Hi Painters,     Sep 14, 2020

Over the last year or two I have been wondering about the usefulness of (ncpap.org) Plein Air Network. Our website renewal of $600 is coming up Oct 2020, so I wanted to get some feedback from our users. From what I can see, it seems that visible activity on our site has dwindled down significantly over the last few years.  e.g. views of paintings posted and visible interaction and Forum discussions among artists.  Also it seems that several of the groups on our Groups page are inactive.  

I would like to get your feedback and open some discussions.

Please take a minute to answer these questions.

1. What elements on (ncpap.org) are you using?

2. What do you not like about (ncpap.org)?

3. What changes would you see with (ncpap.org)?

4. What do you think if all of our activities were moved to a Facebook Group Page and (ncpap.org) network was closed down?

You can answer these Questions on this  Discussion Board below. Please label your answers 1,2,3,4.  

Your feedback is important to help me access our viability or to make changes that would improve our network's usability.

I believe there are many informal plein air groups that are active around the state that fly under the radar or e.g. not visible to our network.  Is that accurate?  Please share with me about your group, how you operate and if you are connecting with others thru our (ncpap.org) Network. Please send this information to my personal email at scottboyleart@gmail.com I will not share any info about your group, but I want to verify the accuracy of my assumption.  

Thanks,

Scott Boyle - admin

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1.  None

2.  I don’t paint plein air much anymore so not relevant to me

3.

Thank you Cheryl!!

1. Since I'm new to the board, so far the "request friend" and "answer an invitation" functions are all I've used. But I have sent links to the home page and to the recent plein air event in Gastonia to friends.

2. So far, there's nothing I don't like.

3. Since I'm a web designer by profession, I could probably give you some feedback once I've studied the site.

4. If you moved all your activities to Facebook I would have to drop off because Facebook has banned me from their site. Early on, before their rules were clear, I was inviting everyone I knew to be my friend. I got several warnings that I was inviting too many friends, but I did not heed them. So I was eventually banned. I appealed several times, but those emails went to a dead email folder. In my opinion, Facebook is a heartless, hypocritical organization that I'm glad I'm not part of. So I would not like to see the plein air group go in that direction.

Just a note: Why does your web site cost $600 per year? When I design a web site, I charge an up-front fee, and then pay a hosting company to host it from that point on. That normally costs around $100 per year. (GoDaddy charges $8 per month.) My only other charges are for the domain name renewal (normally around $20 per year) and fixing any problems that occur. I maintain the site for free. That includes updating the theme, updating WordPress if it's a WordPress site and updating the plugins, as well as backing up the site if the hosting company is not doing that. In my opinion, you're paying too much. On the other hand, I don't know what you're getting for that $600. But if the company you're dealing with is like most companies that charge those kinds of prices, I'm betting you're being held hostage by them. Rather than going to Facebook, I would suggest moving your site to another hosting company (GoDaddy is a good one; JustHost is a cheap one) and getting out from under your contract. I can do that for a small fee.

Waitsel Smith

Great feedback Waits!  

As far as pricing we are using the Ning Platform and here's a link about that https://www.ning.com/pricing/   We are using the Performance option $49 per month but I think it is going up.  

We have 800+ members so in the past it has not taken long to raise donations.   After the discussions have finished we will talk more.  Thanks for your insightful input!!

Scott

 I am not very active in plein air groups although i still paint en plein air. I usually go with one or two people. The group i did belong to seems to be inactive because I never get notifications. I think moving it to a facebook page might be helpful and maybe more of us would use it.

Frankly i forget about NCPAP. i would love to go to plein air events if they were on a sunday , but i work on saturdays and right now don't have an assistant who can take my place should I wish to go

Anne

Thank You Anne!!

First, I’m new to the Brevard area (only here about 2 months), so I don’t know how much I can contribute. But here are my thoughts FWIW:

 
- I think COVID has had a tremendous impact on all plain air activity — especially with social distancing / masking requirements. The most fun from plain air comes when you can paint side-by-side, have critiques and socialize in addition to just hard core painting. Unless there’s a structure to keep the group active, hard to do. The Asheville Plein Air group is very active and seems to be working pretty well. I’ve joined them for a couple of outings and plan to do more. Thanks to a few very active volunteers who have been remarkable in securing locations for paint outs and publishing them on our website’s calendar.
- There are artists in Brevard who are starting to coalesce around a plain air group for painting within our area since most all of the other paint outs are a minimum of an hour away — too far to be convenient for us. I’m working with Pat Dunham and Connie Chase to set up a structure. We are looking to rope in other established artists who seem to be looking for this as well.
- There are far cheaper options for hosting a website than Ning. But it depends on the features you want. I am a partner in a national digital marketing agency and we do this stuff for clients day in and day out. Happy to talk with you further about options that could serve the community better.
- I suspect that Facebook has become the default for people to communicate with each other rather than use the forums on Ning. It’s not the most organized way to communicate, but it seems to be what people prefer.
Per your questions:
1.
I used it to find other groups I could join. I had already found the Asheville Plein Air Group and I was looking for one in Brevard, closer to home. I check the calendar about once month to see if there’s anything there I want to participate in. 
I also like the photos since I’m new to the area and was wondering about good spots to paint and how your paint. Outs seemed to be working / organized. And I love seeing other artists’ work. I always learn something new.
I like the curated videos -- some I've seen before, others are new. The recent one on Clyde Aspevig was great.

2. 

I didn’t notice that Pat Dunham and Ray Richardson had left me messages in early August. I never got a notification. Thankfully I hooked up with Pat via NextDoor. Probably me not knowing how to set up notifications with Ning.

3.

The Forum with its discussions is buried. For instance, I didn’t realize there was a discussion on equipment for sale. I don’t know that you’ll be able to change behavior. As I noted above, Facebook seems to be people’s preferred chat method.

4. I think a Facebook Group Page would be fine. Don't recall how permissions work for posting Events, but its Events and Announcements are a good tool for alerting members and for them to put it on their calendars on their smartphones, etc.

Unless I'm missing something, you can do everything you want on Facebook that you can now do on Ning. You can set up "Units" in the Social Learning section (optional) for people to create forum discussions and/or share other information.

I feel you sentiments Mary, Just thought we need to talk it out before we switch to something else.  Thanks for the Great and thoughtful feedback!!   Scott

Scott,

Thank you for hosting the website. I usually use the website to see what events are on the horizon in NC as well as posting paintings from time to time. Facebook allow for the same services. I hope that this helps.

Thank you again!

Sincerely,

Brandi Neighbors

Thank You Brandi!!

1. I like to see the paintings and read about locations and gatherings of artists.  I read some of the discussion and watch some of the videos.

2. I don’t get to the page as often as I like. If I come to view paintings and no one has posted for awhile, I usually wait longer before I check back in. So, more activity encourages activity.

4. I’m not sure if FB will continue as is. If FB goes through significant changes, will it be hard to start a group again on another platform?

I love seeing the groups, but with my schedule, often my plein air opportunities have to be spur-of-the-moment and having to go for a long drive means it’s harder to commit to distant groups. 

Thanks for all you’ve done for this group, Scott!

Martha, the sad thing is that FB has got so easy to use that the Ning platform has fallen behind in it's usability.  years ago when we began to use this platform it was the cutting edge but now there are other shiny things out there....   Thanks for your input Martha!!

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