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Community Goal?

Community Goals?

  • Good idea

    Votes: 12 66.7%
  • Good idea, but ____ (elaborate)

    Votes: 3 16.7%
  • Bad idea

    Votes: 1 5.6%
  • Bad idea, but ____ (elaborate)

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • This is not what the forum is for

    Votes: 1 5.6%
  • We don't have the resources for this

    Votes: 1 5.6%

  • Total voters
    18

H2Oxide

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I was torn as to whether I should post this other section, poll section, or suggestion section, but I think that this is an appropriate place.

I've been here for just over 2 years now. While that's practically nothing compared to the lifetime of the forum, it's long enough for me to have seen members join, become valued members of the community, and then disappear without a trace. They go about their own business, ask a few questions and possibly answer a few, maybe post a few builds, then vanish. And according to Google trends, the forum has been on a steady downward trend basically since its creation in 2007. The same goes for Photonlexicon.

For this reason, I think that we need to improve the cohesion of the current community to ensure that the hobby isn't all but dead within the next few years and to make sure LPF doesn't become a mere memory. Maybe it's not my place to suggest something like this, but here goes:

I think that every few months, we should have a community goal. A set objective that the community works together towards achieving, maybe individually, maybe in teams, or maybe something else altogether. Obviously, participation would not be required, but those who wanted to join could suggest new approaches, conduct their own experiments, build their own test device, or whatever else would be helpful.

The vast majority of the discussion about laser technology on here is purely theoretical. Some ideas are tossed around, maybe a few numbers and data points are discussed, someone might post an interesting article or spec sheet, but beyond that, they almost never go anywhere. So there's definitely interest in this sort of thing, but very few members seem to take that interest and actually develop it into something useful (myself included). The point of the community goal would be to exploit this interest and to help create a community that actively working towards the same goal.

Now obviously the objective of this would need to be something useful, not just a "Who can build the coolest laser lol" contest. What I mean is, we should focus on developing tools and methods to do things that would make the laser building process easier, or do things usually only feasible with expensive equipment in a way that makes it available to us. The end product would be a report on all of our suggestions, successes, failures, and everything in between. For example, I'm sure that a lot more members would experiment with DPSSLs if we found ways to create optical coatings or gain media at STP.

However, it wouldn't be a contest. The whole idea is that we need to work together. Sure, you could work by yourself or in a group on a specific experiment, but you should post your findings right away so that others can replicate them and maybe take a new approach that you had never even considered. The point isn't that you should post all of your findings all at once if you achieve the goal, but rather report things as you go along. Even if it turns out to be a failure, it's still valuable information. It's still nice to have your efforts recognised though, so maybe the largest contributors can have some sort of special forum flare or something, I don't know.

Right now, the most exciting thing that happens here is a new diode gets released, or someone builds some kind of exotic laser. Hell, most of the most active threads aren't even laser-related. I think that this would breathe a little more life into the forum.

Well there it is. If this gets a positive response it will obviously require more fleshing-out, but it will probably turn into another one of those "interesting-discussion-that-never-goes-anywhere" threads anyway. If it gets a negative response, well then at least I can say that I tried. :eek:

What do you guys think?
 



Alaskan

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Good idea, I would like to add if we run across others who might be interested, let them know about the forum. Why do you believe the activity is spiralling downwards? What causes?
 

H2Oxide

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Poll added.

Good idea, I would like to add if we run across others who might be interested, let them know about the forum. Why do you believe the activity is spiralling downwards? What causes?
I wouldn't say spiraling so much as a steady decline:



Smoothing out what we can assume was inconsistent data collection back in 2007 (The graph changes all the time, but it usually looks somewhat similar to how it does now), it's apparent that people are losing interest in the hobby. Granted, the graph doesn't showcase forum activity, but there is almost certainly some sort of correlation between the search results and the popularity of the forum. In July of last year, there were next to no searches.

As for the causes, I can't say. If I had to guess, I'd say the recent influx of trolls has certainly made us more hostile towards newcomers, so that may be a contributing factor. But it can't be the root cause, this has been happening much longer than that.

I'm not even a vet, so I certainly can't speak for the history of the forum. All I can do is make suggestions.
 
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ElectricPlasma

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It's much more calm now from when I first joined, but we've still got a pretty solid community going. I agree with you though, I've definitely noticed a lack of activity/interest at times.

You've got an idea going, but that's all it is right now, just an idea. Got a plan of action? I'm interested.
 

H2Oxide

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It's much more calm now from when I first joined, but we've still got a pretty solid community going. I agree with you though, I've definitely noticed a lack of activity/interest at times.

You've got an idea going, but that's all it is right now, just an idea. Got a plan of action? I'm interested.
Yes, it's certainly a bit less chaotic now (with the exception of all the trolls), but I think that may be due to our collective waning interest.

As for the future, I was going to hold off on elaborating until I knew if this was even something people wanted. But, so far so good, so may as well lay it all out:

Basically, every 6 months (give or take, long enough to make significant progress, but not so long that people just forget about it) we make a thread and just spitball ideas. Things that we want to see come to the community that we've needed in the past or think could be a useful tool or method in the future. Maybe we use the previous community goal thread to prevent extra clutter. From there, we take, say, the top 10 or so ideas that drew the most interest and set up a poll for people to vote on more officially. After some amount of time, the poll closes and the top idea becomes the community goal. Then, a general thread is established with the thread creator being a relatively active member of the community (no 3 week vacations :)) that is willing to constantly update the OP with new information. This would serve as a place to report all of our progress to keep it all in one place rather than clutter up the forum.

Things like a list of links to relevant scientific literature, post and page numbers of significant progress updates, along with a general overview and explanation of what exactly is trying to be accomplished and the overall progress of the project would be posted in the OP, and all of the details on individual accomplishments would be present in the replies (but referenced in the OP).

The first replies would likely be spitballing again, presenting different approaches on how to attain the desired outcome, and from there people can decide to how to take it on. Then people can start researching. The only rule (aside from actual laws of course) would be that you can't use anything you wouldn't find in a highschool (or maybe community college) lab, or on Amazon. This is to ensure that you're actually presenting something that the community can make or use, and not something cool you made with your industrial ion-beam sputtering machine.

I think that a hard deadline is a good idea though. When deadlines are non-negotiable, things seem to get done a bit faster (I speak from experience :whistle:), and the whole point of the goal is to get the community to actually do something, instead of just talking about doing something.

After the deadline, all of the experimental data, methods, materials used, literature referenced, successful and unsuccessful approaches etc. are gathered up and compiled into a big PDF. This PDF then becomes openly available to the community, and everyone who participated is credited for their work. From there, we move on to the next thing.

My hope is that, after a while, we will have a collection of tried and true, easy to follow guides, enabling us to work with lasers in ways that we never imagined possible for the amateur today.
 
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Alien Laser

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I will post links on my youtube videos so more people can join
 

Alaskan

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I think we cold take a split approach too, also trying to get students who are taking laser courses to have a place to come and share ideas, to help one another. However, with a forum name like "laserpointerforums" it might be impossible to get them to look at us as a resource for advanced information. I don't know the solution to that except one thing, create another forum for scientific or academic discussion and within each group, link to the other. I'd keep tighter controls on that group than this one.
 

H2Oxide

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I think we cold take a split approach too, also trying to get students who are taking laser courses to have a place to come and share ideas, to help one another. However, with a forum name like "laserpointerforums" it might be impossible to get them to look at us as a resource for advanced information. I don't know the solution to that except one thing, create another forum for scientific or academic discussion and within each group, link to the other. I'd keep tighter controls on that group than this one.
Interesting.

It certainly would be useful to have a forum strictly for academic/experimental discussion and results. I would set it up, but I have neither the resources to do so nor the wish to appear competitive towards LPF. Meh, maybe I'll screw around with HTML later.

There are forums set up like this though. For example, the sciencemadness board has banned political discussion and keeps discussion friendly but on-topic and on-target. This kind of post would never fly there. :)
 

Radim

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Nice idea, H2Oxide. I think not only this, but also something like pernament or long term goal should be more specified and performed - let's say it should be propagation of the laser hobby and technology, what should cover many areas of laser builds, uses and safety etc. A lot of information is here already. The idea is to build solid background not only for us, but for other people whose lifes might be changed as they decide to go to laser research, industry or business based on LPF. Laser technology is the future and society needs developement in laser technology. The hobby should not be about popping baloons, burning stuff etc. as it seems for many newcomers...
 

Alaskan

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A flash of insight just occurred regarding why the drop-off in interest, the novelty of laser pointers has passed its peak, they are so common now they are no longer as interesting.
 

H2Oxide

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A flash of insight just occurred regarding why the drop-off in interest, the novelty of laser pointers has passed its peak, they are so common now they are no longer as interesting.
Yes, most people here can't stand the thought, but Wickedlasers was probably the best thing that ever happened to the hobby. They introduced the concept of a "burning laser" to the public, which generated a huge surge of interest, and is probably the only reason we're here at all.

But you're right, the novelty has worn off. Long gone are the days of viral balloon popping videos that got many curious enough to discover the forum, myself included.
 

Alaskan

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I've never felt the need to pop a balloon with a laser, when I say that in the forum I get a resounding WHAT? Well, I've seen enough videos of that, I don't need to do it. My interest now is the science behind it, same reason I was involved with Ham Radio for many years, I like technology. That is the only thing which will keep interest in lasers now, since the novelty has waned. Higher power laser diodes might bring a resurge, but it will be short lived and with the tightening of regulations restricting their sale, that is a damper now too. Ham radio has suffered a huge downturn in interest now too, now we have computers we can use to instantly communicate with one another across the globe, and the technology aspects too which have drawn people out of radio and into digital technology. So my ham radio hobby has taken a nose dive due to people being able to cheaply communicate across vast distances and more computer technology to wet their whistle with than they can handle.

We can make a forum which is more academic oriented to lasers and optics, but it won't have the general activity this kind of forum has, I think the most viable solution to increasing activity is by promoting the forum, going out and finding others who might be interested and bringing them in. That can be done by individual members helping to find others, but might be more effective to advertise, but that costs money. Might be good to start a FaceBook LPF page and link it to the forum, that could bring in more.
 
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Radim

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I killed just a few balloons with laser, just to try it. But I think there are much more interesting things to do with laser.

Also it would be great if LPF could make the hobby better in terms of laser regulation. If the community here has some power to adjust regulation, that would be significant benefit especially where the regulation is applied.
 

Encap

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A flash of insight just occurred regarding why the drop-off in interest, the novelty of laser pointers has passed its peak, they are so common now they are no longer as interesting.
A valid insight/good point.

LPF is what it is at this time--can't be what it was--the character of the entire planet has changed since the early days of LPF--time only moves forward.

H2Oxide has a good idea but II'm not sure you could get enough takers to agree to put in the time and money necessary to effectively implement a disciplined community goal program -- sounds like it could be a lot of work.

Certainly is worth exploring and giving some form a try to see how people respond.

One thing is for sure is if LPF becomes mostly people that have 20 questions about a laser 301/303/304s is does not bode well for LPF.
 
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H2Oxide

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I've never felt the need to pop a balloon with a laser, when I say that in the forum I get a resounding WHAT? Well, I've seen enough videos of that, I don't need to do it. My interest now is the science behind it, same reason I was involved with Ham Radio for many years, I like technology. That is the only thing which will keep interest in lasers now, since the novelty has waned. Higher power laser diodes might bring a resurge, but it will be short lived and with the tightening of regulations restricting their sale, that is a damper now too. Ham radio has suffered a huge downturn in interest now too, now we have computers we can use to instantly communicate with one another across the globe, and the technology aspects too which have drawn people out of radio and into digital technology. So my ham radio hobby has taken a nose dive due to people being able to cheaply communicate across vast distances and more technology to wet their whistle with than they can handle.
Nor have I, but that's what sparked my interest. I found this place back in early 2012 thanks to one of styro's videos, though I didn't join 'til much later when I had questions regarding the technology. Little did I know that it would eat up such a significant portion of my life. :eek:

Maybe the age of the laser pointer has passed. Going through the forum's history, it seems like the people who stick around now are much more interested in the science and concepts behind it all as opposed to lots of the long-gone members who were interested in getting as much power out of their poor blu-ray diodes as possible. ;)

H2Oxide has a good idea but not sure you could get enough takers to agree to put in the time and money necessary to effectively implement such a disciplined program --sounds like it could be a lot of work.

Certainly is worth exploring and giving it a try to see how it goes.
I expect as much. The purpose of proposing it the way I did was so that if a member lost interest mid-development, others would be able to see where they were in the process and wouldn't have to re-invent the wheel. Also why I suggested teams; team projects give people a sense of duty to the project and the other members of the team.

I'm not going to argue that it would definitely require a lot of work, but I'm up to the task. As for expenses, the point is to develop things that are affoardable, so I don't think that will be too much of a problem. I won't suggest a price limit, but a project that requires >$500 investment kind of defeats the purpose.
 
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