About Gun Dog Chat
Why build Gun Dog Chat? I had a thousand reasons not to create this site … it's too difficult to make, there isn't a need for it, I don't have time, nobody will use it, it can't compete with big social media, I don't have a business plan or any clear way to monetize the site … but I have an overwhelming desire to make it anyway despite all that. Gun Dog Chat started as a `social feed` for Gundog Central, but after developing it, I realized if I had added it to Gundog Central, it would have created confusion. Gundog Central is a hunting dog website where members list hunting dogs for sale. Adding this social feed to that site would have led to members listing dogs for sale in the classified section, in the online forum section, and in this social feed section … meaning visitors might have found dogs for sale in three different places. The Gundog Central forums weren't designed for people to list dogs for sale, but people do it anyway despite clear warnings not to. I could have added the same warning to this social feed, but I feared it would have also been ignored. The social feed was designed for people to brag about their hunting dogs, share their hunting stories, and to promote their hunting services … not to list dogs for sale. So, I decided to turn the Gundog Central's social feed into its own website.
Gun Dog Chat isn't meant to replace or compete with Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube or TikTok. You won't get the precise likes or the same level of user interaction because I'm focused on serving a much smaller group of people, just hunters with hunting dogs. It's also true that I can't provide you with the same level of experience as those big social media services, with their unlimited budgets and huge staff. However, I'll do my best to create a fun place to brag about our hunting dogs. I've tried to focus on including what I thought were the `basic` social media features … like sharing photos and videos, liking people's content, leaving comments, having a public profile, allowing followers, direct messaging, and bookmarks. I'll try to expand on these features in the future when possible.
I have several reasons for wanting to create this site. After being banned numerous times on other social media sites for sharing hunting dog-related posts, I decided it was time to create my own social media type experience dedicated solely to hunting dogs. I wanted to build a place where you could brag about your dogs and your pursuit of game without fear of being banned or censored. A place where your feed is filled with pictures of hunting dogs and wild game … not babies, beaches, and bikinis. The major social media sites try to bubble wrap their experience to prevent anyone from getting offended. While these services have eased up on their content moderation for now, that doesn't mean in the future, they won't begin to crack down on hunting-related content again. When and if they do, I'd want Gun Dog Chat to be ready!
In the meantime, I can see Gun Dog Chat being a tool to promote hunting dog-related kennels and services. I constantly see kennels and breeders sharing content on social media while not sharing the same content on their website … I saw this as a missed opportunity that Gun Dog Chat might be able to fill. While social media is free and friendly, it pales compared to what the internet search engines can do for your website. Search engines usually produce 60-80% of a website's traffic. To get great results, your website must rank well in the search engines. One determining factor for search engine rankings is the number of backlinks a website has. Backlinks are links on the internet that point back to your website. The more backlinks your website has, the more popular search engines think it is, this can have a positive effect on a website's rankings. New websites generally don't rank well for several reasons, mainly because of their age and lack of backlinks. With Gun Dog Chat and Gundog Central, all NetKennel brand websites will now automatically get at least two websites linking back to them, hopefully boosting their search rankings. There is no reason that your kennel or hunting dog-related business, can't share links to your own website on Gun Dog Chat, helping boost your websites backlinks as well.
The last reason for building out Gun Dog Chat is that it gives me a playground to experiment with code. I've spent the last 18 years building Gundog Central, and it's gotten pretty large, any slight change I make to Gundog Central usually has unforeseen consequences to other parts of the site, i.e., I typically break stuff. Because Gun Dog Chat is intended to be a small site, it's easier for me to experiment with software and features that I plan to add to Gundog Central. Gun Dog Chat uses a content engine I originally created for Gundog Central but never implemented it because of the tremendous effort it would have taken. Using that engine here allows me to test it and find issues I might not otherwise find until it's too late once it's deployed to a much larger site.