Thanks to Derek for taking time out of his very busy schedule to do an interview with me. :). Hope you all Enjoy!

Can you give our members a brief biography?

Me? I'm a 31 year old Chinese guy who happen to have a lot of interests
and hobbies. Not an expert at anything, I just tend to go wherever my
interest takes me. Eventually I ended up in the networking industry for
the better part of my career. With interests outside of technology which
includes business, marketing and administration, I had been involved
with different ventures and projects. From computer stores to internet
services, being an entrepreneur had always been a part of me.

Why did you choose to start Gaia.?


Japanese anime and video games had always been a source of inspiration
for me and my housemates. There were times when we played a lot of
online roleplaying games, and one day we've decided to discover the
potential of the anime oriented community on the Internet. We noticed
that there isn't a central community centered around anime in general,
and we wanted to start a community that will represent internet users
like us.

Why did you choose phpBB over other forum software?


It's free! :D Been using it since it first came out so I was comfortable
in installing and editing the program. The growing pain would be
tremendous if we went with a paid software which we continuously edit
and we expand and install more servers. I couldn't imagine running
anything with a per server license when there are a hundred servers
installed. Besides, the phpbb community always carry an inspiring and
helpful environment for developers.

What is your favorite thing about running a large online forum?

Our users most definitely. Nothing like receiving immediate feedback
from thousands of users for every feature, update, or bug that showed
up. Nothing else will make you feel more alive. :)

How many moderators/Super Moderators do you have?

Hard to keep count as our moderators can mentor a few helpers to furthur
moderate the forums. I estimate about a hundred. It's quite a challange
for every moderator because of the high traffic volume on Gaia. Can't
thank everyone enough for holding the community together.

What is your favorite moment from Gaia.

It was the first party that was organized by our users. To help
celebrate the event I programmed in a flying gift box which would grant
our users a bonus party item. I happen to be visiting my family at the
time and it was great seeing my brothers involved at the same time. That
idea with the party item eventually evolved into a rare item system.

How many servers do you have and what are their purposes?

Today we have about 110 servers. Most of them are web servers sitting
behind a load balancer, while many are also web servers setup to handle
specific tasks such as registration or avatar customization. Over 15
servers are database servers handling the many aspects of the site, and
we even have 3 servers setup just to handle user sessions.

Do you have any new features that you are excited about?


We are about to release a host of real time interactive features that
will allow for many gaming or community related ideas. As soon as those
features go live we'll finally reach the beta stage of our development
so I'm extremely excited about this upcoming milestone.

What do you like to do away from Gaia/the internet?


Movie watching and playing Ping Pong dominate all my free time these
days. :) I also spend time collecting and reading Japanese comics.
Infact, that's my greatest hobby.

How many hours a day do you spend at the computer?

12 to 15 hours usually. Gaia had managed to take over my life for the
past two years. It might sound a bit harsh but I've enjoyed every moment
of it. :) Things are actually a lot better than the early days when I
take 30 hour programming sessions every time I woke up. :)

Do you have any advice for people starting forums on how to become
successful?


Definitely. The main word is a goal. Before starting a site, determne
what you want to do and how you'll insprire interest for your users.
Don't start with the "you build it and they will come" mentality and
don't settle with features that everyone else can install in a day. The
time and effort spent in brainstorming and development will equate to
the uniqueness and often the popularity of the site. I've had many
failed projects before, but it always feel great looking back when you
gave it all you've got.

Tell us one thing we don’t know about you?

I'm deadly accurate with firearms. :D