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View Full Version : The King is Dead, Long Live the King



vangogh
03-15-2018, 04:18 PM
Would you believe itís been nearly ten years since we opened the door to this forum?

I still remember the day. I installed the software and turned on the forum expecting it would be visible to no one but me. I wanted to go through all the settings and create some threads to get things started only to discover the forum was already live and people had started to join. I had hoped to have a couple of days to look over things, but it wasnít meant to be.

The first week Kristine and I created thread after thread and responded to the ones the other had created as well as those started by the first twenty or so members. I think I averaged about 60 posts a day all week. I wanted to make sure all the thread/post number counts on the home page hit 10 and once they did, I wanted them all to hit 100. When we reached triple digits on every section of the forum, I felt I could finally rest.

Ten years is a long time. A lot can change in a decade and theyíve changed for me over the last few years in regards to both my personal and professional life. A couple of years ago I decided to close my freelance design and development business to focus on writing both fiction and non-fiction.

Once I made that change, I realized this forum didnít hold the same priority for me as it had. For the last year, Iíve been thinking it was time for me to move on and Iíve thought how I might go about doing that. Three options came to mind.


Close the forum: I thought about it, but not for long. I think weíve built a pretty good community here and I want to see it continue.
Sell the forum: Every year I receive two or three emails asking if I want to sell the site. I sometimes replied back asking for an offer out of curiosity, even though I had no intention of selling. Itís always struck me that the people who wanted to buy this place were likely to either plaster ads everywhere or abuse the database and send out spam emails to everyone. I didnít want to see either happen.
Turn the forum over to someone else: This is what I always thought would eventually happen and since the first time I thought about it, I had one person in mind, Harold.



I started bugging Harold last summer to see if heíd want to take over and I finally wore him down at the end of the year. I wanted to let everyone know that within a few days, maybe a week or so Harold will be in charge. The site should be on his server now or in the next few days at which point Iíll transfer the domain and software license to him as well.

I think this change will be good for the forum . Like I said, itís dropped on my list of priorities and while I think I was possibly the best person to take us from the very first day till now, I donít think Iím the best person to grow the forum from here on out. I think Harold will do a much better job of that and is the right person to take over.

I wonít be disappearing right away. Iíll continue as I have been and over the next couple of months Iíll start to pull away as Harold takes over more. Iím guessing heíll eventually change a few things, but I wouldnít expect you to notice much of a difference in the immediate and near term.

After the transition, Iíll slowly fade away and return from time to time to say hello and see whatís going on.

I want to thank everyone whoís ever been a part of this community. We all built this place and made it whatever it is today, which Iíd like to think is a useful resource for people at any stage of their business life.

Thanks.

Harold Mansfield
03-15-2018, 05:47 PM
Just to catch everyone up on how we got here, many of us were members of another small business forum. Most around much longer than me. I was just thinking about going out on my own when I joined that other forum. Then it started going to hell, lot of spam, lots of outages...it just felt very poorly managed. So VG told a few people he was starting his own and we all came here and have been here ever since.

I've been working for myself right about 10 years the same amount of time that this forum started. Also right when the financial meltdown was at it's worst so that was about 2008.

I probably would have never made it without forums, but this one specifically. I knew nothing. To be able to get questions answered, look around and see what other people were doing, and how they handled things was invaluable to me. I want to make sure that others continue to have this resource to help them along the same way that it helped me.

Over the next few weeks/months I may put a fresh coat of paint on the joint, and adjust a few things here and there, but won't be making any drastic changes that will take away from the culture and spirit of the forum. VG has done an awesome job keeping this forum spam free, and I will definitely continue that as it's what killed forums in the past. Hoping I can count on the existing mods and admins to help keep it going.

I may start a thread asking for opinions and suggestions and would love to hear feedback on how we may be able to improve things not just for ourselves, but for future entrepreneurs who need a place to get advice.

We'll be keeping everyone posted along the way. Looking forward to taking the torch and continuing what Steve started.

vangogh
03-15-2018, 07:10 PM
A few years ago someone asked about the history of this forum (http://www.small-business-forum.net/feedback-and-suggestions/8072-sbf-history.html) and I provided a long answer that everyone seemed to think was of novel length. It wasn't quite that long, but you can decide for yourself on the other side of the link I just posted.

A couple of fun facts.


I almost left the old forum shortly before starting this one. I was the lone moderator without much access to anything and all the people who had access wouldn't respond to my emails asking for help with one thing or another. Had the old forum stayed up a month longer, I might have already been gone and this forum would never have been.

I came very close to banning Harold the first couple of weeks after he joined the old forum. He pushed the envelope a little when it came to promoting himself or maybe dropping links. I can't remember which. Either way he didn't push the envelop too far or maybe somewhere in a deep dark corner of my subconscious I had a feeling one day I'd be handing him the keys to this place.


Just think what might have been.

Harold Mansfield
03-15-2018, 08:10 PM
I came very close to banning Harold the first couple of weeks after he joined the old forum. He pushed the envelope a little when it came to promoting himself or maybe dropping links. I can't remember which. Either way he didn't push the envelop too far or maybe somewhere in a deep dark corner of my subconscious I had a feeling one day I'd be handing him the keys to this place.


Just think what might have been.

LOL! Case and point. I had no idea what I was doing. I'd been on other forums and that's all people did so I thought that's what was done.

SumpinSpecial
03-16-2018, 08:13 AM
I participate on lots of forums, generally for entertainment value more than information, but all the same. I know a high quality forum when I see one, and this is one. You did a great job with it, and I think Harold will continue doing a great job with it.

turboguy
03-16-2018, 08:32 AM
Like SumpinSpecial, I too participate in a number of forums, am a moderator on one forum and own another forum. VanGogh, you have done a great job on this one and it is one I really enjoy. I have no doubts Harold will continue the tradition and do his best to improve the forum and I look forward to seeing it continue as a great forum. I was never involved in the other forum you mentioned but I am glad you took the initiative to start this one and I wish you continued success with your writing and all you undertake. I do hope you stop in from time to time.

Your talking about people posting before you were ready made me laugh a bit. When I started my forum it was the opposite. I had to make up identities and talk to myself for quite some time. I can recall how happy I was when I got the first real member but eventually it did take off and has been going now for about 15 years. Well, best of luck.

vangogh
03-16-2018, 06:32 PM
Thanks Sharon and Ray. When I first started my business, even in the years before, I spent a lot of time on forums learning how to do all sorts of things. There were some where people would agree with what they were saying, but still be arguing with each and getting personal. Others were so littered with ads you couldn't follow the conversation. Then I moderating a couple of forums. The old .com site and a webmaster site. They both ended up being loaded with ads and filled with people arguing about nothing.

I always told myself if I ever had a forum of my own, I wouldn't let those things happen. The key is deciding in advance what you're going to allow and what you aren't going to allow and then you have to maintain that standard. I decided to get rid of the lowest quality posts and I've always insisted that we all respect one another. Disagree all you want, but don't get personal or insulting.

I plan on showing Harold everything I know and do to stop spam before it gets posted and I've no doubt he'll do a great job. It's mostly about doing it every day and getting to know the patterns people use to spam.


Your talking about people posting before you were ready made me laugh a bit.

It was funny. I wanted to talk about a few things behind the scenes so we could plan what specific forums we needed and things like that. I wanted to fill up the different parts of the forum so it wouldn't look empty. I also needed to test to make sure the software was working. I followed instructions and the forum was only supposed to be live for admins, but vBulletin has a mind of its own at times and everything was live.

It was a crazy week. I put everything else I was doing on hold. Fortunately, I didn't have a lot I needed to do that week, which was a lucky break. I was posting here close to eight hours a day. I think even a couple months in I was still averaging 30 or 40 posts a day. I'm down to a more reasonable 4.29 posts per day now.

Ha. I just checked Harold's average and it's 2.73. If I post nothing from here on out, it'll still take him five years to catch up at that rate.

Paul
03-17-2018, 01:43 PM
Vangogh,
You did a great job and I know Harold will also.
I have been involved on and off for a few years and always found this forum to be what it is supposed to be. A friendly business forum without spam and self-promotion. I always enjoy reading the posts and once in a while I see a subject to participate in.
Thanks for keeping it nice and friendly and I know Harold will do the same.
Thanks, Paul

vangogh
03-19-2018, 09:25 AM
Thanks Paul. Good description. That's exactly what we want this place to be, friendly and without spam or self-promotion. I wanted the forum to be a place where people could talk about business and ask and answer questions to help each other. I have no doubt Harold will continue the tradition.

Harold Mansfield
03-19-2018, 11:37 AM
Thanks Paul. Good description. That's exactly what we want this place to be, friendly and without spam or self-promotion. I wanted the forum to be a place where people could talk about business and ask and answer questions to help each other. I have no doubt Harold will continue the tradition.

At it's core that's what I believe it should continue to be as well.

This is the one place that I can come and just talk business, get feedback, maybe pass along some experience to try and help the same way others have helped me...without all the BS, spam and constant solicitation...and I intend to keep it that way.

vangogh
03-19-2018, 05:54 PM
At it's core that's what I believe it should continue to be as well.

Which is why I always figured when it was time for me to leave, I'd hand the keys to the place over to you.

Business Attorney
03-20-2018, 03:48 PM
Whew! When I started reading Steve's post at the top of this thread, I thought he was going to say he was shutting it down. Although I haven't been on as often as I used to, due to too many other commitments, this is still my favorite forum. Ten years ago, I regularly visited about 8-10 forums on a more or less regular basis, and have been a moderator on several of them. I even had my own forum on internet law for a while. As other forms of social media grew, participation in several of the forums, including my own, tapered off to so little activity that most of them shut down, while a few limped along. I let the domain registration for my own forum lapse rather than spend time talking to myself.

This forum has been able to avoid the fate suffered by so many other forums and it continues to attract interesting conversations. I think Harold has been a key to keeping it interesting and relevant and have confidence that it will continue to serve entrepreneurs and small businesses under his guidance.

Thank you Steve for captaining the ship for the last 10 years and thank you Harold for taking the helm.

vangogh
03-21-2018, 11:27 AM
Thanks David.


Whew! When I started reading Steve's post at the top of this thread, I thought he was going to say he was shutting it down.

I was going for that. It's the writer in me. I was trying to set up some conflict to keep people interested and reading.

As far as the forum goes, it's not as hard as some think to keep the spam out and the conversation in. It's really about setting a standard and then putting in the time to maintain that standard. My thought has been as long as someone is making a genuine attempt to contribute something to the community, then it's fine. If something doesn't come across to me as a genuine attempt to contribute, it gets removed. That in combination with making sure people respect one another is pretty much the standard I've tried to maintain and one I'm sure Harold will maintain as well.

cbscreative
03-21-2018, 01:09 PM
I remember those days well, including the demise of the old forum. My profile title, "Refugee from the .com" is a reference to that fiasco.

When the old forum suddenly went dark, I contacted Steve (vg) by email because there were several core members that made the other forum a great community and it was a shame to see that go to waste. When I mentioned the idea of starting a new forum, I didn't realize Steve was already contemplating that. Steve just ran with it and I hardly did anything comparably other than serve as one of the original 3 admins.

Steve did inform me at the time he was the lone mod at the old place for a long time and getting no help or communication from the owners, which were being changed at that time. He genuinely cared for the community that had been built and it was clear to both of us the new owners didn't. They apparently thought it was nothing more than easy money for them. It quickly degraded into an unkempt wasteland but fortunately the active members were made aware of this "new" startup and the mass exodus quickly took place, leaving the old country to die a slow agonizing death.

Steve's dedication to keep the parts of the old model that made it previously great and not allow spam, shameless self promotion, personal attacks, and other behaviors that degrade the community is impeccable. I anticipate Harold will carry the torch well. I also do recall some of Harold's behavior in his early days on the old forum and suspected he might get banned. That obviously never happened and he even got invited to join the management team. Congrats Harold!

Major kudos to Steve. He has more stamina than I do and he's obviously a much faster typist. I could never keep up his pace and the role he has played here will be appreciated by everyone. It has a lot to do with why this forum has prevailed while so many others have gone. It's also why we attract the kind of membership that makes this a truly outstanding community.

Like David (Business Attorney) and many other members here, my presence on SBF has had lapses, but we keep coming back because of the community.

vangogh
03-23-2018, 06:04 PM
I remember our emails too. And the movie game we used to play along with all its variations. We started that one on the old forum and brought it with us to the new one.

When I was the only one moderating the old forum, it was frustrating. I had no access to do anything. When that forum went down, I emailed the owners and said if they gave me more access I'd get the site up and running again, but they never replied. The first time I heard from them was after we set up here and they told me not to link to the new forum on the old one. I ignored them and they banned my account and many of the people who joined here. Do you remember Cory who also used to moderate the old forum. When he found out what happened he logged in and removed the ban on my account.

Wow! I just visited the old forum or tried to. First time I looked in a very long time. The forum no longer exists. It's now a list of links that are all ads pointing elsewhere.


and not allow spam, shameless self promotion, personal attacks, and other behaviors that degrade the community is impeccable.

The main thing is to put in a little time each day to maintain the standards. It's easy to let something slide when it doesn't seem too personal or it's not much promotion, but you have to maintain that line. Over the years I've had a few emails from people who complained that they couldn't do X or Y or whatever. I explained as nicely as I could what the policy is and why I deleted their post or thread. Most of the time I never hear from them again. Sometimes people replied with a nasty email. A few times they apologized and said they understood and continued to be members.

cbscreative
03-26-2018, 02:04 PM
I haven't thought about that movie game in a long time. I think I may have been the one to start that over at the .com but it wasn't originally a movie game. I know I started the "Useless Thread" there and it seems that was the one that became the movie game and we managed to keep that thing going for well over a year here and 589 posts (I was curious and looked it up). We also got teased for being able to keep up something totally pointless for so long. While looking up the thread I also noticed as of right now Water Cooler has exactly 1000 threads.

I do remember Cory. I also recall he had gotten frustrated there too plus had made changes to his career which is probably the only reason he didn't join us here.

Yeah, those bans were really mature. First, our thread there went unnoticed by the new owners who cared nothing for the forum and were so hands off they missed an open conversation among members expressing their ire for their irresponsibility. Then when it was finally brought to their attention, they ban pretty much every active member and certainly all the ones they should have appreciated for their contributions. The drama was hilarious. Instead of just being absentee, they decided to throw a temper tantrum and saw off the branches they were sitting on.

I also just tried to pull up the old forum. It's probably my ad blockers but I got nothing but a few lines of text and no formatting.

Owen
03-26-2018, 10:30 PM
Crazy! Thanks for not closing the forum lol. Good luck, Harold! If you need a mod, lmk ;)

Bobjob
03-29-2018, 03:14 PM
Congratulations to you both Vangogh and Harold.

Harold Mansfield
03-31-2018, 11:54 AM
I'm going to start a few threads over in the "Feedback and Suggestions" about a few things I've been thinking about implementing going forward. Any feedback would be very helpful as well as any other suggestions. All are welcome.