About Us

Why "A Padded Cell"?

The name was inspired by a longstanding joke amongst the forum staff. When anyone was starting to go a little bonkers, we'd send them to a mythical area of the site, called the padded cell. When it came time to develop the content area for the forum, we decided that it wouldn't be appropriate to keep it all under the Webmaster Forums domain. After all, it would no longer be just a forum!

We needed to come up with a name for the new site and came back to this old joke that had been used around the forums for years. A Padded Cell refers to the frustrations many webmasters experience when building their sites, and the safe and helpful environment our site will provide for them. It is also, obviously, a silly pun on table cell padding :)

History

A Padded Cell was founded in 2006 as a spin-off/partner site to The Webmaster Forums (TWF). Since the beginning, owners of the forum planned on creating a content area to provide even more help and support to the webmaster community. Unfortunately, previous owners were not able to complete the site, and it was eight long years before we were finally able to get it done.

The Webmaster Forums started as the brainchild of JP Stones, way back in 1998. JP's first website, What's Next, went online in late 1998 to help webmasters "build, promote, and maintain a successful internet presence." The site had a great deal of information on advertising, generating traffic, hosting, scripts, and general web design.

What's Next eventually grew large enough that JP no longer had time to manage it on his own. At this time, the What's Next Forums were created as a way for users to share information. The forums grew quickly, and in January 1999, JP decided to separate the forums from the What’s Next content. The webmaster-forums.com domain was purchased and TWF was born.

The Webmaster Forums was a one-of-a-kind forum in those days and grew quickly. There weren't many places for webmasters to share knowledge back in 1999, so TWF filled a niche in the online community.

In March 1999, JP purchased a dedicated server for TWF from Dynamic Internet Solutions (DIDS) and Chad Simper of that company became involved in many behind-the-scenes administrative tasks. With three administrators and a number of moderators, TWF was constantly growing and improving. Between March 1999 and November 2000, many improvements were made including upgrading from a slow text-based forum software to a much faster MySQL-based solution. At this time, a group of members started work on a free bulletin board system (Boardzilla) which never materialized.

Due to a serious lack of time for JP, TWF was not receiving the attention it needed. On November 1, 2000, the forum was sold to Dynamic Internet Solutions. At this time, many more changes were made, including a new design by Megan Jack (now Megan McDermott) that remained in place until January 2007.

In many ways, the years that followed were dark ones for TWF. The site suffered from lack of attention on the part of its owner once again. TWF as overtaken by several others as the top webmaster-related discussion forum on the web. In June 2002, Chad failed to renew the webmaster-forums.com domain. A large part of the membership base was lost when the site was relegated to the .net domain. When this happened, no administrator was available and moderators had to message members individually to notify them of the address change!

Many moderators and members came and went over the next four years. Mark Hensler was upgraded to administrator in 2002, and was replaced by Megan Jack when he stepped down in early 2005. Very little of consequence happened during this time.

In October 2005, the forum was finally sold to a new owner, Liam McDermott, who had been a moderator on the site for two years. Finally, a dedicated and available owner to really get the site going again! Many changes were made over the next year, including a major upgrade to the vBulletin software, a design refresh, and reorganization of the forums. Plans were underway for the new content site and many other new ideas. Things were looking up.

In the summer of 2006, the "Padded Cell" domains were purchased and development began on the new site. Many preparations were made at this time, including decisions about what audience to target, what kind of content to offer, and what content management system to use. In October, 2006 the design was created and the site was pre-launched in January 2007 on the Drupal content management platform.

And that's where we stand today! It is the sincere hope of the entire staff that every person who visits A Padded Cell and The Webmaster Forums has a great experience. We hope you find the answers to your questions and become a part of this unique community!

People

Liam McDermott – Owner and Technical Administrator

Liam has been a moderator at TWF since November 2003 and administrator since June 2006. He started dabbling in web development in 1998, after taking a college course in computer science. He is particularly interested in web standards, open source, and taking naps. He also likes British comedy shows and good quality tea (although, to tell you the truth, he spends most of his waking hours on the computer).

Liam handles all technical requirements for APC and TWF including CMS and forum updates and functionality, installation of hacks and upgrades, and server requirements.

Megan McDermott – Administrator, Community Manager, and Editor

Megan has been a moderator at TWF since March 2000 and administrator since January 2005. She has been designing websites since 1997. She is interested in all areas of design, but particularly the intersection between design and marketing. She also likes healthy food, yoga, and the outdoors.

Megan's role at APC and TWF is to develop policy, lead decision-making processes, manage staff, and handle any problems that arise in the forums. She also oversees content development for A Padded Cell and makes decisions about the direction of both sites. Above all, she aims to ensure that questions get answered, the quality of posts are high, and that all members have a good experience.

While plans were underway for the ownership transfer in the summer of 2005, Liam often consulted Megan and enlisted her to help him lead the site after the ownership transfer. At this time, they began a personal relationship and, to make a long story short, they fell in love! Liam moved to Canada from England to be with Megan in August 2006. They were married in June 2007 and had a baby boy in 2009.

Moderators

The forum moderators enforce rules and regulations, make sure that questions are answered, and are generally responsible for ensuring that members have a good experience in the forums. They also help support the content area by writing, reviewing, and editing articles for A Padded Cell.

Trusted Members

Trusted members act as advisors for the TWF staff. They have access to the private moderator forum and participate in discussions regarding future directions of the site. We feel that it is important to get input from our most valued members on important site decisions, and also to acknowledge their contributions to the site.

Many of our trusted members were moderators in the past. New moderators are usually chosen from this group as well.

Megan McDermott's picture

About the Author

Megan is co-founder and editor of A Padded Cell and administrator at The Webmaster Forums. She has been designing websites since 1997, with expertise in design, information architecture, usability, HTML/CSS, Drupal theming, and more. She is available for short-term or ongoing freelance work in any of those areas. Read her web design blog at MeganMcDermott.com or check out her portfolio.