An Interview With Fark’s Drew Curtis
John Hawkins:: Name, age, and location
Drew Curtis:: Drew Curtis, 28, Lexington KY
John Hawkins:: How long ago did you start up Fark?
Drew Curtis:: Feb 1999.
John Hawkins:: What prompted your to start up the page?
Drew Curtis:: I’ve been reading news every morning since at least 1993. I used to send out articles to all my friends in email, but over time I was afraid that they’d get annoyed with it. So around 1999 I decided I’d go ahead and post them to a webpage instead. And told them all to look there. Apparently they told other people
John Hawkins:: Did you have any aspirations of building a big commercial website or was it just something you looked at as a lark?
Drew Curtis:: It’s always been just for fun. Still is. We’re not making any money, although we’ll need to support the bandwidth if things keep going the way they are. I’ve got friends who tell me I’m the busiest person they know. That’s not true, it just happens that all my hobbies have taken off like a shot. People think that’s work, it’s not. It’s still fun, there’s just a larger audience.
John Hawkins:: Oh? How many hits are you pulling now?
Drew Curtis:: Our record is 74k hits in one day, our average is around 70k on weekdays, 40k on weekends. We usually break our records every Monday, so we’ll see what turns up tonight after midnight. Next month it’ll probably be higher, which is always weird
John Hawkins:: That’s a nice problem to have =] Did you grow steadily or was there some major event that caused your traffic to leap?
Drew Curtis:: Steadily since day 1. It’s the whole issue with exponential growth, it’s very slow in the beginning but over the long term it gets ridiculous. I think one of the big factors is the spots I do on TechTv every Friday. I’ve noticed that we tend to grow during weeks that I do them much faster than during weeks when I don’t.
John Hawkins:: What is TechTv?
Drew Curtis:: TechTV is a channel on a lot of cable systems. Used to be ZDTV. I have DirecTV and I get it. They have quite a few shows on there, I do a spot on The Screen Savers every Friday. Except for the next two weeks because all my friends decided to get married this summer. Bastards. I’ve noticed that we always seem to grow a bit whenever I do a spot that week, much more than when we don’t. It’s hard to track, because most people don’t find us from their page, they just type the url in straight. So I can’t tell where they’re coming from. The hits we get from TechTV are extremely sticky, sticker than from anywhere else. Strange but true. One other odd aside, I’d never watched TechTv before I started doing Fark. I have to say that they’re doing a hell of a good job. I’m very impressed.
John Hawkins:: What do you do during your tech TV spots?
Drew Curtis:: They ask me to send in a list of the weirdest tech articles of the week, they pick three, and I introduce them during the middle of their show. That’s pretty much it. What makes it fun is that the show’s hosts are a riot. We play off each other. It’s lots of fun. Then afterwards I go out to the bars and get ripped. Half the time I’m lit before we start because I’m drinking the beer that Farkers have sent me
John Hawkins:: Drunk during the TV show, drunk during the interview, you got your readers sending ya beer =]
Drew Curtis:: Yeah it’s a hard life. Grin. I’ve got one more bottle of Chimay Ale to go, I need some more
John Hawkins:: Besides drinking and Farking what do you do for a living? =]
Drew Curtis:: luckily I own an ISP.: DCR.net: We cover an area from Lexington to Louisville in Kentucky. Been in business since Feb 1996. If I didn’t own an ISP, Fark would have died a while ago. Our bandwidth bill would be several thousand a month if I was charging a client that used that f*cking much. Sad but true. I’m actually an evil b@stard in real life. Fark allows me to vent weirdness. Thank god for that, too
John Hawkins:: Several thousand a month? Wow….That’s ironic..killed by your own success…
Drew Curtis:: We would have been. Actually that’s not too uncommon these days, it’s the way things are these days. A lot of great sites had died lately. Suck, Bianca’s, and Metafilter almost ate it but they lived. I guess we’re all gonna have to ride this out til the market turns around.
John Hawkins:: Before the ad market went in the toilet were you making decent cash off of Fark or had you really started to grow at that point?
Drew Curtis:: I’ve never made sh*t off Fark. Yeah the only cash I’ve made off Fark is through the donation link or through selling low-numbered accounts off. I’ve done one so far, that’ll help things along. I wish I had enough cash to float this for awhile but I’ve floated the ISP for awhile and I’m tapped.
John Hawkins:: So have you ever had any really controversial articles you’ve posted to Fark?
Drew Curtis:: Occasionally I’ll stick something up there that I’ll know will ignite controversy, but I’m trying to keep that down to around one per week.
John Hawkins:: Why so?
Drew Curtis:: I can’t think of anything super-controversial, I mean anything’s fair game pretty much. I keep the number down because Fark is supposed to be a fun place. You get into serious issues and everyone has an axe to grind. That’s not what we’re all about.
Drew Curtis:: If you need to prove a point, take it elsewhere
John Hawkins:: Now you are definitely one of the most successful webmasters out there..you’ve built a huge site…give the rest of us some advice so we can try to get up to Fark size…What does it take to be successful on your level.
Drew Curtis:: Well be sure to understand that this is coming from someone who pretty much lucked into it, but that being said, I think that it has a lot to do with regularly updating content. The week before I started Fark I thought long and hard about whether or not I had the discipline to post stuff every day whether I felt like it or not. The quickest way to failure is to not be 100% devoted to what you are doing. On the converse, if you do a little every day, eventually it will amount to a huge contribution to the net. So my advice is, don’t quit. Even after two years of nothing, don’t quit. Never stop. We get a lot of hits these days, but just this past January we got 100k hits in the entire month. Eventually you reach critical mass, but you have to be there to do it. If that makes any sense. Lots of beer helps too……btw if you remove the word f*ck from what I’m saying it makes more sense. I like to say f*ck a lot. Grin. f*ck
John Hawkins:: OMG…| just hit your merchandise section and you the having the f*cking hamster dance theme song playing!! GAHAHHAHAHA
Drew Curtis:: Hehe. Yeah in case you can’t tell I’d had a few beers when I made that. In fact anything truly funny on Fark was done when I was drunk. I’ve always liked the hamsterdance song. Call me crazy. I have this horrible weakness for bad jokes. Which explains most of what gets posted on weekends when there’s no news.
John Hawkins:: Whatever happened to the Hamster Dance?
Drew Curtis:: They’re still around, check out: http://www.hamsterdance2.com
John Hawkins:: Wonder why they moved?
Drew Curtis:: As webmaster of Fark I am an endless fountain of useless knowledge. Hence I know where hamsterdance is now there because someone else reserved hamsterdance.com before they did. They got f*cked. One really really weird thing I’ve noticed is that for some unknown reason I can remember 99% of anything that’s ever been posted to Fark. That’s over two and a half years worth of useless sh*t that my brain decided was worth memorizing. How sad. grin
John Hawkins:: Heh…well where do you see Fark going in the Future? Do you have any plans other than continuing to grow the site?
Drew Curtis:: Not really. Like they say, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. I figure really weird stuff will keep occurring to me, like the Photoshop This Picture feature. I was in a really weird mode when I posted the first one of those, and I laughed my @ss off the whole time reading through the submissions. I figure we’ll probably come across more of that.
John Hawkins:: Well we are slowly staggering towards the end of the interview and I’m sure everyone is wondering..where did the name Fark come from?
Drew Curtis:: Staggering is a good choice of words there. Fark came from a made-up word I used for F*ck in chat rooms and muds back in the early 90s. Back before AOL hooked up and screwed it all up for the rest of us. I reserved the domain in hmm lemme check..Sept 1997 apparently. I can’t remember…And anyhow, I decided that one day I’d figure out a good idea for a website and use that as a domain. 18 months later I did.
Hehehe…now at this point I was getting close to wrapping up and Drew was getting pretty much bombed out of his mind =D. From this point on we started moving into some rather long dissertations on Sweden, boobies, English girls, and how the Onion has dropped off in quality =D.
So from this part on I’m mainly cutting out my questions and focusing on what Drew said….
Drew On Boobies:: Ok grin….I can’t tell whether or not people object to the fact that occasionally I’ll post a link on Fark that’s only about boobies. I’m guessing that it might be an issue though because our two major demographics are lesbians are males trapped in cubicles…And as far as demographics go, those two are reversed in order of hit numbers. We have more males trapped in cubicles than lesbians. But anyhow that tells me that we’re appealing to pretty much the same interest group when you get right down to it. So where I’m going with this is, I find it weird that those are the two major groups. Because I’ve had a problem for a long time with the fact that you can watch network TV on a given night and see a couple hundred murders on a TV show but god forbid a nipple show up…What the hell is wrong with American culture that we’d value a hundred murders over a nipple? I mean come on. Anyhow That’s why you’ll see the occasional boobies link on Fark. It’s not porn, it’s boobies. Much better for you than a hundred murders, I guarantee it. Grin
Drew on Satire and The Onion:: The Onion: introduced us to the concept of the lazy satire article. Which is: take an every day event and write an article about it. Such as: Area man doesn’t understand his girlfriend. Oh for chrissakes you can’t write an entire article about that. I used to love the Onion, but one day they stopped being funny. From talking to one or two guys who used to work there, the day they died was when the owner sold it. Which I can’t say as I blame him for doing it, but they are a shadow of their former selves. It’s a tragedy. I’ve seen signs lately that they might be getting back on track but they’ve got to stop doing those stupid obvious satire articles like I was talking about before. Maybe I’m nuts but I’ve hated all of those articles. Every last one. Except for Area Man Eats Whole Godd@mn Bag of Chips. I thought that was funny because my dad used to do that. All the others have sucked. Their best stuff is when they break away from that. I really wish they were as good as they were. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate the Onion. I hate the fact that they used to be so cutting edge and now they’re just cranking out crap every week. I think they can turn it around, someone just needs to tell them their sh*t sucks. ok here’s what I don’t like: Author wishes she hadn’t blow personal tragedy on first book. Why the f*ck would I read that? I already know every possible permutation of the entire article by reading the headline.
Drew on Websites He Likes:: I’ll tell you who I’ve seen improve vastly though:http://www.foolbrain.com/. The stuff those guys sent me when they first started was some horrible sh*t. But as time went on, they honed their craft and now they’re pretty good. I think they’re on their way to greatness, assuming they don’t give up. I had a conversation with Avi over at The Satyr about this. I’m not sure he entirely believed me, nor am I sure I’m entirely right btw, but I think that if you see a satire articles and can tell what the entire article is about WITHOUT reading the article, then that article sucks. Best one they’ve done lately is about rioters preparing for a Lakers victory. Which was very prophetic, grin. I linked that one actually =] I like: BBSpot: a lot,: Untitled Document,: Satire Wire, and: The Satyr.com: in general.: SomethingAwful: I think is the king of all humor websites. Hands down. I forgot to mention them because I’m in complete and total awe of those guys. The way they can crank out funny sh*t day after day after day after day. I have no idea how they do it. I know I couldn’t come close.
Drew on Foreign Countries:: I love Sweden. The entire world should be like Sweden.They all like to drink and get naked, and the women are hot. I can’t think of a better nation on the planet. Christ we’ve really gone around the bend here haven’t we? I love the Swedes because they love boobies. Ok here’s an example of what’s wrong with America. I lived in England for a year when I was in college, which I highly recommend. I had a lot of English friends, male and female. The best way to sum this up is one night we were all in a pub, as the Brits are known to do 5 or 6 nights a week. I was sitting next to a female friend in the group, who leaned over to another female friend sitting next to each other, and without lowering her voice a notch she said to her friend I don’t know about you but I could use a good shag tonight. Her friend said me too. And I’m thinking, this is what’s wrong with America: women in America don’t do that. They all think it, but they don’t do it. What a horrible thing for us Americans. In the US women don’t get like that til they pass 30 yrs old. Anyhow going back to the boobies thing, I’ll defend that til I die because boobies are the coolest thing ever, bar none. Because a woman with boobies flapping in the breeze is a woman who knows what she wants, and god bless her is what I say. Go for it….
Drew Curtis:: Btw stop me if I’m going waaaay off the rails here. grin
John Hawkins:: We were way off the rails about 1/2 an hour ago..hehehhe
Drew Curtis:: kick@ss
Drew Curtis:: I’m not worried, I’m sure you’ll do fine. Godd@mn I could keep going all night. Oh that’s one thing I need to mention
John Hawkins:: Yes?
Drew Curtis:: People tell me that Fark is the funniest thing they’ve ever read. I don’t take credit for a bit of it…The funniest thing about Fark is the contributors. I’m just the referee, they’re the actual game. You don’t notice the referee during the game unless he makes a bad call….I refuse to take credit for any of Fark’s popularity, it’s the contributors that are really where it’s at and speaking of which, not to get off on a tangent… grin…Fark does have a lot funny content…brb need more alcohol….Yeah and 99% of it doesn’t come from me
John Hawkins:: U are killing some beers =]
Drew Curtis:: Which is cool….actually lately I’ve moved up to wine, because I can’t get drunk off beer anymore. Go figure. Actually here’s what’s scary: I’m not drunk. I’m still working towards it.
John Hawkins:: If you say so =]
Drew Curtis:: Ok lemme remember what I was about to say….oh yeah….ask any of my friends, I’m muuuuuch worse when I’m actually drunk….I’m really truly glad that we can send hits to sites with good stuff…..it makes me really happy to know that these guys are getting some good attention, because there’s a lot that really deserve it…..It’s so hard to start a site from scratch, I bet people that have never done it don’t know what all goes into it…
John Hawkins:: It’s brutal…….
Drew Curtis:: And hell I’m sure you can sympathize….getting up to even 1k hits per day takes forever, hell Fark didn’t even do it until last summer…. the best part about Fark is remembering how hard it was in the beginning and knowing that by sticking a link up we’re saving websites an entire year of grunt-work. I am really really happy about that. That’s the best thing about doing Fark for me.
John Hawkins:: I will dewd =] Anything you want to say or plug before the interview ends?
Drew Curtis:: Um hm. I think I may have exhausted myself for tonight. If you can hold it for a week I’m sure I’ll think of more crap, I’m full of it. So to speak…grin…cu lata
John Hawkins:: l8tr =] Like the interview? Well then check out: Fark
John Hawkins:: Now I’ve heard that you called George Bush an “empty suit,” voted for Al Gore in 2000, and are
Last week, I had an opportunity to interview former Bush speech writer Matt Latimer about his new book Speech-less: Tales