I've been holding back, as it's taken me quite a while to write all this, and answer questions. I've tried to be brief... well at least I tried anyway
I hope you don't fall asleep halfway through, and that you get something out of it Interview questions:Haggisv, please recall and describe the process that lead you to create this forum, and how it all began?
How it all began... Well I've always been interested in equipment, so probably about 15 years ago I started collecting information from many sources. I quickly realised that the internet was by far the greatest source of information, and since I had an interest in the website design already, I started my reviews website around 12years ago, and it 'evolved' to what it is now (although it needs a serious upgrade but I have not found the time).
The existing tt forums at the time were good sources of information, so I joined all the ones I could find, and started to make quite a few friends and really enjoyed the discussions.
The more I learned about equipment, the more my interest grew, and I wanted to try more and more. Prices of equipment were expensive in those days (paid around $25 for a sheet of 729FX!), so with the help of my Mrs we tried to source equipment directly from China ourselves. I learned all I could about online shops, and after a while I setup the OOAK Shop.
How is this relevant to the forum you ask? Well I must be honest, and admit that my initial reason to start a forum was mainly to support the online shop, as I kept getting the same questions over and over again, and a forum seemed a good way to answer questions. The forum was started in Dec 2006.
Soon after that it all changed... Some of my friends joined the forum, as well as people that bought from the shop, and discussions became more interesting and involved far more than just shop discussions. Having learned a lot from my involvement on other forums, I felt I could turn this new forum into a highly organised discussion forum (which is what was often lacking on other forums) and not just a shop forum.
About 6 months later, the forum had grown enormously, and we had some really good discussions with some of the regular members (Silver, LawOCG, speedplay and Mathias come to mind) about how to best structure and organise this forum. This is when we decided that specialised equipment sections would be a great way to organise discussions on these topics. This quickly led to us becoming a magnet for people that used this equipment, this is still the case today. I quite like this aspect of our forum, but sometimes I think it puts off people who don't use it.What was you initial vision for the forum and has it panned out?
As I mentioned before, the forum was started to answer questions about the online shop, so I had no vision at the time. However once the forum took shape and we got some great regular member and good discussions, my visions (dillusions
I felt that we had the potential to really make a difference for our sport, by not only promoting our sport through discussion and friendships made on the forum, but we could share together how we could grow our sport and learn from each other.
By having an international tt community we could discuss the 'good and the bad' of our sport, and become a voice of the grass-root players that could hopefully influence those that govern our sport.
To ensure that equipment conversations would be unbiassed and people could freely talk about any manufacturer or dealer, I decided that the forum should be separate from the OOAK shop. Over time I removed links the OOAK shop, moved the site to our own new domain, and also the shop section was moved into a subforum of new "Manufacturers, suppliers & retailers" section, where any dealer could have a section (subject to some conditions). Judging by the conversations in recent times, I think people feel free to talk about any supplier/retailers which is how I'd like it to be.
So I'm very happy with the way things have panned out, and the site has far exceeded all my initial expectation!How has having this forum for such a long time affected your life? Has it been all that you hoped?
Well I must admit it's taken up a lot of my time, particularly in times of forum troubles, but I would not trade it for anything, and it's one of the things I love most in my life! It's become far more than I ever hoped for, and I can still see plenty of potential for the future, so I feel very proud of the forum and the people that have helped build it!Do you think owning the forum has enhanced your interest in TT over the years?
Well firstly I've never seen myself as 'owning' the forum as that makes it feel like some sort of commodity, but I know what you;re trying to say.
I think the forum has enhanced my interest in TT enormously...discussing topics with friends tend to do this. I find you never stop learning, and every time you learn something new, you want to try it yourself, which renews my enthusiasm again... it's all great stuff, and I enjoy my TT more than ever these days!Do you get Luna and your kids playing TT, and do you think they will carry on the game when you stop playing (many, many years from now
Once our youngest (2) grows up a little more, I hope to get our other 2 girsl (9 and 11) together in a team, perhaps with Luna or myself. Making it all a family event I really look forwards to. Luna I used to play mixed double in tournament, with some really good and unexpected wins, so we look forwards to taking that up again too!You've probably mentioned this on the forum before, but when and how did you start playing TT and has there been breaks in it? How old were you when you started?
I started when I was about 10 years old, when I still lived in Holland. Played once a week at a club, but very little help was given to imporve our games, but still I loved it. When I moved to Australia we lived in a Hostel in Sydney for about a year, and there was a TT table in one of the rooms. I played there almost every day with a friend, and we taught ourselves how to spin the ball, although with pretty crappy bats. It wasn't till I moved to Adelaide that I joined a club, and with the help of a few people improved my game, and I started playing more seriously. The only break I had was for a few years when we had our first 2 kids.Have there been any other sports besides TT that held an interest for you?
Since I did most of my growing up in Holland, I played soccer virtually every day, although never for a club. I took up basketball at school when we came to Australia, but I was mainly recruited coz of my height, not my skills
I was always good at athletics too, particularly long distance running.Has there been a specific period in your TT life that you noticed a particular improvement/s and what would you credit it/those to?
The coaching I got for s short period got me over a long term plateau, as I never understood spin that well, nor how different rubbers (particularly pips and anti) affected spin on the ball. Since then progress has been very slow but still steady. I don't have the speed or stamina that I used to, but my understanding and strategy makes up for it.You are a bloke of tall stature (about 6'6 I believe), do you feel this gives you a great physical advantage in the game (for reach etc.)? And do you find any disadvantages with it? Are these advantages/disadvantages more noticeable against particular styles?
Well 6'4 actually (194cm). I think it gives me greater reach which can really help get those balls that I'm not expected to get. Un-natural reach or 'elastic man' are terms sometimes used to describe my stature. Unfortunately I'm slow and have very bad footwork, so I'm not really taking good advantage of my natural abilities.What's the hardest thing about being Site Admin
That's actually a very easy question to answer, and I think the moderators can relate to this as well... The hardest thing is to have to make a tough decision that involves your friends. A forum is a like a community, and as such there will also be the occasional trouble, arguments and fights. Admin / moderators must step in to resolve this as quickly as possible without taking sides, or things can flare up and get much worse.
Usually the mods and myself have a quick discussion and vote for the action to take that's in the best interest of the forum. But when those involved in the action are close friends (or even worse moderators!) the decision can be very hard, coz like it or not, your friendship with these people can be on the line. It's impossible for me not to get involved with people and make friends, so this is the hardest thing about being an admin.
The toughest time since the forum began was probably fairly recently, which eventually led to the departure of a close friend and fellow moderator. Over a period of probably 6 months, there were many heated discussions both in the forum and via private discussion, involving several members and also some of the moderators. At times I found myself in impossible positions, where I seemed to have to choose between the forum and the friendship of a member. Although all forum issues are usually voted and decided democratically, occasionally no solution can be found, and as admin I must make a decision that I feel is right and in the best interest of the forum. If I make a choice that I feel is the right one for the forum but against the best judgement of a friend, the friend can feel betrayed which can damage or even destroy a friendship, which can be painful for everyone involved. These situations can cause a lot of stress and even affect your health, and sometimes may even make you want to throw in the towel
, but luckily they don't happen too often and all the other good times make up for it.2a How much time do you spend on average each week on your duties as Site Admin. 2b If there was a job description for "site admin" here, what would it say?
2a) That's a tricky one, as I'd have to separate my time as admin, moderator and regular member. I would spend by far the most amount of time a contributing member, followed by moderator/spambuster and then admin.
Pure admin duties vary a lot, as on occasions it takes a lot of time to sort out server issues or upgrades, but at other times there's not that much to do. I would guess on a long term average I'd only spend perhaps 3 hours a week, which would be perhaps 1 hour a week on normal days, and 10+ hours when something needs to be done.
As far as moderating/spambusting is concerned, I would I'd spend about 1/2 hour every day on average, but when there's big issues to be resolved, it could take several hours for several days. So that might result in a long term average of 4 hours a week perhaps? The rest of the time I would spend reading, posting and PMing...which is obviously far more fun
2b) A job description just for admin would not be that hard to define, but since I'm effectively a moderator as well, this would need to be seperated and can't be clearly defined.
For pure admin it would involved:
- Regularly check that the site/server is running properly and at acceptable speed
- Investigate server errors and/or speed issues and resolve with the hosting company if required
- Evaluate forum software additions or upgrades to see if they are required
- Ensure that the forum remains organised and discuss possible new structure/sections with moderators and all membersIn no more than 50 words tell someone who hasn't visited this forum why they should
I could probably spend hours mulling over this one (and I have on occasions
), but I think it's quite well summarised in the "About Us" section, titled "Why join our forum?". I'm no salesman or marketing person, but I'm sure that someone that has those skills could re-word it into something more enticing that would help that see what a great place we have here.How do you balance your job, your family and your own table tennis playing with being Site Admin
Most days it's not that hard, as I can check out the forum whenever I have some free time, and firstly do what's required, and then join into the discussions.
However at times when major admin work is required, or when there's a major issue to be resolved, it can take it's toll on both the family and work. I've got quite stressed on a few occasions when we had some major forum conflicts, which I think affected my home life and even my health. I think I'm too sensitive to be a good forum admin and have made too many good friends here
, as I find it very hard to stop thinking about conflicts and how to resolve them, resulting sometimes in sleepless nights. I sometimes worry way too much about who I might offend and how decisions can affect my friendship to people, which can be counter productive and don't really help the situation.
Luckily I do have some great people I can share this with at times (the moderators but also other good and trusted friends I've made here) who can offer advice and help resolve things.If you didn't have involvement with the OOAK shop, how much do you think you would spend on average in a year on testing / trying out different equipment
I don't think I'd spend an outrageous amount on buying equipment, as I'm usually fairly careful with money. I would guess less than $1000, and I'd find other ways of getting to try more equipment without having to buy them new.What is the best tip you've received from this forum which has helped improve your game
Hard to put it down to one tip, as you tend to pick up a lot of little things from just reading people's comments. Among the best ones that I can think off hand would be
- MNNB: try the Taichi blade
- Greggy: chopping tips
- leatherback: chop block tips
- dtopspirit: footwork and ready positionWhy do you still act as a moderator on other table tennis forums
A long story, but I'll try and keep it short, just like my other answers
Mytt is one of the first forums I visited and joined well before this forum was even started, and as such I've picked up a lot of tips there over the years, but have also made a lot of good friends there, so I feel quite a bit of loyalty towards the forum and my friends there.
A few years back the forum admin (Alex Li) of mytt decided to run a thread getting their members to nominate who they wanted as moderators there, which would be followed by a poll to vote who would win the positions (if they wanted it). I didn't give it much thought at the time, and didn't think I'd even be nominated nor did I nominate myself, but as you probably guessed, someone nominated me for the equipment section, as well as many other nominations.
When the poll started I was a little embarressed (but flattered!) as I won by a huge margin (for that section). I felt so honoured by the overwhelming support that they showed me, that I decided to accept it and give it my very best! I take my role there seriously and ensure that all decision I make or issues that are discussed are purely in the interest of their forum, so there is no conflict of interest. I consider Alex Li (admin) as a trusted friend and I'm sure he feels the same way, so we trust and respect each other and have never had any issues. Both forums have their place on the net, and each have their own different styles and ways of organising information that attracts different people and personalities...we should never compete but work together whenever we can.Why isn't there a link in this forum to your own "blog" page or at least an entry in the forum blog session here!
Although I enjoy reading other people's blogs, I've never been that big on running one myself, mainly for 2 reasons:
1. I just don't have the time
2. My memory is not the greatest
and unlike many others here, I cannot recall most of the points I play after a match, so there's not as much to write about.How often do you play table tennis and what league do you play in and to what standard? When did you make the SA state league exactly and what has been your best result there so far? Who would you consider your greatest "scalp" in TT?
These days I only play about 2-3 times a week. Saturdays I practice for about 3 hours, which usually means practices game at my club with a variety of club members of different levels. Tuesday or wednesday is competition night (depending on the season). I do get the chance to practice at work on occasions with a friend who gives me a good hit. Unfortunately I feel it's barely enough to maintain my level, and I would require more practice to lift my game
I do play in the top grade in Adelaide, the competition is not big in Adelaide, and I'm probably only a average player there and well below some of the top players in the same grade. If it wasn't for my serves, I'd probably play a grade lower. I'm still keen to improve though, and feel I can reach higher.
I made state league about 4 years ago, mainly because the numbers on state league were going down every year, so it was decided to combine our top 2 grades into 1. I would have been near the top of the div 1, but only in the middle of state league. I feel I've had some great wins against younger and much faster players, who beat higher ranked players in my team, but I managed to slow them down and with some strategy got some really good wins. My best effort was probably a few years back in state league semi finals. Our whole team struggled, and I played as the No 4 player (4 member team), and if it wasn't for me winning all my games, we would not have made the final.When are you going to post a video of you playing
Grrr... Debater will never let this one go
Because I'm self-taught and my game looks unorthodox and far from pretty, and my footwork is very poor, I've been reluctant to video myself, let alone post a video. My very unorthodox game works to my advantage at times, but sometime can work against me as well. So in a nutshell, I'm too shy What involvement do you have in organising table tennis outside of this forum
Directly not a great deal these days, as I never seem to find the time. Until recently I was a member of my club's committee and helped in some some areas. However because of the shop, the forum and the reviews website, many people do know me and I get to see and meet many people, so I get to give lots of advice, mainly on equipment or pimple play. I also take every opportunity I get to promote our sport and get people playing for a club or to get coaching, in the hope that they'll take up competition and experience what real TT is all about. One day I hope to setup a club in our area that both myself and my family can get involved in running...a dream that will hopefully become a reality one day You often ask us what we want to make the forum more popular, user friendly but what do you want from us / how can we help you?
My dream is to keep growing the forum, which will not only give us more knowledge and a broader range of experiences, but also gives us the potential to influence our sport and influence those that govern our sport. We have the 'forum suggestion' section to allow people to offer suggestions on how we can improve things and make things more user friendly...I would love it if more people would use this more.
Probably the best and easiest way that members here can help make this forum more popular is by telling their club members, putting something on the notice board, or even better asking the club if they will put a link to our forum on their website. Since our forum is not-for-profit and has no advertising, they should realise we have no alterior motive other than to promote and grow our sport and provide useful information to their members. Even if you run other websites or know people that run other websites, a link to our forum can be of great benefit, as many website get lots of exposure, and you never know who browses them.
For the majority of people that probably can't help there, I would encourage them to simple start new topics on subjects that you're interested in, even if it's only 1 topic a week. This stimulates discussions that may be of interest to many people who don't participate in forums, and thanks to search engines, they'll find our forum when searching for answers. Hopefully when they see what a friendly forum we are, and the great resource of information we have here, they'll be encouraged to join in and share their knowledge.What's your biggest table tennis regret and your proudest table tennis moment
My biggest regret is not getting coaching much earlier on. I've been fascinated by TT and loved it from the first time I played it, but without any coaches or help progress was extremely slow and bad habits became part of my game, which are very hard to change.
Proudest moments would be from very early on when I started playing competition... My very unorthodix style and shots surprised players that were clearly much better players than me, and gave me some great and unexpected wins. Winning some of the Team Pennant competition made me very proud as well, but I can't really recall any specific one that stood out.What is the most satisfying shot you play?
I think it would have to my forehand loop...some people have trouble anticipating where it goes, so hitting a winner when they're no-where near it feels good! This would be closely followed by a good chop against a loop, when you know it's absolutely loaded and can't be looped again. In real life, do you tend to call it "table tennis" or "ping pong"?
Table tennis always! Ping pong conjures up visions of just popping the ball back and forwards, with very little spin or strategy. I have a habit of correcting people that call my game ping pong Have you been inflicted by the EJ bug before? How long?
Probably not as bad a most people think. Although I never give up the search of finding something that suits my game better, I tend not to change my main setup very often... probably like once a year on average, and even then the change might be minor. I test new gear regularly though, probably on average once a week, and I love to experiment. So you be the judge on how badly I'm affected by the EJ bug What changes would you make if you were to become the next ITTF head?
Apart from some of the changes I would like to make to the rules (undoing some of the more recent rule changes), I think I would want to make the whole ITTF election system fairer and much more transparent. As it is, the ITTF Board of Directors are in charge and are not really accountable to anyone, and it's nearly impossible for individuals to affect any change as they have no vote apart from a single vote by their national association. I would love to see a voting system where perhaps all registered clubs worldwide could have a vote, instead of just one vote from each country.
The current system can easily be manipulated, and although I think most member genuinly vote for what they feel is best for the sport, I think many are not well informed, are easily manipulated, follow the crowd, or most importantly simply do not understand the full impact of their decisions.~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~End of Interview~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Finally I would like to give my thanks to a few friends here who have made a real difference for me in the last year or so. Although the list is big and no doubt I'm going to feel bad for forgetting some people and leaving some out, I feel that at least some of these people deserve to be recognised... so my sincere apologies if I've missed out on some of the people here as I don't want anyone to feel unappreciated here... so please just blame it on my poor memory, not my lack of appreciation
First a big thank you to all the moderators
for their help in running the forum, and in particular (but no specific order)MNNB
- for always being there (literally
), and for your great contributions of always bringing us the latest news, latest videos and many other interesting and stimulating discussions! Reb
- although a recent moderator, he's been a great and long term contributor, and his help in diffusing conflicts as well as answering almost every questions (
) and making people feel welcome has been invaluable! Tat
- an even more recent moderator but also long term member, he probably does more work behind the scenes than posting on the forum... how's that for real dedication! He's one of our greatest friends to forum member, but believe me he's a spammer's worst nightmare, as he can destroy a spammer bot before they even realise they're a spammer Silver
- Although not around as much as we'd like, he's always there in the background, and pops up when you least expect it. His equipment knowledge and experience is 2nd to none, so I greatly appreciate his input and help over the years!Brabhamista
- Unfortunately we've not seen him here for a long time, and all my efforts to contact him have failed, but he's made a huge contribution to our forum, particuarly relating to the latest forum upgrade and our forum new look! Speedplay
- although he choose to leave this forum and left under unfortunate circumstances, it's only right that I show my appreciation for the many years of friendship and dedicated work he's put in to help shape and grow this forum. Thank you Speedplay if you read this!
To a few other friends that I feel deserve special mention:
Spambusters so_devo and SuperHappyFunSlider
- these guys regularly check up on the forum, and delete spammers so you guys never see them. I'm sure you'll agree that there's very little spam on this site, and even if there is it's not there for long! So thanks for help in keeping this place free of spam, as well as your contribution to the forum! Debater
- a good friend that has always been there for me when I needed him. He's spent many hours on quite a few occasions either helping out organising things in the forum, or in times of conflict helped put things into perspective without taking sides. Thank you my friend! metal monkey
- One of the saddest days in our forum history is when we learned of his recent passing on. His sudden death was a shock to many of us, so I wish to once again recognise the great contribution and friendships he made here, and wish him farewell from all his friends he left behind. antipip
- Thank you for all your help in the past, particularly in recent times in maintaining the Equipment Index, being a huge and thankless task. Kees
- although not a frequent visitor, his huge posts of offering advice and giving game or equipment analysis were so impressive and detailed, I felt it deserved special mention and deserved a big thanks for the time and effort he so generously shares with us.hookshot
- For your very long term and great contribution and friendship here, and sharing your wealth of knowledge with us, and your great adventures! Yuzuki
- for your long term contribution here, and all the help you offer in organsing our forum! dwruck
- for all your great contribution here, and willing to always share your knowledge and help people!
Although my list of friends and great contributors is much longer than this, I'll have to leave it there or this post will go on forever, but will end this with the following words:To all our longer term members, thank you for sticking with us! For all our newer members, great to have you join in, and I hope you enjoy your stay and make many friends! On behalf of myself and all those involved in running the forum, I wish to offer you all a big THANK YOU for your friendship and contribution to this forum. Anyone reading this who is not a member, I encourage you to join in the discussions here, as we're all keen to share our knowledge and make new friends, and the forum needs new blood!