turns five-years-old

posted by Jeff | Monday, January 31, 2005, 3:20 PM | comments: 8

On January 30, 2000, I launched, a news/portal site for roller coaster enthusiasts. It was kind of a hobby, but it was something I wanted to be a big deal in the long run.

Back in those days, there were new coaster sites every day. It was hard to keep track of them, so I figured having a directory for them was a good idea. It was also hard to keep up on news from around the industry, so having a central place for that seemed like a good idea. We were doing similar things at Penton Media back in those days for the vertical markets we covered, so in terms of design and content, I didn't need to do anything radically different. The more interesting twist was that news would come from not just traditional news sites, but also from these niche enthusiast sites out there.

Five years later, it hasn't changed much. It has been rewritten two and a half times since its launch (the half coming with changes to POP Forums). It still serves many thousands of visitors every day. It's also home base for an enthusiast club, CoasterBuzz Club.

Keeping up with it has really been easy most of the time. The day-to-day time requirements of running the site aren't significant. I spend probably less than an hour a day looking for news, since most of it is user-contributed anyway. Moderating the forums isn't a big deal either, because for the most part the community is self-governing. I can't remember the last time I had to delete something inappropriate, aside from the occasional spamming incident.

Hopefully the site is at a turning point. Back in the days when I spent a lot more time on it (because content management wasn't as easy at the time), I used to have to spend a lot of money as hosting costs went up and ad revenue went down. These days, there's a lot of money to pay back from that era, but expenses are relatively insignificant compared to what they were. If I could only pay off that business credit card, life would be grand.

The highlight of running the site these days is probably the events we do. In particular, we have a great event at Paramount's Kings Island every year that is a total blast. Last year we had well over 200 attendees. I'm not the hardcore enthusiast I used to be, but I enjoy spending a full day in the park on that day.

The site is more of a business than a hobby these days, and I'm happy to see it thrive. There is certainly a revision in the site's future, but it's more of a function of my writing projects than it is a deliberate need to update. The site doesn't really define me the way it used to, as my interests have diversified quite a bit over the years. I need to keep in mind though that the site has been the testing ground for so many other things I've done professionally, not the least of which is write a programming book. It deserves my ongoing attention since it and its community are bigger than my own needs at this point.

So after five years, I hope that there will be five more. In terms of the Web, not many things have stuck around that long. It's weird to realize that there are things (other than my marriage) that I've really committed to long-term. :)


freeze, January 31, 2005, 8:35 PM #

Happy Birthday, CoasterBuzz.

Alex, January 31, 2005, 9:57 PM #

It seems like CoasterBuzz has been around forever. So, it is more of a shock that the current design is two years old today!

James, February 1, 2005, 3:59 AM #

Was a nice site until certain members decided to jump at the chance to insult newbies and the less knowledgable. Far better knowledge found on other forums that don't have members insulting each other.


Jeff, February 1, 2005, 4:39 AM #

It only took a hater two posts to chime in. I thought it would be sooner!

CPLady, February 1, 2005, 1:06 PM #

Unfortunately the newbies don't seem to read or understand the TOS, and tend to take the sarcastic and general banter of those of us who have been around for a good portion (if not all) of those five years as personal insults and get offended, even if they've done something stupid to cause the reaction.

Of course, it's the same in the real world as well. Everybody is required to "play nice", even to the clueless.

Anyway, the entire reason I'm still on Coasterbuzz and Pointbuzz is because I do not have to put up with the silly crap of the other sites.

Happy anniversary, Jeff, and congratulations on a well run site.

Den, February 1, 2005, 9:14 PM #

"James" would get killed on other forums. CB is truly the most genial and well-behaved forum I've ever seen... the only one I've found where most people have respect for each other -- even the people they've never met in person.

Paul, February 2, 2005, 2:39 AM #

I disagree to an extent. So long as you don't screw up, they will be nice, but the folks at CB can be quick to pounce. There are sites with a nicer crowd, and there are sites that are more laid-back, but I like CB because of the size and the diversity: if you need to know something about even the most remote of locations, chances are, someone probably lives near there, or at least a few folks have been there. I joined a few years back, and I didn't show up for a while, so for some reason I couldn't get my password correct, but I rejoined because it is the largest group on the web, an accomplishment that deserves a toast to the webmaster.

By the way, this is probably a dumb question, but is this the same company? I've gotten a bit tired of LiveJournal, so I may consider taking my business over here. Maybe, I don't know yet.

Jeff, February 2, 2005, 4:12 AM #

Yep... CampusFish is run by the same company as CoasterBuzz.

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