History of Fusion101 Website

Free Christian Dating Site

A 15 year journey meant to take 3!

Real Christian singles couple married on Fusion101.com!On February Tuesday the 3rd 2015, after waiting 13 years, I was able myself to change the look of Fusion101.com - a sucessful totally free Christiain singles site I designed in 1999 to make it easier for single Christians to meet and nurtured literally member by member, brick by brick. In fact - you are looking at the results - it's not brilliant but it's clean and nice and I'm so excited that this has finally happened I can hardly sit down!

Whilst the original idea was for a social network for Christians (social networks were unheard of back then) I quickly realised this would not attract singles in the seatch engines.

I had managed - having spent at least two years ridding myself of completely unecessary overheads eating up all the cash that the site was making (the site itself has only ever had a basic operating cost of £100-200 per month max, exclusing new feature code alterations) of which and my own personal savings to near bankruptcey - to find and download a free template which I could use to finally re-skin the website and give it a new modern look.

Join 101 Christian singles dating service FREE Christian singles!

'Re-skin' simply means to change the outside look of a website without touching the complex code underneath. How could this one simple task I requested from both of my 'developers' (who in the end didn't develop anything for me) possibly take 13 years? And how did I (I've now accepted it was entorely my mistake for getting the wrong people involved and not believeing in myself and my own ideas which have proved to be good ones some people are only just using years before I wanted to implement them on Fusion) manage to turn something that was very sinple, working great and exteremely popular and - earing (not me) good money from advertising alone - into a total disaster and a huge mess?

Well, whilst I am very emarrassed about this and would rather not tell the world about my stupid mistake that nearly cost me my health and has cost me the chance of getting married myself - at least up till now, I feel perhaps someone might gain something from learning abojt my (huge) mistakes. So now, after a long time of being so upset about the whole thing I couldn't even speak about it without feeling physically sick, I'll tell you how this happened, as it might be a good lesson for any budding web entrepreneurs and it will certainly be therapy for me!:)

What's in a name?

I had several names for what is now fusion101 at the time at the end of 1998-99: one of the first names I came up with was 'Christian Connection' - a fairly obvious choice as I didnt want to use the wprd 'singles' or 'dating' in the domain. Something that in reptospect was not a agreat move in terms of marketing and search engine ranking. I toyed with that for several weeks and other names, with the idea of changing the 'ctio' to an 'X' so it would read 'ChristianConneXtion'. But in theend I wanted something totally generic - that I could use to brand a charity-like unmeralla organisation later.

My ONE Goal - and others

in these days wehre real Christians that love God with heart mind and soul as The Bible commands are rarer that diamonds, Was to make sure Christians never had to go through what I went through - feeling like you need to church hop - change churches, go somewhere - move to a city - basicly away from where you are perfectly settled in work and socially and in a Christian community however small - in order to find a spouse. Fusion was not just about marriage - it was about removing that stress we Christians have as we approach older ages still having not met anyone. The secular world this is not a problem - anyone is your oyster! With Christians - you'll be lucky if you meet 1 person in ten years you could marry simply on a numbers basis.

Mistake No.1

Interestinly the first thing both developers did was to make the site 'secure' - great. The problem was I was now no longer able to access the server or the site. I had to ask permission and this at fisrt was not granted - "you may damage something." So what - I had had access to evertything to this point and not damaged anything? Eventually I was granted re-access to just the page files but. Unknowln to me or them I guess - this sealed their fate because they had removed all confidence and power from me of my own site - this in itself was very concerning - something I wouln't dream of doing to someone - esopcially someone like me who had little knowledge. I would go out of my way to make sure the client or person I was working with had full access - full copies of data dn full everything. But it was done So I spent the. At least before I coud ask the company of r abackup.

It was being backedup alright - but to their own personal sever! What about me the site owner - wht wasnt I given straight away the aility to access my files and download copies of data any time I wanted it as I will make sure my clients can do.

Crumbling society and morals

I wanted to help Christians create strong family units - one man and one woman dedicating themselves and their children to God in a world which is disintegratig before our eyes faster than ever before.

Have I achieved it? We despite hundreds of marriages - no not really. But now 15 years later that I can finally move things forward I have great, great hope. Becasue the need os still there and no matter how big sites like Facebook and the secular dating sites posing as Christian dating sites get - for all the rehetoric about making the workd more connected ***p (boloney) - they are only interested in one thing - the revenue you generate for them and their shareholders! I can't think of anything worse than working for these monstrous social and moral vacuum cleaners leaving all but trash, violence and filth for our kids to see at the click of a button and chastising anyone that dares tell them to clean up as somehow interfering with peopl's freedom of speech which of course they really have declared war on, but only with Christians. Do I sound annoyed - perhaps I am. I will deal with it in time.

A quick rant...

All this nonsesnse about 'connecting' people - connecting you to the people you don't need to be connected to more like and 1000 people who wouldn't do a thing for you when push comes to shove. And all done as if this technology is making the world a better place - when 'research' (common sense will do) tells us that people who use Fecbook are MORE unhappy and it just inflames unhealthy passions and makes people spiritually ill! Duh!

We should be connecting with family and close friends! Your facebook friend limit needs to be about 50 - the number or maeningful friendships one person can manage according to the 'scientists' (yes they are paid to research the obvious) but that's another issue and technology is a train that is not going to stop until God stops it, throws it all in the tech-bin and replaces it with something far better promised in The Bible - a restored garden with real people with restores bodies, real relationships and real love!

Freelancers dont't like working

No seriously - that sounds harsh and doesn't cover everybody but I realised (far to late though it's blindingly obvious) is the whole reason they become freelancers in the first place. I wasn't thinking straight because when I became one it was out of necesity - I had been made redundant, but most people become freelancers to double their fees and half the hours they work!

Disaapearing cash

What a proper fool I was! And I was even told by my old mother and brother and friends - bless them - to use a company instead, but I would always say; "look these people are Christians - it will only be another month - which went to 2 months - to 6 moths - to a year - to deverloper completely disappeared from radar off on holiday."

Supporting Charities & Causes

I'm so so so upset that for 13 years I was unable to do the one thing I wanted to start doing at the outset - being totally preocupied with catching falling plates and dealing with unpredictable developers and never being able to move the site forward.

But now at last, I can begin to turn Fusion and it's sister sites into what I originally dreamed of - a charity-like enterprise that can support missiona and people that can't help themselves - not because it's a good selling point - but because these people need meoney to do their work and I have a very large group of people to hand that I can encoyrage to give, as well as pay monies not need by the site also!

Priests of the IT world

One day it dawned on me that most freelance web developers are almost identicle in their methods of operation - wether they realise it or not - to Preists - yes those people of the cloth! They encourage you to tell you all your secrets promising to fix them, only to find that they can be fixed... errr but for an exorbitant cost. Oh and we'll never actually finish anything so the cost will be indefinite. If we did that we might have to find another fool to milk.

It's a sort of legalised extortion that men just can't stop themselves doing when they are offered what they see as virtually 'free money'. But that's not the real reason they are like priests - it's because after a time - they become the only mediator between you, the great unknowable IT monstor in the Sky (normally just a few lines of code they squeeze in betwen other jobs or going on holiday) and your business you spent years developing without their help.

Now when I do deveLopment work in the future - I am going to 1) do what the client asks but b) make it my business to teach the client to do this himself so I don't become the only method they can use causing them no end of stress - like facebook there should be an easy exit - unless of course he has no desire.

My big - no HUGE mistake

The biggest mistake I made was to tell these people about my vulnerabilities. I told them that I was scared of losing the site and all the 1000's of hours of work and that I was unsure about security and unsure about this and that. I told them i was constantly unwell and that every day I was at breaking point physically and mentally (I think they thought I was exegerating but I wasn't - Ill explain just how ill I got later).

But instead of reasuring me, and despite my mother always telling me' "not to tell everyone everything" - wise words - this became a bartering card that could now be used (intentionallyor unitentionally to twist my arm into handing over more and more control over time and until in both cases, it was hand over 50% and I'll fix the 'problems' (all I wanted was a new front end and a couple of functional issues dealt with ince and for all. And this often seemed like a good option - afyer all I was now toally sick and anything could happen to the site if I didn't with no chance of recovery.

By the way - some of this was conveyed by stating it, but a lot was by omission - by not telling me for sntance that my database was in fact an exteremely simple one where little could go wrong and it was an hour long doddle to fix for a developer. Something I found out from an old friend who had truned database administrator - could not belive what I was worried about and showed me that these people were in fact taking money for almost nothing. I had kind of worked this out for myself at this time but he cofirmed it.

It all sarted with a traditonal dating agency

Sometimes in 1998 I joined one of the very few traditional Christian dating agecies that existed at the time. I was charged if I remember around £5-600 for I think perhaps being introduced to something like ten dates (it was 16 years ago!).

After dating about three or four very nice but completely incompaitible Christian ladies I called the comapny and asked if they could be more specific for me - whicih they were. But after one more date I thre in the towel as I had become too busy at work.

I called again and asked if there was any chance I could have at least a partial refund which they said was not possible. Whilst i understood this as standard business practice - i.e not to give refunds even when it's warranted because it hurts too much - I have to say O was a little peaved. It was then that the idea of starting my own servive - one where I wouldn't rip people off (or at least one where I would charge a reasonable amount came into my mind).

I had always had the romantic idea of running a charity as I love helping people and causes that help those that can't help themselves and thought meybe this would provide a vehicle to fund such a 'charity' type idea.

Fusion101 was dreamed of and created in 1999 as a not-for-profit 'organisation' that would help single Christians find people in other churches locally and internationally more easily that they could meet with the ultimate inetntion and potential for marriage.

I remember thinking: this will take me 2-3 years and then I can go back to doing some music and perhaps get married myself. Little did I know I wouldn't have done any music and still be unmarried 14 years later, always too tired or sick or stressed to want to go on a date or initiate a meeting with a Christian lady myself. I would always say to myself - maybe next year I'll look through the profiles. And the same the next year - and the next. There was one piont where I got so ill I actualy thought that my life was over in terms of having any hope of being married.

Designed in 1999 - my first taste of 'buisness'

Right there I got my first taste of business - I saw how people will instantly just think of themselves when money is inloved. It was a shock but one i was to experience several times over until I learned that unless you go in at 50/50 or an equal share at the outset - you are always in for trouble and it will end in tears - one partner will invariably end up doing more work that the other. Now if you are equal partners there is a chance this may work - but if you are unequal - the lazy one will always convonce himself he deserves more as his focus will not be on the work at hand but on your larger share!

Whlst the service and website has been super-successful (too successful for it's own good in a way as over-usage by its members has causing frequent server crashes and technical issues which have hopefully been resolved at least for now) it has been a super-hard struggle to both keep running and overcome the obstacles of what can only be described as the Devil's best attempt to thwart the site owner's desire to release Christians from the constraints of only finding suitable singles in their local church - an ideal situation that for most just isn't a reality.

I was never sure if The Devil existed until I tried to help God's people

It would appear that this service - being 100% totally free is the very last thing Satan (if he exists and i now belive with all my heart he does) wants and he seems to have employed just about every tactic imaginable to bring the whole thing to an end - the stress of which led to me ending up with several illnesses and waste literally twelve years of my life trying to resolve one issue and one attack after another. Of course many people would say the whole thing is in my mind but that's another issue.

I am talking about everything from plain cyber DOS attackes, three 'partners' attempting to completely remove my ability to have any control over the website and server and almost succeeding, disgruntled members removed for abusing the service bringing the server down, a secular company comying th entire dating guide which took a year to write and putting it nline under their own domoain, a Christian lady copying the entire site, chnaging the look and putting the site online (and even admitting this when I confronted her and still hasn't taken the site down), several members and site visitors accusing me of trying to profit from Christians and the whole thing being a rip-off because I said the site was free and then after signup offered them a chance to jump the queue and support Fusion at the same time (something I implementented to suplement my dveloper who was constantly reming me he was working for peace-meal (even though it was 5-times the amount of money I was paying myself).

Fusion's long, slow and exteremely painful journey to success, to near complete failure and back again (I hope:)

For most of the 15 years that Fusion101.com website has remained almost identicle to how it was the day ot started in 2000. Between then and now however I managed to spend well over £150,000 but have almost nothing to show for it. Virtually all of the 250,00 revenue that the site brought in was spent on trying to complete a project that was never deliverd by my developers.

In both cases asked my developers for several - I belive simple things and 13 years and over £150,000 later I finally get some of them - only the first two from my freelance developers.

  1. a new server (the old one wasn't handling the amount if site traffic and would crash every few years as it was growing in members).
  2. a site code security check - going through the site code to check it's ok.
  3. monitor emails alerts to check they are working (these tell members they have new mail).
  4. a new look to the old site (desperately nedded since 2003).
  5. a CMS - content management system. This is a template to allow me to add pages from a central admin panel making changes to existing pages easy. I was currenly (and until Feb 2015) adding pages manually one at a time which made editing 200 pages individually almost impossible and causing me to get ill under the amount of combined unecessary work.
  6. a newsletter that I can send to my members
  7. a few miniro changes to the existing code like imroving member search.

It was only as late as 2013-2015, when I finally managed to get what I had requested 10 years prior from two developers separately in 2003 and 2006 repsctively by finally having nothing tleft to lose having the guts to approach and emply an Indian development compnay at half the hourly rate. If only I had taken my friends and families advice at the start but I had been made a nervous wreck by my current developers, scared to death that I would lose all my work, the database would be hijacked and my dream and one chance to help Christians would be gone forever.

I've been accused of everything

Profitering, taking people's cash in an underhand way when I say it's free, using peoples data to sell on, members who I removed for misconduct purposely crashing my server, trying to setal peoples data with malicious code installed by adverts and popups they have got stuck in their PCs from visiting other people's sites (that I still don't even know how to code or implement), you name it - my members have accused me of it over the years! Obvioulsuy this is not the masses but a few people who are scard stiff of the badness they see on the web and assume i'm just another one out to rip them off - if only they knew the truth lol!

I had been told I couldn't trust foreign developers, they might steal the code or worse the database so despite the fact that they were half the price it wasn't an option. My family told me different right from the start saying that I was overly cautious and that I should be able to trust a company. Ttouble was, by this time I had done so muvh work and my income was non-existent that to lose it would mean starting again and I could stomach that.

My developers knoew this. Suddenly I find myself being talked too like I'm a spare part - "Ed who?" someone said in the chat room (not that i cared if anyone knew I owned it) but this prompted me to look at the chat logs. I was shocked at what I found; "who is this Ed idiot making things difficult for us and developer X."

AI asked for 3 things that I was having problems with. 1) the site to be placed back online and checked for security 2) a quic makeover for (or re-skin as it's called) to the old site to bring it up to date3) a newsletter (which I still don't have that's working) and 4) for the security to be looked at soince my previous developer had left me absolutely paranoid that the site was insecure (I've since found out the security is good).

Apart from the first thing I requested, what I got was a whole bunch of things I don't ask for, and only found out I didn't need after it had bled the company of all income and I was completely broke with more outgoings that incomings. And the ironuc thing was that all this time - fusion101.com website - the thing that was bringing in money I should have been using on making the existing site better ended up going into the bottomless pockets of several developers.

A Total Mess - a total dog's dinner!

I moved back to sunny Bognor - therapy in itself as people are very friendly there and everyne in London is very stressed and image conscious.

So what was at first envisaged as a short project that would take 2-3 years max to complete has taken an embarassing 12 years for me to make any significant chamge to the site. What you are looking at is the first make-over it's ever had - but better late than never!

You can see the original site just as it was 14 years ago (I've left it up because I'm still font of it and I think it will be interesting to see how it was in future for myself and members.

At this point I was so ill, and felt so sick at the time, money and hours and hours and days and months and years I had watsed in front of a computer that I felt phisically sick and just couldn't talk to anyone about it withiut feeling physically sick.

Nothing Left To lose

So now Google have changed their algorythom and Im so tied up with health issues, tring to dump servers and unecessary costs I have not had time to keep on top of SEO for some 12 years. So I find mysefl having to rent 2 rooms in my flat and make the lounge a bedroom. Very uncomfortable at 44 but still - not suffering as some do.

To be honest it's been so traumatic losing so much money when God calls us to be good stewards, that I've burried my face until now. And I'm so glad it was my money that I lost and not an investor's. By the end of all this I had so little faith in the freelancers that in the end I refused to take several investments that were offered. One guy I never spoke to before called me up out of the blue and offered to invest £20 on the spot but I refused as I couldn't stomach losing his money too.

I've since decided that investment persee is not the way to go for fusion - regardless of wether it gets used properly as once investors get involved - or anyone for that matter - you are beholdent to them.

Forgiveness is hard

Especially when you know it was your own fault! For a time I was very very angry at these people for not working in my (my members and the church as a whole's) interst and then trusting me to reward them - but rather than trust me they straight away set about setting things up in their own intersets and then effectively locking me out of my own site as I was told several times I couldnt't be trusted even though I had had full access to all the files to this point and had no incidents at all where i had damaged or overwriten files. No this was simply a convenient way to ensure I didn't habe control I could not let them go should I wish to.

I think the one thing this did though was to seal their own fate straight away as I tried and tried to get confortable with not having any control of what had taken me years to nuture and just couldn't do it.

But afyer aa long long time and a lot of soul searching I realised that they only did what all people in their situation would do - they only did what all people do when faced with a situation of them or me - i.e look after numiber one.

In The End it was My Mistake

The mistake of the whole thing was mine - my inexperience - my lack of trust in my own instincts and trusting the things that were dropped into my dears, and information I wasn't given that would have made me feel secure enough to use a company rather than private individuals (the idea being that I could somehow be closer to them ansd they were less likely to rip me off).

Give an ince - people will take a mile

It's true - despite sesigning a means to pay the developer more money - after some time this extra money became the expected 'norm' and was taken for granted. The whole reason it was done in the first place forgotten! When it came time to either finish the job or continue just recieving this extra money for nothing - well the answer was "Ill carry on taking the money."

What? I remember thinking - are you kiding me?.. that money was supposed to be an incentive to finish the job. So here is what I experienced what my father had actually tole me ten years prior - staff incentives rarely work - if you give someone something for free - they soon forget and in time they will start to belive they should have had that money in the first place. It's not that people are bad - it's human nature to forget and put self before priorities and commitments made. I've done it myself!

I also remembered that at least one of these devlopers had admitted several times he was in this for the money that althugh he had a desire to help single Christians, he had bills to pay and was in it for the money. But for some strange reason I just thought he would be like me and see that the money was not important - and I think the reason I thought this was because I knoew that without a doubt money to support us would come in. It was just never an issue to me - I would alwasy look after people no matter what - as my actions proved.

I would find myself calling it a 'business' just to make the people i was working with feel more secure. But the thing was - they never came through with the yjings I asled for - and instead would create and do and ask me to buy things I had't asked for.

It has been an extremely hard and painful life lesson that I am sure has taen years off my life. However - this does not matter in light of eternity.

What I Have Learned

If you are a small outfit, never ever use a freelancer - especially a UK freelancer. The work ethic is terrible in this country and people are more interested in when they can knock-off than finishing or ever starting a job. And the bit that really gets me - is developers are a unique breed that think it's perfectly OK to ask for payment up front. It is not and I have no idea where this came from - it's develish and wrong. In just about every other walk of life you pay for 'something' that is of value after it has been produced and it's in your hands.

You will not get away with the travesty of not paying up front with developers though - so be wanred and try to pay for half upfront if possible. That way when they want to go on holiday and noyt pick up the phone you will have some conformt that they will want to come back and finidh the job to be paid the rest.

The Builders of The IT World

Sure they have mouths to feed and holidays to go on so if they can they will work on five jobs at once. But they will never tekk you that and they will never finish anything. That way they are guaranteed an invocome. And of couyrse they can so they do because we don't know what they heck they do (not a great deal I have now learned). But the one good thing about freelancers is that their invoices are NEVER ever late!

One freelamcer even appealed to me that he had rent to pay and "what was he going to do" when I made suggestions I could not pay any longer as he never finished anything. He of course lived in a lrge flat in an afluent area.

Never tell them your finavial details. I made the mistake of telling my delveloper I had saved 80,000 poreviously and somehow I think he thought that I was alright jack when the reality was it half killed me to scrimp andsavcen this money. He once said; "you've earned a good living our of fusion" not realising that hardly any of the income had been paied to me but was all spent on costs I had incured because of him.

Fusion101 Today

Anyway so finally after 15 years Fusion101 gets a makeover I requested twice from two developers. Hopefully now I can set about doing what I really wanted to do - use the money that comes in on needs and cuases rather than fill the pockets or freelancers!

I have to say that writing this has been quite therapeutic and healing. I have needed to get this out of my system for many years as it nearly ate me up.