Editorial: Website versus Facebook
Posted by harris, 04 June 2012 · 919 views
Editorial Website webmaster facebook
Over the last year or so I've gotten a lot of feedback and comments about the slowing of posting on paddling related forums (not our forum exclusively), the actual use the website has and the rise of Facebook and other social media sources as the culprit.
This is tremendously agitating.
I use Facebook a lot. I also am a daily reader of countless forums (a number of them paddling related). When used and used properly, a traditional forum is a vastly superior community tool than Facebook, Twitter and texting. A community forum, like a real community - will only deliver back on what you put into it.
Allow me to entertain you with an example - picture the GKC website as a real, physical club house. A place you can drop in, talk to people in the club, ask questions, discuss life, events and paddling plans, look for advice or mentoring, read the bulletin board, share pictures, buy membership or gear - all day, every day. People who are interested in the club can stop in, knowing that this is where it all happens and where they can with a degree of certainty get access to our club resources. People who aren't necessarily in the club or interested can pop by and listen to what is happening with us and perhaps read a post-it note that the river level is up and join us for a paddle. All we ask for is people to respect our rules and unless they want to join - can even share in our discussions with relative anonymity.
Enter Facebook. It is a large, trendy, big box store that opened up around the corner a bunch of years back - started out just being popular with the kids and now even your grandma can be seen going in the door now and again. Pretty much everyone you know hangs out there at least a few times a day and you are reminded of this every time you walk in - people are showing you pictures, telling you jokes, sharing lame cat websites without you even asking. There's always a lot of paddlers hanging around and some even have decided to sit down at some tables and use that to organize their community. It's quick to just pop in and see if something is happening - but when you go there you can never tell what has happened more than a day or so ago, there doesn't seem to be any top down organization - and everyone is talking at once.
Maybe a bad analogy, but hope you get my point.
Top 5 Reasons (and counting) that a community website is much more effective than Facebook:
- It's Facebook. THEY dictate the RULES, the PRIVACY, the SECURITY, the INTERFACE, the ADVERTISING and ultimately the direction of OUR COMMUNITY. With our website we can determine how much, if any of our data is available to the public (including but not limited to search engines). We have security access groups, our own look, our own community guidelines and you will not see ads for Kitchener singles pop-up on the side. If God forbid Facebook disappeared or it was no longer the big kid on the block - we don't lose EVERYTHING.
- The general public (including but not exclusively paddlers), should not have to join Facebook to be part of our online community. I would never want or want to ask a person to have to commit themselves to Facebook in order to read and contribute. I use Facebook but I know a lot of people that don't and don't ever plan on using it.
- Having our own website and our own domain name(s) gives us worldwide visibility. It allows for anyone in the world to see that we are the best club in South Western Ontario and that we are dedicated enough to our community that we don't need to use a 3rd party solution to prop it up.
- Forum software is infinitely more useful and scalable to larger and longer standing communities. Facebook is simply not designed to facilitate larger groups for more than casual needs. If people post trip reports, beta, gear reviews, have debates - you want to be able to search or quickly navigate to these. If there was a heated discussion about something a year ago - you want to be able to instantly find it. You also want other people to be able to find your content and visit without having to be on Facebook.
- We have the opportunity to grow and contribute to our community and foster it into something that will absolutely suit all of our needs.