Interview with David Munn - Ikonboard

Discussion in 'Interviews' started by The Sandman, Nov 13, 2005.

  1. The Sandman

    The Sandman Administrator

    Most experienced forum administrators are aware of [ame=""]Ikonboard - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia@@AMEPARAM@@/wiki/File:Forum_illustration.jpg" class="image"><img alt="Forum illustration.jpg" src=""@@AMEPARAM@@en/1/14/Forum_illustration.jpg[/ame], the PERL based forum software originally written by Matt Mecham, who then moved on to create the Invision Power Board. So what happened to ikonboard after Matt's departure? We did an interview with David Munn, AKA David-iB, an ikonboard team member, supporter, and fan.


    Please give us a brief bio.

    I was born in England in 1986 (making me 19) and moved to Brisbane, Australia where I have lived ever since. Professionally, I am working in the hospitality industry, although I am also studying IT and have a high interest in computer related subjects.

    Why did you move to Australia? Is that where you plan to stay?

    I moved to Australia when I was a lot younger, a toddler actually with my parents and the Brisbane area is where I have been since. I do plan on heading back over to England (Portsmouth in particular) for an extended holiday in the next couple of years. I am not interested in moving back or away from Australia at this point, the life style here is too great.

    What is your educational background?

    Gained a Certificate II in Information Technology back in 2001, since then I have completed High School and stated study towards a Diploma of IT.

    I also take a heavy interest in web development and design which is a big passion of mine.

    What is (was?) your involvement with ikonboard and how long have you been with them?

    I first joined the IB team in 2002, where I stayed for about a year and left due to schooling and personal commitments. I later rejoined in October of 2003 till present.

    My main role at ikonboard has been with the support team, although at one stage I took control of IB Hackers to try to breath some life into the community - but due to lack of support from upper management the effort soon failed. I have also contributed some code to the forum system.

    Can you outline the history of ikonboard for us?

    Ikonboard was originally created by Matt Mecham, who released three different versions of the forum. The Ikonboard 2.x series is where Ikonboard picked up the majority of it's fame, it was free, fast, and feature driven something which UBB wasn't at the time.

    Shortly after the creation of the 3.x series Matt sold the forum to an American company (Jarvis Entertainment Group) where he stayed for a while as the only paid member of the ikonboard team. Matt decided to leave along with Jarvis Employee Charles Warner to create IPS.

    John Jarvis decided to bring in another paid developer to take control of ikonboard - this almost killed ikonboard there and then. Fender almost ruined ikonboard through his lack of coding and poor management style. During this period MyIkonboard was created, which to this day the volunteer staff has refused to support.

    John Jarvis was later forced out of Jarvis Group, which at the time we believe to be a great thing to happen. Jarvis Group changed there name to Westlin Corporation.

    Ikonboard never had full support from Westlin Corporation, who rarely had any communication with the ikonboard team.

    Recently John Jarvis has gained control of ikonboard.

    Throughout my time with ikonboard, we have seen many lead developers come and go - every single one of them driven out due to upper management.

    Tell us about the ikonboard community and the ikonboard team members during "the good old days".

    When the development team was headed by "Camil" (now working on ICT), he managed to fix a lot of problems with the code left behind from the past developers, as well as bring in a lot of new features. The support team at that time was dedicated. And community websites were all over the place, IB Hackers was booming!

    What about the ikonboard community and the ikonboard team members now?

    The ikonboard team members are hurting a lot at the current time, and we regret that we as a team are unable to provide 100% answers to the public.

    A few of the team members (and ex lead developers) have been hard at work on ICT - which looks like an extremely promising venture.

    A group of us are working on ways to bring ikonboard back, but under our control. And the rest have had enough of everything and disappeared.

    As far as the community goes, ikonboard is looking quite sick - only one "hackers" website is still running strong (although not updated by the owner anymore) and that is (IB Supported) - some hacks are still being produced and some support is being given.

    What is the status of ikonboard today?

    I am not to sure about the current status, I know John Jarvis has the rights to the forums once again. The team has been told nothing at all and any communication we have tried with Jarvis or Westlin has been turned away.

    At the moment the domain name is on "Register-Lock/Hold" and John Jarvis has Ikonboard listed as a service on one of his websites.

    We are still fighting for communication with Jarvis or Westlin to get some information.

    What can you tell us about John Jarvis:

    -- Why did he purchase ikonboard?

    He saw potential to make money from ikonboard, to start with he offered it for free and then brought in hosting deals to make money. Later there were a lot of talks that he was going to make ikonboard a paid only product, but due to pressure decided on only that priority support would be paid.

    -- What happened to his plans?

    The problem was he plans and ideas changed quite a lot, he made a lot of promises to the completely (post Matt era) volunteer staff that he never met and even denied making them on occasions. He forced out quality coders due to his management and lack of resources he would give to the team.

    Most of the time ikonboard was developed it was off the Jarvis (later Westlin) servers as we were not given access to them.

    -- Why/how was he forced out of JEG?

    He was recently voted out by the Board of Directors of Jarvis Group, who later changed their name to Westlin Corporation. In this process he lost control to all of the web services he brought into the company.

    Throughout this period the ikonboard team were rarely informed on what was happening - leaving us in the dark once again.

    -- Who took over?

    David Herr took over as President of the company and proceeded to tell the team that ikonboard was a priority product at Westlin and everything will be done to help. This was one of the very few bits of communication received from the Westlin ranks.

    -- How/why did he come back into the picture?

    October 28 a settlement was made between John and Westlin Group. John Jarvis returned the majority (if not all) of his shares in return for Westlin web services, including Ikonboard.

    Any thoughts as to why the ikonboard website is inaccessible?

    The support forums and website were poorly installed on the server to begin with - due to a lot of things being hard coded in which never should have been making it a difficult process to change servers. On saying that, this is taking a lot longer then it ever should have taken - as for the domain it's currently in register-hold/lock.

    Best case scenario - what happens next?

    * John retires ikonboard never to bring it back to life - allow it to leave with the little bit of respect it has left.

    * Hand the forum (rights included) over to the team who are willing to put the effort back into the forum.

    Worst case scenario - what happens next?

    * John Jarvis tries to recreate the glory days with a new team - it is bound to fail, without a strong team ikonboard would never have lasted this long.

    What are you and the other Team members doing in the meantime?

    We are keeping in contact via private forums trying to find an answer to what exactly is going on - as well as planing out next steps.

    Personally, I have been banned from the Pitboss forums (Ikonboard apparent new father company) in an effort to find some answers to what's going on.

    What are the ikonboard users doing in the meantime?

    Ikonboard users are stuck with no where to turn to, due to all the happenings over the past few years very few community websites exist, with the exception of

    The team that was left before John took control of ikonboard are in discussion on private forums about what we doing - trying to bring some information in.

    What are your recommendations for ikonboard users?

    For your support visit - someone will be willing to help you.

    Don't get your hopes up that something new will ever be released, we are fighting for a solution but answers seem very unlikely.

    What websites do you visit on a regular basis? and are high up in my bookmark lists. I am a massive fan of the English Football Club Portsmouth, so I spend way to much time visiting Pompey websites. I also spend a lot of time working on, a community blog with a group of mates

    Do you have any forums of your own?

    I run and operate (The Arena), although as of the past few months I have not done a lot with the forum - it runs quite well with the admin team that is in place.

    How would you describe your moderation style?

    Relaxed but firm: I will make decisions that other don't like and I have in the past put my foot down when I feel it has been required. In general I let the forum moderate itself, my theory is - the more boundaries you set, the more they will be broken, the more work you have to do. Set smaller boundaries and you have a lot less moderating work to perform.

    What are the most common technical mistakes you see admins making?

    * Promoting other admins that don't fit the community style
    * Not creating an original skin - first impressions counts, even a simple colour change form the original can make a difference.
    * Don't be scared to bring other in to help out, forums are a community system and administration should be a team effort.

    What are the most common administrative mistakes you see admins making?

    * Taking away the users rights to free speech.
    * Setting up to many rules, keep things simple

    Do you do any coding/development work?

    At the moment I am not doing any active coding or development work - in the past I have created some hacks for ikonboard, some public releases some I haven't finished.

    The most recent piece of development work I have put on hold, and will properly never complete. It involved a rewrite of the ikonboard skin to the latest web standards.

    Which forum software would you use if/when ikonboard isn't available?

    I've installed and played with a lot of forum software, and I am yet to find something that jumps out at me and gets me excited enough to use it - so I will still continue to use the latest beta version of ikonboard that I have.

    What are the essential features for "top of the line" free forum software?

    Free forum software should have all features like the paid software (using vBulletin and IPB as examples) - look at the Linux community... Just because you can get it for free doesn't mean it isn't as good as Windows.

    What are your favorite books? Movies? TV shows? Music? Games? Foods? Beverages?

    I've never been a big reader, the latest book I purchased was an autobiography from Steve Waugh (ex Australian Cricket Caption) - I've managed to read 20pages in about two weeks...

    All time top movie of mine is We Were Soldiers, it's one of the few movies that still moves me no matter how many times I watch it - its a masterpiece.

    My taste in music changes rapidly, even I can't keep up with it - the one band that has stood the test of time is an Australia rockabilly band "The Living End".

    You can never go past a great juicy steak - cooked Medium-Rare of course, with an ice cold beer (Aussie beer VB is always good, and if I like spending money - Corona)

    What activities do you enjoy when not at work or online?

    Spending time with friends and family, which are a massive part of my life. Anything that is relaxing will win me over!

    Please describe your typical weekday schedule? Weekend?

    I work in hospitality so the majority of the time I find myself working shocking hours and working most weekends. On my odd days off I try to relax, hang out with mates - the usual lounging around things.

    What is your ultimate career goal / dream job?

    I would like to end up somewhere in the IT industry, specialising in web development.

    How do you see the internet in general changing over the next 5 to 10 years? What about online communities in particular?

    I'm extremely scared for online communities in the future, I strongly feel if a top of the line free forum doesn't hit the market in the next 2 years we are in trouble.

    Bloging will continue to grow and will reach even bigger heights, bbPress is community software I am keeping a very close eye on.

    What do you know now that you wish you'd known 10 years ago?

    10 years ago - I was extremely young, too young to know wrong form right.
    5 years ago - Knowing that I needed to spend more time on school work to push me to the career I wanted to go into.
    1 year ago - To stop and reflect, not to let work get in the way of things.

    What does the future hold for David Munn?

    Online: Largely depends on ikonboard's future, if somehow we make it return you will actively see me there. If it doesn't you will see me around on a community blog I have with some mates (4 Wise Monkeys).

    Offline: I've recently become involved with an awesome girl, so I will be looking to expand that relationship. Work will always play a big part in my life, and so will taking a holiday back to the UK in the next couple of years.

    Is there anything else you wish to say about the current and/or future status of ikonboard?

    On behalf of the ikonboard team I would like to say sorry to everyone using of our software for the current state it's in. Over the past couple of years we have tried to work around the management problems (as much as we could), yet some thing are just out of our control.

    I would also like to thank TAZ for taking the time to get the views of not only a fan of ikonboard, but a long time team member.
  2. Dietrich

    Dietrich Developer

    I'm afraid iB is also suffering from the popularity of PHP boards over the past years, YaBB also didn't run that well the last few years.
  3. IMPAQ

    IMPAQ Nuyorican Soul

  4. Jorrit787

    Jorrit787 Fan

    Such a shame that bureaucracy had to ruin the iB project :nono:
  5. ChrisLM2001

    ChrisLM2001 Participant

    Wondered where your post and my reply went at vB -- the thread was closed. :(

    That said, this article shows --again-- what arrogance and mismanagement can do for a product. Even once market leaders can fumble, due to arrogrance and greed too.

    Great interview, The Sandman, great interview. May it inspire forumware makers to do the right thing, not dictate what they believe what's right for customers.

  6. matt mecham

    matt mecham Developer

    A sorry state of affairs, indeed.
  7. MartsLair

    MartsLair Aspirant

    As Matt said, a sorry state of affairs indeed.

    I was also on the Ikonboard Support team right up to the very end, and I'll back David's sentiments. I'm really dissapointed with all the latest events at Ikonboard.

    A group of us (support team members) keep in touch on a private forum, but I fear there's very little we will be able to do. We have registered with John Jarvis's latest board (an Ikonboard by the way) to ask questions about the future, but our posts have been deleted and the accounts banned.

    Jarvis's latest company, Pitboss Entertainment, is at:, but at the time of writing this that site seems to be down too.

    If my information is correct, John Jarvis has been in a legal battle over the ownership of iB for some time with Westlin. This resulted in ownership being returned to him by the courts. From that moment on, everything went downhill.

    Personally, I hope Ikonboard survives, but I most definitely won't be part of it anymore. Ikonboard was (and still is if you have a recent copy) a great board. I've heard the Perl -vs- PHP arguments many times, but what difference does the language a program is written in matter? If a board works well, it works well.

    Incidentally. The latest version, 3.1.3 (beta build 2005.09), was about to be released as a final version. As far as the DEV team were aware, all known bugs and security problems had been fixed.
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2005
  8. Brollachan

    Brollachan Adherent

    I echo MartsLair in what he said in terms of iB's future etc.

    I joined iB support late on, I think it was June this year (under the name "KEM"), though I had been registered on Ikonboard since approx September 2001. Since 2001 I've seen many things come and go the biggest project that never happenned being the iB PHP and PHP-Lite (Project Mongoose?).

    Like David I have also been banned from the Pitboss' forums, after enquiring what is happenning with Ikonboard. Up till that banning I had been prepared to continue giving support, but since then I'm merely watching to see what if anything happens to Ikonboard. iB3.1.3 even in its beta form is very good, and once with a quick fix to bypass the update centre (connected to iBs server) it works fine.
  9. The Sandman

    The Sandman Administrator

    If you guys are interested I'd be willing to put up an Ikonboard Forum here at TAZ for ikonboard team members and users to hang out in. :)
  10. MartsLair

    MartsLair Aspirant

    Hi Sandman.

    Thanks for the offer. If the current owners of iB were as quick to come to the rescue then I doubt if there would have been this problem.

    Personally, I won't be continuing with iB under the Jarvis/Pitboss ownership, but that's not to say that some of the other guys on the team wouldn't be interested. I'm sure they are all aware of this thread but I'll bring this offer to their attention anyway.

    Unfortunately, the most important part of any bb team are the DEV boys, and they have all withdrawn their services. In a nutshell, they are all dissilusioned with the total lack of communication from the new owners.

    Never the less it might be a good idea if only to allow a place for loyal Ikonboard users to learn what's happened to their support.

    Also, it's claimed that there is still some support being offered over at: and possibly

    Plus, Pitboss (the new owners) created an "Ikonboard Support" forum on their new board. However, any of the team that has posted there have simply had the posts and their accounts removed. The Pitboss forum is at:
  11. ChrisLM2001

    ChrisLM2001 Participant

    Hate to say it, with a name like "Pitboss" it's just isn't inviting (it reminds me of illegal dog fights. Their logo doesn't help with that imagery as well). :(

    Someone in the PR department apparently doesn't understand marketing.

  12. MartsLair

    MartsLair Aspirant

    Chris, when you wrote the following:

    I didn't think the words would be shown to be so true so quickly.

    Someone (probably from here) started a topic on the Pitboss forum asking what was happening with iB. A few people added to that topic, including an Admin called Josh. As far as I could see the topic was perfectly in order.

    However, as I was reading it a short while ago, the whole topic got deleted. Gone, just like all the others. They really don't want to talk about it over there.

    I just wonder how anybody can take them seriously anymore.
  13. Munnday

    Munnday Aspirant

    I would like to once again thank TAZ for carrying out this interview. I feel it has done a lot more then I ever thought it would at getting some of the story behind ikonboard out to the public domain without fear of editing or deletion.

    Sandman: Anyway you are able to help ikonboard we would be glad to accept :) - anywhere away from the domain of Jarvis has to be a good thing!

    Matt: What can we say? At least you managed to go onto bigger and better things at a good time ;)
  14. The Sandman

    The Sandman Administrator

  15. pinkdottedflies

    pinkdottedflies Neophyte

    I can confirm that netGimmicks [ ] is still alive and well. While, I may not post as regularly as I use to, members seem to be helping out each other for now... Ironically enough, traffic has actually increased since the support forum died.

    As for ikonboard, I doubt there is any future. Frankly speaking there is no motivation to continue development even if the rights were handed over to the public. There are very few active users left. By active I mean those who are continually looking to improve their ikonboards. There are however, hundreds and maybe thousands of active boards whose admins are satisfied with that they have and don't actively seek new hacks or mods. This makes for a very small community when it comes to development of hacks. I have basically stated on my site that I have stopped making hacks for ib and I believe sly has moved on as well. We have been the only two developers to actively release hacks in large numbers post Golden years which were really the golden years for hacking as well. There is almost no chance of iB every recovering. A very sad state of affairs as Matt said.

    Anyway, my site will be around for atleast another 6-8 months, after which I will probably setup an archive or some sorts depending on user activity. So feel free to drop by.
  16. Livewire.FM

    Livewire.FM Participant


    What a great interview! This is my first visit to the Interview Forum at TAZ. Full of info and how interesting!

    David, You are an impressive young man & I applaud you. Good Job!! It sucks that the original heart & soul was replaced w/ crap by others. Shows the creators are the true talented creative people...not the "suits".

    Ironically, my daughter is in Brisbane airport today. She is flying back to Los Angeles after finishing filming the latest of a reality show for MTV. She enjoyed the Byron Bay area.

    Rock on David!!

    Sandman, I know someone you may want to interview. He has been in software design for over 30 years and is a very interesting man...on many topics.
  17. The Sandman

    The Sandman Administrator

    PM me with more details. :)
  18. maddog39

    maddog39 Enthusiast

    Wow.... I very seriosly feel bad for your guys over at iB. I went to the site for the first time in a while about a month ago and im pondering to myself "those jarvis idiots", lol. I was also wondering myself what the heck happened. Also,
    I hope to change that with a bulletin board system im writing in PHP, im very serious too, I expect it to take another 6-8 months to get to a pre-alpha stage. Also phpBB is working on Olympus, which is pretty darn sweet if you ask me, but the code is a mess and they have been working on it for the past 3 YEARS, which is totally insane if you ask me and alot of people are just leaving the idea and theres alot of people wining. Im trying to make a support for for the CVS versions but phpBB isnt willing to cooperate so far, but I havnt gone all the way up the chain of command yet. Anyways, I thought id add that comment in, im a big fan of IPB mostly but ikondboard too mostly because of Matt's roots. :D
  19. coolgal

    coolgal Neophyte

    a friend was trying to iplement ikonboard at a social website for London girls but he somehow thought it was too complicated. now he tells me he's gonna use phpbb3 cuz its free and not too hard to use.

    i personally feel vbulletin is great to use but it has features which not everyone requires.
  20. leesw

    leesw Adherent

    I remember back in the glory days of IB. I thought nothing would compete with it. Then support stopped. Other forums, like PHPBB and SMF blew by it in terms of their support, hacks and even basic features. For a while I refused to convert to another forum, to the harm of the large forum I had. Finally, when the old IB wouldn't work with the upgrades being made to host servers, I converted over.