Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Every dog has its day...

Everything in life has a finite time span for being relevant. And when the day comes when it is no longer king of the hill there are two ways to go. Gracefully, or kicking and screaming.

For me, going out gracefully, and being remembered for your greatness and service is far more appealing that throwing tantrums and having to be removed by security. Remembered only for that last childish outburst.

Of course, the reasons for falling from the top are plentiful, so I suppose your actions are sometimes determined by what happened to bring it all about.

Imagine, spinning plates, putting on an amazing show and gathering a crowd to watch your amazing show. As the crowds gather, and the spotlight gets brighter, you lose concentration on the plates.
As the first one hits the floor, you turn in panic to react to the situation, frantically running back and forth trying to keep things going. One by one, they drop and smash, until finally you have managed to get 10% of them safely spinning again.
Turning back to your adorning crowd, unsurprisingly most are gone!

Looking to where they have gone, you see them across the way at a different attraction. Not plate spinning, but juggling. So you have two choices, keep your plates spinning, and protect what you have left. Keep the remaining audience happy. Or take your plates down, give up on your show, and start throwing them at the juggler and its audience, hoping to take them down as well as yourself. The old "if I can't have it, you can't have it" play.

Usually if you go with the latter, you tend to be remembered for your last actions, and not the shows before that.

By now you are probably wondering what the hell I am talking about, so let's cut the bullshit, and get to the crux of the matter.

When a local forum runs its course, and stops adapting to the changing population of the area it covers, and allows political and personal beliefs to drive how it is run, it can start to lose its following.  Failure or refusal to allow certain topics or opinions to be aired can also lead to a very closed environment, and become unattractive to not only the current local residents and users, but also to the every growing new population.

So another one pops up, fresh and open minded. It starts to attract your current audience, and gathers pace rapidly. The two ways to approach it are a/ keep going, its no threat, its a different approach, or b/ go to war and throw everything you have at it, including your dignity.

Having been at the forefront of forums, from back in early 2000 until about 2006 running a very popular online community. Lots of people and opinions. Lots of random conversations turning into life changing matters. Friendships forged, leading to marriage and the birth of children. I think it's fair to say that it was quite challenging. But with the birth of Facebook, and the changing times, the day came when it was done. Allowing that to happen progressively, and folding at the right time meant I retained all the friendships I had made, and the whole venture is remembered fondly.

In this case, the local community is not following this model, and instead of being sensible about it, and rolling with things, the owner has decided war is the only way.
Now, let me be honest here. As the plates started falling, the right thing to do is salvage what you can, then start putting plates back on poles, newer more colourful ones, and attract the crowd back. If you want to fight hard, go for it, but show you have something worth fighting for. Don't start throwing plate fragments, hitting your old audience with them, and hope they will come back to see the same old show again.

Sadly, this is not the approach taken, and rather than going with a two pronged approach of promotion and revamping, a route of "destroy the other forum" has been taken.
Reporting of advertising to local authorities, sock puppet accounts on the new forum, trying to stir things up, only to run away and ask for it all to be removed again, constant changing of topic names on the old forum to mimic the new one, buying Google Adwords relating to the new one and pointing them at your own forum, buying domain names again hoping to snare people looking for the other one.
As someone recently said, "imitation is the greatest form of flattery" , and it IS ! So very true.

Sadly it doesn't end with imitation, and goes further to manipulation. Messing around with Wikipedia editing entries in your favour, deleting entries by the new forum, rewording entries to your own advantage. Lets get something straight, Wikipedia is NOT a playground, or somewhere childish battles should be fought. Now it is starting to get pathetic, and borderline personal.

So, Steve....
Where does all this end?
I know there is a strong revenue stream for you from your forum, somehow managing to bamboozle your advertisers into believing that the 40,000 visitors a month (85-90% of which are search bots I presume) and the 6,000 members (of which about 15 still use the forum, and 1,500 are probably sock puppet accounts of your own and others) somehow generate value for money. Surely anyone with any dignity and common sense can see that the interaction on the forum has dropped away to a borderline sustainable level now. But I suppose as long as you can keep prying money out of their hands, you feel like it is a worthwhile venture to keep going.

Sadly, it seems, that actually giving a toss about the local community and their needs is the bottom of the importance list now, if even still on it at all. If it were of any interest, I am sure the forum would have been upgraded over time, and offered more to its user than admin filtered PM's, personal vendettas with users occasionally blocking their account as you don't like what they said, and disappearing posts because they don't interest you, you don't agree with them, or simply don't like the person who posted it.... Without ever meeting them, that's the hilarious part.

When the new forum popped up, it was launched with the intention of filling a gap in the online resources of the local community. A friendly and social approach to get people working together with others in their community, and a fresh spin on an old idea. Getting people out from behind their screens, being real people not just a user name, and creating a happy and self supporting community for the SE23 area.
Not a threat, not a take-down, not a local coup, just something new. Plenty of space for both to co-exist, with the option along the way to work together or benefit from the growth.

What we have ended up with instead is a full on pissing contest. The old vs the new. Offended somehow that someone else would dare to offer the local community (in which they live) a breath of fresh air, and some new options. It is an evolving world where options are obligatory, and people expect to be giving a choice. So to somehow take offence that this would happen is a little small minded.
Surely if you felt that you had something real to offer SE23, you would make an honest and open stand. Come out from behind the "Admin" moniker , speak openly, have your say and show you care. Stand up for the cause you apparently believe in so much.
Rather than hiding behind fake forum accounts, sabotaging online references, and trying to trick people onto your forum by using pseudonyms similar to the new forum.  All I see so far are cowardly sucker punches in the dark, which consist of damaging the name of an upstart, rather than justifying the continued use and following of what is quite frankly an old, tired forum which exists on fitting in with the online clique.

I hope that the stupid behaviour ends soon, and the people of SE23 can make a good, honest, well educated decision of which forum is right for them, and maybe even use both.

On a serious note, do things openly and in your own name. If you truly believe you are fighting for a good honest cause, do it with dignity, and show the community you are trying to convince you care, that you really do!
As for the advertisers...

PLEASE NOTE..
These are the sole opinions and comments of Michael Snasdell (real name, feel free to Google me) and not those of any other forum for the SE23 area, or anywhere else.
Any name calling is driven by my own opinions and interactions (online) with Steve Shaw and se23(dot)com

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