25 years! (Page 1/6)
Cliff Pennock JAN 13, 06:39 AM
I can't believe it's been a whopping 25 years to this day since I fired up the internet engines and birthed my baby: PFF, Pennock's Fiero Forum, or "Pennock's" as it's commonly known. I was a member of a few Fiero related mailing lists at the time, but I hated the fact that they were completely over-moderated. People were tiptoeing around like it was a mine field, afraid of triggering the mighty moderators. At the time, online forums made their debut on the Internet and since I had my own web servers, I decided to create my own little corner on the interwebs and set up a forum specifically for the Pontiac Fiero. And on January 13th, 1999, PFF was born.

My goal was to make the forum as self-moderating as possible. I envisioned a community where members felt at home, be able to chill and ask their questions without fear of being ridiculed for asking "stupid" questions or being slapped with a "use the search!" response. I wanted every discussion to be fresh, every question to be addressed as if it were never asked before. I didn't want people to have to wade through dozens of pages of old posts only to find an obsolete solution to their problem.

The number of members grew faster than expected and within months the membership had grown to several hundred and continued to grow. It soon became apparent that the software could not handle the large number of visitors, so I started rewriting the forum software, module by module. This also allowed me to add features that were unique to PFF. Features that could not be found on any other forum.

But the success also had a downside. Some people - bless their hearts - couldn't stand PFF's success and took advantage of the fact that there were no real moderators on the forum (I refused to be or appoint one). They did their best to be the ants to our picnic. The mosquitos to our barbecue. Their attacks eventually focused on me personally. It even went so far that a group of people, after they had found my business's forum, contacted my customers and claimed that the software I made for them had been plagerized. This group caused a lot of damage - and only because they couldn't stand that my forum was so successful. At one point they even created a site called "pennocksucks". But that’s a whole story on itself.

While I laughed at their antics, it still caused a lot of stress for me. My business was now suffering because of PFF's success. My business is what put food in the mouths of my kids. But my love for the Pontiac Fiero kept me from giving up on PFF. I also felt that I now had a responsibility towards the Fiero community. So many people were depending on PFF for keeping their cars running that I couldn't possibly pull the plug.

For years and years I had managed to balance both endeavors. However, I eventually had to close my business. Not because of PFF but because of my overall health. I have an uncurable illness which led to a heart attack when I was 40. I had to take a step back and that was the moment I decided to quit my company and continue building websites and programming applications on a much smaller scale. And I even quit that eventually.

Even though social media has caused the number of visitors to drop drastically, PFF stands tall and is still a fairly active forum, especially compared to other forums that have turned into ghost towns. At the basis are the unsung heroes, the large number of highly skilled members who are always ready to help others and understand the spirit of PFF. Rarely are questions answered with a "use the search function". Rarely are (new) members reprimanded for asking a question that has been asked dozens of times before. Not by the members and not by me. And therefore, every question is answered with the latest insights and the latest techniques.

And so PFF has been helping to keep the Fiero on the road for 25 years. I am almost 60 now and I don't know how long I will be able to continue doing this. But I have absolutely no intention of stopping. I will keep PFF up and running as long as I can. I have to. Not only because my responsibility towards the Fiero community, but also because I too have had a Fiero for the past 36 years, of which the last 28 years one and the same car. I’m a bit ashamed to admit it is in abysmal state right now. It leaks fluids everywhere, it has huge electrical problems, its exhaust is shot, it has a big crack in the windshield, my doors are filled with water and the bodywork has chips and cracks everywhere. I can’t drive it for longer than 5 minutes before it starts spraying coolant everywhere. But it’s my Fiero and has been for the past 28 years and I love it and I will keep it as long as possible. But keeping my Fiero running is becoming more difficult by the day and would be absolutely impossible without PFF and its members!

So I say to all the members of PFF: without you, none of this would have been possible. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for making it possible for me to keep PFF up and running. With your support, your donations, your kindness and your help.

25 years... No big party, no big update of the site, no big competition with big prizes, no fuss. Just a word of thanks to all of you!

I can't promise I'll last another 25 years, but I'll definitely try!
olejoedad JAN 13, 08:28 AM
Thank you, Mr. Pennock.

You website is a treasure to the community.

[This message has been edited by olejoedad (edited 01-13-2024).]

shemdogg JAN 13, 09:38 AM
Huge thank you Cliff, this site is pure gold!

LT188GT JAN 13, 09:58 AM
Cliff is the very first person to join PFF still around to the best of your knowledge?
olejoedad JAN 13, 10:56 AM

Originally posted by LT188GT:

Cliff is the very first person to join PFF still around to the best of your knowledge?

Wouldn't that have been Cliff? 🤣
sleek fiero JAN 13, 10:57 AM
Thanks Cliff; I for one am happy to be a member of this highly informative forum
Cliff Pennock JAN 13, 11:11 AM

Originally posted by LT188GT:

Cliff is the very first person to join PFF still around to the best of your knowledge?

The problem is, I can't easily check who the first member was. Member's are numbered. My initial member number was 00000001 (obviously) but at some point I made a change to the forum software causing the member numbers to get shuffled. I now have number 00000044 and the person having 00000001 wasn't necessarily the first member (after me). Nowadays, I can see exactly when a member registered, but I can't really see that for the first couple of hundred members. There might be other ways for me to find out but I will need to investigate.
Cliff Pennock JAN 13, 11:29 AM
So I actually checked and there were 2 persons who registered on January 14th 1999: "JD" and "northstar87". Since JD created the second post on the forum (the first being my welcome message), we can consider him the first member (to post) on PFF. He ever only posted two messages though, while northstar87 was still posting 5 years later.
RWDPLZ JAN 13, 11:54 AM
Congratulations! Still THE source for Fiero information. The site kept my first car and then daily driver on the road through college.
Chief08 JAN 13, 12:01 PM
Congratulations Cliff, and thank you. This forum has and continues to be an invaluable source of knowledge and information.