Monday, December 17, 2007

Coolrunning RIP?

Well, it took me a few days to realize coolrunning.com is back up. I got an email on Saturday inviting me to log in after the transition, but it didn't work ("C??? authentication server error" or something like that) and the link I used to use -- http://www.coolrunning.com/cgi-bin/ubb/Ultimate.cgi -- said (and still says) that their still migrating. You can now get there from this link.

They had something like 5 days and didn't manage to move the old posts over. Meanwhile people are jumping ship right and left to other boards. Don't they realize that the archive of posts and the user base is the only thing the web site has? I'm guessing the old system was pretty primitive, which probably complicated the transition, but come on guys!

Anyway, I noticed Nobby (now Nobby063 because I guess active has 62 other "Nobby"s on other active sites?) has posted on the new site, so maybe there's a reason to go back there.

The old board was a little long in the tooth and could have used some improvement like RSS and speed in posting to long threads, but this could have been done with minimal apparent change to the user. I'm guess active really just didn't want to deal with this separate thing called "coolrunning" that they bought and were just looking for a way to shove it into community.active.com and be done with it.

They could have just said, "Hey guys, we're shutting down coolrunning. Just go to community.active.com and make an account there if you like it."
Instead they just create a new redundant hierarchy of groups within community.active.com, create a bunch of new user names there from the coolrunning database, and make a link from coolrunning.com. (It really took days to do this?)
Look at how stupid this is. They have Mainstream racing (/community/sports/running/racing) and Mainstream racing (/community/coolrunning/mainstreamracing). There are also parallel Newbies and Injuries forums. It's so confusing they had to put an announcement on the front page of the running forums link that said "Looking for the Cool Running forums? Click Here." This should be a case study in how not to handle a web site transition.

So what to do? Maybe the blogosphere is the wave of the future, but how does one recreate the social network that was coolrunning.

2 comments:

Joseph P. Wood said...

Here's my 2 cents, for better, for worse: I think that Coolrunning's attractiveness-as you rightly point out--is in its community. For gods sake, the majority of my blog links are CR folks.

That said, I think that Active "buying out" CR poses an enormous problem in that Active seems to me an enormous, byzantine mega-corporation whose primary goal is not running, but ten thousand different focii.

I always will prefer the grassroots to the mega-corporate--that said, for community, it seems a lot of people are heading to Kickrunners. There's also Running2Win and RunningMania, the latter Jennifer and Adeel use.

Greg said...

I'm definitely not a fan of active, especially their high service fees and their propensity to spam me. (Yes, you can opt out of the spam, but it's in small print and if you miss this, you spend the rest of your natural unsubscribing to the thousand lists they subscribe you to.)

The problem is that if everybody bails then the community gets fractured into kickrunners, running2win, runningmania, and runningahead among others. Coolrunning just had some good people join (Nobby, Kim Stevenson, Ewart Harris, et al) and it's unfortunate this happened now. Nobby and Ewart at least have stuck around.

I'd like everybody to leave for another grass roots site, but there's no way everyone could agree on one.