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Rich know as BigDaddyHazey owner of PhpBB Communities has agreed to be interviewed. Rich is known for being the owner and founder of The Hazey. A forum hybrid, combination of many types of forum genres that had 90 000 + posts before it got closed. Now on the 3d of February Rich released a new site that is focused around the known software PhpBB.
1. Max Pen: The board got installed on the 1st of February and you released the whole project on the 4h, 4 days later on. How much time went into preparation and did you plan to release the board when it was ready in your opinion or on an exact deadline?
BigDaddyHazey: Hey first off would like to thank you for asking me to be interviewed, to set the record straight, the forum was installed mid-January and the 50+ mods took a few weeks to install as I always heavily alter them first. The preparation took about a month as The Hazey was the template for the site, the plan was to launch on the first of the month, I never understand why sites launch on a certain day yet have the original install date for its start date, the start date is the date it goes live and with a little bit of know how you can alter any dates you wish using a unix time stamp and phpmyadmin. If the site had not been ready for the 1st of Feb. we would have delayed launch till March.
2. Max Pen: With whom did you first start talking about the new project before putting it online? Was it to you crucial to start it yes or no depending on what your friends or those you told about it found of the idea?
BigDaddyHazey: Actually the idea started middle of last year when a good phpBB BBcodes forum closed so I saw a gap in the market but was too busy with The Hazey to get the project off the ground, I had already done most of the major work, (style/mods and all the main areas) before I spoke to anyone and it would have gone ahead with or without them, luckily they all wanted to be part of it and I had a temp forum for all staff to discuss rules and guidelines before we launched. I launched TH and my previous site with just me and Sarah and have no worries about doing it again.
3. Max Pen: You managed to get quit a reputation with your previous site The Hazey. How did you come up with the idea behind The Hazey and is it largely also thanks to your skills you offered such a type of site? Can you give some tips on how to get and maintain a good reputation on a forum?
BigDaddyHazey: To be honest I already had a reputation via other sites, it is just a lot of users did not know me before TH who used TH, the plan for the site was to be a place to other my phpBB skills and graphics set and the forum grew from that, to have the first real forum hybrid was not the original blueprint for the site. The reason why TH was soon active was not down to some magic secret it was down to a lot of hard work by a lot of people, there is no secret to having a successful forum. You just had to do it right, sites that open up without content and 50% of stuff not ready will be doomed to failure, plain and simple. Make sure you plan everything down to the smallest detail and do it all before you go live, also make sure every section has posts in it, I cannot get that across enough, TH went live with a few hundred and we had a 1,000 posts by the end of our first week. phpBBC went live with a 1,000 posts and had 10,000 posts by the end of its 8th day so it shows that if you do things right you sites starts off on a good footing.
4. Max Pen: FP a large promotion site has been very important to The Hazey’s success. How did you manage to become known in the community, did joining the community team help? And how has the overall sponsor experience been on FP? You were one of the few to first use it and did it speed up the process of The Hazey getting active drastically?
BigDaddyHazey: I disagree with your what you put, while we did get a lot of users from FP the most active ones where not from FP originally and most accounts where not active and besides a few good people like fowler helping us at the start, I think the site would have done just as well without using FP, if you have noticed besides a topic I have not done any sort of advertising on FP or used any of their service as I felt my site never really benefitted from any of them. I got know by being helpful in the exchange sections and other areas and I am a person that will say what I mean not what people want to know and I was not a CT member long enough for it to really matter, as for being a sponsor while my site got extra hits and views I did not gain any members while I was sticked and that is what I paid for hence why I have not used it since.
5. Max Pen: How did you manage to get the staff spots that had to be filled in on PhpBB Communities so fast up? Did you have the contact info of all staff from The Hazey, and how do you plan on getting the userbase of The Hazey to largely re-join?
BigDaddyHazey: because they are loyal and understood and respected by decision to close TH, why most were upset and still miss it as friends they was 100% in support of me, plus all the former staff contacted me and not the other way round and I had to disappoint a few at the start as I did not need them all to begin with. With the userbase I do not plan on doing anything, the site will grow on its own through good content and articles plus I would rather have a small userbase that are active then a large one that is not, TH had close to 500 users but only 45% were active.
6. Max Pen: What was really important for you to be present on this board before you would open it? (Mention the 4 musts for you personally.)
BigDaddyHazey: I think I covered it in other questions. But the things to have before you go live is the right set up (i.e. forums, layout and rules) secondly, if you are going to add any mods do it before you go live and only add mods you really need to. get a domain name sorted and submitted to search engines straight away and finally get some content on your site, this is a must, if you have enough time to advertise a forum with only 100 posts you have time to fill it with content.
7. Max Pen: You were also working on something “Big” for 3 long months. The phpbb topsites you got also on this board: PhpBBC Topsite Imkingdavid coded it for you; did you expect he would make the topsite for you when you contacted him about it? Were you happy or disappointed when the topsite was released on The Hazey? Can the topsite be found to download on phpbb.com?
BigDaddyHazey: Well yes as that is the service he offered, the topsites you find are built using php so it was not a very hard conversion to phpBB and was happy as the mod is unique to my site as I am the ony one to own a copy of it and no it is no for anyone else to use and I can’t see it being released to the public any time soon.
8. Max Pen: Self Employed you’re now, what is your job and how great is it to you personally to do a job that allows you to enjoy your hobby to? (The new project you manage now.)
BigDaddyHazey: I run the administration side of my wife’s business which is a childminding business a very lucrative one I might add, I’m self employed so I work when I want and don’t when I want, this allows me free time when I want.
9. Max Pen: What if there was no change in jobs, would you still have started PhpBB Communities?
BigDaddyHazey: Simple answer: no. I was working between 8-12 hours in front of a pc 5-6 days a week, that was not including my time spent on TH so there was no way I would have taken on this project otherwise, if that was the case TH would not have closed.
10. Max Pen: Due your health The Hazey had to end as a project, what did you learn out of it, any new experience you got, new friends mate? Did you BTW expect it to turn out so successful?
BigDaddyHazey: I learnt people get jealous of success and copy you, which only pisses me off, I had to learn to bit my tongue a lot but with my new project I have spoken my mind, while people might not like it, I will not run another forum trying to keep everyone happy as its impossible. I also learnt that you can build up a great friendship just via forums, like the one I have with most of my staff, Robi for me is a close friend of mine now, yet I did not know him this time last year. And no I did not I never expect anything, that way it is more of a pleasure when it goes right.
11. Max Pen: Your quit an advanced user with phpBB. How long did it turn for you to find your way around the files, and to tweak things? Why is phpBB till now the best forum software to you? Was it also for a large part because it was the first software you used? (That you found it to be the best.)
BigDaddyHazey: Actually I do not consider myself an advanced user and still learning all the time, I learnt by reading tutorials and articles and making mistakes and lots of them, I feel you learn best when it goes wrong as you remember to not do it again. phpBB was not the first software I used but it was the one I grew to like, it’s the best as it allows you to let your imagination run wild, you can do pretty much anything you want with phpBB and that is the part I love best, changing a vanilla phpBB forum into something unique.
12. Max Pen: Are you much involved on the website of PhpBB.com? Were you present on the big event: “North of England Community Meet-Up“? If so how was it to meet some of the amazing team members of phpbb, and would you do it again any time? What funny or interesting moments do you still remember?
BigDaddyHazey: I am active on phpBB and have been for a good number of years, I tend to only post if and when I need to but do have a few stuff in the database their. I never got to the meet up due to my daughter being ill that Saturday and family always comes first.
13. Max Pen: Did you make any mods for phpBB or for your own personal use? Can we expect any new mod from you in the future?
BigDaddyHazey: Yes one is already in my kb, some I have I will not release due to copycats and our new project will be releasing unique styles and mods only for users of our site in the future.
14. Max Pen: Contests were held on The Hazey many times of many quit smooth going, when can we expect PhpBB Communities to launch its first contest? And could we know a bit of information already about it?
BigDaddyHazey: There are no plans at this current time to run one, I upset another admin the other day because he was doing too many of them and they become nothing more than a gimmick. I only run contest for a specific purpose and the same applies now, I will not run one until I feel the site needs one or it will be a benefit for all involved.
15. Max Pen: The site got to 5k posts in 3 days time. And in 8 days on the 12th of February this site made it to 10 000 posts. Do you think it’s a rare case that someone can get his or her site up to 10k in 8 days? Did you expect this site would get so fast to 10k? How long do you estimate before PhpBB Communities gets past the post count of The Hazey?
BigDaddyHazey: The sites start date was the 1st and had a 1,000 posts before going live, while we expect it to be going ok, no one expects or can plan to have 10k in a week if they say otherwise they are telling porkpies, the site has slowed down as the excitement we had on our first weekend has gone and people are getting on with other things, while others keep comparing the new site to TH I do not, everything about this was started from scratch right down to the hosting account. I honestly don’t care if we beat TH posts count quickly or slowly, if you set yourself goals and force it you end up with the problems, phpBBC will grow in its own time and its one pace.
16. Max Pen: About this topic: Good news to non-phpBB folk Did you feel it was important to make that change for this site’s future? Did you plan on doing it somewhere the line or was it really thanks to much talking with the others you made that choice?
BigDaddyHazey: This was an argument I had from the start with the staff and before sides of the argument had its merits and it was something we always considered but to how many former TH members who joined that did not have a phpBB forum, we thought it only right to offer them our services, some say ours are the best, why you will have to ask them.
17. Max Pen: Allot of effort has been put into this site by you to make it that perfect as possible. But still allot of suggestions,doubts,questions where made in the Feedback forum, did you knew that was going to happen? Do you also feel people have very high expectations of you and your team?
BigDaddyHazey: For the sake of repeating myself, I plan everything down to the smallest detail, so if feature x has not been added stop and ask yourself why it has not been added, everything is done for a reason. If you look at the topics there, some are from users who can’t be arsed to read first, some because they forget that it is not their site and because their favourite forum has something or offers something cheaper we should do the same. Not only that that section is not for people to ask for features as it very clearly states in the forum description, it is for people to get support and post bugs etc. One thing I hate is people thinking stuff needs changing, instead of enjoying what we have, especially as most came with in the first 48 hours. One thing you will learn about me when it comes to changes I am not very open ( I don’t spend weeks fine tuning things just to start changes it because user x thinks it would be a good idea) and you are more likely to get a sarcastic comment from me, then for me to say wow great idea.
18. Max Pen: With being focused around phpBB, a new rank is also introduced: Technicians usergroup How will you manage to get a good amount of staff in that group? Do you think it will be a hard task getting phpBB Communities known around the PhpBB main site?
BigDaddyHazey: If you look our support forum is pretty busy and it was planned to introduce them at some point and eventually the writers group will be phased out as their role is already spread over the other staff groups as it is. As for getting staff we already have a waiting list for each staff group so getting users is not hard but what I will say do not apply for a role unless you plan on doing it long term and also make sure you know your phpBB.
19. Max Pen: How far will you expand with this site to become the best of its type and beat of any competition that could arise? Any other website of the same genre you like other then phpbb.com?
BigDaddyHazey: Not sure, as I take it one day at a time, we will see a massive change when 3.1 is released and we will split the phpBB section into 3.0.x and 3.1.x and other sites like mine that use phpBB, last time I checked there is no site like us that is why I created PhpBB Communities.
Rich its been really interesting to interview you and read through it all, thanks alot for your time put into the interview. I hope everyone has or will have a great read. -Max Pen