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How the Nikon user community started

Every once in a while the founders of the Nikonians® community are asked "How did you guys get together? How was Nikonians started?" This page gives you a short rundown on the genesis of Nikonians.

J. Ramón Palacios (jrp) and Bo Stahlbrandt (bgs) met online in late 1999. jrp had made some comments on bgs' original Nikon F5 review and bgs had commented on jrp's Brief Love Story. A strong friendship develops. It grows from mutual respect, shared values and a common interest: Photography with a Nikon®

The two founders in Utah 2002

The two founders bgs and jrp in Utah, 2002.


They both reacted to the fact that many discussion forums "out there" were frequently pretty rude, with an impolite tone in the messages exchanged and false.

The main issues recurrently experienced at other sites and what they thought was wrong were:

  • Lack of firm, consistent moderation in forums
  • Low quality of content with false statements, no accountability, spreading of false rumors and hearsay
  • Unfriendly, rude and childish exchanges, lack of a code of honor for mature behavior, "What brand is best" continuous flaming wars
  • Parochial instead of international, never global
  • Generic, not brand oriented
  • A vacuum of Nikon specific up-to-date discussions
  • Commercial in nature with questionable editorial credibility
  • No real community spirit

Ramón and Bo decided to create their own community, less than a month after they met online. Two months were spent on detailed planning and design, from philosophy to policy, to layout and colors. Immediately there after, an "Alpha version" of the main site went online and soon there after, the Beta version. The site opens to the public April 30th, 2000, with 30 members. It took the founders four months from decision to deployment. It took them 22 months to meet in person for the first time.

The first anniversary, April 30th, 2001 is celebrated with 2,600 registered members.

By July 8, 2008 the community counts 135,000 members with well over one million visitors per month, and has significantly expanded its services to its members:

  • Helpdesk
  • Photo Galleries
  • Online Shop
  • Newsblog
  • Podcasts
  • Newsletters
  • eZine
  • Workshops
  • Over 70 specialized forums
  • Our own advanced Search Engine
  • Resource section with reviews and guides. And, according to Nikon back then, one of the best photo glossaries on the net Wiki/FAQ/Help

By spring 2010 there are over 250,000 registered members and one and a half million visitors per month, leading to further growth and specialization, especially in the "back office" of Nikonians, to support such a growth:

  • Forums moderation
  • Publishing
  • Marketing and Advertising
  • Customer and Public Relations
  • Community Relations
  • Accounting and Finance
  • Software and IT
  • Shop management
  • Nikonians Academy management
  • Legal Counsel
  • Photo Contests Management

By spring 2014 there are over 400,000 registered members and the community has developed multiple apps for mobile devices. The team has grown substantially and while several of the old hands are still active on a daily basis, some well known other volunteers are no longer with us. In July 2014 we start our first fundraising campaign, raising over 40,000 US Dollars. The money is used to improve the forums, both in design and function, to remove clutter, integrate various areas of the community (e.g. articles<->forums<->galleries) and to expand on the content provided. On the 6th of September 2014, the community reach 500,000 registered members.


bgs and jrp approving a photograph on the ANPAT 14. Taken by henkc.

bgs and jrp approving a photograph on the ANPAT 14. Taken by henkc.


Further reading