Oh wow where can I start with this review. So many things have changed over my Eight years here and mostly in my view for the worse. After a very shaky first few months here I was determined to stick it out and am now really glad I did. I have talked to some wonderful people over the years and still miss each and every one that has decided to leave and welcomed most of those back that decided to return. Ciao is a bit like a drug, you either break the habit or are hooked for years.
In eight years I can honestly say I have only fallen out completely with a few members. The first at the time had been here years and many other members showed their support to this old member by joined in with bullying the new member. I was the new member. If it wasn't for some really special members coming to my support I would have given up as I didn't feel I could beat the big boys. Thankfully I have always been a little spitfire and not shy in sticking up for myself when needed so I stuck by my guns and here I am today. I ended up good friends with the original member I fell out with and it was only those other members that stuck their noses in that made the situation far worse than it would have been in the first place. Isn't that always the case?
I have shared so many trials and tribulations with other members and they with me in this little virtual world. Happy times like news I was to become a grandmother for the first time and sad times like a family bereavement. Nursed by kind words when I suffered pneumonia and had to spend Christmas in hospital to hugs for my latest trauma of Pepper my cat having her leg amputated. We were all shocked to hear of the death of a lovely lady called Lou. She was known here as Playgirl27, a really popular member and is sadly missed. Many members supported each other through this sad time. The support and community spirit between members never wanes here.
After ploughing through my guest book I have come across so many memories and am sadly deleting them as I finally reached the limit of 25000 messages and my guest book just freezes up and is impossible for those of you wanting to leave messages to my wanting to read them. Let me share some memories with you.
I remember when you used to have the guestbook added to the end of your personal homepage. This meant you had to scroll down everything on the homepage before you could leave a message. The fun thing with this format was we used to be able to have music playing in our profile. At the time my user name was blobbyqueen and I had the Mr Blobby theme tune playing everytime my guestbook was entered. It drove some people barmy but made others cry with laughter. Depending on what members chose to play if any it was a good conversation starter. This was stopped because of copyright laws on using the music.
Where you type your text in the guest book you used to also be able to add an image here and mine changed all the time depending on what month it was. Even better you could use animated gifs so you could have a ghost popping up at you on Halloween as you typed your message to the guestbook owner. I only remember three of us ever using images in the guestbook but it was fun at the time.
All the guest books were public to other members and guest book hopping was the most popular sport. I really liked the introduction of the private guest books as many problems are dealt with away from prying eyes as not everything can be discussed in public although I am still as happy to guest book hop as the next person as I am naturally nosey by nature.
What a shame it was when Ciao decided to dispense with the Category Assistants. These were members who were experienced in their own particular categories and were always willing to offer advice. If you wanted particular advice on say computer problems go and see the computer category assistant, not sure what car would best suit your family or want to know how you could improve your review again go and see the category assistant. I was the Food and Beverages category assistant for a long time but spent many a day explaining to members why ingredients and cooking instructions are not acceptable in a review. Old habits die hard and I do still do this if I see them listed.
I moved on to become the Special Events co-ordinator and arranged monthly competions for three years. I only ever missed one because of illness and the competitions were looked forward to each month by most of the members and just before they ceased the amount of members taking part each month was over 300. They were pretty hard work but part of my ciao life and I do miss them as do many others. Bring back the monthly competitions Ciao
One of my fun times here was bringing to life the Ciao Adoptions. It all started with a small idea and grew so huge. They run their own natural course and because so many members had now joined in it was too hard to co-ordinate and a handful of members decided to start abusing the idea so the decision was made to end them. It was fun at the time and thank you to all those that joined in but all good things must end.
At the moment I am the New Members Guide and I really do try my best to fill this post as best I can. I still remember how hard it can be when you join a site like ciao and it can be pretty daunting so if you do see another member floundering please send them my way and hopefully I can help them and answer any questions they may have.
I have often been asked why the site needs a New Members Guide and the reason is that many well meaning people give out totally wrong advice which has led to some new members and older ones too doing the wrong thing and getting into big trouble. I always give out the same advice so if it is wrong it is me that will take the flack and not the member.
And lastly in my experience you used to always be assured of a reply from Ciao but not anymore. They used to be polite and prompt and I even used to get messages in my guest book from Sylvia who was one of the better ciao staff when my e-mail with aol was playing up. 2009 has in my experience been the worst year for Ciao Staff ignoring members e-mails, deleting experienced members without a word, letting bullies and abusers run rampage on the site for weeks before taking any action, letting a member who have at least 14 obvious multiple accounts continue being a member despite correctly filled in abuse forms from many members pointing out all their obvious multiple accounts and for taking so long to pay money into the members bank accounts after they have requested it.
The technical problems have been some of the worse we have experienced and my last words are that the surveys suck. We are fed up with completing nearly half the survey to then be told we don't meet the target group. The Ciao Staff really need to start listening to their members again.
Now on my 8th Ciao Birthday I raise a glass of virtual champagne and good cheer to you all. Good to see so many old friends and new visiting the site still..
May 2010 be a healthy and happy year for you all . Thanks for reading. Fionaxx