Talk about being at the right place, at the right time, with the right set of services and you'll have HardwareZone as one of the examples. Online bulletin board groups (BBS), IRC and many other forums were sprouting or have already existed at the point of time when HardwareZone emerged in 1998, so what made it special that it now has its own community?
Some might say it's luck, but far more than that was the drive and ambition of the founders to establish the website as a leader in its niche by offering a fully integrated IT website for tech enthusiasts to convene in one location for their daily fix. Key services in the beginning like technology news and happenings, computer hardware reviews, computer hardware price lists, an overclocking database, classified ads and a forum to bind them altogether were important ingredients to entice readers to stay within the portal and ensure revisits due to its all-encompassing nature.
Back in those days, such integrated IT portals were not as abundant as they are now. Many usually lack one element or the other, thus limiting their potential. With a fully integrated IT portal, coolest news, hottest hardware, HardwareZone became a magnet where tech enthusiasts can converge to discuss like-minded matters. Thus began the rise of the HardwareZone forums.
The HardwareZone forums initially began with just a single forum, called Hardware Clinic in 1998. As members poured in and topics became more diverse, a Software Clinic followed suit. These were managed by moderators who went by aliases that began with "Dr." and "Nurse." salutations since the tech forums were 'clinics'. Soon, it was seen that these folks needed a more easy going forum where they could discuss all other matters outside of hardware, and thus the Eat-Drink-Man-Woman (EDMW) forum came about to support just about any topic of discussion under the sun.
Though Hardware Clinic was already a hit, EDMW was to become a bigger star as this general forum and other non-tech related services from HardwareZone such as the classified ads and price lists sections appealed to the masses with general IT knowledge and all of these were in close support of one another. And hence the forums gradually grew and by mid 2000, it had more than 13,000 members with 22 different forums as seen in this old snapshot:-
Not long after that, Hardware Zone Pte Ltd secured funding from investors. With new funding came plans from the management for growth and part of this was carried out by public advertising campaigns. This massively boosted the presence of HardwareZone and with that came a huge influx of new members. For a period, community growth was almost exponential! Here are some stats of when HardwareZone breached each 100K membership size mark:-
|Number of Registered HardwareZone Forum Members||Year Achieved|
|Breached the 100,000 membership figure during:||2002|
|Breached the 200,000 membership figure during:||2005|
|Breached the 300,000 membership figure during:||2008|
Today, HardwareZone has a large and vibrant community that numbers more than 327,000 members who participate in over 96 forums and it's still growing. Here are some interesting top statistics we've garnered from the administration database regarding the forum:-
|Record no. of online users||88572 users (on 10-12-2007)|
|Top poster||LxIxVxE - 122021 posts|
|Most replied to thread||Manchester United Forum thread (live since 2001)|
|Most viewed thread||Manchester United Forum thread (live since 2001)|
|Most popular forum||[Eat-Drink-Man-Woman ] forum|
Interestingly, a fan-club based Manchester United Forum thread that began in September 2001, is still alive and kicking with extremely strong support as the most viewed and replied thread of any in our entire forums. At the time of writing this article, there were 103,840 replies and more than 1.73 million views to-date. Amazing!
But the most popular and most active forum has always been EDMW for its anything-under-the-sun chit-chat nature. In fact, the forum moves faster than an IRC chat and has frequently captured or reported news from around the country or globe faster than the typical mass media can. Such is the speed, nature and prowess of this highly active forum to entertain as well as inform. In second place is the ever-popular technical forum, Hardware Clinic, despite the many other tech/electronics forums we've created for more focused discussions. Hardware Clinic is still seen as the place to share and discuss any technology related matters.
The top poster figure has an interesting history though. For the longest period of the forums' history, the top poster has been Guyver02. He has been an ardent supporter of the forums ever since its beginning and has even volunteered as a moderator for quite a while. However ever since he took his leave to serve the nation in the mandatory two-year army stint (by which then he had accumulated more than 80K of posts), another long time HardwareZone forum supporter came to vie for his position.
Known by his handle LxIxVxE, he was a much more active forum member with a post rate of nearly 43 per day. Seeing that he wasn't far off from approaching the 100k post count mark, the administrators decided to create a new rank for those crossing this barrier - Honorary Member. And he certainly did breach that figure sometime in 2007 and is still the only Honorary Member in the forums with more than 122K post counts.
Behind all the forum activities, lie the 50+ volunteer moderators who dedicate their free time to help clean-up and act on the culprits who abuse the rules. And laying the ground rules and guidance for them to follow is HardwareZone's Editor and Forum Administrator, Vijay Anand - most commonly known by his handle as "Dr.Vijay" and is synonymous for his wall-of-text replies to keep troublemakers at bay.
As you can see, while the community contributes to the growth of HardwareZone, the importance that HardwareZone places on its complete integrated services approach with News, Reviews, Price Lists and Classified Ads plays an even more vital role to the entire needs of its immediate community as well as the extended community. Next up, we'll take a look at how the core content section has evolved and some of its interesting stats over the decade.