A Club History
Sometime back in 1997, a born again Christian biker from Florida named Mike bought a Ninja 250 and created the board over at http://disc.server.com/Indices/5109.html. He only posted a few times in a year or so (mostly about how Jesus had provided the Ninjette for him) before he sold the bike and turned the board over to a guy from Utah who went by the handle Roachie (Isaac Roach).
After a couple years Roachie stopped logging onto the board, and it became filled with spammers and trolls. Wes is still waiting for him to approve his profile.
A Canuck woman who went by the handle GammaGirl eventually created a separate board over on server.com sometime in 2000 and actively moderated it.
A few months later server.com added pop-up advertising and fake links that looked like posts but were really ads. In 2001 Wes posted a solution to block the annoying advertising, and the board was quickly deleted by the tyrannical server.com administrators.
In August, 2001 MIK took over the Gamma board (having started to visit in April, 2001) and actively moderated it. At the same time he asked Jeb (who had a lot of design suggestions) to create a new board design. He agreed, and the board got the look it has today. At the same time Jeb became an admin, too. That all was nice until the club got booted off server.com (because of Wes's post) at the end of October, 2001. On October 31, actually. All Hallows Eve is now observed as the birthday of N250RC.
Then Wes (being a nice guy who felt a responsibility to fix the problem) created SmallBored BB software in 3 days and hosted it on his own server. He let Jeb and MIK do whatever they pleased on that server. Now there were three admins (MIK, Jeb and Wes). Wes, even though he had full access to the server, didn't do much administration or development. The software that had been written in such a hurry needed some improvements, and MIK took over that part as well. Jeb designed the layout and maintained the (static) profile pages. Creation of the profiles was a completely manual process and was a huge burden by the end of 2002.
In 2002 more admins were invited to join the team: Ian, Jim Race, and Payne. Mostly to share the troll hunt, except for Payne, who, being a software guy, started creating new software for the profiles . He has done a wonderful job with it and later proceeded to add more modules to the bundle: polls, vendor reviews, mileagetracker, and Google maps for the profiles. He still actively maintains and develops those modules.
From 2002 to early 2004 a lot of emails were sent between admins in an attempt to thwart boneheads trying to drag the board down. Troll hunting back then was long periods of boredom followed by late nights of hacking. At first there were no tools to block/ban idiots, and MIK and Jim Race spent countless hours fighting off some really stupid users. Later, when more admins came on board, MIK added a garbage bin so all the admins could see what was deleted and have a few laughs. Unfortunately, this part of the board is not available for viewing by the general membership.
In 2004, it became clear (to MIK at least) that SmallBored and Wes's server couldn't handle the load any longer. Moving to a SQL database engine and adding more advanced features required too much effort. No open source software supported the old-fashioned BB view (aka tree view), but all of the old-timers wanted that to be preserved (damn conservatives!). So, MIK spent a month or two hacking up phpBB to look like SmallBored. That's the board you see now.
Concerning the tree view layout: Wes is still convinced (along with many others) that this site's low-barrier-to-entry and conversational feel (due to threaded posts) have a BIG part to do with our ability to attract new/knowledgeable members and inspire a feeling of camaraderie. MIK adds two more points: A tight and active moderation of the posts, and a clean board design (no avatarocrap, no signatures, etc).
BrianM came on board as an admin just before the switch from SmallBored to phpBB. loudboys joined the team in 2005, and IanJ about a year later. IanJ was doing backups after our first (and second) server crashes, and the decision was made that, since he already had access to all the sensitive stuff, to just bring him on.
When the new phpBB-based board was ready, the site moved to a new server (with a shared hosting plan) and in 6 months got booted off from there as well. CPU usage was too high, and that violated their Terms Of Service. So, we had to find a new host again. Woot got a friend to share a dedicated server with us. We moved there in 2005. The move was pretty rough; MIK didn't sleep for a week and a half. Early in 2008, though, another move was really in order. There wasn't enough control over the server we were on, and so now we are using our own dedicated server. The provider leases us the server and space in their data center, but we have complete control over everything that happens with the site, excepting hardware. This, of course, isn't cheap, which is why we accept donations.
One thing that has made this site so successful is our FAQ. The old FAQ was a set of static pages created by Jeb from postings to the old and new board. That was really hard to maintain. Bokonon was asking for some tools to improve the FAQ, and at the end of 2005 he got himself a Wiki. No one expected that he would go crazy with it and would make a Ninja250 bible out of it (and also recreate it twice when the server crashed and backups were lost). In his defense, Bokonon offers: There are over 500 FAQ contributors. All I did was put everything in one place.
This site's success is truly a collaborative effort of many people. There is no single person who "created" it. Without loyal people, this site wouldn't exist, or would be a shadow of a forum stuck in cyberspace. Just like the old 5109 board on server.com is now.
Addendum: Some of the Old-Timers and how they joined
- Leon goes all the way back to the beginning. He was a major source of information on the board for a long time. He was at the first Deal's Gap meet (below), and in 2003 he took 12th place in the Iron Butt Rally (11 days, 11,000 miles) on a Ninja 250. Now that he can't surf at work, we don't see him as much as we used to. We hope that will change.
- loudboys: I don't remember how I found the site.... but it was August 2001, so it was a while ago.
- Karl P: I found the board from an altavista search shortly after reading the .25 Caliber Shootout on motorcycle.com.
- woot: I found the predecessor around 1999-2000. I needed bike help... I was an awful newbie - learned a lot here.
- I was one of the ones that thought they knew more than they did. Ran into a problem and got bored at work... so I started searching for help. Found Roachie's board - and the rest is documented history.
- Daryl: I started checking out the Ninja 250 site in March of 1999. We had a small 250 meet at Deal's Gap in Sept, 1999. Duke, Leon and I were there for a short gathering, and there's a picture Duke took of the three of us on the other 250 site (5109).
- Duke: I bought my first 250 from my cousin in 1999. It didn't take long to get looking around for information on the Web, and I found the Roachie board. Later that year I rode to Pigeon Forge, TN and met up with a guy named Leon from that board who rode a John Deere Ninja 250. I couldn't believe he'd ridden all the way down to Tennessee from Northern Virginia! We took a ride through Deal's Gap that day - I didn't even know we were on it - until I realized we'd gone around a whole bunch of corners in a row.
- We also met up with a guy named Daryl - who'd ridden all the way from Ohio! These guys were nuts. We only saw Daryl for a few minutes at the Deal's Gap Store - long enough to take a picture.
- The following spring we decided to get together again, and Jeb and a guy named Brian Ivy (as I recall) came along. I was sort of wierded out that I was hanging out with strangers I'd met on the Internet. But by the Fall of 2000 when we did another trip, some of these guys were getting to be really good friends, including Andrew Duthie - another 250 rider from my home town of Nashville. Each trip, more folks would show up. That's when we started staying in Headrick's, at Daryl's suggestion. Somewhere along that time, there was even a nut named Wes who came all the way down from Canada for one of the trips.
- Since then I've stayed in many of these folks' homes, gone on extended trips with others, been to two of their weddings, and even had some folks come to my own wedding. I've even ridden to visit with folks in far-away places over 2,000 miles away whom I'd have never met otherwise. This board (and the other/old board) have truly been a life-enriching endeavour.
- MIK: One Monday I am chatting with my non-moto friend in AIM and bitching about how I'd always wanted a sport bike since I was 3, but all the new ones are expensive and I don't want to buy a used one (no I didn't do any research, I was just whining). He ran a Google search and told me -- "look, there is one for just $3K". I checked the link he sent me, and of course it was a Ninja 250 at some local dealer.
- The next 3 nights I was searching for information and reading all I could. I found gammagrl's board from the first search query and read maybe 20 pages worth of posts... By the end of the week I had my motorcycle permit and my brand new red Ninja 250. That was April 21, 2001.
- By the end of June I was actively posting on the board and helping gammagrl with some web stuff. After the very first NY ride (where I met Gamma, Wes, Jeb and several others in person), Gamma asked me to take over the board administration... and that's when trolls started to cry and complain. Well, they were deleted faster than they could complain anyway. You see, Gamma would go and answer the troll posts, telling them that they were idiots and such. I just deleted all I thought was wrong. Oh boy, did that piss some people off!
- That was the beginning of my involvement with the "club", and I haven't been able to let it go since. I've met so many interesting people this way, and I can say I've made friends, too. I can't simply just drop it. This club is my curse and my salvation... Well, maybe not. It just sounded cool.
- Jim Race: I was reading 5109 in mid-late '98 as well... but I don't think I posted until early '99. My first post was probably something along the lines of: "Well, I think I'm gonna get this Ninja 250 and...." ;)
- Bought the bike in late Aug. 99, and all hell broke loose. Broke it in on the street over the next couple months. Got on the track in late Oct., or early Nov. '99. The rest is history.
- One of my FAQ articles is from Nov. '99. Actually, that kinda freaks me out. :)
- Wes: I found the 5109 board searching for info on 250cc motorcycles. I had originally been considering the Honda Rebel 250 as a learner bike. Then I read the motorcycle.com 250cc shoot-out, and thought maybe I should check out this Ninja 250 thing... even though I thought I didn't really want a sport bike.
- Ha ha. Thank God I didn't buy that Honda piece of shit. I sat on one in the dealership upon the recommendation of somebody on here... That pretty much sealed the deal, and I bought a brand-new Ninja 250 in the US, sight-unseen.
- BrianM: Leon and Google were the 2 major parts in my getting involved here.
- Mandy, my then girlfriend, current wife, was having a lot of fun riding around on my YSR50 and decided to take the MSF. We bought a Seca II as her first bike, but it was just too big/heavy. So, I got to looking for other bikes that'd fit our budget ($1,000 or less, as usual) and ran across the 250. Then I remembered Leon, since I'd spent a number of years in DC and knew him from riding there, and his 250(s), and decided to come looking for a forum/mailing list. It didn't take much to find this place, just the desire to look. I read through the FAQs and a large number of posts for a week or so before committing to the bike, and just dove in.
- My first several posts were still kinda stupid "getting to know the bike" type, and I got the ever-so-friendly sarcasm and pointers to find the info needed a few times, but took it for what it really was (and is): nudging to help people learn for themselves. Sometime before my first anniversary MIK asked me if I wanted to join the Admin team, which I did. But what's less known is that I went undercover for about 4 months before the general population were given the information. So much fun to troll hunt when they don't think you're an Admin.... heh.
- IanJ: In summer 2001, with a BMW K75 sitting in the garage, I was starting to think about other bikes. I'd had a BMW R65LS before the K75, but had heard persistent rumors from various people about how cool the Ninja 250 was. Being the good little geek I am, I immediately typed "Ninja 250" into Google to see what came back. Among the first things was this board.
- I read through the majority of the FAQ and a lot of posts. I wanted a Ninja 250, but the situation wasn't really right, and I ended up moving on to get a BMW R100S as a second bike.
- A year later, with a Moto Guzzi Le Mans and a BMW R100 in the garage, I was getting sick of the R100, which had been nothing but trouble. I put it up for sale, and started scanning want ads for a Ninja 250. Probably early spring of that year, 2003, I got on the board in earnest. In mid-June, I found both a buyer for my R100 and a seller with a Ninja 250.
- I ended up going to see the 250 and taking it for a test ride. I was apprehensive that it wouldn't be powerful enough to haul my bloated carcass around, so I immediately aimed up the steepest hill I could find, and was pleasantly surprised. We quickly arrived at a sale price of $2k, and I gave him a deposit. This is the owner who, when asked, "What maintenance have you done on the bike?" answered, with a proud look on his face, "None at all!" I confirmed: no oil changes, no chain lube or adjustment, no tire pressure checking. Seven thousand miles. "Neat." I bought it anyway, and it's still running today, carrying my coworker on a month-long trip around the US.
- So, my first posts on the board may have been in Summer 2001, but were more likely around May 2002. I probably didn't start being an annoying know-it-all until at least 2003.
- Bokonon: After a glorious career hiding out from society in various national parks, I decided to do the same from a greater distance and moved to Taiwan in early 2003. Later that year my brother-in-law gave me his scooter when he left for China, and I've been a dedicated fan of 2-wheeled transport ever since.
- I enjoyed riding the scooter; it was practical and cheap. So, during one of my "I gotta get out of this place" periods I looked up scooters in the US. I thought I'd get one when I moved back, rather than try to find the money for a car. I found out that scooters weren't nearly as cheap back home, so I thought, "Well, how much more could a real motorcycle be?" I knew I wanted a 250cc bike with decent handling and performance. Imagine my surprise when I found out that only one of the Big Four made such a machine.
- I'd never heard of a forum before, but I came across the club sometime in 2004. I read a lot and got a good education, but I didn't post much. I went by a self-imposed rule for the first year to not post on anything technical, as I didn't really know much.
- I gradually collected a couple hundred bookmarks. MIK and Jeb got tired of me hounding them to remove dead links and add stuff to the FAQ, so MIK set up the wiki, with the promise that even someone who only really knew how to edit couldn't muck it up. In the beginning I just used stuff from the old FAQ and my bookmarks, but as it developed a lot of people started writing articles purposely for the FAQ. Many people helped with the organization and continue to add knowledge to the info base.
- Even now, when it's pretty obvious I'll never live in the States again, N250RC is something I still enjoy. It's my home on the internet, and most of the people I know who actually speak English are here.
- I just love riding a motorcycle. Don't you?