The numbers that are being quoted are accurate but a little misleading, however I am not sure that I would agree that the UK group is actually quite as "fragile" as is being suggested.
As of Monday, of the 179 (now 180) registered UK group members only 137 can be positively identified as being in the UK. Many of the others are from the USA and Canada and some are from mainland Europe. Of those 137 UK members, over 20% of them have not logged into the forum for over a year. This may not sound very positive however, as over 50% of our total registered UK membership have logged in over the last 60 days and 40% of the total membership have posted somewhere in the forum, I think this indicates a fairly healthy group.
Over the past 6 months we have seen more new UK members joining than ever before and posting regularly. From October 2012 to February 2015 we saw an average of 3.5 new UK members joining per month whereas in the last 6 months this number has risen to an average of 8.2 per month.
With any forum you are going to get those who come, stay, and post regularly - however you are also going to get those who have an immediate question they need answering, ask a couple of questions and then move on. We also have members that log onto the forum regularly but who choose not to post.
Ensuring that there is regular, quality information is, I think, the most important factor in keeping the membership active. Continual personal communication can be effective with some, but it can also have the opposite effect on others. I know from more than one "ex" member thay felt the PM's they received were very intrusive (akin to receiving unsolicited e-mail) and this resulted in them leaving. Everyone is different and reacts in a different way to different types of approach.
There has been a cult undercurrent of BBQ Smoking in the UK for many years however over the past 12 months the general awareness has grown as a result of increasing media coverage by certain "celebrity" chefs. Now it is quite common to find BBQ featured in popular household magazines. Much of this revolves around BBQ grilling but increasingly this delves into both indirect cooking and basic smoking. Yes, we do provide a good source of information to those who want more in-depth experience of low-and-slow BBQ but we are certainly not the only source available in the UK (although we are obviously the best ). The fact that we have several sell-out major festivals here each year that are dedicated to BBQ Smoking, and an increasing number of successful BBQ restaurants, show that there is actually a significant awareness here of our type of BBQ smoking.
Does the type of Smoking/BBQ that people cook the UK have to be the same as what is done in the USA? No of course it doesn't. Just as we (and the Americans) have our own interpretations of Chinese and Indian cuisine, the UK will also develop its own interpretation of smoking meat that best suits the local pallet and the ingredients that we have available here.
It seemed that the impression being portrayed to the US folks on here was that good BBQ didn't exist in the UK and that SMF was its only hope in getting going. This is certainly not the case. Yes we provide increased general awareness and a good service to many home BBQers that want to further develop their home BBQ skills - but low and slow BBQ is certainly already alive and kicking over here in the UK.
Edited by Wade - 8/26/15 at 3:05am