Sig9: An End of an Era

Sugar for your brain. Sig9, mine and Vivek‘s (and Anoop‘s and Sherin’s) dream creation was my first foray into any sort of news and community site. It’s history deserves recording, since it’s played a huge part in the last few years of my technical life.

Vivek came up with the name, and initially we designed it as a site to create some sort of technical enthusiasm in our class at college. Happily, our friends didn’t seem too taken up with the idea. I say happily, because that urged us to change it’s focus. It went through numerous avatars: a wiki-like site with a homegrown CMS, a mostly-static site that served articles (and which led to content stagnation) and somehow we ended up with a Drupal-powered blog, while at the same time serving targeted articles. And a couple of popular articles later, we were on our way to glory! 🙂

What Sig9 taught me is how very different people can come together to have a focused site. I think it must from the second or third year on that Vivek’s interests and mine started diverging really fast, and while he posted articles on the arcane art of OS development and language design, I stuck to web design and development. Yup, from the very beginning, he was a Linux junkie while I argued for a Microsoft OS, but what happened I think, at the end is that we ended up influencing each other a lot. I use a Mac now (and I love it for the Unix underpinnings), and Vivek designed the current Sig9 layout. One very important lesson learnt: even if your interests are widely different, you can always learn something from each other. Towards the end, we had very strict rules for content quality. We didn’t want to be a link blog, so we asked every contributor to qualify the link with how it related to him personally, but we always had just one criterion for inclusion: the post should be “interesting”. Sufficiently vague, much like the definition of porn 🙂

And how very often, chaos is preferrable over organization. The ambitious Sig9 admin-wiki quickly stagnated because writing down every admin action quickly leads to more metadata than actual content. It might work for Wikipedia, but for smaller community sites, organization should naturally evolve from chaos with the bare minimum of fuss.

Did we succeed at what we wanted to do? Not really. Sig9 never had the level of interactivity or community that I envisioned. But I’m sure it taught us a lot.

Interestingly, Vivek is also joining a startup company in Bangalore: Montalvo (He left for Blore today, which is what precipitated this post). He tells me Sig9 played a large part in him getting the job. Now that we’ll be in very different places, and busy with our jobs and RL, will it ever revive itself? I’m pretty sure it would. It’s too interesting an effort not to try. We don’t have any definite plans now, but when we do, you’ll be the first to know.

The end of an era. And perhaps, the beginning of a new one. 😉

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