July 12th 2012 4:02 pm
[ Leave A Comment | 9 people already have ]
That is the question - how to turn things around so Dogster and Catster can go from virtually dying as they seem to be now to the vibrant, fun places they once were. But what are the problems that need the most attention?
One constant problem which has been ignored even in the more independent days has been that official friendships have not been allowed across party lines, so to speak. Dogs can only send friend requests to dogs and cats can only send friend requests to cats, making it harder for those who would really like to reach out and make the other side feel welcome. But the traditional barriers need to be broken down to make that possible.
Groups can only go so far - it needs the additional individual touch as well. As the founder and president of several groups myself, I can remember when I wrote individual welcome letters that newcomers appreciated because they often went beyond the standard form letter. As I ponder our current overall crisis, I wonder why I left off doing that.
Then there are the various technical difficulties known proverbially as the Dogster and Catster "fleas" - the bane of existence all across the board. The technical service department needs to be expanded to adequately address the problems that are currently keeping many away. The computer program files need to be checked to see which ones have been corrupted and need to be taken out, such as when an e-mail file on our Mac Mini was corrupted and causing multiple duplicate e-mails. After the problem was fixed, we unsubscribed from a number of things as a precaution, making the e-mail much easier to handle.
And this brings to mind one of the suggested solutions discussed in one of the forums - combining similar groups in order to minimize duplication. But in order to make those mergers successful, it has to be done in such a way that feelings don't get hurt if at all possible. This has yet to be worked out.
Another suggestion that would require expansion of the technical service department would be the creation of an app to maintain contact with Dogster and Catster on the go - a must when you're not near the computer. But keep in mind that it needs to be compatible with multiple phone and tablet systems and should be easily maintained to ensure overall satisfaction. And there needs to be access to the full site, as an app leaves out many things that only the full site can provide.
There has also been a call to bring back instant messaging. While not a big fan of it myself - though I've indulged in it on rare occasions at Facebook for the sake of several Dogster and Catster friends- it should be an option for those who prefer it while allowing the rest of us the more traditional channels of communication.
That brings up another complaint among those who would like a return to the more personal touch - being absorbed into a larger corporate entity has caused some to forget what it meant to hear from somebody who actually shared your concerns. Will the customer service department also need to be expanded?
There has also been a complaint about the mass migration to Facebook, owing initially to the loss of friends to the Rainbow Bridge and the need to get away from all the sadness. Like many of you, I found my way there and have based many of my Facebook friendships with Dogster and Catster people. But this has caused many of us to neglect the groups we once took so much pride in. The question here is how to keep the original groups alive without losing the bonds of friendship just because a number of us have made Facebook pages. This also has yet to be worked out.
Then there's the question of balance between groups for a cause and play groups. Both are important - cause groups can address issues such as health, support, and political causes involving animal cruelty and animal-based legislation, while play groups can provide fun, happiness and a break from whatever real life throws at you. No matter how it's been discussed, dogs and cats alike need this balance.
There have also been calls for a Dogster and Catster reunion. But it begs this question: will it be a temporary reunion for the sake of nostalgia, or will it bring the dogs and cats back together and make Dogster and Catster better than they ever were before?
Leave A Comment | 9 people already have
Dear Bitu, this is a very well written article about the current Dogster/Catster problems.
The groups that are still active are struggling, and some are contemplating giving up completely.
We can only hope and pray that things really do start to turn around for Dogster/Catster.
Holly, Xena, Chloe and family.
Good on you for trying to get it all going again. Many purrs it all works out and thank you .
Bitu, my good furrend. What a wonderfurl article you have written that has covered everyfur's concerns. My furmaly and human Meowmy are with you and hope we can be of aid in this quest in some way. Meowmy believes it will help by consolidating some groups and has discussed with her coadministrator about closing their group since most of the members are members of C&D or Calico and Torties. She does not feel slighted by this in the least bit and will do what she can to save our favorite site and the fond memories we had.
Ever since I joined Catster over 3 years ago, there has been talk of joining Dogster and Catster together, making it easier to befurrend one another. And for as many years I thought that to be a good idea and wondered why it was never implemented.
Since Meowmy isn't much of a tech person, an app wouldn't be necessary to her, but she sees the importance of this to others and may be an answer to a main problem. Her understanding of computer technology is poor at best, so she isn't much help with that matter, however, she wants to be there for you and the site in whatever form it may take, to save out site from going down.
Pretty Girl, Bastet, Baby, Menes and CUZNZ
Although my human companions have a lot of cat friends on Facebook, it just doesn't -- and shouldn't -- serve the same function as Catster! For a long time, our computer server blocked Catster p-mail as spam. We had to open another email account just for our Catster communications, and it was hard to keep up with things that way. We've just switched our Catster account back to our main email, and so far any problems have been on Catster's end. It's so interesting that we had a completely home-grown Pets for Obama group on Catster in 2008, and then by 2012 the Obama campaign itself started a Pets for Obama page on Facebook. Once again, we were there first! Thanks, Bitu, for everything!
Good article, Bitu--I've been so sad on Catster lately--I don't want to see it die!
Bitu, well-meowed. I'm doing my best to keep Black Cats Crossing Our Paths going. MomKatt & I met SO many nice kitties & people on Catster (you included!) and we don't want to see the group or the site just die. :( But yes, I've been discouraged, too. It's not like it used to be - so many went to FB, and a lot of them had good reasons, or to a site called Cathugger (?) I miss that - the pawties in BCCP, etc. But I'm trying to keep things alive! Kudos to you for YOUR efforts as well.
Our Cat Of The Week! Beeg CONCATS out to you Bitu! Enjoy this special honor! :D
Concats on being our COTW!
Since I was not connected when your post was written I am a bit behind.
Yes I wish the community was as active as it was when I came such a short time ago. I really love it here and have such good friends I would hate if any more left.
Some have started Blogs and no longer visit.
Some are on Facebook but that seems so... I don't know... I have almost 5000 friend and never feel connected there. Here with many less I feel like caring means something.
This family wishes that life allowed us more time to come here to play or do some small good.
Purrs and may those who need too listen
Timmy T and Family, Pops too!