Making A Site

My Experience
I first made an msn version of this with crummy articles that I later revised and posted it on the real site.  I made a lot of mistakes and learned a lot.  I have kept my old msn one for over a year and the newer one for six months or so.  I have joined countless sites and have seen so much. I have been a moderator of many sites, some non psi related.  I have help start several sites and have helped save sites from a certain death.  Here are a few tips I have learned and feel that if some of you knew about this we would not have so many dead sites.  Trust me, there are a ton out there.

Deciding on what type of site
There are two types of psionic sites out there: The hard core technical psi sites and the spiritual ones.  I advise you to be very careful when going for the middle ground.  The two extreme types of psionics do not get along at all and the fight will never end.  So if you decide to pick on side understand that you will already loose some potential members.  Also you should notice when doing research that many tech. sites often slowly evolve into spiritual sites.  This happens because the owner is has learned all they can by the technical sites and is looking for more to learn.  They discover a whole new branch.  Some are slow to accept this branch and some jump right into it.  You can see the change on the site.  If you were wondering, yes this happened to me and my site.

There is another type of site called the forum or message board.  Some people will make a site for articles, news, polls and other stuff and then make a forum.  Other people will only make a forum.  Making a forum is not very hard at all, but keep one up is hard.  Many people make too many boards and they make it so people have to scroll down forever.  The boards should not be too general, nor to specific.  You should organize the boards into groups.  You really, really need to make an introduction post on every board as an admin.  You should come up with a few starter posts in each board to get activity started and get ideas going.

Audience
What people do you wish to attract?  How old do you want them to be in general?  What?s the average skill level you expect to get?  My site is aimed for the real new newbies.  I want the ones that don?t know what to do and are usually scared and convinced that they are 'different'.  Some sites are aimed for the well trained group.  They want to have a good, intelligent discussion about the way psi works.  They purposely explain things in a hard to understand fashion to discourage newbies from wanting to join.

Having something to say
You need to say about what your site is about. You should say it in a way no one else has and attracts attention.  Please don?t copy nearly word from word what other sites have to say.  We each have our own writing style.  Please use it.  Also, have a point to your site.  Have a focus or a main theme.  Do not make a 'here's what I know or a "Lets get together and talk about psi" site.  That just turns people away because everyone has done it and there is very little new to do to the idea.

Having Experience
I have seen so many newbies joined the big sites like Psipog, Astral Society, and Psionline and then want to make their own site.  They have only been know about psi for a month and can barely make a psiball.  They create a small, not well done site that repeats information from the big sites and the pathetic thing dies in two months.  They do not have enough experience in dealing with newbies or psions in general.  They do not know enough to write well done article.  They can not answer all the questions that a psi site owner would get.

People with any level of skill want to know that you know what you are talking about.  Your articles should reflect your knowledge of what ever you are talking about.  However, knowledge isn't much more useful if you are unknown by all.  If you are going to have a service of some type, make sure you have practiced this.

It helps if you've joined a lot of site and have been active on them.  It will get you a reputation, whether good or bad, people will look at the site from curiosity.  It is suggested that you try to become a moderator on a site before making your own site.  You will then have a much better idea of what you are up against and the responsibilities you will be doing.  If you can not become a moderator, then act like one by answering all the questions people ask in a certain board.

Learn the ?must includes?
As you do your research you should notice that every site has some basics.  Usually there are articles that include making a psi ball, and a few of the better known skills like telekinesis, empathy, and constructs.  Many sites include a forum, a contact us, and a links area.  Notice them and use this idea, but do not copy completely their style.

Explored the experiments
Some sites will try different things.  Some include a different way of doing a forum.  They may have an interesting chat room.  I have tried to do a lot of practices on my chatroom.  It's very hard to get people to come and it?s a very hectic practice if you're the one hosting it.  Some people will have telekinesis videos, but it is very hard to create one that looks real (not that most people fake them).  Some people include FAQs.  If this is well down and thought out it will save you so much time.  Understand that I'm not saying you shouldn't try thing out, but that there is usually reason why it hasn't been done.

Advertising
Advertising like crazy is the only way to get people to come.  If you do not advertise, then people do not know about your site and therefore will not come.  When you talk to people that have joined your site, I recommend asking them how they found your site.  This will clue you in as to why people are coming to your site and what methods of advertisement are being used the most.  There are three ways people go to your site.

   *  First and most used is by searching by a browser.  People will go to Google or Yahoo and type in a topic they want to know more about. Sites about that topic will show.  I?ve notice the more active and newer sites are the ones to show up first on the list.  You will also want to get on the less popular search engines.

   * The second one is through web sites.  Generally people will go to "Links" and look under there for good and new sites.  I highly recommend having a "Links" of your own.  I have been known to go to people?s web site, email them telling them how much I like their site and then offer a deal with them.  I will put their site on my site if they will do the same with mine.  Surprisingly, many will do this, but be careful that they keep their part of the deal up.  Make sure you are polite when asking for this favor.  I suggest commenting about how you like their site and pick one feature you really like.  This will show that you actually looked through their site and that will make them do the same.

   * The third and least used of the three ways is by word of mouth.  This means Johnny goes to his friend and raves about how good this person's site is and how they should check it out.  You, the host can also use this method to invite every friend and person they know to your site.  I'm always telling people when they look at my site, "feel free to join".  This method will become more active as you gain popularity.  

Please understand there is such a thing as advertise too much and in a bad way.  If you go to a forum to advertise, it is advised that you first introduce yourself and post at least ten posts before you advertise your site.  Owners of sites hate people that come to their site only to advertise and never post anything else.  It is highly recommended that you look for rules on advertising since some sites forbid you to or only advertise in certain areas.  You can add your site to your profile as well as your signature.  Another thing site owners hate is advertising your site in more than one place on their forum.  Make one thread, post your site there and do not mention it again except maybe in your introduction, but be wary.  Look around in the link section for your site to be already posted by someone else.  If so, read the comments carefully before commenting there.

When you do post your site and get comments, listen to them, especially the longer ones that show more thought.  Not everyone is going to like your site.  Some people are going to hate it.  It?s life, so don?t get too offended.  If you get mad at what is being said, do not respond back until you are calm.  You will only make yourself look bad if you insult the member(s).  You don?t have to take the advice given.  You should at least consider the advice that is being given to you.  Feel free to contact the advisers about your site for more information.  Most people love it when you do that.

Details
Detail is everything.  From greeting people when they join, to celebrating a birthday, to putting serious thought into the colors of your site.  I always add new people, if they have msn, to my msn so I can personally greet them. On my site I get told at the bottom of the main page of the forum whose birthday it is.  Color is highly important because it sets the mood of the site.  Dark colors usually means serious, but can discourage some from joining the site. Light colors sets a happy tune, but sometimes can be silly.  Oh and before you blind me for the millionth time do NOT use yellow or any neon color for your font or background.  Watch out for blinding or clashing colors or fonts that ruin the sites.  Other details can be spelling, grammar, deleting dead links, and making sure the color, size, and type of font is same for all pages.

Articles
This can make or break your site.  Articles represent you and your belief.  This is the most important part of the site to not screw up.  Most site will have the host write all the articles.  While this is good, it?s better to have the opinion of others too on your site. Forums or also known as message boards are a good way of doing this.  Beware of using articles from others.  I?ve seen and used my friend?s articles to get them to join the site.  Usually the article isn?t well written, but the maker of the site is so desperate they?ll accept anything.  The bigger your site is and the more experience you have with making and keepings sites, the fussier you can get with the standards of the articles.  A fine example would be PsiPog.  They have a certain length required and they expect well thought out ideas.  They wouldn?t accept mine due to length and confusion of what I was trying to say.  To be fair, this was over a year ago and I didn?t know how to write the way I do now.    

Time
The biggest problem people have is not having time for the site. They spend hours and hours making the site, but then when it comes to keeping up maintaining, they find that they are too busy.  I find a lot of sites that haven?t had an update for a year and the site is dead.  You don?t have to be posting three articles a month, but you need to let people know you are still alive.  Before you even start to think up a site, please ask yourself if you have half an hour to a hour everyday to spend time on your web site. This time includes time to work on articles, read all posts made in a forum, check emails and pm that have to do with the site, respond to all posts that is need and works on special projects like making a chatroom. The more popular your site is the more time you will need to keep up with it.

Activity
This is a problem for all beginner sites.  Your site at first is going to be slow.  The best way is for you to start posting topics and thought provoking ideas.  You have to work to get the balls rolling.  People won?t come if they don?t see you making an effort for them to come.  Please be patient.  Advertise, advertise, advertise!  Also understand that you have to keep up the activity though it?s high.  Many sites start out with good activity and the host relaxes and becomes lazy.

Not everyday is going to bring a ton of people posting.  Just because you have one flop of a day or week does not mean the end of your site.  World events can play a major part in your activity if you play if off right.  Also the seasons and school with bring up or down activity.  The end of school people brings time for people to start posting again.  Holidays that all schools give time off such as Christmas will bring a rise in activity.  Sometimes these brief high numbers can really up spread the word and sometimes cause your site to crash once they end.

Not everyone is going to be a big poster.  In fact, being a big poster isn?t always good.  Sometimes those big posting people can take over your site.  On the other hand, there are some people that will never post.  This means two things.  One they joined the site and will never go to it again.  Two they are happy reading and observing.  To solve the non poster problem, send out an email twice a year to the whole site, asking everyone to look at the site more and try to be more active.  You might try a competition or an award for posting more.  You should be sure what type they are before you delete/ban them for lack of activity.

Research

A lot of people don't know how make a site and if you do the research you'll quickly see that. I strongly suggest you do a lot of research.  Look at 20 sites at least, that have to do with anything about psi and see how they do it, what do they offer, and how popular are they.  Make sure you look at the big, popular ones and as well as the small, practically unknown ones.  Go to the link section on their board and see what people have to say about the site.  See if the comments are consistent and how people like the commenter.

Rules

Rules are there for a reason, to help keep order.  If sites could magically keep in order there would be no reason for rules. Sadly, this is not so.  The younger and less skilled people you attract the more likely you?ll have problems.  You should consider your rules with thought.

If there is one rule I can not stand that from PsiPog it is their ?you?re not allowed to teach without permission? You can look this up on their site if you don?t believe me.  That is one of the most stupid rules I have ever heard of.  Anyway, don?t annoy me or others by making incredible stupid rules if you are going to advertise on my site.

Sticking to your rules is very important.  You need to reinforce them the first time they get broken or else you will never gain control of the site.  If the site seems wild and out of control, your site will lose reputation as well you will too.  You can do this by being polite about reminding people.  You can simply pm or email a person, informing them to what they are doing wrong and ask them to stop it.  If your forum has a point or karma system, then you can take off points and tell the person why you are doing this.  But note that the older the person is, the less likely they are going to care about the point system.

Moderators

To make the members of your site obey your rules you have to get out there and reinforce them.  Now, most likely you will find there is too much for you to do so you will make some moderators also known as mods.  You need to think carefully about who is going to be a moderator and make sure they are doing their job.  Sometimes these moderators don?t do anything and sometimes they do too much.  Some moderators will get power hungry and try to take over the site.  I would not laugh at that, because I have seen it happen several times.  It depends on how much power you give them.  I have also done and seen people use the promise of making their friend a mod if they?ll join the site.  That is the wrong reason!  Please don?t do that.  More times than not, they turn out to be horrible mods.

Age and experience should be big factors as you decide who will be a mod.  The older a person is the more mature and experienced they are.  Although, this rule is not set in stone because some younger people can act way beyond their stereotypical age.  If your site is full of younger teenagers, you will want someone in their twenties.  A twenty year old should be mature enough to know not to fight a pointless and silly battle with a thirteen year old.  As for experience you want a moderator to be able to answer any question that is in their field.  

By,
JediKaren

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