Dec 15, 2009, 8:25 PM
Post #21 of 24
So, the story behind Mexconnect?
In the earlier '90's when my wife, Dona, and I were researching whether we wanted to live in Mexico and if so where and how. There was little information in print or elsewhere that was helpful. There was lots for tourists but little for re-settlement.
Around that time this thing called the Internet was beginning to take hold.
Thus, for me, if we were having troubles finding info then others were as well and I had a curiosity about this Internet thing.
In 1995 I combined both thoughts and the very first version of Mexico Connect came with us to Mexico in November 1995 on a floppy disk. I had found a hobby for myself that would enable me to learn about Mexico, learn about the Internet and to share what we had learned.
Little did I know what was to be unleashed!
In January 1996, I met sister and brother Camille and Rod Collins who were in the desktop publishing business. We compared notes and decided to jointly produce Mexico Connect using the URL mexconnect.com.
We had to dial long distance to Guadalajara to get an Internet connection to upload the site.
The first version went live in May 1996, And it looked something like this:
December 1996 version
Rod looked after the technical side and Camile and I looked after content. All three of us fought over the design.
In 1997 Rod felt he needed more of a technical challenge and thus left and began Laguna Net as a provider of Internet services. Camille and I continued with MXC until 1999 when she left to open up Mom's Restaurant in Reberas del Pilar with her mother, Maye.
Mean while Mexico Connect was turning into a voracious child requiring a huge investment of everything there was.
In 1996, the first Mexico Connect Forum began in the form of a Newsletter entitled MTMG - "Moving to Mexico Group. (my memory is fuzzy as to how accurate that name is . . .) to which a dedicated group of people contributed tips, techniques, hard data, advice and experience.
Back Issues can be found here: Back Issues
In 1997 the Newsletter became the interactive General Forum on Mexconnect, at which point Tony Burton - who had been writing articles for the site - and jennifer rose became involved as Moderators.
An archived version sits Here.
In those days, the Forums were like the wild, wild West with every thing including the kitchen sink being thrown into the fray - Moderation was nearly a full time task as there was little attention being paid to the rules of civility and respect! However over time the Mexconnect forums developed a deserved reputation for quality postings. Occasionally things went off track and people were banned and then banned again and factions complained about this poster and that poster. Threats were made, friendships were lost and made.
Basically everyone had a good time except the Moderators who were intent on making the place good. And IMHO, I think they did. The forums expanded to the current 15, the personality of the forums settled down - with a few hiccups here and there, and the quality of info rose to become a very useful and usually accurate resource. New software at the turn of the century enabled a more robust system to look after peoples' needs.
Advertising was not paying the bills, so in 2003 the site was split into a free side, and a much more robust subscription side. This made lots of people madder than hell as, after all, the internet was supposed to be free damn it! Forget that it costs someone, somewhere, as long as it is free for me . . .
After dire predictions of immediate failure settled down, the site maintained its growth, and while still not paying for itself, did allow us to begin to pay an Honourarium to our contributors - A significant moment for us.
The production and design of the site was still a one person operation - barely. My wife of 34 years died in August of 2003 and I went into some kind of altered state for about a year. Thanks to the Moderators that side of the site continued happily, but my ability to be effective on the content side began to show. Thus in 2004 I hired someone to do the content. This person was able to hold the fort while I disappeared on a Don Quixote journey for 6 months, but the site did not grow during that period,
In 2005, I hired Carol Wheeler to take over production as well as Editorial content and the care and feeding of current and new contributors - great decision as the content of the site has become stronger, richer and of a higher quality than it has ever been.
In 2008, the site had grown to over 4000 articles and 2700 photographs. The site was still being hand coded and any site-wide change had to be changed on every single page - insanity.
Thus I decided to invest in the re-creation of Mexico Connect into a dynamic database driven site that could hold its own in the Web 2.0 age. In Spring 2009, the site went live as MexConnect rather than Mexico Connect, with a vibrant and powerful custom database design and - it went free. I made the decision that advertising had to be the route to decent revenue. Subscriptions had been successful, but with the advent of so many specialty Mexico sites, couldn't grow and was, in fact declining.
So here we are nearly to 2010. MexConnect is now nearing its fifteenth year - it has become a Granddaddy of the content rich sites and is being enjoyed by thousands of readers - who, I hope, will all take advantage of the advertising!
There are many stories to be told about Mexconnect, but I will just let this somewhat brief history stand as it is.
Thanks for the opportunity to share..
(This post was edited by DavidMcL on Dec 15, 2009, 8:26 PM)