CigarAsylum’s Team of 11: Part 1 — The Serious Questions

lbanSince this month’s poll is about community and finding it, I figured I would ask a couple of forums — at least the moderators/admins —  I enjoy reading through now and then about what they expect the future holds for cigars, themselves and some fun questions. The first forum was the Team of 11 at CigarAsylum.com. I’ll post the serious questions today and the not-so-serious ones in a few days. Enjoy.

The Serious Questions

1. Has the growth the forum gone as expected or did it exceed your expectations?

  1. I am not sure if the growth exceeded my expectations, but certainly the passion and “ownership” of the members has. They are so involved in making this community succeed, grow and thrive, they make our involvement easy.
  2. The initial surge was staggering. I knew we’d have an influx. But the degree was somewhat overwhelming. It’s tapered off and pretty much what we expected.
  3. I was hoping for a initial surge and we got that.
  4. I think we expected moderate membership numbers but the sheer volume of members we had initially was staggering. After the initial influx of members it was surprising to see the steady growth trend that continues to this day. It speaks volumes about the type of community that our members have created. The bonds of friendship and Brotherhood have made it possible for us to succeed, and for that we are grateful.
  5. I was pleasantly surprised with the extent of growth over the first couple of weeks. Since then it is about what I expected.
  6. I believe at this point its about what I expected. Initially I think we were all kind of shocked at the rate members were signing up. I mean, I knew we would have a flood of new members, but what we got was absolutely mind blowing.
  7. The initial deluge of members was, to me, a pretty awesome thing. We all had high expectations for the quality and quantity of the new board, and I don’t think anyone was disappointed.
  8. We had no expectations other than a group desire to create a non-commercial place to call home. The overwhelming response was … humbling. The ongoing high level of activity is all about the people who choose to participate in the forum.

2. Has anything gone not so quite as expected?

  1. Not in my eyes….no major glitches, no unsolvable issues.
  2. Not really. A few bumps in the road. Nothing we, as a team, haven’t addressed.
  3. Not really
  4. As with any endeavor there are unexpected challenges that arise. I know for me personally, the biggest challenge was learning the ins and outs of the software. Some of the more tech-savvy of the Team of 11 have definitely helped me out in that respect LOL.
  5. Not really
  6. Nothing really major. There are members of the admin team that are more comfortable with the software than I am, so anything that comes up they can usually handle with ease.
  7. Honestly, we’ve had far fewer issues than I would have anticipated–a very good thing.
  8. We had no idea that the site would become so active, so quickly. 1 day before we went live we changed to a dedicated server and gobs of bandwidth out of paranoia and after finding out that it was not all that expensive to do so. Without it, we would have crashed in the first few hours. The biggest unexpected for us as a group has been the demonstration of “family” being more than just a URL.

3. What do you think the future of online cigar forums will be? Will we see a future with more consolidation, commericialization or more home-grown, grass roots growth?

  1. I think there is a place for both types of forums, and I think Cigar Asylum will be one of the major players in the latter type. Those who yearn more for a sense of community than for a corporate feel will be drawn more to a place like CA.
  2. There is a niche for everyone. Some crave the bright lights, the adverts, the pseudo-bling. Others are more comfortable in a communal type atmosphere. It’s no secret or surprise, we cater to the latter.
  3. I’m only concerned with this one personally
  4. There are definitely audiences for both types of forums. Initially I see newcomers to the world of cigars seeking out the more commercial sites for various reasons. However, once a base knowledge is gained people will tend to gravitate towards more social sites like CigarAsylum. The tendency will be to share their passion with other like-minded individuals in a friendly atmosphere. To discuss and compare with others is one of the true joys of this obsession we all have for cigars.
  5. It takes all kinds, but I’m glad to be involved only with ours
  6. That’s hard to say. Possibly both types may show growth, but it really isn’t my concern what happens outside of Cigar Asylum. My focus is what happens inside. That to me is more important.
  7. I think there will always be both. In some ways, it may be the nature of the beast in that the typical cigar board is started, owned, and operated by one man. As the board grows, it becomes too difficult/burdensome to handle while, at the same time, offering up opportunities for cash generation. At Cigar Asylum, we’re unique in that there are eleven of us, all equals, sharing the responsibilities. This isn’t a business venture for any of us.
  8. The future is what we all make of it. We are all just cigar hobbyists that enjoy the interaction with folks with similar interests. The financial conflict many sites run into regarding ads and sponsors is not an issue for us. We are funded by a grant from J Callahan of Sandusky, OH. There will always be new boards set-up for specialized reasons. They come and most times then fade. The lifeblood of all online communities is ongoing growth in new members. Old members may fade into less active participation and they need to be replaced by new folks starting the journey of exploration or a board starts to die.

4. Is there any intent to start membership fees or get advertising for the forums?

  1. None at all.
  2. Not at all. Our costs are low enough where the 11 of us can quite easily keep this going. We don’t want it to be a business. It is a labor of love.
  3. No
  4. As the old adage goes, “Never say never”. However, having said that….Never
  5. No
  6. Absolutely no plans at this point.
  7. Nope. Not gonna happen. See above.
  8. No. We all have seen the influence of “for profit” to the extreme on cigar boards. However, there are many boards that seem to be able to balance it with an objective level of content. Given our genesis, it is a hard thing to contemplate us ever accepting any form of “vendor money”. Other than the time we choose to volunteer to administer things, the actual out of pocket cost for even a large board like ours is .. well it’s tip money for Mr. Callahan.

5. Do you think that the SCHIP tax and/or the recent moving of tobacco to the FDA will reduce cigar smoking in general? What will it mean for a forum like this?

  1. Cigar smoking is more a passion, a lifestyle than a “habit” like cigarette smoking. I think a reduction on cigar smoking will be minimal, and I think the changes will bring a community like this even closer together.
  2. I don’t think it will impact our forum at all. Well, maybe more topics for discussion. But that’s about it.
  3. (1)I think it will reduce it some.(2)I think it cause some discussions which is why we exist.
  4. I don’t believe it will affect the cigar community as much as it will the cigarette industry. As a generality cigars are more expensive by nature so a certain amount of cost is implied as well as expected by the purchaser. On the whole I believe the effect will be minor to the industry. One thing I think (and hope) will happen is that this will get the ball rolling for a much needed divide to be drawn between the two industries. Too long have cigar smokers been lumped in with the cigarette industry and change has been sorely needed.
  5. It will probably slow down those who are “just trying it”, but won’t deter those who are serious much. It will give us something to talk about.
  6. I think it may affect or deter the more casual smoker more than the more seasoned cigar smokers in general. The impact it may have on forums like ours I think would be minimal.
  7. As passed, I don’t think that SCHIP will make that large of a difference in the premium cigar market. I don’t think many people are going to walk into a store and not buy their favorite cigars because they cost $1.00 more. If they do, they may be tempted to find lower-cost alternatives to what they were smoking, which could actually be good for the Asylum–can you think of a better place to learn about finding some new cigars to try?
  8. The future of all tobacco products seems uncertain. Trends can change, but stocking up seems prudent for more than aging purposes for the paranoid.

Fun questions will be posted in a couple of days. Meanwhile, visit CigarAsylum.com if you are looking for more good cigar advice, help or just a place to “hang”. 🙂

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