Thursday, March 6, 2014

Opportunity Arises in the Most Unexpected Places

I've mentioned on this blog before that I have a hobby that you could classify as somewhat nerdy - debating hypothetical matchups between fictional characters (although in truth, I've mostly gotten tired of the debating/quantifying aspect of the hobby, and mainly stick around for the community, which is quite a bit of fun). On paper, it's a total waste of time, something to do when you're bored. Yet even something as seemingly ridiculous as this can have value, in more ways than one.

A couple of weeks ago, the Outskirts Battledome Wiki, which I became an admin of at the start of 2012 (mostly by chance, this was not something that I actively campaigned for) was taken down, for largely vague and inept reasons. It was a big loss. This wiki, hosted on a third-party website, was an extremely extensive database, with over 6,000 pages of content, informing the public about obscure fictions and the powers, abilities, and stats of thousands of characters, the point being that it was a resource that could be used in debates. Our pages on scientific know-how was something of value as well (and things I was particularly proud of), informing a scientifically illiterate public simply and concisely, and in a way that it could relate to. How do I know our wiki was serving the needs of people? It got over 6,000 unique visitors a day and hundreds of thousands of hits a month (and this not being the most-loved site by Google either).

Now I could have lamented. A lot of the members did. If this were a year ago I might have done just that - be impotently angry while struggling to find a way forward. But that is not me anymore. Instead, like a leader in any position should, I saw this as a golden opportunity. We would not only be free of the incompetent and unprofessional Wikispaces staff, but we would have a website of our own, one we could now monetize. Why not take advantage of all that traffic?

And so, I sprung into action. I purchased a domain name from the host I'd chosen to carry my other online project (an upcoming one about military history, as I outlined in my post going into the new year), took care of all the legal requirements that I could, found some software that worked for me (MediaWiki was a nightmare, Joomla! is great), and patched the wiki back together. Fortunately I had the foresight that this situation might arise and did weekly exports of the old wiki, the last one being a few days before it was taken down, so no information of importance was lost.

I launched the new wiki a few days ago, and we are slowly putting it all back together. I was even approved for a non-hosted AdSense account for that very site on the first try, something which does not seem to happen for a lot of people.

I'm proud to share the new OBD Wiki here. After only a few days, it already has 600 unique visitors a day. How much money it winds up making remains to be seen, but it will certainly make a lot more than these blogs of mine.

The point is that even the dumbest thing imaginable, the seemingly most useless thing in the entire world with no perceivable value, can be turned into something valuable, through networking at the very least, and even directly making money on it is possible, if you can just think of a plan. I may very well have just turned stupid shit like Goku vs Superman or Luke Skywalker vs Spock into a full-fledged business.

So what did I do with this? I did not despair, understood the fundamentals, had clear goals, saw the opportunity, made a plan of action, and took it. It's an attempt at implementing the philosophy in Think & Grow Rich.

I'll conclude with a couple of quotes from Louis XIV that I think relate well to this situation:

"Time, action itself, and the aid of heaven usually break a thousand paths and uncover a thousand unexpected solutions."

"There are often occasions which give trouble; some are delicate and difficult to disentangle; one’s ideas are sometimes confused. So long as that is the case we can remain without coming to a decision; but the moment we have settled our mind upon anything, and think we have seen the best course, we must take it."

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