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Problem: How do I interview a potential webmaster partner?

Start up project with HUGE upside needs Right Person.

5:13 am on Mar 4, 2011 (gmt 0)

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This little project will be on the national medias radar within 60 to 90 days from now. It's a whistle blower web site on one of the largest US industries. Millions of customers and 40,000 locations within the industry. You haven't heard of this potential disaster---yet. But we have three years of research documentation to back up our conclusions and they are going public very soon.

SO......I have a problem. In fact, I have a couple of problems.

I need to develope a business relationship with a webmaster that will be willing to consider him or herself a "partner". Everyones heard that one before, right?

But I also need one with a lot of skill and intestinal fortitude!

This is a serious inquiery and I need some serious suggestions, please. We are dealing with information and a business opportunity that will put shudders through a major industy, with an astronomical financial potential. But it isn't going to be easy. Building the site should be. Keeping it going may be another story. This project will make maybe millions of friends and it will make some enemies.

One introduction page (main page) and 5 topical pages or areas for issue explanation, public testamonials and possible forum. There are lots of pictures that document everything. The revenue generation will be a Safety and Security report sold, with a fee per download. Still sounds simple, right? Making it should be. Keeping it operating will not be.

Risk should maybe be the middle name of this project.

I've talked to five or six webmasters via phone and no takers so far. I may need someone living 100 miles out in the woods with a satellite uplink. I don't think I'm looking for a taylored suit guy here.

I'd appreciate any suggestions you can provide. I'm not well versed in website security. This will take serious security. Feel free to contact me. I need all the suggestions I can get. But please understand that I may not be able to be very specific just yet. I'm still trying to figure out the questions to ask the right webmaster.

3:15 pm on Mar 4, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Welcome to WebmasterWorld!

So, you expect to be a hacker target & have the whole 4chan army throwing DoSbombs at the site?

Do you truly think the webmaster will be in personal physical danger, or is that hyperbole?

If you're concerned about security, I'd forget about the forum - it opens potential points of vulnerability that aren't there with plain static HTML content.
4:42 pm on Mar 4, 2011 (gmt 0)

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I need to develope a business relationship with a webmaster that will be willing to consider him or herself a "partner".

I think that when most webmasters hear the term "partnership" in a business proposal, they automatically hear "Work for free now- you may get some money if the venture ever makes money." That's a big red flag to most folks, and they'll probably tune out anything you say after that. Especially if they also hear the word "risk!" If that's not what you mean, then certainly don't phrase it like that. If it is what you mean, you most likely have your work cut out for you...

That said, do some research in the specific industry. Since it's so big, there must be a number of sites that are critical of either the industry itself or one or more businesses in the industry. Target those sites as potential "partners." Even if you don't find a webmaster, you'll build up a network to tap into in the future for getting links, publishing press releases, contributing to your forums, etc.
5:21 pm on Mar 4, 2011 (gmt 0)

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I am not concerned with physical danger. At least not anymore than jaywalking on a busy road.

I believe this will be a major "hack" target. This is a "whistle blower" information site. And it will have a fairly large whistle. 100% of all information onsite is documented.

Sticky me or e-mail.

5:53 pm on Mar 4, 2011 (gmt 0)

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I don't know what your topic is,but have been approached by similar potential clients. You need to work this the other way - instead of looking for a webmaster to get on board, you need to find people with the same passions about your topic and sort through them until you find one that has web skills. "There is no heart stronger than that of a volunteer". A contractor may do the work for you as long as the checks are good, but if they never share your passion they won't be willing to push it to it's fullest potential.

A scenario, your like-minded web newbie may not be skilled in SEO or all the other things that make a web site work, but with the passion to drive it, they will be motivated to learn. A contractor will only do what they are paid to do.
4:38 pm on Mar 5, 2011 (gmt 0)

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I have a retail site where 15min of downtime can cost the client thousands and the afiliate programe fraud is rampant. Its got similar challenges to yours.

What you dont want is some expert who can firefight these issues continuosly. What you need is a high availability and secure design and BCP that you expect to execute, log shipping, warm servers etc.

I'd look for someone who is very calm under high pressure and and with good infrastrcuture / data centre contacts
2:20 am on Mar 10, 2011 (gmt 0)

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I have seen the architecture of a bank's new system and can see how a reverse proxy as the front door of the website leading to flat HTML pages protects the real assets, which are coded in Java and are further back in the chain of machines. Go to security forums and PM the cluey posters to see if they are interested.

I also agree with the previous posts that most contractors will not work free on the possibility of future revenues. Volunteers are also a good idea but they may not hang around if personal issues get in the way. Ask yourself how far would the big bad industry go to shut you down and then take that on board.
9:21 pm on Apr 6, 2011 (gmt 0)

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First thing is that you will have to host outside the US because US hosting providers don't have any "intestinal fortitude". They'll suspend the site if they get even a whiff of a DMCA.

So its Europe or Asia that you have to look at for the hosting. And here again some countries are weaker than others. There are some datacenters in Sweden, for example, that won't give in easily.

As far as protecting against hackers goes you'll need to pay extra to the hosting provider to secure and manage the server and install hardware firewalls and stuff. You may even need redundant servers in multiple locations. And definitely set the TTL of your DNS records to a very low number so you can switch servers quickly.

Your domain will also have to be registered outside the US preferably with a european registrar that has a history of siding with clients. You may even have to avoid GTLDs entirely and stick with European CCTLDs.

All of this will cost megabucks. Which brings me to the question of your income stream. Will you be using US based paypal or some other company to process your payments? Don't be surprised if they bail on you if you get into trouble. How will you fund your operation if you can't make any money?