Hey, first up, I just want to say thank you so much for organising all of this! I know everyone really does appreciate it, even though for various reasons, people have been unfortunately unable to keep up with the challenge at times.
In terms of keeping the chat threads interesting and active, I thought it might be nice to have the team leader (or whoever) post some discussion topics every week or every few days. The topics could be things relating to weight loss, that might be motivating or help people get to know and bond with one another, or they could be more off-topic things, asking about things in people's broader lives. People could then continue to use the threads as they currently are being used (talking about challenge progress, etc), but then they could also use the threads to chat and answer questions relating to the discussion topics. Example topics and questions could be things like:
- What made you want to lose weight in the first place?
- What tips or tricks to you have to stay motivated when your willpower falters?
- Do you have one or two really great pieces of advice for someone wanting to lose weight?
- Do you feel your life has changed since losing weight, and if so, how?
- Where do you see yourself in a year/five years/ten years?
- What's the best piece of advice you've ever been given/read/heard?
- What do you do when you want to take care of yourself or give yourself a treat?
- What's your favourite book, and why?
- Has your life turned out the way you imagined it? Why/why not?
These are just some various ideas, but I think having some topics can be useful when trying to get a group of strangers or people who don't know each other at all to get to share information and chat amongst themselves
Sometimes it's hard to think of things to talk about, so this could help!
I think the challenge length is fine at 6 weeks, and I wouldn't mind an 8 week challenge, but I understand your concerns about extending it given the high drop-out rates. Personally I don't have any strong feelings on this
Finally, I think decreasing the size of each team could help. Twenty people is really high, and so it might help to have slightly smaller groups, so each individual feels as though their presence and participation in the group is more significant, rather than feeling a bit anonymous. At the start of the challenge, to help people feel more "part" of the group, perhaps people could post a short bio/Q&A about themselves to be included in the team thread, this could perhaps be PMed to the team leader and then posted in the weekly weigh in thread for each team? Something like name, age, location, occupation, overall weight loss goal, interests/hobbies, something brief like that!
Sorry that was a bit long and waffly