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Abbas.

More Guests, Less Members

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I was planning to write this last week, but got too busy.
 
But adding onto my earlier posts, here are some things I think could help the site & its effectiveness:
 
 
 
1) IMPROVING THE SERVER SITUATION:
 
(i) The site is currently hosted in the US (seems to be with the American division of a German company).  It could just as easily be hosted in Canada, probably for better rates too.  
(I mention Canada because it's kind of between the US and Europe, has lots of people on SC [in contrast to maybe Norway or Sweden], and doesn't quite get up to the same stuff that the US government does)
 
 
(ii) Getting the site onto a more powerful server, if needed.
(if possible, I think this would be a better spending of money than on advertising)
 
 
 
2) IMPROVING SITE USABILITY / FUNCTIONALITY:
 
(i) The search feature doesn't really work properly right now. I don't know if this is due to server limitations, or software issues... but it does hurt usability. So maybe the software could be upgraded to the newest version of this forum software.
 
 
(ii) The ShiaChat.com front page currently just redirects to the forums. But instead, it could be more of a central dashboard of activity & information (detailed below). 
 
We could have the best of both worlds that way, in terms of addressing Baradar & magma's points (about not missing threads), while keeping the sub-forums the way they are.
 
frontpage.jpg
 
 
 
3) PROMOTION
 
Then after #1 and #2 are improved, promotion could be done after that.
 
I think Pinterest and Instagram could help for free advertising.
 
And maybe Facebook advertising could be used (I don't know exactly how it works though).
 
 
 
______
 
 
 
 
MORE INFO:
 
2) ii) The ShiaChat.com front page could make it easy to see recent threads/posts on the site. It's easier to just make a picture than explain, so I made a quick one in MS-Paint (above).
 
There are lots of different possible layouts, but I think the important thing is to make it easy to track recent activity.
 
 
In my example above:
 
- To increase sign-ups, it could be emphasized that it's easy to create an account.
 
- There was empty space at the top-right, so I added sign-up buttons there as well, but maybe ads could be put there, if needed.
 
- A quick welcome message with impressive info could help grab attention. I think people would be impressed to learn that the site has about 2.5 million posts and [some number] of users (I know the stats say almost 50,000, but I don't know how many of those are fake spammer accounts).
 
- There could be some quick links to useful info, like Al-Islam.org, the SC Facebook page, videos, etc.
 
- Right now on the main forums page, at the top-right, it shows the 5 newest topics.  That could also be put on the front page, maybe with the 20 newest topics.
 
And it could also show the 20 newest replies.
 
And it can show the newest replies by overall section -- this would make it a lot easier to not miss posts, so it would also address the points baradar and magma made (about too many sub-forums), because it would show a list of replies in various sub-forums combined.
 
The forums are currently divided overall sections called "Main Forums", "Politics, Current and Regional Issues", "Religious Debates & Dialogues", etc.  At the bottom of each box like that, it could also have an option to click to "View more".
 
 
So all new posts in those overall sections could be shown together... that way, we have the best of both worlds:
- There are fewer sub-forums to check, for people who would prefer that view
- And as alina92 and hasanhh mentioned, the way it is now with more categories is useful when browsing for topics (and even if the search worked better, category browsing is useful).
 
Also, that way, if traffic picks up again in the future, then the forums don't have to be subdivided again (if they get merged now, and then subdivided in the future, that would be a problem for old threads).
 
 
 
I don't know if the above "newest replies" option would put too much of a strain on the server, but another option is that for those boxes on the right side, it could say "Login to view"... so only people who are logged-in would see the "Newest replies by section".
 
That would ease the server load + create an incentive for people to sign-up.
 
In terms of how to do it, xml/rss feeds could be used, but I don't know if that's too much of a server load?  But the data (posts) is there in the system, so it just seems like a matter of how the output is shown, for displaying recent posts.
 
 
 
 
 
3) I saw that AhlulBayt_313 makes really nice "hadith photos"... i.e. those photos of hadiths that are added onto nice pictures.
 
I think that type of stuff would do very well on sites like Pinterest and Instagram (as well as Facebook, like the nice hadith pic you added last week), and would generate free viral advertising. 
 
SC could also add gallery software, so all those "hadith photos" could be in a central location.
 
Also, Pinterest is apparently mostly female, so that adding such photos there could help with the gender balance.  There are probably sisters among us who are Pinterest experts, so maybe one of them could manage an SC page there. Or maybe AhlulBayt_313 if she wanted, because she creates the photos already.  
 
And Instagram is apparently more popular with teens than Facebook (although maybe they don't know that FB bought Instagram :P)... so that could help reach teens, and maybe if they read some of the threads -- especially in the "Social, Family and Marriage Issues" section -- then it would help them avoid certain problems.
 
 
Regarding Facebook advertising, I've heard that you can target ads based upon characteristics of users.  So to get more "intellectual members", maybe ads could be targeted at people with certain characteristics who like some Shia-related group / page / public figure.
 
I've seen promos for free credits (maybe $50 worth or more), so that could be some "free" advertising too (initially).  And also free promo credits with Google and Bing advertising.

 

 

 

In any case, ShiaChat is definitely an impressive site even as it is, so kudos to those who keep it running!

Edited by Bright

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salam alaikum,

 

the idea of propping up the facebook page is a great idea. with the number of resources and wisdom capital this shiachat site has to offer, we should be able to have a page that rivals all other shia pages on facebook. several members already have successful facebook pages with thousands of members reading and benefiting from the shia arsenal of wisdom already.

 

what i would suggest is to set up a general marketing (spiritual marketing) team, which plans and executes a vision with all the tools available. treat it like a business, for sake of Allah. PR, Communication, events, messages, demand creation. i really like the term demand creation for marketing, because it is more honest. basically, people have a product and make other want it, after they didn't need it before. with material products this is counter-productive, but if we can create a demand for ahlul bayt, and demand for quran .. then that it great. that is productive. use all the tools out there to achieve this. twitter, instagram, etc etc etc .. i'm no expert in online marketing ..

 

the shiachat page on facebook should not only be for spreading ahlulbayt messages, but also for other things, like community organizing and uniting.

 

eventually, the communication campaign can transfer into the material world, by organizing meetings for shiachat members all over the world (meals, lectures, art shows, charity events, outdoor activity, sports & health activities, workshops, etc etc etc ... in association with other organizations perhaps .. ).

 

it's something that will help the cause and would hopefully hasten the Victory of Allah in sha Allah.

 

There is a lot of potential there.

 

As for the shiachat site itself, i think it has been developing slowly but surely in the right direction. The right choice of mods and admins, the expansion of new topics like cooking, education and ethics, and so on ... that really is big improvement.

 

thanks a lot and jazakum Allah khair,

 

fi aman ilah wasalam

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Salams All

 

Apologies for the delayed response. I've started by working on bringing back the guests to our forum.

 

SC team members and a couple of other seniors will discuss ways to connect with people from Hawza. Furthermore, I have suggested that we also invite community members with other skills and expertise whether it be about career development, science or something else that the majority of you would be interested in.

 

I also welcome all other sc members to advise us of people they known personally and who could benefit our online community from their knowledge, experience, skills and wisdom.

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I think that nowadays forums like Reddit work better than this kind of forum. Reddit has the ability to hide unnecessary comments. When I came here I came to learn, but the reason I became less active was because I had to go through lots of pages mostly made of unnecessary or useless comments, Reddit hides these comments, and I figured if I pick up a book instead of going through pages looking for a proper reply (not necessarily a right one) I would learn much more.

 

The other problem is credibility. I realized that when I'm reading someone's opinion, although it may seem right, but I would later discover it is quiet wrong, and it only seemed right to me at the time because I hadn't seen the other argument, and apparently no one else had seen it either.

 

Also, I think changing Moderator strategy would be a good idea, in order to keep serious discussions clean of abuse, and also keep the people within the topic's borders. Hence, it will easy to retrieve information about something when the topic is there, unnecessary msgs are hidden, and everyone stays within the topic, Specially when a topic become political and two sides disagree, it quickly turns into a shouting at each other thread rather than discussion, and the topic gets lost and people start speaking about each other instead of the topic etc. You are just reading how two people shout and point fingers at each other. I guess moderators don't want to interfere in "free speech" but when a thread has a topic, it's only right to respect other people and only speak within the topic, and also give precise short answers instead of whole articles in reply to someone.

 

A group of friends of mine tried to make a similar forum, looking exactly like this one, but tweaked for a special few who were learned persons. It's a private forum and the target audience were already very active on their email group. So it was expected that they would also be active in the forum. Nope, not a single post from anyone except the mod. Why? well, it wasn't promoted to begin with, and secondly they were busy people, it was far easier for them to quickly look in their mail rather than having to redirect to another website, then sign in, then find content, etc.

 

Forums will show you everything, good or not, useful or not, in your interest or not. And that means lots of time, which most people over twenty don't have really.

 

Hope this helps.

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^ That's the whole point.

 

Reddit and facebook shield people from opinions that are unsavory to them. Forums give it all to you, whether you likes it or not. And YOU have to do the work of discerning whether the content is truthful of false. Instead of being spoonfed information which you already agree with.

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A faster and easier search would help, I have tried to find past posts on some topics but the search is useless. 

 

Firstly I type something and nothing relevant appears and then when I try to research using a different word, I have to wait 50 seconds in order to click search again. 

 

So its useless and as a result I am forced to make repetitive posts.

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Curious to see what changes happen, if any.  I think it would be great if the forum had a whole new look and organization.

 

How about a green/black color scheme instead of this blue?

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why are u so focused on this thread ???

He wants to see changes.

Either there is an intense discussion going on behind the scenes, or nothing is happening....

I'm patient.

Thank you for your patience. Keep in mind that site admins are all volunteers and do have real world responsibilities that always take precedence over shiachat matters. Even if we aren't seeing changes, the admins are doing an awesome job keeping things running smoothly.

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Either there is an intense discussion going on behind the scenes, or nothing is happening....

 

I'm patient. 

 

heh Magma thanks for keeping the thread alive. I have certainly not forgotten to update you guys. But was hoping to make some progress first. Unfortunately, these things take time because you have to take everyone on board. 

 

Regarding rearranging the forums, the team had some disagreement for good reasons. We were working on them until I got super busy and Sis Hameedeh got the ball rolling but was perhaps waiting for my response. I will have to ask her to take full charge of this particular task cz I'll be busy till 12 June. If we go ahead with the rearrangement, our plan is to do it prior to Ramadhan.

We also discussed the idea to invite guests; scholars from West or representatives from hawzas. However, it seems like it is becoming increasingly difficult these days as most of them are extremely busy. So what next? Plan B is to maybe consider inviting members of SC (or someone they know) as guests? After all, there is a lot of knowledge, skill and wisdom to share and to learn from one another. We used to have these kinds of threads in the past and for the most part they were successful because they allow everyone to become a super star; you get special attention and you get to share something of value with others. You can choose to share any particular area of expertise or answer general questions etc. This exercise allows active discussion. So this is an idea for you guys to consider and offer suggestions. Alternatively, if you have the connections to invite reliable scholarly personalities or their representatives on SC, by all means let us know. 

 

more later...

 

p.s I note that you guys are interested in making serious changes (which I highly appreciate) and you also seem to have time on hand so how about we create the SC development team again? Would you guys be interested? While the reward lies in serving the community and making a difference, some materialistic rewards will include having your own fancy badges that shout out loud that you are special, that you are there to work on difficult projects and that you have AUTHORITAA! 

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(salam)

 

As droll as this may read, the idea of guests who prompt thinking by the way they answer questions --hopefully short so people will read them-- is good.

 

what l am afraid of is they will be plagued with dumb stuff questions: like mutah, halal, and so forth.

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Increase emoticon options? :donno:<-- this guy will be drawing his pension soon :lol: <-- this guy will be right behind him :mellow:

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Thank all of you who replied in this topic. All suggestions have been discussed and the discussion continues. Good news! We had a suggestion from members to make a subforum for Yemen. The Yemen War and Conflict subforum has been created. All the countries and/or regions of the Politics, Current and Regional Issues have been put in alphabetical order, with General at the top. 

http://www.shiachat.com/forum/forum/75-politics-current-and-regional-issues/

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A good thing will die when those in "power" misuse their powers or done use then responsibility. The choice of moderators has been suspect to say the least.

A moderator should have "knowledge of the good."

The true mo'mineen and mo'min brothers should be granted the position of moderators. Only the true mo'mineen knows what it means to be a true mo'min. It requires a goodness of heart, sincerity, wisdom, kindness and a love for justice and truth. If none of these standards were discussed when appointing moderators an error has been made. If none of those choosing have these qualities than that is an issue.

This website will continue to grow as we furthe enter the Digital Era. We must be responsible and held liable because this website is very important because it allows other Muslims, non Muslims to understand Shia's and the highest standard must be maintained. And those maintaining should be chosen with high standards

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I would like to see some names of forums to be changed. 

 

Like, instead of: "Iran Potential of War and a Strategic Analysis", let's just make it:"Iranian Politics Thread" thread, because let's be honest, the forum is not only discussing a potential of an Iranian war, but it is discussing Iranian politics in general.

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I would like to see some names of forums to be changed.

Like, instead of: "Iran Potential of War and a Strategic Analysis", let's just make it:"Iranian Politics Thread" thread, because let's be honest, the forum is not only discussing a potential of an Iranian war, but it is discussing Iranian politics in general.

Good idea. I agree.

Current events forums that aren't current can be closed and archived, or repurposed.

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