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Zakalwe.net

Hiatus

noun

  1. a pause or break in continuity in a sequence or activity.
    “there was a brief hiatus in the war with France”

In my last post here I suggested there was a risk of burnout and that, sadly, came to pass. I was doing too much and neglecting other aspects of my life as running forums took the fore. Bad times.

Running two forums – well, trying to get two forums off the ground as well as working full time, with a young family and personal demands just didn’t work. It all got too much and I stepped away. Necessary, really. I’ve been off the forums and off social media for a few weeks. Naturally, this has meant that the forum has stalled. I cannot expect others to pick up the slack. Why should they if it looks as if the owner of the forum has abandoned it. I have not abandoned it. Far from it.

A break was probably necessary and my return will see a different focus. I can’t go all in like I did. There are other concerns which I have outside of the internet. I need to put my life first and the forum second.

A custom style is in development for Strategy Gaming Network and should be ready some point this month. When it is ready I will begin again promoting the forum, visiting daily, posting daily, and updating the content to keep up with new releases as they come. What we have at the moment is a really good basis for a successful small forum. I need to be consistent with content rather than smashing as much in as possible in a short space of time. Small updates regular and often beats a splurge of posts followed by periods of inactivity.

So that there is the plan. Now to put it into action.

“It’s a marathon, not a sprint.”

I’m risking burn out. As with any project I’ve started throughout my history with forums I tend to go all in. I currently have two forums up and running and I’m risking giving too much too soon. If I continue at a pace such as this I risk losing my focus and desire to see them successful. That cannot happen I need to slow down. I need to constantly remind myself there is no deadline. It doesn’t have to be done now! today! Things can wait.

Here is what I’m working on:

Strategy Gaming Network

Strategy Gaming Network is a community for strategy gaming. I did something similar before but back then I was still influential on Gamingforums – and forums were still huge – so people followed. This time I’m striking out solo without a huge amount of initial support and facing off against social media, Discord and Reddit. Forums are tough cookies to bake. They take time, attention and dedication.

The key here is to give people something they cannot get on social media. That ‘thing’ is a sense of community. A sense that they can belong to someplace without being one of faceless millions. On SGN I intend to bring that community focus/spirit to the forefront.

They say that “no plan survives contact with the enemy” and that is true of Strategy Gaming Network too. I am adaptable and adapting. From a forum that was going to be inclusive of all strategy games from RTS titles to 4X grand strategy games there has been a shift towards indie titles.

I have a couple of members who are working on their own games. SGN gives them a community to test ideas with, to gather feedback from. These mechanisms can work on social media but on SGN these indiedevs are given a better platform.

As other games or subjects come to the fore they will take precedence on the boards. I love Chris Taylor’s new Intergalactic Space Empire idea. That is something I want to capture within SGN.

But remember, it’s a marathon and not a sprint. There is no deadline.

Blog Boards

Blog Boards is an old idea from way back in 2011. I still have the Twitter account for the old site. The idea is to… Well, I already wrote about this so let me just quote:

[I] started looking for blogger forums. Somewhere people can go to talk to other bloggers and to start cross-blog relationships. Link exchanges, subscriber exchanges, tips and ideas exchanges. I found one forum that was being plagued by spam, and I found another forum which was dead in the water. I found many domains parked, for sale, empty, blank. What I did not find was a dedicated forum for bloggers which was active, well managed and current. I admit I didn’t look far, and I admit there are a multitude of webmaster forums which will cover this angle in some shape or form, but all-in-all the market stands open for a forum dedicated to blogs.

I was able to capture the .net version of the old blogboards domain and with a spare XenForo licence the community sprang to life.

So far there are few members and I am working on getting myself established within blogging circles to see if I can capture the attention of others who may be interested without overtly ramming it down their throats. There are a number of promotional ideas I have and I want to avoid – for now – paid advertisements. These is an expense I can ill afford.

So there’s those two forum communities, there’s this blog and my personal blog alsarcastic and a further gaming blog designed to capture Intergalactic Space Empire traffic and drive to to the discussion forums. I have a few projects to keep me occupied. I really don’t want to take on any more.

Oh, but what about?– I’m kidding. No more projects.

I don’t want to risk burnout.

“It’s a marathon, not a sprint.”

Forums are good!

Welcome to my newest blog. This is place I wanted to put together to discuss my journey back into the world of the web.

Who am I? 

I’m Al and I’m from England. But you’re not interested in that. This is about my online ventures so let’s take a trip down memory lane. 

Way back in 2003 I stumbled upon gamingforums.com and got hooked into online forums. My username was AzH and I devoted a lot of time to the forums eventually gaining a role as Senior Administrator in charge of a community of thousands. I loved it. My time as GF was enjoyable but like all good things it came to an end. That end took the form of me standing down, coming back, standing down again. Eventually I was struck by the banhammer. 

These were very different times to today. Facebook was in its infancy. Twitter was too. Forums were the premium ‘social media’. I started by own forum, devioustyrant.com and then another rockpapernuke.com, then supremecommanderforums.com too! I was invested. 

They were dark times personally. Life was tough outside of the online world. Money was tight. Relationships were complicated. I was treading water and not doing very much. These forums gave me clarity of purpose. 

As I developed skills in forum administration and promotion I had some success. left4deadforums.com was comparatively huge for me. My first true personal online success story. I launched it before the game was released and nurtured a community of passionate individuals to the point where we became the number one L4D fan site on the planet. When the game launched my inability to fund and successfully monetise such a large venture hit and I had no option but to sell the boards. They were snapped up and the success of the forums continued with the release of the game’s sequel. Eventually, however, as all boards dedicated to a single game, they withered and died and were merged into a larger forum. 

Building on my success with left4deadforums I opened another community for another similar game, Dead Island. I was better than I had been. I engaged with developers and publishers. We became the number one destination for people wanting to talk about Dead Island. 

That forum was sold too at game release. I still wasn’t competent at making money online and the opportunity to gain a few thousand dollars from selling it outweighed the cost of keeping it. 

I tried a few more – all games based; alienscolonialmarines.com (or was it .net?) and dreadnoughtforums.com. Neither was as popular as previous ventures and Twitter/Facebook were superseding forums as the discussion medium of choice. It was a difficult slog. I anticipated success would fall into my lap but it didn’t happen. Both were abandoned as real life took over. 

Children, relationships, a proper career, friendships, family. These all took precedence and my involvement in online ventures too a back seat for many, many years. 

My life has settled. I am comfortable and happy. I am not rich beyond my wildest dreams but I’m financially well off. The coronavirus lockdown hit and I needed a hobby. Why not get back into forums? I never stopped gaming. I’ve always been a gamer at heart. That’s what got me started with forums to begin with.

So here I am. Back in the game, as it were. Back where I belong? I am not the person I once was. A lot of water has passed under the bridge. A lot of time has elapsed. Forums have changed too. The landscape is different. Discord, Reddit, Facebook, Twitter. Lots of different competing outlets for information sharing. But does that mean there isn’t a place for forums anymore? I don’t think so.

These huge sites as mentioned above do not have a sense of belonging that forums do. My time on GF was a time of personal connection. They weren’t always positive connections and despite making a lot of good friends I rubbed a lot of people up the wrong way. For that I am sorry. Those personal connections and that sense of belonging are still sought after by people young and old. Those who hanker for the ‘old days’ of forum membership, those who don’t want to join the swarming masses on social media, those who want specific, well ordered, targeted information in an easy to manage and easy to navigate way. Those people still need forums to exist and that is why I am back. 

If you have made it this far, well done. I have grown wordy and long-winded in my old age and I have a tendency to use one hundred words when five would have been sufficient. 

This blog is a personal one dedicated to my journey into forums future and occasionally forums past. I will discuss successes and failures. I’ll look at where I started – that’s an interesting point – and where I am going. I hope you stick around – and maybe join a forum or two! 

Al