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Thread: How can we make this forum better?

  1. #1
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    How can we make this forum better?

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    Hi, everyone,

    In response to a question I asked of Joel, where I said I wonder how many hobbyists are there in Singapore who loves killies but not know of the existence of this forum, Choy sent me a private message, in which he wrote:

    Quote Originally Posted by hwchoy
    KL, I'm sure there are many. however I think you have the seed to build a serious fish-keeping community.
    I've been thinking about this for some time now and Choy's message has made me decide that I should put this up for discussion. For a long time, I was just a member in the other fish forums that are based in Singapore, Aquatic Quotient, Arofanatics.com, Aquatic Realm and AquaRealms.com. I was unhappy with the culture in these fish forums because most of the posts are frivolous and members indulge in mindless chatter. Aquatic Quotient is one of the better fish forums around but even then, they don't seem to have clear goals. The other fish forums here seem to care only about quantity of posts and not quality. Being commercially-based, that's understandable.

    I'm sure Choy's message about us having the seed to build a serious fish-keeping community will strike a chord in many of us here. I think we do have the seed. This is the fish forum with the highest percentage of foreign subscribers and probably also the highest percentage of female hobbyists. We are small but the members here are serious hobbyists who are matured enough to understand that they should not post frivolous topics.

    But how can we make this forum better?

    For starters, I think we should let this be truly a forum for everyone. For that to happen, the money needed to keep this forum running should come from the members and not from me alone. I don't mind the expenses but if this forum is funded only by me, it would eventually deteriorate into a dictatorship. For it to be a democracy, the forum has to be owned and paid for by members. I'm not sure how I can make this happen but someone suggested that I should create a paypal account to receive voluntary contributions from members. In other words, if you like this forum and want to keep it going, you contribute money. The money can be held in trust by someone and used only for the upkeeping and maintenance of this forum. I like the idea too but I would put a cap on the contribution amount. I would say something around the amount of US $10 would be good. It wouldn't be right to give too much money to this forum as there are many more worthier causes to give to.

    But I have reservations that killies.com forum may eventually become a frivolous forum too when I no longer own it. Someone suggested that I should nominate a committee. He said that we can have a committee of 3 members, one of whom would be me. The committee will decide the route the forum should take, the culture the forum should promote, the rules and netiquette required and the appointment of moderators. I think I can go along with such an idea but it's important that whoever serves in the committee is not bogged down by too much official work. After all, we are just hobbyists and if it becomes work, it would no longer be fun.

    Ronnie Lee was here right from Day One and without him, the forum would be a ghost town. I think he should be one of the committee members, if we decide to form one. That leaves one more seat. Any volunteers? We can put up a list of names and the members here can vote for the person whom they think is most qualified.

    If you have any ideas, we would love to hear from you. Actually, this forum needs another one or 2 sub-forums, one of which is for us to make announcements and the other is for people to talk about fish other than killies. For this forum to grow, we have to have more sub-forums but I also don't want there to be too many. Too may sub-forums would clutter up the place. I would have created more sub-forums but we need the right people to be moderators. I invited Mrs Budak of AQ to be a moderator here but she declined as she's busy with other forums. She would have been perfect as a moderator for a "chit-chat" forum.

    Loh K L

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    Dear KL,

    I support the idea.

    As for the committee, since you and Ronnie are in, I suggest that someone from the forum but not close to you or Ronnie nor any moderators will be a good choice. For that I mean, a nuetral party. IMO, when money is concern, a neutral party helps to keep things in-check. Of course, I have not a hint of doubt on you and Ronnie's integrity. I just wish that this neutral party's participation will help void any doubts among forumers about the fund usage.

    Next, it has to be transparent. All contributors' names and amount contributed must be published. How the fund is used must be announced too.

    Committee members should be reviewed once a year or two. Contributors have the right to vote or suggest replacement member.

  3. #3
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    Hi,

    I believe there should be a balance between balancing the mix between the new/potential hobbyists and the mature hobbyists. I do support the idea of a subscription based service as I see it as a way of contributing back to the forum which provides a valuable service; however, at the same time, we should not alienate the new/potential hobbyists by levying a charge before they even know what they're getting into.

    My suggestion is this: let the non-subscription guests browse as much as they like but they will not have the ability to post questions/replies except in a specific sub-forum. The subscribers can choose to answer or ignore, depending on whether it's meaningful or just plain silly. That way, it doesn't clutter up our regular forums yet allowing the guests to voice their questions and maybe eventually encourage to join in the larger forum. While I understand that the accumulated postings overtime actually become a treasure trove of knowledge and may/may not become of commercial value, as hobbyists without any commercial intentions, we should not seek to exploit this knowledge for commercial gain.

    Some other suggestions:
    1. Consider commercial advertisers. Similar to another forum that I visit Sgreefclub. I'm not sure what is everyone's stand on this, especially since we're trying to be as neutral as possible. How sgreefclub does it is to have a dedicated sub-forum which is used by the advertisers to post their ads and all. Just something to consider. And if we do decide to go this route, we should be aware not to limit ourselves to Singapore-based sponsors as this should be an international forum.
    2. Transparency. We should get someone to keep proper accounting records if we're going subscription-based. Where money is concerned, rumours will fly. Better that we keep proper records to back up our integrity in the worst case scenario where we end up in court for CBT. I don't think we need a CPA to do this, just someone with basic accounting background.
    Cheers
    Boon Yong

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    For a start - my actions

    Hi timebomb (scary nick),

    I've already told at least 20 ppl I know of right now that my love for killies is taken another step further again as I can get online kakis !!!

    Now I can tell them that killies info are easily available and advise everywhere here.

    My influence may not be a BIG one, but I'm sure it's the bits that counts too...

    Joel

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by cheeboonyong
    I do support the idea of a subscription based service as I see it as a way of contributing back to the forum which provides a valuable service
    Boon Yong,

    You and Freddy offered some very good suggestions which I would chew on in the next few days. It's a busy day for me today so I don't have time to write much. But I have to clarify something.

    A subscription-based service where members pay a monthly or annual fee wasn't what I suggested. Subscription-based services on the net usually won't work because internet users are spoilt by many web sites that offer free services. What I proposed was that people who like this forum can, if they so desire, send in donations to keep the forum going. It will be on a purely voluntary basis. Contributors can give any amount of money and I have reasons to believe that some may even give a lot. So I also suggested that we put a cap on the amount contributed. No matter how much you like this forum, I don't think anyone should give more than US$20.

    Currently, this forum and web site is funded solely by me. The money is not much and I really don't mind the expenses. But I have concerns that my personality would dominate this forum and eventually this would become a dictatorship. I own this forum so I have absolute power over it. As you all know, absolute power corrupts absolutely. I don't think I'm a dictator but the day may come where I might get so sick and tired of the whole thing I will close the forum down. In order to prevent that from happening and also to stop me from overpowering this forum with my personality, the money needed to run this forum has to come from the members.

    In short, I'm trying to make this forum democratic.

    Loh K L

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    Quote Originally Posted by cheeboonyong
    My suggestion is this: let the non-subscription guests browse as much as they like but they will not have the ability to post questions/replies except in a specific sub-forum.
    Good point!

    Quote Originally Posted by cheeboonyong
    Some other suggestions:
    I'm not sure what is everyone's stand on this, especially since we're trying to be as neutral as possible. How sgreefclub does it is to have a dedicated sub-forum which is used by the advertisers to post their ads and all.
    I like this idea and I do not see that it will affect the neutral and non-commercial principle of this forum/site, so long the commercial sponsors are voided from doing the talking and that they are limited to banner advertising. Of course, non of the site owner or the moderators here will do anything to push their products (KL's basic stern principle when he started off this place).

    I see the biggest advantages of this method of fund inflow are:
    1) KL's wish is fulfilled - he no longer has the absolute right to "dictate" the site as and when he wish to. Most importantly, he is motivated to keep the site running (not for the money, he has enough ), as advertising is a form of recognition of a good site where they find consumers.
    2) The fund coming from such source is normaly larger which means that they not only can be used to fund the site but also be used to sponsor some activities for the forumers. I particularly favour inviting experts from external source, like hobbyists from Germany and USA, to hold a formal/informal workshops. Or we may have yearly/bi-yearly BBQ.

  7. #7
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    I have to say I'm against the idea of accepting commercial sponsors.

    Once this forum is funded by sponsors, we would be beholden to them. We would owe it to them to get as many hits as possible. We would lose control. I don't think I'm a control freak but the prevailing forum culture in Singapore now is such that there's completely no control. Members post whatever they like and moderators rarely reproach them.

    I've been on the internet longer than most and the thing I know is that many Singaporeans have to be educated on forum netiquette. Many have been spoilt by the lackadaisical attitude in other forums so they think its perfectly alright to write in Singlish/sms language, quote messages in full, ask beginner questions before doing any research on their own and engage in private conversations of no interest to anyone in a public forum.

    On the APD where I cut my teeth, you rarely find such behaviour.

    I hate to say this but I think culturally, we still have a long way to go before we can catch up with the folks in more advanced nations. If we weren't so backward, there wouldn't have been a need for laws to tell us to flush public toilets and not to litter. Up till this day, people still stand right in front of the doors of MRT trains blocking the way out and young people refuse to give up their seats to old folks and pregnant women. Economically, we are amongst the top few nations in the world but culturally, we are still far behind.

    I will never allow commercial postings in this forum even if they do not interfere with general discussions. Either we set up a committee and the money comes from voluntary contributions or I will continue to fund this forum from my own pocket. There can't be any other way.

    Loh K L

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