Interview with Dan, the owner of Jellyneo

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Dan is the owner of Jellyneo and we had the chance to interview him.

You can read our in-depth interview with Dan below.

What are some of your hobbies and interests? What do you like to do for fun? How old are you? Do you have any kids?

I'm a big fan of developing on the web, so I've done a few odd projects here and there. Jellyneo, of course, being the largest. With Pokemon GO being released recently, I also put together ShouldIUseMyLuckyEgg.com as a quick calculator to figure out if I can get the most out of my Lucky Egg evolutions or not. :)

As for fun, I like to hang out with friends. I live in the Bay Area, so we're pretty lucky to have lots of unique restaurants and awesome food! I also enjoy traveling around the world when I can, having most recently been to Japan. And hoping to get to London soon! No kids, so that makes my last hobby a little easier. :)


How did you come up with the name Jellyneo?

Neopets got me interested in HTML and CSS, and naturally web development from there. I used to hang around multiple fan sites back in the day, including the original Jellyneo. The original JN eventually went belly up and I revived it the following year. Arguably, it's done a bit better since I've taken over! (It's also why we have the .net, and not the .com. :\)


If you ran Neopets, what would you do differently?

I think one of the most challenging parts of this question is giving you some sort of realistic answer. There are so many idealistic answers I could give you, like releasing another Dr. Sloth plot, having a full out war, or doing something else that would play to the user base's interests. But there are a lot of business aspects to Neopets that need to be balanced. The number of NC items being released, and the quality of them, have fallen quite dramatically in the past year. Premium has been pretty dormant in terms of new features, too. Neopets needs paying customers to survive, so I'd definitely put some focus there. Of course, before all of that, fixing the payment issues would be the top priority. Neopets can really use some revenue at this point!


Where do you see Jellyneo going next?

I don't think Jellyneo is going anywhere "next", really. If by "next" you mean covering another game or doing something outside of Neopets. We're a Neopets fansite through and through, so that's where we'll be staying. We always have plenty of new features and enhancements in the pipeline, though. Our current big task is adding new features to our Item Database, which we just recently revamped. The streamlined under-the-hood will really let us add more things more quickly and in a cleaner way.

What made you start a Neopets fan site? How long has it been actively running?
Well, like I alluded to earlier, Neopets got me interested in HTML and CSS, and a few leaps and bounds later, Jellyneo was born. We just celebrated our 12th birthday on August 22nd. It's been a thing for almost half of my entire life!

What do you think has made your site so successful?
We have a huge breadth of features and content. At our peak, we had upwards of 50 people managing the site, so it was easy to do a lot and grow quickly. Being the destination for anything Neopets related really helped make us successful. (And the things we aren't a destination for are probably somewhere on the to-do list.)

What sets Jellyneo apart from other sites?
Our charming good looks, of course! I think one thing that set us apart in the past were all of the site events we used to host to engage our users. Since we've been busy revamping older parts of JN, those events have fallen towards the wayside, but we're hoping to bring them back in some sort of capacity. :)

What do you think is most important aspect of Jellyneo?
If you mean feature, I think our Item Database is probably the most used and heavily trafficked department. It's the only reliable reference guide for any item you could imagine in Neopia.

When did you get into Neopets? How did you hear about it?
I first started playing way back in late 2001. One of my friends was hanging out at my house one evening and she said "We should go to this website called Neopets.com on your computer!" and I was like "No way, that sounds dumb!" You can tell what happened next.

What is your favourite Neopet and favourite colour?
Grundos and Moehogs are my favorite species. I'm a big Dr. Sloth fan, so naturally Grundos. And I really became a Moehog fan when the Halloween Moehog was released. As for favourite colour, I'd say it's a tie between 8-Bit and Jelly.

What other games do you play?
None on a basis as regular as Neopets. Pokemon GO has caught my attention as of late, but we'll see if I'm still an active player in a few months' time.

How many staff does Jellyneo have?
We currently have 30 volunteers. And we're always looking for more! Check out the "Join the Staff" section on JN if you're a diehard Neopets player. :)

Is running Jellyneo a full time job for you or do you have a job offline?
Jellyneo is definitely a part time hobby for me right now. We make no revenue from the site (thanks to all of our donors who contribute to site hosting fees), so it definitely could not be a full time job. I work as a designer at a tech company currently.


Does your fan site have any competitors? If yes, who?

Yep, we have a few. Probably the main 2 right now would be Sunnyneo and The Daily Neopets. They're the closest at having as many features as we do.


What are your thoughts on Neopets being sold to Jumpstart? What did your community say about this?

At this point, it is what it is. There was of course a bit of apprehension when it first happened, but then some optimism. Jumpstart had multiple mobile games on the market, and mobile is exactly what Neopets needs to keep the brand alive. But, two years later and we only have one arguably failed attempt at a mobile game.

Where do you see Neopets heading in the next 2-4 years?
Unless Jumpstart makes some radical changes or steps up their game, I think Neopets will continue plowing along, glitches and all. It's always nice to see when they make some fixes, but new content is few and far between. It's nice that we get the annual events on a regular basis, though!

What helped you grow your fan site? Does Google drive in a lot of traffic on a monthly basis, social media or links from other sites?
I think word of mouth is our best referral source. Google definitely drives a fair bit of traffic, but since we can officially be discussed and linked to on Neopets, that helps out a lot. We don't do any social media or paid advertising on other sites, so it's not something we get any traffic from.

Where do you see Jellyneo heading in the next couple of years? Will you start covering other pet games or not really?
I think we'll continue to be Neopets' biggest fans. We've tried the "other games" thing in the past (see: TwinSkiesHelp,com, MeteorGamesHelp.com, and Ookipedia.com) but they never turned out. MeteorGamesHelp was probably the craziest we got, too, because it was 100% wiki-based. We wanted to experiment and see if a user edited help site could work well, but it never took off.

Will Neopets remain the biggest virtual pet site for awhile?
If we're defining "virtual pet site" as a website themed around pets, then yes, absolutely. No one in their right mind begins building an HTML-based web game these days. Neopets is truly a relic of the early 2000's.

What are some things that you'd like to tell an upcoming pet game owner?
Mobile, mobile, mobile! Either that or plan on making something crazy enough to revolutionize the entire casual gaming market that it trends back towards browser-based web games!
 
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