Toad's Castle Celebrates its 9th Birthday!

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Toad's Castle Celebrates its 9th Birthday!

Postby supertoad » Tue Jun 25, 2013 12:26 pm

It's hard to believe it has already been another year! It certainly feels like this one flew by for me.

Over the last year TC has continued as it has been, with no great changes for better or worse, but we do have a few things going on right now. PoisonToad has diligently continued to post news for the homepage, and deserves great thanks for the effort. It is just about the only thing keeping the main site active.

Thanks to Nightmare's prodding, and despite my skepticism, I implemented a question-answer anti-bot scheme and it has paid off in reducing spam to almost nothing.

To attract new traffic to the forum I've put together a new forum-based link exchange, and have had some mild success in adding new links. In my search for links I've only reinforced my view that the fan site environment is extremely weak these days. If we do nothing but stay alive, I think we may perhaps become the top Mario fan site simply by default eventually.

I have a dubious tradition of launching ambitious projects on our yearly anniversary that never amount to anything. I even did it last year despite trying to design the project to be resilient to the trend. This year I'm thinking a little differently. Next year will be our 10th anniversary: a real milestone! I'd love to be able to sit here at that time and have something new and great to reflect on.

Instead of trying to come up with a scheme and convince you all to follow, I'll open up the discussion here: do we have any collective ambition to do something new for the site? We've all grown up in the last decade, and together I am sure we have a pretty respectable collection of experience, skills, and talents. Of course this also comes at the cost of being busy with important obligations.

I would love to help anyone who wants to do something new and cool on the site to somehow profit from the endeavor if they can. Obviously the main motivation should be for the site, but a little extra reward couldn't hurt. The details would have to be worked out based on the idea, but for example, if someone wanted to pick up the Character Battles section, those pages could feature ads using that person's adsense account instead of TC's. I want to be fully transparent about the scope of the opportunity. Last year, site-wide, TC only brought in about $50 in advertising. So it's not going to print money, but with more traffic it could be something. I am currently experimenting with affiliate marketing also, but have had no success so far -- it is probably not the right approach for our target demographic (at least on the main site, and on the forum we don't have the volume).

Thanks everyone for continuing to make TC a part of your life. Here's to a great year ahead!
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Re: Toad's Castle Celebrates its 9th Birthday!

Postby Nightmare » Tue Jun 25, 2013 8:29 pm

I really couldn't be happier that our lil' family has kept going so long, and it's a really wonderful feeling knowing I'll be friends with you all for life!

On the subject of fan sites feeling very weak these days compared to social networking like Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, etc, would it be wise to perhaps considering sitting down with Poison Toad and maybe working together to manage a few of those kind of "branch" sites to perhaps advertise the site as a whole for the purpose of pointing out when big gaming news is posted in the news section, or for general purpose advertisement of side projects like character battles or role play games or anything we think would rake in some extra interest? I don't anticipate something like this becoming super popular, but I have friends who are fairly big time on Twitter and Tumblr who could potentially reblog and get the word out about our humble little site.
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Re: Toad's Castle Celebrates its 9th Birthday!

Postby supertoad » Wed Jun 26, 2013 2:23 am

Any kind of promotion like that would be great. Even if we get relatively little new traffic, it'd probably be high quality visitors, the kind that might actually join the forum.
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Re: Toad's Castle Celebrates its 9th Birthday!

Postby Poisentoad » Thu Jun 27, 2013 9:47 pm

Blah, it's so hard to tell when this forum gets a post because the Mario and Luigi icon always looks different from the coins so my mind just instinctively filters it out.

But yeah it's incredible how long TC has been around. I certainly feel like it's helped me grow. I can't even read my old posts without cringing.

I think we've all kind of just accepted TC for what it is now. A hangout for a close-knit group. I really only just post the news to invoke conversation between the few members we have now. I feel to have a successful website like this, you have to pretty much make it a second job and work as hard as possible, as long as possible, updating every second you can, etc. And unless there is true passion, motivation, and patience for that, there's no chance of succeeding. I just don't see much of that here.

But cheers for another good year at TC!
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Re: Toad's Castle Celebrates its 9th Birthday!

Postby Ronin Catholic » Fri Jun 28, 2013 1:06 am

Funny how I actually still come here, when I only showed up because you guys had an RP with the same name as a game I made and I found it while Googling.
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Re: Toad's Castle Celebrates its 9th Birthday!

Postby Nightmare » Fri Jun 28, 2013 3:34 am

"Mega Man: Black Ops"
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Re: Toad's Castle Celebrates its 9th Birthday!

Postby supertoad » Fri Jun 28, 2013 12:13 pm

PoisonToad wrote:Blah, it's so hard to tell when this forum gets a post because the Mario and Luigi icon always looks different from the coins so my mind just instinctively filters it out.

Hah, well, no matter what it's not as bad as the year I was a week late in posting a birthday announcement.

PoisonToad wrote:I feel to have a successful website like this, you have to pretty much make it a second job and work as hard as possible, as long as possible, updating every second you can, etc. And unless there is true passion, motivation, and patience for that, there's no chance of succeeding. I just don't see much of that here.

I think it mostly depends on what your metric for success is. If you're talking about financial success, absolutely -- the site would have to grow by 1000s of percent for that. But only a few years ago, the forum was much more active than it is now, the main site had about 4x as much monthly traffic, and traffic was growing instead of shrinking month by month. I don't think the choice has to be wild success vs complete apathy.

I'd love to have the site running on a real CMS so updates could be more streamlined and collaboration easier. There are three main problems in switching to something like WP though:

1. Porting the layout would be a lot of (uninteresting) work
2. The initial move for the 100+ pages would take a zillion years
3. I'd have to do some kind of account synchronization between the CMS accounts and forum accounts, because it would bother me considerably if members had to make two accounts for the site.
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Re: Toad's Castle Celebrates its 9th Birthday!

Postby Poisentoad » Fri Jun 28, 2013 6:04 pm

Well I just mean more people joining, posting, and actually staying. I think it's harder to achieve that nowadays. There are still fan sites that don't get ridiculous amounts of traffic but they still get a good amount of visitors and I think it's because they post the latest news, they have original content, and they just have a much cleaner interface. Everything looks neatly categorized and accessible. It just looks 'official'. So I basically think how a main site is managed goes hand-in-hand with forum activity.

I think some good examples are the places I get news from: nintendoworldreport, nintendoeverything, gonintendo

Of course I'm not implying we should do any of that. I like TC how it is.
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Re: Toad's Castle Celebrates its 9th Birthday!

Postby supertoad » Fri Jun 28, 2013 6:34 pm

Wow, GoNintendo has really grown. Last time I saw it, it was basically a WP site with a custom banner.

I would call those sites more "news sites" than "fan sites." I realize the distinction doesn't fully work, but I can't think of a better term. I've always modeled TC after sites like TMK and SMBHQ.
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Re: Toad's Castle Celebrates its 9th Birthday!

Postby Poisentoad » Fri Jun 28, 2013 6:51 pm

That's true. I guess I just mean sites with fun communities for fans. Which I guess news sites just inadvertently have.
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