Word Count: 1952
Takes: 5 minutes and 12 seconds to read.
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A interview with ShadyX real name Dean. A 19 year old male from the UK and owner of a Xenforo webmaster site Admin Forums.
A relaxed network for website owners that has 31 000+ posts, 2000+ members and 4300+ topics.
1. Max Pen: How did you get into forums and when did you start your own site? (For the first time.)
I first started a forum 5 years ago when I was 14, it was mainly for me and my friends to get away from strict rules on a teen forum I was once very active on. It wasn’t a huge hit but it wasn’t designed to be, back then it was just about connecting with friends and having fun not being limited by rules.
2. Max Pen: Name the past projects you have done before adminforums?
My first forum, smokeroom
My second forum BlackoutForums
After my return to the foruming world in 2010 I created BlueHumor
I then created WizPromo, a promotion forum
AdminForums Is my latest and only project.
3. Max Pen: When did the idea of starting a webmaster site under the name of AdminForums came into your mind? How long did it took you to find a suitable domain?
I made AdminForums after I noticed the lack of relaxed Admin based forums, where you can chat and do pretty much the same as on a general discussion forum but more webmaster related, on most webmaster forums I find them very strict and they limit their members from what they can talk about. Although I try not to enforce strict rules, some are necessary though we do not allow anything that is illegal.
4. Max Pen: How long was the site on VB and during the time it was on it how did the project go? What or who made you convert to XF?
The forum was on Vbulletin from the start of the forum (October 2010) up until the first of February 2011. Whilst we was on Vbulletin we encountered many problems and difficulties including mass amounts of spam even with anti-spam plugins installed and random database errors that made us lose considerable amounts of data when restored from previous backups. I then started to hear more and more about a new forum software called XenForo, I purchased a license in December for a new project but I never ended up using it. In February we encountered yet another database error and up to 30 second loading times so I thought enough was enough, I set up a poll on the forums for members to vote for the switch and no surprise they voted in favor of using it, I then moved our forum to the XenForo platform.
5. Max Pen: Was changing to XF something you’ll never regret? Have you found so far something lacking that you had on VB but for now not on XF?
On Vbulletin there was a wider range of addons, but every one that I used on the old forum is somehow compensated and improved by both XenForo’s core features and third party modifications. Switching to XenForo brought life back to my forum, people wanted to visit us again and after a while they forgot about the horrible times we had in the early days. I will never regret switching to XenForo, in fact I regret not starting the forum on it in the first place.
6. Max Pen: What makes your webmaster site stand out from others? Does XenForo add the biggest touch in making it possible for the site to stand out?
Whilst XenForo add’s the features and the interface, I believe it is our members that make it stand out. We have a broad range of users from different backgrounds, country’s and age’s that are full of personality. They all contribute in different ways, some write articles whilst some just enjoy the chatter. Whilst most webmaster forums are started with good intentions they often turn there forum into a money making machine, neglecting the feelings of members and adding huge amounts of advert’s, we will never add any to the forum that make a users life a misery, we listen to our members views and idea’s and that is what has formed the forum into what it is today. Most of the new forums and implemented schemes/ideas are ones that members have suggested.
7. Max Pen: New experiences you gained or lesson learned so far from managing this project?
I have experienced many things during the journey to where the forum is now. I have learnt how to deal with hackers and protecting my user’s information, how to deal with problematic users and this project has given me experience with XenForo which is very handy due to it being a new but leading forum software which can help me to make styles and modifications for other people and myself.
But most of all it has taught me how to manage a community as it grows larger and to deal with the various problems associated with growth.
8. Max Pen: The most successful promotion method you use that helped in gaining more members and activity to the site? What do you think most webmasters forums lack this days? The quantity of the forums that appear as webmaster forum or something else?
My most successful method of gaining members would be a tie between posting my forums advertisement across other forums, my sig links in forums that I post very useful posts etc; and optimizing my forum for better search results.
To me webmaster forums lack a community feel to them, most may be very helpful and informative but its all serious stuff. This is something I feel strongly about and is why I have made a laid back approach to administering the forums.
9. Max Pen: How much effort has it cost you to get adminforums were it is now? To what do you pay most attention for this project?
It has took me alot of effort to break through the barriers that I have faced, from hackings to negative seo I have struggled to keep my head above water at times but I had the determination to keep on going and kept strong through thick and thin. I pay the most attention to my members views, to what they like and want from the forum. This is something that keeps people coming back for more, the forum is shaped around them and what they want.
10. Max Pen: Did you need to use coding so far to work with Xenforo? How has being able to code come in handy with this project?
I have needed to use coding to apply template changes, make custom modifications and rectify bugs within existing third party addons that I use.
I do most of the changes on my local pc to see how I can implement new ideas and features to suit the needs of the forum, so knowing certain coding languages has been really useful within this project.
11. Max Pen: In what way do you choose staff on your board?
Most of our staff were hand selected from existing members on our forum who showed maturity and were people I got along with. At points I have felt the need to post up applications on other forums and through this I have hired one global moderator who is now also head of our social media team and will be in charge of boosting our viral traffic and maintaining our vast amounts of social media pages.
12. Max Pen: How did you come up with this action: Donate to Japan (what amount of members do you hope to participate in buying premium membership?)
After I received the news of the horrifying events that crippled Japan, I decided I would try to do my part to help. Its something I feel strongly about and all revenue that is made from the site will go directly to helping the people of Japan. We have 3 premium members so far who have donated $5 to helping Japan and someone who has purchased a sticky advert for the same price. I hope to get as much of our members as possible to donate and help as much as they can.
13. Max Pen: Your hobbies other then managing adminforums? Has adminforums grown from being a hobby to something very serious?
My daily life consists of relaxing with my Fiance, swimming, designing graphics and sadly not much sleep. I would defiantly say AdminForums is more than a hobby for me, it has become part of my daily life. I have to maintain my social life and the forum at the same time, which does not leave much time for sleeping or many other things. I put my life and soul into the forum and I find it a way of expressing my creative capabilities.
14. Max Pen: Do changes like a whole new style, new staff team, new forum section, etc happen often on your site? Do you try to add or change things after a duration of time passed or when you have a new idea or thing you want to do?
I try to keep the forum as steady as possible, changing the style of the forum often would most likely confuse members so I like to keep it on a once in a while basis. I make regular modifications to the existing look of the forum to improve and enhance what is already there. I add new staff teams as needed as we grow in size and introduce new ideas, forums are added on a demand basis. If we get a few suggestions on a new forum in more cases than not we will add it to the site.
15. Max Pen: What keeps you motivated in putting your energy and time into the site? Has your dedication been rewarded most times with results or not that often?
My motivation comes from wanting to make a success of my site and ideas, I want to provide a forum that has laidback rules but is also a helpful resource for administrators and webmasters, somewhere for them to get away from all the serious stuff but be able to learn new things and develop there website.
I have come this far so I don’t want to quit now, I’m in it for the long run and the site will always remain where its is for the foreseeable future, my dedication is really starting to pay off as my site is growing at a rate I have never seen before and I hope it gets even better in the future.
16. Max Pen: Do you have any competition that you know off? Do you take competition seriously or don’t you mind as long they don’t promote on your own site?
Yes we have competitors, I don’t really mind them I often visit our main rivals forums and post around, I enjoy webmaster and admin forums so I don’t limit myself on what forums I am active on because of the genre of forum I am running. We have had problems in the past caused by rivals so I have decided to introduce a rule to disallow them from using our forum as a means of promoting there own.
17. Max Pen: What comes first for you when your project started until now: (list from 1 most important to 10 least important.)
- Promoting the site;
- SEO of the site;
- Members Views;
- the security of the forum;
- members being able to relax and have fun;
- informative content, from which you learn something new;
- members getting results from using your site for there own site;
- activity of the forum;
- Competing with other forums;
- Forum revenue, placing adverts and making money.
It is amazing how well the forum is doing in terms of activity and expanding itself. I thank you for doing this interview with me Dean, and I hope many enjoy reading this interview. -Max Pen