty of shirts, so it's not totally a vacuum. However, I think you all agree there's a problem."

i don't necessarily think there's a problem. you guyz are satisfied with the sales (last time i checked, 662 for toadstool construction, 293 for mr. fallwinter), i'm satisfied with moving on to other things besides the shirt.woot "community" (e.g., the deals "community").

no1 no1
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@gatzby: Sigh. "What can we do to make you like us again, besides change all the things you just mentioned you don't like?"

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@no1: Shirt sales numbers aren't my concern, really, but the community is; just pointing out that there's feedback out there, even if it's not active community posting. EIther way, that doesn't address your concerns.

Your solution, if I'm reading correctly, is to switch to deals? What made you choose that option?

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@davidthelazar: Well, we can beat our heads against the wall and get frustrated, or we can think up cool stuff. Which sounds like more fun? =)

Edit: It's worth noting that I can't make changes dealing with shirt blanks, but I sure can campaign to do community stuff, suggest creative content, or share community feedback about things like design.

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@gatzby: I agree with @no1, but to take it further, what kind of community are you looking to cultivate? If the expectation is to keep passionate art/shirt folk around, then the challenge is insurmountable due to the above mentioned "issues". If all you're looking for is "Yay yay! a Dr. Who/GoT mashup!!!!" type discussions, then you don't need to do much else. Just don't expect the "sub fora" to be very active, because that demographic doesn't care about the "meta". Fluffy polls only add fluffy discussions, which is fine, if that's what you're after.

Also, it's easy to tell when the shirt back-office is churning up change as it gets mighty quiet. Especially when I can't goad @Tgentry to chime in on a topic. :)

j5 j5
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@gatzby: I think there was a real widespread sense of betrayal, truly, when there was a price hike followed almost immediately by a pretty widely recognized drop in quality of shirt blanks. While I appreciate that you, as the community guy, don't really have any say about that, nor would you want to, I'm guessing, some transparency might improve things. I believed the shirt.woot folk when they said they had carefully evaluated the shirts, and checked them for shrinkage, and the fit, and all that stuff, before selecting their replacement style, but the more I read after the change, the more I doubted the carefulness of those evaluations. I don't know how you fix the skepticism now; I think you had a small window off opportunity at the time of the change.

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@gatzby: I think my hope was that the guest editors and the woot staff picks would result in more unexpected results, which would, at least in my thinking, lead to more interest. Instead, they are all high vote count shirts, they were all submitted within the first day or two of the derby, and really, they just amount to more of the same. Without a real effort to make the result more intriguing, I don't see much help from the change. A real disappointment.

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As a former post whore in the shirt.woot forums for about a year and a half, the community of any retailer's site will only remain as strong as what's being sold.

Though I can't speak for everyone else, it's not just about the price (other sites are more expensive) or the shipping (other sites take longer). It is about the shirt, which has two parts to it - the design and the blank ... and the Anvil 980's are just not comparable to the AA 2001, let alone with the women's cut/sizing. That essentially slammed the door closed for many folks who used to buy here, and for folks who don't 'need' to buy more shirts.

I've mentioned before that the change has been a blessing is disguise. If Woot changed to an imported blank that was more acceptable (like a NLA3600, used at DBH, TeeTurtle, and for older GoodJoe shirts), I probably would've just slowed down instead.

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When a company does one thing really well, and then they try to do another thing to make even more money, what often happens is that resources are diverted from the first thing. So instead of doing one thing well, they do two things with mediocrity.

Simplify. That's my suggestion.

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@Gatzby: I mostly only hang (hung?) out in shirt. Have the other site's discussion areas seen a decline in participation?

j5 j5
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@j5: Fluff is fine, but it doesn't really sustain a community.

I don't think people disliking a particular brand, for whatever reason, precludes discussion of the art, style, or techniques. But there is the larger discussion of is the audience one that comments? Probably, but what are the right prompts? Even if you're disregarding content you don't like as fluff, there's room for discussion of it.

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@josephus: I can speak to the fact that we did a lot of internal testing on shirt blanks, including serious torture tests. I subjected some Anvils to about 20 wash cycles on super high heat, etc. Measuring each time. Ultimately, it hit home with me recently when I ran into the exact same problem with an Anvil shirt as I did an AA shirt. (A seam came apart.)

We did learn from that series of events and really do hope to do a better job of introducing changes and things like that in the future. That is definitely something I pull for when something is brought up. I think the stuff Shawn Miller and the developers do is a great model for that. I'm willing to admit we're often bad about talking to each other, too!

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@josephus: "I think my hope was that the guest editors and the woot staff picks would result in more unexpected results, which would, at least in my thinking, lead to more interest. Instead, they are all high vote count shirts, they were all submitted within the first day or two of the derby, and really, they just amount to more of the same. Without a real effort to make the result more intriguing, I don't see much help from the change. A real disappointment." - this is exactly what i have been struggling to figure out a way to say for the last hour or so. +1

no1 no1
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@j5: It's kind of hard to quantify: we've seen a diversification of community, as you might expect with launching new sites and the world's transition to social media platforms. It's a pretty exciting time to be into online communities.

Basically, if anyone goes down in one place, we see it go up somewhere else. For example, when we routed Sellout through deals.woot, we saw more discussion here, but now that it's standalone again, we see some pretty helpful/useful discussions spring up there.

I don't mean to give you a non-answer, but the truth is, there's a lot of balance in what goes on. Ideally, we can identify what means each portion of our community unique and bend our resources toward fostering that. Discussions like this help us see it from your side.

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@gatzby: "I don't think people disliking a particular brand, for whatever reason, precludes discussion of the art, style, or techniques. But there is the larger discussion of is the audience one that comments? Probably, but what are the right prompts? Even if you're disregarding content you don't like as fluff, there's room for discussion of it." - people had their say, but as the same styles/techniques continue to get printed, at some point it gets repetitive, and i think people lost interest in continuing an activity that had no apparent effect. there wasn't much feedback to indicate woot was even listening. imo, for the most part there was very little engagement by the shirt.woot artsy staff - they tend to stay out of many of the discussions, except for the usual "we don't see a problem, sales are fine, the designs being picked are fine, the blanks are fine, it's just you." (mabe explaining my suspicion whenever some1 starts their post with any variation of "sales are fine")

no1 no1
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@gatzby: "and the world's transition to social media platforms"

This was clearly evident with the BoC pushes to the various social sites. Did that result in a significant uptick in participation? It seems to me that the discussions on the few Shirt.Woot FB posts I read are more sparse than on the main site. Same goes for Kids.Woot and the various polls/blogs TT(or inky?) was posting.

Fluffy polls yield fluffy discussions. I'm not saying things I don't like are fluff. I didn't answer some of @Slydon's questions, but they were all valid and designed to promote and encourage thoughtful discussion. "What do you drink at a restaurant?" maybe not so much. Fluff is fine, but not when that's all there is.

j5 j5
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i hope people don't think of me as a "fluffer!"

no1 no1
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They sell vacuums on shirt.woot now, roomba army?

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I commented to @narfcake recently that I often feel like I'm talking to myself on the Reckoning thread (it used to be 100+ posts), so this feels timely. In addition to significant turnover in the community (some natural, some prompted by the change in blanks), I think the Woot Plus sales don't inspire discussion: shirts aren't linked to their original threads and there's no natural place to chat about them.

Two quick thoughts (I need to run to the doctor):
1) discussions with a low barrier to entry: I enjoyed reading @slydon's philosophical questions, but when I wanted to respond, I felt like I needed to read through the responses and spend time composing my thoughts, with the result that I don't enter the discussions.

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2) more human-interest and community-involvement stuff: I can't think of a good way to describe this, but as an example: UnNinja3 just hit 9,000 sales and the only recognition is my post on the Reckoning thread. Have someone interview DoOmcat about UnNinja, his creation story, his personality, her art, end with a teaser touching on ideas for a fourth edition. When Binge hit 50,000, I believe woot solicited photos of folks wearing Binge, but Nevermore's 50,000 milestone was basically ignored. I get the sense that staff is overworked as is and I don't want to create more work for them, but I think a fair amount of this could be crowd-sourced: just start a thread asking for Nevermore photos and let it rip. Ask a shirt.wooter to interview DoOomat and staff will only need to edit; actually, an ongoing "Ask the Artist" series might be fascinating: give people a week to submit questions they'd like tjost to answer, for example, and then the guest blogger can choose a few to discuss with him.

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@gatzby: I get that the blanks (and higher price) problem isn't your decision personally, but that is the core of the problem for a lot of people. There's just no getting around the fact that you're offering worse shirts for more money. I think the community could have eventually recovered from either of those things, but not both. It's just not good business. I haven't bought a single shirt since the change.

Whizzy community geegaws are swell, but don't matter if the core product isn't good. It's pointless trying to draw in new customers just to have them leave disgusted. If Woot were a restaurant, it would be pointless debating what font the menu should be in if the soup tastes like barf and the pizza is covered with dog hair.

Woot used to be something I excitedly told friends about. Now it's something I warn people away from. I don't like that.

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@gatzby: "I don't think people disliking a particular brand, for whatever reason, precludes discussion of the art, style, or techniques. "

Sure, but I'm not at all surprised that people who don't like a particular (new) medium are now less inclined to discuss the art, style, or techniques used in that medium.

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@starblind: bingo.

what built the community in the first place was the quality and creativity. the cult like following was a natural byproduct of that. Trying to keep that, or worse, create that community again, in absence of the quality simply won't have the strength or endurance as shirt's original foundations.

I realize the blanks discussion is more or less off the table... but until it's recognized that that's one of the core problems... changing the community dynamic in an attempt to re-kindle it simply won't work.

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@neuropsychosocial: Yeah, I would definitely find artist interviews interesting. It'd be like expanding the artist's bio, but with actual truth and discussion involved. Except the bio for this shirt - it's absolutely for reals already. :)

@caffeine_dude: We had a shirt with a Roomba already.

@no1: Your panda is fluffy.

+1 to @starblind, @ginawoot, and @goatcrapp. For months, I have been telling folks I know how much the newer Woot shirts suck. Mostly, I've been directing them to Goodjoe, where they are using AA blanks.

@gatzby: Forward this to the folks in charge - this is how Threadless handled their crappy blanks:
http://www.threadless.com/news/851988/We_re_removing_40_000_t_shirts_from_our_inventory_today

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@starblind: You nailed it perfectly.

@gatzby: I know the blanks are beyond your personal control, but they really are the biggest issue. The community is alive and well, the designs are clever (well, a few too many cats, but regardless!), but the new shirts run even smaller than the AA's (which were known for their "athletic" sizing) and aren't as soft.

One suggestion, although I can't claim credit, I forget who first said it a while back. Since we have the weekly sales with old designs, how about a feature to nominate old favorites for re-printing? Maybe let everyone who wants to participate nominate a shirt, then run a poll/derby to pick a few to include in the side-sale? Maybe the developers can add a button to the old reckoning pages where we could vote for reprints?

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@gatzby: I think the answer is simple. Why would I want to hang around in a community where I am not going to buy anything and the discussion will center around what was and what has been lost? Shirt.Woot burned a lot of people with quality control issues, reports of poor quality blanks and poor quality printings.

Deals.Woot is a better place to hang because it is getting back to the heart and soul of Woot, sharing advice and finding good deals on quality products. While Woot and all it's castoffs has become cumbersome with so-so deals and a constant parade of repeats, Deals can still stay relatively fresh. Sure you may still have sales but any website can have sales. It takes a special website to be a community as well and Deals seems to be the last holdout.