Monday, May 30, 2016 A breath of fresh air!

For a long time now SE23 (Forest Hill and Honor Oak) have had a forum, friendships have occasionally been made, an many a debate had. Mainly about politics and Perry Vale, nothing much more over recent years.

Then along came , a fresh approach to a community forum, very up to date and fresh, but most importantly, a complete new ethos.
From it's conception, the plan was clear, free speech, opinions welcomed, and somewhere you can feel comfortable with the people around you. It is all very well saying how you want a forum to run, but another thing actually making that happen.

Of course it is very early days yet, but already from engaging with members both online and in person (a very unfamiliar feeling for me) it is clear that the forum feels like an extension of any venue we may choose to meet in. We had a group meeting in a local bar a week or so back. Everyone got along, respected others rights to get a chance to speak, and listened. When the meeting was over the discussion continued in the forum, and it felt exactly the same. That in itself is a huge achievement.

I have been lucky enough to be offered a role in helping the forum find its voice, and help with things relating to its structure, growth and popularity, for which I am very grateful for. To be honest I find myself alone and at a lose end quite often, so this has given me a bit of a purpose, and something to get my teeth stuck into for a change. Seeing ideas grow is fantastic, and watching the community all clambering on board is really rewarding,

Able to discuss all sorts of topics, it is lovely to connect with people over common interests and hobbies. Something I don't think was possible really on the original forum, so certainly a positive factor for .I am pretty sure I am not the only one really starting to come out of my shell on the forum now. Seeing people exploring the boundaries of what is allowed, and watching friendly casual topics grow rapidly. Even just things as simple as what everyone is doing for their weekend. The community seems to flock to such topics and openly share what they are doing.

The foundations of the site are still setting, but already you can see the structure that will grow on top of them will be mighty. The structural design is not yet set in stone, and to be honest I see it as being an organic structure, able to change as the demands on it do. Closely watched by its creator and another admin, tweaks are made on categories as the interests evolve. Of course there will be core topics which remain forever, but lesser used ones would be absorbed, and any demand for a new one will be considered.

The interface for the site is a thing of beauty, modern, clean and fresh, with the added bonus of a lovely mobile version too, which is proving to be a favourite. Nice that it offers a service to people on the move, killing a bit of time for the morning commute etc. I imagine some interesting stories will pop up from the station and trains over time.
Notifications are very simply enabled and disabled, meaning you can easily watch a topic for replies, and at the press of a button drop out of the notifications, or tailor them to your own requirements. If there is one thing in an abundance on the forum, it is user control and preferences.

Speaking of user control, another very fresh approach is the user level tier system. Each level giving members the ability to do more with their accounts, allowing trusted and frequent members to carry out moderation when called for. Allowing the community to share the responsibility of keeping the forum ticking over gives a great sense of involvement and belonging, ensuring people feel their contributions count for something, and that they are far more than just a username.

Trust levels of users start from the very beginning, with users able to have their account verified. This means meeting someone in person, Pauline at Sugar Mountain, Chris the owner, or by being confirmed by an already verified member. Once verified, the forum opens up a little more for you. However the main reasoning for verifying members is to give other users a level of security that this is an actual human being , and not just a sockpuppet account being used to stir up trouble. Something that a lot of forums seem to have issues with on various levels, to the point where it becomes childish and malicious.

So far has seen huge growth, a few hiccups with enthusiastic advertising of the site, and some interesting encounters with people with ill intent towards its existence and growth. Thankfully, the community which has already grown within the forum, are having none of it, and each slip up, turns into a positive thanks to open discussion of what just happened, and where WE go from there. I say WE, as the contributions of ideas and suggestions highlights how a simple idea can change a community.

The forum and the community around it have so much potential it is unreal. Having lived in this area for 35 years now, I would never have expected it to have pulled together in such a positive way, but it really has, and I am sure it will continue to do so. Bringing people from all walks of life closer together, starting discussion, answering queries, and welcoming each and every new member in the exact same way.

Times are changing, the community is changing, and finally SE23 has a safe, friendly and open place to let peoples voices be heard. Congratulations to the owner for his commitment to the community , and for having such a thick skin to defend against the negativity.  Here's to SE23, a growing community, and one which is finally communicating within.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Dear Mr Steve Shaw... (SE23dotcom)

Please let me start out by saying this is a purely personal opinion, of which I have formed over many years of experience with you and your local forum. This is not encouraged, nor representative of the opinions of another local forum which I am now helping on.

For many years now you have been obstructive in the way you have managed and administrated your forum. Editing, deleting, and splitting posts, leaving people confused as to why their voice was suddenly lost. For those of us who have endured this, but still tried to engage with our local community, we have become accustomed to the preferential treatment of some uses, usually those who are in line with your own point of view, both politically and morally.

However there comes a time when enough is enough. And that time is now.
When others have in the past tried to set up a local forum of their own, they have failed time and time again. Bombarded with spam, pornographic posts (which strangely stopped when you were out rightly accused of being behind them, and many other underhand and quite frankly childish and malicious attacks.

In recent instances it would be fair to nickname you Steve "Sockpuppet" Shaw, as it seems when there is dirty work to be done, another user pops up on your forum, is quite openly allowed to start posting inflammatory remarks about local businesses you don't personally like, and be left to get away with it. While anyone defending the business or person is allowed to be attacked or questioned.
THEN Mr Shaw, YOU block the user you don't like. Just as you have just done to my account. Using your sockpuppet account to question me, then block me so it looks like I have no answer to your spineless accusations.

If you can't see how pathetic your actions are, then you probably won't understand a word of what I am writing here.

Obviously there are other actions you have carried out recently too, some legit, others somewhat desperate. Renaming posts "Life in SE23" with no doubt the intention of creating a little more traffic for the ever fading forum. While there is nothing wrong with that, hey we all need to ride other peoples coat tails of success from time to time, it does show you are actively aware and engaging in a status fight with the rapidly growing

The bit that doesn't show, certainly not to your users, is the defensive moves you are taking behind the scenes. Lets start with the report to Fix My Street, after reading on that some posters had been put up, you signed up yet another sockpuppet account on there, using threatening wording and advising it had been reported to Fix My Street, and would be reported to the other authorities if your demands were not immediately met. I might add that not only did you only use the pictures from in your report, but you probably never saw such posters in real life.

Obviously, the adults in this exchange acted on their own morals, and not the demands of your childishness, and then self reported themselves to the authorities you threatened to contact. Needless to say, they were thanked for their honesty and openness (not something a sockpuppet can ever receive) and were given guidance on the authorities view on such matters.

Obviously with their guidance in mind, expect to see more poster popping up around soon. Then you can go and open yet another account and report them again.

The more I think about it, the more I realise you have NEVER spoken out as yourself in public. "Admin" is the only way people know you. And for someone who apparently cares so much about their community (and not just the cash flow from the ad's you slap all over the place, the Gold users who get sticky topics, which quite frankly make the front page look like it never updates, which lets be, with just  fair a few posts a week it probably doesn't change that much) I find it strange that you have no interest in people even knowing your name, let alone what you look like or even if you still live here.

Obviously anyone who uses your computer repair service will have unknowingly met you, but it makes me wonder, if they mentioned the forum, would you even tell them it was yours? I'm gonna guess not on that one.

Anyway, seeing as you have once again attacked me and then removed my chance to reply on your forum , I would like to take this opportunity to ask you to just delete my account once and for all, and if possible remove all my content from the site. Which of course I don't expect you to do, but I am just putting it out there as my wishes.

To reply to "Chippy" I would say quite simply, YES I do know the owner of Sugar Mountain, (as do you Steve). I get on very well with her, and respect the amount of commitment and dedication she shows the local community (unlike you Steve, just keep the revenue coming) The 3 star rating allows the shop to continue trading, and has raised no significant concerned with the local authorities (much to your dismay Chippy, opps sorry, Steve) The fact that a new user (or sockpuppet) would dig through 3 years of posts on your forum, which I realise is only about 2 pages with the traffic and activity you get these days) just to find a post which speaks negatively about a person who is supporting , just to make a single swipe at them is really quite strange. Especially given that all new accounts must currently send YOU the content of their post before becoming active and it appearing. That in itself would suggest some chickenshit, underhand, spineless sockpuppet behaviour.

But of course as the trusted Admin of the forum you would never allow that, right. After all they have agreed to the rules already.

By registering on this discussion system you agree that you will not post any material which is knowingly false, inaccurate, abusive, hateful, harassing, sexually orientated, threatening or invasive of a person's privacy, or any other material which may violate any applicable laws.
By continuing with the sign up process you agree to the above rules and any others that the Administrator specifies.

I must say, big fan of the bold print which basically says, if I don't agree with what you say, I will mess with your posts and accounts. Change your password, block your account or anything else which doesn't involve actually being a grown up, adult, human being about the matter.

All in all Steve, it is sad to see you abuse your administrator privileges like this, just for your own entertainment, and financial gain. SE23 is a great area, full of wonderful people. With different opinions and views. All of which makes it all the more an amazing place to live. You had an opportunity to help it thrive, but instead you have captivated an audience and left them wanting more. The site traffic is clearly down, the interest in the forum is fading away, so no wonder you feel threatened by a new forum which people are flocking to. But react like the business man you are. Not threatening people, trying to stamp on them, and demanding your name and website not be mentioned.

I would love to say I wish you the best, but that would just be a lie. I would like to see the back of you and your underhanded ways. If you REALLY want to engage with the area, use your own name, from one account and speak up openly and honestly. Rather than this childish puppet show. Stop attacking people without a face.

That's about all I have to say on the matter now.

Good day!