Interview With Matt Mecham - Creator of the Invision Power Board

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Interview With Matt Mecham - Creator of the Invision Power Board

Matt Mecham, the creator of the Invision Power Board, was kind enough to take time out of his busy schedule to answer some questions for an Admin Zone interview. Since he's currently working very hard on the upcoming IPB 2.1 release, which is being previewed on the IPS Company Forums, this was especially gracious of him. Matt has been interviewed before, and I recommend that you read the one he did with Zain in 2002 Here and then the one he did with Olate in 2004 Here before continuing on. Rather than go over the past, which has already been well covered, my intention was to get to know Matt on a more personal level and to look at the present and future of Invision Power Services.

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Can you give us a brief bio?

I’m 29 years old and live in Cambridgeshire with my fiancée. I have been involved in the forum software market since 1999 when I decided to open a discussion board on my website. I used and modified a variety of products and eventually wrote my own which I decided to release when it was complete. I’ve been the C.E.O. and C.S.A. of Invision Power Services, Inc since I co-founded it in 2002.


Your not online much at all during the weekends - what do you do to relax and unwind?

I’m a voracious reader. I love James Patterson’s work, especially his “Alex Cross” and “Women’s Murder Club” novels. I also have a fascination with World War II and the role the American Paratroopers played in it. The 101st have been immortalised many times in books and movies, “Band of Brothers” being the most popular. I also enjoy walking our Dog, Barney and cycling.


What are your favorite books? Movies? Music? Games?

My “favourites” change daily. At the moment, my favourite author is James Patterson. My favourite movie is “Leon”. My favourite bands include: Radiohead, Athlete, Muse, Coldplay and Snow Patrol. I also have a thing for Guns ‘N Roses, probably because of my misspent youth. My favourite game has to be GTA: San Andreas.


What is your educational background?

I don’t have any outstanding qualifications. I finished the UK equivalent of High School and spent two years at college. I found the college experience quite disappointing and...

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Corrine

Aspirant
Joined
Aug 5, 2005
Messages
22
The interview was great and I now have more insight on why my buddy DoK thinks so highly of Matt.
 
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jeffsmith

Participant
Joined
Nov 13, 2005
Messages
95
Interview was really well done, asked good questions and I enjoyed reading it for 13 minutes of my day.
 

maddog39

Enthusiast
Joined
Mar 24, 2005
Messages
128
I think that was an awsome interview and I have some comments that I would like to share...

IPB 2.1 is a major achievement - you must be very excited and proud! And extremely busy. Is it all that you hoped it would be, and more?

I think that IPB 2.1 is the product I’ve been trying to produce since 1999. It has the correct balance of features to a simple interface and excels in the moderation and administration areas. We pioneered the use of multi-moderation, in-line moderation and AJAX powered in-line editing. All these innovative features make using IPB a joy. I’m very proud of the feature set and pleased to have introduced new features and concepts into the “feature pool” that bulletin board developers draw from.
Yeah, I think you did add some awsome ideas to the "feature pool" which actually I am going to implement in my free BB system (that would be AJAX) when it releases.

IPB 2 made significant advances over the previous version in terms of usability, and IPB 2.1 will apparently continue this trend. Can this go on indefinitely, or will the software eventually "max out" on features? And what do you say to the people who complain that IPB (and vBulletin for that matter) are already "bloated".

I don’t think we’re ever going to max out on features. It’s the same in any industry. What we have now seems perfectly useable and it’s hard to think how we can advance further until a new feature request comes in or a new technique is pioneered or a new idea develops as I code.

If we all had the mentality that nothing could be improved, we’d be watching 3 channels of black and white television and typing in games on our 64k computers. Development is inevitable.

To those who say that IPB and vBulletin are “bloated” I suggest they look at other software that has a restricted feature set. IPB and vBulletin are both highly comprehensive community building solutions with a glut of features to enable members to communicate with each other and to make administration very quick and easy. They are designed in mind for use with millions of posts and members and as such have developed into quite complex tools. If you want a simple forum for use on a small site then seek one out. There’s little point in selecting the wrong tool for the job and complaining to the manufacturer that it doesn’t do the job you want it to do.
I think thats totally correct, and the features on IPB or vB for that matter arent bloated at all in my opinion, when I downloaded and upgraded my forum to v2.1 I was amazed, my jaw practically fell out of my mouth (no not really, lol, but im serious), features should continue being added and the high end spectrum of bulletin boards should continue growing with new ideas and features.

There have been a few instances of IPB users claiming to be treated poorly by IPS, of being censored or banned from the Company Forums, for making negative comments about Invision. Clearly, this represents a small subset of your community, but nevertheless a vocal one. Do you have any comments on this issue?

There’s an adage that goes something like “You can’t please everyone all of the time” and this applies to IPS as it does to any customer facing company. The internet is a very informal medium which gives anyone the ability to ‘shout from the rooftops’. In no other industry do disgruntled customers have such a forum (the irony isn’t lost) for airing their grievances. With every tale, there are two sides and I’ve not read a single complaint about us that is one hundred percent accurate in terms of what actually happened. We’re only human and prone to both making mistakes and exaggerating the truth to make a story more passionate and interesting. Combine both of these and you have a captive audience.

Some of the most successful online businesses have their very own ‘hate’ sites campaigning to ‘take them down’ or tell everyone the ‘real truth’. I think that anyone who blindly accepts a version of events without objectively considering another point of view or seeking out proof is only interested in spreading salacious gossip. Of course, the internet is full of people who will gleefully accept a story if it appeals to them and spread it further.

We’re not perfect and we’ve made some mistakes but we’ve always tried our very best for our customers and always approach any complaint with professionalism and objectiveness. We’ve definitely learned from these mistakes and introduced new policies and training to ensure they’re not repeated. To me, the real value of a business is how they deal with their mistakes and problems not how few they make.

We do have a lot of feedback from our customers. We invite their feedback in the customer feedback forum and we also have an anonymous customer service questionnaire available from the client center. We receive thousands of useful and helpful comments a week and we’re listening intently as we redesign the client center and billing/ordering systems.

Thankfully the overwhelming majority of our customers are very satisfied with our prices and services and continue to re-new their services and purchase new products. A lot of our custom is repeat business which speaks volumes about our general level of service.
For the past year that I have had my Yearly license of IPB(still have 3 weeks on it), and all the various support topics I have gone through, I havnt been disapointed with the server not once, and I also agree that I havnt even heard of any comlaints about the IPS's service.

There seems to be a bit of celebrity associated with being a developer. What's that like?

I don’t think that “celebrity” is the right word. If you develop or manage a popular enough product then people tend to recognise your name if they’re in a similar field.
Pffft... Heck yeah I recognize your name, lol. You practically influenced me into web development of large magnitude. I think my purchase of IPB and all the various things ive read on the internet influenced me to buy the 700 page PHP book from the book store and read the entire thing and started coding PHP scripts. Now I own my own PHP site and am now starting development on my own BB system and im 13. Yup, thats my actual age too. :D
 

FireLighter

Enthusiast
Joined
Aug 19, 2006
Messages
174
That really was a great interview and inspired me in my own efforts. I also loved the explaination as to why they went paid...i've been told many things and liked hearing that straight from the source. They offer great services and I wish them luck.

With all of the changes IPS has had since then, do you think theres a chance of another short update type of interview?? Maybe I'm just pressing my luck though!

Thanks,
-Josh
 

KnightLoom

Aspirant
Joined
Jun 28, 2008
Messages
15
Wow...I didn't so many succesful people dropped out of college...maybe I should too...jk.
 

Automatic

Aspirant
Joined
Mar 7, 2009
Messages
14
even after all the years of this initial interview its nice to see how ipb evolved. Great interview. Im going to read the newer interview from 2007 and see how interesting that is.
 
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