In this post we aren’t announcing anything or releasing anything or even providing how-to guides. Instead, in honor of our 75,000th fan on Facebook, I’d just like to take a step back and consider the past few years of XBMC community growth.
Way back in 2010, I decided to create a new job for myself that I labeled Community Manager. That, maybe more than anything else, is one of the most incredible things about Team XBMC. People don’t look for job postings to get involved with the team. They almost never wait for us to ask for something. Instead, every team member has started out as a user who realized a problem existed and stepped in to fix that problem.
This is true at every level. Developers, wiki ninjas, forum moderators. You name a project, and we can point to the individual who saw the need, rolled up their sleeves, and stepped up.
Anyway, years ago it became obvious that the team was lacking, just a bit, on the social front. Around September of 2010, XBMC only had about 6,500 Facebook fans. Our Google+ page didn’t exist, nor did the Google+ community. We didn’t keep Twitter stats back then, because we didn’t think Twitter was important. We only started keeping anonymous forum visitor stats in 2011, when we averaged roughly 35k visits to the forum on a good day. The XBMC Youtube page existed, but not a single video had been posted.
Maybe worst of all, the forums were known, particularly starting around 2008, as an unwelcoming place for new people. Back then, if you weren’t at least a marginal expert in Linux, you were practically required to start your post with an apology for your lack of skills and understanding.
Agents of Change
As I said, I grabbed the title of Community Manager, but the reality is that dozens of people saw the unsociable issues that we had back then, and stepped up to help.
Particular credit goes to team members Martijn, Zag, NedScott, Kib, da-anda, pike, theuni, MaestroDD, Jonathan, keith and blittan, just to name a few who have helped reinvent the site and the forum, developed tons of content for the social sites, created hundreds of links that didn’t previously exist, exposed an incredible amount of info about the org itself, and helped organize in-person outreach with visits to SCALE in Los Angeles and LinuxTag in Berlin (Starting 8 May this year!).
It’s April of 2014 now. Six years have passed since 2008. Four since 2010. In the intervening space, XBMC has added iOS and Android – not to mention the Raspberry Pi – to the ranks of platforms it can support. We’ve added a fully developed add-on and repository system that runs the gamut from online streaming to cool applications like PseudoTV to alternative skins and even to games, both of the python variety and launching the emulator variety. HD video decoding is supported on as many platforms as we can possibly manage. XBMC remains one of the rare platforms out there that can act as an Airplay receiver. Support for 3D, Live TV, and even Hi10P comes baked in these days.
Frankly, it’s been an incredible few years on the development side.
But it’s possible that the most amazing growth comes not from our developers or other administrators, but rather from our users and our community. You all have been carrying the banner for XBMC, and it shows.
Visits to the forum itself have more than doubled to 2.3 million visits a month, and unique visitors have nearly tripled.
We now have a portion of the forum dedicated entirely to showing off incredible XBMC rigs. That sub-forum is like the old Feature Friday blog post multiplied by a thousand, where users are daily submitting incredible and beautifully unique machines and homes.
Our wiki has been transformed from a random collection of pages that almost certainly still referenced the old Xbox to an informative site with pages easily found using Google search or the built-in navigation and guides that can walk a person from their very first hesitant introduction to XBMC all the way to advanced addon developer, all made possible thanks to contributions from users.
The blog and main site have seen even greater growth with triple the visits at 2.4 million visits per month, and almost quadruple the unique visitors per month.
And all those social media sites? XBMC on Facebook has just passed the 75,000 fans mark. In less than 4 years, we users have managed to increase the Facebook fanbase by 1150%. XBMC on twitter has 38k followers. XBMC on Google+ has been added to nearly 29k circles from zero back in 2010. And the XBMC Google+ community just recently passed 10k members who are actively providing each other with answers and support on a constant basis. Our Youtube channel has a video posted that’s passed 650,000 views. There’s even an incredibly active subreddit dedicated entirely to XBMC and XBMC users.
And finally, hopefully, the forums, all these other social sites, and even the blog comment section have become friendlier places, both for newbies and old timers. These days, unless you are specifically asking how to pirate something, possibly the rudest response you’ll ever receive is a link to lmgtfy.com. Beyond that, users are more helpful, more friendly, and generally more excited to carry the torch than they’ve ever been before.
I’d personally like to thank all of you. Thank you to the people who answer questions on the Facebook page and in the Google+ community. Thank you to the forum users and forum mods, who manage, mostly, to remain calm when constantly presented with repeat questions. And, of course, thank you to the folks that have bought our shirts and proudly take pictures wearing them in all sorts of crazy places.