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Interview with Rob from FM Portal
Written on the 10th February by Mark

We wouldn't be a typical Football Manager site without a scene section so I thought what a good addition would be to conduct some interviews by email with some fellow webmasters.

First up is Rob from FM portal. Rob runs a site that is hugely popular in the scene and is a place where you can find links to the best content around it.

I sent Rob a number of questions covering him personally, the portal and the scene.

Questions about Rob

Rob can you tell us a bit about you, what is your profession? Do you work in an industry where you can use your web building skills or are you just another plain old bod like the rest of us?
Answer from Rob

I'm currently unemployed, but am a budding web entrepenaur, so yeah you could say it is an industry where I can build my skills as that's exactly what i'm trying to do at the moment, I do a bit of cash in hand
music stuff as well.

Other than work on the site what other things do you like to do? Sports fan? If so who do you support?
Answer from Rob
I wouldn't say Sports, just Football and i'm a Watford fan personally, other than that it's just your average pub, monopoly and where's wally.

Do you go watch the team you support?
Answer from Rob
nah for the simple facts that I don't know any other Watford fans, if I lived a little more locally maybe I would go along and get to know some people whilst there, but as it is, the thought of walking, getting two buses and then walking some more to go to a match alone doesn't really appeal to me.

How long have you been working on websites? Also what other sites have you worked on in the past?
Answer from Rob
Erm well I first started 2 years ago, I created The FM Gazette which was a monthly online "gazette" run solely by me featuring loads of articles every month, I remember doing some math at the end of it and worked out I wrote an average of 1.7 articles a day for 4 months, which is pretty good going (and those where proper articles averaging 2000 words each
and no crappy little team guides either)

Questions on the Football Manager scene

I won't pretend im an expert in what the FM scene used to be like because before working on The Gaffa I hadn't look at one for what could be 2 years apart from Sigames.com.

Is this 'the scene aint the same' talk just, people remembering sites that were'nt actually that good but they remember them well? As you look at various sites for your digest would you honestly say the scene isn't near the level it was?

Answer from Rob

Erm in many ways I would say you're right and it is just a case of people remembering them differently, however due to the fact that the FM Portal's a year old I can compare the new content from every day to the content from that same day last year so I can definitaly say that the community isn't as good as it was 1 year ago.

Going back later than that? I'm not sure, I think it had alot of booms with new versions of CM and FM coming out, especially after the split and now it's all slowing down again, needs a bit of a kick up the arse, perhaps FM Live will provide that? But getting back to the question, I just think that people talk and think about that sort of thing to much, the ironic articles are the ones where people say that we need innovation, which is what people have been saying for years, surely rather than writing the same thing thats been said for years people should actually get on with being innovative?

When you go to all these sites what kind of content do you see and think, enough already?
Answer from Rob
Team guides, they're generally a waste, sometimes it can be useful and interesting, but people waste alot of time, covering a very, very small part of Football Manager, when bigger and more important areas are
simply ignored.

Player guides are the same, I remember years ago people just used to produce lists of the best players (like the gaffa has done) and that's all anyone needed, I can't help but feel that when people are writing these sorts of things they're not actually thinking about what the user wants but instead simply trying to buff our their site with thousands of words talking about Shay Given.

Questions on FM Portal

How many hours a day would you say you spend working on the site?

Answer from Rob

Depends, actually updating it 30 half an hour to an hour. However when i'm coding new features i'll spend hours and hours and hours on it, not having a job beyond web developement means it can become my life for a week or two, only really getting a rest in the evenings when other people get out of work etc.

Do you ever get bored of doing this? Im guessing you really like to express your opinion but does it become a bit tedious?
Answer from Rob
Yep alot of the time, you can tell when I get into it and when it becomes tedious by how much opinion I put across in a digest, when it's bland it's because it's not interesting me. I used to write essays everyday a year ago, but nowadays there just isn't as much from the community to comment on, i've often considered starting up something like the gazette again, as I can no longer express myself simply by commenting on other peoples work anymore.

We know the portal is popular but can you give us an idea of how many visitors you get? It would be interesting to find out just how many FM players look around the scene?
Answer from Rob
nearly 10,000 unique visitors a day and about 150,000 unique's a month (obviously people who appear one day also appear another day, so don't count towards the monthly total)

I remember your site had some problems with your hosting company, are these problems now fixed? Also financially would you say you can now support the site without putting yourself out of pocket?
Answer from Rob
Not at all, it costs £80 a month to run it, which is nearly £1000 a year, far to much and if I wasn't benefiting from it from a learning perspective (i'm not that great a coder I learn on the job) I probably wouldn't still be running it.

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