I came to MINDS in 2016 and spent about a year without really doing anything much except checking in to see some new content and stuff. To be honest, I came here on the recommendation of a Youtube channel, @DaveCullen's Computing Forever. I came hoping to find that the people I followed on other platforms might be more engaged and active on MINDS. What I found was that MINDS just became another repository for these channels, a back up. They did not engage and did not become a part of the MINDS community, just posted their videos and were gone again until the next video. These videos are not unique to this platform, so there is no reason for people to join just to view these.
Many other channels were just uploading gifs and memes taken from where ever they could find them, hand over fist, choking the feed with worn out, tired old rehashes.
So I was bored.
What was the solution? Well, I got a camera. I was not confident I could take any photos that people would care about, but I took a chance and got a good quality, solid, easy to use, DSLR. My little Nikon D5600. It came with its 18-56mm lens, which is still the only lens I have. Hopefully soon I will get a couple of true telephoto and macros.
I then thought, well what am I going to photograph? Well, the answer was really very simple, what I am good at. So I started taking pictures of the wildlife, birds, insects and scenery around me as I went out fishing.
I was not convinced anyone would notice my photos, but it was nice to have somewhere to share my efforts, so I kept posting them, some got no notice, others a couple of likes. At least there were no dislikes coming in.
And then a guy changed my entire existence on MINDS. He sent me a link to his fishing group and invited me to post some of my fishing photos in it. I did so and suddenly had half a dozen likes on one of my posts! WOW! So I continued to post in that group and found others involved with the subjects I was interested in posting. Photography groups, nature, flowers, animals and birds, I joined a few groups and started to post regularly in these. And people started to notice. Eventually my comments sections were becoming active and being populated by comments from people I did not know, which led to the next stage - interaction.
I replied to everyone. Not with just a thanks, but with a comment that reflected theirs. I would like comments I thought were agreeable, and ignored those I did not. I rarely downvote anything, a person's opinion is theirs, whether I agree or not. Rather than downvoting I leave a comment as to why I disagree.
In the groups, not only did my stuff get seen, but I found others with like interests. Many of these channels were posting wonderful photos, so I started checking out their channels, subbing to those I liked and commenting and upvoting their stuff. And in return, they were following me and commenting.
And soon I had friends I could chat to, joke with and hold intelligent conversations with. It was great, and kept me coming back. I was challenged by the quality of the others work and so have constantly strived to improve the quality of my own, not to compete, but to help improve the quality of the posts going up on the site. As I became more discerning about the photos I used and quality of stuff I reminded (which I do only rarely and then to increase the other channels profile or because the post is really outstanding in my opinion) I found that less spam accounts were subbing, and more real accounts with followers and channels of their own, and they were reminding MY work! AMAZING STUFF!
However, i was not just active in my own little kingdom. I was active on other channels, commenting on stuff that showed up in the news feeds, searching out channels, groups and blogs that were interesting, and generally meeting people around the site. Whilst not all interactions have been amicable, the vast majority have been, even in disagreement. This is something that I like about MINDS, you can disagree and still be friends provided you remain respectful and open.
Leaving comment like nice photo or thanks for sharing, however, does not really cut it. Generic replies are just brushed over. In order to truly be meaningful, comments should refer to the content, or pick up on other comments, and truly add to a conversation otherwise it is just spam. Sure there are times you just want to say NICE PHOTO, GREAT BLOG, but don't just allow it to be a generic thing just to get a comment in. Also, a good way to engage is to ask a question that needs a reply. It shows interest and the other has the opportunity to reply, thus setting up the conversation.
And now I am feeling out the world of blogs! i will do a write up on blogging at a later date once I get the ins and outs a little more figured.
In short, it is easy to set up a channel that is totally original, fun and engaging and gets plenty of interaction from the other members of the site. Just pick a subject you love, be it food or cars, buildings or boats, and photograph them, write about them and share your love and enthusiasm for the subject. be responsive, open to critique and praise and reply to your commenters. You won't fail!
It would be great if some of the Youtubers would interact and would plug the site more, but until then, it is up to us little fish in the big pond to carry the load, take up the slack and keep MINDS growing to become the thought provoking, educational platform it could be, not just another echo chamber for Youtubers feeling their existence threatened by corporate censorship! get out there and get MINDing!