Complete the Hack A Day survey, win a shirt

Take our reader survey. Do it. Do it right now.  Do you think we should run more articles on the dietary needs of Llamas? Here is your chance to let us know.  We got a lot of great feedback from [Jason]‘s post, and now we’re ready for more. We’ve put together 10 quick questions that will help us get a feeling for what you want. We will be choosing 5 participants at random to give free t-shirts (the basic logo one).

Update: While we wait for our survey slave to get the changes made, please just put something in the fields that are mandatory(questions 7-9). Even if you put “no opinion”, we’ll get good info from the rest of the survey.

Comments

  1. Charles says:

    There is a very important fact that most of the people leaving comments here are missing.

    HAD is in the RED. Jason stated in his post that he is losing $$$ every month on HAD. At the time of this comment, HAD has a 12,192 Alexa world ranking. This means out of every site on the web, HAD is the 12,192 most popular site in the world. HAD averages between 2 and 3.5 million unique visits a month. I am betting the reason “several times a day” was not an option is simply because as far as traffic stats are concerned, your 30 visits a day only equals 1 unique visit in the stats.

    HAD sees about 4 million page views a month, that is a hell of a lot of bandwidth. HAD is most likely on a dedicated server with no bandwidth cap. Those servers are not cheap. Jason could be losing a few hundred to over $1000 a month since HAD is not self sustaining.

    With a 12k Alexa rank it should not be that hard to pull down enough advertising to cover the server cost, but what about writers pay? For a site to continue to grow in popularity and compete with its competitors, it must also grow and expand its audience.

    Hacking, Making, DIY is not the same as it was when HAM radios were the bleeding edge of hobbyist level electronics. It is understandably hard for old-timers to accept the changes, but with more and more youth entering the DIY market HAD must tailor some content to them also. This means more entry level articles based around platforms the youth are familiar with such as Arduino.

    Demographic Stats from Alexa show that HAD’s main reader base is in the 18-24 age bracket. With 25-34 making up the next minority.

    Ultimately it all boils down to this. HAD is owned by Jason, Staffed by Mike and Caleb and the other fine writers. The decision as to what HAD covers and how they expand is up to them. They might lose a few readers but in the end they will surely gain more than they will lose. This happens to every site and it is not a bad thing. Half of the negative comments in this post are from the same people who bash HAD in every post and threaten to leave in every comment they make. With 4 million unique visits a month I am sure HAD wont miss those haters or feel the tiny tiny tiny dent left from their absence.

    For the record all of my stats are taken from Alexa.com and HAD’s Sitemeter page.

  2. luke says:

    Like many have already said: Jason stated in his post that he is losing $$$ every month on HAD.

    With community projects like Jukus talks about, you can kill two birds..once a talent pool is established and the member skill-sets are understood. Had could make some money by acting as a recruitment delegate for commercial R&D, reverse engineering and consultancy services.

  3. matt says:

    I filled out my survey with the information I feel is important to the owner(s), but I just have a few comments/questions:

    Alexa is notorious for underreporting technical sites, because a large part of the readership is savvy enough to block ads and tracking cookies. If Alexa says HAD is 12,000, that’s pretty awesome since they’re probably significantly higher. Notice that even Alexa says they’re 6,289 in the US, which is an awesome number. And yes, that means there’s high hosting costs, but seriously, places like dreamhost give unlimited monthly bandwidth, no fine print, at quite affordable rates. I imagine that a dedicated colo server can’t be that expensive.

    So I guess I ask, why does HAD need to grow/expand? Sure, try to cover the costs, that one’s pretty obvious. But do you really need more articles for that? Don’t become lifehacker. And once you’re in the black, how many writers do you ACTUALLY need? Sure, let the owner pocket some for setting up/running this (it can’t be a full time job), and throw a reasonable salary at some telecommuting writer to write up the descriptions and sort through submissions. Hell, if you guys pulled $100,000 a year in, you could pay two good writers $40k each, pay $1000/mo (too high) for dedicated hosting, and still have another $8k to pocket. You’ve got 2 million uniques a month. Let’s say you got 2 million visitors a year: pulling an equivalent value of 5 cents per person would pay for everything I outlined earlier. Or pulling $5 out of 1% of your readers in a month. Maybe I’m missing something, but it seems like between ads and merch, and maybe shrinking your hosting costs, there’s no reason you can’t pull that off. Unless you’re using tens of terabytes a month, which part of me doubts, and if you are, you should really figure out how to save every last bit!

  4. blue carbuncle says:

    Virtual Bread Board. Supports Arduino

    http://www.virtualbreadboard.net/

    Otoy Cloud computing. Run Crysis on your iPhone

    http://otoy.com/#/home/

    Programming your car’s key fob to work with another car

    http://filear.com/index.php/other/48-other/64-programming-a-replacement-keyless-entry-remote

    best of luck HAD

  5. Blind says:

    Caleb, it was condescending. That you think it wasn’t doesn’t change that it was. The person you said it to even said it felt like a slap in the face.

    And quotes like this:

    I’d like to see Hackaday grow and expand its mission beyond “one hardware hack a day.”

    do not mean that fewer posts are not an option.

    • Caleb Kraft says:

      @Blind,
      Ok, I guess that can’t be argued. Sorry to all that felt condescended to. It was definitely not my intention.

      Just to clarify things. I’ve spoken with Jason about this several times and, if it isn’t completely clear from his post, let me just state: fewer posts are not an option. Hackaday will expand and grow. Hopefully we can do it based on the feedback of our readers.

      We’re currently working on ways to compromise (better filtering, classic section!, etc), but we won’t be slowing down.

  6. imsolidstate says:

    Thanks to Caleb for being the mediator and asking for our input.

    One thing I don’t get is if HAD is actually in the RED, why did they just hire three new writers? Usually people get laid off when things aren’t going well. I think matt brought up some good points. HAD doesn’t need to be super popular or make tons of money. The people that like the real content of this site are a small percentage of the population, hence the small numbers. I don’t see that as a problem, simply a reality.
    I for one would be willing to pay a small fee or buy merchandise or something to keep HAD pure. I like coming here BECAUSE I don’t have to sort through stuff I’m not interested in. I’m tired of the “learn a little self control, just cause there is a link on your screen you dont have to click it” school of thought. The whole reason websites exist is to group content for a particular audience. Diluting HAD with lots of low level content will really diminish the value of the stuff I come here to see. For example, how much of the CORE audience ever goes to instructables? I never do, because I don’t really learn much. There might be some good stuff there, but I’ll never find it because I’m not going to search through everything else. In fact, that’s why I started my website in the first place. I was tired of not finding much on the web, so I started posting my own projects. I found HAD when they linked to one of my projects.

    It’s obvious from Jason’s letter that the direction of this site is for more content, not less. I respect that since Jason is the owner; he is free to do as he sees fit. I guess I’ll probably go back to reading engineering publications like design news and electronics design, it’s just too bad that they are so boring compared to HAD.

    I’m sure not seeing much of this overwhelming “I’d like to see Hackaday grow and expand its mission beyond “one hardware hack a day.”” on this thread.

  7. osgeld says:

    “”I’m tired of the “learn a little self control, just cause there is a link on your screen you dont have to click it” school of thought.””

    I get tired of the ‘i visit a free website and expect them to custom make content that I approve of’

    “The whole reason websites exist is to group content for a particular audience.”

    Really?

    “For example, how much of the CORE audience ever goes to instructables? I never do, because I don’t really learn much. There might be some good stuff there, but I’ll never find it because I’m not going to search through everything else.”

    must be nice to expect total strangers to serve you custom tailored content to your tastes of the day, god help YOU find something that interest you

    “I was tired of not finding much on the web, so I started posting my own projects.”

    you just stated your not going to search, how do you find anything if your not looking?

    boo hoo, IMO HAD should go like instructables, load it with ad’s make a login, charge for premium services, then the only people left will be the ones who want to be here, not a bunch of people acting overly entitled on a free blog

  8. Whatnot says:

    IRC might seem nice but in practice you usually don’t get much actual help on IRC, people are either AFK or feel trying to help people as too much pressure or get annoyed if they are asked to help because it exposes that there is stuff they don’t know and that hurts their self-image.

    It’s not impossible, but it’ll look better on paper than when it’s there in all probability.
    But I don’t mind being proven wrong though.

  9. thlip says:

    I can understand the crunch that Caleb and Jason are in. I think the main point is if going forward there is more content going into the site that it’s good quality and original. I think a lot of the complaining that goes on, on the site is sometimes the lack of originality in some of the posts. I did read Jason’s letter and know that these are being put on the backburner, but posts like the top 5 twitter clients is one that comes to mind. It might be a well written article and facts aside is it really a hack? I think most people would agree that it wasn’t. But you can look at some of the other content that HAD staff are trying to come up with and I’m happy with such as android tutorial. It’s not a hardware hack really but I think it is more suited for the site.

    Adding in more articles per day doesn’t mean that they have to be lacking in quality, but I think it requires more thinking. I think Jason is right the site if it goes forward in this direction needs to come up with a distinct mission statement and establish what that is so that we as readers know what kind of content to expect and set that as a guideline and people can stop complaining.

    This seems to be more what you need to be asking Caleb. What do you think the mission statement should be for the site? I think it should be “To create a culture of building quality novel Hardware/Software projects and designs” Then stipulate what falls into this category. We could have users working together in a group setting like IRC or a web forum(answers.hackaday.com is a start), and more writers working on projects and maybe facilitating new projects by users.

    Maybe I’m out of line, but I think if done right this could be a good growth as long as the quality doesn’t slip. Some look at some of the articles and think it is slipping or has. I’m sure that’s what more of the worring is about. I look at all the above posts and they ask for less articles not because they want less content but because they want more quality content. If you could convince them that there would be more quality insightful articles that are directly related to hacking some hardware or hacking some software to do something then I think they would be on board. I don’t think the current users want to see non technical stuff on here, and see things like the twitter review as a move towards that. Yes it was addressed but people see the move forward and see similar things. It doesn’t have to be, tutorials for beginners is still relevant and doesn’t have to be overly amateurish.

    Wow that was a long ramble.

  10. imsolidstate says:

    osgeld: your contributions to this website are so meaningful and constructive! What would HAD be like without you?
    Unlike you I actually create content. I don’t NEED to FIND anything at all. I make it.

    “must be nice to expect total strangers to serve you custom tailored content to your tastes of the day, god help YOU find something that interest you”

    You forget that those total strangers chose my content to serve. I have had three of my projects
    posted on HAD.

    • Caleb Kraft says:

      Everyone stop arguing with eachother please.

      We value everyone’s opinion. Whether you’ve had 3 posts about you like [imsolidstate] , 6 like [Osgeld], or none. Please keep your comments on topic. No personal attacks at each other are necessary. Lets talk about what you would like to see on the site.

      So far we’ve got, fewer posts with higher quality content.

      what else? What tutorials would you like to see?

  11. Osgeld says:

    “So far we’ve got, fewer posts with higher quality content.”

    I think you need to know the expectations of what quality content means

    does that mean well documented with instructions, does that mean the objects of the article are of the highest quality, on and on and on

    people making loose cloud demands should speak up and define quality to them, otherwise you will never satisfy them

  12. Drone says:

    *3. Which of these items would you like to see HackADay add or expand upon?

    Option: “Life Hacks”

    Need I say more? Bad HaD…

  13. jukus says:

    I would love to see something done with the sheeva, maybe adding a serial port for an x10 module?

  14. edonovan says:

    I went back through the past few weeks of posts before replying here…

    Site content seems fine to me. Personally, I could care less about photography hacks and android programming; but I can appreciate there are a number of people who are interested in those things.

    It would be nice to have more generalized categories, maybe even branched. Creations, Bending, Software, Life, etc. Obviously, some posts can belong to more than one category.

    But if you can define 4 or 5 categories, you could direct posts to each category per day. This could keep everyone happy (except the trolls, obviously).

  15. imsolidstate says:

    @Caleb:
    Sorry. I thought your tutorials were a good idea. Everybody is interested in different things though so it will be tough. I personally wasn’t interested in the DTG tut because I have a screenprinting setup. Probably a lot of people would be interested in CNC or PCB tutorials.
    How about something like building a setup for bending acrylic? Maybe repurposing a plastic bag sealer or something.
    Personally I think it would be cool to see stuff like a tutorial for building galvanometers on the cheap for a laser projector, (I tried that, it’s hard) or how about a tutorial for building an OBDII interface and the required software. Does that help?

  16. Gottabethatguy says:

    How about user competitions, where a clear and concise goal is set, define a price point maybe for what you are allowed to spend on the construction or maybe have multiple categories of judging. Maybe one month the challenge could be put out to design a method of finding coins on a beech, or who can create a portable beer cooler that doesn’t require ice or have to be plugged in. Create a points system maybe where HaD chooses its favorites, then let the crowd choose their favorites and hand out prizes.

    This would encourage original site content, increase user submissions, and it might actually get a few more people actually making stuff. Maybe the winner each month (or however often the contest is ran) could get a guest spot on HaD and have their project highlighted and work with the writers at HaD to create a tutorial on how the project was made.

    The contest could be anything from hardware hacks, to photography challenges, or software challenges. Perhaps put up a encrypted message and see who can decipher it. I think if the site got more of its users actively involved in creating things we could generate the content required to feed HaD current hunger for more content.

    More content isn’t a bad thing by itself, its only a bad thing when quality is sacrificed. By poor quality I mean specifically, posts that don’t fit the meme of the site. Posts that have not had the proper and required research done to create an intelligent article. Saying that no schematics are provided when they are and the author just failed to click through the links on the site they are linking to is a perfect example of this. We don’t need posts showing us how to set up firefox. We don’t need posts telling us about the coolest new chat client. We don’t need posts showing us how to hook a D cell to a couple dinky cars to act as a switch.

    We are supposed to be a community of hackers and makers. Not a community of invalids who need to be spoonfed and hand held at every turn. I beg you to not dumb down the content. The tutorials are great, intro articles to complex subjects are great. Everyone needs to start somewhere right. But for those who need help setting up an rss feed, let them go elsewhere. This is frigging HaD, I consider this site to be an elite site among a sea full of mediocrity. Please please please don’t become another life hacker.

  17. kernelcode says:

    @Gottabethatguy
    I like that idea a lot! The ‘make a business card sized project’ comp brought out some pretty good stuff as far as i can remember, and it would certainly be a good way to get some content!
    +1 on the competition/challenge idea.

    I guess the Hackit articles are sort of a stab at that, but I think something more specific would be better. Seems like a tall order to pluck these ideas out the air, but give it a shot if you can!
    Maybe like the hackthissite.org software challenges, but more hardware oriented

  18. JMLB says:

    I like the challenge idea. I also like that people could work with the writers to make a good tutorial and all the documentation would be available. I would participate :P I never have project Ideas. Even the chance to be on HaD would be motivation enough imo.

  19. Squirrel says:

    I’m starting a movement right now that to help HaD stay afloat, we should all turn off our ad blockers on hackaday.com (after all, TANSTAAFL)

    Who’s in?

  20. mehville rite says:

    Let’s have HAD define “hack” so we all know what to expect. I’ve seen more articles lately that I can’t see where “hack” is appropriate. I’m getting close to going to only “once a week HAD” or “don’t even bother anymore with HAD” if the trend continues.

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