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Radical changes coming

Thread title: Radical changes coming
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05-06-2017, 07:17 PM
#1
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  Old  Radical changes coming

Over the past couple of weeks, apart from cleaning all the forums by removing over 50,000 spam posts and eliminating problem accounts, I have had a few good conversations with some TF members who have all agreed with the idea that if TalkFreelance is to have a shot at existence in the modern web, radical changes are a given.

I am not going to delve into a lengthy explanation of what was discussed however. If I were just to summarize, the way people interact and seek help today is dramatically different from 10 years ago. Take even the most popular forums - most of them have been going through a decline. A forum as a platform has moved on to a combination of various things. Yes, social is still an engine, but the way information is digested has evolved. We need to get there.

I have outlined a 3 step plan that will require very heavy changes early on through transition. I am not involving members participation at this point for a couple of reasons: (a) it will take unnecessarily long to gather enough actionable feedback, and (b) big changes will still be required regardless. So I've decided to jump straight into it hoping for the best.

One of these steps will require migration to a completely new platform. After reviewing dozens of applications, software such as VanillaForums, Discourse, XenForo (2.0), Burning Board, Flarum, NodeBB are more in line with the way people communicate and search for information today. Certainly not all of these apps are ready for primetime, but at least they are give access to some of the features that are in line with today's trends:

- single sign-on integration opportunity;
- better visibility of quality content and top contributors;
- choice of reputation methods and built-in award badges;
- socially-driven profiles (build a following of your own within a community);
- post editing with active member username mentions, auto-embedding, drag and drop uploading and auto-saved drafts;
- threaded private messaging conversations;
- easy content discovery with a wide range of filters and tags.

The two under serious consideration at this time are Vanilla and Discourse. I am personally leaning towards the latter.

One of the other steps will impact the membership model itself. Not to cause any panic, I can assure you that if you have an active account in good standing - it is safe. However, certain things I'd rather not talk about in public just yet. If you'd like to hear a little more, you are welcome to contact me in private.

Unfortunately that is all that I can share with you for now. Might not appear like much, yet it signifies a ton of work that I'd be tackling in the next few weeks.

TF heart keeps beating.

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05-18-2017, 08:17 PM
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Any idea when these changes are going to take place?

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05-20-2017, 04:21 PM
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Some of them are already in process and they will be explained once the execution is compete, due to sensitivity of the matter. As I mentioned in my other post, I am keeping in touch with a couple of members who were actively involved in community management through this.

Once this step is complete in the next few days and certainly by end of this month, I will move on to planning the software upgrade to either Discourse or Vanilla. I am leaning towards the first one personally. However, it is another sensitive issue because the burden of this decision is on my shoulders and collecting feedback from members about what they prefer might take an extraordinary amount of time we don't have.

I can, however, ask you about your thoughts on both platforms while you are around.

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06-01-2017, 07:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Artashes View Post
Once this step is complete in the next few days and certainly by end of this month, I will move on to planning the software upgrade to either Discourse or Vanilla.
End of the month come and gone, any real time for the execution? Starting to be like before.

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06-03-2017, 08:51 AM
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I randomly check in on this forum every couple of years, and I feel like everytime I do there's some promised change in the works that never happens :P GL tho, Art, I'd love to see this forum come back to life.

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06-03-2017, 09:57 PM
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Originally Posted by feros View Post
I randomly check in on this forum every couple of years, and I feel like everytime I do there's some promised change in the works that never happens :P GL tho, Art, I'd love to see this forum come back to life.
I understand the hesitation, but step 1 of the plan has already been executed and I will be able to share the details of this special op later today.

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06-04-2017, 05:33 PM
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Personally I wouldn't announce anything at this point. I would suggest simply making the changes and announcing it once it is ready. This is starting to feel like Yaxay.

I also come in here every so often looking for that vibrant online community where you could learning web development, SEO, etc with knowledgable members and people willing to help. Most existing communities don't offer that anymore or have become a spam fest.

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06-04-2017, 08:06 PM
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Man I forgot all about yaxay! Like a B12 shot of nostalgia right there.

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06-05-2017, 08:03 AM
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Originally Posted by Lucas View Post
Personally I wouldn't announce anything at this point. I would suggest simply making the changes and announcing it once it is ready.
Lucas, thank you for your suggestion. This is exactly what I am doing:
Originally Posted by Artashes View Post
I haven't really mass-informed the community about any of this. I'm going to keep things organic this time around until we accomplish a major chunk of upgrades.
As for the second part of your comment, I could not agree more. Going back to a vibrant community where quality outweighs quantity require drastic changes and an essential part of our re-launch plan.
Originally Posted by Lucas View Post
I also come in here every so often looking for that vibrant online community where you could learning web development, SEO, etc with knowledgable members and people willing to help. Most existing communities don't offer that anymore or have become a spam fest.

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06-05-2017, 10:06 PM
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I can finally share with you details of the first essential step of the new plan, now that it has been completed.

As I mentioned in the original post, I have outlined a 3 step plan in order to give TF a shot at returning to the state of being a vibrant community where members can discuss modern standards of design and development. With things changing drastically over the last 10 years (not only forum-wise, but the whole social landscape) it is possible we won't be able to resurrect the very original state of TalkFreelance, and that is okay, it isn't supposed to. TalkFreelance must evolve naturally.

What the new direction aims to do is create an environment that makes membership a privilege not a right. With focus on quality of contribution rather than quantity, our goal is to attract professional graphic artists, web developers and entrepreneurs to a close-knitted community, to promote the collaboration in an unbiased, trusted environment, which in return will bolster a stronger sense of community and participation.

Most freelancers and entrepreneurs have definitely noticed that it has become a struggle to either find quality local professionals or compete in online marketplaces due to an overwhelming number of lowcosters - individuals and teams that compete solely on price, in which case the primary business objective becomes volume above anything else. Most such marketplaces, especially based on project-based bidding, is not nearly as effective for contractors in North America or Europe, as they were 10-15 years ago.

When we were going through our own membership database here, I noticed a similar trend. To use India as an example, in the early years of TalkFreelance, there was an average of 1 India-based registration for every 45 accounts on average. That ratio has been consistently dropping over the years, first to 30, then 20, then 1 account from India for every 10 overall, until 60–65% of all registrations have started to come from India (that is apart from other similar world economies). Coincidentally, the quality of contributions have been dropping and they are more or less consistent in proportion to these stats. This very much ended up being a self-destructive process.

Inspired by the early vibes of TalkFreelance, to revert this activity and to become attractive to truly top creative talent again, we made the decision to promote the resource within select markets only, while closing it to a number of others.

Over the last two weeks, we have physically removed 9,827 accounts from our membership, the vast majority of which came from India, Pakistan, Philippines and Bangladesh (the full list shown below).

This operation has only affected accounts with 0 posts, but already proved to be an excellent idea with a practical outcome. During the search we would come across a lot of accounts that had nothing but a link in them (link builders) or simply stored-for-later-use spam accounts. I am also reviewing the option to extend the clean-up even further.

Additionally, when TalkFreelance re-opens its registration (after we migrate to the new platform), it will no longer accept registrations from the aforementioned countries.

The full list of countries that are now restricted from TalkFreelance (in order of volume of removed accounts):

India
Pakistan
Philippines
Bangladesh
China
Vietnam
Nigeria
Malaysia
Indonesia
Turkey
Thailand
Egypt
Sri Lanka


I realize that occasionally strong creative individuals residing in these territories will want to join and participate in our community and we should have a defined path to welcome them. Individuals from these countries will still be able to apply. However, a more detailed application will be required and only qualified people, as vetted by members of staff or community representatives, will be accepted. I haven’t thought this through yet to be honest, but I am certain we can come up with a clever solution in this regard. This is a secondary priority at this moment.

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