This was published in the April issue of Hearing Times. A couple of things I'd like to add regarding it: Thanks so much to Rebecca for contacting me and asking to do the piece, it was all my pleasure. The first name is misspelled, I'm actually Markku, not Markuu. It seems like if you are a native English speaker, it's near impossible to write Markku or pronounce it. I've noticed this time after time, not a big deal though. Tinnitus Talk would need hundreds or thousands of concurrent visitors (people online at the same time) for me to have the need to upgrade our hosting plan which would mean increased monthly costs. And only at that point would I consider adding carefully vetted adverts, like those of trusted, proven and reliable companies/products in the hearing field. No need to worry, our site won't ever become some junkyard full of ads. Yuck. And last but not least... Check below. I'm going to attach my complete answers from the interview, so you get a better idea what I answered and said, here comes: 1. What inspired you to develop the forum? Like all issues related to one's own health, tinnitus is often a personal issue that most don't share with anyone but the persons closest to them. A support forum where you can write anonymously if you want, get support, ask questions and just be yourself and feel like you belong is really important. In the UK it is estimated that there are about 2.3 million adults who have tinnitus that they find severely to moderately annoying and have sleep difficulties because of it. How many online communities are there for them? Not enough. When you add those 12 million people from the US who have severe tinnitus, you can only imagine what kind of a need for support forums there really is. On a more personal level, I acquired tinnitus a year ago and since then have of course browsed through what feels like the whole internet when it comes to tinnitus. I immediately noticed several problems on few existing forums dedicated to tinnitus and hearing disorders: most of them were badly organized, information and existing discussions were hard to find and some looked like they were designed fifteen years ago. Demand for such a forum and my personal passion for the subject combined, I decided to create Tinnitus Talk. 2. How long did it take to develop? Not that long. Once I had the idea, the planning and doing phase took about a month. I started the project in early February 2011 and Tinnitus Talk was launched on March 5th. 3. Did it cost anything to set up? Yes, but it didn't break the bank. All starting costs (the forum software + the web server) combined it cost me about £180. The monthly running costs are currently approximately £10-15. If and hopefully when Tinnitus Talk starts gaining more users and thus traffic the monthly costs will increase. I will never ever put some random questionable advertisements on the site though, mark my words. The only thing I might do if it grows into a really big community is selling ad space for reputable companies who specialises in tinnitus/hearing related products and/or services. Or maybe some sort of a donation system. I can tell you though that Tinnitus Talk will never become an unscrupulous site. I want to be proud of it and keep the site up for fellow Tinnitus sufferers for years and years to come. 4. Do you have plans to add any more features/functions to the forum? There is a suggestion & feedback category on the forum. I'm all open for suggestions and ideas. I could envision some kind of a blog/news/wiki page in addition to the forum. Maybe a dedicated page for community meetups? There are always ways to improve and develop further, but I don't want to make Tinnitus Talk a chaotic site with dozens of buttons and pages. I'm certain the forum aspect of it will remain as the most important one. 5. What do you think it provides that other Tinnitus forums currently do not and do you think there are any problems with other Tinnitus forums? Tinnitus Talk provides a clean, simple and beautiful user experience. Comparing to other current tinnitus forums it is in its own class in that regard I think. You can just go there and almost forget you are on a web site and start concentrating on the discussions and people on the site. As you can notice, I'm super happy about that. But the usability and looks only take the site so far. The atmosphere on Tinnitus Talk is very kind and supportive. And while I understand that some times tinnitus drives people frustrated and irritated, I hope that those negative feelings can be expressed on the forum in a way that helps everybody. It's absolutely normal to have a large scale of feelings when you are struck with tinnitus. I know that first hand. We all know it. That's what I love about Tinnitus Talk, no one doesn't need to pretend anything. As of March 10, Tinnitus Talk has been online for 5 days and there already are a nice number of members and over 100 posts. I hope this shows that even though it's recently launched people seem to like it. And well, the feedback has been only positive so far for which I'm very grateful. 6. How have you advertised the launch of the forum? That is a good question. Advertising a new forum is a job in itself. It's not good practice to just go to web sites and spam your new forum's address. Actually that's often frowned upon. If you liked to let people know about a new forum, you would need to do it in an organic and natural way, like in the middle of a discussion. I did advertise Tinnitus Talk on an existing tinnitus forum, but the discussion was removed quite quickly. I was a bit surprised by that since it was only an introduction post to Tinnitus Talk, but I guess the moderators thought otherwise. Once the first wave of members have joined the site, I'm hoping word of mouth does the advertising. That first wave of members is a challenge indeed, but 30+ new members and 100+ posts within 5 days without much advertising is quite good. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- You likely noticed some grammar or spelling errors, maybe unnatural word choices, but that's because my mother tongue is Finnish, not English. I only started studying English in school. Thanks again Rebecca & Hearing Times!