Interview with BlackChaos
A interview with BlackChaos, 18 year old male college student from India. He owns GThree Forums, which is now celebrating its first anniversary on the 8th of June:D Check out the interview below to get to know more about the owner and about G3 Forums.
1 Max Pen: Could you tell us a bit more about yourself so the readers know who you are?
BlackChaos: Of course. My internet personification is ‘BlackChaos’, but I’m just your regular 18 year old college student doing what I love to do i.e. interacting with people albeit on online communities. I am an Indian, a pacifist and love writing, reading books, playing games and fiddling around with some occasional graphic designing. How’s that for an intro?
2 Max Pen: How did you get into forums and eventually owning one named G3 Forums? How did you come up with that name?
BlackChaos: Well, ever since I was first introduced to the Internet, I loved forums. The possibility of talking with people from all around the world was big back then and online communities/forums were something that really appealed to me. The first forum I joined was some Microsoft community I think. I don’t even remember the name now. Anyways, I started to get interested in running my own forum when a friend of mine, Aklemo (not his real name) introduced me to his forum ‘Flash Revival‘.
I was hooked onto the idea of creating a community of my own one day. That was September 2006. In late 2008, I got a chance to administrate my first forum ‘PSFC’, which was a huge community forum for a facebook game. And by huge, I mean it has about 400,000 posts. But I had to quit my post as administrator there for personal reasons. Its sad to see that its dead now, but it was inevitable since the owner himself gave up on it. In 2011, when I got back into forums thanks to another friend of mine – Telhast (again, not his real name), we were tossing around the idea of creating a forum based around our favorite topics ‘Gaming‘ and ‘Graphics‘. I came up with the idea of going for a unique name ‘GThree Forums’ once we had the bright idea of adding a ‘General Discussions’ section into the mix. And G3F was born.
3 Max Pen: Why did you choose to re-direct the .com to the .net domain? Which did you buy first? The .net or the .com?
BlackChaos: Well, I had first bought the gthreeforums.net domain first because I felt that .com wasn’t really that catchy. Dot Net just had that special ring to it, you know? When the forum started getting more popular, I decided to grab the .com and .org domains as soon as possible because I wanted to create a brand image for the forum. This shows that a forum owner really is dedicated to his community and its members. With the help of a few of the members we were able to secure the other two domains, securing GThree Forums’ name on the Internet. Also, the reason why I didn’t change the forum to .com later on and instead simply redirected the .com domain was because of SEO and ease of use. Why change a good thing, right?
4 Max Pen: What are some of the reasons that caused the creation of the forum? Did the project live up the expectations you had when you started it?
BlackChaos: Well, mostly it was my love for online communities. I wanted to enjoy a community based on my likes and interests. I felt I could share my enthusiasm and experience to others as well, so I thought of starting the forum. But there was also the boredom factor since I barely had anything to do and was getting bored on the Internet. When I started it, I was just hoping I could reach a few thousand posts and maybe 50 members after half a year. Now its almost a year and the forum is up to 325 members and 23,500 posts. So yeah, my expectations have definitely been lived up to. I enjoy every single day on the forum, which is just what I always wanted. You know a forum is really successful when the owner himself enjoys posting and interacting with the members on it.
5 Max Pen: Could you tell us some of the main challenges you had with the forum?
BlackChaos: There were indeed lots of challenges we had to face ever since the forum was first created. One of the greatest difficulty was re-opening the forum at the end of March when it was down since December of 2011. It was a hectic year for me and my staff members, so I decided to temporarily close the forum down and finish off everything else before really focusing on the forum. This was really important since it was a lot better than just leaving the forum on and letting it die slowly and painfully. So I took a breather, shut off the forum and placed a nice little ‘Be Back Soon!’ sign, and started to concentrate on my personal life. When I was free in March, I immediately opened the forum back on again and worked on making up for those off months. It was difficult to build back our member base, but not impossible.
One of the most powerful tools of our reincarnation were our members themselves. Once we were back online, word spread quickly and most of our active members returned to much rejoicing. Plus we got a few new members as well.
This was definitely our toughest challenge and it definitely gave me a lot of experience in handling a forum because not many webmasters can recover from something like that and proudly say that they’ve “never been better”. It showed me how to have faith in my members and trust in the power of the Internet. Anything and everything is possible. Whenever I face any obstacle with the forum, I just think back to the day the forum came back online and all other problems felt minute in comparison.
Another challenge we faced was the great Rollback of July 2011 when the forum was first launched. I made a mistake and we lost over 500 posts and half of our members. Haha, needless to say, it taught me a lot about precautions and backing up.
6 Max Pen: What are the best ways to promote a forum? (Your opinon.)
BlackChaos: In my opinion, one of the best ways to promote a forum is to tell your friends about it. If you don’t have too many friends, tell your neighbours. Just spread the word around in real life. Alongside that, start off with posting showcase threads in forums which allow you to do so like Forum Promotion and some of the hundred or so webmaster forums out there. The second (or third I think) step would be to post good original content and work on the good ‘ol SEO. These hand-in-hand can help drive a bit of traffic to your forum and promote in places you wouldn’t even think of promoting it in. Search Engines.
7 Max Pen: To the newbies out there what would you recommend webmasters to do in order to get members?
BlackChaos: Hmm… I would suggest pretty much the same things as I’ve mentioned above. Get your friends in, make them invite their friends and so on. Start some interesting topics on your forum to keep the discussions going. Get a cool theme to attract members because in most members’ opinions, a good theme equals more sign ups. Most importantly, your forum should be a friendly place for newcomers. Add an Introductions section so new members can feel welcomed on your forum.
8 Max Pen: How long did it took before there was a real community feeling on your forum? What do you think created that real community?
BlackChaos: When you reach a certain amount of members online per day, you slowly start to notice the community feeling around your forum. Members have inside jokes, start referring to other posts by other members, interact in more ways than just posting on threads, etc. Its not a sudden thing, getting a community feeling. It takes a lot of time to build up and maintain, but its worth your efforts. Seeing people have fun and make friends, learn things and teach things is what makes a forum truly worth it.
9 Max Pen: What would you recommend other forum owners to do in order to get a community feeling as well on their forum?
BlackChaos: First and foremost, you have to post. And I don’t mean a few times a week or just random posts. I mean you have to really interact with your members. Laugh with them, learn with them, live with them. I know it sounds weird, but hear me out. As the leader of the community, your members look up to you. They expect you to instigate discussions and introduce that ‘community’ vibe to the forum. If you, as the owner, do not interact with the members and contribute just as much as they do, then why should the members themselves? I digress, but in the end these little and big things all assimilate into what we call a ‘community‘.
10 Max Pen: You mention one of your hobbies is graphic design, when did you get into it? And are you or will you plan to ever get into web design?
BlackChaos: I got into it a few years ago with Photoshop CS3. It was basically just messing around, following random tutorials and manipulating photographs. But it started to get really fun and I wanted to do more and more each day. So thats how it began. I got into making forum-related graphics for other people as a way of improving on my own skills.
I made over a hundred graphics till now, an assortment of banners, avatars, signature images, userbars, etc. Its fun and I still do it from time to time for my forum. I’ve already plunged into the world of Web Design, although I haven’t made much to show for it. I’m still learning each day and being a part of a growing graphics community like G3F definitely helps.
11 Max Pen: Where could we see some of your graphic work?
BlackChaos: Well, I’m working on a portfolio site as a small project. I had a lot of help from Coffee (a member of G3F) and I’ve been working on it from time to time. Sadly, its not yet complete so I can’t pass the link to you. But I though I’d upload a few images to share for the readers. Here’s a quick dA page I made for this purpose: http://g3f.deviantart.com/
It contains some tags from my small, but growing collection. Its not much, but its something I enjoyed making. I might add more later on though.
12 Max Pen: What type of games do you usually play and what is your favorite genre if you could only pick 1?
BlackChaos: I usually play Action-Adventure, Indie games, RPG, RTS, FPS and the occasional sports-based video game. I have a deep, insatiable love for super-hero games like Batman: Arkham City (which I finished just a couple of days ago) and The Amazing Spider-Man (which I finished a day after the game released). If I’d have to choose just one genre, then it would have to be RTS. Just can’t beat the classics like Red Alert 2 and AoE.
13 Max Pen: How did you become admin on CFEW Forums? What did you do or contribute that got you admin status? How much are you into minecraft and when did you start playing it online?
BlackChaos: Well, when I first joined their Minecraft server, I had a great time. I though I’d join their forum as well to leave some good feedback and take part in some discussions, but then I found out their forum was kind of old. It was running on obsolete software and it was very boring, sadly. I knew there was so much potential being wasted, so I immediately contacted the server owner, clownfish, and asked him for permission to set-up a new forum for them. He was very enthusiastic and was just amazingly supportive of the idea and gave me pretty much free reign to go forth and build a good forum for their Minecraft server community.
I started playing Minecraft late last year so I can’t say I’ve played it for too long. As soon as I realized how much I was missing by not playing online, I immediately got an account and went online. CFEW was the first real online server I’ve ever stuck to and I’m happy I did so. I’m glad I decided to get into Minecraft because G3F has a lot of Minecraft players on and we’ve even got a server of our own in the works. Its been closed down for a month, but will hopefully be back by the end of July.
14 Max Pen: Finally, if you hadn’t started G3 Forums, what other type of project would you have started?
BlackChaos: Tough question. If I hadn’t started G3F, I’d probably be spending my days on some other forum or two. That’s just how I am sadly, haha. No changing the inevitable. Sooner or later I would have started a forum of my own.
Thank you for doing this interview with me BlackChaos, I hope others will enjoy your great detailed replies as I did. -Max Pen