7 votes

Powerful Idea for a Website...Advice Requested

I have what I think is a great website that could be a huge boon to the cause of liberty. I can't get into the specifics yet since it is still in the conceptual phase, but DP will be the first to know once that changes.

I have never registered a domain, found hosting, built a site, etc. As it stands, I am a total newb to this, so I wanted to reach out to the community for some advice about setting it up and figuring out how much it might cost to get it off the ground. For the "tl;dr" version, skip to the bottom where specific questions are posed.

To achieve my vision, the site will have to have certain forum-like functionality, such as:

1. the ability for people to register and have a profile;
2. use of avatars;
3. ability to send messages to other users;
4. allowing subscriptions to certain "threads";
5. new pages must be able to be created on the fly by users; and
6. editing/updating "threads."

I imagine this will require a mySQL database or something, but I don't know how to build one or how complicated it is to maintain one. Bandwidth and site data need to be able to seamlessly scale as the site grows, though I don't expect this to be difficult, since it looks like a variety of webhosts now seem to offer unlimited data and bandwidth for only a few bucks a month.

My questions for the community are as follows:

1. What are the recommended ways to register a domain? I know godaddy.com and other sites act as registrars, but are some better or worse than others?

2. I want to own the domain to the maximum extent possible. Is there anything particular I need to do to ensure this happens? If this ties in to #1 above because some registrars use their own name to register a domain, any advice for which registrars do not use their own name is appreciated.

3. Since I don't know anything about actual web development or database building/maintenance/etc., I will have to get outside help. Are there any common pitfalls I should be wary about? Any advice for avoiding problems?

4. It seems like a ton of hosts now offer unlimited data and bandwidth, and some include several mySQL 1GB+ databases as part of the hosting plan, often for $10/month or less. As with #3 above, are there any pitfalls I should keep in mind when considering a host? Any particular questions I need to keep in mind?

5. I realize costs vary quite a lot according to the project and the people doing the work, but what is a general ballpark figure to have someone design a website and the type of database(s) I will need for the functionality I outlined above?

6. Are there any common issues I should keep an eye out for during the website design and build-out process to avoid disputes with the designer or unnecessary cost overruns?

7. This idea is something I feel very passionate about. What is the best way to deal with confidentiality concerns that might arise in the course of discussing project specifics with prospective designers?

That is all for now, though I imagine I might have some other questions once the ball gets rolling. I'm really excited by the idea and look forward to being able to reveal it to the DP community, because I think most people here will be really excited by it as well.

All advice is much appreciated and will be put to good use!

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wolfe's picture

Easy way out...

godaddy.com + joomla + http://www.rockettheme.com/joomla

Have your site up and running with all the features you want and looking awesome in less than a day.

And you don't even need a developer other than to hold your hand a bit and train you if you want. (You can pick up Joomla for Dummies style books just about anywhere).

The Philosophy Of Liberty -

Cyril's picture



"Cyril" pronounced "see real". I code stuff.


"To study and not think is a waste. To think and not study is dangerous." -- Confucius

So I finally have the company

So I finally have the company set up and registered the URL I'll need. I just contacted a few web developers for quotes and thought I might as well post this update to let everyone who provided such helpful feedback know it wasn't a waste of time.

In addition, I know a number of DPers are web developers, and all else being equal, I'd much rather use the services of, and spend money on, liberty lovers. If you're a capable web developer who might be interested in helping bring this idea to fruition, send me a message and I'll fill in the basics of what the site will need to go live. Send a quote back and we'll see what happens. Obviously I can't hire everyone to build the site, but I will be hiring someone. Hopefully that person comes from DP!

I will make you an offer you might want to refuse.

I am in the position right now to set you up with a turnkey cool as hell script on my server. It will only cost me 12.00 to add another domain name to my hosting. Thing is you will have to make the decision to admin this site and give up everything you regard as a "Life". Just ask anyone that has had a real site with traffic and you will understand. I can set you up in just a couple days with a site that has the capabilities of user self maintained blogs with comments,PM's,Photo galleries,Chat and Etc. If you are willing to give up everything else in life I can set you up on my server. Just contact me through my account here if the sacrifice is worth it to you. You will be the owner and administator of this domain. I am of course willing to help explain how to use it for a bit.

I, am doing this because one time I asked for help setting up a website and met one of the most gracious and honest gentleman I have ever met in my life. He donated and shared his skills and knowledge to put me in this position to offer you this option. You must be dedicated and devoted to the project and give up every other thing in life to do this. Are you willing?


If I disappear from a discussion please forgive me. My 24-7 business requires me to split mid-sentence to serve them. I am not ducking out, I will be back later to catch up.

That sounds like quite an

That sounds like quite an offer, but I don't think I'll be ready for a bit longer. I still need to check on and reserve an LLC name, get a business checking account, nail down features critical for initial success, etc. and probably won't be far enough along for another couple of weeks to make a serious go at it. I'll drop you a line at that time and see how things look. I really like your attitude of passing along the good fortune you encountered a while back, and the idea itself is something I'd be willing to dedicate my life to if it works the way I have conceptualized.

As far as buying the domain

As far as buying the domain name, Godaddy is fine. You will own the domain name and have the rights to it.

I'd recommend after buying the domain to buy hosting through a company such as Host Gator or Hawk Host. I've used Hawk Host years with no issues and great service; not to mention they have specials up all the time (i.e. 50% off reoccuring payments, 50% off first payment).

After you'll just need to update your nameservers to the Host you choose. You can start off on a lower scale package and upgrade as needed.

Wordpress is a great choice for those wanting simplicity yet the ability to customize with themes, plugins, etc.. You could even purchase a premium theme from the many sites that have them (just search premium wordpress themes). They range from $5-100+, typically around $20-50.

As far as a forum/community area.. with wordpress you have the built-in option to have users register and post on pages. You can then assign users certain with extra rights to moderate posts, create/edit posts, etc..

you can always go with phpbb. It (as well as Wordpress) can be installed by clicking 'install phpbb' through your cPanel. You'll have access to your cpanel after you purchase hosting. To make the site more streamlined there's ways to combine user logins to automatically log the user into the actual website and the forum (less hassle).

gotta go. hope it helps

"One man with courage is a majority." ~ Andrew Jackson

Thank You All

To everyone who has contributed thoughts, ideas, encouragement, or even just a bump, I really appreciate it. The people here are what make this community wonderful, and this thread shows that in spades. I'll be reviewing all the links and information very thoroughly this weekend; your time spent responding will be put to good use.

I'm not aware of any website quite like the one I've conceived, and I feel positive that we can do great things with it once it's up and running. But, I suppose, the proof is in the pudding, and right now the ingredients haven't even been mixed, let alone put on the stove!

Cyril's picture

Btw, if your website isn't based on a common CMS

Btw, if your website isn't based on a common CMS such as WordPress-based ones, but equipped with a custom front end instead, one framework I can recommend, that allows for kick*ss user experience, among others, and with a pretty good feature/cost ratio, is Backbone.js :


Yet another is Agility.js; here's its "The Wall" demo app :



"Cyril" pronounced "see real". I code stuff.


"To study and not think is a waste. To think and not study is dangerous." -- Confucius

Mentioned below, a

Mentioned below, a comprehensive liberty site. I had the idea for this a while back, but it would require a dedicated person or group of people to make it happen. Daily Paul already kinda acts like it, but it isnt comprehensive.

So what I see is a news site, information site, and forum all in one. The difference between any other given site like this(ie dailypaul) and this one would be the comprehensive nature regarding all the liberty stuff.
There would be a section with detailed info on all the candidates. The forum would be broken up into the usual sections plus a section for each party/candidate, like the libertarian party, green party etc.
News section should be self explanatory.
There could be other areas, but these above should cover most of it.

In regards to the vision above, most forum software comes with most or all of your list there.
One feature that should be there is the ability to group threads together under one link in the forum, so duplicates can be placed there without cluttering up everything.

To climb the mountain, you must believe you can.

I have an idea that could kind of hop onto yours

and will contact you via your contact info to downlow it.

Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must. like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it.-Thomas Paine

The R3volution requires action, not observation!!!!

I can help you out.

I'm a web designer by day.

1. Try to stay away from corporate hosts like GoDaddy. They have horrible customer service, they try to lock you into long-time service, and their control panels are usually laughable.

2. Most of the time the longest you can get a domain for is 2-5 years. Luckily, you can get domains independently from the hosting, which gives you a bit more freedom in your choice. Don't worry though, if you go with a 1-year renewal you can keep the domain parked how ever long you want it. It's pretty much yours unless you decide to give it up or miss a payment.

3. You shouldn't have trouble unless you have similar computer skills to my grandma. In this day and age there are tutorials for EVERYTHING! I'll help you in the right direction. Use WordPress for your website. It's a Content Management System (CMS, aka: blogging tool) - it allows you to easily add and update content (text as well as pictures and videos) and change the look-and-feel of the website. It's also pretty simple to install.

4. There is 1 pitfall you should consider: waste of hosting package. IMO, web hosts oversell what the consumers need, but that's fine...that means they're giving away extra for free. But that also means you don't need to pay $10 when you really need a hosting package that's probably closer to $3-$5.

WordPress will take up: 1 database, 23mbs (not including extra theme files or uploads)

The bandwidth use is dependent on the traffic being pulled into the site. 100mbs a month should be more than enough to start out.

5. This site would cost anywhere between $400-$1000 depending on who you decide to use to create it. If you do it yourself, you'll just be paying the minuscule monthly hosting and yearly domain fees.

6. Yes, if there's any specific design ideas (I'm talking like a logo for the site) then you need to be certain of that design before you have it made because a designer's pet peeve is repeatedly editing over and over.

7. Hmmm, not sure I quite understand this one. Fully disclose anything the designer needs to know about the website and he'll do the best he can to help you with your vision.

Check out my websites if you're interested: http://andrewliesenfeld.com - http://pxburn.com

Just fill out the contact form on pxburn.com.

Good luck on your website!

Very, very helpful post, and

Very, very helpful post, and it's encouraging to know that, with the right software packages and website tools, a relative novice has a shot at pulling it off.

I think your site designs are great. Very clean and simple, with nice color balance and contrast. My first orders of business are setting up an LLC and registering the domain once that happens. Between submitting the LLC paperwork and receiving notice that the entity has been created, I'll have time to brainstorm logos, colors, layouts, etc. Once I have a better idea of those details, I may very well be in touch for some custom graphics and help.

And just to clarify, my only concern with #7 is filling someone in on my idea and being beaten to the punch by someone who can craft the site and get it all going before I can. Probably not much of a concern, but I know those types of things have happened in the past.

Write up a simple contract.

The web design company or individual that you end up dealing with will likely have you sign a contract discussing the price, the project scope, timeline, etc, etc.

You can give a general idea of the project to the designer without leaking details and specifics of the subject for the project. Once they have agreed to do the project you can just write up a short contract, signed by both parties, simply stating that the project was your idea and any attempt to copy, plagiarize, or otherwise steal it is forbidden.

Without a contract, there's no chance for protection because copyright doesn't protect ideas.

Cyril's picture

+1 Absolutely.

+1 Absolutely. I forgot that obvious.

Here's a template that my step daughter adapts for her gigs as freelance:


(I used to have my own, but that was back in the days I was freelance and were written in french.. wouldn't help you, OP, much. lol)

a serious developer/designer will ask you many questions and from them should give you the feeling upfront he/she is thorough in defining the milestones/the scope with you, for a prototype, for version 1, what can wait for later, the deliverables timeline, etc.

"Cyril" pronounced "see real". I code stuff.


"To study and not think is a waste. To think and not study is dangerous." -- Confucius

Cyril's picture

+1 Good, accurate advice.

+1 Good, accurate advice. And neat designs at your links.

Just adding: point #3 doesn't cover the thinking into features that require a payment gateway or custom business logic the OP may come up with for the website's idea.

(But granted, WordPress is great for its legions of free plug-ins.)

"Cyril" pronounced "see real". I code stuff.


"To study and not think is a waste. To think and not study is dangerous." -- Confucius

Cyril's picture

Here are a few hints,

Here are a few hints, as terse and to the point as I can, for each question:

1. many registrars out there; though they're not the cheapest, I personally use gandi.net and stick with them:
1. a. great, no bullsh*t design of their portal to manage your domain names, whether you use their hosting service or not
1. b. extensive list of TLDs : .net,org,com,biz, of course, but also many country specific ones, incl. .us,.me, etc.
1. c. great quality of service/tech support
1. d. happy w/ them since 1999

2. your registrar doesn't need to be also your hosting, of course, if you have prefs for a technology stack for your website development; for instance, I host with brinkster.com for now (good windows shared hosting)

3. and 4. are quite tied together : the technology stack of your chosen host will much depend on the skills of the people you want to put at work for the dev and maintenance, and also the costs obviously

5. you will find great developers quite expensive but also able to nail it in no time compared to what you'd do; I suggest you find someone in your network, compatible with 3 and 4, who's also motivated by your idea... it's not impossible to also find volunteers willing to do it almost for free, if they're as much into your idea as you are; no matter the skills, developers tend to be more expensive/less productive in something they don't find even interesting;

6. the big difficulty is to find a developer, front end and backend who is also a great web designer (look and feel, sexiness of UI)... that's still pretty rare on the market, esp. depending on 3 and 4, again...

(you're likely gonna need at least two guys. btw, my step daughter studies graphics design, and as a "starving student" (j/k) she's always looking for gigs - 20 or so hours for a minimum project total, typically - for pure custom HTML + CSS, all graphics design only; she already does pretty good, I encourage her to continue)

7. don't worry too much about your idea being stolen; however, yes, a lot of thoughts will need to be put on how you will protect the user privacy, if there needs to be moderation, to which extent, what to log, etc

'Hope this helps,

"Cyril" pronounced "see real". I code stuff.


"To study and not think is a waste. To think and not study is dangerous." -- Confucius

Extremely helpful! I really

Extremely helpful! I really appreciate the feedback.


don't know myself, but curious as to the answers as well

"Make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it, and eventually they will believe it." -- Joseph Goebbels

Just out of curiosity, are

Just out of curiosity, are you located in Texas? I used to know someone who used a similar handle, though I admit that handle is probably pretty common!

No, not me, but I'd sure like

No, not me, but I'd sure like to move to Texas!

(I'm from NYC).

"Make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it, and eventually they will believe it." -- Joseph Goebbels

reedr3v's picture

I made one serious stab at a

useful and comprehensive liberty site. What I learned as a total newbie is that it's a LOT of work. If one doesn't have great 'net skills it costs chunks of $$ to hire the help you'd need on an ongoing basis. If you don't have savvy you'll be prey to hackers etc. and again need help to figure out how to protect yourself.

I was doing it entirely by myself with little help and little knowledge and was undone by spammers I couldn't cope with. SO bottom line, join with a very knowledgeable and dedicated person who will work for free or low rates OR invest in educating yourself.

With our wonderful, creative, passionate Liberty community there are solid reasons the DP is still the best forum for exchanging news and information, IMO. It's highly customized Drupal format is superb.

Definitely sorry to hear that

Definitely sorry to hear that it turned out to be an unmanageable task. My thought is that if someone (myself or a hired outsider) can create a few template pages for page creation (like the "Reply to comment" page on DP), it should let the site be largely self-sustaining. Although that's probably a naive thought.

I'm really curious about the spam issue you mentioned. Can you elaborate a little more on that what the problem was and what you unsuccessfully did to combat it? Any other big hurdles you faced or challenges that were really difficult to handle?

Knowing as much as I can before rolling anything out or approaching people for help will be very useful, so anything you have to contribute is very much appreciated!

reedr3v's picture

Hopefully you know more than I did going in.

I imagine my problem was simple to correct, but I didn't even know the spammer was sending messages from my site (somehow) until a friend told me. Then Google put up a notice that my site might contain malware. I just gave up, it was way beyond my low level of expertise. Somehow my mailbox was hijacked I guess. I really don't know, sorry I can't be more helpful.

Do you know any HTML or

Do you know any HTML or Visual Basic?
Might be handy to learn these.

Southern Agrarian

I took and enjoyed BASIC in

I took and enjoyed BASIC in high school and wrote a video poker program from scratch in Java back in college, but it's been about a decade since I coded anything. I imagine I could pick up an HTML book and learn the basics within a reasonable time frame, but I I'd be uncomfortable trying to protect user data and implementing security features I'd feel sufficient for the trust of my users. I also don't know anything about scripting.

Ideally, I'd like to have someone help build the layout and templates for page creation that the site uses to auto generate the desired content (think of the window that pops up during comments here, where the user is prompted for a subject, comment, etc. that the site uses to auto-generate a post once the information is submitted). But I have no idea if that's a $1,000 endeavor or a $10,000 one.