A little about Motoring Alliance (Updated 11/07/2018)

Discussion in 'Starting Line - New Member Introductions' started by Nathan, May 4, 2009.

  1. Nathan

    Nathan Founder

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    #1 Nathan, May 4, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 7, 2018
    (Updated 11/07/2018)
    Hello all,

    It’s been some time since the Motoring Alliance history has been updated. In the past few weeks, I realized a lot has changed in the last 1.5 years without much update to the history. Therefore, I wanted to use this time to discuss those changes. To start, for those I have not met either via the forum, MOTD or other events, I’m Josh the current owner of the Motoring Alliance… WHOA, wait? Josh??? What about Sully??? Ok, here is what happened.

    Nathan sold the site to Sully in 2016. Here is a link to that post: https://www.motoringalliance.com/threads/motoring-alliance-ownership-change.26849/

    Sully is a car guy, good dude and friends with Nathan. He started working on MA including creating the mobile site and he started implementing a new classifieds system. At some point he became time constrained and he called me to look at it (we are friends), I’m also a car guy, love hot hatches and in the technology industry. However in retrospect, he called the wrong guy. While I’m in the technology industry and on many other forums as a member, at that time I had no experience running or working on a forum. Needless to say, I started looking at the site and discussing some of the different things that could be done. Ultimately, I took ownership of the forum in 2017.

    At that point, I jumped into the technology and began trying to learn the old vBulletin (vb) 3.8 platform and the many customizations that had been done. After much research and discussion with many members, a decision to move to our current platform Xenforo was made. Initially, I did not plan on doing any customization as that was one of the reasons the old platform wasn’t upgraded. That didn’t last long as there are some aspects of the platform which could be more user friendly and you the members have asked for some functionality which is not native. With that, when I do customization I’m building them in a way that should not prevent us from updating and keeping current. The downside is it takes longer while I learn how to do it at night or on weekends. While that is all fine and good, in the past few weeks I’ve come to realize I did not do a good job of communicating all of the changes including formally introducing myself, so here it goes.

    So who is Josh?
    Essentially, I’m a car guy, technologist and family dude. I have a real job and I’m doing this because I really enjoy forums. They have helped me work on my various car projects over the years and I’ve made long lasting friends through forums.

    Note - when I started working on the site I did so under Sully for multiple reasons... I never stopped once it moved over to me in 2017.. again for multiple reasons. This further added to the confusion regarding who is who in the zoo. At this point, it’s too far gone and most of the post under this ID are from me anyway. :D

    Are you a MINI guy?
    Actually yes. When I was around 18 or 19 I went to Europe for the first time on a business trip with my father. While there I saw a ton of Mini’s. When I got back to the states, I started looking at buying a Mini. With my limited budget, I couldn’t find any that were not rust buckets (that I could afford). I was also in college (Go Jackets), racing motorcycles and working on starting a family. Ultimately I never pulled the trigger on a Mini. However, I was into hot hatch’s and purchased a Tornado red VW Corrado VR6. I loved that car. I built it and auto crossed it (with my wife). At one point I got a wild hair and sold it to purchase a Bronco. Since I’m a southern boy, I lifted it (suspension not body spacers) and went off road. That lasted about 13 months before I missed my Corrado. So sold the Bronco and purchased an Ultra Violet Purple VR6 again. Back to tuning, auto cross and track days. In the end, I sold the Corrado to buy a family car, 88M5 which I still have today. I’ve taken that car apart, restored it and the engine has been in and out of it a number of times. Currently its out… which is a long story. :( Right when I started working on the site, I started looking at buying a Mini. In this case, a BMW MINI. My plan was to buy a car and build it. I drove a very nice R53 all original with 70K miles. Loved it but waited too long to seal the deal. In the end I purchased Mario’s old test mule, a 2013 GP2. I did this for two reasons.
    1. It's a cool car and was already a built platform. Maybe not exactly how I would do it, but it has a lot of the core components.
    2. I felt the site still needed a lot of work. If I bought a ground up project car, that would take time away from me working on the site on nights and on the weekends.
    Once the core components of the migration are complete, specifically Market/Classifieds/Clubs I will be back to working on the GP2 & 88M5. I have a box of parts I’ve already purchased that are collecting dust... much to my dismay. [​IMG]

    That’s the ownership history in a long winded nutshell. So enough about me, let’s talk about Motoring Alliance. I’ve been asked a number of questions by different members. I thought it best to post them here along with the answers:

    Do you work for a company that owns Motoring Alliance?
    Nope, it’s just me and the moderators who manage the site (Thank you!!)

    Is your goal make a bunch of money on Motoring Alliance?
    Nope, that’s an opportunity that I believed passed a long time ago with forums. While I’m sure there are still examples for forums which grow, generate a lot of income and ultimately are sold to some broader company I don’t see that as the path for Motoring Alliance.

    Are you making money on Motoring Alliance?
    Nope, actually its costing me money. The changes I’ve made technology wise including upgraded and faster servers, the new platform and some of the modifications I’m making have a higher monthly expense than the advertising, supporting members and sponsors contribute. Some of that is by choice. For example, I’ve tried to keep the syndicated advertising very small and out of the way. Ultimately, the forums I’ve liked the most were ones that were primarily supported by their members. This keeps obnoxious advertising off the page and reduces any sort of vendor/tuner/sponsor conflict. Is that the best way to make money? Nope and that isn’t the goal. Do I think that is the best way to allow for an open community where we can discuss anything, not just specific tuners, vendors, sites etc. Yes. That said, it would be great if it could break even. Hopefully as the site continues to grow more members will become supporting members. That said, I’m still thinking through the best way to provide specific value to support members and our sponsors. Any suggestions are welcome!

    Are you going to change Motoring Alliance?
    That is a tough one. I see that question from two angles, technology and culture.

    Technology wise, yes.
    I feel the new platform offers a number of modern things we can do. For example, it’s easier to upload pictures and I will be adding the ability to upload video’s very soon. There is also a new version that was released last year that has some additional functionality built right in. I’m waiting for it to become stable before upgrading. As we move closer to that I will update you.

    Culture – No… well kind of.
    I did not start by thinking anything needed to change in the culture and I still don’t. That said, I did find the overall MINI community was pretty hard on each new generation (MA included). To me that is a little different than what I was used to. Traditionally I would see those types of critiques when the new models came out which is normal. However, what is different is I would see the critiques posted against the article or model and not the individual member. For me, I would like to see that left to other forums or social media. Ultimately, everyone has different taste. Some like to tune their cars for performance, others build their car more for style. I like both and respect anyone who takes the time to build their car in some unique way… especially when they post about it and bring everyone into the fold. To me, that is when it gets fun and interesting.

    Ultimately, my view is a forum is only as good as its community. My goal is to build the best platform available to discuss ideas, post pictures and share stories. Please continue to share your ideas and suggestions. I realize it takes time for me to get things done, but they are on the list.

    I want to thank everyone for their patience as we continue to work through the platform change. I specifically want to thank @Steve @MCS02 @Goldsmithy @vetsvette .. for their help on the site. It’s by no means a one man team. Without them, we would not be where we are. If you ever want to jump in and help, please let us know!

    It’s a longer journey then expected, but in the end I think it will be a good one.

    Godspeed –

    Josh

    _________________
    Original History of Motoring Alliance (below):

    Welcome to Motoring Alliance, a community for MINI owners and enthusiasts from all over the world. Many of you are probably wondering why with all the sites currently available I wanted to create a new one. As a passionate MINI owner, I am a member of many of these sites and for some time, I was an admin on another site that was bought out by a big Internet Media company. I resigned from the admin position and created a new site as I didn’t like the direction the site was headed with the new owners. I tried to effect change from the inside but when that did not work I figured the best thing was to do something about it, hence MotoringAlliance.com.

    What does Motoring Alliance offer that the other sites do not?

    Motoring Alliance is new and at first glance looks like any forum based on the vBulletin product. A peek under the bonnet reveals a bit more. My day job is creating, documenting and testing vBulletin add-on products. I’ve taken the knowledge learned there along with some of things others I’ve spoken to want to see and tried to put them all in one place. You will find a MINI Library with product reviews, how-to articles and white papers on experimental ideas. This will grow over time. Motoring Alliance welcomes your contributions to growing and expanding the MINI Library.

    Motoring Alliance is also building a wheel database called WheelFinder. This fully searchable database is the creation of our members. Everyone can contribute by listing his or her aftermarket or OEM wheels. The beauty of the database is the search function. Sure, it will take some time to build, but in time you will be able to break down a search to something like…Show me all the 1st gen Convertible S’s in Chili Red with black wheels that have a polished lip and offset range of +40 - +45. With your help, we can quickly build the Motoring Alliance WheelFinder to be an invaluable source.

    Motoring Alliance is also building out a fully functional searchable and indexed Help system. Other sites have basic Help functions but few have taken the time to created full documentation on how to post images inline, how to change signatures and all the little functions available if you only know about them.

    Who owns Motoring Alliance?

    I do. I am the sole proprietor of Motoring Alliance. I’m a car guy and a MINI enthusiast. My inbox is always open to hear what you think, positive or negative I want to hear it all. [email protected] For years on many forums I’ve used the name gnatster, for Motoring Alliance I will use Nathan as my screen name.

    Motoring Alliance is run with the help of other admins and moderators. The staff are all volunteers.

    Does it cost anything to be a member of Motoring Alliance?

    No, membership is free. Motoring Alliance does sell advertising space on the site but it will never be intrusive. Motoring Alliance from time to time may offer goods such as Tee Shirts, Badges and Stickers. You will never be required to purchase any of these for all levels of site access while on my watch. There is a Premium Membership option that goes to support the financial needs of the site.

    How does Motoring Alliance support the community?

    Motoring Alliance believes in giving back as well and donates at least 10% of all pre-tax profits to charitable organizations on a yearly basis. Contact me please if your club holds an event where the proceeds go to a charitable group.

    What if I have other questions?

    Contact me at [email protected] I will endeavor to answer all correspondence.

    With your help and support Motoring Alliance can grow into a site that is helpful to all.

    Thanks to…

    I’d like to thank those that have helped early on with the site by providing direction, advice, guidance and had the guts to be Founding Sponsors to help me get this site up and running.

    Art Direction – Tüls

    Logo, avatars and other graphics – [email protected]

    Library Setup – Ryephile - Steve

    vBulletin Products and integration assistance – Drive Thru Online

    Functionality Testing – To many to list but everyone deserves a big round of applause and a hearty Thanks for finding the show stopping issues ya’ll found.

    Founding Sponsors – Please support them!!

    CravenSpeed

    Detroit Tuned

    MINICorsa

    Mr Dimple

    ShowCar Detailing

    Stance Design

    Texas Speedwerks

    Way Motor Works

    Whalen Shift Machine

    Thanks,
    Nathan Freedenberg
     
  2. MINI Fireman

    MINI Fireman New Member

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    Congrats on the new site Nathan.
     
  3. Fastlane

    Fastlane Member

    May 4, 2009
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    Looks like you are off to a great start! Your ideas for the Library and Wheel database will make for a very organized resource.

    Site looks great!

    BTW, great idea having the little cards placed in the MOTD bags...worked for me...here I am. :)
     
  4. Mike

    Mike New Member

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    So glad to see the site finally take flight!
     
  5. PlickBadger

    PlickBadger New Member

    May 4, 2009
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    Great looking site Nathan! Congrats on getting up and running.
     
  6. Minimoe

    Minimoe New Member

    May 4, 2009
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    boring
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    I can't wait to look around more. Nathan this is great.
     
  7. dickdavid

    dickdavid Badge Whore

    May 4, 2009
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    Great Site Nathan

    I look forward to watching this community grow.
     
  8. Eric@Helix

    [email protected] New Member
    Motoring Alliance Founding Sponsor

    May 4, 2009
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    Shepherd
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    Congrats Nathan!
     
  9. FUEGO

    FUEGO Club Coordinator

    May 4, 2009
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    Congrats Nathan! We're looking forward to all that is new and different here :D
     
  10. kok13

    kok13 New Member

    May 4, 2009
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    Another congrats Nathan. I'm looking forward to what this site may bring... good luck and thanks for all your hard work!
     
  11. DixonL2

    DixonL2 New Member

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    Supply Chain Implementation Guy
    A bit north of the 'burgh, PA
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    Congratulations Nathan! Looking good so far...
    Great to see you at MOTD as well.
    LD
     
  12. Tüls

    Tüls New Member

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    Haha congrats Nate! Glad this thing is off and running!
     
  13. Edge

    Edge New Member

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    Very happy to see you made it home on time to bring it online, Nate! :p

    Looking forward to us all finding a fresh, new beginning here... community-oriented once again. :)
     
  14. Screamer

    Screamer New Member

    May 4, 2009
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    Looks GREAT!!!!
     
  15. bigBart

    bigBart New Member

    May 4, 2009
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    Congrats on the new site !!!! I like the new layout.
     
  16. namvet66

    namvet66 New Member

    May 4, 2009
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    Great Site

    CONGRATS Nathan.
     
  17. JustJAY

    JustJAY New Member

    May 4, 2009
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    To find a new job
    In a Recession
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    Congrats Nathan and nice job to everyone who put it together. Also props to the vendors who stepped up!!
     
  18. trip024

    trip024 New Member

    May 4, 2009
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    Congrats man! Nice looking site.
     
  19. CarlB

    CarlB Active Member

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    I enjoyed meeting you at the Dragon. You had to fly back to Texas to get everything done. I am sure you will have a big winner with this. Great start
    CarlB
     
  20. PGT

    PGT Wheel Whore

    May 4, 2009
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    Federal Gov Contracting
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    Props to Nathan for running with this and making the leap and putting the time in to get M/A up. An alternate site has been the topic of much discussion between him and I (and some others) for nearly a year. I lost interest.....Nathan's interest grew and we all know he's the better man for the job in any case. :D

    Congrats!
     

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