First of all I would like to thank Said for all his efforts in upgrading Iranian.com. The quality of the posted material and the participation of the bloggers indicate that we are all committed to see that Iranian.com succeed and remain an important part of our community.
The upgrade and the re-design of the site has created major trade-offs for the bloggers and the viewers. I will mention some significant ones here.
Ease of Use – While posting items such as video clips, pictures and news items have become significantly easier, finding material has become cumbersome. One has to constantly scroll down to find new items. For example, this morning and just by chance, I saw Rezaei’s Shafaf Sazi clip which was buried at the bottom of the pile. His clips are always funny and of the highest quality, but because of its positioning it received minimal viewing.
Layout - In the past, the featured blogs on the main page only had the title and the blogger’s name associated with them. Therefore, one could squeeze a couple of days’ worth of blogs in a small space for quick viewing. The “disadvantage” of that arrangement was that you needed to open the item and see what it was all about and if you wanted to read it and make comments. In the current setup because you see the picture/video and the beginning paragraph, you can almost say what the blog will be about and whether you want to open it or not. This has also reduced the number of clicks on the blogs.
Another key difference is that in the previous arrangement the significant items were at the very top. They generally reflected the “Editor’s Choice” and they stayed up there as long as he wanted to. In the current environment we don’t have that and one could argue that it is more democratic! Also gone are the Iranian of the Day and the Iranian Prisoner of the Day which I believe were both very important and significant.
Comments and Toops – In my opinion, the single most deficiency of the current set up is the elimination of the Recent Comments section. The arrangement allowed us to quickly glance at what was being discussed and see if we wanted to jump in and contribute to the conversation. That feature, at its core helped us to get to know each other better and form a community, even at times a disjointed and a hostile one!
The introduction of “Toop” is also a mixed blessing. While it allows us to quickly show our pleasure at a certain post, it has resulted in a significant drop in the number of comments. In the past, if we liked a post, we would take the time to not only thank the blogger but also by saying something relevant (!) add to the conversation and invite additional comments about the post and the comments. Now, in most cases, we just “Toop” the blogger and we are done. So in a way, we have become passive readers than active participants in the subject matter.
In all, I hope that through rigorous participation of the bloggers and some fine-tuning by the owner/administrator, Iranian.com could be more like a community of people who share thoughts and ideas about our culture and politics, rather than an aggregator of items about Iran, something like Huff Post Iran or BBC Farsi.
Here is Shaneh by Martik.