Jump to content
Washington Football Team Logo
Extremeskins

Random Thought Thread


stevenaa
 Share

Recommended Posts

I love the movie Titanic. **** the haters!!!
Seconded. Even if it is a girl movie.

Edit: The following is an unfinished Draft started in mid Jan, 2010 -

image.php?u=1&dateline=1264599093

History of ExtremeSkins

This page is dedicated to Die Hard, Blade, and the pursuit of excellence

The Beginning

This site is the brainchild of its original member, Die Hard.

In the late 90s, Die Hard had spent much of his time posting on a message board called The Sporting News Washington Redskins. "Message boards" were relatively new in the 90s, becoming popular in conjunction with the growth of Microsoft Windows and the World Wide Web. It did not take long before a handful of regular TSN Redskins members became the nucleus of what would become a widely popular and growing online Redskins fan community.

The first Die Hard website was named "Hail to the Redskins", and was released in early 1999. The site was hosted on Geocities.com and consisted of a variety of informative Redskins facts, statistics, and links. It was not a message board, but, nevertheless, it was a stepping-stone to the creation of what would eventually become recognized as the best fan forum in the National Football League.

Die Hard enjoyed posting on TSN and spent so much of his free time there that Hail to the Redskins became neglected and seldomly updated. However, as the months passed, Die Hard slowly became fed up with the inadequate moderation on TSN - where discussions frequently degenerated into flame wars. Engaging debate was impossible without countless posts from fans of other teams who had no intention other than to provoke a fight. It was during this period Die Hard grew to know Art, a prominent poster on the TSN Redskins board.

After months of frustration on TSN, Die Hard became inspired to solve the problems on TSN by creating his own message board, tapping into the limited experience he had running Hail To The Redskins. The impetus for ExtremeSkins.com was spawned directly from Die Hard's negative message board experience on TSN.

Without much research, Die Hard purchased a license for some message board software called Powerforums Plus+ from a now-defunct IT company, paradise-web.com. It was advantageous because the software was installed on their server and completely maintained by them. Also, the new software shared the same layout and design as the TSN message boards. "If it ain't broke... don't fix it," was his thinking at the time, since his main problem with TSN was the lack of adequate moderation and the "trolls" rather than the software.

Capitol Offense

Rather than keep the name Hail To The Redskins, Die Hard's message board was released for the 1999 season under the title "Capitol Offense", as he wanted to add some originality to the name. It was the first Washington Redskins website to use a black background. The name Capitol Offense was aptly chosen in recognition of the offensive outbreak led by the newly acquired QB Brad Johnson.

Die Hard then recruited Art, a talented writer and hard-nosed debater, to help moderate and promote the new forum. The two became a team, with Art moderating in the foreground and Die Hard improving and maintaining the site in the background. The site required registration of all members, the goal of which was to keep the riff-raff out. Ironically, the registration requirement acted as a filter, keeping the site from growing as fast as it might have grown without registration. Despite their strong efforts and despite the fact that the site was the best managed Redskins message board on the internet, Capitol Offense was a hard sell.

Determined to generate increased traffic but unwilling to compromise, Die Hard launched a new "The Underdog" contest available to all registered members. Each week starting about mid-way through the 1999 season, Die Hard provided the point spread of every game. Contestants were to pick only one game in which the underdog team won the game outright. Contestants accumulated points by the size of the spread and the person with the most points at the end of the contest won. Die Hard offered a new custom-made Redskins replica jersey to the winner. The contest was a moderate success. The traffic increased significantly if mainly just to participate in the contest, while discussions maintained a level of civility higher than one could find at other sports message boards.

At the conclusion of the 1999 season, however, almost everyone returned back the old "stomping grounds" at TSN. Disappointed, Die Hard became obsessed with coming up with fresh ideas which would attract and retain new members.

Die Hard concentrated his efforts in researching the most popular NFL web sites in hopes of finding something rare and unique that he could bring to his own site. A major inspiration came from a popular New Orleans Saints fan website called Ironera.com (Ironera.com has since changed its name to Saintsreport.com). The site still remains to this day the most popular and frequented New Orleans Saints fan website on the internet.

Ironera.com utilized Infopop.com's "Ultimate Bulletin Board" (i.e. UBB) software. Impressed by the loads of new features and flexibility found on the Saints site, Die Hard concluded that UBB was the industry's best message board software, and he purchased a full license from Infopop.

Subsequently, about late March of 2000 he hired his first programmer to setup, install and customize the new software. The UBB software was installed on another webhost while Capitol Offense continued to be hosted on paradise-web.com. While Art moderated Capitol Offense, Die Hard and the programmer worked on this new, and as of yet, unnamed and unpopulated message board.

The programmer, while capable, was just high school student. An advantage was that he worked relatively cheap, but his youth presented unique problems. "You know how difficult it is working on a serious and complicated project with a temperamental teenage boy with more know-how than he should have?", said Die Hard much later.

Die Hard knew the new board would be flashy, thanks to the UBB software, so he realized it had a lot of potential. But he also knew that wouldn't be good enough. One of his goals was to find a way to stimulate conversation and he believed he had to have a "draw" to get people to come to the website and post. He needed something special. So, among other things, the customizations of this new board included the use of "avatars", which were small graphic images associated with member posts. At the time, the avatar system was completely unique and unheard of on a sports message board. Die Hard set it up so the best avatars were only available to members with the highest post counts. Die Hard's board would become the first sports message board to include avatars with rankings/levels associated with post count.

ExtremeSkins Is Born

Although the site was still relatively young, Die Hard made it a high priority to think of a new name for the site, as he felt "Capitol Offense" was too similar to another well-established and popular Redskins fansite "Capitol Punishment". The domain name "ExtremeSkins" came to him spontaneously, and he was so struck by the name that less than a day later - on May 13, 2000 - Die Hard purchased the rights to it for 2 years. Hence, ExtremeSkins was born.

As May turned to June, he knew he still needed to find the correct font for his board's title page and other places. A quest to find the classic Redskins font (i.e. pythagorus) led him to the webmaster of "World Wide Skins.com". It was there where he met Blade who coincidentally also sought that particular font. In the coming days, they realized they had a lot in common in that they were both huge Redskins fans and both technically adept. Die Hard invited Blade to see his new board.

As the pythagorus font was installed, Blade became intrigued with Die Hard's site. He soon offered to join in to help do the graphic arts for this new board and assist with establishing a much-needed new webhost, as the webhost being used at the time was inadequate. Die Hard happily accepted Blade's offer. Moving and hosting the board at a site called ADDR.com was at the strong recommendation of Blade. ADDR.com was chosen as the webhost and Die Hard purchased the most basic webhosting package at $7.95/month. Blade immediately immersed himself into building the site and became a huge part of the build - more specifically with the graphics. Although Die Hard carried all the expense, Blade invested so many hours into the site that Die Hard soon considered Blade an equal partner.

One of the more obvious contributions Blade made was the design and creation of the original "eXtremeskins.com" logo. The idea for the horizontal stripe through the "eXtreme" characters came from a SportsCenter font. The feather and, of course, the burgundy and gold were borrowed from the team. (mth note: opinions please, on including the sportscenter reference.)

eslogo.jpg

Die Hard later created an abbreviated logo by using just the "X" and the feather. It is still being used today.

Even as Art continued to moderate Capitol Offense through the spring and summer of 2000, Die Hard, Blade, and the hired programmer continued to build and customize what would become ExtremeSkins.com. Art periodically seeded the new ExtremeSkins site with threads from Capitol Offense, then beta tested the site from a moderator and member's perspective as Die Hard and Blade continued to design and build, doing coding, graphics, data entry, etc. It took roughly four and a half months of unrelenting obsession by Die Hard's team before the finished product was ready to unveil to the public. The official launch of ExtremeSkins was in early August, 2000, which is when the url "extremeskins.com" finally pointed to the site's DNS server, making it "live."

Upon its official release, the members of Capitol Offense were asked to re-register at ExtremeSkins.com and Capitol Offense, was soon closed down. Due to the attractive color schemes, graphics, avatars, and timely moderation, the site drew attention almost immediately. The staff no longer needed to advertise the forum as they had in the past as members quickly spread the word to others. As the posting environment at "The Sporting News" had begun to decline, fans quickly flocked to this new ExtremeSkins site. The site continued to grow in membership and, through timely, attentive moderation, sold itself - a precept the current staff continues to live by to this day. As the site grew, new members were inspired to follow the positive example set by established members. Being a productive contributing member became "cool."

However, as the site's popularity grew over the next six months, so did the complications and time required to keep it running smoothly. To complicate matters, it was becoming clear the current webhost was inadequate. For Die Hard, the board had become all-consuming, taking most of every free minute he had. He was already working on the site 40-60 hours a week, in addition to a full-time job and wife. And still the site's appetite for attention was insatiable. He found himself running out of adequate free time to commit to ExtremeSkins, and out of funds to further invest in it as well. Although he had initially hired a programmer to install UBB on the ADDR.com server and customize it - he personally didn't have the technical knowledge to reinstall the current board on a new server. He also didn't have the expertise or patience to hire someone else to do it - and furthermore he wasn't particularly interested in paying for it himself, as the expenses were significant and becoming more so with each passing week. So he was prepared to let it die.

Blade Takes Over

It was at this time, about February of 2001, that Blade offered to take over ExtremeSkins in its entirety.

Blade stepped up, did some research, and decided to try to install the board on the new server himself. "He's a smart dude and figured it out," said Die Hard years later. Blade also assumed the monthly expenses.

At this point, Blade took up an interest in the custom CGI coding of the UBB software which had continued to function well as long as the community was small. However, the popularity of the ExtremeSkins online community continued to grow thanks to the efforts of Art as the primary moderator of the forum and Buddha's work on providing well researched salary cap information, among other things. Various software and ISP issues arose, which caused many problems for the new owner of ExtremeSkins.

Customer service at ADDR.com was not what Blade had expected. In addition, expenses were becoming more and more significant as the demands of the site required the best and most expensive webhost/server packages offering the highest bandwidth. Trying to find a host that could handle the growing needs of the site, the board was moved to Featureprice.com.

Blade began asking the membership for contributions. Many members contributed, and a few contributed a significant amount. Members were rewarded with a contribution rating system next to their avatar.

Blade also delved into the retail business. He ordered customized T-shirts, ball caps, and jackets with the ExtremeSkins logo which were offered for sale to the membership. This created revenue which helped pay for the cost of running the site, but the time involved with taking orders, tracking orders, shipping orders, getting T-shirt sizes right, re-ordering in bulk, stocking inventory, keeping records, etc. took significantly more time than he envisioned. Blade found himself spending more time doing the mundane work of keeping up with orders than doing what he really wanted to do: improve the site. He would ultimately give it up.

The board was eventually moved to Rackshack.net before Blade realized it had grown big enough to warrant its own server. Blade then hosted the site on his own machine at home.

The extremeskins.com site was moved to its own dedicated webserver on March 6, 2002.

"Thankfully, Die Hard, try as he might, could never fully extricate himself from Extremeskins,", Blade later commented, and he was finally dragged back in to help keep the site running as it continued to grow. Since Blade had effectively saved the site, Die Hard agreed to rejoin the team in a similar capacity as before, and they respectfully continued to consider each other equal partners, although the "balance of power" had shifted in Blade's favor, as Blade continued handling all the expenses. Reunited, they both resumed working relentlessly on the site.

In May of 2002, Blade paid for renewing the rights to the site's name, listing himself as the new rightful owner.

The one-thousandth member registered on May 14, 2002.

Mods, Hacks, Bugs, and Nightmares

In some ways, Blade and Die Hard became victims of their own high ambitions and intolerance of anything less than excellence. No matter how good the site was, it was never good enough. They were both constantly dreaming up new functions which they were both convinced the site had to acquire. And this meant an unending line of professional programmers hired to write the sub-routines, or "hacks," which would be inserted into the body of the software's programming code.

"We went through a ****load of programmers," Die Hard said much later.

Die Hard and Blade would submit a carefully described project which appeared like an advertisement in certain websites which were managed to accept such proposals. Programmers would bid on them. Unfortunately, many of the so-called professional programmers couldn't deliver on their promises, or quit halfway through a given project because they unethically accepted and started working on other projects worth more money. This left the ExtremeSkins site abandoned with a modification half-written, the logic of which nobody could easily follow. New programmers were hired to finish half-written sub-routines - but because programmers tend to write software differently, it took significant time for the new programmer to read and understand how the existing code from the first programmer was written. Sometimes the new programmer had to give up and throw out the half-written sub-routine of the old programmer and just start over.

Blade in particular was discouraged with how incompetent and shady a lot of these programmers were - and he was paranoid about giving all of these relative strangers access to his server and code. He was worried about the possibility that if any of their relationships ended badly, a programmer may well have the ability to hack into their server and do catastrophic damage.

The two-thousandth member registered on November 6, 2002.

Like most partnerships, the Blade/Die Hard partnership was not always a bed of roses. Blade's family began to grow, and Blade would periodically vanish for months at a time. Since he was the only one with server access, improvements to the site became stunted. But he'd eventually return. "We'd get into arguments about proper protocol to avoid it from happening again, but it was a continuous cycle for 3 more years.", Die Hard later commented.

Die Hard, during times without server access, spent a significant amount of his time teaming up with Tarhog, marketing various items for sale to members to help finance the site.

The four-thousandth member registered on November 5, 2003.

The site's population tended to grow in spurts. Membership was bolstered when ExtremeSkins began to feature Bang Cartoons - satirical animations about the NFL, in late 2003. The cartoons already had a huge following, so fans league-wide registered with ExtremeSkins in large numbers to continue viewing them. Bang Cartoons became a weekly feature and Bang continues creating new cartoons to this day. Bang also provided a professional-quality, dramatic flash video on the site's opening page featuring the re-introduction of Coach Gibbs, the subject of which also promoted massive registration of new members.

As time went on, Blade began learning more and more about computer programming. He bought books, installed computer language compilers, and wrote simple programs at first. More sophisticated programs followed. He learned structured programming. He taught himself. He learned very quickly, and eventually reached the point where he could do much of the ExtremeSkins programming himself, which saved significant money and removed considerable risk.

The eight-thousandth member registered on February 13, 2004.

Growing Pains

Due to massive growth in membership over the previous winter, the staff realized it needed to add members, and add them fast. In April of 2004 and with much fanfare, four new staff members suddenly joined the site - some to help Art with moderating, others to fill other needs. All of the chosen staff were regular and relatively long-time posters at ExtremeSkins who shared the goal of fostering a pleasant environment for discussion - not only of sports-related topics, but humor and current events as well. They were carefully chosen because the staff felt they exemplified the characteristics, attitude and values consistent with the standards originally set for the site.

Henry and Tarhog joined the staff as a moderator. Bubba was added as manager of the news section. Park City Skins took on the title of "Supreme Extreme Contests Guru." In addition, Om, who had held the position of moderator, moved up to Administrator, accepting access to extra permissions within the secure ExtremeSkins Admin area of the site. He was also designated as the "Public Face of ExtremeSkins." He would write editorials and provide premium content (Q&A's w/ special guests, interviews, original content, etc.). At this point, the moderating staff was comprised of Art, Buddha, Tarhog and Henry, although Blade, Die Hard, and Om all had moderator permissions, which they used as needed. Buddha would leave the site weeks later, and Henry was then crowned "Head Mod", although Art, much to the staff's exasperation seemed to take on the roll of the "Lawless Cowboy Mod", who roamed the forums and threads answering to no one.

By the summer of 2004, Die Hard and Blade had modded their UBB software so much that Blade found it difficult to design and install new sophisticated features. The problem was not for lack of trying. A lot of the modifications (or "hacks") were bug-ridden because the code for them had been written by programmers who weren't familiar enough with the UBB software to begin with, which made the programs run inefficiently. Furthermore, Blade and Die Hard learned some of the written functions they wanted to implement could not co-exist with other new functions or the whole board would become completely unstable and unusable. So adding cool new functions, which was their forte, was becoming more and more difficult and quickly approaching impossible.

Regardless of the fact that ExtremeSkins was already the best and biggest Redskins message board on the internet, Die Hard was not satisfied - and he was not about to accept the idea of his site becoming stale. Determined to quench his thirst for new functions, he did some research and learned that many large message boards were using a relatively new message board software called vBulletin, which was actually specifically written to solve many of the limitations of UBB. Die Hard did a little more investigating and was thrilled to learn vBulletin had a lot of functions built-in by default which were already being used as hacks on the ExtremeSkins UBB site. "And there was the potential for a whole new collection of hacks that could be added that were awesome," said DieHard, smiling. Blade agreed. Needless to say, the move to vBulletin was an easy decision.

The fifteen-thousandth member registered on July 26, 2004.

Another major ExtremeSkins project was the Game/Player database, an idea which gained considerable strength with the installment of the new, versatile vBulletin. Blade, Die Hard, and Tarhog dreamed this up between themselves, and the three of them moved forward. They aspired to develop a database which held details from all the Redskins games going back as far as possible, so that intimate statistics of any game could be brought up instantly with an easy search. They also wanted their database to hold the name and complete biography of every player who had ever worn a Redskins uniform going back to 1932.

They began by acquiring old game programs from everywhere they could think of. They then manually entered statistical data from each game and detailed biographies of each and every player. One by one, the bio of each player was painstakingly poked in with a keyboard. The search routine, which would access the database, was written from scratch by Blade. It took months of tedious labor by all three of them before the task was written, tested, de-bugged, tested again, and finally implemented into the site.

When finished, the database and search function as a whole was truly one-of-a-kind. There was no other Redskins database anywhere in the world that had this database's thoroughness and versatility. For example, if an ExtremeSkins member wanted to know all the players who wore #43 between 1932 and 2004, all that would need to be done was to select "43" from the drop-down menu and press the search key. The database would then produce a list of players names who had ever worn #43. A simple click on a given name, of course, would bring to the screen all details of that specific player, including full name, seasons played, position, height, weight, birth date, birth place, high school, and college. The amount of data available and the ease of access coupled with the versatility was unprecedented.

In January, 2005, TK was added to the staff as a moderator.

Unbeknownst to the public, the Washington Redskins began to think about adding a message board to their official team site, Redskins.com. Realizing this would be a complicated task, the team considered acquiring an established forum rather than start from scratch. After looking at all of the serious Redskins sites on the web, they found that ExtremeSkins was the busiest, best managed, highest quality site available. The team liked the way ExtremeSkins was run, the quality of discussion, and the friendly, hands-on approach of the staff.

The Washington Redskins Come Calling

In February, 2005, talks began between a representative of the team and the staff and owners at ExtremeSkins. The Redskins assured the owners of ExtremeSkins that no significant changes would be made to the site as a result of the union. This meant no changes in site management and no censorship. Information provided by members would not be deleted or otherwise hidden from the membership at any time for any reason. Furthermore, the staff would remain in place, and operations would continue as it had in the past. In addition, there would be advantages such as having the option to send a staff member to the press box for coverage during games, have a staff member photograph from the sidelines, interview players in the locker room after the game, and staff would be included in press releases sent directly from the team for timely communication to the membership. Unfortunately, some of the site amenities would be lost, such as Bang's Cartoons (Bang would move them to his own server) and, unfortunately and quite tragically, the ExtremeSkins Game/Player database.

The thirty-thousandth member registered on March 17, 2005.

Because of an understanding the ExtremeSkins owners had with the ExtremeSkins staff, the Redskins' proposal was carefully considered and then voted on by all seven of the ES moderating staff members (pictured below, left to right: Henry, TK, Die Hard (f), Om (B), Tarhog, Art, Blade). The team's proposal was accepted by a vote of 6-1, with Die Hard casting the lone opposing vote.

In August, the merger was official. ExtremeSkins.com became the first pre-existing fan site ever acquired by an NFL team.

redskinsesstaff4s.jpg

redskins.jpg

Note: this site is just weeks away from registering its ninety-thousandth member.

Contributors to this story: Die Hard, Henry, TK, Pete

Edited by Mark The Homer
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Is it good that hip hop is more on dancing now then murder for the sake of kids?

you must mean rap

Hip Hop is alive and well.

Hip Hop is the influential music that has a meaningful cause. Unlike rap which is all about money, cars, clothes and hoes.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Jumbo changed the title to Random Thought Thread
  • Jumbo locked this topic
  • Jumbo unlocked this topic
Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.
 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...