In the last 10 years since it said hello to the world, PaGaLGuY has come to define how MBA applicants across India share information and network with each other online to crack the toughest MBA entrance tests and get into the best business schools in India and across the world.
But how many of you remember PaGaLGuY.com the way it looked when it had just started out?
(For the trivia junkies. Here are two more designs we used between 2002 and 2012: first , second)
Looks rather... 2002? This screenshot of early PaGaLGuY.com was taken on October 20, 2002, barely a month after it was launched. There were just 147 registered users then who had made a total of 2,253 posts. And now, at the time of writing this post, the forum has 589,599 registered users who have made 3,521,484 posts. We handle an unprecedented amount of traffic growth every subsequent admission season which remains a challenge for us to keep up with.
Despite this 400,000% increase in the number of users, the core of PaGaLGuY remains the same today: an Internet Forum . Back in 2002, forums were the rage of the day. Orkut or Facebook weren't born and Twitter hadn't even been envisioned (poking someone would have invited mildly violent repercussions and following someone unknown would have landed one in jail.) A website built around discussion threads on CAT and the IIMs sounded like just the service that would forever change the way Indians approached their MBA aspirations.
But while the Internet evolved and along with them did users, online forum software has failed to keep pace. In 2002, the Internet was centered around information, topics and webpages. Today, the Internet revolves around people, the things they do and the voice that it gives them. Information is now but a glue that holds this Internet of People together.
It was only natural that PaGaLGuY evolved with the times and changed from being a 'forum about MBA and b-school discussions' to a 'network of people associated with MBA and b-schools'. And since there was no off-the-shelf solution to power our aspirations, we decided to build the platform in-house, using our bare hands, from scratch. It's been two years since then.
And I am happy to announce that we are about one week away from transitioning to a brand new next-generation version of PaGaLGuY, one that does not merely redesign, but fundamentally re-imagines what we are as an online community today and what we could be in the future.
In this post and a couple more in the coming week, I will introduce you to the next-generation PaGaLGuY and explain how it will retain the vintage of this lovely community while helping you do more with it than ever before (some of you, who have already participated in the beta testing programme of the new PaGaLGuY would be familiar with all this).
Let's begin with the familiar: What happens to the forum discussion Threads?
Answer: They get better. Take a look at the screenshot below ( click for full image ).
Besides the design makeover, threads get the following improvements,
a) The first post of every thread is now sticky. Which means, no matter what page of the thread you are on, the first post will always appear on top. Anybody entering the thread will orient themselves to the original purpose for which the thread was started. This will stop thread discussions from meandering offtopic, especially at the hands of unsuspecting newbies.
b) You can 'mention' a user in your post when addressing them , like in my post in the screenshot below.
Mentioning a user anywhere on the new PaGaLGuY will send him an alert notification, after which he can choose whether to participate in that discussion.
In order to mention a user in your post, all you need to do is add the '@' symbol before their names. Like this...
c) Goodbye Thanks and Groans, Welcome 'Like'. The Thanks and Groans feature has been around on PaGaLGuY for five years, but its usage on the forums never really took off the way it was originally intended. While Thanks were used appropriately, Groans were used to criticise ideas (which was really the intended use) but also people (not the intended use). As Moderators and Administrators, our mailboxes were flooded with complaints of Groans being used for everything from being mean to people to settling scores.
In the new PaGaLGuY, we decided to do away with the negative energy and retain only the 'Thanks', while renaming it to 'Like'. If a thread helps you, 'Like' it. If it doesn't, express your disapproval by not 'Like'-ing it, and finding something else to do on PaGaLGuY (or expressing your disapproval coherently as a reply).
d) Follow a thread. You Subscribed to threads earlier. Now, you Follow them, like this...
So what's the big deal with changing Subscribe to Follow? Stay with me on this, it's the BIGGEST change in the next-generation PaGaLGuY.
Follow you, Follow me
Not only can you follow threads now, you can also follow people on the next-generation PaGaLGuY, by clicking on the 'Follow User' button on their profile pages like this...
So you would typically follow puys with high mock CAT scores, current students or alumni of b-schools that you're interested in, b-schools or test-prep companies which have user IDs on PaGaLGuY, or a puy who you have been friends with.
Live Feed: This is how it all adds up
Each time there is an update to a thread you Follow, an article you comment on, or a user you follow posts in a thread, you will see it all on your personal Live Feed which looks like this...
(Click for larger image)
Your Live Feed and Notifications Panel will be your new homepage. It will be the one place on PaGaLGuY where you can keep track of all the puys, threads and articles that you are following.
Not only this, you can Ping a status update that will reach all your followers...
Which will appear on your and your Followers' Live Feeds like this...
You can build discussions around Pings by commenting on them...
Or share Youtube videos or images in your Pings, which will reach your followers, and play inline on the site.
So in the new PaGaLGuY, for example, you would,
a) Follow threads that you are interested in
b) Follow CAT toppers, B-schools, B-schoolers, Alumni, Puy-friends
c) And see it all appear on your Live Feed.
Makes sense? More features, improvements, use-cases and hacks in the next post.