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Joined: Mar 2000
Posts: 21,079
Likes: 3
I type Like navaho
I type Like navaho
Joined: Mar 2000
Posts: 21,079
Likes: 3
  Interviewed by: Allen Ayres
  Spotlighted Site: SimHQ

Note: Our second place winner is SimHQ - one of the largest forums on the net, ubbdev member goud. He wins a copy of the ubb developers friend - Beyond Compare. Very useful app, I've used it for more 7 years now. smile We sat down with guod and got some inside scoop on the success of his site:

Dev: First, I'd like to congratulate you on winning second place in the UBBDev content rules contest and for having a great community!

SimHQ: Thanks, we appreciated the opportunity to participate.

Dev: You're welcome - you've put together a great site. thumbsup Tell me about the history of your site; how, and when you got started.

SimHQ: SimHQ got started in November 1997, so we are now approaching our tenth anniversary. It began as one man’s personal hobby web site and quickly grew into what we believe is the simulation community’s information leader. Since its inception, the site has had five owners.

Dev: It has gotten huge - what seems to draw members to your site?

SimHQ: First, I would say our articles, and they run the gamut from interviews with movers and shakers, previews and reviews of all types of simulations and technology, articles on real world aviation and military topics, the “how-to” articles on flying or racing, land or naval combat simulations, opinion and humor pieces, you name it. Our Staff editors and contributors are a group of talented writers and they produce quality articles that could be published in any topnotch publication. And of course, our forums, where folks from around the world get together and discuss their particular interests, share experiences, ask questions and get answers, anything to do with simulations and more. In addition, we have game servers which enable our registered members to meet up with their friends and play their favorite simulation online and discuss events on our dedicated TeamSpeak server.

Dev: That's quite the breadth of content. What methods of promotion do you use to attract new visitors to your site?

SimHQ: I would say word of mouth is important, especially considering that we are an enthusiasts' site. Current members tell their friends, who tell their friends kind of thing. The articles, as I mentioned, attract new people when we send out article announcements to other online publications. The game servers are attracting new members so they can race or fly or try their hand at land combat with a group of really nice people online. And from time to time we run contests and other promotions. We have a good rep in the games industry and I believe we're respected by sim developers and publishers.

Dev: What kind of topics are typical for your forum?

SimHQ: How much time do you have? I’m kidding, but you have to realize we have 64 active forums contained within 7 “zones”, and another 31 archive forums representing our forum history. Just as an example, within the “SimHQ Community” zone, we have our Community Hall, which is a meeting place or a conversation over the "backyard fence" forum so the topics could be almost anything, our Buy/Sell/Trade forum, an Event Photography forum where some really talented artists show off their latest work and discuss photography and equipment, a Screenshot and Video Gallery forum with some amazing in-game screenshots and videos people share and discuss, and there are 8 more. That’s just one zone. Most of the forums are dedicated to a particular simulation title, and within those forums you’ll see people talking about the game, how to play, where to hook up online, the latest modifications, patches and add-ons and how to install them, problems they’ve encountered and requests for assistance, some humor, you name it.

Dev: You forgot to mention that adds up to > 2 million posts. eek One of the larger threads forums for sure - mega-content. smile Besides the Forum, what other content or features does your site offer?

SimHQ: Certainly the articles I mentioned previously, both current and a library of previous articles going back several years. Every day we run through all the news that’s happening in our community and post it along with links to exterior articles and other content. I touched briefly on our game servers where our members can get online, play their favorite simulation with friends, and talk on “TeamSpeak”. We have regularly scheduled multiplayer events in Land Combat and Auto Racing simulations all through the week.

Dev: That keeps them coming back for sure. smile What are the other main interests of the members on your site?

SimHQ: We have a very diverse member demographics, with people from all over the world participating. Many different cultures and societies, viewpoints, and backgrounds are represented. I think that is one of our biggest strengths, that so many people from so many places can gather on one web site and discuss their common interests, learn from one another. As you might expect their interests are likewise wide and varied. Photography, music, literature, films, travel, sports, real world auto racing, aviation, current events just to name a few. We have many active duty and retired military, law enforcement, and civilian pilot members and their unique perspective is always appreciated. Generally, our "typical" member profile is 30-50 years old, business professional and/or military backgroud and a family. We have some very smart people who visit and contribute to our site.

Dev: I've found diversity helps keep the topics moving - it triggers more interaction. Switching gears just a bit - we like to give ubb owners reading this something to take away and use on their own forums. Do you have any tips for site-owners interested in building/improving their own site?

SimHQ: Find something that not only interests you, but that you are passionate about. That passion will keep you going, keep you inspired, and it’s contagious. Be professional in all your dealings and interaction. Always keep in mind what your members want to see, and find new ways to deliver that. Don’t be afraid to change, try something different. Find a talented core group of Staff members to assist you. Don't forget you're there to communicate and share information to your customers. And "customers" doesn't necessarily mean they pay for the service. Listen to what they have to say and suggest.

Dev: Exactly! I've preachd the importance of passion - doing what you love in your forum. You can't just throw something up and hope people will come and stick around. Members *know* if you passion is elsewhere - they'll go where the site owners have their passions too. Again - congratulations on winning 2nd place in the contest!

SimHQ: Thank you again for the recognition. smile

- Allen wavey
- What Drives You?
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