Jun 14, 2010

RA Fan Highlight~ Ali of "RichardArmitageNet"

I enjoy the various Richard Armitage sites available online.
They each have their strengths and add their own flavor to the mix. 
One of my favorite spots to frequent is RichardArmitageNet
It's organized, visually pleasing, & up-to-date on the lastest info.
I enjoy the collection of fan art available for browsing.
I love their screencap gallery, which I put to use often when
searching for the perfect picture to go with a post.

Have you ever wondered who
is running the wheels
behind the scenes
of this great RA site?

Her name is Ali, aka: Alicat, and she is from the UK.
(Wendy, aka: Hedgeypig has also played a big role in designing
and running the site, although she is currently taking a break from
online duties at the moment.)  I became aquainted with Ali several
months ago through email, after starting this blog.  Since I "met"
her, she has been very friendly and helpful, answering questions,
sending me needed links, and sharing advice when it comes to
navigating the RA online world.

The RA online world:
I know what you're thinking...
"Nat, would you puh-leese stop using Richard's face in
those rediculous face-in-hole photos!?"
(Maybe.  Maybe not.)

Anyway, back to our topic...
Ali agreed to share a little more about herself with us~

How did you became a fan of Richard Armitage?
I came across Richard when I bought the Sunday Times April 30 2006 and saw ‘that’ picture on the front [HERE and to the left] and thought ‘who the HELL is that!’ then I read the interview inside (HERE) and was even more intrigued. In the article Richard was promoting The Impressionists and I’d already decided I was going to watch that as it’s something that interests me. I thought he was marvellous in that, he really brought the character alive. I bought the North and South DVD shortly afterwards and as a result of that I went online immediately! Guy tipped me over the edge into the fandom though, persuading me to join the AA forum (now the RAC). I just had to find someone else to talk to who understood why I was going nuts thinking about this Gisborne character all day long. Then I found some brilliant friends, discovered fanfic, fanart and have been hopelessly addicted to watching every single thing he’s been in over and over again. But anyone reading your blog knows exactly what I’m talking about!

Who is your favorite Richard Armitage character?
That’s easy to answer – Guy of Gisborne. For me, he’s the most intriguing role Richard has ever played with the most layers in his character. We were lucky to get 34 episodes of that character and he went through a hell of a journey, 3 different looks, a variety of storylines and amazing chemistry with Lucy and Keith. It’s the attraction of the ultimate bad guy with a conscience that’s so attracive but I know that I don’t have to explain myself to your audience. ;)

When and why did you start Richard Armitage Net?
It started in October 2008 under the name ArmyDreamers.com inspired from the fact that we all met on the AA and the fact that Wendy and I are fans of Kate Bush. The name didn’t feel right so I bought the domain RichardArmitageNet.com six months later. Wendy and I wanted to setup a website that reflected what we would want if we were new to the fandom, in many ways it contains all the things that we love best about being a fan of Richard’s. We like looking at pictures and screencaps, hence the time spent on the gallery and the fact that the picture of the day changes every day. We’re interested in the latest news, when is he on TV, any information we can get really. The two of us also have a common interest creating different types of art based on Richard’s characters so that had to be a big part of the site too. And finally we just wanted our own site because we’re both self-confessed geeks and love fiddling around with websites! Wendy is still an admin but she’s taken a step back now and is my back-up if I’m away. So if you email the site, it’s me that reads your message.

You said you own the site. Did you have to buy the rights to that web address, does it currently cost money to run, or is it free?
Yes, it costs money. You have to buy the domain name & also pay for hosting with a specific provider, in our case a company called hostgator. Both of these costs must be renewed annually or sometimes you can buy them bi-annually. It's the same for all website owners.

Your site is always so up-to-date on the current RA news and info. How do you keep so well informed?
I expect I spend far too much time on the net! Google search and google alerts are often the first point of call. Also I receive a number of emails to the site from people keen to share the news – it’s brilliant to get so much help with the latest news! Then there’s the forums. There’s not much out there that the members of C19 don’t find out, they are super sleuths. And Twitter is becoming more and more useful too. The site has a twitter account and we have 499 followers. I’m hoping to get #500 today! When I get some news or other info, I update the site as soon as I can.

How much online time is required to keep Richard Armitage Net updated and running smoothly?
Difficult to say really. Updating the pic of the day takes minutes, but if it’s a busy news day then I can be online for hours. Take the 4th of May for example, when Richard travelled from GMTV to Radio 5 live, talksport.net and then Radio 1. It was a completely crazy day. I had a free day at home so I recorded all the interviews, edited and reformatted them, uploaded them, took caps and put it all on the site, following updates from the Sky PR guy on twitter and other sources throughout the day. On the same day I captured a radio advert for the General Election and found some online articles about Strike Back. The next day was equally as busy as Sky updated their site, press pictures were found, etc, etc. Just look at the number of news items on those days and you can see that it was utterly mad, a totally bizarre way to spend a day but just absolutely brilliant. Screencaps take forever, especially doing the HD caps for Strike Back as I was quite selective of those, trying to get the best quality shots.

What is your favorite thing and the toughest thing about running Richard Armitage Net?
My favourite thing is undoubtedly the emails and comments we get from people. The whole point of the site is to share up-to-date news, pictures and interviews with as many people as possible and so when you hear back from them it’s fantastic. When you get an email from South Korea like I did the other day or a request for a pic of the day from China, or news from France of a new picture of Gisborne that we’ve not seen before or news from British Columbia that they are showing Richard’s episode of George Gently and the lady emailing is so excited, or new artwork from Italy and Germany, well it’s just wonderful to think that Richard’s work reaches out to so many people and that I can help to share that news. I absolutely love it, these people regularly make my day.
Toughest thing – the techy side. Maintaining the backend is a necessary chore for me and there are occasional issues that arise which you didn’t anticipate, for example our hosting company decided to implement something that caused me a bit of hassle 2 weeks ago but it was sorted out after a number of emails back and forth. These things are intermittent and not really a major problem, they are just my least favourite thing about the site. Wendy loves all the techy-nonsense but it’s my responsibility now and it’s good for me to learn to handle it. I still phone/text her when I’m stuck and lucky for me she’s happy to help.

How many hits does the site get daily?
Google analytics tells me that in the last month we had an average of 1500 hits a day, which includes those who visit more than once and an average of 1000 unique visitors every day, although that figure bumped upto 1400 unique visitors on Monday – the fallout from the BAFTAs! The number has trebled in one year so I’m chuffed that it’s working out so well.

You have a wonderful collection of fan art available. Do the artists send them to you to post or do you seek them out and ask their permission to share?
It’s probably 50/50, some email me with their work, others I have approached when I’ve seen their work on deviantart or one of the forums. No-one has said no yet I’m glad to say. As you know, the talent in this fandom is outstanding and I am always on the lookout for more to add to this part of the website.

A big thanks to Ali  for answering my questions
and shedding some light on the ins-and-outs of running an RA site,
which is quite different than running a blog!

If you would like to request a picture of the day,
send in some fan art, or have any questions or comments
for Ali, she can be contacted at admin@richardarmitagenet.com


Skully said...

Great interview! It's such a big undertaking to maintain a website like that. Well done to Ali... my blog would be so boring without her spooks screencaps!

BTW, please don't stop the RA 'face in a hole' pics... they're DORKTASTIC!

MillyMe said...

What a fantastic interview with Ali! A different start to RA-dom than many of us with a newspaper cover and The Impressionists as the kick-off point! (So the magic works despite strange facial hair and wierd beards!)

Their site is an absolute must for anyone interested in Richard. I'm so grateful to them for the huge amount work they put in. I especially enjoy the fact that there are several places to comment, Guestbook, home page, articles and reviews.

Thanks, Nat, for making sure that people are aware of this amazing site.

Phylly3 said...

Great interview Nat! Very nice to meet you Ali! I must tell you how much I appreciate the work you do to maintain your website. Your screencap gallery is a treasure trove for blogging and also now for my beginning attempts at fanvids.:)

mulubinba said...

Thanks Ali and thanks Nat !! The website is great, Ali, as is the fic. site :)

Violet said...

Ali´s site is my daily source of information on RA. Great interview!

Those hole-in-face pictures are BAD! :)

kaprekar said...

What a great idea for a blog post, Nat!

Ali, I have recently started to appreciate your site so much and spend more and more time on it these days, especially the screencaps. I discovered last night that you can run a slide show of an album - very pleasing!

I can't believe how you find the time to do it, it must be love, that's all I can think, obviously the fans appreciate it, and I hope that you have written or will write to Richard and told him about what you do too. Thanks so much.

Anonymous said...

Great idea for an interview Nat (keep doing them!). It is nice to know a little more about the person(s) behind such a great site.

Many thanks to Ali and Wendy for their hard work all this years. It is indeed a must see site for anyone interest in RA.

OML :)

bZirk said...

Thank you, Natalie. I've had some of those same questions.


I love your site and really appreciate all of your work. We would all be at such a disadvantage without the things you and Wendy do! Thanks again.

Myrtle said...

If I may just echo the comments above. I visit RA Net each day and love pic of the day.
Thanks to Ali & Wendy

A great idea for a post Nat!

ps Ali if you are reading this might it be possible to have a SFR character as 'pic of the day' sometime for us RA fan-bloggers? If Nat is ok with that of course.

Anonymous said...

Hi Nat, does this mean you're going to interview some of the other forum/website owners? This is an interesting idea and it would be nice to hear from some of the older, more established board and website owners and how they feel about being part of this amazing fan phenomenon.

It's lovely to see everyone's hard work, keep up the high standards. Richard has a lot to be proud of in his fans.


Anonymous said...

Hi Nat, Hetty again. Sorry, I should have said 'being part of this amazing fan phenomenon from the very start.'

thank you.

@Rob said...

Thanks for all your hard work. I didn't realize how time consuming the blogs can be to keep up. We all benefit so much from your hard work.

bZirk said...


Excellent suggestion!


Yes, it would be great to hear from some of the other web owners who have been around for a while. I would love to know their stories. I've pieced some of it together, but I'm not sure what I've concluded is correct. Would love to hear from them.

Elisabet said...

@ Nat: Indeed, thank you for this great interview; I have been asking myself for a while now who would be behind this site.
And @ Ali (and Wendy): Thank you so much for all your work and dilligence. Your site is always the first that I check for new pics and news, and I am always amazed by the weath of information and the up-to-dated-ness of it.

diveknit said...

Repeating other here, but thanks Nat for the idea to interview Ali and Wendy - very interesting to read.

Ali and Wendy, thanks for your great website, it is very nicely done, very well organized and fun to read and look at.

Nat at RA FanBlog said...

Hetty, I don't have any immediate plans to interview other website owners/forum admins since I still don't know them personally, even though I enjoy their sites. This might be a possibility in the future, however. (I like to feel like I've "met" someone before I start peppering them with questions... although this wouldn't apply if I were to ever meet Richard, the poor guy.) I have a lot of respect for all the people who run RA sites, but don't consider any "more established" based on the length of time they've been up and running. (By the way... when was the "start" of the RA phenomenon in your opinion? Is it when he started appearing on film or when North & South aired and everyone went crazy for JT?)

Twinkling Moon said...

@Nat,Thanks so much for your interview of Ali. I have often pondered the very same questions you asked her.

@Ali and Wendy, thanks so much for your dedication!

Ali said...

Just popping in to say that I've read all the comments and am flattered by the feedback. Thanks to all xx

Juney said...

Lovely interview Nat. I also have to thank Ali and Hedgey for their work - especially for the screencaps - sig/wallpaper makers like myself would be completely lost without this wonderful resource to fall back on for inspiration.

B* said...

Thanks Nat, I can imagine running a blog/website can be crazy busy at times....but all worth it for love of RA.

And thanks again, Alicat - from the "British Columbian" who finally got to see GG. I enjoyed all the characters so much that I'm watching the rest of the series :)