Pirate 4X4 - Featured Forum [Big Board]

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The Sandman

Jan 1, 2004
Lance is the owner of the Pirate Media Group which includes a few websites. Pirate 4X4 is the largest site, a very big board. Check it out:


What is the name of your website and a brief description of the theme/topic of the forums. What is the url?

I own Pirate Media Group. We have a few websites, but our largest is www.pirate4x4.com.

List some of the most popular forums and describe its discussions.

We have technical forums for many makes of vehicles, but our forums are aimed at off roading, particularly 4x4 vehicles. We have a large "chit chat" off topic forum that gets a little crazy at times. In addition to our forums we have extensive technical articles live event coverage, and live web casts.

What prompted you to start your forum? What was your launch date?

Started out as a club 4x4 website back in 1996. The pirate4x4.com domain name was created in January 1998. Wow, it's been a while! :didi: We don't advertise, and I don't spend hours upon hours on SEO. We are at the top of most relevant search queries though. I probably should work on that stuff a little more, but a guy only has so many hours in the day.

Do you have any special forum features or activities?

We try not to "hack" our forum too much... It makes it more of a pain to upgrade software revisions for security (and feature) sake. We have a few add ons, both custom made, and from vbulletin.org such as different search times for different usergroups (paying members get 10 seconds between searches, non paying is 2 minutes between searches).


Which software do you use for your forums?

VB 3.8.x on Pirate4x4. It is too large for a non-sphinx powered 4.0. But that's a whole 'nuther thread. :D We are currently working on migrating our smaller site, JKOwners.com over to VB4.0


What is your current server set-up? Do you have multiple servers for your big board forum? Who manages your servers?

We use Liquid Web. We have two web servers and two database servers. All dual quad core'd xeon with a load balancer.


Membership stats? How many members?

We serve about 17,000,000 - 20,000,000 page views per month (depending on the time of year). We have about 150,000 registered members on our VBulletin board with about 15,000,000 posts.

What are the demographics of your site? (Percentage of men, women, age groups, locality related)

About 80% male. We do have some very active females on our boards. About 80% US based, and large international presence in Europe, Scandinavia (we have a Scandinavian website as well - www.pirate4x4.no) and in Australia.


Tell us a about your staff including how many admins (and their functions), moderators, mentors, web-developers, etc. Explain how your staff is organized.

We have 2 admins, three super mods, and about 40 moderators on Pirate4x4.com. My co-admin is my personal Jesus, and I try to take care of him with yearly "bonuses" such as new Mac Book Pros, etc. He has been around since 1999.


How do you generate revenue to cover your expenses (eCommerce, subscriptions, advertising, affiliate links, etc.)?

We sell ads, and we use Google Adsense. We make 90% of our revenue through in-house ad sales (we have a full time sales team).

Do you offer upgraded members groups for a fee? What benefits do they get for subscribing/upgrading?

Yes, we have an enhanced "extreme membership" and IMO we were one of the first of the larger boards to do it. We had our own hacked version of 2.x VB doing subscriptions back in 2000-2001. Now everyone is doing it. ;)


What is your name?


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)

Background is in computers (of course) and in off road. I have won the Baja 1000 three times, I have won 2 W.E. Rock (rock crawling) national championships. Nothing better than getting paid to do what you love. Oh yeah, I like long walks on the beach, and pizza. I'm married, and have the cutest baby boy in the world.

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?

We have a 6,000 square foot shop/office. I go to work everyday, and start off with the mundane tasks of going through "contact us" emails. You know, "how come I can't post?" etc. Then I move on to updating my facebook page, and good stuff like that. It's good to be king. :p

What has been the biggest obstacle you have faced in starting or running your forums? How did you/do you handle it?

Keeping the balance of being "cool" and not trying to sell out and make a buck. You'll always have a handful of haters, and you'll never please everyone all of the time.

What 3 things have helped your forums to be a success?

We've always tried to keep it real.
We aren't for everyone
We have THE best tech in our industry on our site. Nobody comes close.


The Ancient Dragon
Jul 1, 2007
Fantastic interview and those site figures are mind boggling. My jaw dropped open when I visited some of the forums to see the activity levels, and finally the statistics. :) Congratulations, Lance, you've done extremely well for yourself. :thumb: