Input on the future of Orientaldancer.net

Salome

Administrator
The future of OD.net has come up for me, now, because we are moving hosts. I would like your feedback while I think on what to do. Migrating and hosting multiple cpanels costs more $. That is one consideration. The other is that the navigation on that site is jacked up! Dead, missing and whatever... Thirdly, I don't want fool around with uploading html pages to add content or edit (do people even do that anymore?). The layout change years ago got abandoned so half the site is one way and half another. In short, there is a lot wrong with it.

But.

Most of the content I want to keep.
I do want to keep the url.

I was thinking about adding the articles to the ibellydance.net site and domain forwarding.

Or was thinking about adding the articles to the forum in a library type section.

Or getting some kind of presto web builder and just starting 'fresh'.

Thoughts?
 

Shanazel

Super Moderator
That's all pretty technical for my brain. I'd do what ever was simplest, cheapest, and still allows you to keep valuable content. We're semi-retired and on limited income, but I can probably chip in a bit if that would help.
 

Zorba

"The Veiled Male"
I didn't know orientaldancer.net still existed. I associated that URL with an earlier incarnation of this forum...
Didn't know about iBellydance either! I guess I don't get out much.
My opinion, worth exactly what you paid for it, is to put it all under ONE domain. My choice would be orientaldancer.net - which was how it was originally *I* *think*, and put a redirect on the other two.
*shrug*
Whatever works - anything to keep it from being sucked into the black hole of FB!
 

Greek Bonfire

Well-known member
I didn't know orientaldancer.net still existed. I associated that URL with an earlier incarnation of this forum...
Didn't know about iBellydance either! I guess I don't get out much.
My opinion, worth exactly what you paid for it, is to put it all under ONE domain. My choice would be orientaldancer.net - which was how it was originally *I* *think*, and put a redirect on the other two.
*shrug*
Whatever works - anything to keep it from being sucked into the black hole of FB!
I clicked on this site and was informed it expired.
 

Ariadne

Well-known member
I've given it a lot of thought and I think Zorba is right. It's best to have it all on one site and just use redirects if there are other domain names you want to keep.

The only "presto web builder " I'm familiar with is wix and I don't know how they handle forums. You might be able to build it from scratch and just add in the current forum. No idea. But I've built a few web sites in Wix and it is very user friendly.
 
I'm late to the discussion, but I would definitely advise putting it all on one site. No question. Bigger is better.

As I'm sure you know, you need to rank well on Google if you want your website to do well. Google chooses websites based on five things:
  1. Size:. The bigger your website, the better - it can't be too big. If that makes it hard to navigate, you can use sub-domains or sub-folders.
  2. Age: if you are combining several websites, the "age" thing means you should probably pick the oldest domain name - but check item 3.
  3. Popularity: If you have one site that has always received more visitors, it's better to pick that domain name instead.
  4. Freshness: It's important to add new material to the site - even if it's just one post - at least once a month.
  5. Compliance with Google's policies: That means you need a security certificate (that means https:// not just http://), a privacy policy page, and a "contact me" page.
Note that if you don't meet the requirements for #5, you'll be blacklisted regardless of what you do with the rest.

Also note the requirement for freshness. That's why it can be a good idea to have forums with your other site, too, because forum posts count as new material. However, forums everywhere are dying out - people tend to use the Facebook page for discussion which is then linked to the website.
 
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Oops, I forgot to mention: if you are going to start afresh, I certainly don't recommend using a "website builder" from a hosting company.

Some of them seem very good, but the problem is that they are all different. If you build a website with GoDaddy or Wix or Weebly and then decide they're charging you to much, you can't transfer it to a new host. You can move the domain, but you'll have to redesign the whole site from scratch.

Instead, use Wordpress. If you just need a basic website with images and posts, then sign up at Wordpress.com for the Personal plan. It will do everything you need and you won't have to worry about maintenance and updating software ever again.

If you want to do more sophisticated stuff, like an online store etc, then you can either upgrade to a higher plan at Wordpress.com, OR move your site to a hosting company. The great thing is that because your site is built on the Wordpress software, you can transfer it to any hosting company you like with the minimum of fuss.

I should say, transferring sites like that is what I do for a living and it would be rare for it to cost more than $250. However if you have some basic knowledge, you should be able to do it yourself and I'd be happy to help you out with some free advice
 

Zorba

"The Veiled Male"
However, forums everywhere are dying out - people tend to use the Facebook page for discussion which is then linked to the website.
No, no, no, no, and NO!

Rosey of Bhuz recited this mantra when she closed it down - and it was wrong then and its wrong now! I have a lot of interests and am on a TON of forums - and they're all THRIVING !

Except Belly Dance forums.

Why? Two fold, as I see it. 1) Belly Dance is in one of its periodic nadirs right now, and 2) Yes, facesuck. That site was created for teenagers and low 20 somethings, and the vast majority of Belly Dancers are indeed of the younger crowd.

I won't bore everybody (again) with yet another one of my infamous rants about "that site" - I'll just say that "I know better" and will exit the Internet before I'll darken the door of facesuck, TWITter, or sites like them. More people are waking up to this reality every day...
 

Tourbeau

Member
[Drifting OT...] I'm not active on Facebook, either, but I can see why belly dancers gravitated toward it. There is a lot of networking involved in running classes and events, and promoting yourself for gigs. FB gave you an integrated platform. Promote yourself for free! Upload your videos! Keep your friends and students informed for very little effort!

What I don't understand is why dancers who migrated to FB created closed communities that excluded so many other dancers. You could lurk on the big dance forums (maybe you were a noob, maybe you were too famous to want it known you were hanging out online, whatever), but you can't lurk on a closed FB group without outing yourself enough to join. It's hard to find events when you don't know who you have to friend to see them. Everybody complains about the timeline structure, yet they keep coming back. FB is a mishmash of informational chaos and cliques. I liked the old forums (and the even older MEDlist) better.

P.S. I'm not sure what the average age is now. I heard at one point it was close to 40, but I don't know how you'd even begin to calculate it anymore. I suspect you still see a lot of over-30s in classes in the US, but how would you know how many younger dancers are trying to teach themselves off YouTube? How much does a changing international demographic shift the numbers? (30 years ago China's MED segment was much smaller than it is today.)

P.P.S. I think we've been lucky that most of the coverage this week didn't focus of Shakira's mad belly dance skillz at the Super Bowl. She helped usher in the last popularity wave, but I can't even...those hard, crazy, popping, locking moves she does...NO. I'm glad they were talking about her tongue and her Latin dancing instead.
 

Zorba

"The Veiled Male"
Shakira and Jlo were fantastic!

I don't understand, at the very least, why Belly Dancers would gravitate towards "that site" when it is a CLOSED UNIVERSE, and despite its popularity, it is still a minority of people in the world who are on it. Its almost like a religion - the dance scene here in Florida runs on it for sure (and I'm not the only one here who is a refusenik either). Dancers in what was my part of California tend to use list-servs of one sort or another for inter-dancer communications - pretty much everyone has email so that works, although I was responsible for closing the loop with one dancer who did not.

Its a toxic cesspool as far as I'm concerned - I won't even permit links from there to my site! Long story, but it was a thorn in my side before it became what it is now, and was just restricted to 5 or 6 college campuses.
 
No, no, no, no, and NO!

Rosey of Bhuz recited this mantra when she closed it down - and it was wrong then and its wrong now! I have a lot of interests and am on a TON of forums - and they're all THRIVING !
The question is, how do you know they're thriving? Are they really active and attracting new members all the time, or are they kept alive by a dedicated team of existing members who post frequently? I'm on a few forums myself and while I still have a good time on them and am kept busy posting and replying to posts, I have to admit they're a shadow of their former selves.

The problem with Bhuz was that the database had got so huge (for a number of reasons) that it would've been costing a fortune to keep it running - and it wasn't producing enough income to justify the work involved. It's tough trying to make money from a forum, especially if most members are long-established and no longer click on the ads (if there are any).

Often, people keep forums running as a labour of love, but that can wear thin. Other people keep them running because they see them as part of promoting their main business - but these days, forums don't feature prominently on search engines so they're much less effective than other avenues.
 

Zorba

"The Veiled Male"
The "Thriving" forums have new folks coming in pretty much constantly - facesuck hasn't managed to kill the entire Internet (yet). Its pretty remarkable to *me* that Belly Dance is the only interest of mine that is joined at the hip with "that site" and has exactly one forum that struggles. I'm sure there are other interests with similar issues, but they're not among mine. There are firearms forums beyond number - I belong to several and they're all at least doing well, if not "crazy well" - and I don't and can't belong to even half of them! There are several forums relating to collectible sewing machines, some are slow, others doing well with lots of new users. There are at least 3 piano forums that thrive, any number of Pagan forums, Macintosh computer forums, etc, etc.

There are other "generic platforms" for forums that aren't facesuck or other (so-called) "social media" sites that are considerably healthier to be on - if/when a given forum costs too much and can't support itself. I agree, you're not going to make money off of forums! "Groups.io" is apparently one such - I don't know a whole lot about it, other than a couple of sewing machine groups transferred there when yahoo groups "went away". Seems to work well, I use it in the listserv (email) mode. The move was made after discussion among the members, pretty much everyone agreed "anything but facesuck!".

Bhuz could have trimmed their database - but they didn't and look where it got them. Purge in-active members, and "roll off" old messages at intervals that make sense. That's the way we did it in the 1970s and 80s running BBS systems, it would have never occurred to us to keep users forever whether they logged in or not, and messages auto deleted themselves after 90 days! Probably too short a period in this day and age, but a couple of years is reasonable. I think the BBS I ran dumped inactive users if they hadn't logged in in six months - if I remember correctly. Nobody's gonna search the old messages anyway, delete them!

How I miss usenet...
 

Shanazel

Super Moderator
Pattern Review is going great guns. The motorcycle forum I belong to is quieter than it used to be, partially because of FB, partially because of hard feelings leftover from a divorce that kinda divided the membership, and partially because people are getting into their 60s and 70s and not riding so much any more. The pagan forum is pretty quiet. The gardening forum is all but moribund, and that is due to FB for sure. Lots of faces that used to come here show up on FB. Truly, we're so quiet that I wonder Salome keeps the forum going. She said once it was dear to her heart and she'd worked very hard to keep it up and running. Maybe she's kinda fond of us, too.

Heaven knows we're not getting many legitimate requests for membership. Can't recall the last time I came across someone whose email or IPP (did I get the initials right?) isn't listed a dozen or a hundred times on the spam check program. I live in fear I will accidentally reject a genuine person, and I do hope they will let me know if I do so I can remedy the mistake.

Belly dance has gyrated (ahem) toward contests, video clips, theme performances, muscle gymnastics, Lycra costumes, wildly unsuitable music, and wholesale emoting over props that range from scimitars to cattle skulls decorated with black candles (no, I am not making that up). People are too busy expressing their authentic selves to worry about appropriate vocabulary or music or history. I understand that styles evolve, but the baby got thrown out with the bathwater about the time Shakira decided to make BD her thing. People give her credit for interesting new students, but in my experience, those folks didn't want to study belly dance- they wanted to study how to be Shakira, and I don't know how to teach that. Some stayed and learned to dance. Others decided it was more work than they expected and disappeared.

Okay. Rant over. 🏳☮
 

Zorba

"The Veiled Male"
Ok, give! "Cattle skulls decorated with black candles..." - I wanna see and/or hear more!

But I feel your pain - we have newbies show up fairly frequently who have ZERO idea of how hard this dance form is (and Goddess knows I myself *STILL* have my "issues" even after 19 years!). Most of them are around for a class or three, then disappear. Right now we have two that seem to be staying the course - maybe even three.

I call my instructor "Miss Anatomy" as she can tell EXACTLY what muscles I'm using - she's bound and determined to work the (slight) twist out of my Maias, and the (grossly huge) twist out of my Gooshies! She has her work cut out for her...

I reject several SPAM memberships a day. The term you're looking for is "IP Address" - it means "Internet Protocol Address".
 

Tourbeau

Member
Here are a couple of other factors to throw into the mix...

The online MED community has had some bullying issues. I can see how it would be tempting to flounce to FB and set up your own closed group if you felt the moderator of a forum you participated in wasn't responsive enough to your concerns. By the same rationale, I assume there are FB groups that fulfill the purpose of some of the more notorious shadow sites by allowing the "mean girls" to gather and hate on other dancers with impunity.

As intellectual quality began to migrate to FB, Bhuz started to deteriorate into just a costume resale site. Dancers who wanted to talk shop found fewer folks to do it with, and dancers who wanted costumes without the overhead that Bhuz introduced to help cover their costs found Bhuz wasn't as good a place to buy and sell as it had been, so they went elsewhere, too. Bhuz sort of doomed itself.

Forums cost time and money to run. If you want a quality experience (good conversation, control over bad behavior) with little or no cost, I suppose many dancers are willing to compromise with FB and their weaker system for having and archiving conversations.

I'm curious...Moderators, is there much lurking here, or are we all the action going on? Have all of the users from when this forum was thriving disowned it, or are some hanging around like ghosts in the background?
 

Shanazel

Super Moderator
Flounce is a great word, both as noun and verb. Still, for every person who flounced, there is at least one other person who drifted away from belly dance all together, either due to physical challenges or changing interests. Over the years we also lost one or two members following direct attacks by persons who flounced after it was suggested their attacks on others were out of line. We also lost a couple of truly interesting people who perceived attacks where none were intended.

I'm curious...Moderators, is there much lurking here, or are we all the action going on? Have all of the users from when this forum was thriving disowned it, or are some hanging around like ghosts in the background?

There are a reasonable supply of lurkers now and again, but I don't know which or how many of them are oldies. I also don't know which or how many of them are potential spammers checking out potential new grounds for mischief. I just wish the good lurkers were as willing to apply for membership as the spammers are.
 
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