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John Bridge Ceramic Tile Advice Forums – John Bridge Ceramic Tile
THe Very First Tile Advice Forum Online
The very first Tiling Forum online was the John Bridge Tile Advice Boards in Canada. John Bridge is a time-served wall and floor tiler (they call them a “Tile Setter” rather than “Tiler” – fair play I guess). This was the first tile forum ever to be launched. The legend of a tile advice board.
It has 11,000 discussion threads, but a very impressive 1.5 million posts.
81,000 members which is pretty impressive too, though only a mere 800 or so ‘active’ members. So on vBulletin forum software that’s those who have logged in within the past 30 days. Still quite impressive compared to these newer UK Tiling Forum type affairs popping up all over the place.
Also it’s worth noting that the JB Tile Forum doesn’t erase your account if you don’t use it even after a very very long time. I’ve logged into one 10 years after not using it, and I got straight in to the account.
John Bridge has written four books over the years. I have a signed copy of “Tile Your World” somewhere. He’s a very good time-served tile setter who has helped many people on his website and forum, as well as via selling his book, so people read it and get tiling right.
Buy his books here: TileYourWorld.com
TileForums.com The Tile Forum Owned by Dan While Working at Professional Independent Training Techniques (PITT)
The Second Tiling and Tile Advice Forum Online, this time a UK Tiling Forum
The second tile forum online was TileForums.com. I personally owned this one. I started it in my spare time whilst working for Professional Independent Training Techniques (PITT) That company we setup to run Tiling Courses for the UK. We sold tiling tools at the training centre and eventually online too.
BAL Tiling Trowel
Even started to sell Benson Industries tiling trowels which were first sold under the BAL brand but then under the PITT brand. I think a guy named Paul or Phil, or something, setup PITT with ended up needing to stop supplying them at some point because of it.
It’s sad, but the Benson Industries company who manufactured the tiling trowels dissolved in 2016. So as the BAL Tiling Trowels still appear to be exactly the same with the handle being held to the steel using two prongs and not just one
The advantage here is to make sure that when weight is applied to the handle during spreading of tile adhesive, the trowel doesn’t bend – like it would if it was only attached at one end as most are – which are the design of plasterers trowels not good tiling trowels.
TileForums.com Handed Over to PITT – Who ran it into the ground
TileForums.com was handed over to Paul or Phil or somebody, of PITT, and formerly of BAL where he got sacked/asked to leave, for having an affair with somebody.
And formerly of Topps Tiles, where he got sacked for spending millions of pounds on protective Boots for staff, and for running out of money for the Health and Safety department. And also for failing the Health and Safety tests that he required to keep the job.
So TileForums.com was then part of PITT, which was ran into the ground by said Paul or Phil or Peter or whoever, who didn’t have a clue how to run online businesses so got left in the lurch once I left.
The Next UK Tiling Forum Online Was TilersForums.co.uk – Now The World’s Second Largest Wall and Floor Tiling Forum, after the John Bridge Ceramic Tile Forum / Advice Boards
TilersForums.co.uk was the next forum online. This time I had a chance to create a forum that was not connected to any training centre, not connected to any brand, and people could speak freely about anything they wanted to.
Some problems with this:-
- Companies selling tiling tools would provide them for free to members who would then leave reviews on them – problem is they wanted more free ones so the reviews were always awesome ones. But fake. Not real world reviews from somebody who has paid for the tool.
- Companies selling adhesives would sign up and pretend to be a tiler, leave replies to threads recommended the brand they worked for, and rendering all of their posts biased.
- Moderators would eventually assume that rather than doing the volunteering to give back to the website and community which was the reason they always wanted the role, they then had some sort of ‘power’ that nobody had given them, and expected special treatment from everybody at all levels.
- Cliques would appear. Tags would be wanted by “mates” so “mates” would vote on who got the new tags. If a very good tiler had fallen out with one of the regular forum members, they would never get the tag or be part of the clique.
- The forum grew so popular and big that it required special hosting on dedicated servers using speciality services such as those offered by huge protection companies that banks use, such as CloudFlare.com, to root out bad traffic – this is where costs start to mount up.
Revenue becomes required when a forum is so big, there are a few options here
- Sell tiling courses (like TileForums.com)
- Sell tiling tools (like Dave Carr’s TilingForum.co.uk)
- Or just get kickbacks from suppliers and other people you advertise on there, and pay for the hosting yourself (very short lived this approach is)
Or worse, because you’ve been removed from an established forum for some reason, relating to breaking rules that have been forged over a decade or more, democratically so to be fair to all normal users. Only to then think ‘hmmmm I will go and make one myself’ and get your wife involved in making it, as she knows how to knock up a free wordpress site and forum.
And then gather all the other people who have been banned from fair-discussion forums, so now there’s a place all nutters reside together. And this is developed by an established ‘web designer’ who is working for a living and now perhaps becomes an online target themselves, like we did back in the day.
They end up bringing their own customer websites into their weird little war of weirdo tilers who have egos bigger than large format tiles, who don’t even know such an industry exists. Because they sell sausages during lockdown. Or run an accountancy firm for customers local to them.
Any of the above sites render your tilers forum advice biased towards the stuff you sell or advertise. You can’t promote discussion about a competitor of yours or of the companies you’re getting kickbacks or free tools from. So all your advice will be unconsciously biased if not outright obviously biased.
Once the costs become higher than the £50 a month type hosting that comes with a domain, 1 SQL database, some GB of traffic that’s way too small for a busy forum, and some MB of disk space, that will be on a spinny cheap disc rather than a solid state drive. All of this is yet to be learnt by our current “competitor” (wouldn’t even call them competition to be fair – they compete in no division we’re in).
So when hosting becomes expensive. Should their forum ever become more than a knee-jerk reaction from a few people who got their accounts erased from our forum, which I doubt it will do, but let’s say it does, they’ll need money. Cash-money. Actual-money. Not just a free tile cutter in return for a false-positive review about it. Which they then perhaps sell on eBay to get some cash in.
TilersForums.co.uk started out right from the off with a sponsorship scheme. This gives us some benefits over and above all other forum business models that are possible.
- We are tied to nobody. Nobody owns us. We can switch around sponsors and not need to ‘be in bed with’ any one at any time.
- Our advice isn’t based on companies who have given us free tools for a Job Of The Month Competition so we need to plug them left right and centre (biased advice alert!)
- We have long-standing sponsors who appreciate the fact we can push them and their products via obvious upfront advertising. And leave the members to push their own prefered brands. And we can tell the difference between them. Members are marked as members. Sponsors are marked as sponsors.
- Cheating suppliers who pretend to be tilers on the forums get spotted easily and banned. Cheating members who are getting free tools and products from a company to promote on the forum get clocked easily and quickly and also get banned.
- We don’t sell tools.
- We don’t sell courses.
- We don’t sell anything that might sway conversation one way or another on any product or service.
This model as not only worked perfectly for 16 years on TilersForums.co.uk the Tile Advice Forum, but also on ElectriciansForums.co.uk, the Electrical Advice Forum and UKPlumbersForums.co.uk, the Plumbing Advice Forum.
All launched in 2006, and all the biggest and most popular and most trusted forums in the World.