Saturday, December 15, 2007

End of year update

My last entry was October 2, slightly over two months back. Not too bad by my own standard :)

In between, we published three interviews by our members. I'm happy we did that, because not only are the interviews an excellent way of introducing some of our best members, they are also permanent records of the members and Rankk's journey. Five or 10 years down the road, I imagine it would be quite interesting to revisit the entries and make sense of the passing time.

The number of challenges now stands at 164, an addition of 46 more since my post "Half a year later..." in September, in which I wrote that we had increased the number of challenges from a mere 40 to 118. The number has somewhat stabilized, with a new challenge added every once in a while, when good ideas come by.

I remember we used to add at least a challenge every day, sometimes even two on the same day. It was crazy. There were days when I would eat, drink and sleep with challenge ideas haunting me, until I finally settled on a good one to start coding.

Over the last week, we introduced a profile feature to enable members to check each other's progress, besides finding out about his or her default profile information, such as date joined, blog or favourite site, country, etc.

It's a useful feature to have, all thanks to silverknight who gave us the timely nudge.

The right panel has also been given a little facelift. We moved some of the elements around and restyled a couple of them. The net effect is a more attractive right panel (to me at least). And unless you make the changes, you sometimes make the mistake of thinking that what you have is already good enough, when in fact it can be improved.

And while I am on the subject of changes, let me rant a little about what I think keeps a website going.

A website or blog is like a tree or pond that attracts different creatures to it. As long as the tree is alive and growing, it will attract visitors: insects, bees, birds, butterflies and what have you. And these visitors will bring their friends and relatives along, who in turn will bring other friends and relatives along. Sure, many of these new comers will be casual visitors. But while they are there, they help to make the soil fertile with their droppings and with the dispersal of seeds when they move on. And some of those who came will become permanent residents of the tree.

The opposite happens when the tree shows no sign of life. Its inhabitants will forsake it in search of greener pastures to look for food and a new home. The number of visitors will dwindle as there's nothing to look forward to. Very soon, the entire community will disappear, leaving behind a forlorn, lifeless tree.

A website exhibits that sort of phenomenon. Just like the tree, the more it can keep itself alive and vibrant, the more visitors it can attract. The more visitors it can attract, the more it can sustain itself.

We want Rankk to be a thriving tree. In its short existence of one year and two months, we've never stopped making changes and adding new stuff. As one member remarked: "you can rest assured that the changes made since I was active are adequate.. oh yeah most adequate ;-)".

We believe, and hope, these changes will help Rankk attract new members while allowing it to stay relevant to the mature members.

Have a blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year!