Happy 5th birthday to the DansDeals Forums and the DDF community!
I’ve been blogging since my 20th birthday in November 2004 under the name CtownBochur. Previously I had been on the moderation team for bochurim.tk, which was a forum where single orthodox jewish guys discussed everything from yeshivas to deals. That forum had initial success but then died off. In 2006 I created the CtownForums, which was a complete and utter flop from the start. In 2007 I landed the DansDeals.com domain name for just a few bucks when the previous owner let it expire (I had even emailed them to buy it off them!)
By May 2008 traffic was picking up and people were posting random comments in nearly every deal that I posted. To try to alleviate that I made a discussion post and then a 2nd discussion post where people could ask questions but those grew unruly very quickly.
In that 2nd discussion post on May 27, 2008 a commenter named Eli left the following note,
Dan, I believe that by creating something like dansdealsforums.com and using a free forums software, it will take off tremendously. And the users of the forums will be asked to post linkbacks to the forums in the comments on the standard blog. The forums can have different categories like Deals, Hotels, Airlines etc.
If you get the right forum software that does what you need it to, it will work well. It may take time, but it will work well.
You can even have on the blog a scrolling link to the hottest topics being discussed in the forum. All you need is a lot of people knowing about it (people who normally visit the forums) and it will be fine.
Dan, how bout it? get me access to the website and we can have dansdeals.com/forums up and running within a few hours. You might as well give it a try. I already did the research and found the best solution for the forum software, all completely free of course.
I was highly skeptical due to the failure of the other forums and told Eli as much. But he persisted and said it would take him just a few hours to setup and that there was really nothing to lose. And so after getting the green light, Eli Webster created the DansDeals Forums exactly 5 years ago, on May 28th, 2008.
It’s taken off beyond my wildest dreams, which just goes to prove that if you don’t succeed at first, try, try again. So thanks to Eli for that lesson.
The DansDeals Forums now occupy many of my waking hours. The community there is just great and I’ve been able to meetup several times with forum members from across the globe. I love the Trip/Destination Reports board where we share tips on places we travel to and of course tons of great info is shared on all of the other boards as well. We’ve designed a Wiki system that didn’t previously exist for SMF forum software where the community can easily summarize massive threads in a few concise paragraphs at the beginning of each thread.
The growth rate has been awesome. Just 6,500 posts in 2008 and 5,200 posts in 2009, but then 39,000 posts in 2010, 113,000 posts in 2011, and 212,000 posts in 2012 along with over 16 million page views in 2012! And we’re on pace to shatter those numbers in 2013.
Many of the deals I post here on DansDeals are sourced from DansDeals Forum posts including the famous El Al $336 deal. And for that I am extremely grateful to the DDF community, you guys are awesome! Of course it’s not all just travel and deals, you know there’s a real sense of community when a member was able to raise thousands of dollars for a needy bride and groom just from DDF members without any other publicity.
Of course a major thanks has to go out to Eli Webster (Eli on the forums) and Baruch Hayman (BAHayman on the forums) for their tireless help on the technical side of things where I am fairly clueless. And thanks to AAA, Chaikel, and AsherO who work day and night on the DDF moderation team as well. All of these guys volunteer their time to make the DDF community a better place and I couldn’t do it without them!