Time for some bird talk at The Admin Zone as we hear from a forum administrator who runs Talk Budgies. FORUM BASICS: What is the name of your website and a brief description of the theme/topic of the forums. What is the url? -Talk Budgies, a website for budgie owners. Budgies, also known as parakeets, are small birds that are very popular pets. We have fourms with lots of information as well a budgie gallery with thousands of pictures. You can visit at http://talkbudgies.com. List some of the most popular forums and describe its discussions. - Our budgie pictures forum (separate from the gallery) is very popular. It's fun to see pictures of everyone else's budgies. The breeding forum is also very popular for those who are interested in breeding their budgies, as well as for those looking to give advice. The health forum is popular as well to address any concerns members might have about their budgie's well-being. What prompted you to start your forum? What was your launch date? - I started a forum called Budgie Boards back in 2004. I owned several budgies at the time and was looking for a place to talk about them. The one forum I saw was poorly organized and didn't really have a community feel, so I decided to give my own forum a shot. Budgie Boards didn't really go anywhere, so I shut it down. I then started a forum called Talk Camp. After gaining some experience running that forum (which was popular at the time but has died since), I decided to give the topic of budgies another try. This time I went with the name Talk Budgies. Talk Budgies opened at the end of January, 2006. For whatever reason, this forum grew from the day I opened it, literally. The day after I installed the forums I got my first member. Do you have any special forum features or activities? - We have a budgie gallery where members can upload pictures of their budgies. This has grown to several thousand pictures. We run a member of the month contest to promote activity, good posting, and friendly behavior. This has proven very popular. Another contest which is held regularly is Talk Budgies Next Top Model. This was started by one of our members and has grown into quite the sensation. I'm not involved in it, so I cannot really comment on it, but I know it is very popular. And it's completely member-run. This is one example of the community we have at Talk Budgies. The most popular contest on our forums was started and run by members, not staff. SOFTWARE: Which software do you use for your forums? - We use vBulletin to run our forums. Do you use any add-ons scripts to enhance your site? Which ones? - Photoplog is our main add-on script. We also have some custom pages created by myself (not a CMS). We don't have too many scripts installed, but there are a lot of customizations, including a first-name customization. With this, if a member enters their first name in their profile, not only is it displayed in their postbit, but a lot of what that members sees (like the Welcome, <username> line in the navbar) is customized to display their name instead of their username. This adds a nice personal touch for the member's own experience. We also have a gender display as well as country flags. All of these customizations (and more) help to create the community feel we have. 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 on shared hosting. I'd imagine that eventually we'll have to upgrade, but for now it still works for us, so we're sticking with it. We're hosted at DowntownHost.com. They're a great host! I'd recommend them to anyone. MEMBERS: Membership stats? How many members? - As of writing this, we have around 6,900 members. We have around 150 members log on each day. What are the demographics of your site? (Percentage of men, women, age groups, locality related) - After an informal poll created by one of our members recently, it was discovered that the majority of our member base (based on the sample who took the poll) is female. Members are of all ages, with a lot of younger members as well (less than 16 years old). Our members are primarily located in the USA, Canada, UK, and Australia. 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. - Including myself, we have three admins. We also have four super mods and two moderators. The way our staff system works is, we bring on a new staff member as a moderator of a couple forums. If they catch on and do a good job, after a couple months they're promoted to a super mod. Admins have only been brought in on an as-needed basis. I don't anticipating adding any more admins. REVENUE: How do you generate revenue to cover your expenses? (Ecommerce, subscriptions, advertising, affiliate links, etc) - Most of our revenue comes from donations. Our ads bring in very little money. (Our ads are only shown to guests, but members can opt to have them displayed as well if they choose.) No subscriptions are used. Do you offer upgraded members groups for a fee? What benefits do they get for subscribing/upgrading? - We talked about having a paid-only usergroup, and the concensus among the members is that this was not a good change. So we never implemented it. Members who make donations though are added to a secondary usergroup called Premium Members, which gives them all the benefits of our highest-posting members as well as the option for a custom user title. Other than that, there are no paid-only upgrades. ADMIN: What is your name? - Dave 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'm currently a student in college, majoring in accounting and finance. I go to school during the week and work on the weekends, so I don't have a lot of free time. The little free time I do have is usually spent at my websites. Outside of school/work, I enjoy to bowl. I have a 175 average. Cruising is my favorite form of travel and I hope to do more of it when I turn 21. My family consists of my parents, an older sister, a bird, and a dog, Benny. 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? - First thing I do when I log on is go through the new posts. I pay particular attention to the site discussion and staff area forums. I then respond to any PMs I receive and I post on the forums. I love working on websites, forums especially, so I love being an admin. I enjoy watching my community grow and seeing my members interact with each other. Forums aren't just static objects. They're alive and constantly changing & evolving. That's what makes being an admin so fun. There's always a new challenge for you. Whether it be reaching a new goal of x amount of posts, handling a problem member, dealing with spam, etc. What has been the biggest obstacle you have faced in starting or running your forums? How did you/do you handle it? - Starting my forums, the biggest obstacle was getting people to know my site was there. I started posting on budgie-related groups at Yahoo and other websites. I also advertised my website via my signature at other forums I was a member of. Once the members started posting and the word got around about my forums, it became much easier. Of course, now there are new obstacles. With more members comes more opportunities for problems to arise. Drama, technical problems, spam, etc. are just some of things I now have to deal with as an admin. What 3 things have helped your forums to be a success? - First, I'd have to say our great members helped our forum become a success. We wouldn't have gotten anywhere if our members weren't so friendly and helpful. Second, my close relationship with my members. While I have become more site-oriented and less budgie-oriented in my posting on the forums, I am still known as the person to turn to whenever there's a problem with the site. All the members know me, and I respond to any problems they may have. I'm not just sitting back letting my staff deal with everything. I deal with a lot of the issues myself as well. Whether it be on the forums or through PM, a lot of members come directly to me for help. And finally, I'd say my patience and diligence has helped make my forum a success. The beginning months of a forum's life can be rough. It takes a lot of work trying to get activity going. And once it gets going, you need to maintain order and keep the ball rolling. I visit my websites too many times a day to count. Even when I'm on vacation I visit. My constant presence there has helped to keep these problems at a minimum. Congrats on the success of your forum, Dave!