Blue Kaffee

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Blue Kaffee (pronounced /ˈbluː kæfi/), commonly referred to by the acronym BK and contracted by some to Bluekaffee, is a web-based community for users founded and operated in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. It provides standard features, including a web-based journal system, a messaging system, and a set of web forums. It is unique in terms of geographic scope as well as size; according to the Alexa web statistics service, Blue Kaffee is the most popular web site in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador as of April 2006 (but has claimed the rank of second and fifth for certain months during 2004 and 2005). The validity of this statistic is disputed as the site ranked number one on the occasions that Blue Kaffee was ranked number two, La Senza [1], is that of a lingerie store company based in Québec, Canada with store branches around the world. La Senza has since been removed from this list.

Blue Kaffee has a community of approximately 20,000 members of which about half are frequently active. The web forums contain roughly one million posts in 50,000 topics, the journal system is home to approximately 700,000 journal posts, and over 4.5 million comments have been left on journal entries, writings, gallery images, and news posts. It has been featured prominently in local media, including the feature article[2] of the February 2, 2005 issue of The Express.

The main audience of Blue Kaffee are users in the Newfoundland and Labrador geographic area, although users in the United Kingdom, Australia, the United States, and other provinces of Canada and users as old as forty five years of age can be found.

Contents

Organization and History

The site was created in October 2002 by Chad "Kaffee" Levesque as a local replacement to the popular DeadJournal journal service. At the time, the site was hosted from Chad "Kaffee" Levesque's home PC using a residential ADSL Internet connection. Over the first few months it had evolved from primarily a personal journal project of the creator to the community-oriented web site it still is at the time of this writing. After a server crash caused the loss of all of the data associated with the site in February 2003, Blue Kaffee 2.0 was launched, promising additional functionality, increased security, and optimized code.

The site was hosted for most of 2003 and the early months of 2004 by the Exodian Network [3], administrated by StealthCat. During his administratorship, the task of programming new features and cleaning up existing code was taken care of by the community at large. Programmers included Mike "vh1" Wyatt, Shane "kr4z" O'Connell, Steven "Wilson" Wilson, Gerry "pandemic" Hall, and StealthCat himself. This period resulted in the implementation of several critical features and a large expansion in terms of userbase.

In the fall of 2003, Blue Kaffee began to issue t-shirts and hoodies as a way of raising a nominal amount of income and promoting the sites brand amongst local teens. The merchandise proved to be quite successful and spawned a follow-up run in the summer of 2004.

Plans for a new, third version of Blue Kaffee emerged during this time period. The effort was initially spearheaded by StealthCat before being passed off to Tracey "Raisin" Hickey and later to Aaron "stump" Rudkin before finally being scrapped in favour of an incremental development process.

After a disagreement on the areas of finances and administration, Kaffee purchased a dedicated server on a 10 Mbit/s line provided by Layered Technologies [4] to take care of the site. The sudden need for funding resulted in Blue Kaffee fundraising events, including "movie nights" and concerts featuring local youth entertainment.

Starting in April 2004, Blue Kaffee launched a community web radio station called "Blue Kaffee Web Radio" run primarily by administrator Steven "Wilson" Wilson. This service has been provided intermittently until January 2005 but was revived in March 2006.

In the summer of 2004, Aaron "stump" Rudkin rejoined the sites administrative team, expanding the feature base of the website, rewriting existing programming code, and assuming administrative duties. The site is now programmed by stump, Wilson, and Kaffee and is constantly optimized and expanded. Administrative affairs are taken care of by a team of local youth, including the three programmers, Heather-Sara "Dagny" Labonté, Jason "Typh" Peddle, and a wide team of moderators who work to enforce strict rules against harassment and inappropriate content.

As of 2005, Blue Kaffee was widely recognized across the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, was undergoing exponential growth, and was financially independent without resorting to advertising or pay-for-access features.

As of March 5, 2006, the website was officially declared temporarily out of service. This resulted in a lack of funds being raised. Most of the site's donations came from concerts specifically created for the site. The most recent one saw the lowest number of guests, even lower amount of money and resulted in a loss of $250. Of the estimated $400, only about $64 was raised. This in turn forced the administration to shut the website down until its former goal of $650 was reached. Response to this action was high and immediate and the goal was exceeded the next day by 35% before the site was restored.

The site was moved to another Layered Technologies server on a 100 Mbit/s line on March 11, 2006 as the expense to do so had decreased from previous rates.

As of March 27, 2007, the site employed the use of Google Advertising to help pay for the cost of maintaining the site, after private funds, and donations ran out.

As of June 8, 2007, the site went down without any notice to be transitioned to another server. The estimated wait time was to be 24-48 hours. It was days later that an update was made stating that the transitioning process would take longer due to the sheer size of the database. When the site was made available again a week later, on June 15, 2007, ownership of the site had been transferred from Chad "Kaffee" Levesque to three administrators, Heather-Sara "Dagny" Labonté, Jason "Typh" Peddle and Aaron "stump" Rudkin.

Features

The core functionality of Blue Kaffee has always been an online journal or "blog" system. The vast majority of users are introduced to the site through this feature, which allows users to write about anything they see fit and customize visibility and display options.

Blue Kaffee features an easy to manage "friends list", allowing users to identify and contact friends or acquaintances and categorize them, not unlike similar features offered by LiveJournal, MySpace, or other online communities.

Blue Kaffee offers an online photo and art gallery service, similar to deviantART and plans to expand to host user-submitted images in the future. Blue Kaffee also offers an online writings portfolio service, allowing users to share poetry, short stories, and other writings.

Controversy

Concerned parents

As with any community appealing to young web users, Blue Kaffee has been criticized for allowing youth to share what some say is excessive amounts of information to an unknown userbase. Site owners disagree, arguing that all information shared is completely voluntary, that young users are warned before sharing information, and that parents should engage in filtering should they desire to control the access their children have to the Internet. The site was cited during Fall 2004 web safety sessions provided by the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary at local schools as being a significant privacy threat, although no known instances of abuse or harassment have resulted in charges or damage being done.

Content controls

During Winter 2005, Blue Kaffee came under fire by a St. John's high school, arguing that students were making use of the journal service to post libelous remarks against teachers and school administration. Blue Kaffee administration responded by warning users that they would be liable for any illegal remarks made on their journals, and urging users to exercise discretion and to make use of available privacy features.

Productivity lost

Many local schools have prohibited access to Blue Kaffee via school computers because they claim that it, similar to other online communities, instant messaging, and Solitaire have resulted in a significant drop in student and employee productivity.

Mocha Café

Several derivatives of Blue Kaffee, vying for the same audience but started by members of Blue Kaffee, have emerged since 2002. The most popular, Mocha Café started on Jun 16, 2004 boasts 111 active members (they delete all inactive members) by the time it closed on May 20, 2005. Some users have traditionally preferred Mocha Café to Blue Kaffee, given its lax moderation and content control policy. Ironically the only users that abused Mocha Café were moderators of Blue Kaffee. Mocha Café locked up the site permanently on May 20, 2005, because the owner lost interest. On August 10, 2005 the site was unlocked and no longer belongs www.themocha.com. However there is no active members and little moderation mainly because not many people know about its new URL.

Moderation

Some users and former users have alleged that site administration is inconsistent, heavy-handed, and focuses on quality control rather than user freedom. Other users have complained about a perceived drop in site quality as the community expands. Moderation and Administration replies indicate that while they are aware of these problems, they believe it to be impossible to find any one solution to the issue.

There are 3 types of Moderators - Administrators, Moderators, and Forum-Specific Moderators.

Administrators are the head decision makers on Blue Kaffee, and are involved with banning of users when necessary. Currently, the site is owned by three members of the administrative team.

Moderators: These individuals are charged with the safe operation of Blue Kaffee as a whole.

Forum-specific Moderators: These moderators have control over the operation and safe maintenance of an individual section of the forums page.

External links

  • Blue Kaffee - web community based in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada
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