So, this version of our community has been running a few months now. I’ve been watching how it’s running, what you are using, what you are asking for – ease of admin, what’s missing etc.
Feedback for this version is about 50:50 – some Members like it, some Members don’t. If I’m honest, I don’t really like it myself.
There’s no easy way to say it, and I’ll explain my reasons below, if you are interested. But the bottom line is, in the next few months we will be closing this network, and looking at a different plan. Really sorry about that Gang, I know many of you are just getting settled in. But, I think we can build something a bit nicer for everyone.
This is not a decision made lightly. I spent over 8 months building, setting up, creating all the content and graphics for this version of AoZ. Me and the Crew spent a further 3 months testing and debugging. It was an interesting, if not very frustrating experiment – but seeing it running, it’s not quite what I had in mind for our community.
The aim now is to return ArtOfZoo to being a movie site and Library, and to return the community side to Zooskool where it began.
REASONS FOR THIS DECISION
There are 2 main groups we are interested in attracting to our sites. People interested in learning and being part of a community of real petlovers. And, serious movie fans interested in purchasing our movies and supporting the community. The two go hand in hand.
Probably our most common query lately, is ‘where are the movies?’. This is a problem. Support for our work is still largely dependent on movie sales. If our customers – particularly customers who don’t speak English well – are struggling to find the movies for sale, it’s going to affect our ability to support our various projects. So this setup is not ideal for the movie fans.
Then, the community folks. Due to the restrictions of the software, I find that the important features and information are way too spread out. It’s hard to find things easily, you need to click on way more links than should be necessary to get to the info you need. Members are are struggling to find various features. There’s a ton of bells and whistles that aren’t really useful, and plenty of important features that are missing, or are not working properly. The software is buggy, badly set out and kinda ugly to use and administer. Support for software problems is poor or non existent. So, it’s not really ideal for community Members, or us either.
When we set it up on the test bed, it looked quite good. Using it is a different matter. As Napoleon says, it’s a decroded piece of crap.
In short, I think I can do a better job if I build the community myself from scratch. So that is what I will do.
I had originally planned quite a different style of community. However, since Facebook became the popular choice, I assumed that the majority of Members would be familiar with, and would prefer a Facebook style social network. This has been proven to not be the case.
Zooskool was pretty much custom built for doing things the right way. We had a lot of success with that format, a lot of people hooking up. It didn’t have all the bells and whistles, but the core features did all the necessary stuff. It was simpler and it did the job well. As such, I’d like to go back to the original plan.
Folks, I know you enjoy posting movies and photos. But I never intended AoZ to be a file sharing site, unfortunately that is what it is rapidly becoming. There’s already thousands of other sites entirely dedicated to that kind of thing. Those sites are set up for it, and generate revenue from it. We aren’t, and don’t.
Shared movie uploads and downloads eat heavily into our resources – resources that were intended for other nice features. I’m spending a lot of time dealing with DMCA requests, moderating uploads and dealing with media upload bugs due to shoddy software – time that would be better spent elsewhere.
We used to post personal material from real, verified Members who were physically present on the site. This allowed us to present the reality of the lifestyle in the right way – it gave real pet people the opportunity to showcase their work, get positive feedback, and make new friends as a result.
On this site, real Members’ personal material is lost within a sea of shared files. We have Members posting other people’s material and pretending it’s them. Some Members upload hundreds of videos. Yes this attracts Pet Fans, but probably the wrong kind of Pet Fans. Our message always was, that petlove is something magical that real people enjoy, not just porn stars.
Zooskool was approachable, which is important when new Pet People hit the site looking for answers. The network is rapidly becoming more porn site than community / resource. I don’t think that’s attractive to the new petlovers out there. We’ve noticed a definite downturn in verifications since we started down that road. It’s kinda blurring our message. Hence the decision to put the movies on ArtOfZoo, and keep Zooskool as the approachable community for the real folks and people wanting to learn and get support.
1. Organize Eden setup, get production rolling
2. Close current community site
3. Launch movie / library site on AoZ
4. Get to work on new community version, over on Zooskool
The first priority is to get Eden up and running. While ILZ is running with that, I will be setting up the next movie version of ArtOfZoo.
When that’s ready, in due course I will close this ArtOfZoo network, and replace it with the movie website. ILZ will be able to run that site with minimal involvement from me. We will run that new version as long as possible – should Net Neutrality have an impact, we will relocate the movie side to a private hidden site, regroup and take it from there.
I will then be free to focus on rebuilding a better community, without the distraction of the movies. It won’t be an overnight job, but I am confident that you will prefer what I have in mind, and find it a lot easier to use than the current version.
I will of course aim to move over all your various Kudos, Trust Levels etc. And don’t worry, all you folks who have watermarked your pics etc with ArtOfZoo – the 2 sites will still be interconnected. People looking for community and hitting the next ArtOfZoo, will be directed to Zooskool where they can find you.
Again Gang, really sorry for the ups and downs. I could buy an off the shelf script and slap that up in a couple days, but I know what worked well before and there’s a few things needed that available scripts don’t do. Zooskool was special because it was tailor made for our needs. I hope we can tempt you back again, when the new ZS launches. 🙂
Thanks for reading.Published in