I am not big on holidays but I've always liked the time between Christmas and New Year's. For some odd reason it feels like the only time of the year where one can truly relax. Almost everyone seems to take the time off, and so there is little pressure to be on the job. That goes extra for this year where both Christmas and New Year's Day are midweek.
So what has 2007 been like for Dimensions? All in all it's been a very good year for our size-positive haven and community. The forums, especially, grew beyond all expectations. The numbers alone are staggering. A little more than two years after I installed the new boards, we have a total of 31,000 threads, 640,000 posts, and almost 23,000 registered members. Last summer we reached an all-time high of 1,824 simultaneous users, which is huge, and certainly more than I ever expected. To further see just how large and active our Dimensions community has grown, I signed us up with big-boards.com, the premier message board tracking website. They track thousands of boards. Well, in terms of daily page views, we're #70! In terms of traffic -- unique visitors daily -- we rank 97 of all sites, with almost 6,000 unique visitors daily!. That is amazing.
During 2007 I also managed to finally implement some projects. The Dimensions Library section has grown in leaps and bounds, with many new features added and with superb management, thanks to Observer and Risible who are in charge of it. I just love it when capable people take the initiative and run with a project. And run they did, much to the benefit of everyone who loves reading size-related fiction of all kinds.
2007 also marked the year where we finally implemented the Dimensions Health Forum. I had agonized over this for a long time because I wanted it to be just right. I also agonized over who to pick as moderators for this new forum and decided to go with a newcomer to the moderator team. She did a superb job and I wish she'd stuck with it. I probably have myself to blame there as once I set general direction, I do not get involved much in day-to-day running of things. That can be seen as me not caring, and nothing could be farther from the truth. This community of ours means everything to me!
Looking at prior end-of-year messages I've written, they always seem to have one thing incommon: a major server crash or related catastrophe. And 2007 was no different. I really thought I had that problem licked with the highly reputable server hardware and a seemingly invulnerable backup strategy. Well, Murphy's Law prevailed, and an unexpected glitch sank the machine quicker than the Titanic. This one was bad. Like, whatever could go wrong did. I generally get even badly wounded servers back up in a day or less. This time it took me a good four days during which I slept perhaps a grand total of 8 hours. I literally had to patch and piece everything back together from scraps and bits and pieces. The hardware had to be replaced, once again, and that meant frequent trips to the electronics store. I kept Ann Marie updated via my iPhone and she passed on the info to her database of people. What followed was a truly heartwarming show of support. People that I did not even know sent me encouraging emails and contributions towards paying for all the replacement work. Once I threw the switch and the new system started up and seemed to be running, I crashed and must have slept for 48 hours straight! After that I developed yet another backup strategy. I do hope this one works!
After that things went back to normal, and the Dimensions community resumed. The forums seem so strong that a lot of people who used to be primarily in chat now have become forum converts. So Forum traffic keeps growing whereas the venerable Dimensions streaming chat, which at times threatened to burst at the seams it was so busy, has quieted down some. I still like it better than most chat systems out there, and so it'll continue running until the hardware craps out (chat is on a separate machine, and the software is coded and linked to that machine, so when it goes, it is not likely I can get it back up and running).
I think what thrills me about our community is how all-encompassing it is becoming. Sure, people initially come to Dimensions for size issues, but for most the experience quickly becomes much more than that. Politics (not my favorite) are heatedly discussed in Hyde Park. Social bantering goes on in the Lounge, a lot! Th library is amazingly active. The new health forum is flourishing, and just a few days ago we added a special forum for super-size issues.
Sometimes things happen all by themselves. For example, I created the Clubhouse as one of the perks for those who choose to become Dimensions supporters, for which we charged $30 per year. Supporters get some other goodies, but apparently the Clubhouse is the big thing. What I did not expect was that blogs began springing up in the Clubhouse. First just a few, then more and more. That's Web 2.0 in action. People create communities. All guys like myself are doing is perhaps having a vision (well, mine goes back to 1984 or so) and then creating some sort of vehicle to spread that vision. With Dimensions it was a print magazine for many years, and now it is this huge community. But now it is people who shape and direct the community, and that is just wonderful. Some of those blogs have many hundreeds of posts and tens of thousands of views!
On a personal level, this has been a year of change for me. But then again, change is really the only constant in life, and so mine is par for the course. Apart from running Dimensions and doing perhaps a dozen other websites, mostly technical ones, I continue to greatly enjoy my two major hobbies, racing and scuba diving. Had anyone told me I'd discover two such satisfying and thrilling
things AFTER I turned 50, I would not have believed them. So if you're concerned about turning 30 or 40, don't be! It just keeps getting better. :-)
So what's next for Dimensions? Who knows. Heather assures me that the long-planned 2008 Dimensions Bash is on track. That'll be a first, for sure. So I better ask her real soon where things stand. Else, look for continuing improvements, additions, upgrades and new features at Dimensions. Some will come from me, some will simply happen.
Truth be told, it's not always smooth sailing. There are times when people are fighting over things that I fail to really comprehend as they do not seem worth fighting over. During such times I often get barraged with emails and PMs, asking me to intervene or take sides. I usually try to reason things out, but that rarely works. Same for my dedicated troop of moderators. They're trying to do their best helping me steer the good ship Dimensions through whatever stormy waters we encounter, and it's not always easy for them either. Whenever possible, please give them the benefit of the doubt. They work very hard and they always try their best to do the right thing.
Happy New Year to all of you!!!!!