SpokenWord.org — Freestyle

Our annual survey of SpokenWord.org members included five essay-style questions. Here are some of the answers that don’t necessarily correlate with any consensus; they’re just the most interesting.

“How can we improve SpokenWord.org? (What’s the one thing you wish we did that we don’t already do?)” (53 answers)

  • “Most popular” (today, this week, this month, ever) by category is a plus. [There was some consensus on this idea of per-category most-popular lists.]
  • I find it confusing for reasons I can’t articulate. It’s not crystal clear exactly what I’m supposed to do. [I sense that’s true for many first-time visitors.]
  • Ogg Vorbis content encoding option [We don’t control the encoding; that’s up to the publishers.]
  • It would be great if SpokenWord.org could offer files from the Internet Archive. [Yes, we need to re-visit that idea.]
  • Sync with any mp3 player. [We’ve published extensive APIs with the hope that others will pick up this ball and run with it.]
  • Make discovery easier. I would also like a feed or a page that shows all new programs. [From many questions like this I get the feeling that people don’t realize that we get thousands of new programs every day.]

“What do you like most about SpokenWord.org?” (62 answers)

  • The variety of content. [By far the most common response.]
  • That it provides an open, public place to archive ratings data on podcasts.
  • The ability to simplify the process of managing podcasts and subscribe to only a few collections in iTunes.
  • One stop shopping and not iTunes-centric. [“Not iTunes” shows up frequently.]

“If you were running SpokenWord.org, what would you do to increase the number of people who use it?” (49 answers)

  • Advertise [No budget!]
  • Joint programs with schools, college and other educational institutions (younger people have larger social networks)
  • Redesign the homepage.
  • Try and get some influential technologists using it, such as Leo Laporte, Patrick Norton, Dave Winer, etc.
  • Make it easy to post programs and collections on Facebook and Twitter.

The Conversations Network is a U.S. 501(c)(3) non-profit public-benefit corporation. How can we make SpokenWord.org better fulfill its mission of service to the community?” (30 answers)

  • Maybe some collaboration with PBS and NPR.
  • Introduce it to other non-profit organizations that are doing a Podcast.
  • Create an educational hub similar to iTunes U.

Anything else you want to tell us?” (35 answers)

  • Keep up the great work, and thanks for all you do.
  • No

SpokenWord.org — The Features

We asked SpokenWord.org listeners to rate the various features of our service, and here’s what we learned:

Most Important

  • Browsing by category (2.8 out of 3.0)
  • Finding individual episodes (2.6)
  • Finding new RSS feeds (2.5)
  • Personal Collections (2.4)


  • Ratings (2.4)
  • Tags (2.4)
  • “Most popular” lists (2.3)
  • Improve the website design (2.2)
  • Automated recommendations (2.1)

“Don’t Need It”

  • iPod/iPhone integration (2.2)*
  • non-Apple device integration (2.2)*
  • A mobile-device version of the web site (2.0)
  • “Send to a friend” (1.7)
  • More screencast tutorials (1.7)
  • Following others’ collections (1.7)
  • Widgets for blogs (1.5)
  • Post to Twitter and/or Facebook (1.4)

* It might have been better to combine these into a choice for “mobile device integration.” Since our listeners are 50/50 Apple and non-Apple, the combined interest in mobile-device integration might have been quite high.

It seems that sharing and other social-networking features are among the least important to our listeners, whereas features for personal use rank quite highly.

We should also note that this is a survey of those who are registered for SpokenWord.org, and most likely those that find some value in the service as-is. Therefore these criteria are not necessarily the same as what might attract new users with difference preferences.

SpokenWord.org — Your Habits

Following up on my first post on the SpokenWord.org annual survey results…

  • 43% of respondents have created at least one collection. Half of them are actively using collections today.
  • 7% frequently rate programs or feeds. Another 35% do so, but rarely.
  • Listening/watching is done via:
    • Android devices (3%)
    • iPhones/iPods (56%)
    • iTunes on computers (37%)
    • other portable devices (45%)
  • 6% of respondents are paid members of The Conversations Network.
  • 8% have donated to The Conversations Network.
  • 1% have donated specifically to support SpokenWord.org.

SpokenWord.org — The Survey

We’ve just completed our annual survey of SpokenWord.org listeners and starting today I’ll be reporting some of the results here on Blogarithms. Overall:

  • We emailed a link to the survey to 3,176 registered members of SpokenWord.org.
  • 250 (8%) of those clicked through to the survey.
  • 174 started the survey.
  • 147 completed the survey.

“How important are…?” On a scale of 1 (Not for Me) to 3 (Important):

  • Audio (2.83) 86% said “Important (4.0)”
  • Video (1.91)
  • Free Audiobooks (2.29)
  • Paid (Audible.com) Audiobooks (1.70)

The ratio of audio/video is expected, but I was surprised to see the ratings of both free and paid audiobooks.

“Have you ever watched or listened to…?”

  • Public radio (70%)
  • Free audiobooks from Librivox.org (38%)
  • YouTube.edu (31%)
  • Paid audiobooks from Audible.com (27%)
  • Fora.tv (25%)
  • Free audiobooks from Podiobooks (20%)
  • WGBH Network Forum (11%)

Again, the surprise for me is the high percentage of listeners to both free and paid audiobooks.