Interview with Ron from

Message boards are one of the most important mediums that adult webmasters use to network and communicate with one another. We were fortunate enough to interview Ron from BoardTracker and find out how this great service can make webmasters' lives easier.

Muffy: I always have to start with my standard interview question, how and when did you get started in the online adult entertainment business?
Ron: The usual answer I guess. It’s a hobby. Just kidding. I used to manage development and technology research for a hosting company where a considerable section of its hosted sites were adult in nature. It basically went on from there. When I left the company deciding to “do my own thing” I happened to come up with an idea that fitted the industry. And the rest is history I guess… After several years in the industry, the idea of came up. 

Muffy: Tell us a little bit more about BoardTracker and how it got started.
Ron: BoardTracker started with the realization that there are so many message boards out there and it is virtually impossible to keep a hang of them all. When most people used to track one to three message boards it was obvious that missing a thread that talks about a subject you are interested, especially if it is something that might have helped your business, could be very unfortunate. Imagine missing a thread that says bad (false or otherwise) things about you, your product or your company… Not only that, but since boards are a good networking ground, it is a shame to miss out on those.

After realizing there isn’t any tool that allows you to do that and the technology needed for achieving that was not around, I decided to correct the situation. BoardTracker started about a year ago and launched for Beta about 9 months ago.

Muffy: How many adult Webmaster message boards does BoardTracker track exactly?
Ron: At the moment, about 60 boards in near real-time manner. Probably by the time people read this, the number will be around 65. There are a growing number of message boards out there. The main reason is that it is a very easy and communicative tool. If there is a board out there that is not currently being tracked by BoardTracker, let us know and we will add it if the board has no objections.

Muffy: What kind of member base does BoardTracker have?
Ron: BoardTracker crossed the 1000 members mark last month. These are signed active members. In addition to that there are non-registered members since BoardTracker also offers its features without the need for a signup (which is free anyway) although with limited functionality.

Muffy: What kind of benefits does BoardTracker provide for its members?
Ron: The most obvious is seeing all the threads from all your favorite message boards in one place. Not only that, but you can also search all the threads from all the boards in it. If you tell the system which subjects and keywords you are interested in (and which you don’t care about) the BoardTracker will notify you by email when a new thread is started on one of the boards out there, even if the keywords are not part of the title, but hide somewhere in the thread itself, and much more…

These are the free account features. If you choose to upgrade to a Premium account, you can also get rid of spam threads on the board, ignore specific users, track specific threads centrally through BoardTracker, be notified ASAP through ICQ in parallel to the email notifications (or instead of) and again, much more… There are a growing number of features in the Premium account of BoardTracker. The next to be released for example is getting notifications on specific thread authors.

Muffy: How important do you feel is it for Webmasters to network via the message boards and why?
Ron: I cannot say that it is categorically true for every person but my opinion is that it is critical for the majority of people involved in the industry. If your network of people is wide enough, you may get the news from them by email or ICQ, if you track message boards you will know most important things first. As to networking itself, as I said in the first place the only way to “minimize the damages” of not keeping a constant eye on the boards is having friends that tell you about what’s going on. But that’s exactly the point – you need those friends and that’s the essence of networking. Most of my best friends, partners and clients I met on the boards first and while tradeshows may help to deepen the relationship, the easiest and most effective way to befriend people is on the boards. And boards should be treated mainly in that respect – a networking and interaction medium. While it is also a tool for information and help, the biggest gain is networking.

Muffy: Do you have any other industry-related sidelines or projects that you are currently working on?
Ron: My first project is a traffic management service and I am involved in two new projects. One is a security related project (not an adult only project though) and the other is a new interface and way to present content. It is my first project dealing with content, since all other projects are technology oriented, even though the content-related project is heavily dependent on its innovative nature.

Muffy: What is your opinion on the state of the industry now and where it is headed due to threats such as Acacia and Visa?
Ron: It is a difficult question to answer. The industry is facing changes, which is a good thing for some and bad for others. The main reason is – change can go both way, you just need to find out how to ride it. I wouldn’t say every change is a good change but any change can be handled and good changes are a shame to miss out.

More specifically I think Acacia and the Visa regulations are things that can be handled as most things are. While Acacia specifically may not have a ground to stand on as far as I can judge (since their initial patent was for delivery of compressed data for later view, which is basically not far from FTPing a MPEG compressed movie file to another person or from an FTP server to another PC – which was done for ages even before the pending date of the Acacia patent), paying royalties and licensing fees is not something I have a problem with in general. I am an advocate of paying for the right to use inventions as long as there is a logical and moral ground for the claim. I am a fan of innovation and inventions and think there should be an inventor’s compensation mechanisms in place in our society and industries.

As to the Visa regulation, I don’t see a valid reason having a different policy for charge-backs for adult industry set by the Visa companies, especially since they are not the ones paying for the charge-backs as far as I know. PSW Billing has already filed a suit against the Visa companies and I can only hope they will win it. Messing with the adult industry on that field is pointless and tasteless. I don’t see a valid reason for Visa’s new policy besides making more money while doing nothing more. 

Muffy: What is your favorite message board and why?
Ron: No comment ;)
But I can say that - I don’t care about how popular a board is but about the content and value of the conversations held in it. Before BoardTracker it was virtually impossible to practice this policy.

Muffy: What is your favorite non-adult website and why?
Ron: I would have to say – my non-adult projects ;) but beside them - Deja (aka Google Groups) and Google. They are the most practical and frequent sites I am using. Other than that, a universal clock site, IMDB, Olga, and a local movies reservation site.

Muffy: Ok, last question. What advice would you give to a newbie starting out in this industry in order for them to be successful?
Ron: Stay away from unfriendly environments (boards with attitude for example). The industry is hard enough to fit into these days as it is. Stay away from discouraging people and stay close and listen carefully to newbie-friendly people – and there are some good newbie friendly places and people. Learn from the knowledge spread out there and contributed by the people who already succeeded in what you are about to attempt. Their knowledge might not be exactly what is right for you, but it is way better than nothing and most probably much more relevant than the newbie’s instincts with all due respect.

But maybe the best advice is – TRY. There are some things you cannot learn without trying for yourself. Like for example – why would a surfer pay for a paysite rather than just viewing all the free porn out there. If you don’t try, you have no chance of learning and succeeding. Don’t assume you know and don’t expect to succeed without trying and trying some more. As the saying goes – if at first you don’t succeed…

The thing is – we see a lot of newbies appear and vanish. They do that as soon as they realize it is not a $1K a month for a few galleries submitting as they originally were told (or thought). For those my advice is – There is no easy money… not for newbies that are just starting - not today.

Muffy: Thanks Ron. It was great speaking with you and I would like to wish you all the best with BoardTracker.


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