Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Closing Down Metalks

A bit of a sad day for me, but it had to be done. I closed down Metalks.com today. My strange vision of creating a place for people of the Middle East to talk to each other online didn't really work out I guess.

I take the blame here. Didn't have enough time to properly nurture that particular project. Frankly, I hadn't thought it would be so time consuming, and definitely not for the reasons it was. I figured I knew a lot about forums management, but forums take some toughness, some rules and discipline, as well as a lot of TLC. I found myself walking on eggshells as forum owner and admin, not sure where to draw the lines. We found ourselves wasting hours on trying to manage threads on weird subjects such as the protocols of the Elders of Zion and such nonesense, instead of trying to nurture the forum and bring in more people from the Middle East into the discussion. In retrospect, perhaps a more stern approach, simply forbidding some topics from being discussed at that stage, would have been more productive.

There was also a problem with not enough people from the Middle East participating. And those that were seemed to be mostly from Israel. I could easily "summon" in more Israelis. Israelis are chatty by nature, and I knew all I had to do was post on some political boards in Israel to get new participants. I held back, as I wanted a more balanced mix to the boards. I spent a while emailing Arab/Muslim/Middle East bloggers with little results. Yes, we did have some absolutely wonderful "recruits" that way, but overall, 90% of Arab bloggers either didn't reply, replied rudely, or just said thanks but never showed up on the board.

On the positive note, I have met and made friends with some wonderful people. Some of them I met as commenters here on this blog first, then got to know them better at Metalks. I have learned a lot about the people on "the other side". Thank you Amir, Jean, Khaled, Jad, and all of the other wonderful people who helped me learn so much about people living in what is officially "enemy countries". I still hope to meet someday, here or in neutral territory :)

And a big thanks to all of the moderators (the above included ;)! You guys (and gals) were wonderful to work with - thank you so much!

And who knows, Metalks may open again. I am keeping the domain, keeping the forum installs, just closing the gates, having cleaned up the dust (i.e. spam threads). If anyone wants to help with this project, give input or feedback, just comment here or email me.


Jean said...

Hey IM,

Just wrote you a long reply before loosing it on a refresh button miscalculated operation ;)

So I'll summerize again.
I hope you're doing well, and please do not think that if I get out of sight sometimes, that it means I do not cherrish our contact ! been just busy busy busy, or on vacation vacation vacation ;)

Sad thing about MEtalks, but I do not lose hope that one day it will be reopened. who knows, we may have to discuss the peace talks between our countries.
Anyway, I would gladly volunteer as moderator once again.

But some good did come out anyway, at least at a personal level. I didn't have contacts living in Israel before.

So I hope we talk soon, and greetings to everyone who knows me on this blog.

Veritas Vos Liberabit, Veritas Lux Mea..

Jad Aoun said...

It was great while it lasted and I'm looking forward to its reopening in the future.

In my opinion, it was a complete success. I met people online that I would have never had the chance to meet - and it all began on this very blog!

Keep up the amazing work!

IsrealiMom said...

Thanks guys. I agree it was far from a failure in many respects. I have had my share of revealations in the process too. My basic premise has remained the same too, that people should talk directly and just get to know each other as people. Who knows, if we get a larger group of people looking for a platform, this place will be available to them anytime :)

Sharon said...

Hi IM:

I was sad to click on METalks and see it shut down. I had become insanely busy and didn't drop in for quite a while, but I assumed that everyone else was still having their lively debates. :) So I guess everyone else got busy, too.

I really got a lot out of the forum, even though I'm an American and don't have to deal with the issues that the people in the Middle East face on a regular basis. I was truly touched by some of the people I came into contact with. That makes the whole thing worth it, I think.

Thank you for hosting such a great forum. I will stay in touch.