A Short History of Cybermodeler Online
By Michael Benolkin
Several years ago, I was having a chat with some friends over 'adult beverages', and they expressed surprise over the history of Cybermodeler Online and how it all came together. They also wanted to know why I haven't written this down somewhere, so consider this an action completed. According to the records, the cybermodeler.com domain name was registered in March 1999, but the site actually started back in the early 1990s. This site originally started out as one of the early IPMS/USA online club websites, in our case for IPMS/Albuquerque. I volunteered my time, money, and computer to launch our online presence. Back then, it was thrilling to get more than 300 hits in a month given that the internet was still relatively new and we were blazing through cyberspace at 1200 baud. Several of us would write about our kit builds and review some of the newer kit releases online. As more of IPMS/Albuquerque came online, so did the contributions. During those early years we were growing a nice library of information, and soon products started coming from all over the world to be added to our site. A growing number of hobby companies had the foresight to see the marketing potential of the internet. For our efforts, I was awarded the first-ever IPMS/USA Webmaster of the Year in 1998.
Also in 1998, a new online magazine was getting underway called Internet Modeler, and I joined that team to learn a few things about online publishing. Chris Banyai-Riepl is the editor of that fine site and it remains active today. Many of the editorial policies I follow here were developed on Internet Modeler. What few folks know is that in the mid-to-late 1990s, I'd been developing websites as part of my 'day job' supporting the Air Force test community. As an Air Force veteran (1973-84 active, 1984-87 reserve), I wanted to apply my other applicable skills into my online efforts. Before I joined Internet Modeler, my sites were functional, but a bit Spartan. Thanks to my time (about four years) and experiences with Internet Modeler, I learned the additional skills to focus on Cybermodeler Online. In my last year at Internet Modeler, I was surprised to see the traffic growing on Cybermodeler Online, even though I wasn't publishing regular content there. Folks were finding the online photo references useful as well as the archive of review articles. I decided to strike out on my own and see what would happen with a daily publication format versus the monthly format used (then) by Internet Modeler. The results were gratifying as we went from 300 page views per month in 1996 to well over 1.5 million page views per month now. It wasn't long before many of my old friends and some new ones came along to help us grow.
Another little-known part of my checkered past was my time on America Online. In the early-to-mid-1990s, I was a moderator on the military aviation and the commercial airline forums. In those days, I had all sorts of interesting tools to deal with inappropriate postings on AOL and sometimes had to use them. While the military aviation forums were really well-behaved with most folks mindful that kids were reading the postings as well as adults, the airline forums were another matter. You could always tell when a union was having issues with a given company as its pilots, flight attendants, and/or ground crews would really get up a head of steam and use all sorts of 'colorful metaphors' inappropriate for even today's kids, much less 20 years ago. What really cracked me up was the worst offenders would lash out at me or one of my colleagues for trying to maintain decorum citing their First Amendment rights. Sorry folks, that wasn't America, that was America Online and you don't have that kind of free speech there. Monitoring the chatter on those chat rooms was really an eye-opening experience as there was TMI (too much information) going on about airline flight operations, which didn't help when I had to go fly on those very same airlines. When AOL started bringing its enforcement in-house, I decided to move on as my 'day job' was getting really busy anyway. If you wonder why we don't have chat rooms here, I look at the colorful chatter on other online modeling chat rooms and flash back to AOL...
So here we are passing over 23 years online and we've even transitioned the entire site to be mobile-friendly. With over 43,000 pages on this site, we're constantly ensuring that all of our internal and external links remain up-to-date as it is frustrating to get that 'Page Not Found' error when you're exploring a site. Our thanks to all of our readers who report broken links and other bugs to help us keep this site a great modeling resource for all. We're also continuing to revise our paint matching and color profile references as we obtain more information to help you with current and future projects. In addition, we're proud of the partnership we have with ScaleModels.ru which provides you with access to extensive photo libraries of Russian and former Soviet subjects while we provide Russian modelers on their site similar access to our extensive photo walk arounds and galleries of western subjects.
I do appreciate your comments when a link is either broken or misdirected, usually because of a caffeine deficiency on the part of the publisher (me). Thank you for your visiting with us at the various local, regional, and national IPMS and Wonderfest modeling events. And above all, thank you all for your support, you are the reason why Cybermodeler Online continues to grow and remains a fun part of our time as well as yours.
Have a good week and go build something!
Publisher, Cybermodeler Online