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#286505 05/03/2004 11:09 AM
Joined: Aug 2000
Posts: 3,590
Joined: Aug 2000
Posts: 3,590
Interview by: tackaberry
Interviewee: Gizzy

Content Rulez!!! Don't you know that by now? We are pleased to bring you our interview with the runner-up in the Official Beyond Compare-UBBDev-ThreadsDev Combo Content Rulez Contest! We caught up with the head of Security at UGN Security, Gizzy; to find out what it takes to run a successful community.

UGN Security can be found at:

Tell me about the history of UGN Security and when you got started.

The site was originally established in 1996, by a fellow named BlackBeard who resides in Florida. In 2001 BlackBeard decided that he was bored with the site and wanted to sell it.

I had left the site in 1999 for greener pastures and came back for a laugh to poke fun of the staff; and noticed that Jorge (BlackBeard) was selling the site. As one of the founding members I decided that I didn't want it to end up as yet another search engine like 90% of the popular "bought out" sites end up being now a days.

In April of 2001 we decided on a price of $4,000 USD for the site and all rights to all content associated with the site and licenses. I managed to scrape together $2,000 that month and mail him my first payment which got me the domain, and then I scraped together the remainder for the rest in September when I took the site completely over.

In April of 2001 when I first got the domain I had settled with the web host that we're still at now (HostNuke) due to a friend using them and praising their hosting. Since then I have decided that it was the best place for me and my community as I've not had a single problem with them in the full 3 years we've been with them.

Throughout the history of the site we've tried many community features, even a very nice Java voice chat script that is no longer available on the web as the company went under. We've used IRC pretty much since Day one; always hosted the same way however, through home DSL/Cable connections. It's the best way for IRC though, keep it on private connections and you don't have to worry about the casual DoS attacks as you don't have to worry about ISP costs going up.

$4,000 is a pretty decent investment. Does UGN Security make you any money - and if so, how? Have you been able to recoup your investment?

UGN Security makes a very small amount of money; enough to cover licensing costs. The donation from members and the little amount of money the site has made has actually almost gotten me close to covering the initial investment.

We've gone a few routes to try and make money. We have a few stores at Café Press which you can see at the UGN Security Store that make a decent penny. We've tried using to make some money with banners, but unfortunately proved to be a route that I'll never recommend anyone go. Lately I've been testing out Google Ad-Sense which seems to be doing a little good (I made $5 in a month; still more than ever paid out lol).

We're working on an advertising system right now using PHPAdsNew which seems to be the system for us. We've been playing with the system a lot lately learning the in's and out's and trying to get it to function as planned. It should be completed by the end of summer. This should prove to be a great move for us as we can actually make a small profit with banners without worrying about being jacked around from different services.

The purchase of the site actually allowed me to make some good business relations and I've made a nice amount of money going that route. I've also met a lot of good people in my venture.

Where did the name "UGN Security" originate from?

UGN Security originally was just undergroundnews (as from the original owner). Since then it was nicknamed UGN for UnderGroundNews, and I adapted it to UGN Security after my final purchase in 2001. I figured that UGN Security sounded more professional and would be good as a new start. The site is still using the same classic design, and as always is still based around the BBS and the community as a whole.

Which are the most popular forums on your board?

Well, the most part a lot of conversations go on in our private forums... I believe in a democracy for my staff, so I let them vote on who can stay, who can go, who will be staff, etc. It's the best way to do it, leave community decisions up to the community; keeps them all happy.

As for public active sections I believe that everyone loves the news forums; it's our little way of making sure all of the geeks still hear about what's happening in the news, especially the technology news ...

But as it all comes down to our most active topics revolve around Questions and Answers... Everyone wonders about things, even small things. It's best to be sure that everyone you can help out can at least have the chance to get heard and learn something (although we do prefer people use Google before asking a question).

What kinds of threads are typical on your forum?

You wouldn't believe how often I hear "How do I hack hotmail?" lol... I felt obligated to make a "Bone Yard" forum last month; you wouldn't believe how active that forum built up with reaped posts...

Some of our favorites are just simple how to's on simple things, mainly electronics and operating systems. I spent about a week on locating customization tips and tricks on Windows for the community, ended up spending a lot of time at TechTV, more specifically The Screen Savers, website.

We get a lot of gaming questions and reviews; it's quite refreshing to hear about how the games stack up and what's good to play in my members eyes. A good review is all most people need to decide weather they really do want to dish out $200 on a couple games now a days. Games are no longer just $5 each so every opinion counts...

How many members are on your forum/site, both total and regulars?

Well presently we have 2577 members, we had about 9k members before the move in 2001 but I decided that there was way too much "crap" going on and that everything needed a fresh start. We had "flame wars" and irrelevant content all over the board, so it was a choice for the best for the community.

As for regulars, there are probably around 400 regular posting members... The rest are mainly Idlers or people who join to ask one question then leave. I'll never understand the Idlers though; they login, they use their accounts, but they just don't post...

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#286506 05/03/2004 11:09 AM
Joined: Aug 2000
Posts: 3,590
Joined: Aug 2000
Posts: 3,590
What are the other main interests of the members on your site?

My members are generally interested in Gaming, Computers, Electronics and just chatting. I have a small group of people who're interested in Linux but the calling of Linux still exists. We have a large amount of people who talk about different UNIX and Linux information on the IRC and some on the bulletin board, but there's still the group of the hardcore Linux guru's that just hide in the back .

We enjoy just chatting it up on the IRC server; it's grown to be one of our favorite things to work on. I truly am thankful for Sinetific, Infinite, and SilentRage for donating their time and bandwidth to helping the site out. I'm 100% positive that without them UGN Security would have faded into nothingness.

Just as any community we can only survive with our members. We try our best in helping everyone with just about anything that can help them out. I love talking to new people and getting to know them, although I don't show it most of the time.

Do you prefer Console or PC gaming?

My PS2! I couldn't live without it... I'm a huge RPG geek; if I could get paid to review games all day I'd definitely do it... I still like PC gaming though; but for more Strategy purposes (Risk, AoE, AoK, Diablo II: LoD)...

I've always been a Console geek, I love my PS2, heck if my Sega still worked I'd be playing that too (sonic rules :x)... I've had too many consoles in my day; 3 different Atari's, a few original Nintendo's, Sega's up the wazoo (Sega Nomad, Sega Genesis, Sega 32 Bit, Sega CD, heck, I even had SegaTV (the limited over the cable thing our cable co had, it was sweet; 300 games at my fingertip's and no changing the cartridge!)).

But there is just something about the console that I just love... Possibly the standard DVD capabilities of the PS2 where the XBox you have to buy an adapter no matter what if you plan on playing DVD's... But I have them both although they’ve been quite neglected as of late (been swamped with work).

What are the top games that you would recommend - what are your favorites?

Oh goodness, favorite games... I'm a fan of the classics most definitely... Sonic, Frogger, Age of Empires (leave it to me to spawn 20 years in 2 seconds)... I'll play anything once in all honesty; I don't really have any favorites... Although the Mortal Kombat games definitely come to mind when I think favorite...

I like Racing games, Battle games, heck even some games where all you do is run around and get injured... I think I sat down and played a simulation dating game as a stick figure for at least a week... But then again I like simulators just because I can beat them so easily but there are always different things that you can do in them...

Which soon to be released game are you anticipating the most?

Well, I definitely want to get UT2004 when I get a new PC (for some reason it likes to crash my dell laptop, but then again I just answered my own statement, dell)... Haven't really looked at any games lately but for some reason, I'm just mesmerized by all the DDR games... They look sweet, but if you've ever seen me, you know that Gizzy has no rhythm...

We're getting a pool this summer so I doubt I'll be gaming too much, unless I can get a portable TV and my second PS2 outside that is... Doubtful though as when I get the pool setup it'll take up a large portion of my yard (it'll take a while as we live on a hill and I have to flatten ground, I'll just think of it as a video game though).

What other sites do you consider to be your competitors? What do you do to differentiate UGN Security from them?

I don't really consider any site to be a competitor. Our site is mainly just a chat for members who are willing to listen to just sit and learn. We allow anyone who's willing, even those who break the rules, to join in on any conversation and ask any questions pertaining to any issues they have experienced with computers, the internet or electronics.

The majority of us are Sci-Fi buffs though, so don't come around on Friday nights as a majority of our Admin's are around their televisions watching Stargate SG-1.

Lol, as opposed to being out on dates. wink

When did you start using UBB on your site?

We purchased a license to UBB.Classic in April of 1999. Before then we were using a freeware version of the board. BlackBeard decided that the time had come to upgrade the board to use the licensed version as at least we'd get support if we needed it ... Also new features coming out we decided it was a necessity.

How large is your board "staff", in terms of Admin's and Moderators?

We have 5 Administrators (it's a necessity with a internet security board, there can be a lot of questionable content at times so it's a must to keep a staff who can maintain just about anything. Most of the administrators are in charge of the IRC Server to be sure any decisions on one part of the site are backed up on another.

As for moderators we have too many to count on both hands ... Our news staff we have 5 members, who are in charge of moderation of the news forums as well as publishing 10 stories per person each week. Other than that each forum has 2 moderators (no moderator is supposed to moderate more than 4 forums).

We're running the Mega Moderators modification to help with maintenance of the site. We have 3 Mega Moderators who assist in policing the forums.

In all actuality UGN Security couldn't be what it is now without our staff. We allow anyone to be staff member, but we weed people out due to not being dedicated towards helping the community as a whole. If the member isn't dedicated to helping people there is no way that they'd last as a staff member.

Besides the UBB, what other content do you have on your site?

We have about 500mb of text files and how to's on computers and telecommunications. Mainly the bad stuff that no one wants to admit exist, and a lot are semi outdated, but the best way to understand how things work and learn about how to protect yourself from the "bad guys" is to learn about how it once worked and what can actually be done to specific hardware and operating systems so you know how to protect yourself.

We also have an IRC server with about 30 members at most times. Our chat is pretty dead until night time (starting 6pm PST) but is usually pretty active all night. We allow anyone to register channels on the IRC so long as everything stays legal. A lot of users like to push things but they’re the few that get sent to DalNET.

What are some of your future plans for UGN security?

Future plan's... That's actually a good question; I haven't given much thought to it lately. Our #1 goal at this time is to get our advertising system up and running. I have a staff member working on it that I am expecting great things from.
I'm planning on tying the board into the site a little more, although I cannot really give out too many details as of yet since I haven't really decided what I was planning on doing in full yet.
Other options however, I've been planning for some time on doing yet another recode of the site (this would mark the third total rebuild of the site). Right now (although it may not look like it) portions of the site are Mickey Mouse'd together and the coding is a real nightmare if you ever got the chance to look at it. The recode will keep the same design yet diminish a large portion of the coding in each file of the site and tie in a little more MySQL where we decide to place it (mainly the left menu).

Thanks again for taking the time to speak with us, and best of luck with UGN Security.

Thanks, in closing I'm thankful for my members, and especially my staff. They are the best group of people who I've ever had the honor of knowing, and I hope that everything grows between us as friends as the community grows with people and content.

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