I really love how you Tom and your team always are at the front line trying to improve and save newgrounds despite the odds, dropping financial situation, and adaptations that the website needs to go through almost every single time. It shows how much love and care you have for this place and it's community, and I really admire you guys for doing that, simply because any other webmaster CEO would just dropped and sell everything as fast as they could, I know it because I have seen it happening too many times, and I thought that at some point it could happend to this website.
It was a really sad thought that crossed my mind several times, because I have no intention to have this website closed, in fact I really hope NG goes on forever, and I hope thats not a utopia. I remember talking to friendly NG users when NG was on its best moment in 2008, and I was still a newly born newgrounder saying "I will reach the front page and the top 50 one day!" and he saying "I hope you really do, and I will also do my best to get there!", and when I finally got there, Im not going to lie about it, I jumped like a little 6 year old girl saying "I did it!, I did it!" staring at the screen and not believing what was happening. Much happines, and so much rewards for my efforts were paid that day.
That is just a small part of what NG is for me, there is a hole experience behind.
I thought that sharing my personal view of the website and pointing out good and bad aspects could help you get a new perspective of the website specially from a user point of view.
I think there are 3 types of websites going around the internet these days.
Websites that purely viral and comercial: YouTube
Websites that promote indie animators and game devs: Armor Games, Kongregate
Websites that induce users to share everything: Printerest, Reddit
Where is newgrounds you may ask?, it's between these three.
I have seen lots of improvements on every single aspect of the website, from sharing assets, to revenue aspects, to mobile adaptation, and format conversion, and even creating more tools for all the indie animators and developers that are starting their own projects, making this website a home for them. But from my own perspective something is unbalanced. When I share something from newgrounds I have basically no response on any social website, and I actually asked them if they saw what I shared, but they response was that they were sent to a strange website, so they didnt understand what was going on and closed the window (was actually quite funny).
I remember you Tom saying NG was a huge bubble, and I believe the previously mentioned is one of the reasons it still is. NG is a great place for its own comunity having customized backgrounds for each section, cool header textures and effects(wich I love), but tries to be a user friendly place for everyone outside its community at the same time, being competitive with a youtube-ish shareig, and compatibility skills. We all hate youtube and I also do, but why did it bacame so big and strong over the years?, I remember youtube in the early years as a small fancy website for weird stuff. So what happened?
They took another road for it, and it was the viral road, and the viral road is just the content for the sake of the content regardless of the aspect of the place that holds it, and that is throwing away customization, and customization is what we have today here at NG.
They made it simple and easier to find quality content, and recommend the right stuff almost 80% of the time. And that is something NG lacks a little bit, not for its own community, but for the outside users. Every single one of us knows the featured material is good, because you Tom and your crew picked them, but outside users dont know about this and they just see icons with titles. The sorting tools also lack precision, and the search engine doesnt always throw the most relevant or popular content but simply the closest to the word you wrote.
I dont have an answer for wich way NG should go, but I will follow it whichever it is.
Please dont take this as a harrassment, these are my thoughts as a website designer and developer.
I really hope things get better from now on, I think the video ads will improve a LOT the economy of the website and will bring new users to our community.