Dogspotting is a Facebook page with close to 1 million likes, that features images and text posts by users detailing their surprise doggy encounters. TheThings was recently given the opportunity to ask some questions to a member of the Dogspotting administration, Molly Bloomfield, so that we could gain some clarity and better understand the Facebook page that brings us so much joy on a daily basis. Here is what we found...
TheThings (TH): How did Dogspotting begin?
Molly Bloomfield (MB): Dogspotting was started by John Savoia. He was out in his home city and spotted a few dogs around. He thought, "wouldn't it be fun to start ascribing myself points for the number of dogs I saw?" He took this idea to his friends via the Something Awful forums, and they played among themselves for a while. He started the Facebook group with some of those friends and others and that's how we got Dogspotting!
TH: Why do you believe the page has established such a massive following?
MB: Well, from it's humble beginnings, Dogspotting exploded as a Facebook group one day in 2014 when a large number of Australian members joined. Rules were reviewed and then instated, to create the sport (different to the rules we have today). We believe the combination of the internet's best dog content and an interesting, unique ruleset make Dogspotting the place to be. Couple that with the best moderation team on Facebook and empathetic enforcement of the rules, people enjoy themselves and invite their friends, resulting in such a huge group.
TH: What is your demographic like?
MB: Our majority demographic in Dogspotting is women ages 18-24, and in Dogspotting Society, it's the same but even more pronounced. Despite this, we have a hugely diverse membership, with members in the 65+ age group, and members who travel to and who are from some of the most remote places on Earth. It is our greatest asset. Dogs bring everyone together, and for that we are grateful.
TH: How do you see Dogspotting developing in the future?
MB: We'd love to move to some charity work. Supporting members who need our help, and no kill shelters that run spay/neuter programs. We have donated money to Best Friends in the past, and wish to continue this work. We're also looking forward to hitting a million members, which will be a huge milestone, as well as redeveloping our app and website to be more user friendly.
TH: How did the rules originate?
MB: The original ruleset was a 'free point system' where you could assign yourself or your peers points for whatever you wanted. With the influx of all those Australian members, this became messy, and the group moved to the Orthodox ruleset (can be read about here: https://mashable.com/2014/10/09/dogspotting/#ahvKZH6bAaq2)
This strict ruleset was almost a way to troll the new membership who didn't 'get' it, who weren't in on the joke of spotting dogs as a serious sport. Small dogs were negative points, as well as dogs in clothing etc. These harsh rules pushed a lot of people away who thought they were here for cute dogs, but ended up in a strict group that would jump on new members posting their dogs etc.
Then, the Big Plan was thought up by head admin Jeff Wallen. He had a grand vision for Dogspotting: a positive place for everyone to enjoy good dogspots. All the point scoring changed to positive only and the team was instructed to be kind to new members, by helping them over the learning curve in the softest way possible. We still hold these values, and our moderation is now as polite and as friendly as can be.
TH: Do you find users using the Dogspotting scoring system now that the page has grown so substantially?
MB: We have for sure noticed a decline. Most members don't even know there's a scoring system! We are working on a new pinned post to maybe make it a bit more obvious, but it isn't really a big deal. We value good content, and the rules that restrict the content also allow for the best to show up. For example, other dog groups that allow posting your own dog (our own Dogspotting Society included) will never compete with Dogspotting for the best dog content on the internet. Spotting dogs out in the wild makes for the funniest, most engaging posts. People can get lazy and post 10 times a day if they have a dog at home, but for a Dogspot, you really have to work for it, and that produces better content in my opinion.
TH: What are some of your favorite spots on the page?
MB: Some of my favourite old school spots would be turd pug, fat greyhound and any spot of Louboutina the Hug Dog (turd pug is featured on our tshirts. https://dogspotting-shop.myshopify.com/products/turdpug, Louboutina is an NYC instagram famous dog https://www.instagram.com/louboutinanyc/}
Some of my favourite recent spots:
TH: What does a typical day look like moderating the page?
MB: Well, we all check in when we can. We have a diverse team spread across the globe and that helps to have someone active most times a day. For me, it depends when I'm working (I'm a casual retail employee with 2 jobs). I check the report queue when I'm on lunch, before I start my car, when I'm in the bathroom, any chance I get! We have a range of different types of rule breaking posts, and also that differs based on which group you're looking at, too (Dogspotting or Dogspotting Society). We moderate everything from medical emergencies (call your vet!) to own dogs or troll posts in Dogspotting, to rude/mean comments or whatever else. It also involves replying to the messages received by the Dogspotting People's Court, a page we run that members can go to, to ask about moderation they've experienced, to get help with other members, to ask about something they want to post but aren't sure fits the rules etc.
TH: How would you classify Dogspotting? A game? A lifestyle? A sport?
MB: It's all those things! To me, it's a lifestyle. It's part of my every day routine, and without it Facebook would be a sad place for me.
TH: How do you feel about “competitor pages” that operate on similar principles?
MB: I'm not sure which you mean - other types of animals (Pigspotting, Bugspotting, Catspotting, bunspotting etc) or other dog groups such as Cool Dog Group. Either way, I think we have something that is unique enough that will always draw people to us. Many people are in all the groups I've mentioned and many more, but that doesn't stop them from loving Dogspotting! We have something you can't find anywhere else.
TH: How do you determine “Top Spots”?
MB: We like to say that Dogtech has developed a special algorithm to determine the best spots, but really, we pick them!
TH: Do you have anything planned for when the page hits 1 million likes?
MB: No, but we had better plan something!!
We here at TheThings cannot wait to see Dogspotting hit 1 million likes on Facebook. In the meantime, we'll be keeping our eye peeled for more spots in the wild, woofing world of Dogspotting. We cannot thank Molly enough for answering our burning questions, and are so excited to see what the future looks like for Dogspotting.