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DRaysBay to begin new FanPost and FanShot initiatives

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Asking DRaysBay: How can we make the FanPosts and FanShots sections more active and rewarding?

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The FanPost and FanShot sections exist for you, the DRasyBay community, to share your ideas and take ownership of the conversation at the site. We'd like to make those sections more active and would love your feedback on how to make that happen.

DRaysBay exists as a community, and that is never more on display than when users share their long-form thoughts in the FanPost section, or when there is an important link or video or tweet to share, drop it into a FanShot. We would like to elevate the profile of both of these sections, as my fear is that you may not even know they are available.

We have some ideas for how to bring FanPosts to the forefront, but before we implement anything I want to gather opinions from the community as a whole to get a sense of what would actually work for you. There's no point in doing anything if it won't actually help you the reader be more in community than before.

To jumpstart that conversation a bit, I'm just going to lay out what these things are for folks who are new to the site, and then offer ideas that I think are feasible to make that section more active (in terms of our time commitment and the functionality of the site). At the end, I'm hoping you'll offer your honest feedback.

What are FanPosts/FanShots?

FanPosts offer you, the reader, an opportunity to write an article using the same editing software we use to publish articles on DRaysBay, a few extra functions not withstanding. The exist as the perfect place to generate a side-bar conversation (i.e. this "strange idea to get Ian Desmond") or write your own article on why you might think James Loney is still with the Rays.

We've all had those moments where we'd like to discuss something in the community that's not relevant to a particular article on the front page, or those moments where our response to someone is suddenly three paragraphs long. In either scenario, the FanPost section is the perfect place to go to post your thoughts, and allow the community to discuss further.

To date we have not done the best job of promoting FanPosts, but I promise that is about to change.

FanShots are the place to share any link, quote, video, or tweet that you think is deserving of our community's attention. The site writers have utilized this to share great content like Corey Dickerson's monster homerun in Spring Training -- including a FanShot of a tweet showing where the ball landed 569 feet away, and a video of the homerun itself.

You have the ability to utilize this section too.

For more practical information on Fan Posts and FanShots, we have an in-depth guide available here.

What we are doing to better promote FanPosts and FanShots

Once you've created a FanPost or FanShot, we have several avenues by which your work could be shared. Our aim moving forward is to consistently share in the following ways:

Social media promotion: Barring significant grammatical/spelling problems or unsourced rumors, we're going to make an increased effort to share your FanPosts and FanShots on our social media channels (and if you haven't followed us on Twitter and liked us on Facebook, why not?). To help things along, we'll even add cover photos to your work, and help make them as presentable as possible!

Promoting news to the front page: We'll automatically promote any newsy FanPost and FanShot to the front page if you can beat our writers to the punch. Sometimes we aren't available to launch into analysis, and this community needs a place to talk. FanPosts and FanShots are an easy way to kick that off!

"DRaysBay's Best FanPosts & FanShots": After a FanPost or FanShot gets ~5 recs -- and presuming the content is not reprehensible or irrelevant -- I'll put it in our featured posts section that will now be accessible from the front page of the site.

Consider it a Hall of Fame for the very best FanPosts and FanShots.

Additionally, there is a low-threshold location for the majority of FanShots which we are calling #RaysBait. This will also be on the front page, and should serve as a repository for all relevant Rays links shared in the FanShot section, regardless of rec count.

What could we do to improve FanPost/Shot activity?

For those who are wondering, our FanPost activity has been increasing over the last year, but I think we (all” readers and staff)” wish it was a little bit more active. Here's a few ideas that I've gathered for how to improve FanPost activity, and would welcome your input as well:

- Regularly promote FanPosts/FanShots to the top layout of the site: Other sites in the SB Nation network with rampant FanPost writing reserve one slot in the site's top layout, just to keep up with the flow. I would love for our community to have this "problem" of too many FanPosts, and this seems like another logical way to recognize great work.

- Adding rec'd FanPosts/FanShots to The Rays Tank (our daily links post): We could also add your FanPosts/Shots to the aily links post. We want these ideas read and discussed, and elevating the link to The Rays Tank seems like a practical way to get that done.

- FanPost Friday: every Friday, the staff would promote the best FanPost and/or FanShots of the week and add them to a section visible on the front page. We could find a way to maybe add an incentive (i.e. entering "winners" into a raffle for a prize of some sort) but I think this would be a good way to get in the habit of recognizing efforts from the community.

- Monthly FanPost Competitions: Last year, in my first season running the site, we offered a FanPost competition for those willing to lend their analytical minds to some good fun, and included a round of community voting and three prize winners.

- Spring Training Game Recaps: Several other sites in-network invite the community to lend their hand to game recaps, a popular feature of our in-season coverage, with a slot in the Game Recap rotation offered as incentive for those with the most recs by Spring Training's end. A similar competition could be great fun.

That's what I've got right now. Feel free to respond to those ideas in the comments, or offer your thoughts on how to make that section more active and/or functional. An analytical perspective is the brains of this site, but community is the heart.

I believe improving our FanPost activity will help Make DRaysBay Great Again. Be the change you want to see in the world.

Cheers and rec liberally!
DR

***

Many thanks to Golden State of Mind, who provided a great blueprint for how to grow the FanPost section into a rewarding aspect of their site community. Let's do the same... and hope Chris Archer becomes baseball's Steph Curry.