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Randy, Can You Give Us A Brief Synopsis of the First "FlyerTalk" BB??

Randy, Can You Give Us A Brief Synopsis of the First "FlyerTalk" BB??

 
Old Sep 27, 2005, 6:15 pm
  #1  
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Randy, Can You Give Us A Brief Synopsis of the First "FlyerTalk" BB??

Randy, I seem to remember some threads (or maybe just a thread) a long time ago about a first version of FT that kinda went downhill due to a number of factors; don't remember what.

BUT, I'm not trying to bring up bad memories. I am just fascinated by history and behind the scenes stuff.

Could you or someone give a nickel tour of what the very first iteration of what was to become FlyerTalk was like?

Any anecdotes, history, dates, etc. would be most appreciated.

I tried this topic on OMNI but no one knew about it, BTW.

...I just guess I'm jealous that I wasn't in on the VERY first one! Sorry.


(Or, am I just imagining that I read this here somewhere? Don't have the brain cells I did in 1998, regrettably. )
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Old Sep 27, 2005, 6:43 pm
  #2  
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The wayback machine can go back to Oct 18, 2000

http://web.archive.org/web/200101232...m/boardsfr.htm
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Old Sep 27, 2005, 7:13 pm
  #3  
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Here's May 98
http://web.archive.org/web/199805171...i?action=intro
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Old Sep 27, 2005, 7:20 pm
  #4  
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Really, there are no bad memories. FlyerTalk has been a tremendous ride and there's been some days better than others (the server problems from time to time) but I could do it all again, exactly the way it happened.

So here goes. The original FlyerTalk concept of a bulletin board for frequent flyers was launched on Sept. 22, 1995 with the formal launch of WebFlyer.com. At that time, while InsideFlyer had been publishing frequent flyer information online since 1987 with NewsNet and CompuServe, and we were then working on a launch as the official frequent flyer portal for AOL, a relative newcomer in the business at that time (that was launched on December 7, 1995). Anyway, the original WebFlyer.com launch was seen as the online content for InsideFlyer magazine since at that time we really had no ideas of how and why to publish the entire magazine online, etc.

The concept of FlyerTalk was seen as a way for readers of InsideFlyer to share additional comments and feedback on the topic. So it was launched as a part of WebFlyer.com. In the early part of 1995, the commercial World Wide Web was still very much unknown (most of the attention still to Prodigy, AOL and CompuServe). We saw a small number of chat boards out there and thought it might be a good platform to extend InsideFlyer reader interaction. We could not find any reasonable commercial software at the time so commissioned a Web development company called Netgrafix to custom build the code and application for our bulletin board. It cost me some money but we got it done and it was included in the original WebFlyer.com, though interestingly enough, because of the low level interest in such a thing at the time we did not even feature it.

It was pretty slow starting and it took about two months before we saw any activity at all (let's remember, there was not a whole lot of you all out there in 1995....). I'm thinking perhaps 3-4 posts a day (these days we do that every minute of day, 24 hours a day). In the third month, we started to notice an interesting increase in posts - problem posts. In no time at all, we were still getting 3-4 posts a day about frequent flyer topics, but 10-15 a day and then 20-30 a day from people we did not know looking to know where the "party" was and if there were any "chicks" who wanted to talk. Almost all these types of posts came from people in the Scandinavian countries. Looking back, we had tried too hard to make search terms like "chat" the prominent feature and that was the buzz word for looking for girls. After about 5-6 weeks of daily editing out a majority of posts because of content and profanity, my team leader at the time asked me please to pull the plug, my grand idea to extend InsideFlyer and reader interaction was clearly a failure. So I did. At the time, i'm thinking i had a grand total of 112 good posts.

The years go by and WebFlyer is doing real good as it was the first and at the time only frequent flyer portal (remember that word?). Anyway in the back of my mind, i really hated to not have something work, so i continued on my own to research applications for a new bulletin board that could be commercially available (i just could not see spending the kind of money required to build something we knew absolutely about) and noticed that there was a building buzz about chat boards. I did my research and decided upon UBB and despite protests from my InterActive team that was managing the AOL portal we had going, to restart FlyerTalk, again under the umbrella of WebFlyer.com

So, the readers of InsideFlyer were again invited to participate in a new bulletin board designed to help members hare experiences and tips with other readers of the magazine. This time we got lucky and it took right off on May 5, 1998. After 6 months we noticed that a few of the new posters were not subscribers to InsideFlyer and I decided to gamble and welcome them as well. From that point forward, growth has been organic. We've not spent a single dollar toward marketing the Web site and today it ranks among the top, if not the top bulletin board in the world for number of posts and activity on the topic of travel and certainly the hub for frequent flyers around the globe.

I have often joked and it actually is true that one of the major factors in launching the concept was that even back in those days, i was having trouble answering the many letters (yes, actually physical letters) and faxes from my readers asking for advice for their miles and points. FlyerTalk was a concept that allowed me to use the knowledge of my readers who had followed my advice to share with others. Any while with the sheer traffic of FlyerTalk, only a percentage of todays members are readers of InsideFlyer, I think it fair to say that many owe thanks to the magazine.

Along the way there have been several interesting historical aspects, such as in July 2001 that FlyerTalk acquired another Web bulletin board called Flyers' Places. This was a popular bulletin board started by a member of FlyerTalk - Dorian - who thought that there should be a sort of Zagats; guide to restaurants from a frequent flyers perspective and today much of the success of Travel&Dining on FlyerTalk can be traced back to Dorian.

We've also had the develop of several personalities on FT, such as Doc who in the early years showed a tremendous propensity for posting and today still has more than 45,000 posts. And of course the evolution of a member-elected TalkBoard who first presidency was cigarman and then the overwhelming generosity of our volunteer moderators. We actually had others involved representing our members earlier than that. Who could forget the contributions of appointees svpii, Punki and Rudi. Svpii was actually the first president in a non-member elected capacity and Punki even contributed in that role for a short period. And who could forget the very first public "Do" - Party in Paradise in Hawaii.

One of the most important dates in FlyerTalk history is 11/4/1999. On that date, Catman, NJDavid and Rudi presented me with the official URL for FlyerTalk.com and we moved away from the shadow of WebFlyer.com (inside where it was hosted) and made an independent name for itself. I can easily say that these three members - Catman, NJDavid and Rudi were very, very important in the first two years of FlyerTalk - and still are important to me today.

Yes, i can go on and on but will simply shut up for now and if you've got any additional questions not yet answered or addressed, please post and i'll do what i can to entertain you even more.... HA!

I think our first full year had 102,000 posts total and today we're closing in on 5 million.

But never forget, the history of FlyerTalk is all about those who have contributed the information that makes it so valuable.

Last edited by Randy Petersen; Sep 28, 2005 at 7:20 am
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Old Sep 27, 2005, 7:35 pm
  #5  
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Wow, that was a fast reply!

Randy, thank you so much for the info. I really am interested in this history and this meant a lot to me.

Can't thank you enough!

P.S. Apologies...thank you also, skofarrell and gleff. Much appreciated.

Last edited by hnechets; Sep 27, 2005 at 7:37 pm
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Old Sep 27, 2005, 11:42 pm
  #6  
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Originally Posted by Randy Petersen
Really, there are no bad memories. FlyerTalk has been a tremendous ride and there's been some days better than others (the server problems from time to time) but I could do it all again, exactly the way it happened.

So here goes. The original FlyerTalk concept of a bulletin board for frequent flyers was launched on Sept. 22, 1995 with the formal launch of WebFlyer.com. At that time, while InsideFlyer had been publishing frequent flyer information online since 1987 with NewsNet and CompuServe, and we were then working on a launch as the official frequent flyer portal for AOL, a relative newcomer in the business at that time (that was launched on December 7, 1995). Anyway, the original WebFlyer.com launch was seen as the online content for InsideFlyer magazine since at that time we really had no ideas of how and why to publish the entire magazine online, etc.

The concept of FlyerTalk was seen as a way for readers of InsideFlyer to share additional comments and feedback on the topic. So it was launched as a part of WebFlyer.com. In the early part of 1995, the commercial World Wide Web was still very much unknown (most of the attention still to Prodigy, AOL and CompuServe). We saw a small number of chat boards out there and thought it might be a good platform to extend InsideFlyer reader interaction. We could not find any reasonable commercial software at the time so commissioned a Web development company called Netgrafix to custom build the code and application for our bulletin board. It cost me some money but we got it done and it was included in the original WebFlyer.com, though interestingly enough, because of the low level interest in such a thing at the time we did not even feature it.

It was pretty slow starting and it took about two months before we saw any activity at all (let's remember, there was not a whole lot of you all out there in 1995....). I'm thinking perhaps 3-4 posts a day (these days we do that every minute of day, 24 hours a day). In the third month, we started to notice an interesting increase in posts - problem posts. In no time at all, we were still getting 3-4 posts a day about frequent flyer topics, but 10-15 a day and then 20-30 a day from people we did not know looking to know where the "party" was and if there were any "chicks" who wanted to talk. Almost all these types of posts came from people in the Scandinavian countries. Looking back, we had tried too hard to make search terms like "chat" the prominent feature and that was the buzz word for looking for girls. After about 5-6 weeks of daily editing out a majority of posts because of content and profanity, my team leader at the time asked me please to pull the plug, my grand idea to extend InsideFlyer and reader interaction was clearly a failure. So I did. At the time, i'm thinking i had a grand total of 112 good posts.

The years go by and WebFlyer is doing real good as it was the first and at the time only frequent flyer portal (remember that word?). Anyway in the back of my mind, i really hated to not have something work, so i continued on my own to research applications for a new bulletin board that could be commercially available (i just could not see spending the kind of money required to build something we knew absolutely about) and noticed that there was a building buzz about chat boards. I did my research and decided upon UBB and despite protests from my InterActive team that was managing the AOL portal we had going, to restart FlyerTalk, again under the umbrella of WebFlyer.com

So, the readers of InsideFlyer were again invited to participate in a new bulletin board designed to help members hare experiences and tips with other readers of the magazine. This time we got lucky and it took right off on May 5, 1998. After 6 months we noticed that a few of the new posters were not subscribers to InsideFlyer and I decided to gamble and welcome them as well. From that point forward, growth has been organic. We've not spent a single dollar toward marketing the Web site and today it ranks among the top, if not the top bulletin board in the world for number of posts and activity on the topic of travel and certainly the hub for frequent flyers around the globe.

I have often joked and it actually is true that one of the major factors in launching the concept was that even back in those days, i was having trouble answering the many letters (yes, actually physical letters) and faxes from my readers asking for advice for their miles and points. FlyerTalk was a concept that allowed me to use the knowledge of my readers who had followed my advice to share with others. Any while with the sheer traffic of FlyerTalk, only a percentage of the users are readers of InsideFlyer, I think it fair to say that many owe thanks to the magazine.

Along the way there have been several interesting historical aspects, such as in July 2001 that FlyerTalk acquired another Web bulletin board called Flyers' Places. This was a popular bulletin board started by a member of FlyerTalk - Dorian - who thought that there should be a sort of Zagats; guide to restaurants from a frequent flyers perspective and today much of the success of Travel&Dining on FlyerTalk can be traced back to Dorian.

We've also had the develop of several personalities on FT, such as Doc who in the early years showed a tremendous propensity for posting and today still has more than 45,000 posts. And of course the evolution of a member-elected TalkBoard who first presidency was cigarman and then the overwhelming generosity of our volunteer moderators.

Yes, i can go on and on but will simply shut up for now and if you've got any additional questions not yet answered or addressed, please post and i'll do what i can to entertain you even more.... HA!

I think our first full year had 102,000 posts total and today we're closing in on 5 million.

But never forget, the history of FlyerTalk is all about those who have contributed the information that makes it so valuable.
Although I detest "bumps" this is one thread I would hope to see at the very top for a good period of time.. I would just hate to see FT'rs miss Randy's interesting explanation of the history of FT. IMHO, we should refrain from responding and let Randy's response take center stage for awhile. Just my opinion as a personal poster.
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Old Sep 28, 2005, 12:03 am
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Originally Posted by obscure2k
Although I detest "bumps" this is one thread I would hope to see at the very top for a good period of time.. I would just hate to see FT'rs miss Randy's interesting explanation of the history of FT. IMHO, we should refrain from responding and let Randy's response take center stage for awhile. Just my opinion as a personal poster.
If we don't respond, the thread will not stay at the very top .

Very interesting read, Randy!
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Old Sep 30, 2005, 6:48 am
  #8  
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Originally Posted by Randy Petersen
Really, there are no bad memories. FlyerTalk has been a tremendous ride and there's been some days better than others (the server problems from time to time) but I could do it all again, exactly the way it happened.....
Randy, This is great information, wouldnt it make sense to add it as an "about us" off the main page of FT so everyone can enjoy it as they find the site. And also it would prevent people from needing to make random comments of little or no additional value merely to bump the thread.
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Old Sep 30, 2005, 7:26 am
  #9  
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Originally Posted by Randy Petersen
. In no time at all, we were still getting 3-4 posts a day about frequent flyer topics, but 10-15 a day and then 20-30 a day from people we did not know looking to know where the "party" was and if there were any "chicks" who wanted to talk.
Randy, could you please bring back the chatting chicks?
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Old Oct 8, 2005, 7:20 pm
  #10  
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Originally Posted by Dovster
Randy, could you please bring back the chatting chicks?
Dov, I am seriously considering forwarding this to your UIG.

But I won't because I really like you and think she is swell as well. But just so I don't accidentally do this, could you please provide her email address so I can be sure to avoid doing so?

P.S. I think including Randy's answer in an "about us" is a very good idea. This was really a fascinating read.
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Old Oct 8, 2005, 8:09 pm
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Great reading, Thanks Randy
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Old Nov 7, 2006, 8:54 pm
  #12  
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Randy... that's a great wayback machine recap of the early days of how FLyertalk started and took off. Thanks!!!!

Wonder if it would make a nice sticky or part of the glossery or I don't know what to put it as. (This is a wild suggestion: maybe a forum simply dedicated to Flyertalk classic threads like PIP or the 9-11 thread or how some of the DOS came to be. Maybe it would add clutter to the board or maybe it will have newer members or the veterans be able to look back and laugh or remember good times.)

IMHO to understand how successful this board became you have to recall and learn to appreciate where we came from and how we go to what FT is now.

I'm a lover of history and your recap brought back some great memories. Thanks!
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Old Nov 26, 2006, 10:48 am
  #13  
 
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Randy, a quality quality post. As a relative newbie, it's particularly interesting to read all about the history of FT ^^
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Old Dec 29, 2006, 2:12 pm
  #14  
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I like the idea of a "Classics" forum where we could actually make duplicates of some of the more memorable ones as Catman has alluded to. We could easily make it a sub-forum so that it actually would not add to clutter and maybe even find a volunteer "historian" to find and manage these threads. The best policy would to leave them in 'read-only' format so that their part in the history of FlyerTalk could remain unchanged. And while it may be complicated, there might be a chance to resurrect some of the corrupted threads like the infamous 'Bhat Run' which i'm sure Oz would heartily endorse.

If there's enough interest on the idea for this new sub-forum, i would not mind taking it to the Talkboard for their consideration. Like Catman, i do love the history of this place.
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Old Dec 31, 2006, 4:53 pm
  #15  
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Originally Posted by Randy Petersen
We could easily make it a sub-forum so that it actually would not add to clutter and maybe even find a volunteer "historian" to find and manage these threads.
I would be very willing to take up such a post, if you'd consider having me, Randy.
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