After returning from a three-year hiatus from Head-Fi, I've noticed that a few trends have emerged regarding threads created by new members. My intent is not to condescend or complain, but rather to improve the experience of newcomers, which in turn benefits everyone. I thought a thread like this might be helpful in light of the growing popularity of headphones over the past 2-3 years (thanks to Beats, yes, really) since there is an entirely new demographic with different preconceptions. After listing some of the latest issues I've noticed, I will offer suggestions as to what I think might be helpful. I'm sure many of you will have great suggestions of your own.
In particular, most threads created by new members in the headphone forum usually share one or more of the following characteristics:
1. Are made by members with a very low post count, or by those who are just looking for a quick answer (hit it and quit it).
Maybe this is the existential dilemma of all forums, but the increased frequency of redundant threads tells me that new members feel overwhelmed by the layout of the website and amount of content that they figure it's quicker to just create a new thread. This creates a revolving door: the sheer number of redundant information intimidates new members into creating more redundant threads.
2. "What's the best headphone for $X amount?"
This issue has always existed, but it is still significant. I'm sure this also applies to amps and DACs as well. While there are some WIKI's on this question, a general guide in the forums that is easier to find would go a long way.
3. Relating to Beats/Monster/Skullcandy/Bose etc.
These brands are the the biggest reason for the influx of new Head-Fi members within the last couple of years. Threads started on this topic usually sound like, "Which is better: X or Y?". It is also very common for threads to be created for the sole purpose of bashing these brands, as if the new member is unfamiliar with the general consensus on Head-Fi regarding many of the headphones by these brands.
4. "Which headphone has the most/best bass?" or "Best headphone for hip-hop/dubstep, etc"
While the mainstream consumer's focus on bass quantity has existed for a while, the issue has been compounded by the growing popularity of dubstep and various forms of Electronic Dance Music (especially in the U.S.), and their influence on pop music. In addition, the emergence of rapper-branded headphones has had a significant impact.
1. Stickies- I think one of the main reasons new members have trouble navigating the website and finding an answer to their question is the lack of stickies pertaining to potential buyers new to the hobby, especially in the Full-size Headphones section. In addition, finding the right page is confusing to visitors, and the stickies are small and well-hidden enough that it is easy to miss them when you find the right page. Some helpful stickies might be: any of the headphone recommendations by type and price bracket (i.e. Jude's from Lifehacker), links to questions regarding the most popular headphones (Beats, Monster, etc.), a post describing the differences between consumer headphones and audiophile/enthusiast headphones (balance vs. BASS, emphasis on detail) or how most Head-Fiers' evaluation of sound quality is often in direct contradiction to those new to the hobby (again, balance vs. Boom!).
2. Revision of the Welcome Email- I'm not sure what the 'Welcome to Head-Fi' email looks like anymore, but it would really help if it included a link to FAQ for newbies, and a statement like: "Please do not create a thread before taking a look at the following helpful links).
3. Merge or deletion of redundant threads- I know this is controversial, but I think it is possible for Head-Fi'ers to be TOO accommodating sometimes. Threads like "Beats SUCK/are the Best!" and "Headphones for basshead" are created on a daily basis, but the discussion is allowed to ensue over multiple pages. Again, the large number of duplicate topics overwhelms users, so they in turn create a duplicate thread of their own to get a quick answer. I know everyone hates a Search Nazi, but when an identical thread has already been made, it would be better for everyone if someone could post a link to the relevant thread, and then promptly ask a moderator to take a look at the thread to see if it should be deleted/merged. Once again, I know that this is not a Head-Fi exclusive issue, but when multiple threads on the same page address the same issue, and a large number of new members are asking the same questions every few hours, everyone's experience suffers.
4. Making the front page more newb-friendly- We all know where we are going anyway, so I'm sure most of us wouldn't mind having a tab of FAQ's for budding audiophiles. It just seems like a hassle for newcomers to have to figure out where to go when so many of their questions could be answered with an easily visible link on the front page. Examples: What's an audiophile? What is/Do I need a DAC/Amp? How long should I burn-in my headphones? What brands are best? Where should I buy headphones?
Again, I'm not sure how practical some of these ideas are, I'm really just trying to facilitate the discussion so that those with more expertise can chime in. Just so you know, I did do a search, but it would still be terribly ironic if this topic has been done recently.