Interview with Karl/Swizz
A interview with a 19 year old guy from the UK named Karl, online goes by the name of Swizz. Owner and founder of a gaming community that goes by the name of Internet Freaks. Created not so long ago and already quite active with a incredible community. Enjoy reading the interview below.
/1/ Max Pen: Could you tells us a bit more about yourself so the readers know who you are?
Karl: Well, I’m Karl. I’m from the UK, just an ordinary (unemployed) 19 year old. I enjoy jogging, weightlifting, socializing with friends with a nice smoke and a drink, absolutely love forums and fascinated with the web!
/2/ Max Pen: When did you first start going on forums? Can you tell us a bit more about your first forum and how it came to be?
Karl: I started visiting forums at the age of around 12-13 when playing Diablo II. Obviously, the forum of choice back then was d2jsp due to it’s popularity and how useful it was to trade on that game.
I made my own first forum based on the same concept of trading with Forum Gold (I know, needed something unique – at least I got that with IF!) in 2007, when I was around 14. It went well, but due to financial trouble, I had to close it the year after, unfortunately.
/3/ Max Pen: What do you like/dislike in general about IPB and what made you choose it for your first forum?
Karl: I messed around with the invisionfree at first and absolutely loved it. I chose for my first forum as well as my current one because it is jam-packed with amazing features, it’s highly customizable and the modding community is absolutely great.
/4/ Max Pen: Now you got a new forum named “InternetFreaks”, could you tell us a bit more about it? Like how you came up with the name and what motivated you or got you the idea to start it?
Karl: Well, it was around March and I got back in touch with a friend or two who I’d met on another forum years back. We ended up talking for a month or so, and I told him I had an interest in starting up a brand new community and getting a new member base together.
In April I realized I had a IPB licence hanging around, and got in touch to see if I could recover my account which I’d completely forgot about. I did! I came up with a few names, but InternetFreaks just stuck. At first we were just a forum, then I purchased IP Content, decided to start writing gaming news and reviews, and now we’ve got several categories including gaming, movies, music and more. I’ll be introducing other diverse content there in the next few months, but for now we’re concentrating on the functionality of the site within our updates.
The community is growing, which is keeping me motivated, it’s absolutely amazing. For a 2-month old site, we’re doing amazing. I don’t think I’ve ever seen any other competition grow so fast, our peak is 313 users online, and around 50 or 60 of those were actually members! Daily we have 100 members or so returning, with a lot of active users, we’re all loving it!
/5/ Max Pen: What is the story behind your username Swizz?
Karl: Well, it just came to me. I’m pretty spontaneous when it comes to usernames, so it was just an on-the-spot decision, actually. Nothing spectacularly interesting there, but I think the username has stuck and has been well!
/6/ Max Pen: How much time had you in mind to spent on this project? Has that amount gone into it or even more? Does this project affect your real life?
Karl: I spend a lot of time browsing the internet anyway, so it doesn’t really affect my real life. I still go out, and can use my phone whenever I feel the need to check upon the site (if I do whilst I’m out, that is). I’m actually in a much better routine that I was now, actually, and have a better social life to be honest. I tend to go to a friends or relatives house daily for at least a few hours to get out of the house, and some days I’m not even in. It hasn’t really affected my social life or anything, it just keeps me up later than I should be, I think.
/7/ Max Pen: What are the things your proud of so far of accompblishments and what are some of the things you feel can be done better?
Karl: I am proud of how fast we’ve developed. I think we’ve got a lot of stuff going on right now, we’re coming up on the third month being live and already we have a diverse range of content, members and amazing activity levels. I’m especially proud of how our members are reacting to our system – we allow members to post their own reviews on music, movies, games and other content, and they’ve been doing just that – with amazing standards, I must say. It’s really the members that make the site what it is, I tend to just respond to their requests as best as I can, as well as coming up with some new pages to make us much more accessible.
/8/ Max Pen: Hardest stuff to do so far on this project? (Like finding staff, exposure or such…)
Karl: I think the amount of exposure we have had has been amazing. I’ve found a few great members along the way, I won’t mention names because there are far too many to list, but I think we’ve done amazingly on the activity. For two months, we have over 600 members and 10,000 posts – most of them quality discussions not the “count to a million” threads you see with most of the forum’s nowadays. We’re doing absolutely amazing on activity for how old we are, I just hope we can continue to grow – that’s gotta be the most amazing thing, the growth!
/9/ Max Pen: What does the future hold for Internet Freaks? What type of contests have you guys held so far?
Karl: Well, we had a Left 4 Dead 2 tournament last week, where I handed out a game to each of the members of the winning team (4 games). I plan to host a lot more tournament, and hopefully we can set up some sort of gaming servers of our own if we have enough interest.
I want to provide diverse content and have a diverse member base, though. Although we are mostly gamers at the minute, I think the future is still unknown for us, we could go in any direction we choose, whilst also maintaining the current status of our articles. I’d love to start writing independent stories on the world news and the happenings of the world in the next few months, since that’s a big interest of mine. Who knows, I’m open to any suggestions, which I think is what the members love and what makes our community so great. We’re unique, you won’t find a forum like us!
/10/ Max Pen: What is the trick behind the amount of members you already have and being active for a forum that isn’t around that long?
Karl: I don’t know, actually. The site has just seem to have come to an amazing start. We’ve already had a few amazing members showing their support by arranging their own game giveaways for other members, along with tournaments taking place and a lot of discussions going on. We have a great, accessible site and forum building, so I think that’s what attracts members to come back – the consistent updates and new things daily. We’re always growing and I think activity itself creates activity. People seem to come back to see what the other members are doing, which is a great sense of community!
/11/ Max Pen: Could you give some tips or tricks to other webmasters that want to start a gaming community?
Karl: The first thing I’d say is: consistency. You can’t really give up. Sure, some days you can get away with posting once or twice only and browsing for just an hour or two, but most days you have to be there to get involved yourself.
Another thing, don’t try to act like you’re above your members. Personally, I feel each member is just as important as me. I don’t hold no authority or special membership, I feel as though I’m just a member, not some sort of God who is above everyone else at the site.
Oh, and if your site has been made to make you a quick dime, or with money or profit in mind, turn back now. Go back to the drawing board, mate, it’s not going to work. I made the site with the idea of creating a new community, not making a quick buck – in fact, I spend money on the site, I don’t accept donations and will never put up an advertisement. There’s nothing less attractive than a site that is clearly set up with profit in mind, it will make visitors cringe at the sight of it.
/12/ Max Pen: Have you learned anything new so far from managing Internet Freaks? What are you hoping to learn in the future?
Karl: Well, I have been active on forums for a while, and I run a site back in 2007, so I knew how to manage the forums already. I think that’s why we’ve done so well, actually – I knew what I was doing already.
The one thing I do want to learn is some web languages. I want to get into the industry as a job, I think, so I’d love to learn PHP and CSS to a great standard. It’s slowing progressing, but I think I need to spend more time on actual coding and reading up on the tutorials rather than on the internet or on InternetFreaks browsing around, actually. I’d love to be able to code some amazing stuff onto the site, that’s my own flaw, I think. In a years time hopefully I’ll be a lot better!
/13/ Max Pen: Finally as a forum owner have you ever had to deal so far with any nasty situation?
Karl: We’ve had a few people come and try to spam us, but I or a moderator have been around to deal with it. I don’t think we’ve had many situations like that on InternetFreaks, actually. We’ve been pretty stable so far, the community has been getting along great. Come and check us out and see!
/13/ Max Pen: You mentioned you don’t accept donations nor put ads on the site and also being unemployed, how do you finance the contests on your forum?
Karl: I don’t want to really make money of the site at all, ever. I just want a fairly successful and active site. The games we give out are usually the ones I buy on sale on steam, so it doesn’t cost much. I still live at home, and am always looking for work, but I get unemployment allowance which gives me a little spare cash to spend – probably £10 to £20 or so per week. This allows for around 3-4 games a week, which is fairly significant, I guess. When I do find work and get a decent amount of cash, I tend to blow it fairly quickly anyway (on real life goods), so I tend to stock up on ten or so games for cheap then, which gives me a nice backlog for when I have to spend money just on surviving, I guess
When I do get into a nice job, which should hopefully be by the end of the year, I’ll have a lot more spare cash, so that will mean bigger and better tournament prizes, giveaways and advertising.. hopefully that will allow us to do much better advertisement wise!
Thank you for doing this interview with me Karl, I greatly enjoyed your replies and hope others will enjoy them to. -Max Pen