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**Super Long Post** - BTF updates, volunteer opportunities

Saleem

Administrator
Staff member
Messages
1,928
Recently we had a thread and Google Hangout on how to improve BTF moving forward. I really appreciate the input from the attendees, you guys are awesome. These discussions have led us to three main goals:


Increase user engagement (particularly younger members)
Overhaul the user experience (especially the UI of the forum)
Collate and collect valuable Bhangra info for future dancers (Wiki, interviews, etc)


To accomplish this, we have a long list of projects and ideas. Some are straightforward and necessary updates while others are experiments to get more, younger members of the bhangra community involved.


This is a great opportunity, if you're a lurker (unregistered) on the site, or if you never post to BTF because you're afraid of backlash or your team's reputation -- to get involved in a positive way. I'll also point out that it's a great initiative that shows community involvement and initiative that will reflect better on your resume than passing out jello at the hospital.


So what do we need to get this initiative going?
We need a) content volunteers, b) technical volunteers, and c) younger moderators.


Content volunteers will be focused on projects that add value to the BTF experience outside just threads and posts:


1. Question of the Week - This project is about engaging younger dancers in a way they might feel comfortable. There are a lot of questions every dancer has when starting out, and sometimes people are too embarrassed to ask it openly or have their own resources to do so. We think it might be nice to set up an anonymous submission form for questions, and have a volunteer pick a question or two a week and post an answer as well as open the thread for more input. This doesn't have to be an ustaad, just someone who is interested. We think it's a great way to get information out there to new dancers and also generate more discussion.


2. Wiki administration - The BTF wiki has been pretty barren, but the whole point of a wiki is that the community can contribute and help make it grow. It's clearly not working out that way for whatever reason. We still think a wiki is valuable though; forums are great for two-way communication between members, but a wiki is perfect for publishing great content as a one-way street to readers. Because the wiki doesn't have anything, no one visits. Since no one visits, there's no one to update it. So we need volunteers to help beef the wiki up and get it started. There are new dancers every Fall, and they can use the guidance.


3. Mixing ladder - Member Navi Dhaliwal has already approached us asking to help bring back the BTF Mixing ladder started by Harman Toor. Harman's vision was a great example of a member having and idea and acting on it to enrich the BTF experience. We want to foster that, and so we'll be helping Navi restart the Mixing ladder for this summer. Keep posted, there will be some small tweaks to help make the process smoother, but mostly it'll still just be focused on mixing and bringing exposure to young mixers.


4. CTL - The CTL is going to have a big technical overhaul, but it's partially wrapped up in the larger technical overhaul of the forum's platform. What we need in the meantime, is to grow the database of information. We have competitions celebrating 20 years of existence, and it would be great to give those teams from 10 and 15 years ago at least one place on the internet where their accomplishments still are recognized. Like the wiki, the CTL is actually crowd-sourced, and anyone can edit. We need volunteers who will commit and help add information about teams, comps, and placings so that the CTL is more complete. This is a really minimal-investment way to help out.

5. Member ideas - We've listed a few projects and a few volunteer positions that will help involve people and make BTF a better resource. But ultimately we'd love to work on things that members bring up. So if you have an idea, or you want to do something we really encourage you to contact us. We have some resources and a lot of experience and can help you depending on the project.


We need technical volunteers for:


1. Overhaul of the platform. BTF uses SimpleMachinesForum, which is very slow to update and outdated at this point. Moving the forum without disrupting all the existing functionality is a priority, and that's slowed us down. We're probably just a few months away from switching, and we'd like to do it before the next season ramps in the late fall. We need members to help scope out potential platforms, prioritize what customizations would benefit the BTF community, and of course help us actually move the forum. This is the single most important thing to accomplish in the next couple months, and we could really use help. Proficency in any web programming language or programming language is helpful.


2. CTL - The CTL may be completely revamped based on what platform we choose to move to. Till then, we can still tweak and update a few things to make the current experience better. first would be the UI of course, but we can also add more features such as a specific competitions pages, links to mixes/videos from the comp, links to mixes/videos of teams, etc etc. There's a lot to do and this is a great opportunity for a young member in the CS/engineering field to get some experience in Database(SQL), Web(PHP,CSS,HTML), and scripting(python,Javascript). The best way to show employers you can build something is to have built something.


3. Widgets - We got a lot of ideas from members about some widget functionality such as a BTF radio, a streaming player for file uploads, soundcloud integration. We need volunteers to help us prioritize and implement. For example, we now have soundcloud embed capability tested, so now we just have to automate it. In the open forum meeting, we discussed idea like having a thanks button be mandatory before downloads are visible. There are a lot of ideas and a group focused on assessing and implementing these would make sure they get done faster.


Finally, we need younger moderators: Of the moderator group, Swi is the youngest at 24. The average age on the forum (and the circuit) is much younger than that. We need younger moderators who are more engaged and closer to the circuit as dancers.


Our hope is to bring in new moderator's to oversee some of these projects and make the forum more active in general. We still want volunteers and general members to be providing a lot of the new content, but the new moderator's would also have responsibility to make sure the projects are happening. The forum just doesn't need content moderation the way it did 3-4 years ago, so we can shift the moderator role to include these projects.




Our plan for the next month is to start involving interested members and get projects going.


Please contact us and let us know if there's a project mentioned you'd like to help with, or a new project you want to do
1. Question of the Week
2. Wiki
3. Mixing Ladder (Navi Dhaliwal already is here, but we could probably use one more)
4. CTL entries
5. New idea


We are having an application process for moderator. Age is a factor, but not a limiting one. We want younger moderators, but we also need to balance with older/active ones as well, so everyone is invited to apply or nominate. We'll have a separate thread with all the info for that. Remember, the moderator's are not just going to be banhammering, they are going to be focused on making this site more engaging for everyone!


Lastly, we will be resurrecting BTF Ventrilo. I'll work with the host this week to get it running.


Thanks to everyone for your input. We appreciate it, and the forum's motto is still "by the teams, for the teams". Big shout out to Swi who has been a consistent contributor and source of ideas and action. Keep the ideas (and volunteering!) coming


HOW TO GET INVOLVED
Reply to this post with what role you'd like to volunteer for, or PM me.
 

yraparla

SwizzeeMusic.com
Messages
2,072
please please please read the whole thing and give it some thought. Saleem and I have spent a lot of time planning out a direction for the site and it all centers around members being active and invested. It's not our site, it's everyone's site and the more people contributing the better BTF will be. If you don't want to sign up, please leave us feedback on any ideas you'd like to see or just post to get others hype and signing up!


I'll have a separate thread about the mixing ladder. We're resurrecting it mostly the same with automated systems added so that it won't fall apart if someone goes on vacation.


This summer is hopefully going to be a fun time on the site. Our goal is to bring in more people to help maintain and contribute to the site in formal ways so that everyone feels like they can contribute and do something. So please sign up!
 

Romy

Active Member
Messages
234
I'm willing to help! I can help with the Question of the week and Wiki admin projects.

If it's needed, I can help on the programming side. I may not have the time commitment to fully divulge myself into re vamping the CTL and the forums itself but if the help is needed on that side, I'm more than willing to help!
 

yraparla

SwizzeeMusic.com
Messages
2,072
Romy said:
I'm willing to help! I can help with the Question of the week and Wiki admin projects.

If it's needed, I can help on the programming side. I may not have the time commitment to fully divulge myself into re vamping the CTL and the forums itself but if the help is needed on that side, I'm more than willing to help!
thanks Romy! just fyi we're looking for much more new dancers for the Question of the Week, simply because they'll have more questions themselves and be closer connected to the demographic we're shooting for. I'll note you down for both, but I think we could really really use your help on the wiki and CTL entries!
 

Navkarn

Member
Messages
658
my area of expertise only lies in one thing and im more than down to help / moderate ventrilo if need be!
 

Romy

Active Member
Messages
234
Swi said:
Romy said:
I'm willing to help! I can help with the Question of the week and Wiki admin projects.

If it's needed, I can help on the programming side. I may not have the time commitment to fully divulge myself into re vamping the CTL and the forums itself but if the help is needed on that side, I'm more than willing to help!
thanks Romy! just fyi we're looking for much more new dancers for the Question of the Week, simply because they'll have more questions themselves and be closer connected to the demographic we're shooting for. I'll note you down for both, but I think we could really really use your help on the wiki and CTL entries!
Sounds good! Sign me up for that then. :)
 

Kartik

Member
Messages
319
LOVE this.

It's about time there are some targeted efforts to redefine how we approach the activity. Every couple of months there's another long post about how BTF has declined or Bhangra sucks these days and I think there can be long-reaching impacts from such an overhaul. Great job Saleem and Swi and co.

I'd be happy to help out with Wiki/CTL entries as well as moderating the question of the week idea (very cool btw). Have had a couple other ideas and will reach out to you guys offline to discuss them.
 

hardeep_singh

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,468
Can we have Gibb (gabbah shareef bhalwan) do a weekly or monthly feature? that dude drops some badass knowledge/perspective.
 

hardeep_singh

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,468
also along the lines of a btf mix ladder can we have some sort of artwork contest? we have some heavy hitters like danny singh and maneet deol who can make some sick artwork, it would be cool to encourage younger kids to make punjabi/bhangra oriented artwork in the same manner that mixing music is promoted.
 
Messages
921
I'm pretty good with vent as well :/ been using it for like 5-6 years so I can help with that if y'all like
 

yraparla

SwizzeeMusic.com
Messages
2,072
thanks everyone, I've noted your names. Please modify your posts to include specifically which projects you'd be interested in helping with, we're looking not just for strong commitments on the projects but also motivated people who will eventually develop and lead their own ideas.

hardeep_singh said:
Can we have Gibb (gabbah shareef bhalwan) do a weekly or monthly feature? that dude drops some badass knowledge/perspective.
hardeep_singh said:
also along the lines of a btf mix ladder can we have some sort of artwork contest? we have some heavy hitters like danny singh and maneet deol who can make some sick artwork, it would be cool to encourage younger kids to make punjabi/bhangra oriented artwork in the same manner that mixing music is promoted.
Both great ideas, thank you hardeep. We have a much larger vision for bhangra-related content (i.e. research, journalism, interviews, etc) but until we see more content and interest in the forum we decided to table it. Gibb is someone though who has consistently given us great information, I think formalizing it might not be a bad idea so it gets more exposure.
 

faizan

Just shut up and dance
Messages
1,736
i agree with the gibb post of the month 100%. He is one of the most literate Americans on the topic of punjabi folk history. His knowledge would be best utilized by making entries on things that interest the circuit today, including current trends (i.e, stunts, mirza, vardiyan, judging). He may enjoy it and it can serve as a sort of archive of his articles (link with wiki). Teaching the culture's roots are key to connecting the younger generations to what the virsa is really all about, gotta drop that knowledge on these yoofs.
 

mithu

Active Member
Messages
793
I can help with Wiki Admin, and mix ladder.
Not sure if I'd be considered young (21) lol, but I'll be willing to help mod.
 

voxanimus

<('.'<) (>'.')>
Messages
1,685
i'm down to help as well. i wasn't even aware that Navi was going to restart the mixing ladder; I'd been planning to do the same over the summer as well.


on top of that, I'd like to help moderate. i'm pretty young hahah (21) and definitely have been an active forum user for a long time.


excited for the updates!
 

Saab

Today is a gift
Messages
991
I think a cool thing to implement would be the idea of open discussion on hot button topics via a 3rd party "live feed" system on a weekly or monthly basis. If we analyze certain trends and we see issues arising within the bhangra community, it might be nice to present a syndicated or annual open discussion to discuss various issues and present arguments on two different(or multiple sides). I think sometimes the thread format doesnt engender a lot of structured discussion on topics. I think a debate/open forum like format done in real time would really bring out more activity amongst members and bring in newer members. Something even like ask the moderators etc would be a awesome thing to do!

For the wiki, one huge failure of mine and the wiki is it's hard to come to a consensus on a lot of articles/topics. I think utilizing various formats - video/gibbs publications(or others)/discussion topics etc could be pivotal in driving content. I think posts too tied in with the question of the week, as well as weekly releases in terms of wiki content would be a cool place to start(staggering content and putting it out for discussion would be cool). I'm sure this was already tossed out, but tying all content to btf and doing staged releases would definitely help populate the wiki/forum/youtube page.


Also, in terms of member ideas, we as a forum should delegate individuals to take care of certain BTF social aspects and ventures. Facebook, twitter, google+, youtube, etc should be releasing content on a regular basis, and I think BTF should start using its huge clout in the Bhangra circuit to start supporting Bhangra related research, projects, and publications like Swi said with these different avenues considered in the process. Something like how talk shows feature funny videos from youtube, funny/related tweets from a prompt, facebook contests related to promoting bhangra. Conversation about bhangra I think is shifting a way from a more controlled thread format and dispersing into various social media outlets, so it would be cool for BTF to take strides in that area. I realize BTF probably doesn't make money, but for all the info on this site it has a huge immaterial value that could drive projects in the social realm.
 

Saab

Today is a gift
Messages
991
faizan said:
i agree with the gibb post of the month 100%. He is one of the most literate Americans on the topic of punjabi folk history. His knowledge would be best utilized by making entries on things that interest the circuit today, including current trends (i.e, stunts, mirza, vardiyan, judging). He may enjoy it and it can serve as a sort of archive of his articles (link with wiki). Teaching the culture's roots are key to connecting the younger generations to what the virsa is really all about, gotta drop that knowledge on these yoofs.
This would be awesome.
 

jfried

Member
Messages
502
I'd be happy to moderate: I've got some modding experience on other boards and although I'm not much younger than Swi at 23, I'm not going anywhere soon.

I'd also be happy to edit and maintain some of the wiki content. I can produce some too.

Also, on the topic of Gibb's post of the month thing, I think it could be a really cool idea to have scholars on the Punjabi diaspora or other pertinent topics do a monthly post. I'm thinking Ashveer to start, and maybe he can get some of the Sikhiya Scholars people to jump on and contribute. It'd be awesome to have a bi-weekly post on history, politics, or some other germane cultural topic to the people on the forum. Thoughts?
 
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