How did the idea for GMForever.com come about?
The first idea to create a George Michael fan website came about around the summer of 2017.
My friends and I love finding and sharing information about George. We would look for interviews and discuss them among ourselves. A friend compiled all of George’s tweets, while another made a list of all his duets. Another kept a running journal of GM interviews on Youtube. We didn’t publicly share our finds, but just shared among each other in our private conversations.
To make sharing of the information easier (without scrolling through all of our private conversations), I volunteered to create a website where we can put our little treasures in a much more organized way. The website will showcase what we love about George Michael — through his music, interviews, videos, and other interesting facts. The goal of the site was to celebrate George Michael’s life, music, and career.
In October 2017, I registered the domain georgemichaelegacy.com, and set up the Twitter account @gmlegacy. I then set to build the site behind a password-protected environment, with the goal of opening it later to the public.
But my ” opening it later” turned out to be months, almost a year. I decided that I liked the idea of a private slice of George Michael heaven with the website available only to my group of friends. Hence, I kept the site under lock and key, with only my friends getting access to it. External visitors to the site only saw a “coming soon” on the homepage with the content not visible to the public as I continued to build the site on the back end.
During the months the site was password-protected, my friends and I brainstormed as to what other types of content we can put on the private website. Some of the initial ideas were vetoed and scrapped — such as creating a forum (too much work in terms of moderation) or a gallery of all the photos of George Michael (too much of a bandwidth hog).
When the Red Line interviews were broadcasted in November 2017, I transcribed the interview for my friends who weren’t able to catch the live broadcast. I finished the transcription by end-November and posted it alongside the audio on the private website so my friends who missed the interview could listen to the audio and read the transcript.
The site was our private treasure, and I was getting comfortable with the idea of not opening it to the public. However, some fans who saw the Twitter account got curious and requested access to the site to see what’s inside. And they liked what they saw, and encouraged me to make the site public because the fans will love it.
So the website that I created for my personal enjoyment was opened to the public nearly a year later, in September 2018.
How did GeorgeMichaelegacy.com become GMForever.com?
I thought the name GeorgeMichaelegacy.com was too long, and I can’t remember if there are 2 letter “L” or only one (is it GeorgeMichaelLegacy.com or GeorgeMichaeLegacy.com?). If I can’t remember it, I am sure others won’t as well.
So in January 2018, I found a much shorter name that’s easier for me to remember – GMForever.com. And the site was moved to its new domain GMForever.com.
People call your site a “surrogate website.” Was it your goal to replace the official website?
No, no, no! My goal has never been about replacing the official website. Nothing can replace the official site, and GMForever.com is not attempting to do that. Ever.
My site is only a fan website, like the other fan websites that co-existed before when the official website was up and running. I just want a place to show my love of everything George Michael, nothing more and nothing else. It was never my intention to replace the official website.
Are you opposed to bringing back the official website?
A big fat NO! Contrary to rumors and nasty talk around, I want to see the official website back in all its glory.
As I said, I only see my site as a fan website, and several fan websites co-existed with the official site when George was alive. I don’t see a reason why my fan website cannot exist TOGETHER with the official website. It’s not an “either-or” situation that my site should disappear if the official site comes back.
And yes, the so-called “surrogate site” that gmforever.com’s haters call the site is still very much active and peacefully coexisting with the official site.
Did you create the site to make money off George Michael?
If my goal was to make money off George Michael, I would have launched the site within 2 weeks after its creation to earn money from the site as soon as possible.
But as I said earlier, I created the site in October 2017 but opened it to the public almost a year later in September 2018. And I wouldn’t have opened it to the public if I didn’t get messages from people telling me that the fans will love the site and that I should share it with the public. I got several direct messages asking for access to the site, which I gave, and people generally were surprised to see the site and encouraged me to open it to the public.
So why put ads on the site?
I put ads on the site primarily to defray the expenses of running a website. Not to get rich, but just to help pay part of the costs of bringing to you information and articles about George Michael.
When the site was behind the firewall and only a few close friends had access to the site, there was no need for any ads as the costs of maintaining the site was minimal. The functionality was also bare-bones.
But when I opened the site to the public, and more people came to check it out, I had to offer the best experience to celebrate George Michael. That means buying more bandwidth so more people can visit the site at the same time and fully enjoy the peak experience created for them. The site started using custom programming and database work, all of which cost money.
GMForever.com is not hosted on free website builders like Blogger or Wix. To create this site with its functionality and design, the only option is to pay for its monthly website hosting. The site also uses several critical software and website applications/plugins that charge licensing fees. All of these jack up the monthly cost of running GMForever.com.
Plus, the site’s enemies have also sought to compromise the security of the site, and premium software has to be purchased to protect GMForever.com from hacks and malware. The site uses various software to prevent it from getting hacked by identifying malicious traffic, blocking attackers before they can access the website.
To show an example, below is a screenshot of the attempts to hack into the site on October 4, 2019 alone (in some days, the attempts can be more than a hundred).
One of the software I use automatically locks out IP addresses of those engaging in suspicious activities such as login attempts or requesting a new password. The software also sends automatic alerts for security threats, such as the email below:
Again, all of this security software costs money (and they are not cheap!)
In addition to web hosting and security costs, I also pay for content. I buy old magazines, and use a paid subscription service for old newspaper clippings. Yes, those newspaper clippings are not free.
Given all these expenses, I decided to put ads to help cover all these costs. But the ads were removed in January 2019.
However, I retain the right to put ads on the site again to help cover the expenses for running and maintaining the site, as well as purchasing content materials.
You said the ads were removed. But some claim you have “hidden ads.” Is that true?
If you go to GMForever.com, you will not find any display ads (whether banner, leaderboard, rectangles, skyscrapers, button or other forms or sizes of display advertising). You will also not find ads that pops up or pops under your screen. You will not also see text ads. There are no video ads, interstitial or other forms of advertising. Simply because there are no ads.
Yet some claim the site has hidden ads.
There are no ads on GMForever.com. If no one can see the ads, no one can click on the ads, why would advertisers pay a website for advertisements that no one can see? Remember this: No advertiser in their right mind will pay for hidden ads. Businesses advertise to raise awareness, get customers and increase sales for their sites, products or services. Advertisers want you to see their products, what they offer and they want you to buy it. Hence, advertisers want you to see their ads so you can read it, remember it, and better yet, click on it and buy what they offer.
And on GMForever.com, you will not see advertising of any kind.
But they say that you have ads.txt, which proves you still have ads?
This is a clear case of “little knowledge is a dangerous thing.” Some people have read about ads.txt and think that it is proof that the website has ads. Totally wrong.
Ads.txt does not serve ads. It is not an ad serving software. Ads.txt is a text file and text files do not execute programs. It is simply a code that lists down allowed advertisers on the site. Ads.txt was adopted by the online advertising industry to combat ad fraud by listing the vendors allowed to show ads on the site. Ads.txt is not mandatory but is highly recommended by advertising networks.
Several months ago, the ads.txt file has been removed, and typing https://gmforever.com/ads.txt will give you a 404 Page Not Found error.
You can read more about ads.txt file and how it is used by advertising networks such as Google Adsense here https://support.google.com/adsense/answer/7532444?hl=en.
Where do you find your content?
The goal of the site is to put as much as I can find into one place – to make it easy for fans to read and find information on George Michael. To achieve that, I use a combination of different sources.
Some friends share with me what they have, like the spreadsheet of George Michael’s tweets that I converted into a searchable database. Other friends help research and compile information resources, especially for the album pages like Wham! Fantastic published on October 21, 2017 https://gmforever.com/wham-fantastic/.
There are also old fan sites that posted transcriptions of both print and video interviews. What I do is try to find scans of those magazine interviews or videos of the interviews to check the transcription and verify accuracy.
Some fans volunteer to transcribe the Youtube videos, which I am eternally grateful for their work.
There are also some fans who volunteer to translate interesting interviews originally written in non-English languages.
Why do you have to transcribe videos? Isn’t it better to hear and read GM in the original medium?
I agree. Nothing replaces the joy of hearing the voice of George Michael speaking. Plus, transcribing is a lot of work, and it is not easy.
However, seeing the actual words on the page can make it easy for some people to appreciate his words even more. Reading the transcript can be done at the person’s own pace, and fans can go back and re-read a sentence to gain a clearer understanding of what George was trying to say. Plus, the reader gets to take notice of important information or passages that may have been skipped when listening to audio.
Plus, there are many non-English fans who do not speak English or have poor English skills. The transcript can make it easy for them to translate the text on the page.
In most cases, the audio is presented on the page alongside the transcript so a visitor can choose to either listen to the audio, read only the text or do both.
Do you own the copyright to the articles and interviews?
I own the copyright to the original articles I have written on the site and the graphics created.
For the magazine interviews and audio interviews, the copyright of content belongs to the original or current copyright holders. Attribution is almost always given to the original author and publication where the interview was published. This info is displayed on every page of content.
If you believe you are the owner of some of this content and wish to discuss it, please let me know. Authors can add their contact info to their content if they wish, or restrict some or all of their articles from being published for some reason if they really do not want them archived here. Again, contact me to arrange this.