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Is this website obsolete?


AKcoyote
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A recent post by samurman, along with a discussion among the staff a few weeks ago, got me wondering if possibly websites like this one are becoming redundant and obsolete as a way for like minded individuals to communicate and establish a sense of community.

 

Are blogs and social networking sites like Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, etc taking over a function that used to be satisfied by sites like the Fur Den?

 

Or is the reduced level of discussion and contribution here in the last couple of years due to other factors?

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I am a member of several other websites.

 

One of them is a community of people who build and collect and shoot rifles for hunting, target shooting and self-defense. At this moment there are nearly 2500 users on-line reading the site.

 

Another is a group for Teddy Bear collectors and artists. There are a dozen users reading that site right now.

 

I don't think web forums are becoming obsolete. I think there are so many of them that it is difficult to attract members and keep them active.

 

Personally, I don't watch television. I use the internet for leisure time activity in place of watching television.

For about $40 per month I get broadband internet access 24 hours per day. I don't have to pay nearly $100 per month for cable TV or satellite TV. I can do or watch what I want, almost any time I want, plus I can use the internet to do useful things do research, buy products on-line and a whole host of things that TV isn't capable of doing.

 

I do not use sites like Twitter or Facebook. The signal-to-noise ratio is too high.

If I want to talk about how to make my rifle shoot as accurately as possible or if I want to talk about where to buy the best Teddy Bears or if I want to talk about what kind of fur is best, I DO NOT want to have to wade through tons and tons of messages from a bunch of idiots chattering the latest gossip about Jessica Simpson or Michael Jackson. I want to talk about the things I'm interested in.

 

Yes, I often like to chat about off-topic things but only with other like-minded individuals with whom I already have some sort of relationship with.

 

Further, studies have shown that the mean age of users of sites like Twitter and Facebook are dropping.

Five years ago, the average age was 20 to 25 years old. Now the average age is between 15 and 20. Some sites have an even lower average.

I'm not saying that I don't like kids but, frankly, I don't want to socialize with them after a long day of work. They don't have the same priorities as I do. They don't have the knowledge that adults do. As much fun as it is to occasionally banter with people younger than I am, it is not very fulfilling.

 

I am a member of Facebook but I only go there, maybe, once per month when somebody else invites me to see their page. I am not a member of Twitter at all, nor do I think I would ever want to be.

 

I think one reason participation at the Fur Den is low is because there is such a narrowly defined population of people who are interested in what we talk about here.

 

Another reason, I think, is because many people, even fur lovers, still have a feeling like fur is taboo. Therefore, they are more likely to be passive viewers than active participants.

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Are blogs and social networking sites like Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, etc taking over a function that used to be satisfied by sites like the Fur Den?

 

Personally (for me!), no. The sites you have listed I would call "Lite" and lack the depth/richness of sites like the Den.

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As kind of the one people see as the owner here I would love to hear comments on this indeed from everyone. I really hope that a few people who just come and view and do not post would take the time to reply as well. It is so hard to know. Are the forums doing what people want them to? We have a huge number of people now viewing our wiki Library. (Remember that includes links.) We have just as many or more people visiting our Gallery due to the high quality of photos there mainly due to Moderator OFF's work.

 

I will try to comment on this later but I would really love to have everyone's opinion on this subject first. Whether you have posted a little before, or a lot, or, whether you have never posted on another subject it is very important that you give us your ideas on this subject.

 

Thanks all

 

W

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WF, I think the Den is unique. I visit the Den and FFG on a regular basis. Each has strengths/weaknesses. I visit FFG primarily for the photos (always looking for inspiration) and visit the Den primarily for "content" (I think the quality of discussion on the Den is often a step above what you find on FFG, due in large part to active participation by several of the mods). So, if ever in doubt that the Den is needed ... Banish the thought!

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I am extremely disappointed in the lack of participation in this thread though. Though I tend to agree somewhat, this thread points directly and unequivocally to the opposite. That no one here thinks enough of forums in general to want to bother to even write a line in their defense really tells us a lot. I am not saying that we should take the forums down tomorrow. But, the fact that no one even wants to reply to a post like this really points a black picture.

 

I do tend to agree with your "content" comment. Just because of the number of people using the Library so often really points to that. And of course the other main forum is XXX oriented.

 

I don't think this is just this site. For instance Mikhail's has had 9 posts in a month, and 5 are by one member. Another site that we do not mention here has similar numbers. FFG has had more but they are down as well.

 

People of course do change. For instance - ten years ago the woodworking hobby was so very strong. And today it is falling into total oblivion along with many of the hobbies that people had just a short time ago.

 

Let's hope that this thread's pointing to that is not indicative of what is to come.

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I have no idea what percentage of the Denizenship visits this particular forum, but I would guesstimate fewer than 50% visit on a semi-regular basis. Perhaps the response rate may have been higher on the main forum (?). Just a thought.

 

Again, please do not get too discouraged. I lurked here for a couple years before I started posting on anything remotely resembling a regular basis.

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I have held back posting on this subject to let members do their thing.

 

I think JG has a very good point. One I have expressed a number of times. I was one like that when I first came here too.

 

One would hope otherwise but in time many members will post.

 

OFF

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Are blogs and social networking sites like Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, etc taking over a function that used to be satisfied by sites like the Fur Den?

 

After a bit of thought, I might consider these "feeder" sites to an extent (building off my earlier "Lite" comment). Millions visit these sites and if they run across fur-related areas and are keenly interested in furs and want to learn more they may do a quick web search and find ... FFG - Which almost always shows up before the Den on Google searches. Hey, they gotta start somewhere. True fur fiends will have the stickwithit required to discover the glories of the Den.

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I don't think this is just this site. For instance Mikhail's has had 9 posts in a month, and 5 are by one member

 

Wow, I had not visited Mikhail's in many months, not a lot of activity since my last visit. It is a shadow of its former self.

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Thanks for posting LoveFur2...

 

You have no idea how much it means to me to hear from folks like you!

 

And JG... Yes indeed. I was hoping it would "speed up" come fall, but didn't. Mikhail has done so much for the fur world on the net. I wish people would support him more.

 

W

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I also follow everything here in the den. I posted some time ago, but have nothing to say to all current discussions.

 

For me the den was an "opener" to the world of fur. As I stated before I was a long-time leecher before.

 

So for me there is no alternative to the den

 

(Hope my message was not lost in translation ...)

 

Zaphod_bee

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Well, I should probably visit the Pub more often, since it took me this long to "discover" this thread! I have already expressed some of my thoughts on why and how the activity level in this forum and other online fur communities are dropping in my post on blogs, but let me go over some points at the risk of repeating myself:

 

- Google the great gateway to the internet: For nearly all sites, google is the primary driver of traffic, and if you are not in the first page of a relevant google search for your website, you are losing a lot of potential visitors. Unfortunately, if you google "fur fashion", "fur forum", "fur links" or even "fur fetish", the Fur Den is not in the first page.

 

- I would support an initiative at the fur den to give ads to specific google search terms.

 

- The forum format may be a limiting factor, too. Just like Worker11811 and probably many other members, I follow a number of forums on a diverse range of subjects, from computers and technology to climate change, and after all these years, I am sick and tired of seeing rows of threads on a forum page, then more rows of people's responses in a thread with their avatar on the left, signatures, etc. Maybe it is too imposing. I like the confused character of blogs these days better than forums. There is more variety.

 

- Content is the king on the internet, and it is what makes a website worth visiting. About 10 years ago, bandwidth was limited so fur websites served the useful function of providing fur photos and videos to the community. Remember the tiny GIFs that accompanied the editorials at furs.com? Now, we have youtube, flickr, picasaweb, google, imageshack, photobucket, etc, not to mention the huge fur content at Saga furs, fur-style.com etc. It used to be that for a new fur picture, we could say "it is known" or "it's new" but nowadays, so many new things pop up that it is impossible to devour them all. Fur photos and videos used to take a few hundred megabytes in my computer. I remember spending hours in front of the computer, furiously clicking on picture after picture and saving them into meticulously organized folders. After collecting so many gigabytes, I have stopped counting and organizing, which took so much time that I did not have any left for enjoying them!

 

True, the photo gallery section of the den is impressive now, but it is just a repository of images. It does not count as content proper, at least most of it. Although there is a note to the copyright holders that if they notify the admin about copyright violations, the offending images will be removed, this does not change the fact that most of them will probably not bother. The gallery is not searchable through google images. Heck, so many images in the gallery are not tagged, the model's name and the fur type is not known, and if the image was published in a magazine, we don't have the issue number or the magazine's name.

 

For example, you must all remember Monica Bellucci in a sumptuous sable coat posing with Alain Delon. Now, when I search google images with "Monica Bellucci" "Alain Delon" fur the image I am referring to does not come up in the top 10 results. I go to the den gallery and search with bellucci delon and it does not come up either. I search the den with just bellucci and the image is not found either. I remember that the photo was taken for Annabella Furs in Italy, so I search google images with "monica bellucci" annabella furs and voila! The first image is not the one I was looking for but comes very close. At least it has Monica Bellucci in a fur coat with Alain Delon! The google search points to the following forum page:

http://forums.thefashionspot.com/f50/monica-bellucci-30393-56.html

But the image is hosted at photobucket:

http://media.photobucket.com/image/%252522monica%20bellucci%252522%20annabella%20furs/monicabelluccifan88/Annabella_History21_Page_21.jpg

 

If you go to the fashion blogs, they are mostly rants on the latest fashion shows, on what the celebrities wore yesterday, etc. In this respect, they are not much different than discussions on the fur den. For example, if you go to google and search the terms "Kate Moss" "fur coat" site:thefurden.com you get the related discussions at the fur den, but if you just search "Kate Moss" "fur coat" you don't get fur den links in the top 10 results. Hence, people following the fashion blogs will probably never end up at the fur den, but they will find the blog posts. For example, the following search brings the related blog posts at blogspot.com (there are many other blog sites, but this is the one I follow most): "kate moss" "fur coat" site:blogspot.com

 

But, the fashion blogs have one huge advantage: They also feature a much higher proportion of original content. For example, look at the following post by a 19 year old Dutch girl:

http://toosexy-formyshirt.blogspot.com/2009/01/infamous-fur-vest.html

 

She is beautiful, she writes intelligent posts, and most importantly, she is not afraid of showing her charming personality and lovely smile to the whole world!

 

 

So, it boils down to attracting new people continuously. This requires a constant effort. One of the insights I gained in my recent focus on fashion blogs is that the blog authors really make an effort to promote their blogs. For example, blogspot has a facility to help you "follow" blogs. When you start following a blog, you can see updates to it on through your blogspot (blogger) user page. On the other hand, your little avatar is added to the "followers" list of that blog. The more followers a blog has the more popular it is, so when I check out a new blog, I first look at the number of its followers. Those followed by less than 20 people are blogs with irregular updates and they are more like personal rants, but some blogs are followed by more than a thousand people! (The Dutch girl I have referred to above has 350 followers.) In order to encourage people to "follow" a blog, some blog authors even give away prizes! They may not be worth much, usually around 50 USD, but still, it is real greenbacks these people spend. Sometimes, all you need to do is simply add the blog in question to your list of followed blogs. Sometimes, if the prize is substantial, they ask you to make a posting in your blog, mentioning about the prizes. This means, all the people following your blog will find out about the new blog and its prize!

 

The moral of this story is, maybe the Fur Den should make similar efforts. Some news programs and newspapers have promotional facebook and twitter accounts, so maybe the Fur Den should open similar accounts. Maybe the Fur Den should have a promotional blog! This season, fur vests are all the rage in the fashion blogs. It would be wonderful if the Fur Den blog gave away a gorgeous silver fox fur vest (made from real fur, of course!) as a prize. I am sure it would become an instant sensation in the fashion blogosphere!

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Samurman...

 

Fantastic post, but such a post takes a lot of thinking, rereading, etc. One thing though. You could think of the Den itself as having two types of money. The first is money donated to the site by members. That is used to run the site and buy web space, etc. I doubt that donors would like us to use their money to buy a fur jacket/vest to give away. They would sooner buy that jacket for themselves with that money.

 

The second source might be labeled as "Other sources", and unfortunately our "Other sources" are ZERO. i.e. we have no money from such places. Members have told us that they do not want advertising here and we try to stick to that as best we can. Brandy for instance is allowed to do such as she is in her own area, and any member can decide whether or not they want to go there because of that. Ebay is the same.

 

I am certainly NOT saying no to your ideas that involve financing. And certainly not all do. But, I am saying that it would take some thinking as to how to do such areas. And of course some ideas as mentioned do not involve financing, and those are much easier to comprehend quickly! I would indeed love to know more of your thoughts. I will re read your post a couple of more times before I answer further.

 

W

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Another way to drive traffic to our site is by getting other websites to link to ours.

 

Web crawlers work by going to websites and following every link on each page it comes to. Then it record the URL (address) of each page it finds and makes a list of all the information on that page. This is how, for instance, you can go to http://www.google.com, look up the word "fur" and find the Fur Den.

 

When somebody looks up a word on Google, the search engine prioritizes its answers to any query by using a "relevance" score. One way for the search engine to prioritize its results is to look at the number of websites which link to OTHER sites that contain the words that are being searched.

 

In other words, if somebody goes to Google or Yahoo or any other web search engine and look up the word "fur" the chances of "www.thefurden.com" being listed at the top of the results page is greater if there are more sites which contain links to the "www.thefurden.com."

 

Here is a partial list of a few sites which link to ours:

 

http://www.mrmockle.com/links.html

http://www.lanafurs.com/news/html/index.php

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Allaboutfurs/links/FUR_WEBSITES_AND_FOR_001105112779/

 

http://hedonisticpleasureseeker.wordpress.com/2006/03/22/i-bought-a-fur-coat-today/

http://www.possumnz.com/Fur_Links_51.aspx

http://www.luxury-links.net/browse.php?cat=36

http://forum.doctissimo.fr/doctissimo/Fetichisme/fetichiste-laine-sujet_2614_2.htm

 

http://www.furfashionguide.com

http://handschuhforum.forumcircle.com

http://www.fetishpix.org/

http://wigbl.freeforums.org/

 

If you remember, a couple of years ago we had trouble with our site running slowly because there were web crawlers searching our site and using up all our bandwidth. As it turns out, we got some notoriety on certain websites because of the "Cease and Desist" letter we sent the company that runs the "Twiceler" bot:

 

http://herselfswebtools.com/2008/04/evil-robot-attack-takes-down-and-compromises-websites.html

http://www.thegiant.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=10791

 

In short, if there are 1,000 other websites that link to ours, we have a better chance of ranking toward the top of the list. If there are only a few, our website will appear near the bottom of the list, if at all.

 

In past years, there were dozens of sites which linked to the Fur Den. Our search engine ranking was much higher then. In recent times, the number of "In-Links" to the Fur Den has fallen off. There are between 15 and 20 that I know of. That falloff corresponds almost directly to the falloff we have seen in our rankings in the major search engines.

 

So, if any of you guys out there run blogs or small websites, it would be a big favor to the Fur Den if you would link to our site. That would help us get a better ranking and, hopefully, drive some more traffic our way. If you list us on your website we can also return the favor by linking back to your site from ours.

 

We have a pretty large collection of links, BTW, if you didn't already know:

 

http://vdsden.thefurden.com/fdwiki/?n=Links.HomePage?skin=triad

 

And, finally, if you would like to have post a Fur Den banner on your website, we have several of them already made up for you to use. All you have to do is go to this page and follow instructions:

 

http://vdsden.thefurden.com/fdwiki/?n=Help.FD-banners

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So, if any of you guys out there run blogs or small websites, it would be a big favor to the Fur Den if you would link to our site. That would help us get a better ranking and, hopefully, drive some more traffic our way. If you list us on your website we can also return the favor by linking back to your site from ours.

 

We have a pretty large collection of links, BTW, if you didn't already know:

 

http://vdsden.thefurden.com/fdwiki/?n=Links.HomePage?skin=triad

 

 

Thanks for the very useful information, Worker. One quick note and question: I have just noticed that vdsden.thefurden.com subdomain is not searchable at google?

 

I mean, for example, when I search google with mrmockle site:vdsden.thefurden.com I get nothing, whereas if I search with furden site:mrmockle.com I get Mr. Mockle's links page.

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I don't know whether a whole lot of sites use the whole domain name when they link to us. To my knowledge most use, "www.thefurden.com" If you haven't already guessed, I have access to this sites weblogs and I can tell how people get to the Fur Den, whether they type it in or arrive via a link in another page.

 

How else would I have been able to list a dozen other sites which have in-links to the Fur Den?

 

When Google or any other search engine "crawls" a website and records all the links, it only records what the webmaster or the members actually type as the link. If other people don't use the full "vdsden.thefurden.com" when they write a link Google/Yahoo won't record it.

 

I used to spend more time being the Fur Den's chief "Link Evangelist" but I lost interest and stopped doing it so much. I suppose other people could judiciously slip links to the Fur Den in on their blogs and other web pages.

I wouldn't want to have a whole lot of links to the Fur Den on random pages all over the internet but, if there are sites whose visitors might be interested in the Fur Den's mission, it certainly wouldn't hurt to have a few more links.

 

Like I said, we will return the favor.

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vdsden is a sub-domain that is no longer necessary. It was originally used when we upgraded our hosting server and had to change IP addresses, to distinguish between the old shared server and the current Virtual Dedicated server. The sub-domain still exists in many internal links, and it will take time to find and update all the references.

 

For most purposes, thefurden.com functions identically to vdsden.thefurden.com as the domain portion of a URL.

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Samurman...

 

I still need to study your message further, but one thing keeps coming to mind as I think of it. At the moment I think we are all kind of "Whipped here". By that I mean that the blog idea as a part of our site here is probably agreat idea. I am not sure that it would be a blog in the true sense of the word if I catching you correctly. A true blog in my mind at least is a site belonging to someone saying "I am doing this today and going to do that tomorrow. Please comment if you like." But blogs have been gradually becoming more like you are describing.

 

If someone would like to take that idea and bring it further, and become a staff member here and become responsible for that it would be tremendous. Two other fur sites at least have them. Probably more. ANd there is no reason why we should not. It is just that I for instance should have been adding a whole lot of info to the Library and Links in the last month. But have been just too busy and tired to do it. i.e. if I for instance was responsible for a new area it would just not get done. And most other present staff members are the same. Even AK is kept pretty busy on the technical end.

 

It would take some organization, etc. But is certainly a worth while project. And I would encourage it if you or anyone else wanted to bring it further.

 

Again, I intend to read further but have just not had the chance yet. I'll comment further later.

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We could definitely add blogging software to this website for members to use. At this time, I am thinking WordPress (http://wordpress.org/) might be a reasonable choice.

 

But first, I for one, would like to hear some additional opinions on the subject.

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WF and friends,

 

I think in order to answer the question "Is this website obsolete?" we first need to ask ourselves what the main purpose of this website is. If the main purpose is to be a place where fur lovers from all over the world can come together and share their passion, the Fur Den and other online fur communities have achieved this in an excellent way. Every day, every year, new people "discover" these communities and join them. I personally envy the younger members of the community, who did not have to wait for years for this great thing called internet to be discovered and then become widely accessible. But then, it does not follow logically that once fur lovers have congregated in this platform, they will keep posting thoughtful and funny posts, share their fur experiences, upload photos and then comment on them, etc. In short, being the fur lover's meeting place does not guarantee that they will "contribute."

 

If someone loves the furs but has not yet discovered the Fur Den, it is only a matter of time that he or she will. We don't have to make too much of an effort here.

 

Now, if you also would like to connect with ordinary women (and men), who are interested in fashion, who for various reasons have never worn furs, and who may be convinced that fur is wonderful IF you reach out to them, then this is an entirely different matter. You may also include pro fur activism and countering the anti fur sentiments in news stories, blog posts, and comments in this context.

 

I have been moving towards these newer goals recently, but it does not mean that I have abandoned the fur communities. Rather, the confidence that I always have these communities to rely on have propelled me towards opening up to the world.

 

I am not saying that every member of the den should take up the same course of action that I am pursuing now. Everybody has different priorities in life. The same also goes for the web sites and online communities.

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Another perspective. We are rightly proud of our gallery and the fact that it now contains nearly 20 thousand images. 20 thousand may seem a large number, but tonight, I was looking for a particular picture of Monica Bellucci in fur and I thought of checking out her fan sites, which led me to monicabelluccifan.com. When I looked at the gallery section of this fan site, my eyes simply rolled-it has more than 28 thousand images!

http://www.monicabelluccifan.com/gallery/

 

I mean, 28 thousand images of just one person... And not only that. They have organized photos according to years, photoshoots, appearances, etc. So, you not only have this many pics, but you also know when and where these photos were taken or published, and in many cases, the photographer's identity as well. Is it excessive, obsessive, or just being thorough? Have these fans of MB taken it too far, and should they maybe go out and get a life? Should we all? I don't know, but that MB fan site definitely shows there is much room for improvement for our gallery.

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I don't think that we as staff here would ever see this as a "Fashion site" entirely in any way. Indeed it began as a fur fetish site and I as owner like to promote that as much as possible within our server rules. But we certainly allow fur fashion content as well. I am certain that we will never allow "general non fur fashion".

 

In short fashion in general. I don't think we want to go that way.

 

Fur Fashion and Fur Fetish have landed up pretty much equal.

 

We have always allowed pro and anti messages here both. Many if not most fur sites do not allow "Anti PETA" posts, and I have never really understood that. But that is their choice. I do not ever see us going that way!

 

As for the Gallery. We would LOVE to organize it better!!! However, the work level is huge and most folks who have began to get involved just did not last long. They get discouraged so quickly. But, once again, if someone would like to work on this we would love to have the help. I have to warn you though. You will be looking at huge numbers of photos of women in furs! We will also very shortly be updating our links section as well, and we would like to have help with that. You can either learn wiki to do it, or - it's a lot more work for you than learning simple wiki though - you can tell us the changes to be made and we can program them. But again, we need to warn you that you will be looking at endless photos of women in furs!

 

Just some quick thoughts

 

J

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