COMMUNITY VOICES | Somali Internet websites explored


Kudos to Somali internet media: there are tons of Somali sites simultaneously avowing news about Somalia. The Somali sites have grown into countless numbers to the extent that it is hard to tell or to guess how many of them are really there. There are longstanding and famous sites like Hiiraan Online and  the Google News included sites such as Raxanreeb, Somali Current, Midnimo Information Center and others, which have become household names among the Somali Internet community. 

There are political gossip sites like Waagacusub. You have News sites like Kismaayonews, Allpuntland, Allbanadir, Somalilandpress, Garowe Online and others: the news those sites publish focuses on an area,  a city, or a region of local administration in Somalia.

Is it really a negative thing that there are too many Somali sites out there? Do the Somali Web users need all these Somali sites with such close similarities, usually slanting things towards 24 hour non-stop news about Somalia?

According to the so-called Internet Freedom, a callous freedom towards those ( in parts of Africa, for instance) who lack means to Internet access, what can be easily stated is that people cannot convey their ideas or opinions because among countless factors, one does not live where one can harness the advantages of the Internet, or one lacks the financial means or the knowledge to create a website in line with one`s vision, goals or desires. The point here is that all those Somalis with the ability to set up their own websites have the means to do so. But the difference or the contrast is that all things revolve around the ideas behind all those websites and why all the ideas behind the sites are all about creating News Somali sites without broadening the horizon to build sites with varieties of categories.

Let alone broadening the category horizon, what is worth thinking about is why even the news category of all those Somali sites is the same and only about Somalia. Also, what is worth pondering about is that all those Somali news sites have become the backbone of the mainstream Somali media.

When I was doing the research for this short article,  what came to my attention is that most of those who run all those Somali News Sites are based overseas, especially in the US, Europe, Australia and so on and so forth. And all those site visitors or comment makers live overseas, which is very interesting and reminds you of  the internet access gap that exists in the world, and Somalia and Somalis are on the same coin in the global context.

If you were reading so far, you might assume that I am criticizing the Somali sites without a valid reason. In fact, I am not doing that. What I want to point out, instead, is that there could be improvements here and there for the sake of the readers of those sites: I believe the Somali readers, whether they are inside Somalia or overseas, need sites with a variety of contents, instead of being bombarded with  News about Somalia. In fact, there is nothing wrong with News contents but I think there is a lack of varieties out there and this is a place that can be filled out by the creation of interesting sites whose main agenda is not only News about Somalia but how interesting contents can be created. For example, instead of avowing only News, maybe we need here more of News analysis contents. I already know that there are so many Somalis who freely submit articles to Somali sites for publications and that is excellent. But, maybe, there is the need for the Somali News sites to build their own content creating teams as to News analysis, for instance.

I think there is also the need for the creation of sites that deal with the content appetite of different age groups or genders. I can throw general ideas of content creation for potential Somali websites of the future. For instance, for the age group, webmasters can create sites for the young, for the old, for women and for men. For difference of occupation or interests, there could be the need for the creation of sites that focus on teachers, doctors, writers, etc, if you get my drift.