Despite some beliefs, I disagree that newsletters are dieing. They are a special niche for certain groups at certain times. For instance... there are times when I don't have time to scour my favorite websites for headlines & content. I'd rather receive an email, which because of my type of work, I check multiple times a day -- sometimes dozens of times. I may not have the time to jump into a given site and wander off into a tangent (which is what happens when I surf a site), I'll spend a minute reading a quick newsletter and more importantly... I'll save that newsletter for a later time or I will delete it if there's nothing of interest. More often than not, I will save the email for later and come back to it when I have the time and review it in more detail and/or click through to the website. Having the newsletter is way more productive for me and gives me something to come back to on my own time. With it being in my inbox it becomes a mental note and with my type of behavior will generate more hits to a given site over time.
I guess I'm a newsletter junky. I receive dozens of newsletters and actively go through each one. I won't always check a favorite website on a daily basis though. Of course, not everyone has the time that I do and I can remember times when I just let my newsletters pile up unread only to later delete them when the content became old.
I do read the current newsletter and would actually like to see them in my inbox more often. Once a week would be good and would keep me active. More than that becomes troublesome and I doubt I'd be able to keep up. I've signed up for a few newsletters in the past that ended up blasting me with stuff to read every few days and I quickly became overwhelmed and ended up unsubscribing from them. I honestly don't know how often you have been sending them out...but I always look through them.
What type of user am I?
I consider myself an older member, but was rarely ever active in the past... although I'm trying to improve that. I'm currently here every day and just leave my browser window open in the forums for roughly 10-12 hours of the day. Of course, its often competing with the other windows I have open and the other things I'm doing.
I currently receive the newsletter but notice I go long periods where I don't receive anything and often forget I'm subscribed.
When I do receive an issue I often read it within the first 72 hours. I always open them and read them.
What would I like to see?
I like the suggestion about comics or a single fun cartoon per issue. That would make it fun and entertaining. I'd like to see game art from real members, just for fun, or other member contributed content. Fun stuff -- not highly opinionated content though. More article highlights from the article sections and contributions from the staff. Definitely need to include UNIQUE content like suggested above - not just stuff from the site. Maybe have staff members write a unique article in each newsletter that is on a more personal level -- not just promoting things on the site but get more personal. What is the owner of the site doing? Tell us about the people behind the scenes. Let's hear about the people who run gamedev.net . Let's hear about the moderators of the forums. I don't remember if this has been tried before in the past, but I think it's a good idea and something that makes the newsletter stand out from just a mirror of what's already on the site. I don't want to just be blasted with highlights from the site. That's useful but you can do so much more.
Highlight someone's Indie game project each month. Highlight a new member.
I like the more colorful newsletters, among all the ones that I receive. You don't need to use tons of imagery but the idea of a black & white newsletter just doesn't seem appealing to me. If someone wants black and white they can just receive the text version LoL.
Competitions are a great idea, although I'm not sure how many people would participate. Some of us are busy but if the competitions were simple that would make it more doable for a larger crowd.
I think there's plenty of room to get creative with newsletters if you put your minds to it. I guess you have to find the right balance though, so that it doesn't become cumbersome or a drag to put together periodically. Either way, I look forward to your newsletters and will continue to do so.