Creative Commons License photo credit: joelogon

Last month, I wrote about the 10th anniversary celebration over at, a site that I launched on April 6, 2001. In brief summary, this is what we did to celebrate:

  • Launched a special, dedicated section of our website, with an RSS feed and added a special section to our forums (for a limited time).
  • Celebrated over a 10 day period, in honor of it being the 10th anniversary.
  • I wrote a series of 34 text articles, 3 of which including substantial writing from other people and more than half of which included interviews that I conducted with people.
  • The bulk of those 34 articles were the naming of the Top 25 Authors of the Era (2001-2011). This series required me to pour over a staggering amount of data collected over the last 10 years.
  • Each text article received a thread in our forums where people could discuss it.
  • I posted few announcements about the event, which were then posted to our main page and sent to our mailing list.
  • We hosted a special, 3 hour livestream party, where we talked about the history of the site, brought on a few guests and interacted with the chat room. It was co-hosted by Jared W. Smith, a former Support Team member who is now the Webmaster for ReadWriteWeb, and Jonathan Bailey of Plagiarism Today helped out with technical issues. This show was recorded and will be released as a podcast.
  • The celebration was promoted with a graphic link in our header on all pages and a large box at the top of our homepage. It was also mentioned on our Facebook page.

In all, I would estimate that the planning and development, in advance of the launch of the celebration, took around 30-40 hours. I then had to write and release features each day of the 10 days and host the livestream, in addition to other things.

During this 10 day stretch, I would say that I worked on it for an average 4 hours per day. And then, afterward, cleaning up and setting some of it up for archival purposes probably took me another 2 hours. I probably have another 2 hours ahead of me releasing the podcast and handing some other business.

Add it all up and it comes to an estimated 74-84 hours of my time, to celebrate the 10th anniversary of So, one could say that I invested a whole work week in the event. Let’s talk about some lessons that we can take away from it.

You Only Get to Celebrate Turning 10 Once

March was a crazy month for me and, as the date grew closer, I started to have second thoughts about celebrating in such an elaborate way.  For most years, I had posted an announcement where I noted the occasion and thanked people. As the date loomed, that option only became more appetizing.

But, every time that thought entered my mind, I countered it with this: you will only turn 10 once. This community, including myself, has come a long way and it deserves more for this occasion.

So, I made it work. I’m not sure how, but between family commitments, SXSW, normal work and other things being thrown on my shoulders, I managed to pull it together in the final week. And, looking back, I’m so glad I did. 10 years is huge and you only hit it once! Make it count. Make it matter.

Do Yourself Justice

My grandfather had a saying: “self praise stinks.”

I didn’t get it at first, but as I grew older, I appreciated it more. I’m careful to limit the utterance of anything that might resemble self praise. Once in a while, often motivated by someone who doesn’t get what I’m doing, I will break out and say something. But, overall, I am pretty quiet.

For example, you’ll never hear me say “Managing Online Forums” is a great book. You will hear me say that it contains everything that I learned during the first eight years of managing online communities. You will hear me say that I am proud of it. You will never hear me say it is a good book. That’s not for me to say, that’s for other people to say.

But, there is also something to be said for understanding the moment and opening up a bit, sharing that pride and talking about great things you have accomplished. At some point, you earn that and, if you have come a long way, it’s OK to say so. It’s challenging to do it well. Hopefully, I did alright.

You Can’t Thank Everyone, But Do Your Best

Appreciation is a big deal and milestones like this are to be shared. When it comes to big milestones, my impulse is to try to thank as many people as I can.

With, you have almost 1,500 individual authors who have submitted their work and over 30,000 members in our forums. You have many former staff members and other people who have contributed to the community or to phpBB itself.

Some might say, if you can’t thank everyone, just thank people generally – don’t mention any or many names. But, personally, I prefer to thank as many people as I can! So, I looked over lists and lists of authors, posters, former staff members, people I had thanked in the past and so on. Those people led me to think of more people and, sooner or later, I ended up with the finished list of thank yous that I posted on April 6.

People Care About Your Community

If you’re around for 10 years, people care about you. As I read through the interviews and features, it was so nice to read the thoughts that people shared about the community and their feelings for it. To get a taste, read what was said by Jeremy Rogers, Jared, Scott Stubblefield, Pierre Roge and Brandon Levan.

From Brandon:

It’s a weird thing to see at ten years old. I remember when it hit the five year mark back in 2006 and thinking how great it was to be involved with the site to some small degree. Now, here it is, five years beyond that anniversary, and I can say with complete honesty that I can’t imagine my life without

From Pierre: has been, for me, always a place to find very knowledgeable people. Nice people, always ready to help, whatever it was – formal or informal. I always found people willing to give help to authors as well users, taking suggestions, giving also, without the weight to keep a certain line of communication. All is natural, as if you were sitting near coffee cups talking to each other and all is done with respect for everybody. That’s something I consider as the most valuable quality among all others, because it is naturally present and not forced.

To read this stuff was, at times, a little emotional for me. It was wonderful. To be fair, I knew the community meant a lot to a lot of people, but I gave them the opportunity to put it into words and the result was beautiful. If you’ve been around for 10 years, you’ve touched people.

It Was Worth It

If it wasn’t clear already: it was totally worth it to celebrate in this fashion. Don’t let your milestones pass – especially your big ones. Seize them and do it right!