„Taking the community back.“ It was the headline of the Cleon’s article at the start of the February this year just one day after he announced he was stopping writing Football Manager content. That does not change. But as you may know there is a new website called „Tifo.site“ which is focused on FM Community and the site is now open to whole world.
I decided to make an interview with Cleon and with Dave who is also creator of the new site.
What was the main reason to create this site? What is the background of this site?
Cleon: The site was created out of pure frustration not only on my part, but from the community in general. You only have to look at other peoples channels, sites, blogs or even Twitter and Facebook and you will see there is a lot of disgruntled fans who feel SI are/have failed them on the social side of things, especially those part of the SIAS scheme.
So I personally decided to step back from the community and concentrate on other stuff again. But then I started talking to Dave (Caleyjag who some may or may not know) and we discussed a lot of things and we decided we’d create the tifo project to try and help with some of the issues that people were having or thought was wrong with the community. One of the biggest concerns people had was a lack of dialogue with SI and promotion of content. Now we can’t help with the dialogue part but we’ve tried to help with the promotion of content, which is basically what tifo is all about.
Dave: Exactly that. I’ve also witnessed a lot of people being frustrated that their is no “community” anymore, but some of these same people took down the only area of their sites where people could advertise their content. You can’t have a community unless everyone takes part. Tifo gives everyone that opportunity to become part of a community again.
What are the biggest advantages of this new site?
Cleon: You can subscribe to the content you enjoy and ignore the content you don’t like or have no interests in. Or if you’re new to the game and don’t know what it is you want, then you might find it useful looking at the groups and seeing what they offer.
Not only this but it’s accessible as FM content is all in one place so it’s easy to find. You don’t have to shift through someone’s timeline to find the content the person has posted like on Facebook or Twitter. In groups which are central to how Tifo functions, all this is easy visible with no none FM posts between to sort through. So in that aspect alone, it’s far easy to see/find and discover all types of FM content and it’s all in one place.
I’d say that’s one of the biggest advantages but we do have more too, which people will see when they’ve used the site for a few minutes :)
Dave: The Android app also keeps you bang up to date with everything you follow. You might spend your lunch at work opening up 20 tabs of your favourite FM sites or Youtubers to see if they’ve done anything today. But with the app, you already know that information. You don’t miss anything.
What was the most difficult for you during the process of ‘site born’? How long it took?
Cleon: I don’t think it was difficult at all, Dave might say different because he’s the one coding and doing the hard graft. But even then, I think the idea has been simple to do because this site has been developed over the past 18 months. The intention of the site wasn’t for FM but we’ve translated it to be for FM. The site was designed for politics and it is a political site under the hood. We’ve taken the site and adapted it to suit FM based on what we think people wanted by viewing comments and speaking to people in general from the community.
So while it seems the site was born pretty quickly, it was actually a lot longer than the 3 weeks since we announced the idea and actually opening. It’s been a 18 month process albeit for something else.
Dave: Yeah, there was a lot of work done for another project I was working on at the time, based around Scottish politics. I like to try my hand at creating different types of websites, and thought it’d be fun to try something similar to Twitter.
When discussing with Cleon about the problem with the community, it was obvious that the work I had done could be used for FM. The modifications to add features purely for FM only took a couple of days, then tweaks and bug fixes for a couple of weeks after that.
What are your expectations of the site?
Cleon: I’m not sure we have any expectations as such, we just hope people use it and it provides some good. We aren’t daft enough to think this is some kind of fix for the issues the community feel exist, but we do hope it can be part of a bigger solution and have a place in the community.
Dave: For me, I just hope that people find it useful and that it serves the purpose of making it easy for people to find new content, or keep up to date with people & groups they enjoy.
One of they key things is keeping user accounts and group accounts separate. It’s nice to know the people behind the sites and is easier to form friendships this way (it also allows users to talk about anything they want, and not be stuck behind an FM account and only post about FM stuff every day!).
A community can’t properly form without people getting to know each other a little. When friendships form, we’ll hopefully see more collaborations and people helping out one another.
What are the first reactions from community?
Cleon: They’ve been really positive for most parts. We’ve had a few negatives but that’s been from people who didn’t understand the concept or made it very clear from the start they were not interested in using or being part of the concept.
Which is fine everyone is entitled to their opinion. The concept was probably difficult to grasp at first until people got on the site and started using it. Majority of those who were negative before hand have now said they understand the idea better and like what it has to offer.
Dave: We also had people being resistant to the idea of (optional) subscriptions. It costs a lot of money to run Tifo – certainly more than some people thought it would – but other than that everyone has been very happy with all the hard work and dedication Cleon has put into the site ;-)
What are your goals of the site?
Cleon: Goals and expectations aren’t something we’ve been bothered about but we didn’t want to sit back and say things like ‘oh the community needs this or that’ and then do nothing about it. So we just decided to give it a go and see what happens. If it fails so be it, at least we tried something rather than sitting back and criticing without ever wanting to help find solutions.
We would like to succeed though, but whether it will or won’t is down to the community and if they use the site as it’s intended for.
Dave: I’d just like to see a return of sites/content creators being a bit more friendly with each other! I don’t understand the hostility a lot of people show towards each other.
We’re all on the same team here, we’re all doing things for a game we enjoy. I’d like to see an improved community come out of this. If it doesn’t happen, then – as Cleon says – at least we gave it a shot.
Did you gave a target to yourself how many users will use the site for in concrete time? (one month,half a year, one year?)
Cleon: We don’t get hung up on things like this, this isn’t how myself and Dave think. Over the years we’ve run some of the biggest FM sites there has ever been. So we know what it’s like and what it takes to run big sites.
We’ve also run some very niche FM sites too like the challenges we did or the MYFMCV site. We also did the very first FM podcast years ago too. So we are experienced and know it’s hard work to grow and we understand the work needed to make it a success.
We’ve been far busier than expected already though considering we’ve been open less than 48 hours.
Dave: It’s always quality over quantity. We look over the stats of course, because it gives an indication of whether or not we’re doing things right.
But there is no point having thousands of members if none of them talk to each other.
Can you reveal some of your plans what community can expect in the future?
Cleon: It depends really as we are adding stuff daily based on the feedback we’ve been given. We are currently raising funds for web developer tools though so we can make an iOS app. We’ve also got other ideas but the stuff we’ve been working on lately all came from feedback from users of the site. I guess we will keep listening and just take it from here, if it’s a good idea or useful then we are always listening and looking to improve.
Dave: Short term it’s mainly about bug fixing and improving on what we have, based on feedback from those that use it. It helps that the entire site is coded from scratch, as it allows us to alter things very quickly depending on what people want.
Beyond that, there aren’t any real grand plans apart from getting mobile apps out for iOS and Windows devices.
How can someone from the community help you?
Cleon: By using the site and spreading the word that we exists so people can be aware of us :)
Dave: And continue to send feedback. The site is for the community after all!