FORUM BASICS: What is the name of your website and a brief description of the theme/topic of the forums. What is the url? Buffy-Boards. A fan community for the Joss Whedon shows Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly and Dollhouse. http://www.buffy-boards.com List some of the most popular forums and describe its discussions. Our most popular forums are probably the forums that we have for the individual seasons of the tv shows (and the comics that continued the series'). We get new people watching the shows every day, and existing members re-watching, so we have a lot of "Did you notice this?" and "What did you think of this?" type threads discussing the episodes themselves. We also have a pretty active fan art forum. What prompted you to start your forum? What was your launch date? The Buffy site I had worked on for about 6 months was transferred to a new owner, and because of the way she treated her staff, I and the rest of the senior staff decided to leave. After a month or so, I decided I wanted to build a better site, so we did. Launch date I believe was Feb 2, 2002. Do you have any special forum features or activities? I think we have a lot, actually. We have a popular newsletter, yearly awards, fan clubs, a store, group writing projects, RPGs, group episode watching, art tutorials, and quizzes. We also have split the members into 4 groups that we use for competitions, and we're working on holding a "Big Brother" competition. SOFTWARE: Which software do you use for your forums? We use vbulletin 3.8. Do you use any add-ons scripts to enhance your site? Which ones? Yes. Too many really to name, lol, but the big ones I guess are a gallery, chat, QuoteIt and vbQuiz. The one I can't live without is Moderation Auto-PM, which automatically pm's the user when we move/edit/delete their post. I've also customized the templates quite a bit. HARDWARE: What is your current server set-up? Do you have multiple servers for your big board forum? Who manages your servers? We're still using a Shared environment. I just have one server, at asmallorange.com, for both files and db. MEMBERS: Membership stats? How many members? We have 6,969 members, 32,139 threads, and 687,606 posts. We've purged 2-3,000 accounts over the years, but we regularly get old members returning, so we don't do that too often. What are the demographics of your site? (Percentage of men, women, age groups, locality related) We're pretty broad, I would say. Of people listing gender in their profile, we're 70% female and 30% male. But We have a few thousand people who have chosen not to answer that question lol. When posting, it feels pretty equal male:female. We range from young children (too young imo, but I'm not their parents) to people in their 60s. I would say the US and UK are most represented (with the UK probably a little ahead) but we have a large representation of people from Europe, a big group of Scandinavians, and more and more from Russia and Asia in recent years. Our foreign language forums are pretty active. STAFF: Tell us a about your staff including how many admins (and their functions), moderators, mentors, web-developers, etc. Explain how your staff is organized. We have a three-tier staff system: 1.) We have two admins (though we've had as many as four and for many years until recently just one). I handle the technical stuff and my co-admin works on some of the bigger projects. We share the decision-making and overseeing the staff. 2.) We have three head mods (we usually have one or two but our existing head mod needed a leave of absence so we promoted two mods; when he came back after a time he was reinstated). The head mods are meant to liase between the admins and the mods. They take some of the weight of instructing the moderators and being point people for questions about moderating. We also have them do a lot of the pming to members for day to day things, and count on their opinion on new ideas or problems. The five of us usually discuss major issues before bringing the discussion to the mods at large. 3.) We have 7 moderators, though we've had to drop 2 more recently. They can mod all forums and are responsible for the closing/moving/deleting/editing threads. They also are expected to give their opinions on things we post in the mod forum. We also have 3 former admin/head mods that have kept their access to the staff forums and are there to give advice and opinions, even though they don't have the time to fully moderate the board. Most of our decisionmaking is by consensus, with the admin(s) as the final decisionmaker. We also allow the members to elect 4 representatives to help with the board contests and activities. REVENUE: How do you generate revenue to cover your expenses? (Ecommerce, subscriptions, advertising, affiliate links, etc) We had a text link arrangement for a couple of years, but mostly we run out of my pocket and through donations. We have a store where we sell board merch, but we've not made much from it and decided to donate its proceeds to charity instead. Do you offer upgraded members groups for a fee? What benefits do they get for subscribing/upgrading? No, we don't. We don't think people should have to pay to enjoy the site. ADMIN: What is your name? Kris Please share a few things about yourself. (Bio, family, education, background, hobbies, your favorite pizza topping, your favorite vacation spot, your choice of transportation, etc) I went to Georgetown and NYU for school, and I'm a production assistant for film and tv. I love sports, especially Chelsea FC football. I used to work in concert production and I still love concerts. How do you spend a typical day as admin on your site? What do you enjoy about your job as admin of your site/forums? Do you office in your home or in a separate office space away from your house? On a typical day I look through all the posts in our staff forums, and anything in Board News or Help. Then I welcome the new members and go through the other posts. I'm usually in chat with my co-admin on MSN and the rest of the staff in an IRC chat. If I have time then I work on any of the projects I have in the works, or member requests, or any other maintenance-y type stuff. If I don't have anything to do, I make avatars. Avatars was the first thing I was in charge of on the first board I modded, and I still love doing them. My favorite thing though is probably coming up with new ideas and watching the staff get excited about them and run with them. I also love coding and making a new layout idea work. Since this isn't my "real job" I just work at home. I've just moved to a new apartment and I can't afford a desk so it's lap city for my laptop at the moment What has been the biggest obstacle you have faced in starting or running your forums? How did you/do you handle it? I think the biggest obstacle over the span of 8 years has been the slow periods and just having the patience to stick it out. I run a board for three cancelled shows, and there were some times where it just felt like no one wanted to post anymore, or they only wanted to post in off topic and games. So many times I've thought, "Is it time to close the doors?" But I've never been able to let it go. And we always seem to come out of the slump eventually. It's just having the confidence to keep at it and not give up. And I'm not perfect in that respect, by no means - I've given up on plenty of boards over the years. My biggest current problem seems to be a sea change in member behavior. We only ever had the occasionally bad egg on our board but something in the last year has changed and there are just so many nasty, abusive members now. It's taken me changing a lot of the ways that I run my forums, like being tougher and taking drastic measures that I never would have considered a year ago. It's unfortunate but necessary. What 3 things have helped your forums to be a success? 1.) I think the main thing has been that we weren't afraid to take an unpopular stance for the good of the community. We've since the beginning insisted on being family-friendly and have not tolerated personal attacks. We've gotten a lot of complaints over the years about that BUT we've also gotten so much more praise from people who say that we're not like other forums, that they feel welcome and like they can post without being flamed. I really think it's made the difference to us. 2.) Like I said before about just weathering the slow times. It's hard, and there are times when you just want to quit, either because there's no posting or because the members are being awful to you. But just riding it out is key - the members will come eventually and the posting will pick up. It's just believing in what you're doing. So many other sites like ours have gone away but we're still there. 3.) A great staff. When I started, I had really great and knowledgeable co-admins and we work so well together. There was never a power struggle or arguments or anything like that - we just had a great working relationship. And that has grown with our moderators. The faces have changed over the years but we've been so lucky to have good, hardworking people, with the more experienced helping the newbies learn. I think part of it is that we do give even the newest moderator a say in decision-making. I also think our staff feels invested in the site - they can suggest a new project and then run with it, take ownership of it. These things help them feel like it's their site too, and that we're all in it together. But I know if I have to be away from the site that I can trust the mods to pick up the slack and take care of things while I'm gone.