Be overawed by numbers...
What if you are faced with a specific business problem and need to communicate with someone who has dealt with and analyzed it? Cite.communities strives in doing just that, with a large user base attempting to solve one’s business needs. And by large, I mean humongous. The site has an excess of 25lakh registered users, and sees about 2000 new memberships every day.
The site approximately gets visits from 80 lakh professionals through 2 crore page impressions every month, which is a monstrous number. “We also send out daily email summaries of our important discussions to about 350,000 opt in members. We currently have 2.5 million registered users - in a day about 250,000 of them show up,” says Sidhartha Roy, the founder of Cite.Communities.
“We help professionals and business owners find resources to help solve their day to day problems. We make this possible through a knowledgebase community with high standards for politeness and professionalism.”
The site is absolutely free for its users, and the resources on the site today are all those who have become members over the years. Having launched in 2004, the site’s growth was initially very measured, with the addition of about 5000 to 6000 users a month.
The team at Cite.Communities, although comprising of just 3 core members and 2 part timers, is one that has a real urge to help others learn, improve and grow. “I've always wanted to create an organization with a social bend, something that genuinely helped people become better. We don't sell anything (other than ads) and we don't recruit actively but when we do, it's usually because the person is already deeply involved in the community and has an idealistic streak in them,” says Sidhartha.
Sidhartha handles all the technology and developmental aspects. Nabomita Mazumdar handles networking and promotion of the community while Apurva Arora Roy is in charge of legal and member support issues. “As part time support members, we have V.Sreerama Rao, a retired business professional who helps us with creating business articles and Sudeepta Chatterjee who is our in-house Editor,” informs Sidhartha
Technical capability and Earnings
“We run the show on 6 linux servers hosted on Liquidweb, and we use just one web server and one database server. We are able to serve such a huge audience with minimal hardware by using many layers of data caching mechanisms like Memcache & Akamai. We are working to make the architecture more fault tolerant, but we are already well equipped to handle traffic many times what we currently serve.”
The site uses a basic bulletin board system as the base and works like a hybrid between Facebook and Twitter where you are constantly updated on important discussion topics in your areas of interest.
The revenue by the company is earned is through advertising. About the advertising avenues, Sidhartha says, “Though Google Adsense has been our mainstay up until now; we are formulating an in-house geo-targeting advertising solution. This is a result of requests and queries from many advertisers who want to promote their business on our business network, but locally. We also welcome industry sponsors who want to brand their businesses and want to target a professional crowd.”
Future Plans and obstacles faced
The plan for the future is to introduce a location layer which will help users connect directly with their local peers thereby solving local issues.
A major stumbling block that concerns business issues is that no one would want to publicly announce them. This is why the site allows users to create anonymous screen names enabling them to feel comfortable discussing their concerns. But this also becomes a hindrance as there is a compromise on word of mouth promotion. “We are attempting to change this view point by positioning ourselves locally so we also become a local business resource hub while being a place to discuss professional issues,” adds Sidhartha.
Are you already a member? If not, do you think you'll be able to find what you want from this huge pool? In case you do have a few professional niggles, check out cite.communities here.
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