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array

Admin: Your experience with myff

Hi,
I have no idea if you want to or are comfortable with answering these questions, but I'll ask anyway as I'm genuinely interested. What I want to know is: If someone came to you and wanted advice on starting up their own service similar to yours - and had all the knowledge and experience needed to - what information would you give them on what you have learnt over the years?

Things like "own your own hardware" or "The best method of advertising is:" and "Allow users to report forums", things like that, helpful information that you've learnt over the years that you would recommend other people in the same position as you consider.

ty
Bravo

So you are asking for Admin to hand over all his experience of running this type of business over to a possible competitor?

Have I got that right?
array

Bravo wrote:
So you are asking for Admin to hand over all his experience of running this type of business over to a possible competitor?

Have I got that right?


Competitor? No, someone who is interested: Yes. I have no plans on cloning the service "admin" provides, I am however interested in building a similar service that would cater to an entirely different audience, the only similarity will be in the providing of forums, they won't ever be in direct competition, different customer base. I'm not asking for all his experiences either, just anything he would say to someone taking a similar route to him.

Furthermore, there would never be any competition, getting as big as myff is would be extremely hard and I have no interest in doing that. It's similar to asking Bill Gates advice on starting up a technology company, or Steve Jobs. They wouldn't tell you to go away would they? I'm not asking for trade secrets, just any tips he would give.
myff admin

This is a tricky area to deal with and we have had a fly by night in the past setting up a competing service, blatantly ripping us off, and of course lasting no more than a month or two before his site was blocked for not paying the bill and so any customers he had lost their forums.

I may be prepared to say a few things, but first I'd ask you what makes you qualified?

I had well over 20 years in the industry, and tens of thousands of pounds to put behind the service, and even now the path is a hard one. There are way too many people trying to make a go of services on the Internet, and the rewards really are slim unless you:

1) Have a new niche where you can be the next friendsrunited or whatever.
2) Have no scruples.
array

admin (no pm's please) wrote:
This is a tricky area to deal with and we have had a fly by night in the past setting up a competing service, blatantly ripping us off, and of course lasting no more than a month or two before his site was blocked for not paying the bill and so any customers he had lost their forums.


I have no intention of cloning any pre-existing service, anyone can do that. I have unique ideas

admin (no pm's please) wrote:

I may be prepared to say a few things, but first I'd ask you what makes you qualified?


I personally feel I'm entirely qualified to run such a service, I have vast experience with web development and server management, I can pretty much cover everything I can envisage being needed and if needed I can back it up with funds for external support. However, I'm pretty much here for this reason, I want to learn what you needed behind this service and what problems you've had to get past, if I can understand those I'll better understand the position I'm in

admin (no pm's please) wrote:

I had well over 20 years in the industry, and tens of thousands of pounds to put behind the service, and even now the path is a hard one. There are way too many people trying to make a go of services on the Internet, and the rewards really are slim unless you:

1) Have a new niche where you can be the next friendsrunited or whatever.
2) Have no scruples.


I'm under no illusion that I can instantly be profitable or even ever be that profitable, I don't plan on or ever have ran websites and services for money - money is a bonus - I do it  for the satisfaction I get from helping others, providing to others and - the main one - the experience I get from it, it's invaluable.

I've pretty much got my plan all worked out, how I'm going to build the system and deal with the management side, but I have no experience with such a system so any advice or information I could get would be excellent.

Thanks
myff admin

Much advice would be plain common sense.

You ask about buying hardware, and of course having your own hardware is cheaper long term, but for a startup the own hardware route unless you are supremely confident is probably a very expensive mistake.

1) The capacity may never be needed, and the time it takes before it fills up is money wasted.
2) Hardware you buy you are stuck with, was it the right hardware?

Renting in the short term was the route I took and then buying when I learned enough from an assortment of rented server to make something like an informed decision when buying.

We have three "bought" servers, one "virtual" server, one rented dedicated server and two plain old basic hosting accounts.

All of these systems have there niche.

I will also say that regardless of how experienced you think you are, there is an unbelievable amount of security issues to deal with, make sure you have back end support from people whose job it is to deal with server issues day in day out. It costs, it ain't perfect, but it is needed. I seriously think that this has got a lot worse in the lat 4 years and is not simply that we are now a bigger target.

Adverting wise we chose to use google adwords, it may be a relatively expensive form of advertising but it works, is measurable and does not take a lot of time to deal with.
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admin (no pm's please) wrote:

Adverting wise we chose to use google adwords, it may be a relatively expensive form of advertising but it works, is measurable and does not take a lot of time to deal with.


Do you still advertise now? I've always assumed that you started out with some advertising and pretty much ride off word of mouth now which you seem to have a lot of.
myff admin

We continue to advertise. It is a big world out there.
array

admin (no pm's please) wrote:
We continue to advertise. It is a big world out there.


Interesting, thanks for the information so far, extremely helpful

How do you handle abusive forums or forums with illegal material, do you offer them a chance to "fix" it or do you instantly suspend a forum? Also do you have some sort of agreement with your upstream provider about illegal material; for example if I were to upload warez to your servers and then report it, would your upstream come to you through some sort of agreement due to the nature of the service you provide? Some providers I've dealt with vary in the way they handle abuse, some will instantly suspend a server for reported abuse, others won't.

In regards to what you make on advertising, I would expect you to be unwilling to give exact figures - who isn't! - but are you able to give a vague point in the direction that you do manage? Basically; at the scale you run now do you make enough back through advertisements - which besides paying for ad free seems to be your only revenue stream - to cover all outgoings, or do you have another business that subsidises this one?
myff admin

Those are very complex questions with no easy answers at all.

Clearly we have a reasonable relationship with anyone we depend on, built up over many years now.

I really can't go into the finances, but you can see from the fact that we are appealing for server funds that things are far from easy. myff has been subsidized massively by other interests, but equally it has achieved some degree of profitability. As I said in the first post, you are not going to make money off the net with an ethical service without a lot of time and effort.

You can see by reading the T&C forum here our approach to difficult issues. I like to think we give people a chance when we can, but if someone has set up a warez forum as opposed having a forum where someone has posted some warez, then as the saying goes you cannot free a fish from water  Wink and there is no room for dialog.
Zudane

The best way to make money is to be cruel and ruthless.. but if you want a company with a good reputation and is ethical then like Admin said, you really do need to work with it, because it's easy being mean, but it's hard being nice.
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Zudane wrote:
The best way to make money is to be cruel and ruthless.. but if you want a company with a good reputation and is ethical then like Admin said, you really do need to work with it, because it's easy being mean, but it's hard being nice.


If you really want to make money, you can. I understand all this, I'm asking for specific information regarding running a forum host The basics of business are pretty easy.

admin (no pm's please) wrote:
Those are very complex questions with no easy answers at all.

Clearly we have a reasonable relationship with anyone we depend on, built up over many years now.

I really can't go into the finances, but you can see from the fact that we are appealing for server funds that things are far from easy. myff has been subsidized massively by other interests, but equally it has achieved some degree of profitability. As I said in the first post, you are not going to make money off the net with an ethical service without a lot of time and effort.

You can see by reading the T&C forum here our approach to difficult issues. I like to think we give people a chance when we can, but if someone has set up a warez forum as opposed having a forum where someone has posted some warez, then as the saying goes you cannot free a fish from water  Wink and there is no room for dialog.


Once again thanks, I have a much better idea now than I did before One final thing; are you legally obligated to provide ad free if it's purchased, for example if I paid for ad free and my forum breached the TOS, or for some reason the database died, would you be legally obligated to provide a refund or the actual services paid for?
myff admin

If you pay for ad free, you are still obliged to keep to the T&C. I can't recall it arising but we cannot tolerate double standards.

The rest is basically about "service level agreements" and where these are offered they tend to be weaselly in nature. Doing such things properly is actually a massive and costly undertaking. It is beyond us and in reality beyond most people who claim to offer such things to do really.

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