When Chinesepod changed to version 3.0, I was skeptical. It has grown on me though. At first wading through all the menus just frustrated me; I'm getting used to it.
The size of Chinesepod reflects well on the community: there are threads being started by listeners, conversations about various things to do with Chinese learning. It's great.
Recently, I worked out how to get the RSS feed to my reader too, which has opened my eyes to some of the interesting conversations going on.
I feel that I'm missing out though.
Sometimes things can get too big to handle. There's so much stuff going on all over the Chinesepod community. For example (and I'm just picking things out off the top of my head)
1) There is are daily 汉字 puzzles going on. One user puts up riddles and we have to guess which 汉字 it is.
2) One user started a chain story about an alternate alternate ending to the LiLi saga.
3) There was a series of lessons involving Chinese dubs of movie dialogues...
4) There are forums on learning Japanese, Russian and some other languages.
5) Ken老师 posts about the more cerebral aspects of learning (I'm not sure where he does this... this is kinda my point...)
There is a lot going on. I'm not saying that there's too much going on, but that it's too difficult to find.
I only found 1) through a link in John老师's blog. I followed a link through my RSS reader to 2), but now I can't find it. And it's hard to keep track of the answers to 3). - sometimes someone answers a riddle but without the question it's hard to work it out.
A prime example of people not being aware of helpful content in the CPod-osphere: Someone posted only the other day about wanting to have a conversation in Japanese in the wrong place. He obviously didn't know about the JapaneseSense forum. I have been posting in the JapaneseSense forum since it started, waiting for someone just like that misdirected Poddie. Several poddies helped him out by pointing him in the right direction, but he must have gotten lost, as we haven't heard from him yet at the JapaneseSense forum.
Most of the interesting things (and there is a lot of it in Cpodworld!) I find here I only chance on. I happen to click on a link in my looong RSS feed and something interesting is on the other side. But the fact that I only find it by chance makes me feel that there's a lot of stuff I'm missing out on.
Since V3's inception I have taken until now to really get interested in the CPod community. It hasn't been for lack of interest (I have listened to every lesson), but until very recently, I hardly ever ventured past the front page.
Here's what I think would help:
The primary way that most users interact with Chinesepod is through the podcasts. I think that a podcast that was purely about community generated material would be great. A voice actor might read out material like the 'alternate alternate ending' that users have made, correcting any mistakes, and perhaps some 汉字 puzzles that someone has made. A guest host might be someone from the non-English speaking blogs, followed by the Chinese Dub snippet from the movie lesson series, and a link on where to find the full lesson.
I just feel that there is a big disconnect between the listeners who just listen to the lessons and those who log in and contribute to the community.
I am sure that there are a lot of passive listeners who would like to be active listeners, but aren't aware of the community. I used to be one of them, until I finally worked out how to get my RSS reader working!
Just telling people in the podcasts to stop by the site isn't enough. I don't think that the newsletter would do that either. CPod's primary vehicle is the podcasts; somehow incorporating the community into that would be great. I suggest a weekly show about community generated material, but I guess I'm not the one to make these decisions!
What do you think? Interested? Imagine how cool it would be if something you contributed ended up being read on air by one of those familiar voices!
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