Tuesday 21 November 2006 3.46pm
A few more thoughts on this - sorry for the lengthy post.
I want to make it very clear how appreciative I am of the group of regular posters to this forum who have contributed a great deal over the years and formed the backbone of the forum community.
Many people have provided me with a great deal of support and encouragement to keep this website going and develop it, and have gone out of their way to tell people about it and generally be helpful.
Of course I am hugely grateful for that.
And I hope that they will all continue to play a leading role in the forum.
Equally, it has been a pleasure to see so many social events take place as a result of messages on this forum - and that so many enduring friendships have been formed as a result. That's fantastic.
Please don't be under any misapprehension that I am having a go at anyone personally.
- I am sure I am not alone in hoping that many other people, perhaps discovering this website for the first time, will have the opportunity to be fully part of what has become a wonderful, diverse and quirky forum community.
Therefore it is incumbent upon all of us
to be mindful that we are not behaving in a way that makes other people feel unwelcome or excluded.
I don't think anyone has deliberately tried to exclude new people, but people do tell me - on a regular enough basis for it to be worth taking note - that they the perceive
that sometimes the forum can seem rather cliquey and that has put them off joining in.
It's not a comfortable thing to hear, and the instinct is to deny it and insist everything is wonderful.
Of course, people who have become good friends or have met socially are naturally going to communicate in a different way to complete strangers.
But let's all make a conscious effort to ensure that new people are keen to stick around and contribute new things to the forum community.
The other side of the coin is that some of the long-term forum members tell me they have become disillusioned by the shrill tone of some of the threads and the speed and vehemence with which some contributors get shouted down.
We have always had some fairly heated discussions (cycling on pavements comes up about every six months and has done since at least 2001!) but there does seem to have been a change in atmosphere recently which has been commented upon both on the forum and in private.
It goes without saying that a forum where everyone goes to great lengths not to give offence would be pretty bland, and I don't think anyone's asking for that.
I don't think that more hands-on moderation or micro-management is the answer, which is why I am opening this out for wide discussion so we can share ideas about how to improve the general atmosphere on the forum, if that is possible.
Please keep your thoughts on these issues coming, either by replying to this thread, or by private message.