Last night, around 10pm, this website – misual.com, that a couple of friends and I run, just hit 10,000 fans on Facebook. It was indeed a momentous milestone for us, especially when you take into consideration that we do not profit from the site (ZERO monetization plan) while all of us have our respective jobs and manage the site part-time, and we do it purely out of good will and passion to indulge people in debates and healthy discussions.
10,000 is indeed a good number, as we have never done any promotional campaign for the site. 10,000 fans, or to be technically precise, 10,000 likes (initially, it used to be called “fans”) is not an easy achievement at all, because unlike Facebook groups, we cannot just add anybody from our Facebook friend-list to the page. The person himself/herself, will have to click the “LIKE” button on his/her own volition.
As of this very minute, misual.com has –
16,272 published posts
16,857 registered users
Strong figures. Yes a lot of things have changed since Ben first made the site way back in 2005, shifting it from Drupal to WordPress in 2006, facing our first FIR case in 2008, and then Ben retiring from misual.com and leaving the responsibilities to us on August 6th 2009, one day after the site’s 4th anniversary. And now, we’re slowly moving into 2013, towards our 8th anniversary and the site is still growing strong.
But of course we know things do not last forever. I’ve been in the online world long enough to understand web portals and the dynamics of online platforms. Right from the days when threaded discussion forums were popular (remember those izawl.com, zoram.com days?), to the times when Drupal, WordPress and Joomla CMS forums came into being, I’ve seen many top Indian discussion forums like desipundit, blogbharti and mutiny.in rise to the top and crumble. I watched in great interest when Reddit and 4chan saw a mass exodus of members leaving their sites. Remember how popular Digg and StumbleUpon used to be at one point of time? The two sites are now more or less dead…
And then came the rise of social networking sites that had seen many hits and misses. Hi5 is now like a mediocre social gaming site after Tagged purchased it two years ago, MySpace just got relaunched recently (I love the soundtrack used) but it looks more like a music social network site planning to compete against last.fm, Grooveshark, Pandora, Spotify etc. rather than go directly up against big daddy Facebook itself, and we also saw how Orkut, which was once the reigning champ of Social Networking in India, went through a slow agonizing death and made way for the new king - Facebook.
Therefore, with the internet constantly evolving, even we have to constantly evolve if we want to survive. We have tried comment plugins like Disque, implemented Facebook “likes” on posts and comments, tried integrating the login with Twitter api and so on. But in most of the cases, since our traffic is so high, all these extra plugins utilize more resources at godaddy where we have hosted our server, leading them into taking down our site or giving us a stern warning for the umpteenth time. And like I mentioned initially, managing misual.com is purely a voluntary work, so we can’t afford to buy any server space as we are not gaining financially from this site.
Hence as of now, Facebook page is a way of coping with the technological change. I created this official Facebook fan page in 2010. Two years later, we are now 10,000 fans/likes strong. The irony of this is, when it comes to the actual work I am doing for a living, I am handling a lot of social media accounts for many of our esteemed clients (which I can’t name for the obvious reason) and many of them actually have fewer fans than misual.com, hihihi…
Apart from keeping up with technology and the trends and changes, from all my experiences so far, I think another very important factor to running a community site successfully is to make sure all the admins are on the same page with each other. I have seen my fair share of many popular discussion forums (that I was a member of) that broke up merely because the admins failed to see eye-to-eye with each other regarding a post deletion or site guidelines. And then one set of admins would leave the site, creating a similar (competing) website and so on, and both the members of those two sites would perpetually bitch about each other. I have seen this same story unfold too many times all over the interwebz.
And of course loyalty among the users build up and people start picking their sides during an online battle that includes mass spamming and DDoS attacks on each other. Take for instance the recent 9gag – 4chan /b/ war, or 4chan’s “Operation Overlord” against Tumblr. Another good example of a relationship gone sour would be LulzSec’s attack on 4chan, the infamous /b/ Civil War due to Boxxy, and the war between Backtrace Security and Anonymous group. Backtrace was once a part of Anonymous.
If the admins don’t have a high level of tolerance and cannot stand each other, or vehemently disagree with each other on various issues, then one can only expect a storm brewing up. Luckily, for misual.com, it’s as if all of us (the admins) share a single brain :P
So, this is just a quick update to announce misual.com crossing the 10,000 threshold, and in spite of us losing traffic due to the popularity of Facebook, we still have a very significant and sizeable amount of loyalists who visit the site every day.
Yes, be ready to accept the fact that one day, misual.com will go defunct. This is the online world we’re talking about. Everybody keeps moving on. Nothing stays permanent in this world. Every day I wake up with the thought that misual.com will no longer see any activities. In fact, 7 years is an EXTREMELY long life for a website considering how many sites have died till now. But as long as it is still active, I along with the other admins will try our best to keep the site alive and kicking. Of course one of these days, it will go down, afterall, this is the online world. But I promise you this - if we’re going down, we’re going to go down fighting :)