Lessons in Web Hosting

Ever since the Internet began (I think that’s a pretty epic way to start a blog post, don’t you?), I’ve been wanting to purchase myself a website. Not because I have anything I want to put there, I just have been learning HTML, PHP, ASP.NET, and so on and so on for the past 10 years. Yeah, I can practice them all just by creating local webpages, but you can’t get a true feel for it unless it’s out there on the scary Web. I want to play around with databases. I want to create web forms and have people submit them. I just want to explore. Well, it looks like I finally got that opportunity.

A close friend and I had been talking for a while now about doing a podcast. You know, one of those podcasts where we talk for a while about whatever we feel like (mostly games, of course). I finally got our act together and we actually moved forward with this plan. While I don’t have anything to reveal just yet, I have been learning a ton this week about web hosting. It’s amazing how much I didn’t know, and I found it terrifying that these sites don’t actually adequately explain what it is you need to purchase.

For example, let’s say you’re a complete beginner on the Web, but you want to start a webpage. What does “Domain” mean? What does “Hosting” mean? Where do I get these things? What other things do I need to consider when purchasing? What’s “Shared Hosting”? What’s the other option?

I don't know what that means!

I know all the answers to the above questions, but not because any of the hosting sites I visited explained them to me clearly. It’s entirely possible I looked in the wrong place for the answers, but I think that should be the most important thing you see on a site that’s trying to sell you a product. What is your product? Why do I need it? This is Marketing 101, folks. Even I know that.

So, in order to have a site that can host a podcast, I figured out that I need enough storage to host, let’s say, at least a year’s worth of audio files. And I have no clue how much bandwidth I need, but I played it safe and went with “unlimited”. Can’t really go wrong there, right? It ended up being way cheaper than I expected, especially when we end up splitting the cost between the two of us. (Oh, yeah, did I mention that, partner?)

Right now I’m waiting for the Domain registration to complete (which takes 24 hours? That sucks), after which I’ll have fun playing around with installing WordPress, some forum software, and maybe a little playspace for me and my databases. I’ve always wanted to try to create a web game. No, Jick, I’m not copying off you.


Is a CM part of Marketing?

I had a great time the other night having dinner with Sam Houston, Community Manager of GamerDNA. (Check out his Twitter) I had a great time talking with him about Community Management and what is really was, and where it seems to be going. I’m young, as is pointed out to me a lot these days, and therefore inexperienced, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t talk about how I see Community Management. Actually, I think it’s a plus that I haven’t been in a Community role for very long, because I haven’t yet stabilized into a day-to-day role, and therefore my view of the Community team is constantly changing.

When I get asked what my job is post-college, I always have to explain in more depth what I will be doing as an Online Community Representative. Currently, in order to keep it simple, I just say “It’s a little bit of marketing, a little bit of PR.” It doesn’t really explain what an OCR is, but it is enough to keep my family satisfied. But Sam and I got to talking about whether a CM really belongs under a Marketing/PR umbrella, and I came out of the conversation really thinking that it does fall under it. Public Relations is exactly that: forming (and maintaining) a relationship between the public and the company. In my mind, that’s EXACTLY what the Community team does. We are, in some respects, the “face” of the company, in that the majority of players interact directly with us on a day-to-day basis. When people run to the forums to post about something, most of the time (with various exceptions depending on which company you are talking about), you’ll be interacting with the Community team. At Flying Lab, most of the posts on the forums were from me (Community Liaison), Dani (Forum Administrator), Aegir (Community Intern), and Rhaegar (Community Lead). There were various other developers who posted when a response was necessary, but besides that, we were the ones the community tended to know the best.

Some people get pissed off when you describe Community Management as a Marketing/PR position. I can’t understand that. Maybe someone can explain it to me. How can you deny that a position which is required to interact with the public on a regular basis doesn’t have anything to do with Public Relations? I’m not saying that the job doesn’t extend beyond PR. I’m just saying that I don’t see how a person can deny that it falls under that category of PR in the first place.