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                   Wednesday, December 27, 2006 - 12:46AM

wvlightning.com to be retired in 2007

By DAN ROBINSON
Editor/Photographer
25 Years of Storm Observing
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Change is good thing.

After nearly three years of careful consideration, I am going to retire the wvlightning.com site sometime in early 2007. I already have the new domain name registered and am currently working on the design for the replacement site. While most people probably couldn't care less about this, I do have a blog now - and so I have some space to explain my reasoning for the few that might want to know.

'wvlightning' was never a very thoughtful name for the site. I chose it back in the early days of domain registration, when Internic was the only game in town and domains cost $70 per year. 'lightning.com' was already registered, and back then, if the domain name you wanted was taken, you just tacked something on to the front or back of it. In West Virginia, tacking 'wv' onto the front of the desired name was the method of choice, hence my site's identity for the past nine years.

There are several reasons for me opting to go ahead with the name change. First of all, the state of West Virginia and the subject of lightning are becoming less relevant to what I do and what I want the site to be about. An increasingly higher percentage of the events I document are out-of-state, and my focus has expanded to cover many aspects of severe weather. I may even be moving away from WV in the next one to three years. All of this makes a geographically neutral and broader-scoped name more appropriate.

Secondly, the way search engines are changing currently makes it a good time to make the switch. One of the original major disadvantages of renaming the site was that wvlightning.com held the top or near-top positions for the keyword 'lightning' on nearly all search engines. Changing the name would most certainly have resulted in that position being jeopardized. For some strange reason, recently wvlightning.com has taken a major hit in search engine rankings. The site now ranks on page 5 for 'lightning' on Google, resulting in a 80 percent drop in the site's traffic. With such a drop in ranking, the search engine impacts of a name change will be less significant.

Third, the site has outgrown its current structure and needs a better interface to allow access to all areas of the site (photo and video galleries, expedition reports, library articles). The storm season blogs for each year are becoming a regular feature, so they will be consolidated.

Fourth, the word 'lightning' is one of the most-misspelled and mistyped words on the internet. 'wvlightning.com' has always been awkward to articulate in conversation. The difficulty in communicating the email and web address over the telephone has especially been a problem. An easier-to-spell and easier-to-speak name will help me and the site in more ways than one.

Finally (and most importantly), a big project is in the works for the evangelism ministry side of the site (as the Lord wills). So big, in fact, that a brand-new site identity will be fitting, even necessary, for its launch. Work on this new project may take most of 2007 to complete, but I will be trying and praying to get everything finished by the time the spring storm season arrives.

I don't have an estimated date of completion for the new site, so you'll have to watch this blog and the wvlightning.com home page for updates. It will be a quiet transition. Other than this blog entry, I'm not going to make a big announcement when it happens.

wvlightning.com
1998-2007

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