Central America Forum
January 22, 2009 9:40 AM   Subscribe

Central America Forum
My Filipina wife and I live part of the year in Costa Rica and part of the year in the Philippines. We started the Central America Forum, and its Filipina identical twin, Philippines Living, our attempt to create a MF-like community for expats in these areas.

So many expats are members of yahoo groups and answer the same questions again and again. Neither members nor search engines can find find those answers (see an essay of mine on why yahoo groups are seo disasters). Additionally, many existing groups (mostly yahoo groups but also a few forums) are censored by real estate agents and advertisers who delete posts that express caution of any kind and/or are counter to their personal politics. So the groups my wife and I created are hopefully less biased and hopefully well-enough organized to be efficient places for people and search engines to get information. Of course, it's a longer-term project than just starting a yahoo group. Most expats are not power users: they've finally just figured out yahoo groups, and now they're already dead?

We chose to use drupal 6 to build the site. Although not perfect, it seems to be working well for us so far. One of the challenges is to get the right balance of ease of use for new and established users, while not having it be so easy that the site gets filled with spam. It's hard to tell what the user perspective is on it, because most users don't give feedback. The other challenge is that I haven't been able to get a good balance of email contacts. Drupal's subscription and notification mechanisms, for instance, sometimes create stupid emails (like sending an email when a word is edited to correct its spelling). I've already made some good progress on related issues, and hope to have most of the subscription/notification stuff fixed soon. Anyone who has some good insight on what not-quite-power-users will most benefit from in terms of hybrid website/email-notification, please feel free to share your ideas, so I can incorporate them.

Having the chance to run sites like these, and how complex it is, I am impressed by how effectively MF is run and the quality of the posters here.

One good idea I will share is that I used the Amazon Turk to ask for some general suggestions for people to take a look at the website and say what they liked. It cost about ten cents per suggestion and about a third of the answers were actually quite good. It was fun to try that experiment for five bucks.
posted by peter_meta_kbd (2 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

This is marvelous. What a useful and good idea. I can imagine that many people will benefit from this over the years. Excellent.
posted by nickyskye at 10:41 PM on January 22, 2009

Thanks for the site. It looks great and as it gets bigger and more community involvement it will even more useful. I'll keep looking back.
posted by saucysault at 4:23 PM on February 13, 2009

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