My Opera Community, ey? What's the catch?
One of the unique things about Opera is that it has a very, very, proud and good willing community. Opera Software also knew this and after having several mailinglists and newsgroups they eventually created the My Opera Community website back in August 2001. A lot has changed in those six years, and the current My Opera Community website has become much more than imagined at that time. Besides promoting the Opera web browser, I think it's also important (and perhaps easier) to promote the My Opera Community more.
So what's the deal? Nothing really, you really only need to register and that's it. There's no extensive fill in form of your private data. There's no spamming in your mail box afterwards. There's no advertising through banners or pop-ups on any of your soon to be personal pages.
What do you get? For FREE?! No way!
Yeah, the My Opera Community offers features that you can also find other other community websites, but never without ads or spam, and certainly not using standard compliant pages ;) First of all you can blog your entire life on their website, and you can either use one of the many (and still expanding) templates, or create a stylesheet (requires some CSS knowledge) of your own. In theory you can either quickly create a nice looking blog for your own, and later on alter it all the way, in your style™.
Of course blogging is only the essence of your personal page, you need more, to show the world what you've got. And exactly that's where the My Opera Gallery comes in. You can upload 300 MB of photos to your personal page, and use a very friendly interface to convert one picture at a time to a certain resolution, or a whole batch. Life hasn't been easier when putting online.
And it's true, everyone sometimes feels lonely, and that's why you can join/create a group of similar minded people and have (private) discussions.
An Opera website wouldn't be part of Opera if it didn't have some reference. First and foremost, the My Opera Forums are the number one place to get top notch support from Opera Software employees, and more importantly, from the highly skilled Opera users. Indeed when you get experience with using the Opera web browser you can share it amongst your local (real life) friends, but also online. Next to discussion you can also download community created wallpapers, buttons and skins, making the Opera web browser, your Opera web browser.
If that's not good enough, you want more, you want to acquire everlasting fame, you can! The My Opera Community website often spotlights users with great blogs, galleries or contributions to the Opera community, so head on and show the world what you've got!
What's in it for them?
Well a number of things. The Opera Community website is in essence a portal for normal people, which we all are right? Life is more than software or dull pages, but who said you couldn't combine them? Opera Software has always been a 'special' company. Not only do they follow a great number of idealistic thoughts, but they also want to stay in touch with the community. The Opera Community is therefore a modernized way of communicating with devoted fans, instead of aging mailinglists or newsgroups.
Part of the modern way is allowing your users, or future users, to have freedom. After choosing an open web standards supporting piece of software you don't want to limit your users. Blogging, galleries, forums, it's all now a normal part of the current generation's life on the net. Actually by providing a hang-out spot, you lure in new people who eventually find out about Opera Software's other products. And in essence you eliminate the possiblity of Opera Software as a dusty technology brand, My Opera is hip and cool, than the Opera web browser must be too! =)
The My Opera Community allows Opera Software to better promote Opera Mini for instance, when installed on a mobile it gives you pre-defined bookmarks that allow you to go to the My Opera Page and blog mobile, or even upload a picture. The forums allow Opera Software to focus more on development as users help each other with their experiences, giving essential free support. And the popularity of skins and widgets make people more connected with their Opera web browser experience.
A master piece
The work done in the last six years has changed the My Opera Community from a technology oriented community into a modern, youth lurring, communiy. Not only did it modernize in the front- and back-end, but it also matured into a website that covers any aspect needed to heavily promote Opera's software products amongst current and future users. Compared with other communities, such as Mozilla Corporation, Opera Software took the daring step to not only group everything on one website to promote the web browser, but also to enriche the community from only Opera users to a wide group of people that need web technologies to assist in their web presence. By doing this Opera Software took a heavy step of trying to indulge into the vast majority of normal users, that do not necessarily thought of using another browser, for security, speed or standards.
In fact I can still not believe it, but really, the My Opera Community website services are free for all, it works easily, and it's a very comfy place to be!