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X Marks the Scot - Featured Forum [Big Board]
What is the name of your website and a brief description of the theme/topic of the forums. What is the url?
My site is called X Marks the Scot.com or X Marks for short.
We are very much a niche forum. This is from our site.
We want this site to continue as a place where our members can enjoy the company of all other fellow kilt wearers. We also wish to provide a place where manufacturers and retailers, who choose to advertise here, can present their products to a wide target audience.
List some of the most popular forums and describe its discussions.
All of our forums focus on The Kilt, how to properly wear it and reviews of products and accessories to go with the Kilt.
What prompted you to start your forum? What was your launch date?
Again, directly from our site.
This web site began in 2004 as a place where one man could post amusing photos of how people at Highland Games dressed. These photos began a long series known as “The do’s and dont's of how to wear the Kilt.” Today X Marks is the world’s largest and most active information source about the kilt.
Do you have any special forum features or activities?
None other than many of our members have gone out of their way to meet each other in person and host what we call "Kilt Nights" all over the world.
Which software do you use for your forums?
vBulletin. Currently running ver. 3.8. and getting ready to launch ver. 4.0.
Do you use any add-ons scripts to enhance your site? Which ones?
None. Sure, we could have google ads all over the site, accept advertisers who have nothing to do with the Kilt, and allow our members to have blinky, flashing avatars and signature blocks that look like a middle eastern bazaar but we strive to 'keep it simple', stay focused, and keep the site about sharing information.
What is your current server set-up? Do you have multiple servers for your big board forum? Who manages your servers?
We are hosted with Verve Hosting. We are currently exceeding our bandwith on a monthly basis and will need to upgrade to additional bandwith but out simple plan and outlook keep our requirements small.
Membership stats? How many members?
As of 12:00pm 16 Feb 2010 we have 11, 065 members of which 3852 are active having posted within the last 90 days.
We have generated 40,794 threads and 687,674 individual posts.
Our top poster has made 12,004 posts.
What are the demographics of your site? (Percentage of men, women, age groups, locality related)
Our membership is primarily male, over 40, College educated.
We have member from around the globe with the primary local N. America followed by the UK.
Tell us a about your staff including how many admins (and their functions), moderators, mentors, web-developers, etc. Explain how your staff is organized.
I am the owner but don't categorize myself as an Admin as I do not know programming. We have a volunteer staff of 7 Forum Moderators.
How do you generate revenue to cover your expenses? (Ecommerce, subscriptions, advertising, affiliate links, etc)
We accept paid advertisers from the Kilt world only. The Payment system is very simple handled with PayPal subscriptions.
Do you offer upgraded members groups for a fee? What benefits do they get for subscribing/upgrading?
X Marks was never designed as a money making enterprise. We do not charge for any membership and we have no exclusive groups or closed sections.
The only additional revenue is from the sale of select site branded itemssuch as our own X Marks Tartan which is the world's first internet Tartan.
What is your name?
My name is Steve Ashton
Please share a few things about yourself. (Bio, family, education, background, hobbies, your favorite pizza topping, your favorite vacation spot, your choice of transportation, etc)
I am an Engineer and Yacht Designer by schooling. I also served in the US Military as a Helicopter Pilot until retiring just after Desert Storm.
I am now a Kiltmaker running a shop out of Victoria BC Canada.
How do you spend a typical day as admin on your site? What do you enjoy about your job as admin of your site/forums? Do you office in your home or in a separate office space away from your house?
I spend a lot of time enjoying myself on the site as a member and advertiser. My duties as Owner are limited to banning spammers and setting policy. My Forum Moderators take care of the day-to-day operations.
What has been the biggest obstacle you have faced in starting or running your forums? How did you/do you handle it?
As the new owner of the site I found resistance to policy change from some of the Moderators. Primarily due because the former owner had basically turned the forum over to two individuals who ran it and had fallen into the trap of feeling like they owned the forum.
Our second biggest problem came when a few members had their membership revoked for refusing to stay within out rules. They broke off to form their own forum. They then spent the next two years doing anything and everything they could to disrupt and destroy our forum.
What 3 things have helped your forums to be a success?
Staying focused on our mission of being the world's largest single source of information on the Kilt.
Not allowing the forum to become too sophisticated and commercial.
Treating our members as responsible adults and not over moderating.
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