About Balatarin




        

Balatarin, 'the highest' in Persian, is the first and largest Persian language interactive link-sharing news website. Founded in 2006, Balatarin’s mission is to enable users to identify, share and provide access to news and views of the greatest interest to Iranians around the world.

Balatarin does not generate news independently but is a hub of unfiltered information and commentary shared freely by individuals who are accountable to no-one but themselves. Balatarin is not a news agency but as a unique archive of news and analysis related to Iran, serves as a major resource for journalists, researchers and scholars. 

Increasingly, Balatarin has developed into a forum for a civil exchange of ideas and is the only medium of scale where Iranians of diverse socio-political, ethnic, and religious orientations trade news and personal observations voluntarily and without fear of persecution.

Balatarin is based in the U.S. and has a wide readership in the North America, the Middle East, and Europe. The website is blocked by the government in Iran, but users circumvent the hurdle by using proxy servers.



How it Works

Balatarin enables registered users to post links to articles and blogs of their choice; the posts appear on the “recently posted” page where registered users vote on their relevance and/or importance as they see fit. Once a link gets enough favorable votes, it is moved to the top of the page where it obtains the highest visibility, hence the name, Balatarin.


Topics: An aggregate of different links posted on Balatarin on an important topic of the day

Votes: Users vote the links up or down based on their importance as they see fit

Comments: Users can leave comment on any links and discuss their preferred topics

Balablogs: Original content added by Balatarin users

Balaches: Balatarin in a small form, communities gathered around a certain topic





The Stats

      • 10 to 20 M monthly page views 
      • 3.1 M story submissions to Balatarin to date
      • 6.7 M user comments
      • 10 minutes average time spent by each visitor on Balatarin
      • 478 Balachehs created by users
      • More than 300 selflinks in the past month


History

Balatarin was founded in the U.S. on August 16, 2006 by Mehdi Yahyanejad, a PhD in physics from MIT and a 1993 bronze medalist in the International Physics Olympiad, mainly to enable and encourage Iranian bloggers to connect with each other. As the network expanded, the website attracted a general readership. By 2008, Balatarin was widely known among Iranians as a trustworthy, user-facilitated news site that was free of censorship and refreshingly non-ideological; as such, it came to play a critical role in the pro-democracy, 'Green movement' in Iran during the disputed 2009 presidential election.

Throughout the presidential campaign and the ensuing unrest and violent government crackdown, activists used Balatarin to track minute-by-minute developments and to explore optional tactics for expressing their demands and achieving their objectives. Balatarin is where human rights abuses committed against the protesters by the security forces and the judicial apparatus were first publicized. The government accused Balatarin of being complicit, along with Facebook and Twitter, in promoting a velvet revolution in Iran. Balatarin was banned early on and has remained blocked, which forces users in Iran to access it through proxy servers.

The tug of war continues today. Balatarin is regularly attacked on the state-run radio and TV, and daily in the regime’s unofficial and lurid newspaper, Kayhan. These media accuse Balatarin of having ties to a string of ‘anti-regime,’ ‘anti-Islamic’ suspects—Zionists, CIA, BBC, the Baha’is, and other offensive agencies. 



Timeline

Aug 16 2006        Launch of Balatarin
July 10 2009         minute by minute tracking of the post-election unrest 
Sep 01 2012         Launch of Balamusic
Sep 03 2015         Balablogs (selflinks) were added
Oct 01 2015         Signup requires no invitation
Oct 15 2015         Launch of Balachehs (sub-balatarin communities)
Feb 04 2016         Direct messaging was added




Technical Features

Balatarin is developed on Ruby on Rails. It is one of the top 20 most visited websites written in the Rails web application framework.

Balatarin’s unique credibility point (karma) system is designed to avoid problems faced by similar websites such as digg.com. Each user’s credibility increases over time based on their activities and contributions to Balatarin. The credibility score, karma, of each user in turn determines the level of activity they are allowed in each 24-hour period. The karma system is one of the various mechanisms Balatarin uses to vet for spam links.