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The Forums: Purpose and Direction

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The Forums: Purpose and Direction

Postby Moonraker » 13 May 2016, 14:59

Recent events made me think long and hard about our forums. Firstly, purpose. I joined the forums back in 2005 and was amongst the initial group of forummers - many sadly long gone. Why did I join?

I had discovered a copy of The Island of Adventure in my mother-in-law's bookcase. Intrigued, I 'borrowed' it (I still have it!) and the spark it gave re-kindled my love of Enid's books - books that I had not given a second thought to for twenty years.

'Googling' for something on Enid, this Society came up. I was entranced. Here was a Society, complete with website and forums which, although a shadow of what they have become today, that seemed to consist of like-minded people chatting about all things Blyton, and a website that provide answers to most questions plus a wealth of fascinating information about Enid and her books. I felt as though I had come home!

I immediately knew I had to join the Society. Enid Blyton had been such a huge part of my childhood, I just had to belong to a Society dedicated to her. I had corresponded with her in my childhood, had belonged to The Famous Five Club, had been ridiculed for reading her books by some peers and teachers. Pain and joy together! Now I had found a (mainly) adult site that completely fulfilled my needs to compliment my love of her books.

Here we have a world-wide official Society - with it's operational hub in my own home town! I still remember the joy of driving to Milford Hill and ringing on our revered leader's doorbell. I had joined and was contributing to both the Society's coffers and the forums. I had found the purpose of the Society.

In the intervening decade many new friends were made. Many Journals read and digested. Many posts written and read. The forums have had their periods of turbulence - both from children (some of whom irritated us all!) and from provocative and argumentative posts. That's life, I suppose. In all, it has been a wonderful experience, being part of this Society.

I imagine one purpose of the forums and website is to promote the Society. To encourage visitors to sign up to the forums, and hopefully, if they are true fans, to subscribe to the Journal.

From being a mainly Blyton-devoted forum, the breadth has widened. This leads me on to the direction. Where should we go?

If one purpose is to 'advertise' the Society and encourage people to register, will certain topics put them off? We are a forum/website dedicated to Enid Blyton, yet we have a thread of 56 pages (and counting) dedicated to a television programme - Doctor Who. This, in spite of an excellent DW forum, Gallifrey Base which has over 214,000 threads and nearly 83,000 members. Would Gallifrey Base have a thread devoted to Enid Blyton?

We have another thread which could make the visitor think that Enid really was xenephobic and held racist views. Clearly a view we know isn't true.

I have just used these two examples to illustrate a point, and am showing no criticism to anyone who has contributed to these topics - especially as I probably have myself!

Maybe we should concentrate more on Enid and less on brands of tea - I am sure there are some tea forums out there! I'm not saying we shouldn't have off-topic threads - it is just that some forums devoted to a specific theme don't allow it. I post on the Camra forum, and if I started a thread on Doctor Who would soon be issued with a warning!

These are really just my thoughts that have been going over in my mind recently. As I said, I'm not being critical of the direction we are taking, neither am I criticising anyone in particular for posting off-topic comments - I do so myself!

However, numbers of new registrations are falling rapidly compared to previous years, and I was just trying to search for a reason for this. Maybe there isn't one. Forums are in decline generally, and this might be just us following the trend. I just hope that one of the reasons isn't the recent arguing and provocative posts might be contributing. I'm not saying it is, just wondering.

Enid's books are still selling in their millions across the world - albeit in some updated versions that purists might disagree with. But they are selling.

It would be a tragedy if the forums and Society were to be in a decline in spite of this.

Sorry for a long post, I hope I haven't spoken out of turn. But it is down to my love of the Society and my gratitude and admiration for all Tony has done and continues to do, and the hard work that Anita does (reading every post, for example!) and the way the forums are run and managed that I want it to prosper.
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Re: The Forums: Purpose and Direction

Postby Julie2owlsdene » 13 May 2016, 15:41

A very good posting, Nigel. I have to admit I don't read a long posting, but I did with this one.

I agree about some of the threads, why would we need a thread on tea, or Dr Who? Again threads that I don't read really as they don't interest me. It's only Blyton I'm interested in, but I do like the games, and what other book are you reading now.

I joined back in 2007, I think it was, and was so pleased to see a site dedicated to my favourite author. I loved the EB Days, with the speakers and book sellers, and speaking and meeting other like minded people. That for me was the Enid Blyton Society. Such wonderful times, I'm glad I went to as many as I could. The Journal is fantastic value too, another pleasure of mine.

Tony and Anita work hard to keep the Society and forums together, and I'm glad to have met such lovely people from the Society. I hope Enid's books remain popular and will continue to do so.

Well done to the Society. :D

8)
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Re: The Forums: Purpose and Direction

Postby pete9012S » 13 May 2016, 15:50

Image

Ramble Alert!

I was a subscriber to the Green Hedges Magazine from 1999 onwards.Michael rang me personally when I subscribed and I was touched that he took the time to do so.

Then the internet moved on apace and I found this site quite late in 2006.
My family had decided to get rid of our TV's for a few years when our kids were young as they both spent hours glued to the set.

Without the television,their school work blossomed and they both did very well in all their lessons.
Then it became clear to us that we would have to get a pc as more and more of their homework needed the internet.
We got a bit tired of going to the local library everyday to log on for just one hour with them.
Until we got our own home pc I used to access these forums in the library - but did not join or register.

Eventually,later than most,we got our home pc and the internet.
When I was first let loose on these forums,I was like an excited stallion let out of the stalls.
It was great to find so many like minded people who loved Enid Blyton just as much as I did.

I like the diversity allowed here.If we are discussing different topics,we are discussing them with people we have come to know,trust and have grown fond of.

I love the Last Song You Listened To thread were we have our own 'Fluff' & David Jacobs (aka Eddie & Domino) who are like our musical elders,dispensing music of good taste on a daily basis.

Even topics supposedly purely about a specific aspect of Enid Blyton rapidly go meandering off topic,before eventually coming back again!

I was actually thinking of starting a thread here the other day to see if we could find a way of getting from one subject to a completely different one in under six posts - I think we could have managed it!

The forums in many ways remind me of a class of children.We all seem to take turns to sit in the naughty chair on occasion,probably me more than most.

Personally, I sometimes wonder how Tony puts up with us all - he must often feel like he is back in school when he has to wade through the morass of treacle-like posts,personalities and opinions that ebb and flow here.

The Common Room has a great Agatha Christie thread,which in many ways is even better than the official site!

I hope this forum continues to allow diversity as that's what I enjoy most about it.
If a thread or topic does not interest us we do not have to read it or post in it.

Also - if required the moderators here could occasionally prune back some of the non Blyton discussions,leaving only the more recent posts if they wanted too.

I like The Common Room because it is so diverse.I was even allowed to post a 'Boris Johnson Appreciation Thread'. I was grateful,because it's not the sort of thread I would dream of posting here....

What am I trying to say? I'm not quite sure,but one thing life has taught me is that nothing lasts forever and change is the only thing that seems to be guaranteed these days.

That being the case,I am determined to support and enjoy these forums for as long as we are all allowed the privilege of doing so.

Ramble Over!
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Re: The Forums: Purpose and Direction

Postby Eddie Muir » 13 May 2016, 16:42

I've thoroughly enjoyed reading the well-written and thought-provoking posts on this new thread and find that I am in agreement with all that had been said. I applaud Nigel for starting it. :D

I love the Fluff and David Jacobs description you have given to Domino and me, Pete. Wonderful! :lol:
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Re: The Forums: Purpose and Direction

Postby Tony Summerfield » 13 May 2016, 17:09

Surprise, surprise, as Cilla used to say, I am in agreement with much of Nigel's post!! I am not a forum or blog person, and this is the only forum that I just about belong to. I therefore have to go from what others have said, that some forums are very strictly moderated and going off topic is strictly forbidden. We are very easy going and not at all strict, but I must admit there are things that make me raise my eyebrows - 56 pages on Dr Who on an Enid Blyton site is ridiculous, when there are plenty of good specialist sites out there.
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Re: The Forums: Purpose and Direction

Postby Fiona1986 » 13 May 2016, 18:53

Well this is awkward.

I think it's difficult when there's a forum like this that has a main topic, yet clearly allows other topics. On a site that is about one topic, and squashes anything that veers off; rules are perfectly clear.

You just can't impose a "rule" that says you must talk "mostly" about Blyton. "80% of your posts must be about Blyton." Or should that be about Blyton and things closely related to her. So Bourne End would be OK, and maybe a little talk about some of her contemporary authors? And if you're talking about other authors of her time what about modern children's authors that write books set in the 50s? No? Was that too far from the original topic?

And of course everyone is going to disagree what's "on topic" if it's not about an exactly defined part of Enid Blyton.

I can't even remember the tea thread or the Dr Who one cropping up in the recent posts much lately.

I would probably post and read a lot less if we weren't allowed to talk about off topic things. Enid Blyton is such a huge topic to start with that you have so many member with very different backgrounds and interests, and I've made a lot of friends here. It would be really disappointing if I was restricted in what I could or couldn't talk to them about here, meaning I would have to find other platforms to discuss other topics - and there's no one platform that supports long discussion like a forum or could guarantee all of us would be members of.

I find it funny that people are so quick to judge and name a few threads that are (to paraphrase) unnecessary, don't belong, are of no interest... when I can sit here and think of many other threads you all have more than happily contributed to that have about as much relation to Blyton as a chocolate tea pot.

You (aimed at no-one in particular) want to talk about Blyton? Start a thread on something Blytonian or post something thought-provoking in a current one, rather than complain that there isn't enough Blyton because everyone is too busy talking about tea.

Just my two hundred cents. And I typed this on my phone so apologies if it's unreadable.
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Re: The Forums: Purpose and Direction

Postby Rob Houghton » 13 May 2016, 19:11

I also agree with what everyone has posted here - even Nigel ;-) It's great to belong to a site where all of us have an appreciation for Enid Blyton, and yet have many other differing interests too.

Initially I was drawn to this site through the Journal, and was probably one of the 'founder members' along with Nigel, Anita and Tony (although I know we didn't all 'sign up' at the same time - but it was back when very few people posted). I'm happy to see how the site has grown since those days, and even if sometimes there are disagreements, I think this is inevitable when there are so many people from all over the world with very differing opinions. Differing opinions, likes and dislikes, are what keep a forum like this alive. :D

I personally enjoy some of the 'strange' topics discussed here - it's brilliant to belong to a forum where there are very few restrictions about what topics are discussed - we never have to worry about posting something about favourite tea or bread or Doctor Who or rhubarb or the length of a piece of string - we can pretty much discuss anything - and that makes the EB forums feel like a comfy room filled with comfy armchairs where we could quite happily sit for hours discussing nonsense, as well as appreciating our favourite author. It would be a shame if this was to change.

Sometimes we discuss contentious issues - and I think this is fine also - as long as we treat each other with respect. That won't always happen, because we are human - but we grow and learn. One of the things I wouldn't like to happen is that people begin to feel they can't speak their minds because of others reactions. We all have opinions to express, and I admit I can be quite opinionated - but I always try not to be personal. I know it can be difficult to know how to take some comments, because the written word can be powerful, and sometimes what people write can seem more offensive than intended. That's the problem with 'virtual reality' where we aren't all really sitting in that sunlit room full of comfy armchairs and so can't always gauge how things were said or what tone of voice is used. 8)

I hope this site continues to go from strength to strength. I consider many people to be real friends - some of which I've met, some I haven't - but all of us were brought here by one thing - a love for Enid Blyton's books. Long may that continue! :-D
'Oh voice of Spring of Youth
hearts mad delight,
Sing on, sing on, and when the sun is gone
I'll warm me with your echoes
through the night.'

(E. Blyton, Sunday Times, 1951)



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Re: The Forums: Purpose and Direction

Postby Anita Bensoussane » 13 May 2016, 20:28

pete9012S wrote:I was a subscriber to the Green Hedges Magazine from 1999 onwards.

Same here. I was astounded and overjoyed to discover I wasn't the only adult in the world who still read Enid Blyton! :lol: Then (for me) came The Enid Blyton Society Journal, Matt Roberts' Blyton site (the forums on that were more like a message board and he scrapped the whole thing to make way for the current site), the Blyton Yahoo Group, Keith's site, this website and Enid Blyton Days (those incredible days at Loddon Hall are fondly remembered at this time of year when horse chestnuts are in bloom, wisteria is out and bluebells are fading...)

pete9012S wrote:When I was first let loose on these forums,I was like an excited stallion let out of the stalls.

:lol:

pete9012S wrote:I like the diversity allowed here.If we are discussing different topics,we are discussing them with people we have come to know,trust and have grown fond of.

I know what you mean and I like that too, even though we never want to lose the Enid Blyton focus.

pete9012S wrote:I was actually thinking of starting a thread here the other day to see if we could find a way of getting from one subject to a completely different one in under six posts - I think we could have managed it!

I'd say we've already put in quite a bit of practice!

Fiona1986 wrote:You just can't impose a "rule" that says you must talk "mostly" about Blyton. "80% of your posts must be about Blyton."

You're right. 70% would be more reasonable. :P

Fiona1986 wrote:I find it funny that people are so quick to judge and name a few threads that are (to paraphrase) unnecessary, don't belong, are of no interest... when I can sit here and think of many other threads you all have more than happily contributed to that have about as much relation to Blyton as a chocolate tea pot.

For some reason a "chocolate teapot" actually sounds pretty Blytonian, though I don't recall that she ever wrote about one!

The forums were started in order to discuss Enid Blyton's stories and characters, her life, different editions of her books, the illustrations, the Journal, etc. - so it's good when there's plenty of that going on at the same time as conversations about tea, Doctor Who, pop songs and Peruvian elections.

I occasionally wonder if newcomers or people who visit only once in a while might sometimes feel nervous about posting a new topic in a forum where it's clear that a lot of people come on regularly and know each other well. If anyone is feeling like that, please go ahead and post. You may find that your new topic is merged with an existing thread if a similar one already exists, or that it's moved from one section to another. Don't be put off by that - it's not a penalty or anything, but merely an attempt to bring information together so it's easier to find in the future when people want to refer to it again.
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Re: The Forums: Purpose and Direction

Postby Courtenay » 13 May 2016, 22:06

Like most people who've posted here so far, I really do love these forums as they are. I realise it can be eyebrow-raising sometimes when threads in the "off-topic / general natter" section become more popular than the many threads dealing directly with Blyton-related topics. But isn't that part of the fun? :wink: If some people enjoy posting about tea or Doctor Who or Agatha Christie, that doesn't mean everyone else has to post there or even look at those threads if they're not interested — and it doesn't stop anyone from talking about Blyton.

One of the things that drew me to this forum — apart from my own love of Enid's books! — was the fact that its members are such a friendly, happy, welcoming, chatty group of people, bound by a shared love of Blyton but able to find many other things in common too. It was obvious from the start, just from reading through the threads, that plenty of people here know each other in real life, but there was no kind of cliquey, clubby atmosphere that would put a newcomer off; in fact, the warmth and friendliness here drew me in. I actually "lurked" for about a year, visiting regularly without becoming a member and just reading the latest threads, until I realised that a) I was on this site nearly every day, and b) I felt like I knew a lot of the people here already, even without talking to any of you. So I finally took the plunge and joined. I've never regretted it since. :D

If numbers are declining, I really don't think it's the general natter threads or the very, very occasional tiffs that are putting people off. Internet forums are on the decline in general. Several I've belonged to over the years have either closed down or become almost moribund. This one is very healthy and active by comparison — I don't think we need to fear for its life just yet.

I also honestly don't believe even the "sexist and racist" thread will have put any newcomers off. Many of us who love Enid Blyton are well aware of the fact that over the past few decades, she's had both those charges thrown at her repeatedly by critics. The vast majority of posts on that thread, from a wide variety of forum members, show that nearly all of us here agree that Enid was NOT sexist and/or racist and can put forward plenty of good evidence from her writing to prove those points.

I was sorry it got to the point recently that the thread had to be moderated, but the whole reason why that stood out was that it happens so infrequently here. Which is as it should be. Hardly anything ever comes up here that anyone would even ask to be moderated. I think Tony and Anita's approach is just right — neither so strict that members don't feel free to speak their minds, nor so lax that trolls and troublemakers can take over.

It's unfortunate when occasional upsets do occur, but that happens in any group of people from time to time. The EBS is still the most friendly and warm-hearted online community I've ever found and I'm so grateful to ALL of you here who keep it that way! :D :D :D
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Re: The Forums: Purpose and Direction

Postby Moonraker » 14 May 2016, 07:29

Some very interesting replies to my initial post. It would seem so far that opinion is divided.

Tony Summerfield wrote:56 pages on Dr Who on an Enid Blyton site is ridiculous

Anita wrote:so it's good when there's plenty of that going on at the same time as conversations about tea, Doctor Who...


An unshared opinion on Doctor Who here maybe says that there can be no definitive answer!

It is also possible that by searching for something related to Doctor Who, a link might appear that connects with our own DW thread - thereby giving the searcher a reason to find us and maybe join! Although as Tony rightly says, some of our friends from other forums were invited to take a look at The Common Room, many have since joined with the help of our old friend Google. The latest member, in Australia, was 'Googling' the TV programme, All Creatures Great and Small, and was taken to our thread on the programme.

We certainly are a busy, talkative bunch. After being offline for a few days recently, the amount of "New Posts" on my return certainly shows that!

Fiona wrote:I find it funny that people are so quick to judge and name a few threads that are (to paraphrase) unnecessary, don't belong, are of no interest... when I can sit here and think of many other threads you all have more than happily contributed to that have about as much relation to Blyton as a chocolate tea pot.


Now there's a utensil that didn't appear in the Tea Thread! :D

I didn't mean to imply (if indeed I did) that I didn't agree with off-topic threads - indeed, as the board title, General Natter, proclaims, "Anything goes! Use this forum to get to know each other."
I hope you didn't think I was being "quick to judge and name those threads as being of no interest." I was merely using them to illustrate a point - without prejudice, as they say. I would never judge or impose my opinion as fact. I was just exploring possibilities behind a falling registration. I used to read every post, but due to the prolific posting at times I now tend to pick- the ones that are of interest to me, ignoring such interesting (to some, no doubt) topics as elections in Peru and Australia and whether or not I've upset a celebrity!

Incidentally, the Doctor Who thread was started by our old friend Viv, not our resident Whovian, Mr Austin. She started it with a Blyton connection:

Viv of Ginger Pop wrote:Did anyone elso see tonights episode of Dr Who?
The last time that I saw Maureen Lipman dressed up in a nice 1950s frock was as our beloved EB in Sunny Stories.
But tonight in Dr Who, there she was looking just like Enid, but as a nice TV presenter who was about to suck my face off?


Here's to the next ten years!
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Re: The Forums: Purpose and Direction

Postby Aurélien » 14 May 2016, 07:57

As for the guff that I've posted here, both on- and off-topic, in the words of a certain poet:
    "It's best of all that everyone's so tolerant today,
    That I can write this sort of stuff, and not get put away."

A good description, methinks, of a forum where :idea: one can feel at home....... :D

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Re: The Forums: Purpose and Direction

Postby Julie2owlsdene » 14 May 2016, 09:02

It's been nice reading people's opinions on here, and have come to the conclusion that despite the odd spat we are a friendly bunch!

And it does seem the majority only read what interests them, too. :)

As I said my interest is mainly Blyton, and I do miss out a few general conversations.

8)
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Re: The Forums: Purpose and Direction

Postby Nicko » 14 May 2016, 11:53

I agree with a lot of what has been said. While there are maybe more off-topic posts here than on some other boards, that 56 page Doctor Who thread has built over a 10 year period which puts it in some perspective.

I also don't have a problem with the racism and sexism thread. That is obviously a relevant topic and it would be wrong to just ignore it completely. It was a shame that the word 'troll' was used because one of the great things about this forum is that there doesn't appear to be anyone trying to stir up trouble.

I would also say that if anyone wants to change the forum at all, then the best way to do is that is by coming up with a new on topic thread. The 'recent book' threads are great but I can understand that some people might be hesitant to post in a thread with hundreds of pages.
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Re: The Forums: Purpose and Direction

Postby Katharine » 14 May 2016, 12:19

According to the info at the bottom of the screen, we have 31 guests browsing at this moment. I hope they all decide to become members and start posting. :D
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Re: The Forums: Purpose and Direction

Postby Courtenay » 14 May 2016, 12:25

Moonraker wrote:
Fiona wrote:I find it funny that people are so quick to judge and name a few threads that are (to paraphrase) unnecessary, don't belong, are of no interest... when I can sit here and think of many other threads you all have more than happily contributed to that have about as much relation to Blyton as a chocolate tea pot.


Now there's a utensil that didn't appear in the Tea Thread! :D


Sorted. :mrgreen:
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