07 June 2013

Fora (II). Changes

I think I should start by apologizing before all those who read these texts and who do not care much about fountain pen fora, and for whom their recent crises is totally alien. My excuse is easy—I also live in the Internet space, I generate contents and I enjoy and suffer the changes in this environment. And I have learned a lot from those fora. Next Chronicle, I promise, will be about pens.

So, what is the problem right now? Fountain Pen Network (FPN), the biggest pen forum in the Internet, has recently changed its rules (Terms of Use) to restrict the possibility to link other websites from any particular post, including links to personal blogs written by the very same author as the post author. And it goes even further—to be allowed such a link to your own blog, you should purchase a premium FPN account. Other changes enforced the idea that the content of the post should be original and unique, and should not be available in other websites.

Well, this seems a perfect example of the idea of “give us contents, provide us with traffic, and let us cash the benefits”. As private entities, fora can very well set these and other rules, but these very restrictive Terms of Use (retrieved on June 7th, 2013) might be a very stupid way of shooting themselves on the foot.

In a forum, any forum, there are two types of traffic. The most evident is the internal traffic—forum members browsing around and, eventually, commenting on already published entries and writing new ones. This traffic might be big, but it is also limited as there are only that many forum members. It is entertaining, but it also generates a lot of noise—we all know, enjoy and suffer those messages simply stating “great pen!”, “I like it” or “another one on my list”.

The second type of traffic is the external traffic. Non-members might land on the forum searching for some information. This traffic might be small, but it is new. These visitors are, in fact, attracted with quality contents. They look for the signal, and some might even become new forum members.

Quality work, I content, increases the traffic and adds value to the forum. Quality content, therefore, should be encouraged and promoted. But why would anyone give his work for free to a forum that will take over its property? Promoting this quality might go through inviting knowledgeable authors to participate in fora. And even paid for their work. Their contributions would certainly improve the forum also in economic terms.

One final note: I am not such an knowledgeable expert, and I am not demanding any compensation for participating in any forum. But when someone changes the rules the arguments can go in either direction, for and against. Rules, let us remember, are to be challenged all the time.

I am not asking to be paid, but I will not pay either.

Pilot L, pocket pen – Pilot Blue

Bruno Taut
Shinjuku, May 28th, 2013
etiquetas: metabitácora, fora

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