The Admin Gets Interviewed... ~ Ask The Admin

Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Admin Gets Interviewed...

TechWag reviewed AtA in its infancy and has come back around for a second look. Check out their first review here and the new interview is posted here.

Ask the Admin is a blogging site that has had phenomenal success since it started in June of 2007. From humble beginnings, to today’s 20K per traffic, Ask the Admin is a site that is worth taking a look at. Not just from the success factor, but from the whole “hit a target market and provide real value” view point that all bloggers should be aiming for.

Techwag was fortunate enough to have an e-mail interview with the Ask the Admin crew, and it is worth noting what they did, how they did it, and where they plan on going for 2008.

Techwag: What did you do in October to get the large spike of traffic that was recorded by both alexa and compete?

Ask the Admin: First thank you for taking the time to review AskTheAdmin (AtA) in its infancy and for coming back around to check up on us after our first real makeover.

But back to your question October was a big month for us as our readership doubled and then tripled. We added social networking buttons. Then a few posts hit the front page of Digg and Stumbleupon. Traffic started flooding in and we learned what the term Hit Lust was. On my birthday we saw 50,000 hits – that was some gift! I am not to sure about compete but Alexa does not always pick up our traffic spikes due to the low percentage of people actually using their toolbar. I have yet to find a good public traffic analysis tool. Shouldn’t Google be making one besides their outdated PR system?

Techwag: Did you do anything special to get more traffic? Or did you rely on word of mouth?

Ask the Admin: We have been promoting strictly by word of mouth. And due to a few over zealous users we were banned from submitting articles to Digg. We felt the traffic hit for a while as our traffic dropped back down to the thousands. But, we had a flurry of attention from the media which helped us get back on to our feet – so to speak.

We also met some great members of the press and blogo-sphere at various press events like Digital Life Press Preview and CES Unveiled. These people (you know who you are) have been a big help in getting us in with some of the bigger named companies.

Techwag: How do you try to reach out to your audience? How hard is it to keep up on the requests for information that you get in?

Ask the Admin: We are constantly trying to interact and get our readers to participate. I have recently added a little widget that allows for a user to “IM” me - it hits my cell phone. Some people call this level of dedication to a free service insane but I enjoy helping people.

When we first started, we were receiving one or two questions a day and now on a bad day we get about 30. I answer everyone personally! If I don’t know the answer I search the web for it and if I still come up empty handed I send the question on to my hand picked network of international Admins (sounds pretty cool huh? Maybe I should get a trademark on that?)

Techwag: Where do you see the site going in the next six months after a phenomenal 2007?

Ask the Admin: We have some BIG plans for 2008 including AtA video segments with man on the street questions and answers. More admin tools on AtA - like subnet calculators and lookup tools. We want AtA to be your first stop on your way to troubleshooting your technology issues (well maybe right after Google). More guest bloggers, more of the same geeky content our readers have come to enjoy.

Techwag: What kinds of questions do you get the most of?

Ask the Admin: Routers questions come in at number one. Normally questions regarding ports and firewalls. Then there are people looking to spy on loved ones and others paranoid that their significant other is spying on them. We get a lot of hard drive failures and data loss. Some of the questions though are way to funny to be real though!

Techwag: What would you say are the biggest issues with system administration today?

Ask the Admin: A lack of documentation. You build something to forget about it until there is a problem. We admins look for the five 9’s of uptime. So often, after a machine is up for years without intervention doing its job, passing from admins responsibility to another -No one knows how or what it really does and how to administer it. Boy that was a mouth full. When I arrive on scene for a disaster recovery I ask two questions. My second question after do you have a backup is can I see your documentation.

Techwag: Have you had a chance to read Nicholas Carr’s idea of the end of corporate IT, and what are your thoughts on this subject?

Ask the Admin: The transitions that Mr. Carr spoke about will rattle the backbone of IT companies. Companies will rethink what they need to own and what they need to outsource. Carr’s comparison of the IT sector to the early days of electricity was wonderful and spot on. A lot of IT guys spend a lot of down time so by outsourcing this work and only paying for the work you need done would be a great savings. But to play the devils advocate for a minute as soon as you start outsourcing your costs will go up. So unless you have an over inflated it department to begin with this will not be affecting you for several years while the prices and market values fluctuate.

Techwag: Do you see corporate IT contracting or expanding, and how would you help fill in the gaps with a corporate IT contraction?

Ask the Admin: I don’t know if I could say contracting or expanding. I think a better word would have to be evolving.

The beast that is corporate IT is so much different than 5 years ago. As main frames are moved out of data centers and small clusters of powerful computers replace them we realize this industry more than any other is constantly changing. There are so many niche markets for techies that if you stay on your game you will always have well compensated work. In the past anyone with a little bit of mis experience was able to become a sysadmin. Times are changing and the amateurs are moving on.

People are outsourcing their IT departments but that just creates more jobs for consultants. Some places go off shore but they would have been nickel and dimeing their developers here anyway. Everything tends to even it self out.

Don’t worry we will all still have jobs in ten years!

We would like to thank Ask the Admin for their interview and remember if you want an interview with techwag, please follow these simple guidelines.