If you have ever spent some time looking for a free hosted forum, you have probably come across the daddy of all free and hosted forum options - ProBoards. Now celebrating its tenth anniversary, and its upcoming v5 release, I got the pleasure, and honour to speak to Patrick Clinger, the ProBoards Founder about his baby..

So, for anybody who doesnt know who you are then, what is it that you do and what prompted you to start ProBoards originally?
My name is Patrick Clinger, I am the President and CEO of ProBoards, Inc. I had the idea for ProBoards in the late 1990s. At the time, I ran the web site HostedScripts.com. The site offered a variety of free hosted services (guestbooks, counters, and even a basic forum). I saw that forums were one of the most popular features the site offered, so I decided to make a new site where forums would be the main focus. That site, as it turns out, is ProBoards.

Whats a typical day like in the life of Patrick Clinger? Is ProBoards a nine-to-five job for you?

While I do work 9-5 during the week, I would not say that my job at ProBoards is just that. Being that ProBoards is a huge community, I don't just leave the site behind when the clock hits 5pm. I definitely go on ProBoards multiple times while at home to check on things or just to talk with people in the community.

With ProBoards celebrating its tenth anniversary this year, when you first started did you ever expect that a decade later, you would still be going so strong? Do you have any special plans to celebrate reaching double digits?
I didn't know from day one that we would get this far, but after a couple years in I was determined not to look back. I definitely think that ProBoards is here to stay and I am looking forward to the next ten years. Our sights are definitely set forward to the future. In proper ProBoards fashion, we had a thread on our support forum to celebrate.

What are you hopes and plans for the upcoming years? Where do you see ProBoards in another decade?
In the future, we see ProBoards as been more than just a forum host, but that aspect of our business will remain our primary focus. I don't want to tip my cards too much, so you will just have to wait and see what the future holds.

With the big v5 release around the corner, will you be hoping to celebrate your tenth birthday with the release of this? What most excited you about the upcoming release?
That is definitely a hope for this year, but no firm date is set yet for release. I'm very excited about a lot of the new features that we are going to be offering. From our revamped BBCode system to the new Admin interface, I think we are going to be taking forum software to the next level.

Would you ever consider launching a hosted forum software, or making a standalone version of ProBoards and rival the big premium forum software houses?
This has been a consideration of ours for some time. We may at some point offer a downloadable version of our software, but that is a ways away while we focus on Version 5 development.

Do you have your own ProBoard other that the official Proboards site?
I don't actively maintain any other forums besides the official ProBoards ones, but I am a member on some ProBoards forums.

I personally would call ProBoards the number one, hosted forum solution, why do you think this is what is that ProBoards offers over your major competitors?
We have always focused on making the user experience as simple as possible. Many forum systems are just too complex or don't explain the options. Our goal is to offer a full suite of features while making it as easy as possible to use.

What did you want to do for a living, prior to setting up ProBoards?
I always knew that it would be something to do with computers. I started using computers when I was five or six using a Commodore 64. Around the age of thirteen I started making web sites. I think having a business on the web was a sort of natural progression of things.

When you are out of the office and the world of the online, what is it that you do to relax and unwind?
If I'm not online, I'm probably playing card games, watching TV or a movie, or going out to eat with my friends.

Lastly as asked from one of our staff members, and we are all curious to find out: Do you like long walks on the Californian beaches? Why or Why not?
I'm not a big beach person myself, but have plenty of friends who are. It's just not my thing.

I would like to say a huge Thank You to Patrick for taking the time out of his day to answer these questions for us.