The genre I chose to do for my report is an analysis of DJ fan forum sites in comparison to the manufacturer’s FAQ sites. In this document, I will be discussing where information is produced between manufacturer sites of DJ equipment and fan forums on miscellaneous sites. There is a big difference between the two because the manufacturer sites depend more upon paper plans and product analysis rather than being hobbyists of the musical instruments and having more hands-on experience.
Creators of the technical sites and forums
The authors of the fan forum sites are the fans themselves. On these forum sites, different people who use the DJ equipment trade questions and answers about technical problems they have while using the equipment. These sites are not limited to just questions and answers, it is also a platform for discussion about different pieces of music equipment. There is usually not just one single person that responds to all of the questions. At times the fans may get as many as 10 different people telling them ways to fix or improve problems they may be having. These forum sites, however, are not limited to just technical problems, they tend to offer advice on how to keep your equipment running smooth, or even teach you how to make modifications to them to make them perform better. Some of the information that you find on the fan forum sites maybe not be available on the manufacturer sites.
All of the fans within the particular DJ forum are responsible for asking and answering each other’s questions, and it is up to the user asking for questions to decide which response they will use to answer the questions they may have. So in these forums, the authors are highly visible in the sense that the forum is like a conversation board, and even though the reader may not personally know the ones who respond to him, they still converse and communicate back and forth. The head Webmaster, in order for the users to communicate, sets up the forum. Therefore it is up to the users and visitors of these fan sites to keep the forums alive and running. So all of the fans rely on their peers for help, and it works better this way because users are getting questions answered from other people who may have a lot more experience and know-how to answer specific questions. Another advantage of having these forums is that the users are not set to one particular brand of equipment, so if a user has different questions about different brands he can get all the answers right in front of his face, rather than having to go through a ton of different manufacturer sites. The layout and design of the fan forums are set up to look more user-friendly and not have as much as a professional feel to them as much as the manufacturer sites.
For the manufacturer FAQ sites, the authors tend to be technicians and engineers of a particular brand of equipment. This may range from a single technician to a group of technicians that help produce and market the equipment. Therefore they take full responsibility for answering frequently asked questions that Dj enthusiasts may have. The way they organize the sites is that users will email questions to one of the technicians of the particular brand, and the technician will receive all of the questions of different users. They then will take the more frequently asked question and post them on the site for people to come view. This is a very different approach from fan forums because there is a little more freedom in fan forums and a wider range of people who might be able to answer questions. On FAQ sites, the questions are fairly general and very basic. With FAQ sites, the author of the sites is more invisible than fan forums because of the user’s email questions to the general site (e.g. see below).
Figure 1 (www.shure.com) – This is where users submit questions.
The main users of this genre, for both the manufacturer sites and fan forum sites, are DJ or DJ enthusiasts who have lots of interest in it. They usually tend to be primary users. In most of the forums that I analyzed, the users were speaking from the standpoint of actually owning and using the musical equipment. Other parts of the audience may be people who are interested in purchasing the musical equipment, in an attempt to find out which brands may be better than others. There is not a whole lot of interaction when it comes to the FAQ sites because they only take the generally asked questions and post them to the manufacturer site. Therefore people do not gain the flexibility and range of questioning that fan forums offer. There is lots of interaction with fan forums because it is up to the users to keep the forums running. Numerous different people will answer the questions that users ask in an attempt to satisfy other users’ needs. So there is constant interaction with all of the users of forums. I think it is also more useful to have the fan forums because users get a better community feel when others, who use the same equipment every day, are able to answer questions that people may have.
The interaction that this genre is meant to support is an online using chat. Its goal is to bring as much of the community of DJs together in an attempt to discuss the art, the technical equipment, techniques, and the music. And when users ask questions, it is not just one response that they are receiving, it’s anyone who decides to post an answer to the question. This is one of the main features that keep the fan forums alive. Technical FAQ sites do not have that same interaction. They do not rely on the on-call response, where the site is run from multiple user interactions. Those sites’ goal is to promote the brand, not for users to interact.
Figure 2 – Fan Forum (www.djforums.com) – Numerous forum topics.
Above is an example of a DJ fan forum site where there are a ton of different topics for forums. When a user enters one of the topics, it shows a long listing of different postings that people put up, and this is what runs the forums. For users that frequently go to this site, this is their reference to any questions that they may have about various DJ topics. Users are allowed to search different topics and choose to read and take in any information that pertains to the topics they are interested in. However, when a user is searching for tips about DJ equipment, they might not find the exact posting they are looking for because they might have to scroll through many postings to find something. But the plus side, which differentiates fan forums from FAQ sites, is that the user can post their own questions and they are almost guaranteed to get at least a few responses. If other participants cannot answer questions, they can at least direct the person to a place where they can find an answer. Another advantage that fan forums have over FAQ sites is that you don’t have to search through different brands’ sites to find answers. Users can simply state in their posting what kind of equipment they need information about, and other users who own the same type of equipment, or at least have used the brand, can respond.
Figure 3 – FAQ site (http://www.shure.com/kbase/faq.asp) – Frequent questions
In Figure 3, this is an example of an FAQ site. It shows a listing of the most general questions that people have asked about different topics pertaining to that particular brand. The advantage of these types of sites is that if you know that you have a general question about the brand you are using, then it is easy to find the question. However, the downside is that your reply might not come from a person who is used to using a particular piece of equipment as a hobby or even a job. It does not give the user a good feeling because they do not get to interact with someone who is used to using the equipment. The authors of these sites do not know if there is satisfaction with their users because there is no constant interaction. The authors just take general questions and give general answers for the users to read, and it is on a take it or leaves it kind of basis.
Formality and Style of Fan Forums & FAQ Sites
Within most brand FAQ sites, there is a highly professional feel to them because the company is trying to promote its brand upon visitors to the site. And because of the fact that there is very little fan interaction within these sites, they must maintain a high look of formality. Most FAQ sites will have correct grammar, proper sentence structure, and punctuation. They are set up in question and answer format; where the question is posed in bold, and directly under the question, a technician or engineer posts responses to the questions. To access the proper segment of information the user usually follows the navigation bar at the top of the page. When clicking the topic the user is interested in, it takes them either to another page or farther down the page to expand on what the link said. With some sites, the writers for the Q&A’s post pictures to help the viewer visualize how the writers are explaining the particular piece of equipment. The tone of the language is usually parallel with how the rest of the language on the website is structured. The look of the FAQ portion of the sites also has the same design and look like the rest of the page.
Fan forum sites have a completely different structure than FAQ sites. There are many fan forums that are inside of various hip-hop and DJ sites. Because of the fact that fan forums strictly operate and stay alive through user interaction, the look and language are completely different and rely heavily on interactive technology. The forums are set up in a way that users will be able to post entries and replies; therefore it obviously will not look like the rest of the sites, which are information-driven. Next, the replies are usually the user name for the site and the date in which they posted material. The design ends up being very different from those of FAQ sites because it is not just information being posted; there is a large amount interaction, therefore, the technology ends up being different creating two dissimilar sites with a different look and feel. The language with fan forums is completely different as well. The users interact with each other as if they were having a phone conversation or chatting with Instant Messenger. The language tends to be the same way the user talks in everyday conversation giving the forum’s language a far from professional touch. This is very effective because the use of language keeps the users in a close community and able to express themselves however they feel with no boundaries; unless it is too vulgar of language and things of the like. The standard look to DJ fan forums is similar to the style shown above in Figure 2.
Dj Fan forums have been something that I have been interested in for a long time. Because of the fact that I am a DJ myself, forums have always appealed to me in the sense that I was always interested in learning more about the music and equipment. There are a few different forums that I participate in, including on at www.ughh.com, and the other being www.hiphop-elements.com. Being in these forums has made me feel very close to the community of other users that are also DJs, and I have always felt comfortable asking questions expecting numerous answers. So I am regularly working with this genre, and I find myself always searching for new forums and paying close attention to how they operate, and I believe forums are far more effective tools than FAQ sites. I like the idea that the fans and users keep these forums alive and have the chance to interact with other people who are into the same hobby.
Starting this project made me want to take a closer look at other ways in which DJ’s obtain technical information about their equipment. When I started to look at FAQ sites, after thinking up random questions, I realize that they were not too helpful. Now, maybe it was just my questioning that I thought up, but it put it to the test. I submitted a question to an FAQ site last week, and I posted a question in one of the forums that I participate in. Within a day I had numerous answers from other users of my forum, however, I still have no received any response, nor have I seen my question posted on the FAQ site. After doing this little experiment I have decided that DJ fan forums are far more effective, and I believe that they will tend to be more beneficial to me in the future.
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