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A Request for Cake

Although we didn’t say much about it at the time, this new version of the SF website was launched to more-or-less coincide with our fifth birthday. Over that not-inconsiderable period the majority of our efforts have been aimed at improving our species database to include information, and indeed species, that don’t tend to be covered in depth elsewhere on the web.

While we think we’ve done a decent job so far, particularly in terms of fishes from Asian waters, there’s something we feel is missing.

You see, SF was set up as a fish-keeping website first-and-foremost, but in these last 5 years locked away in a darkened cellar writing species profiles we’ve become older and less cool, and now we’re feeling lonely.

The upshot is that we’d like to re-engage our existing community and make the site more accessible for everyone, experienced hobbyist or otherwise.

So what are you going to do about it?

Well, we want the site to become a useful and friendly resource and community for all levels of hobbyist, and in order to achieve that a few changes are in order.  Never kept a fish? No problem – some of our content going forward will definitely be of interest, while we’ll continue to feature plenty of stuff for more experienced aquarists as well.

Over the coming weeks and months there’ll be more blogs, articles, and news posts about keeping fish in aquaria, many of which will be written by experts in the field including contributors to ‘Practical Fishkeeping’ and ‘Tropical Fish Hobbyist’ magazines, plus other well-known authors. More on this shortly, but submissions from site members will also be welcomed.

We’re also going to be showcasing new aquarium products and maybe even giving a few away if people are nice to us (hint – we like cake).

The uptake on our new Q&A section has been slower than expected so we’d like to develop a ‘New Aquarium/Beginners’ area that everyone’s happy with. We’re still a bit stumped about what people might prefer, though. Should we rebrand the existing Q&A and run it in conjunction with a forum, or just omit the former section entirely?

Either way, we’d very much appreciate some feedback in the comments section below, on our Facebook page, or by tweeting us a message @seriouslyfish.

Over the next few days we’ll be merging and renaming a few forums too which will hopefully encourage growth and an improved ‘community’ feel.

Why those &%$# new adverts?

The reason is very simple; the site costs money to host and run meaning we’ve invested a significant amount of our own cash to date without ever making a penny in return. The point has been reached where we feel unable to continue with this unsustainable approach, and we apologise to our former ‘sponsors’ that free advertising space is no longer available. We also hope the presence of these ads won’t detract from the site as a whole.

The new ads are administrated by Google and the links are therefore secure. We have limited control over the categories on display, however, so if you find something offensive, please let us know and we’ll remove it immediately. If you don’t want to see them at all we recommend installing a browser extension such as AdBlock.

That said, by clicking the ads you’re making an essential donation to our hosting costs so even if not interested in the content please try to do so occasionally since this will help keep SF free and open access for everyone.


The SF Team

Category: Announcements, News | Tags: , , , | 7 comments »

7 Responses to “A Request for Cake”

  • Eyrie

    I’d go with the suggestion of merging Q&A into a “New Aquarium/Beginner’s Section”. Keeps everything in the one place.

  • I agree Eyrie, but the Q&A section only really has one feature: asking questions which can be answered authoritatively. There’s nowhere to just post pictures of an aquarium for instance, and it’s stuff like that which gives you the community feel.

    I’ve got a couple of ideas to improve the section’s functionality but we need to work out how we can make it generally more useful too.

  • So better to concentrate the info into a section in the forum or modify Q&A into a stand-alone thing?

  • Eyrie

    I think Q&A is an alternative format to a forum, and there’s nothing there that can’t be answered authoritatively on the forums. Indeed the questions would get more responses.

    Surely the Media forum is the best place to share pics of aquaria and discuss them?

  • Rüdiger

    Good day to all.
    Just a couple of pennies worth of my (limited) wisdom.
    I totally agree that adverts are essential to keep what is in my humble opinion the best fishkeeping site & forum on the net up and running. Since these ads are restricted to one little square at the top of the pages, I don’t find them distracting or annoying at all. Anyway, by now one has learned to more or less ignore them on countless other platforms (but I will click on at least one of them once a day, PROMISE!!!).
    I also agree that it is a good idea to open up to less experienced fishkeepers and beginners in the hobby and add a bit more of the mentioned “community feel”. However, one should not ignore the dangers going hand in hand with such a step. Too many platforms have degraded to a forum for shouting matches, misinformation and the wildest fairytales, spread by people who haven’t kept a single fish ever.
    I don’t know if it is really important what name a begginers section will have in the end. Maybe it’s more important to come up with suggestions how to prevent such a scenario to happen to SF.
    I’d really regrett to lose the only forum of which I am still a member to a bunch of hooligans and 54 liter terrorists.

  • The idea behind Q&A was to reward users for helping each other and is based on the ever-successful StackExchange websites. Also, it allowed us to award points for “well formed” questions and answers, hopefully encouraging a certain level of quality. I could possibly integrate a more basic point system on the forums (beginner area only, possibly?) however, so maybe that’s our answer. I’m personally gutted it didn’t take off, I spent a *large* number of hours developing the Q&A software from a really basic and poor plugin (which, additionally, I paid for!).

    Rüdiger, I say – without any shadow of doubt – that our forums would never descend to the level you’ve described. I think we’ve all seen forums like that (one of the very reasons we started SF was because the three of us were active on a forum which had, indeed, wound its way down to majority off-topic and senseless discussions) but between Matt, myself and our regular forum users it simply wouldn’t be allowed. I do believe there’s a balance to be found though; one distinction I’m really keen to make is that not all beginners are idiots and it concerns me that this seems to be a fairly prevalent theme in certain echelons of fishkeeping. I’m effectively a beginner compared to most of our forum users, but I wouldn’t class myself as an idiot (although others might ;)). I think it’s really important that all of the users on our website communicate clearly, but in my opinion it’s wrong to exclude any given group of users. I don’t use our forums because the level of discussion is generally too advanced for me to engage with, and though I wouldn’t want to change the existing discussions, I’d like to add lower level discussion that a higher quantity of users can enjoy and participate in. Lower level in terms of the fishkeeping being discussed, but that certainly isn’t an excuse for lower quality discussion.

    Regardless, I don’t think any of these changes will detrimentally impact the high-level, quality discussion we have on SF so don’t worry about it just yet 🙂 If you have concerns in the future, Matt and I will obviously be happy to talk them through with you.

  • Rüdiger

    Hi Duncan.
    I entirely agree with you on the “beginners” topic as I think becomes obvious when one has a look my participation especially on “beginners” questions. Even old fossils like myself have once started with the hobby and I believe it imperative to share ones knowledge to help avoiding mistakes that would be detrimental to the wellbeing of animals we are caring for. And there’s stiil a whole world out there we fossils can and have to learn about and learn from.
    I just had to voice that concern but trust that SF will be safe in the future. 😉

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