Nexus of activity

I’ve recently started taking a more active role in the Atheist Nexus (A|N for short from now on) which has recently reached 2200 members.

It all started when I decided to promote Get Satisfaction as a better place for support than the fora. Brother Richard picked it up and after some discussion and simple coding, we implemented it on the sidebar and started urging people to use it. I took the admin role in it and that was my trigger to take a more active role in the whole thing.

So currently there’s a few things going on. First of all, there is a new group for people who want to volunteer for the improvement of the Nexus. Currently they are just asking who wants to participate (in the various categories( but they’re not doing anything specific. My fear is that if they don’t step up and start asking for specific things to do, people are just going to lose interest. I’ve voiced my concerns and ideas on it but all I can do at the moment is wait for further news.

To tell the truth, I think it’s wrong to wait for instructions from “higher up”. We all know how disorganised and argumentative Atheists are so expecting them to take orders is a recipe for failure. We need to employ a way to use that to our advantage. My idea is that we should have a very decentralized concept of organization. People should be free to do what they wish to promote, help and expand the nexus. We should be promoting creativity unbound and ways to allow people to do absolutely what they want, how they want in order to build their networks or their projects. All that the nexus should be doing is serving as the hub and now and then giving the necessary sparks of activity to jump-start more of these.

At the moment unfortunately there’s only discussions in the fora going on, which is not very different than a regular message board like the Internet Infidels. While this is all well and good, it does not provide anything new or exciting and unless something more social or unique is created soon, people will stop bothering, especially since the forum engine is not the best I’ve seen.We need to start doing exciting stuff while iron is still hot!

I have an idea on what might make the Nexus stand out from all the other social networks and I’ve taken a first step by starting a group on it and I have had a moderate interest in it but I need more solid tools in order to make it work. The basic group options are just not sufficient.

Last thing I’ve been trying to have is to open the A|N to search crawlers and have it indexed in order to increase the SEO and discoverability. The others seem not to agree so much with my idea mostly because there is a general feeling of persecution going on (understandably in some cases). However having the A|N private does not provide any more security and it still stops people from linking to it. Anyone following a link to forum discussion or whatnot, will end up on a wall asking him to register and few would take the hassle, especially if they are not atheists. Thus, any interesting discussion outcomes or whatnot, are effectively closed off.

Another thing that I did manage to arrange from there is to discover more Atheists who use Twitter. I’ve started following most of the ones that I knew of and I’ve found that it is a good way to have some quick answers or conversations. I suggest that if you use twitter, add the rest of us and if you know other Atheists on it, tag them so that we can find them.

Anyway, currently there is still a lot of activity at the A|N but I have already noticed that most people who registered at the start don’t even bother logging in anymore. Hell, we’ve got 2k members and I can only ever see about a dozen or two online at any one time. I only hope that this will not die out before it even gets off the ground.

Get some satisfaction

No, this is not an advert for an online “adult” chat room but rather about my newest discovery in the internetubes two-point-zero.  I discovered Get Satisfaction (GS from now on) from a PMOG mission and I immediately thought that this is a very useful tool, especially for all these places where they have message boards as the end-all of support.

The thing is, a forum is a wonderful tool but its main function is to handle discussions, instead of the whole range of features user support requires. For example, I always disliked the way most fora handled suggestion requests as I could never tell when and if my suggestion was liked, by how many people, if any developers saw it, if they liked it, worked on it etc, unless people commented or unless I started a vote.

However with the usual laziness of the internet, having to write something is generally not done very often, especially if that entails registering to yet another forum and having to say something more than “+1” or “I agree”.

Which is why I love the fact that in GS I can use the same account to report problems, ask questions and propose ideas. I can track all my conversations from the same central point and, this is this feature that I really love, you can “vote up” a topic that interests you, which gives the company behind the product a better understanding of how many people have the same issue or want the same feature.

I’ve already opened companies and products for stuff I use and I cannot find a support channel for, or that support channel is too limited (like a very simple forum). People representing those companies can at any time join and take over the channel which will give them some additional control like add new keywords to Overheard, another feature that I start to like a lot.

By subscribing to the Overheard stream of the products I like, I can now sit back and just wait until my feed reader notifies me that someone has mentioned the product name on twitter. If that twit is a question or a problem, I can jump in and provide some help if possible.

Oh, did I mention that GS has some great RSS feeds to subscribe to? Feed for new topics, feed for lifestream, feed for overheard etc. For someone like me who likes to get his information on a plate, it’s a gift, especially since almost all forums don’t support RSS topics.

So, yeah, here’s where I’ve been wasting my time lately. But of course it hasn’t been totally a waste as through GS main page (where anything new passes) I’ve managed to discover some quite cool products to try out. Specifically I’ve discovered Intense Debate which I’ve already liked enough to add to all three of my Blogs.

And before I forget, it’s a cool feature that you can check how many problems a product has at any point by visiting the GS page. Once they implement a solid feature to see how many of them have been solved as well, it would be a great way to tell how problematic a product is.

And finally, the main reason why I like it so much is because I finally have a place to vomit out my ideas for product improvements which otherwise get lost in the void 🙂