Crusading against conventional thinking
Well I guess I should start from the beginning, or at least give a brief lead-in. When I first entered the amazing World of the Internet I immediately went to join up at computer help forums, as they seemed to be, in my mind, the best place to teach the ins and outs about the do’s and dont’s. From there the next logical step was to join up at a Internet Security forum, and that’s where it all started.
Over the course of my participation on that forum I made a lot of friends, friends who, like myself, who were also disillusioned by the way the forum was being run, by the owners ( a mega corporation on the Net ), by the management, and by the moderators. So I decided to create some blogs, and invite a few of them to join me, just to have a place we could shoot-the-breeze. We, however, remained active members of the forum at the time. That is until, one day, the powers that be decided that the forum was getting too old and needed an upgrade. This upgrade was a total failure and started an exodus that even affected the most senior members. People seemed to do nothing, for the next few months, but complain about the problems associated with the upgrade, then members started disappearing, leaving in droves. By this time we ( my friends and I ) had already started our own forum – December 24th, 2005 ), and several of those members came over to our forum. Within maybe 4 months after the upgrade, what had been an extremely popular computer security forum, ran by one of the Internet’s mega corporations, became a virtual ghost town. More than fours years later it still hasn’t recovered and rarely even has one member online at a time, usually a moderator.
Because of the fallout of that forum our forum ( TAZforum ) received an initial boost in members, and had 52,000 posts our first year. But I didn’t want to create just another forum, I wanted a forum that was owned and operated by the members. The first real community forum on the Internet. I even started member committee meetings to determine the direction of the forum, and laid the groundwork that whatever decision was made by the committee would over-ride any decision I made or any other admin made. It was ‘ our ‘ forum, so decisions had to be made by ‘ us ‘, as a group. This turned out to be difficult for a number of reasons. Several members couldn’t wrap themselves around the concept of owning the forum, and therefore there was a requirement to participate in decisions. Or they just weren’t interested in owning a forum, all they wanted to do was come, post, leave, repeat, as they were accustomed to do on every other forum they participated in. The concept was, in my mind, great. A member-owned and member-operated forum community. But it wasn’t an idea that was easy to sell to the members. The forum is still doing well ( about 15-25,000 posts a year on average, which is better than most forums ) but we did suffer some fallout from trying to sell the idea to members, and from the advent of social networking sites, which has negatively impacted most forum communities. I still think it’s a great concept, and would have worked if it had not been such a radical change from what people were used to.
Four days after we started the forum, on December 28th, 2005, I built TheTAZZone website. At first it was just to add recreational activities for the members of our forum, and promote their original tutorials. So, for the first 3 years, or so, it basically had two features, games and tutorials. And was used to help promote the forum. That is until it started to get a life of it’s own. Originally there was never any intention of making the website a priority. Around the time it started gaining popularity ( about early 2009 ) I decided to convert the website into a blog, because I wanted an easy way to provide content. I also created 10 dedicated game blogs, in sub-domains, for the 1000 plus games that were on the site at the time. And what began as a secondary thought in 2005 became one of the most popular tutorial/arcade sites on the Internet.
Our games have always been ‘ full-screen ‘ and ‘ ad-free ‘. The tutorials are all original creations by members of our forum, which is also ‘ ad-free ‘. The reason why our two most popular venues, and the venues that would create the most revenue if they had ads, are ‘ ad-free ‘ is because they were initially created for the members, and members do not want to be inundated with annoying ads. So, even with the increased popularity of TheTAZZone we’ve maintained the original vision of keeping them ‘ ad-free ‘, even though placing ads on them would create a lot more revenue.
Presently TheTAZZone contains over 1000 ad-free full-screen games, several hundred original tutorials, music lists, music trivia, and random commentary. Like the forum’s member-owner-operated concept, TheTAZZone flies in the face of conventional thinking. It doesn’t have a standard running theme, it’s not topic specific, like most sites out there. Generally, if you’re going to create a site it should be topic-specific, and have a running theme to it, that is what conventional Internet wisdom would tell you. But TheTAZZone is an anomaly that never began with the intention of becoming popular, it just happened.
And that’s why we refer to it as ‘ Where Internet Chaos becomes an Art Form ‘, because it does fly in the face of conventional thinking, it is a mixed jumble of topics, it follows no specific theme, it is what it is…Internet Chaos.