About Balatarin

Balatarin (lit., 'highest') is the first and the largest interactive link-sharing news website in Persian. Founded by Mehdi Yahyanejad in the U.S. in 2006 and governed by U.S. law, 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 news and commentary on Iran, news that is shared freely by users who are accountable to no-one but themselves. Increasingly, Balatarin has developed into a forum for a civil exchange of ideas and become the only medium of scale where Iranians of diverse socio-political, ethnic, and religious orientations trade news and personal observations voluntarily without fear of persecution.

Balatarin is not a news agency but it serves as a unique archive of news and analysis related to Iran dating from 2006; as such, it is a major resource for journalists, researchers and scholars.

Balatarin has a wide readership in the Middle East, North America, and Europe. The website is blocked by the government in Iran, but users circumvent the problem 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 or importance. 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."

History

Balatarin was founded in the U.S on August 16, 2006 by Mehdi Yahyanejad (PhD in physics, MIT and a 1993 bronze medalist in the International Physics Olympiad) mainly to enable and encourage Iranian bloggers to share their views among themselves. As the network expanded, the website attracted a general readership. By 2008, Balatarin was widely known as a source of trustworthy, non-ideological, user-facilitated news site, free of censorship. As such, it came to play a critical role in the pro-democracy movement in Iran during the fiercely disputed 2009 presidential election.

 

Starting with the presidential campaign and throughout the violent crackdown that followed, Iranians used Balatarin to learn about developments minute-by-minute and to form initiatives and explore ideas about how to best achieve their peaceful demands. Numerous human rights abuses committed by the security forces and the judicial apparatus against the protesters on the streets and in detention centers were publicized on Balatarin for the first time. Consequently, the Iranian government accused Balatarin of being complicit in promoting a velvet revolution in Iran, jointly with Facebook and Twitter. Balatarin was banned as early as 2007, and has remained blocked since February 2011, which has forced users in Iran to access the website through proxy servers.

 

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

 

Balatarin continues to operate as an independent news hub whose sole purpose is to enable the community to share news and views that matter to them personally and fearlessly, regardless of their political leanings. It welcomes all categories of news, whether on politics, sports, science and technology, travel and tourism, education, culture, or entertainment. Balatarin restricts pornography, use of indecent language, articles advocating violence, and copyrighted material.

 

Technical Features

Balatarin’s unique credibility point system is designed to avoid problems that similar websites such as digg.com have faced. Each user’s credibility increases over time based on their activities and contributions to Balatarin. The credibility score of each user in turn determines the level of activity they are allowed in each 24-hour period. This system prevents overactive, inexperienced, and/or malicious users from lowering the quality of Balatarin. It also makes it possible to distinguish between authentic and fabricated user-submitted news because the authenticity of the news coming out of Iran has been vetted by the large network of Balatarin users.

Balatarin is developed on Ruby on Rails and uses MySQL for database management. It is one of the top 20 most visited websites written in the Rails web application framework.

Balatarin is testing a new service to translate its stories into English. The program is in alpha testing. You can visit it here. We also have an English blog called Voice of Balatarin. The entries are the summary of discussions taking place on Balatarin.

The Numbers

  • 39 million:  monthly page views 
  • 500,000+: story submissions to Balatarin to date
  • 8 million: user comments
  • 15 minutes: average time spent by each visitor on the website (which is considerably higher than the industry standard)

Contact: To contact us please send an email to info@balatarin.com  

  
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