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Expats.cz : 1st Place September 2002
By: Staff of UBBDev



Note: Built out of necessity, Expats.cz started out as a site to communicate with others in the same predicament - in a new land, where do I go? what do I do?. Martin Howlings has met his goals for the site and more. Wildy popular and growing, he has the pieces in place - great design, content content content, and attention to detail. Here is the "inside stuff":

Allen: Welcome and congrats Martin! laugh Expats is an unusual concept, what gave you the idea for it?
Martin: Expats.cz was built out of sheer frustration actually. I'd moved to Prague on a whim one day, after losing my job in the UK and found no source of real information for new arrivals. So, last December, I put a plan into action and set about bringing together the expat masses from all over the Czech Republic - in a bid to get answers to my OWN questions!

Allen: Necessity is the mother of invention, you've created a great site with it smile When did you begin using UBB on your site?
Martin: Immediately. The whole site was built with UBB in mind. I have seen it active on many other website and had always dreamed of administrating a system using UBB. Of course, the reality is much more demanding than the dream. Some days I just want to murder my userbase.

Allen: Which forums are the most popular?
Martin: The Lobby is a random posting ground - which seems to suit people's laziness. The un-moderated area, which allows people to speak freely without someone breathing down their neck- is also pretty popular.

Allen: Besides the UBB, what other content do you offer on your site?
Martin: We offer facilities such as SMS gateways, articles and stories, Prague job help and Prague accommodation, flat listings etc. We're working on weekly columnists for fresh content. Generally speaking, the content builds itself.

Allen: Great concept and execution. How do you keep your site "fresh", and what can you recommend that will keep visitors coming back for more?
Martin: Due to the nature of the web site, there is always something interesting to see by the hour. The site is for expatriates or english speaking foreigners living or relocating to Prague - and so, if this is your situation - you can't afford to miss out on the free classified adverts or someone asking to share an apartment, etc. People will always come back for more, until they leave smile

Allen: What's the UBB mod that you like the best? And the one your users like the best?
Martin: The calendar. I had my eye on this mod since I first purchased my UBB. The new port to the 6.3.x version was very exciting. I'm a big fan of the "welcome PM" mod too wink

Allen: What's the one mod that you feel is an absolute necessity for your UBB?
Martin: See above!


Allen: Are there any "tricks of the trade" you'd like to share, so other UBB users can benefit from your experience?
Martin: Here's a tip - "backup" - "play" - "backup" - "play". The key to a successful UBB community, is a good admin. My good friend Jennifer runs the day to day administration and welcomes the users as they arrive. She is worth her weight in Infopop Licenses, I tell you!

Allen: Good help is hard to find, I am sure you are correct about her worth. smile Your site is really growing, what are your future plans for expats?
Martin: To help people, to modify the navigation until it is flawless - and above all, to sustain the helpful and friendly nature of the expats.cz website.

=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=


Allen: OK, now for the fun stuff tipsy - What do you do for fun away from the computer?
Martin: The Czech Republic is a place of beer and friends, thus I usually meet with my buddies all over town in the *various* drinking holes in Prague. Big shouts to Chris Peterson, who always gives me inspiration with the site when we're drunk and stops me from making UBB posts I will regret later smile My time away from the computer, is usually spent reading or cooking - or just chilling with my girlfriend. I love to knit and bake cookies too wink

Allen: Where are your favorite places to travel?
Martin: Austria and Netherlands are high on my list. My home country of the UK has to be my favourite, as I haven't been there for a good few years. London calls every 6 months or so - nice to see the family too.


Allen: Outside of ubb-related sites, what are your top 3 favorite websites?
Martin:
#3 - www.HomeStarRunner.com (Everybody.. Everybody..).
#2 - www.Fark.com (just cuz)
#1 - www.Google.com (because I'm listed so highly/it's very useful)

Allen: What's your score here? http://brass612.tripod.com/bridge.html smile
Martin: I answered the questions honestly, but felt that the whole thing was far too "American" for this Englishman. Still, it told me I scored 34 points and that I "certainly enjoy life - nice job!". Hmm, I was hoping for a little more depth to the result after all that clicking.. something like "you have much to learn young Jedi, try using the force in other ways - other than to crack open your beer" - or - "you lied on questions 45 & 76". Thanks Allen, you owe me 25 KC (Czech Crowns) for my time spent in this internet cafe.

Allen: You can put it on my tab wink Thank you for your time and congrats again on a very nice site smile

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