Is it time to consolidate the Forums?
One of the biggest issues we had when we first became interested in keeping ants was finding information relating to keeping ants. Trawling through countless websites and forums became very tedious. Posting a question on one forum resulted in no answers, yet posting the same question on another forum yielded an amplitude of help! Only for the reverse to happen with a new question. As new hobbyists this was very discouraging.
This is one of the reasons we started this blog. To help centralise the information that is found throughout the internet. To give people a central source of information relating directly to keeping ants. As the industry grows so will we.
However we've noticed that one of the best sources of information and the best place to find help to a problem specific to you is becoming saturated. We're obviously talking about forums. Now you might think that having lots of small forums rather than one large forum may be better, but there's a good reason the ancient Romans had one central forum per city, it enabled them to centralise relevant information that needed to be conveyed to their citizens. In return the empire was able to flourish. The consequence of flooding the industry with mediocre forums and facebook pages creates confusion for new hobbyists and will inevitably scare people away. In an infantile industry such as ant keeping its even more important to consolidate the sources of information available so that we can not only help each other more efficiently but also enable new hobbyists to quickly source the information they're searching for. This will enable the industry to grow quicker.
Despite this we are still seeing new forums starting and being advertised. Having over a dozen forums of approximately the same size is pointless. On more than one occasion we've been undecided where we should post a question or photo.
Looking at industries similar to ours would be a good start. Take marine fish keeping for example. Their central source of information, Reef Central, is the go to forum to answer any question you may have. Although obviously well established, Reef Central greets new hobbyists with all the information they require, boasting access to several vendors and dedicated professionals and hundreds of posts each day.
Perhaps the biggest offender for confusing hobbyists is where to get their newly caught queens identified. We've counted more than a dozen facebook pages and almost as many forums where you can post an ID request and have an amatuer incorectly identify it as the completing wrong species. Yes we're being facetious, but it's this inaccuracy that hinders the industry, not help it.
Perhaps it's time we start to be a little more inclusive and support each other, consolidate the information and help grow the industry rather than trying to out compete each other.
Well that's just our opinion anyway.
In an unfortunate case of bad timing, a live TV interview in Australia has been interrupted by a mating swarm of ants during their nuptial flight.