It's been 9 years since we first interviewed Shawn (Interview with Shawn Hogan [DigitalPoint]). There's a thread running on TAZ about Shawn's pending incarceration for eBay affiliate fraud that I'm sure everyone's familiar with.
Here's a short update to our original interview. If you have any additional questions for Shawn post them here and hopefully he'll get around to answering them as well.
DigitalPoint is a obviously a very successful site - it currently has almost 730,000 members and more than 17,000,000 posts. Why do you think it's so popular?
There are a ton of things on the site that you can't get on other sites. If you don't venture outside the forum subdomain, you are missing all the good stuff.
Even so, a look on Alexa shows that the Global Ranking has dropped from around 300 or so back at the start of 2013 to under 1000 today. Any thoughts on why that might be? If memory serves me correctly that's around the time you switched from vBulletin to XenForo.
The short version is we have been actively trying to shed low quality traffic/users. And those users are the ones that tend to have the Alexa toolbar installed. So while our traffic from India, Pakistan, Indonesia, etc. are down, traffic from the US, Canada, Europe, Australia, etc. is up.
I'll trade high quality traffic over low quality traffic any day.
How has XenForo affected traffic, participation, and revenue generation on DP?
It hasn't affected any of that directly. Indirectly it gives us a better platform to build cool things on top of though... So indirectly we get traffic because of the things we are able to build with it.
Would you have liked to have done anything different before or during the transition to XenForo?
Nothing major, no.
What other observations have you made regarding the benefits and drawbacks of your switch to XenForo?
The biggest benefit for me is that it gives us a fantastic platform to build custom applications on top of. To me, that's a huge benefit. No drawbacks I can really think of.
What are your thoughts on the current state of forum software in general, and XenForo, vBulletin, and IPB in particular.
vB5 = poop, vB4 is okay but you have to really wrestle with it to get it do what you want (when it comes to building custom apps on it). IPB I don't really follow... I've checked it a few times randomly over the years and their development environment was such a turn off I didn't bother looking further into it since that made it a non-option for me.
In your opinion, will further advances in forum software be evolutionary, or is there still the potential for revolutionary change to occur? If so, where do you think it will come from?
Things can always be improved upon, although I can't really fathom anything truly revolutionary coming about any time soon. But maybe... who knows?
If you were going to create your own forum software, where would you start? What are the most obvious things (to you) that need to change?
First I would have my brain examined because to me a couple hundred dollars isn't worth the support headache I would be taking on. No way, no how... not ever.
How have the events leading up to your current legal situation changed you?
It hasn't changed me, only solidified what I already believed (that our legal system is both hilarious and sad at the same time).
You seem to be very calm and matter-of-fact about the incarceration? Is that really how you feel about it? I'd be a basket case.
Part of me is looking forward to it (I took one of the earliest reporting dates I could get). Definitely a much happier human being since sentencing. When you have to deal with something like that for 7 years, with no end in sight (both time and costs involved), it's draining to say the least. Then when you wake up one day and realize you finally aren't going to have to talk to lawyers anymore on a regular basis and you have a definitive date in place for everything to be done, it's like a huge burden that has been lifted. But yeah... definitely happier now than I was a year ago, that's for sure.
And lets's be real here... it's not like I'm going to Supermax or anything. I'm going where there is no violence, no cells and no fences. Literally a camp. I'm assigned to Taft camp. The BALCO guy had a pretty entertaining description of the place here (scroll down to "Sports complex": http://boingboing.net/2012/10/23/former-inmates-description-o.html
Are you already making plans for new projects when you're out?
Always. Probably will be putting something out later this week that is big enough that it's getting it's own sub-domain.
Anything you can tell us about?
That would be no fun... but yes... I have about 5 years of work I need to do on the things I already have planned (5 years is assuming nothing new comes up in the meantime). I'll never be caught up because new ideas come faster than you can make stuff.
Tell us about the aliens!
They are sexy.