Seasons of Suggestions: A Conversation Starter Toward Making the Awesome Seasons Awesomer

TimWilson

Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!
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I love Seasons of the Ukulele. No, I really love it. I think it’s one of the best things happening anywhere on the web. The creativity, the joy, the sense of discovery, the generosity of spirit – it’s everything I love about the ukulele and online communities at their best.

So please understand what follows in that context. None of this should be taken as criticism. It’s just some suggestions from one of your biggest fans. Everything awesome can be made awesomer, and I hope to help, seasoned with an outsider's perspective. Even as an ardent fan, I'm finding some gulfs a challenge to bridge, and I hope that we can find some solutions together.

My agenda:

  • I want MORE people seeing these amazing videos the Seasonistas are posting.
  • I want MORE people participating.
  • I want the Seasons tied more closely to the heart of the UU forums.
  • I want the Seasons to work better for both the people already in the Seasons, and for those who might consider joining someday, but right now don’t see a way in.

Summary suggestions for making Seasons more prominently featured at the UU forums, while also making it more accessible for beginners. Discussion follows.
  • Becoming its own forum, rather than a subforum.
  • Describing Seasons better, including an FAQ.
  • More conversation in the forum, less on YT.
  • Include a link to the full Seasons thread at UU forum in your YT descriptions.
  • Please consider posting at least occasionally in other forums. Please?
  • Maybe some monthly challenges?
  • More visible video production docents?


More context

When I first started seeing Seasons videos, It took me a loooong time to figure out what I was even looking at.
I love that British phrase, “Does what it says on the tin”. (From an ad campaign for Ronseal; details here, because yes, I had to look it up. LOL) The problem is, the name “Season of the Ukulele” doesn’t SAY what’s inside the tin. A season is just a week, you say? Probably took me closer to TWO years to figure that out. LOL

This was compounded by me coming across all these performances on YouTube labeled “SOTU” or just “Season #377” or whatever, with no context at all. It was probably a year or more before I figured out that these had anything to do with the Ukulele Underground forums!

And that’s AFTER I’d been in the forum a year, and was subscribed to a dozen or more Seasonistas without having any idea that they were members at UU at all!


I've got some suggestions to address that, but I wanted to address something else right at the top. The intimidation factor that several people have mentioned when trying to think about getting started with Seasons is real, and it’s beyond debate. Please don’t fight us on this. It’s not an opinion that you can argue against. It’s our experience, and it is exactly what it is. We acknowledge that some folks found their way into the Seasons easily and they’re not lying when they say that this is how it happened, so please do us the same courtesy.

The strengths of a thing and its weaknesses are often identical. “A soprano ukulele is small compared to concert and tenor scales” is a fact – but for some people, that’s exactly why they DO prefer that size, and for others, exactly why the DON’T. That’s one example, and you may be able to think of better ones, but that’s the idea.

Those of us speaking about the social barriers to entry are talking about this very phenomenon. We see that the very things that experienced Seasonistas love most about the Seasons – the camaraderie, the years of relationships, the shared experience, and what appears to an outsider as verbal shorthand verging on a secret language – can sometimes make it seem dense and impenetrable to introverted outsiders.

It’s like this. Have you ever been to a party where you don’t know anyone, and everybody else seems to know everyone else really, really well? You may thrive in this situation, and it may spur your desire to jump straight in. Me, it makes me feel disoriented and distressed, like I am definitely in the wrong place. I HAVE to leave.

I’m not saying that that’s what happening here, but if that real-world experience I just described doesn’t sound like how YOU experience a party of boisterous old friends when you’re a solo introvert outsider, then no, of course you’re not going to understand what about your joyous experience of the Seasons makes it seem so alien/alienating, if not terrifying, to an outsider.

Okay, enough about that, but we’re really not going to get anywhere if we can’t all have the mutual starting point of, a) the Seasons are awesome, as is, no changes needed, and b) some changes will in fact help more people find the door.

On to the suggestions!


1. Seasons becoming its own forum, rather than a subforum. What I love about this is that I can more easily pin it to the top of the Forums list, separated from the “Contests” forum. It’s not really a contest as much anymore, as much as a challenge? Yes?

Having Seasons as its own forum also allows me to describe what’s in the tin! Every main forum has a short description, but notice that the subforum doesn’t. I’d have to write a bunch of custom code to add it, when it’d much easier to make Seasons its own forum and just add a description. Here's what you see at the top of the Forums page now. Forum names, with a highlighted description...

View attachment 154531

....and nothing for the Seasons!!! Some kind of contest, but if I'm not interested in contests (and I'm not), then there's nothing there for me. No invitation to induce me to enter.

So, what should the description be? As a fan, but otherwise an outsider, I THINK the description is

“Weekly themed challenges: record and share your ukulele performances! All levels of experience welcome!”

Please suggest something better! But that’s what it looks like to me. 😊


2. Describing it better, including an FAQ. Beyond the simple description on the front page I just suggested, we really do need an FAQ. I’ll start some suggestions on another thread (I’m begging, please don’t start that here! We’ve got too much other stuff to talk about!), starting with, “What’s a Season?” I’m not kidding, I didn’t know that the answer was “A WEEK” until I was in the forum for nearly two years.

I hope by now that I’ve established that I’m not an entire idiot, just kind of a regular-sized idiot…and that’s how long it took, partly because I didn’t think to ask, and partly because I didn’t know WHO to ask.

So coming soon, please look for another thread discussing an FAQ. I do like keeping discussion threads separate from FAQs. We've had some of those discussions go on for 40, 50 pages and more, at which point, they're useless for an FAQ...but I would never want to post a static FAQ either, so the key is to have BOTH an FAQ AND a discussion about the FAQ...separately. :)

That is, with all of your help laying out what should be in the FAQ, I'm happy to write it and maintain it!


3. More conversation in the forum, less on YT. I’ve brought this up with a couple of longtime Seasonistas, and was told that it used to be this way a long time ago, but the conversation was getting in the way of the videos. Understood.

I’d like to at least reopen this discussion, though. It has always struck me as bizarre beyond speaking that so many people can post so much amazing stuff, and barely get a reaction in the forum. That’s insane! Yeah yeah, a couple of years down the road, I figured out that the comments are all on YT, but that feels wrong to me. I watch the videos IN the forum, I want to talk about them IN the forum.

I do sometimes anyway, but I get the strong feeling that this is so frowned upon that I mostly don’t. Sometimes I do on YT, but those extra steps feel kind of weird too. So many people have different names in both places that it’ll take me a couple of more years to keep everybody straight, which makes it hard to make the interaction part of the process of community building.

Look, I’d post 10 times more comments in the Seasons than I do if I thought it was okay. I WANT it to be okay. I’m encouraging you to reconsider encouraging comments IN the threads. I think it will make a huge difference in the long run. More comments on YouTube isn’t helping build the community HERE, and that’s my goal above everything.


4. Include a link to the full Seasons thread at UU forum in your YT descriptions.
The host for each season can take care of this in two sentences that people can copy and paste for their videos. Using the most recent season as an example, here’s what a future host might say:

“Here’s what to post at the start of your description at YouTube: ‘Posted for the weekly Seasons of the Ukulele Challenge at the Ukulele Underground Forums, Season 594 - Berries, fruits & Japan.’”

That’s it, nice and simple. The host does it once in the opening post of the thread, everybody else copy-pastes it in their YT description (plus whatever else they want to add), and nobody has to think about it after that.

The link I’m proposing is to the first post in the thread, which is actually the BEST idea for giving somebody context if they’ve found the video on YT just because they wanted to hear this particular song on ukulele, and may not have ever heard of UU before at all.

But even if they have, context is good. Nobody is doing this in a vacuum. At least part of the object is to be heard and understood, and if you can do that while also potentially bringing in new members not just to the Seasons but to the UU forums as a whole, why not?


5) Please consider posting at least occasionally in other forums. Please? As I mentioned earlier, I’d found a bunch of great folks to subscribe to on YT that I had no idea were members of UU because the only place they post is in the Seasons, which is a subforum (before I fell madly and utterly in love with it) that I found so disorienting that I couldn’t tell what’s what.

I understand that the challenges take a lot of time. I understand that most of the people you know at UU are in the Seasons forum with you. But as a result of putting in the kind of effort that you do, that leaves you more of an expert in a lot of hot topics within the forum than you think are! You know which kinds of instruments you prefer, you know your string preferences, you know how to learn a song. Heck, people are asking how to learn to play songs that have multiple instances in the Seasons.

But hey, maybe YOU feel intimidated in the other forums for the same reason that people feel intimidated in the Seasons! You don’t know anybody, and some people can state their opinions so forcefully that it’s hard to know how to respond. I do get that! But I feel like some of the deepest wells of wisdom are found among the Seasonistas, but the rest of the UU community doesn’t have any way to tap into it. They’re asking questions in places that you’re not available to answer, and there’s no place here to ask those questions.

I have no interest in making the proposed standalone Seasons forum a place to create a lot of non-Seasons discussion, but I have EVERY interest in creating more avenues for sharing knowledge. That means stepping outside the Seasons forum a little. Sometimes? Please?

Just a suggestion, and a request, but nothing more. It’s up to all of us to choose your own adventure, and if your only reason for being here is being part of the Seasons, then by all means! Please do that, and only that!

These are just suggestions, very much open for discussing AND dismissing if that’s what you want to do with them.

6. Maybe some monthly challenges? This is really REALLY just a suggestion…but I’ve never learned a song in a week in my life. I’ve only been playing a couple of years, started in my 60s, and I’m SLOW.

I'm now okay with that, but I had originally started TRYING to learn a song a week, because the list of songs in my spreadsheet is well over 300 songs…plus the 150 or so in my Beatles and Solo spreadsheet….and that’s without adding any to the lists, whereas every Season brings a couple more that I’d want to add! LOL Even at a song a week, I’d be lucky to even start on them all before I cross the Final Bridge.

But I found that trying to keep that pace was taking all the pleasure out of playing my uke at all, and most of them didn’t feel especially close to where I wanted them to be. I love Matt Dahlberg’s advice to consider 85% of "perfection" to be the REAL finish line for most songs, and to understand that those couple of 100% songs might be your life’s work…but my “one a week” pace was only getting me to around 30% of that 85% most of the time :ROFLMAO: , maybe 40% if it was a simple one. My “real” pace is one a month, unless it’s longer.

There may come a time when a Season’s theme might fit a song I already know, which would allow me to slot one in…but it hasn’t happened yet. LOL

So it MIGHT be worth considering something on a slower pace? Maybe it’s not a Seasons thing at that point. Maybe it goes back in the Contests and Challenges forum….but I’d love to hear what you think about this idea.

7. More visible video production docents? Another super general suggestion that nobody will like, but I think some folks will. I was inspired to this suggestion by @ukudancer ’s offer to answer video and audio production questions for anyone who had them, because there’s no question that for a bunch of people, even ones who have NO objections in the social dimensions, can still feel intimidated on the technical ones.

That is, I don't necessarily feel that it's a Harrison Bergeron situation as @Voran so elegantly observed. I think most of us understand that we don't HAVE to have three layers of ourselves greenscreened playing multiple instruments with visual effects and multilayered audio. Plenty of my favorite videos are just one person playing into their phone. It's that many folks who can, and do, record themselves, still haven't figured out how to get them into the forum.

That is, until we make one, there's no FAQ that says, after something nice about recording a video as Step 1, "Step 2: Start a YouTube channel." What? How? That's why it needs to be in the FAQ, but nobody here should be forced to rely on YT tech support to get their video into a UU forum!

So as much as I love @ukudancer’s offer, it's also on the third page of a thread that someone might not read, so I’d like to have a handful of other folks who are similarly inclined to answer noob questions about how to record themselves. Maybe have their names in the sidebar of the Seasons home page so that if people have questions, they KNOW who to ask.

Like all the other suggestions here, it’s just a suggestion.

And to come back to the beginning, none of this should be taken as a judgement on the Seasons as currently practiced. It’s awesome, but I also think that every awesome thing can still be made awesomer.

These are my suggestions. I’d sure love to hear yours!

Many thanks again to all of the Seasonistas who have poured so much heart, love, and creativity into making this -- no kidding -- one of the best things happening anywhere on the web!

Mahalo,
Tim
 
I feel again a bit alarmed at where this is going.

I respect that some people feel intimidated. I honestly also feel a bit unsettled at the idea that we can't argue with feelings. I think we need to strike a balance between respecting those feelings and also respecting that not everyone feels the same way. I don't blame a beginner or an old person with low motor dexterity for feeling intimidated; I feel the same way about people who can speak Mandarin! At the same this bothers me a bit because of the implication that working at being good at something equals intimidation.

I'm not privileged or rich. I use low cost and low tech ways of making nice music videos such as shooting in a tunnel at low tide. I don't really like the implication that I'm actually privileged or elitist or bullying others because I made the effort to climb across slippery rocks to shoot a music video.
 
Some interesting stuff there, Tim - I appreciate the time and effort you’ve put into this (as well as everything else you do on the UU forum as a whole), and I’ll respond properly later.
But please don’t pursue or encourage the idea of commenting on each other’s videos on the forum. It would be chaos. If you consider that each video posted may attract 5 to 10 comments, which will be responded to by the poster, then multiply that by the 40 or 50 (or sometimes more) videos posted each week and you can see the way that a thread would become a nightmare to trawl through just to find each new video posted. That’s why the comments were initially moved to YouTube, and it works. Cheers! :)
 
Can quotes/reply's be redirected to another thread/sub forum?
And the companion question, can a thread be restricted to a video or closed to comments?
Crap, I'm not even sure these are the right questions.
Is there some mechanism to separate the videos from externally generated comments and still reference the video?
 
Last edited:
Can quotes/reply's be redirected to another thread/sub forum?
And the companion question, can a thread be restricted to a video or closed to comments?
Crap, I'm not even sure these are the right questions.
Is there some mechanism to separate the videos from externally generated comments and still reference the video?
It’s completely unnecessary. At the moment we comment on each other’s videos on YouTube. It works. That doesn’t stop some general banter and conversation in the thread - in fact it leaves room for it. This aspect of the Seasons doesn’t need changing. In fact, most of it doesn’t need changing. More prominence on UU and more info about how to join in probably wouldn’t go amiss. But that’s as much as it needs. Or there is a real danger that we’ll lose existing participants. I’m beginning to feel rather uncomfortable about where this may be heading now. Please can other Seasonistas join the debate and defend everything that needs defending here?
 
I love Seasons of the Ukulele. No, I really love it. I think it’s one of the best things happening anywhere on the web. The creativity, the joy, the sense of discovery, the generosity of spirit – it’s everything I love about the ukulele and online communities at their best.

So please understand what follows in that context. None of this should be taken as criticism. It’s just some suggestions from one of your biggest fans. Everything awesome can be made awesomer, and I hope to help, seasoned with an outsider's perspective. Even as an ardent fan, I'm finding some gulfs a challenge to bridge, and I hope that we can find some solutions together.

My agenda:

  • I want MORE people seeing these amazing videos the Seasonistas are posting.
  • I want MORE people participating.
  • I want the Seasons tied more closely to the heart of the UU forums.
  • I want the Seasons to work better for both the people already in the Seasons, and for those who might consider joining someday, but right now don’t see a way in.

Summary suggestions for making Seasons more prominently featured at the UU forums, while also making it more accessible for beginners. Discussion follows.
  • Becoming its own forum, rather than a subforum.
  • Describing Seasons better, including an FAQ.
  • More conversation in the forum, less on YT.
  • Include a link to the full Seasons thread at UU forum in your YT descriptions.
  • Please consider posting at least occasionally in other forums. Please?
  • Maybe some monthly challenges?
  • More visible video production docents?


More context

When I first started seeing Seasons videos, It took me a loooong time to figure out what I was even looking at.
I love that British phrase, “Does what it says on the tin”. (From an ad campaign for Ronseal; details here, because yes, I had to look it up. LOL) The problem is, the name “Season of the Ukulele” doesn’t SAY what’s inside the tin. A season is just a week, you say? Probably took me closer to TWO years to figure that out. LOL

This was compounded by me coming across all these performances on YouTube labeled “SOTU” or just “Season #377” or whatever, with no context at all. It was probably a year or more before I figured out that these had anything to do with the Ukulele Underground forums!

And that’s AFTER I’d been in the forum a year, and was subscribed to a dozen or more Seasonistas without having any idea that they were members at UU at all!


I've got some suggestions to address that, but I wanted to address something else right at the top. The intimidation factor that several people have mentioned when trying to think about getting started with Seasons is real, and it’s beyond debate. Please don’t fight us on this. It’s not an opinion that you can argue against. It’s our experience, and it is exactly what it is. We acknowledge that some folks found their way into the Seasons easily and they’re not lying when they say that this is how it happened, so please do us the same courtesy.

The strengths of a thing and its weaknesses are often identical. “A soprano ukulele is small compared to concert and tenor scales” is a fact – but for some people, that’s exactly why they DO prefer that size, and for others, exactly why the DON’T. That’s one example, and you may be able to think of better ones, but that’s the idea.

Those of us speaking about the social barriers to entry are talking about this very phenomenon. We see that the very things that experienced Seasonistas love most about the Seasons – the camaraderie, the years of relationships, the shared experience, and what appears to an outsider as verbal shorthand verging on a secret language – can sometimes make it seem dense and impenetrable to introverted outsiders.

It’s like this. Have you ever been to a party where you don’t know anyone, and everybody else seems to know everyone else really, really well? You may thrive in this situation, and it may spur your desire to jump straight in. Me, it makes me feel disoriented and distressed, like I am definitely in the wrong place. I HAVE to leave.

I’m not saying that that’s what happening here, but if that real-world experience I just described doesn’t sound like how YOU experience a party of boisterous old friends when you’re a solo introvert outsider, then no, of course you’re not going to understand what about your joyous experience of the Seasons makes it seem so alien/alienating, if not terrifying, to an outsider.

Okay, enough about that, but we’re really not going to get anywhere if we can’t all have the mutual starting point of, a) the Seasons are awesome, as is, no changes needed, and b) some changes will in fact help more people find the door.

On to the suggestions!


1. Seasons becoming its own forum, rather than a subforum. What I love about this is that I can more easily pin it to the top of the Forums list, separated from the “Contests” forum. It’s not really a contest as much anymore, as much as a challenge? Yes?

Having Seasons as its own forum also allows me to describe what’s in the tin! Every main forum has a short description, but notice that the subforum doesn’t. I’d have to write a bunch of custom code to add it, when it’d much easier to make Seasons its own forum and just add a description. Here's what you see at the top of the Forums page now. Forum names, with a highlighted description...

View attachment 154531

....and nothing for the Seasons!!! Some kind of contest, but if I'm not interested in contests (and I'm not), then there's nothing there for me. No invitation to induce me to enter.

So, what should the description be? As a fan, but otherwise an outsider, I THINK the description is

“Weekly themed challenges: record and share your ukulele performances! All levels of experience welcome!”

Please suggest something better! But that’s what it looks like to me. 😊


2. Describing it better, including an FAQ. Beyond the simple description on the front page I just suggested, we really do need an FAQ. I’ll start some suggestions on another thread (I’m begging, please don’t start that here! We’ve got too much other stuff to talk about!), starting with, “What’s a Season?” I’m not kidding, I didn’t know that the answer was “A WEEK” until I was in the forum for nearly two years.

I hope by now that I’ve established that I’m not an entire idiot, just kind of a regular-sized idiot…and that’s how long it took, partly because I didn’t think to ask, and partly because I didn’t know WHO to ask.

So coming soon, please look for another thread discussing an FAQ. I do like keeping discussion threads separate from FAQs. We've had some of those discussions go on for 40, 50 pages and more, at which point, they're useless for an FAQ...but I would never want to post a static FAQ either, so the key is to have BOTH an FAQ AND a discussion about the FAQ...separately. :)

That is, with all of your help laying out what should be in the FAQ, I'm happy to write it and maintain it!


3. More conversation in the forum, less on YT. I’ve brought this up with a couple of longtime Seasonistas, and was told that it used to be this way a long time ago, but the conversation was getting in the way of the videos. Understood.

I’d like to at least reopen this discussion, though. It has always struck me as bizarre beyond speaking that so many people can post so much amazing stuff, and barely get a reaction in the forum. That’s insane! Yeah yeah, a couple of years down the road, I figured out that the comments are all on YT, but that feels wrong to me. I watch the videos IN the forum, I want to talk about them IN the forum.

I do sometimes anyway, but I get the strong feeling that this is so frowned upon that I mostly don’t. Sometimes I do on YT, but those extra steps feel kind of weird too. So many people have different names in both places that it’ll take me a couple of more years to keep everybody straight, which makes it hard to make the interaction part of the process of community building.

Look, I’d post 10 times more comments in the Seasons than I do if I thought it was okay. I WANT it to be okay. I’m encouraging you to reconsider encouraging comments IN the threads. I think it will make a huge difference in the long run. More comments on YouTube isn’t helping build the community HERE, and that’s my goal above everything.


4. Include a link to the full Seasons thread at UU forum in your YT descriptions.
The host for each season can take care of this in two sentences that people can copy and paste for their videos. Using the most recent season as an example, here’s what a future host might say:

“Here’s what to post at the start of your description at YouTube: ‘Posted for the weekly Seasons of the Ukulele Challenge at the Ukulele Underground Forums, Season 594 - Berries, fruits & Japan.’”

That’s it, nice and simple. The host does it once in the opening post of the thread, everybody else copy-pastes it in their YT description (plus whatever else they want to add), and nobody has to think about it after that.

The link I’m proposing is to the first post in the thread, which is actually the BEST idea for giving somebody context if they’ve found the video on YT just because they wanted to hear this particular song on ukulele, and may not have ever heard of UU before at all.

But even if they have, context is good. Nobody is doing this in a vacuum. At least part of the object is to be heard and understood, and if you can do that while also potentially bringing in new members not just to the Seasons but to the UU forums as a whole, why not?


5) Please consider posting at least occasionally in other forums. Please? As I mentioned earlier, I’d found a bunch of great folks to subscribe to on YT that I had no idea were members of UU because the only place they post is in the Seasons, which is a subforum (before I fell madly and utterly in love with it) that I found so disorienting that I couldn’t tell what’s what.

I understand that the challenges take a lot of time. I understand that most of the people you know at UU are in the Seasons forum with you. But as a result of putting in the kind of effort that you do, that leaves you more of an expert in a lot of hot topics within the forum than you think are! You know which kinds of instruments you prefer, you know your string preferences, you know how to learn a song. Heck, people are asking how to learn to play songs that have multiple instances in the Seasons.

But hey, maybe YOU feel intimidated in the other forums for the same reason that people feel intimidated in the Seasons! You don’t know anybody, and some people can state their opinions so forcefully that it’s hard to know how to respond. I do get that! But I feel like some of the deepest wells of wisdom are found among the Seasonistas, but the rest of the UU community doesn’t have any way to tap into it. They’re asking questions in places that you’re not available to answer, and there’s no place here to ask those questions.

I have no interest in making the proposed standalone Seasons forum a place to create a lot of non-Seasons discussion, but I have EVERY interest in creating more avenues for sharing knowledge. That means stepping outside the Seasons forum a little. Sometimes? Please?

Just a suggestion, and a request, but nothing more. It’s up to all of us to choose your own adventure, and if your only reason for being here is being part of the Seasons, then by all means! Please do that, and only that!

These are just suggestions, very much open for discussing AND dismissing if that’s what you want to do with them.

6. Maybe some monthly challenges? This is really REALLY just a suggestion…but I’ve never learned a song in a week in my life. I’ve only been playing a couple of years, started in my 60s, and I’m SLOW.

I'm now okay with that, but I had originally started TRYING to learn a song a week, because the list of songs in my spreadsheet is well over 300 songs…plus the 150 or so in my Beatles and Solo spreadsheet….and that’s without adding any to the lists, whereas every Season brings a couple more that I’d want to add! LOL Even at a song a week, I’d be lucky to even start on them all before I cross the Final Bridge.

But I found that trying to keep that pace was taking all the pleasure out of playing my uke at all, and most of them didn’t feel especially close to where I wanted them to be. I love Matt Dahlberg’s advice to consider 85% of "perfection" to be the REAL finish line for most songs, and to understand that those couple of 100% songs might be your life’s work…but my “one a week” pace was only getting me to around 30% of that 85% most of the time :ROFLMAO: , maybe 40% if it was a simple one. My “real” pace is one a month, unless it’s longer.

There may come a time when a Season’s theme might fit a song I already know, which would allow me to slot one in…but it hasn’t happened yet. LOL

So it MIGHT be worth considering something on a slower pace? Maybe it’s not a Seasons thing at that point. Maybe it goes back in the Contests and Challenges forum….but I’d love to hear what you think about this idea.

7. More visible video production docents? Another super general suggestion that nobody will like, but I think some folks will. I was inspired to this suggestion by @ukudancer ’s offer to answer video and audio production questions for anyone who had them, because there’s no question that for a bunch of people, even ones who have NO objections in the social dimensions, can still feel intimidated on the technical ones.

That is, I don't necessarily feel that it's a Harrison Bergeron situation as @Voran so elegantly observed. I think most of us understand that we don't HAVE to have three layers of ourselves greenscreened playing multiple instruments with visual effects and multilayered audio. Plenty of my favorite videos are just one person playing into their phone. It's that many folks who can, and do, record themselves, still haven't figured out how to get them into the forum.

That is, until we make one, there's no FAQ that says, after something nice about recording a video as Step 1, "Step 2: Start a YouTube channel." What? How? That's why it needs to be in the FAQ, but nobody here should be forced to rely on YT tech support to get their video into a UU forum!

So as much as I love @ukudancer’s offer, it's also on the third page of a thread that someone might not read, so I’d like to have a handful of other folks who are similarly inclined to answer noob questions about how to record themselves. Maybe have their names in the sidebar of the Seasons home page so that if people have questions, they KNOW who to ask.

Like all the other suggestions here, it’s just a suggestion.

And to come back to the beginning, none of this should be taken as a judgement on the Seasons as currently practiced. It’s awesome, but I also think that every awesome thing can still be made awesomer.

These are my suggestions. I’d sure love to hear yours!

Many thanks again to all of the Seasonistas who have poured so much heart, love, and creativity into making this -- no kidding -- one of the best things happening anywhere on the web!

Mahalo,
Tim
First and most importantly, I agree with all suggested mods by Mod Tim. A couple specifics to clarify noob perspective.

The moniker is great but like Tim, for at least 3 months after originally joining last July, I had no clue what SOTU was all about. I actually believed for many weeks that it was a group of retired uke musicians who live full time in RVs and occasionally meet up in various campgrounds. I found myself quite envious of such a lifestyle. Duh-oh!

Comments on UU rather than YT: I’ve long presumed this was some sort of “conserving bandwidth” issue but find it cumbersome and odd to be encouraged to limit comments / praise to YT.
 
Comments on UU rather than YT: I’ve long presumed this was some sort of “conserving bandwidth” issue but find it cumbersome and odd to be encouraged to limit comments / praise to YT.
It saves us having to wade through pages and pages of posts in the thread to find each other’s videos. And it works very well as it is.
 
It’s completely unnecessary. At the moment we comment on each other’s videos on YouTube. It works. That doesn’t stop some general banter and conversation in the thread - in fact it leaves room for it. This aspect of the Seasons doesn’t need changing. In fact, most of it doesn’t need changing. More prominence on UU and more info about how to join in probably wouldn’t go amiss. But that’s as much as it needs. Or there is a real danger that we’ll lose existing participants. I’m beginning to feel rather uncomfortable about where this may be heading now. Please can other Seasonistas join the debate and defend everything that needs defending here?
I agree. I apologize for the rant and the scorpions-up-rectums comment but on the other hand I really do not see how the seasons could possibly be any LESS elitist.
 
It saves us having to wade through pages and pages of posts in the thread to find each other’s videos. And it works very well as it is.
No offense intended, Del. I’m always quick to admit newbie status. Meanwhile, I’ve posted to SOTU several times in the past 12 months and am scratching my head as to why new opinions (mine or others) aren’t welcome.
 
I agree. I apologize for the rant and the scorpions-up-rectums comment but on the other hand I really do not see how the seasons could possibly be any LESS elitist.
I may have missed it, and we may be talking about two different things, but I didn’t see anything in Tim’s post stating or even suggesting that SOTU is somehow “elitist”.
 
No offense intended, Del. I’m always quick to admit newbie status. Meanwhile, I’ve posted to SOTU several times in the past 12 months and am scratching my head as to why new opinions (mine or others) aren’t welcome.
I’ve not said your opinions aren’t welcome. I’ve simply explained why comments on specific videos are best kept to YouTube. Other conversation and banter in the threads is fine. Sorry if that didn’t come across in my reply.
 
I definitely think the Seasons could be easier to find. When I was first interested in SOTU, it was from a mention in the Uke Talk thread, but it was very non-intuitive to find and I had to re-figure it out several times.

For the same reason, a FAQ would be awesome. I lurked a long while before I really got what a “season” was.

I also like the idea of occasional longer challenge seasons, since I too sometimes have trouble getting a new or somewhat complicated song ready in one week, and then just abandon it because I can’t get it down well enough to suit me. I have found some value in becoming a little less perfectionist about the videos I submit, though, so there is that.
 
I generally wholeheartedly think that what happens in seasons is amazing. I often pop in there to see what can happen with those who have the skill and can, in just a few days or even hours notice, start posting.

In my first few (several?) years on UU I don't think I ever even looked, as the terms "seasons" or "seasonistas" had no meaning to me.

I still require at least several weeks to prepare and record a few (Hah, dozens or more, actually!) takes of any song. Ability? Desire? Commitment? Fear? Insecurity? Lack of isolated (emotionally quiet) "studio" time? I dunno.

But I am in awe of those who can, and do. I do not consider it "elitist." The fervor is there, so let it blossom!

For the rest of us who can't get it together in less than a week, there is (or was) the "Island of Misfits." I can't seem to find it, though.
 
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I'd like to start by saying that I'm a relatively new Seasonista (14 weeks - seems crazy that it's been that long), so I'm definitely just speaking from my brief experience. I'll also say that I LOVE the Seasons and I LOVE the UU Forum as well. There's so much knowledge, information, creativity, love, warmth, heart, spirit, good vibes... it's medicinal for me.

It does bum me out what there are negative things going on, and I can only name a handful of threads, comments, etc... but I love that they also seem to usually get resolved pretty quickly and the turbulence subsides to a nice laminar flow. Big ups to @TimWilson and all the mods for holding it down and I genuinely appreciate the thoughtfulness and consideration that went into your post and suggestions. I can tell you love this place and this has been something that's obviously been on your mind enough to kick off this thread.

Onto my thoughts...

1. Seasons becoming its own forum, rather than a subforum. What I love about this is that I can more easily pin it to the top of the Forums list, separated from the “Contests” forum. It’s not really a contest as much anymore, as much as a challenge? Yes?

So, what should the description be? As a fan, but otherwise an outsider, I THINK the description is

“Weekly themed challenges: record and share your ukulele performances! All levels of experience welcome!”
I think this is a great suggestion and easy! Doesn't seem to impact functionality - only location. Also has pros of being more easy to find and I love the welcoming description! I'd love to hear arguments against this, so we can try to poke holes in it and see what floats.

2. Describing it better, including an FAQ. Beyond the simple description on the front page I just suggested, we really do need an FAQ. I’ll start some suggestions on another thread (I’m begging, please don’t start that here! We’ve got too much other stuff to talk about!), starting with, “What’s a Season?” I’m not kidding, I didn’t know that the answer was “A WEEK” until I was in the forum for nearly two years.

I hope by now that I’ve established that I’m not an entire idiot, just kind of a regular-sized idiot…and that’s how long it took, partly because I didn’t think to ask, and partly because I didn’t know WHO to ask.
Seems to be a another easy suggestion with few cons! I love it. I'm relatively new to the Seasons (14 weeks), but I would agree with some of the initial sentiments of not knowing what the heck was going on, how do get in what seemed to be some special, cool, group. But I just read the invitation, which is one of the first three pinned threads and it already felt nice and inclusive enough for me! (fyi, it also does answer the 8 day season question ;) )
1688350222704.png

If that wasn't welcoming enough, the very first reply cracked me right up and I knew I was headed in the right direction to some funny folks... 😂
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3. More conversation in the forum, less on YT. I’ve brought this up with a couple of longtime Seasonistas, and was told that it used to be this way a long time ago, but the conversation was getting in the way of the videos. Understood.

I’d like to at least reopen this discussion, though. It has always struck me as bizarre beyond speaking that so many people can post so much amazing stuff, and barely get a reaction in the forum. That’s insane! Yeah yeah, a couple of years down the road, I figured out that the comments are all on YT, but that feels wrong to me. I watch the videos IN the forum, I want to talk about them IN the forum.

I do sometimes anyway, but I get the strong feeling that this is so frowned upon that I mostly don’t. Sometimes I do on YT, but those extra steps feel kind of weird too. So many people have different names in both places that it’ll take me a couple of more years to keep everybody straight, which makes it hard to make the interaction part of the process of community building.

Look, I’d post 10 times more comments in the Seasons than I do if I thought it was okay. I WANT it to be okay. I’m encouraging you to reconsider encouraging comments IN the threads. I think it will make a huge difference in the long run. More comments on YouTube isn’t helping build the community HERE, and that’s my goal above everything.
This is a tough one and I appreciate both perspectives. I'm pretty sure @DelGriff replied that this would basically create an entire clustercuss. It was strange at first, but I think it makes sense having comments on YT. I do agree that it's confusing to associate YT names with UU names. I actually created a nerdy ass spreadsheet when I was hosting.

I don't think it hurts for some folks to comment directly on UU, but it's kinda nice to see all the comments associated to one person's video directly under said video. It's also nice to see likes and comments on youtube! I mean.. i hope to be famous someday, so the tens to dozens of likes will show how far I've come when I'm over a million! Just look at Iam Tongi!! ;) It is a pain to have to click on the video to comment, but then it's all there. You can see other people's comments and reply directly, all in-line. Like Del said, there are often 60+videos and we encourage each other to comment and make the members welcome and feel good about their entries. If it gets to 10 comments, then put em in a thread and shake 'em all up! It feels like it could be messy. I wonder if there are older Seasons we could view prior to going YT comment heavy, to see how ugly they did or didn't get. That might be my next rabbit hole.

4. Include a link to the full Seasons thread at UU forum in your YT descriptions. The host for each season can take care of this in two sentences that people can copy and paste for their videos.
Another easy suggestion with very few cons. Maybe just a couple extra clicks. But I think it would definitely help people who come across The Seasons or SOTU on YT first and have no idea what in tarnation is going on. The description and link ties it together and potentially brings more ukeaholics to UU!! Maybe the love what they're seeing on YT and want to join the Seasons!! COME ONE! COME ALL!

5) Please consider posting at least occasionally in other forums. Please?
This is too easy for me. I can't get enough of it all! I'll be a preacher and a choir if you need.

6. Maybe some monthly challenges?
Oooh! This is great! I was actually going to host and try to sneak in one of the UU Podcast songwriting challenges as part of the Seasons theme. How great would it be to increase participation there too? You could win hot sauce or spam or something! *shrugs

Maybe that becomes a subforum within the Seasons Forum? I might be talking crazy talk, but I'm just thinking out loud.

7. More visible video production docents?
I have absolute beginners level knowledge of phone and youtube at the moment, but I'd be happy to be added to a list of helpers to answer basic questions. Or perhaps point them to the technical knowledge page if they want to go bananas. Sign me up!
 
For the rest of us who can't get it together in less than a week, there is (or was) the "Island of Misfits." I can't seem to find it, though.

I gotchu!
 
i've always thought that the seasons deserved its own place on UU and that the contest section was the wrong place for it
in the beginning it was a contest and indeed exclusive being by invitation only (it is not so anymore)
but it has never been a place i come to to compete - just a place to share some uke music

i've always wondered why we don't have more people participating - the premise is simple - someone suggests a theme - you find a song that fits that theme and bring it along

for me the way to bring it along is ideally you being you and delivering your song - i've always thought of it more like a campfire song share - a very informal no stage open mic - but a place where you do actually have to own your song and be you (this is not actually how it is - the internet allows people to not reveal who they are - and that is also the case here on the seasons)

youtube has become the platform we use - just the way it is - i hate that youtube now gets to place ads on my vids - but again - just the way it is

it has always been a challenge - to find a song and bring it along in a week (8 days at the moment actually) - just the way it is

monthly challenges - great idea - and plenty of other places on the forum where that could happen - i would participate

comments on the submissions in the seasons thread - big no from me - so i'm with Del on this - i even find the 'witty banter' quite annoying at times - my fav seasons are a host's post stating the theme followed by nothing other than the musical responses it generates - and some sort of wrap by the host at the end - just mho

i love the seasons - spend a lot of web time here - will continue to do so while ever it is an enjoyable place to be
 
I try to participate in the Seasons when I have some time, and if think I have a worthy song that could fit the weekly theme. If nothing comes to mind, I sometimes spend some time searching to find one (sometimes way too much time), or get inspired to dream one up on my own. Those themes and subsequent searches can lead me to songs that I'd never even heard before, never would have considered learning, never would have written, and which often become well known and loved parts of my song list/memory bank. That process has enriched my uke experience, and thanks to the Seasons for that.

I think that the Seasons is unknown to many UU members, and that a separate forum for it would help. The Seasons is rather hard to find, and easy to overlook, being a separate thread under the Ukulele Contests forum.

Also agree that we would be well served with better descriptions in our YT submissions, rather than just saying "For SOTU# XXX". Mea culpa there.

IMO, trying to bring comments back onto the thread, instead of on YouTube, would really clutter things up, and turn the usual 40-50 video posts on a Season thread into hundreds, and difficult to wade through.

I suppose it's true that many Seasonistas don't participate in the other forums, but I don't see a problem with that, we're all here for different reasons, and I don't find that clubby or elitist.

Just a few thoughts from an occasional Seasonista.
 
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