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The Novell Approach: Will it work?

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by LPH, May 8, 2012.

  1. LPH

    LPH Well-Known Member

    Good morning :)

    I have a series of questions for others on this site. Hopefully you have a few thoughts to contribute.

    I own 176 domains acquired over 15 years, built numerous sites which became popular (50K daily visitors) and all died when my attention went elsewhere. There are also some little sites that just languish out of inattention and neglect. Years ago I decided to start putting these sites together - a Novell Approach. Sadly my brother died and I had no interest in touching a computer for almost 1.5 years. I started lurking around in December, made a huge change to a site at the end of December, and really started to enjoy XF.

    Novell expanded by purchasing and gathering resources from other companies - some that were about ready to go under. The company grows through acquisitions. This is why this comparison might work. Or do you think this is a false comparison?

    The Approach
    The idea is to take all of the sites - with different topics, different viewers, different niches - and combine them into one network so that 176 domains are available to one login ID.

    Do you see advantages?
    Do you see disadvantages?
    If these were your sites would you keep them separate or combine them? Why?
    What kind of branding issues might you foresee?

    Revitalizing Dead Communities
    What are your strategies for revitalizing dead communities? At times, this approach feels like bringing all the dying together into one room. :ROFLMAO:

    So far - lower maintenance has been the best part of bringing these sites together. There is now only one set of files to keep updated.

    A consistent WP theme is a huge issue. My daughter is working on a logo and I'm working on using the toolbar to give a common header but the challenge is very great. In fact, many webdesigners I contacted said "no" - they didn't think they had the skills to put it together. So - it's now a challenge for little ole me. Maybe that is an advantage :p

    The Journey
    The new adventure began in December, and I'm far from the finish line, but maybe you'll agree that the journey is almost more important than a finished network of sites.

    Your Opinion
    While content is king - and will always be king on the Internet - do you think a community can be built from the Humpty Dumpty pieces?

    Thank you for contributing your thoughts, ideas, and opinions. I look forward to reading them.
  2. Adam Howard

    Adam Howard Well-Known Member

    If all 176 sites are forums, you could merge them all together and point them all to 1 single domain. Clearly you'd have a killing.
  3. Sadik B

    Sadik B Well-Known Member

    Hey lph

    My advice would be to prioritize. Meaning take a look at all the 176 domains and all the various niches. First try to find 10 or 20 out of those 176 which have a higher chance of success. Meaning sites with say large content or steady visitors or even a niche which is very popular etc. Once you have short list of a dozen or two, out of these find one, two or at most 3 of these that you personally really really enjoy. Things you could talk about for hours...

    Now my advice would be keep these 3 domains and sites. Sell the rest off on Flippa. Don't sell them all together. Do a lot of research on successful sales on Flippa and try and make as much money as you can out of all the domains and sites you have to sell. This may be a time consuming and long process.

    Once you have the cash, now plan and invest in the sites of your choosing. Content is King. If you make sites whose content is really useful to people, instead of just tricking people and search engines to visit you, Your site WILL BE successful. Invest the money in good content writers, possibly coders to extend related functionality and make these sites the best in their niche. Again, this too is a time consuming process which requires technical knowhow and business acumen.

    If you can successfully build one, two or three such sites, individually you can make a LOT more money out of each of them than you would having hundreds of sites contributing tens and twentys.

    Anyways, that was just how I would go about it if I was in your position... :) All the best with everything.
  4. Fred Sherman

    Fred Sherman Well-Known Member

    What links these various sites together? What is the common thread, common interest?

    The comparison to corporate acquisitions is a bit flawed, because companies target smaller ones with technology they can integrate into their core business and emerge stronger.

    I think your best first more is to determine what is at the core of this project. That might be a handful of domains/interests that have something in common. Software can't be the common element, because software doesn't matter when it comes to attracting members although it can be a huge differentiator in retaining them.'
    At any rate, identify and focus on the core. Then incorporate others that complement it. The outliers either become stand alone or discard.

    176 is way too large a number.

    And for the record Novell has survived only because it has adapted and discard what technology and the marketplace made obsolete. Sadly, that is something to keep in mind as you assess the viability of your 176 domains.
    SchmitzIT likes this.
  5. LPH

    LPH Well-Known Member

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

    To clarify, These sites were all different topics.

    I think we all agree on these two points:

    1. Content is King
    2. A basic question is to journey toward a set of Niche sites versus one super-forum.
  6. =MGN=RedEagle

    =MGN=RedEagle Well-Known Member

    I always look for one or two things that work and focus on that. I find it is better to do a few things well than many things not so well. You also get a lot more attention from big groups who want to advertise and such. If they are forum sites though, I may try an over-time transition to a new site. Give them lots of time to move and bring in all the sites gently.
  7. Fred Sherman

    Fred Sherman Well-Known Member

    I was pondering this overnight. What if there was a Xenfo Multi-Site Edition? Something where there are some common database elements and some unique for each site. I wonder how much code would be involved?

    Most forum elements could either be common to all sites, unique to a specific site ID or shared among specific sites, but not all. User information would always be common.

    Would anyone be interested in something like that? It could be licensed as a 5-site packs. If you need 50 sites, you'd license 10 packs.

    Sure would throw a monkey wrench at IB. The irony would be that their multi-site forum "empire" would run better under a multi-site Xenforo than VB.
    Jeffin likes this.
  8. SchmitzIT

    SchmitzIT Well-Known Member

    Naatan's SSO solution already allows for sharing user credentials across forums. But yeah, being able to also have specific categories/forums/threads shared cross-forum would be amazingly slick.
  9. DRE

    DRE Well-Known Member

    Jake Bunce does that with his own site, only difference is he's only doing it with 3 domains.
  10. Fred Sherman

    Fred Sherman Well-Known Member

    I'm talking about something on a much grander scale. Your user identity and experience, not just your credentials persist across all domains. A conversation on one is seen on another. You are, after all, the same person. Same with alerts. Your post count is the sum of all post costs across the multi-site. The way Search works for forums is how it would work for sites. New posts? You see them across all sites you participate in. Not just user credentials. It becomes a SuperForum of forums, each with a unique domain name. It would have a common root template set. Install an add-on, and it becomes available to all forums. It uses only one set of binaries, one single database. No bridges, no cookies - its one unified software and user experience, but still separate domains and forums.

    A Xenforo Multi-Site would be a game changer. It would turn VB and Invision on their heads.

    One Forum to empower them all, One SEO to find them,
    One Forum to bring them all and in a unified user experience bind them
  11. DRE

    DRE Well-Known Member

    That's what he does. The different domains have a different style but everything else is the same. Uses the same software. The domains are parked. The only thing bad about what both you and Jake does is that it counts as duplicate content in google, which will hurt your ranking. I wanted to do the same thing but block robots, google etc from indexing the other parked domains. Changed my mind eventually.
  12. LPH

    LPH Well-Known Member

    To partially update this thread from over a year ago .... I just wanted to say that everyone's support in this community has kept me going with this model. I'm not sure if it'll work but it's been a great adventure !

    Site major components
    • WordPress 3.6 RC2
    • XenForo 1.2 RC2
    • XenScripts (+custom code)
    • MediaWiki
    • Moodle

    Things done:
    • Most domains are moved to the network
      • Removed and abandoned all Windows Vista domains
    • Domains are flipped to subdomains of tuxreportsnetwork.com
    • SSO works
    • WordPress and XenForo are integrated
      • WordPress Comments
      • Google+
      • Facebook
    • Two installations of MediaWiki integrated
    • Kept articles from 1996 +
    • Removed 2003 - 2010 dead threads
    • Removed 17K registered members who have not been to site since Dec 2010
    • Global RSS Feed
    • Custom programming on select XF pages (needs attention)
    Things to be done:
    • WP / XF style needs cleaning
    • WP / XF bridge
      • Promotion of XF to WP
    • Easier Registration
    • "Big Product Pages" need attention
    Once all of that is done then I can start advertising ... under the motto "A different breed of sites. No flash. Few photos. More diverse." However the branding needs work and more content ;)

    As always - this wouldn't have been possible without the generous help of people in this community.

    Thank you!

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