Saturday, 13 June 2009

Omani Internet Forums - Part 3

Here we go, the third and final part of the blog series on Omani Internet Forums. Today, I discuss and analyze Knowledge Oman Forum. I had some other forums in mind, like OmanServ (recently shut down), Omani Crib and others, but I felt Knowledge Oman deserves a shot for being active in the local media. As mentioned, this is brief but done objectively:

FIRST, READ PART 1 and PART 2.



AVERAGE SCORE: 3.4 OUT OF 5

Knowledge Oman Forum: As mentioned earlier, internet forums could be general or specific. This is an internet forum with emphasis on science and technology related news and articles. This forum has been running for over a year and it has two vBulletin deployments, one in Arabic and one in English. The Arabic version is still relatively inactive, so I only consider the English version here.

Diversity & Reach: Most members are from Oman with interest in technology. About 50% of the visitors of this forum come from Oman and about 15% from Egypt. For limited diversity but active publicity, this forum gets 3 out of 5.

Sections & ActivityMany technology related categories exist, but without rules and regulations. Only the Local News, International News and KnowledgeOman News sections are active. Some non technical sections also exist, but with little activity. As per Compete, this forum had about 580 unique visitors in March 2009, last among all major English language forums in Oman. The average number of members online during peak hours is about 4, which is very low. This is combining the members on the English and Arabic language forums (deployments). In other words, the two deployments of vBulletin in two languages combined, Knowledge Oman still has less activity than EnglishSabla or OmanForum. Due to this limited activity, this forum gets 3 out of 5.



Members: This forum has about 1,500 members, of which less than 45 are active. Most members are of the same age group and similar interests. Attracting new members has been done well, but keeping them has been an issue. For the limited number of active members, KnowledgeOman gets 3 out of 5.

Technology: This forum uses the latest version of vBulletin software just as EnglishSabla. However, the look, feel and theme are standard, more or less like OmanForum. Nevertheless, this forum has purchased the mobile phone access feature for about $100. For the latest version of vBulletin with mobile phone support, this forum gets 4 out of 5.

Unique Features: KnowledgeOman does a good job gathering latest technology news from different news sites and posting them in one location. Moreover, it has creatively renamed the titles of moderators and members to President, Sales Manager, Media Manager, and so on. This brings a sense of reality to this internet forum. For this, it gets 4 out of 5.

This is it for the discussion and analysis of the three Omani Internet Forums. Next, I conclude this series of blog posts with some advantages and final notes.

Advantages for Individuals and Businesses

Internet forums can offer various benefits to businesses and individuals, provided they are active and have a large number of members. Small and medium businesses can directly or indirectly advertise or communicate with potential consumers on such forums. Recently, a new mobile services company in Oman signed up in EnglishSabla and discussed different issues with members and even answered their questions. This was so interactive that many times immediate changes and improvements were made to the company website.

Individuals can get expert advice and information about Oman. Students could conduct surveys for their research and school work. Expatriates, new in Oman, can make friends and adapt to the country and its people. Among the forums discussed, OmanForum and EnglishSabla are recommended for commercial utilization due to the large number of active members from Oman.

Final Note

Non technical people often confuse internet forums with technologies like portals, gateways or e-platform. This is simply wrong and it is important to understand that the purposes, underlying technologies and scope of all these models are different. Internet forums can be easily setup without technical expertise, just like blogs, using commercial or free software, but the other technologies are much more complex.

I hope this series added some value and provided clarifications. I would discuss other such applications in the future, web portals being next, most probably.

Monday, 8 June 2009

Omani Internet Forums - Part 2

Sorry all, I was very busy with work work and personal work for over a week now! Thanks for your comments here, emails and messages about new posts. So here we go, part 2 of my series of articles on Omani Internet Forums.

FIRST, READ PART 1


In this part, I will introduce and analyze one more very famous internet forum called Oman Forum. Again, I will do this briefly but very objectively using all my knowledge and many years of experience in the IT industry and in academic research:


AVERAGE SCORE: 4.2 OUT OF 5

OmanForum.com: This is perhaps the first dedicated English language Omani internet forum and has been running successfully for about 9 years. It is particularly famous in Oman and is among the 1000 most visited websites from inside Oman.

Diversity & Reach: Moderators and members are mostly Omani citizens and residents. More than 50% of visitors are from Oman and about 20% from India. In this criterion, it gets 4 out of 5.

Sections & Activity: A wide range of well structured categories are available. Rules and regulations are not as vivid as in EnglishSabla, but the structure of sections is quite similar. The sections are quite active and additional commercial sections exist. As per Compete Analytics, OmanForum had about 700 unique visitors in March 2009, second best among all English language forums in Oman. The average number of members online during peak hours is about 50, highest compared to the rest. For variety of topics and good activity, it gets 5 out of 5.


Members: This forum has over 3,000 members, of which over 450 are active. The members are diverse in terms of age and qualification, but not in terms of country of access. About 100 members have more than 1,000 posts and new members continuously join! For this, OmanForum gets 4 out of 5.

Technology: vBulletin is used, but not the latest version. The look and feel of this forum is ordinary, but a creative “Arcade” games section exists that provides good entertainment. It also has a built-in chat room. For this, it gets 4 out of 5.

Unique Features: OmanForum is particularly famous among the citizens and residents of Oman. It has an active classified ads section for buying and selling real estate, finding jobs and so on. For these key differentiators, it gets 4 out of 5.

In my next post, I will introduce and discuss one more forum mentioned by blogger Nadia and conclude this series of posts.

To be continued..