Get Stitched // The Stitch Blog

Upcoming changes to Stitch

Red flower

Over the coming weeks we’re going to be making a number of changes to how Stitch works.

Some of these represent a major departure from the way things have worked until now, so we’re taking this opportunity to outline some of the changes in advance.

We want to give all our members an opportunity to not only get familiar with the changes ahead of time, but also to understand the reasons behind the changes and why they are being introduced.

As always, we welcome feedback about everything that happens at Stitch, so if you’ve got any questions, comments, or concerns, please let us know!

Notifications

Some of you will have already noticed that we are introducing changes to the way Stitch notifies members about events and activities in their area.

Previously, every time anyone within your local area created a new activity, the system would send you an email inviting you to the event. This approach was fine in areas where a Stitch community was just getting started, but in active communities it had become a major issue. Some of the problems included:

  • Different members have very different ideas about what “local” means. Some members are only interested in activities within walking distance, while others are willing to travel significant distances to get to events that interest them. Stitch would notify everyone within a 30mi / 50km radius, but this one-size-fits-all approach didn’t reflect what most members wanted.
  • In active areas, dozens of events can be published on any single day, resulting in an avalanche of email notifications. While it is usually great to see lots of activity in a community, a small number of registered Stitch members would get annoyed and mark these emails as spam. Unfortunately it takes only a tiny percentage of recipients to do this before Stitch’s ability to send emails gets blocked by our service providers. This has catastrophic consequences! It meant that a tiny group of users was having a major impact on how Stitch works for all its members.
  • Every Stitch member is interested in some activities more than others. The old system didn’t give members any ability to choose which activities they would like to be notified about

In order to address these issues, we are giving all members more ability to opt-in to the notifications they receive. We’re doing this by basing your notifications on the Stitch Groups you have joined.

You will receive direct invitations to any events posted into any of the Stitch Groups you have joined (and if you’re a Full member, you are able to join as many Stitch Groups as you want). It won’t matter how far away those events are, either: you can now join Groups in other areas so you can find out about events there. If you live in Brooklyn but spend your weekends on Long Island, for example, you can join groups in both locations so you can get notified about activities in both locations.

This means that if you don’t want to receive notifications about particular events, you no longer need to. If Stitch members near you are really interested playing pickleball, for example, but you have no interest in pickleball, you won’t receive invitations to those events unless you join the pickleball group.

That’s obviously helpful to people who were feeling overwhelmed by event notifications, but what about people who are interested in pickleball, but haven’t joined the Group yet?

To make sure events and activities continue to be promoted to the community at large, Stitch now sends out a summary email of all activities published in the previous week. That way, even if you haven’t joined the pickleball group yet, you will get notified about events for the pickleball group in your weekly digest. And as soon as you attend one of those events, you’ll join the group and receive all future event invitations.

We think this is a big step forward in giving our members more choice about the notifications they receive, but we also know there is still more to do. Over the coming weeks you’ll see some continued improvements in the area of notifications, including:

  • Giving members a choice between a weekly digest or event invitations as they come
  • A weekly summary of upcoming events in your area
  • The ability to filter notifications based on your interests
  • Easier ways to cut down on notification chatter in discussions you have joined

Stitch Groups

Another big change you’ll start to notice over the coming months will be an increasing role that Stitch Groups will play in helping you control which parts of the community you’d like to participate in.

The current implementation of Stitch Groups is reasonably simple, but has demonstrated how important it is for us to allow different social groups to grow and organize themselves around particular locations, interests, and activities.

Just like society in general, the Stitch community is extremely diverse, and our members have a wide variety of interests, attitudes, and beliefs about how the community should operate. Stitch Groups help provide a way for members of Stitch to organize their community the way they want.

Some of the changes you can expect to see include:

  • An improved Stitch Group page which will let you see not just the members of the Group, but also all the events, activities, and chat discussions in those groups
  • Better tools for Group organizers, such as group announcements & member management
  • The way Groups dictate the notifications you receive from Stitch, as outlined above
  • Easier ways to control and discover the Groups in your area you should join
  • Private and Member-only Groups, for members who want more control over who they connect with in the community
  • The ability for Basic members to participate as much as they want in a single Group, as a way to allow new members to get familiar with Stitch before they decide to become a Full member

Basic memberships

The last point in the previous section highlights another significant change that will be coming to Stitch in the near future: we will be making some big changes to how much of the community activities that Basic members (i.e. members who haven’t paid a Stitch membership subscription yet) can access.

For some time we have been looking for a balance between what we give Basic members access to, versus the privileges enjoyed by Full members.

We know we need to give Basic members the ability to experience Stitch in some limited way, as that’s the best way for them to find out what it’s all about.

We also know that some Basic members need a little time before they are ready to join. Some are in difficult transitional periods of their lives, with major life events causing them to realize they need more companionship in their lives, and very often they need quite some time before they are fully ready to participate in the community.

We know that some of our Full members want lots of Basic members to attend their activities, while other Full members much prefer their events to be members-only.

Finally, we know that some community groups who already provide activities for over 50s would like to use Stitch to connect with their members. But our current pricing model has made this challenging, as they don’t want to force all their existing members to join as Full members of Stitch.

All of these reasons are why it’s been clear to us that we need a better way to provide a part of Stitch to Basic members, one that makes more sense to everyone.

At the same time, the Stitch community relies on membership dues in order to keep itself operating, so we need to ensure that Basic members get enough of a taste of Stitch to realize the value that a Full membership provides, without giving them so much they never need to join. It’s vitally important that we keep things fair for those members who support the community by faithfully paying their membership subscriptions each year – if we give too much to Basic members who aren’t paying anything, it’s unfair to all the Full members who are doing their bit to support Stitch.

That’s why, over the coming weeks, you’re going to see a big change to the way Basic members access Stitch.

Instead of the current system which allows a small number of randomly-selected activities to be marked “Open” to Basic members, we will be using Stitch Groups as the basis for restrictions on Basic members. In essence:

  • Basic members will be able to join a single Stitch Group, and participate fully in all activities, events and discussions within that Group.
    This will help small or new Stitch communities that are only just getting started, where there may be a small amount of community activity, but only enough for one Stitch Group. In those communities, Stitch won’t be forcing Basic members to upgrade until the community becomes larger and more active.
     
    It will also assist community organizations which want to bring their members and activities into Stitch. They will be able to create a Stitch Group that all their existing members will be able to join for free. If some of those members decide they want to participate in the rest of the community, they will need to upgrade to a Full membership.
     
  • Control over access to events and activities will now be done at the Group level, rather than for individual events and activities.
    Full members will be able to choose whether their Groups are open to Basic members, or are for Full members only.
     
    If a Group is for Full members only, then all the events and activities in that group are for Full members only. Similarly, if a Group is open to Basic members, then all activities in that group will also be open to Basic members.
     

The change may take a little while to get used to, but the overall idea is much more straightforward and easier to understand than the way open events work today. In summary:

Basic members will be able to fully participate in a single Stitch Group, but if they want to participate in the rest of the community, they’ll need to upgrade to a Full membership.

We think this new approach will not only make the system easier to understand, it will help address a lot of the limitations we currently face with Stitch, and allow us to bring on board lots of new members by partnering with existing local community groups and organizations.

Membership points

Some of you may have noticed that we’ve recently introduced some changes to Stitch’s Membership Points system. Specifically:

  • We changed the way points were calculated for hosting an event, and
  • We changed the rewards that membership points can be redeemed for

In the past, Stitch awarded 500 membership points for every activity posted to Stitch. This reflected how important each activity is to the community, particularly in new areas where the community is just getting started. In very new areas, before a local Stitch community is up and running, it’s not unusual to get only one or two members along to the first few events. Yet these ones are the most important events of all, as they are what helps get a new community started in the first place.

Unfortunately, this meant it was possible to “game” the system by posting dozens of events on Stitch again and again, earning rewards even if nobody attended.

To protect against this we have tweaked the rewards system so that the points you earn will mainly be a result of the Full members you get to attend at your events. We have doubled the number of points you earn for each Full member who attends.

If you are in a community which isn’t very active yet, you will still earn 500 points for the events you create. In active communities, however, the points you earn will be based on how many members attend your events. That way the members who do a lot of work to create popular events that are well-attended will receive the most rewards, which is only fair.

We have also changed the rewards offered for membership points, and have removed the ability to redeem membership points for gift cards, at least for the time being. This wasn’t something we wanted to do, but we unfortunately didn’t have a choice: for legal reasons, we were not able to offer gift cards under the previous scheme without creating unfortunate tax consequences for both Stitch and the members receiving the gift cards.

We hope in the future to be able to re-introduce the option of gift card rewards if the legal situation can be resolved, but in the meantime we’re working to create other great redemption options. These include:

  • Free and discounted Stitch memberships for yourself,
  • The ability to gift a Stitch membership to someone you know (or donate it to a member of the community in financial need),
  • Redeeming your points for a donation to charity which Stitch will make on your behalf, and
  • Great new swag & merchandise options – we’re currently under discussion with a number of vendors as we speak!

While we regret needing to remove the gift card option, we think the alternatives are going to be just as good. It’s important to remember that redeeming points was only ever intended to be a way for the community to express its appreciation for the Stitch members who do the most to improve the lives of their fellow members, not primarily a way to earn cash or gift vouchers. We think the new options express appreciation just as well, and we look forward to adding more redemption options in the future.

Travel

Finally, we will be removing the current travel pages of Stitch, while we work on plans for a new way for Stitch members to meet travel companions.

We firmly believe that travel will eventually be an important part of Stitch, since so many members tell us they would like to use Stitch to find a travel companion.

Our experience with the current travel pages, however, has demonstrated that combining social connections with travel content can be very complicated. Members often suggest a destination they have in mind, but very often don’t actually want to commit to travelling with someone before they have met in person.

We’ve had plenty of successful examples where members found travel companions through the site, but a lot more examples where the initial interest in a particular trip didn’t go anywhere, which ended up creating a lot of frustration.

That’s why we’re going to be closing the current version of the Stitch Travel pages while we reassess the best way to get travel to work for our members. We’re confident they’ll return at some point, bigger and better than ever!

~

That’s it for the roundup of the major changes to Stitch you can expect to see over the coming weeks, although we will also be making numerous other smaller improvements to how the site works, as we continue to try to improve things for all our members.

We’d like to thank all our members for bearing with us while we introduce all these changes, and for understanding the important reasons that many of these changes need to be made.

As always, we welcome feedback, so if you’ve got any comments, questions or concerns, please let us know!

24 Comments

  1. Olivia Thomson

    Hi Andrew and Stitch management, I do believe that the majority of this new scheme will be very welcoming to most members and organisers. However I would prefer instead of limiting the basic to only one group (making it very biased for those who have just one level of events to offer) as opposed to those who have several facets to their group event offers. EG Dancing and dining will ultimately be the choice of the majority, while perhaps a walking group may not have the same pull for a basic to also become a full member. Therefore the walking group is going to suffer, then it becomes too biased. I would prefer a nominated amount of events allowed per basic OR a time limit of 3 months ( this should to most unsettled persons be enough time to make a decision. If they can’t make a decision by then they probably will never make a decision. Having been in Sales i can usually recognise someone who ultimately will sit on the side line no matter what.

    1. Andrew Dowling

      Thanks for the feedback Olivia! Our need to support existing community groups, and the rationale behind a free tier of membership means that time-based limits won’t really work for us, at least not in the near term. But you will be able to set a group to be Full Members only, the choice will be up to the organisers of each group. Once we’ve got the basic structure in place we may be able to refine it with extra controls for specific groups, to give each group owner more choice about how much / how long to allow Basic members. This is certainly something we’ll be happy to look at once we’ve got the first step in place.

    2. Keith Neems

      Hi Andrew and team. You have not stated the under the new system the number of points that each event will earn. As for the numbers of people that attend Ihave tried to keep a tally on the number of people that attend a good event varies from 5-10 while a lot of events it is hard to get 4 or more. Next point there are a very limited number of venues that we are able to find to host evens there needs to be an incentive for organisers who go off the beaten track to find events that are different. The idea of encouraging large groups outside of stich to join in is great but we will need back up from head office to achieve this Groups like provis come to mind although finding contacts for local contacts is difficult these are my initial thoughts. As far as rewards are concerned I feel that most organiser are not concerned about them we merely generally concerned with make the stich experience one that will make the best experience and give all stichers a great reason to have fullment in there life

  2. Colin Murdoch

    An interesting selection of changes which I will read again and ponder some more…

    I Pioneered and Founded a Singles Ministry in August 1986 for Singles, Formerly Married/Partnered Men, Women and their children…

    Three things I introduced which didn’t have tax implications were:
    1. If you Volunteered your time in Hosting Events for Others; Membership was Free!

    2. If you Volunteered your time in Hosting Events say at Home 1 or more times p.a., an Arrangement was made between those Hosts and I regarding a Budget for out of pocket expenses beforehand; say if part or full Catering was involved.

    3. If you Volunteered your time in Hosting Events for Others or served as a Volunteer on our Singles Conferences Planning Team; you received a $50 Discount on our Residential Long Weekend Singles Conferences!

    Interestingly, those who Volunteered their Time as Hosts, for the Singles Conference or their Professional Expertise in some capacity, more often than not, were the Ones who made the most Friendships, found a Spouse, Partner or Companion for the first time or ReMarried/RePartnered because they met someone…

    1. Andrew Dowling

      Thanks for the feedback Colin! Yes, we see similar things in the Stitch community, where those who do the most for the community end up being the ones who get the most out of it. I guess that’s a bit like life in general!

  3. Tony

    Hi Andrew
    In principle I can fully understand the various changes and think they are good ideas. There is one bit that troubles me a bit.
    “Private and Member-only Groups, for members who want more control over who they connect with in the community”
    I understand what you are trying to achieve but this “control” is open to abuse and I suggest , especially in the ‘early days’ Stitch monitors/moderates these “closed” groups
    Cheers and all the best Tony

    1. Andrew Dowling

      Great feedback thanks Tony. We’re sensitive to group management control being misused, so will only be implementing it gradually as we determine what moderation controls are needed. Initially, for example, we’ll be using it as a way for our various community champions around the world to connect and share ideas about growing Stitch in their communities. But we can see over time that there will be a place for private groups on Stitch, just as long we make sure it doesn’t affect the overriding goal of being an inclusive community open to everyone!

  4. Dave M

    Andrew
    today I just found out that Stitch had this Blog page.
    Also I tried to obtain an ebook and Stitch stated that my email address is in the deleted list.as per below.

    Get your FREE eBook!
    Stitch is a community which helps anyone over 50 find the companionship they need.

    For a limited time we’re giving away free copies of the e-book we’ve written for our members, ‘How to Stay Safe Online’.

    Just leave us your email address and we’ll send you a copy for FREE!

    Email Address exists in deleted list. Subscriber is not added.
    Submit

    1. Andrew Dowling

      Hi Dave,

      It looks as if you must have visited the blog at some point, as you had previously registered for that eBook! But thanks for alerting us to the deleted issue, we’ll look into it.

      Cheers,
      Andrew.

  5. Colleen Suter

    Hi Andrew
    I like the changes as Zi don’t want every comment and every event in my inbox
    Prefer the weekly digest
    Colleen Suter

    1. Andrew Dowling

      Thanks Colleen! We’re also working on some changes to prevent your inbox from being flooded with comments. In the meantime, however, you can click the “Unfollow” button on any event, group or discussion to prevent email notifications about comments, which will reduce the number of emails you receive.

  6. Terry

    Thanks for keeping me informed Andrew. The changes sound reasonable and needed.

  7. Deizi

    Thank you Andrew for letting us know the changes and importantly, the reasons why.
    I tend to agree with Olivia that it would be good to have a time limit for basic members such as 1- 3 months, rather than confine them to activities in a single group. Because of the variety of Stitch activities and people, basic members may not be able to fully appreciate Stitch’s breadth – which would be a shame.

    I also agree with what you stated about Travel activities. My suggestion is for Stitch itself perhaps to organise – and members to pay Stitch and therefore have some assurance that the travel tour will indeed go ahead, This will perhaps allowing Stitch itself to make a margin. As mentioned previously, I would like to see Stitch thrive and be on a sound financial footing. At present, it operates on a shoestring, which limits Stitch’s immense potential.

    1. Andrew Dowling

      Hi Deizi,

      Thanks for the feedback. A time limit doesn’t work for a community group that wants to use Stitch for its members, but maybe we need to consider different types of group settings for those sorts of groups. That’s certainly something we can look into once the first stage of the work is done.

      We do have a bit of experience running trips ourselves, with the past two global get-togethers, or prior to that a couple of cruises. We even integrated a third-party travel booking site at one point! There is definitely potential there, but it’s a lot more difficult to make them self-sustaining than people think, without having a negative impact on the overall Stitch experience. But definitely something we’ll consider coming back to at some point.

      1. Jan

        Hi Andrew.
        A bit confusing in such a long email. But I do appreciate you letting us know of changes coming..Hopefully these new changes will make the Stitch experience more user friendly and enable members to see all events available and not just those in their area.

  8. Keith Neems

    Hi Andrew and team. You have not zstated the under the new system the number of points that each event will earn. As for the numbers of people that attend Ihave tried to keep a tally on the number of people that attend a good event varies from 5-10 while a lot of events it is hard to get 4 or more. Next point there are a very limited number of venues that we are able to find to host evens there needs to be an incentive for organisers who go off the beaten track to find events that are different. The idea of encouraging large groups outside of stich to join in is great but we will need back up from head office to achieve this Groups like provis come to mind although finding contacts for local contacts is difficult these are my initial thoughts. As far as rewards are concerned I feel that most organiser are not concerned about them we merely generally concerned with make the stich experience one that will make the best experience and give all stichers a great reason to have fullment in there life

    1. Andrew Dowling

      Hi Keith,

      If you check out the help articles on membership points (just go to the More menu, then Help Center, and search for “membership points”), you’ll see we’ve updated the description of how points are calculated. We have basically doubled the number of points you receive for each Full member who attends (increasing it from 50 points per member to 100 points per member). At the same time, we’ve removed the bonus 500 points received for posting an event, unless it’s one in an area that doesn’t have a lot of community activity yet. That way members who help establish the community in new areas get rewarded.

      And yes, we’re definitely keen to help as much as possible with support for existing communities like Probus, we’re working on some landing pages and marketing materials to help with exactly this sort of thing!

      Cheers,
      Andrew.

  9. Colin Murdoch

    On the issue of confining Basic Members to one Stitch Group or as suggested having a Time Limit…I like the idea of a Time Limit and have seen it work in SFC Australia since 1986…Before Google and afterwards, I would post, then post or email, Quarterly Newsletters which had all Upcoming Social Events, Weekend Getaways or Residential Singles Conferences I, my Secretary and a group of Volunteers planned!

    Inserted was a Joining Form and Stated Annual Fee to pay asap…However, some people for various reasons would not join and pay straight away, despite knowing they had 3 months to do so…Others, who contacted us half way through the 3 Months, would be sent a second Newsletter and Joining form to give them further Opportunity…If they did not return the Joining Form with Annual Payment which would apply from the month they joined, say May 2019 to May 2020; they didn’t receive a third Newsletter…

    It was interesting, how many would phone or email and ask: Why no more Newsletters? Some within days or a week of the new Newsletter being sent out…lol

    Some would not join, because they either expected everything in life to be free or because they expected a Community Organisation/Singles Ministry Founded by me to be free!

    Many would join and it became the beginning of a New Relationship Journey with us and a Life Transforming Decision!

    At one point, I introduced that they could attend one Social Event during the Quarter, but it was made clear in the telephone call and the Joining Form to enjoy coming along; they must become a Member prior to attending a second social event.

    Interestingly, I can recall many Men and Women, who attended a Social Event or like the Couple who attended a Relationship Workshop on “Dating and Relating” I Hosted, and when walking out to my kitchen to get Supper for all, the Connection between these two was so strong,I didn’t want to walk between them; so turned on my foot and went a longer route into the Kitchen…They exchanged phone numbers, started Dating, and 12 months later were Married, a second Marriage for both and moved from Sydney to the Gold Coast in Australia…

    And where this has happened for first timers, almost all have joined during Dating and some continued their Memberships after Marriage/Partnership.

  10. Lois Woollams

    Hi Andrew, Very interesting. Obviously there are many points of view. I believe after 3 months Basic Members should become full Members. I have not been to many Stitch events, but in almost all cases not everyone who has booked has turned up, or rang to say they can’t make it. I know it must be difficult to come up with ways of running Stitch that will please everyone, but, Good Luck!

  11. Keith

    I think we should be clear. There are now three kinds of memberships. Basic, Full, and Plus

    A lot of stuff that used to come with the “full” membership is now, restricted to plus.

    That change happened with no notification to current members. The difference is that “full” membership is $5/month and “plus” is $15/month

    Completely OK. I did not like that Stitch removed stuff from the $5 level, without notifying paid members, but I get that is how Stitch operates. And is Legal. They can, and will, change what comes with your subscription, without notice. Any time they want to.

    I raised these issues with Stitch in private, because Stitch is awesome and I did not want to disparage them in public, but they aren’t really interested in user input.

    1. Andrew Dowling

      Hi Keith,

      Sorry you feel we aren’t interested in input from our members, this whole article was actually in response to your feedback that we needed to communicate better about upcoming changes to Stitch! I’m also working on an article which explains in more detail the background between the different types of membership. We’re definitely listening, even if it sometimes takes us a little while to implement every suggestion we receive!

      Regards,
      Andrew.

  12. Nazzy

    Thank you for your long explanation of these changes. I only will become a full paid member if this group had invited more qualified men. Though I like to meet more friends (female or others) but my main motive has been to meet a nice man which I could spend private time with. Thank you and good luck.

  13. Jodi Weisberg

    Currently I am a basic member. Most of the events open to me are far from my home and I have not attended any of them for that reason. I would like the ability to see events from more than just the one group that I would be forced to join. Also would like to know the pricing to join and what the benefits are. Thanks!

    1. Andrew Dowling

      Hi Jodi,

      Thanks for the feedback! I can see that you’re located in an area that we’re just getting started with Stitch … and in fact I’m about to send out an email to all our new members in your are about what to expect from the community as we start to grow. Right now we’ve just got a handful of members creating activities and events in their area, but you should expect to see more members all over the city suggesting things they’d like to do. In fact, if you join as a Full member you’ll be able to suggest things in your area too — when a Stitch community gets started in a new area, it just takes one or two enthusiastic members to get things going! But if you’d prefer to wait until there are more events happening in your area, feel free to stay a Basic member until the community has grown a little bit more. It takes a little while for a new community to get started, as we’re asking everyone to try something new, but once a few people decide to get involved then things start to snowball from there. Looking forward to having you involved!

      Regards,
      Andrew.

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