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Thread: Why do you do it?

  1. #1
    TVWBB Emerald Member Jerry N.'s Avatar
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    Why do you do it?

    Chris,
    Thanks for all you do. This board is the reason I own a WSM and the basis for my BBQ knowledge.

    My question is why do you do this? I'm sure you don't earn buckets of money. I'm guessing running this board is a net cost to you. I'm sure you have other things to do with your time (maybe not better things if you really like web creation, but other things). So what keeps you interested in providing this site to the public?

    Jerry
    1880 / Genesis S-320 / Jumbo Joe

  2. #2
    Moderator Chris Allingham's Avatar
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    That's a good question, Jerry. Let me begin with The Virtual Weber Bullet, because without that, there would not have been this discussion forum.

    Back in 1997-98, discussion about the WSM was happening mainly on Ray Basso's The BBQ Forum. I noticed that new people would come online and post questions that had been asked before, and helpful members would post answers that had been posted before...which is a very common circumstance on a forum. And I had gotten into the habit, maybe like some of you here on TVWBB, of printing out interesting threads containing good info.

    I organized those print-outs into a binder. In fact, here's something I've never shown anyone...the red binder that started The Virtual Weber Bullet:





    Then I realized three things. First was that the binder contained a lot of great info that could form the basis for a static reference website about the WSM. Why should the same questions be asked and answered again and again? A static reference site, like an encyclopedia of WSM information, would be a great resource. Second was that creating a website would an excuse to learn HTML and that would help me in my job at HP. Third was that there were some not-so-special barbecue website already out there, and I thought I could do it better.

    After a few false starts, I first published The Virtual Weber Bullet in June, 1998. It turned out to be a great way to learn HTML and to exercise creativity through website design, writing, and photography. Also, it was gratifying to get feedback from people that they found the site useful and informative and even entertaining. So those are all reasons why I did TVWB.

    As for the establishment of the discussion forum, it was just part of the natural progress of the static website. There needed to be a place for dedicated WSM conversation (which later broadened to become dedicated Weber product conversation). I realized that there was no way I could know everything and write everything about the WSM on a static website...but that by posting messages on a forum, members would create new content about the WSM above and beyond what I could do myself.

    So why I did the discussion forum was really about extending the reach of the static website and its content. I didn't really think of it as a place where people would meet and become friends and socialize, yet it has become that in many ways.

    Why do I do it now? What keeps me going? It's hard to say...it's like spinning plates on wooden dowels...but without the tuxedo.



    Once you start, it's hard to stop. It doesn't take no effort to keep going, but it does take some effort every day. 7 days a week. When on vacation. When on business trips. Every. Single. Day. But it's gratifying to know that it's a great resource that people enjoy. It satisfies the urge to make a small contribution to a field that you love. I will never be a television personality like Raichlen or a prolific cookbook author Purviance or a renowned competition champion like Soo, but TVWB and TVWBB are successes in their own way, I'm proud of them as accomplishments, and that's enough reward for me.

    As for the money...let's just say that if you broke it down into an hourly wage, I am severly underpaid! I have not been able to retire because of the success of TVWB and TVWBB! I have 21.5 years at HP and 3 years at EMC to thank for that.

    Back when I started, I didn't have a domain name and TVWB was hosted as part of my household ISP plan. I used to shoot photos on film (!) and have it developed at Long's Drug Store and pay for it out of my own pocket. I didn't care...just having content online was the thing. As things grew and expanded and expenses increased, I turned to Amazon and PayPal and Cafepress for help, and so many people over the years have helped in that regard. I'm able to pay for the hosting and bandwidth we need, I'm able to get the hardware and software I need to create content, I'm able to line-up prizes for you guys and gals occasionally.

    It's all good. A sincere thank you to everyone that helps support what's going on here. You make a difference!

  3. #3
    TVWBB Hall of Fame Dwain Pannell's Avatar
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    Thanks again Chris. I am glad you do this.

  4. #4
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    Thanks for the Q&A Chris. This is really fun.

    I read that you are now retired. Are you a Silicon Valley gazillionaire? You seem too young for regular retirement.

    Jim

  5. #5
    Moderator Chris Allingham's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JRPfeff View Post
    I read that you are now retired. Are you a Silicon Valley gazillionaire? You seem too young for regular retirement.
    Jim, you're half right. Yes, I am too young to retire. No, I'm not a gazillionaire.

    My wife and I are very frugal. Other than a few Weber grills, there are no expensive adult hobbies like RVs or boats, no vacation home by the lake, no expensive trips to exotic locations, no fancy cars. Thank god my wife doesn't like diamonds. Also no children, which changes the financial equation quite a bit. My wife took early retirement from HP in 2012 and is looking for another job. I am focusing on TVWB and TVWBB, and since that is technically "work" I'm telling people I'm "semi-retired".

  6. #6
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    Chris - It's great to see someone make it out of the rat-race successfully. I think I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, but my wife loves diamonds...

  7. #7
    TVWBB All-Star S.Six's Avatar
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    Wow! Thanks for all you do Chris! Really do appreciate the work you put into this site. I looked mainly at this site when I was looking into getting a wsm, and the reason why I pulled the trigger on getting one.
    14.5" wsm, 18.5" wsm, 22.5" wsm, 18.5"ots, Black Weber 22.5" Performer, 22.5" Weber rotisserie, Weber Ranch kettle, Lang 84D

  8. #8
    TVWBB Emerald Member Jerry N.'s Avatar
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    Good for you Chris. My wife and I are on the verge of "early" retirement (both in our 50's) and it always amazes us how much advisers say you need to retire (like 80% of pre-retirement income). Our opinion is - not if you're frugal and not if you look at frugality as a choice and not a burden. A simple life can be a very rewarding life.
    1880 / Genesis S-320 / Jumbo Joe

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