Could this forum succeed where others failed? [May 2016]


Thank you @Michael, that is a very kind appraisal and I really hope not to let you and the others down.

As I’ve grown more involved in this website I’ve felt fundamental changes happening in my own attitudes to people and the area we live in. It’s been positive for me personally, although I suspect my fiancé would like to have me back at some point this year. She is an widow and I owe it to her to take a step back and to delegate more responsibility for the running of this site to others in the community, and make less of a strident impact with my own opinions, especially after a few pale ales on a Friday night.

Many thanks for your message, it means a lot.


Completely agree with you on that @Michael

Couldn’t have put it better :slight_smile:

This is all about the community & I’m still bloody working, but finishing in a mo :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye::stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:



I’ve just posted in the Great EU Debate suggesting something which I think could be changed for the better - e.g the balance in that discussion - and where my suggestion to improve things is to invite others in, which is what I am about to do. Hopefully a packed meet up June 30th!


Thanks Tim. The Politicos category has no shortage of lefties and Remainians, but I’ve been an (overly?) vocal minority there.

Having wised up to this, I’ve bitten my tongue and sat on my hands for several days in Politicos, as I hope you’ve noticed! :slight_smile: It’s actually been tough, but I respect people’s concerns so I’m going to continue to curb myself until @Michael says something REALLY outrageous and the red haze descends… :wink:

UPDATE: it didn’t last. I just felt compelled to respond to @Brett. But I will keep trying!

But you’re right - getting more people into a debate is always good, and Robin Orton (whilst I don’t agree with his politics) seems well informed.

By the way, folks - if you clicked Tim’s link to the debate and were denied access, this is easily remedied by opting-in to the Politicos category (if you dare!)


Get back posting on the EU debate Chris @Michael has only gone & done it :joy::joy:


Nice fresh look on this site, absolutely. Though the huge amount of white space is wearing out my scroll wheel - and finger! - but I look forward to less politically-intense discourse with @chrisbeach, TBH.

Two questions: First, looks aside, I’m not quite clear why we should all be abandoning a website that we’ve all used quite happily for many years (the advertising was pretty minimal and unobtrusive). Sure it’s a competitive world but the other site’s administrator must have run the site for little more than beer money - and now we’re all jetting off to a cooler party?

Second, where did you get my email address - which I would have thought was safeguarded by the other site’s admin?


Hi Andy and welcome to There are many reasons I created this site in light of the competition - they’re mostly outlined above in this thread, so I’ll give you time to browse and read them rather than me rehashing them here.

I see you were invited here by a regular member of this site. I can’t comment on how he got your email address, but I am sure the owner of the old forum maintained data security, so no need to assume any kind of leak from his website.

The admin of the old site was making £750-1500 per month (I know because I was in talks to buy his website) so it was indeed a little more than beer money.

Just FYI, the owner of the old site contacted me with a warning. Any mentions of him or his site by name may be treated by him as illegal defamation, and as a result I have reluctantly agreed to automatically censor his name and mentions of his website. You may hear mentions of “TOSS,” which stands for “The Other Similar Site”


Depends how much beer you drink…

Just a quick word, for everyone’s benefit, on defamation.

(1) Mentioning the other site by name does not constitute “illegal defamation”.

(2) Defamation kicks in if you say something that (a) isn’t true and (b) can’t be regarded as a reasonably-held opinion. Saying “the other site looks out of date” could be a reasonably held opinion. Saying “I think it is run by an axe-murderer” would not.

(3) You do not have to actually name someone to be sued for defamation. They simply have to be identifiable. “The guy who lives in the purple house and always wears lime green shirts” is an identifiable person, whether or not you even know his name. I once worked on a magazine that got sued for libel (defamation) by a company that we not only did not name, we didn’t even know their name. We’d made a comment about the poor quality of printing at a daily newspaper. Their print machinery company sued. The lawyers demanded a very long apology. They also demanded that we do not name the company in the apology - which was a bit surreal, having to apologise to a company we couldn’t name for something we’d said about their client.

(4) In my non-professional view as a journalist and editor, I’d say you’re sailing closer to the wind with your acronym than if you named the site itself. Defamation is all about bringing someone into disrepute - and schoolboyishly using an acronym like ‘TOSS’ might be interpreted as an attempt to do exactly that.

Okay, so that wasn’t a quick word. The laws of libel do need to be treated with respect - but a mature and reasonable approach will keep everyone out of trouble - and avoid the lawyers getting richer.


Would any other local forum owner want to stand up in a courtroom and try to prove (s)he is the “TOSS-master” of which we speak? Imagine the jury trying to maintain their composure… :smiley:

On a more serious note, I don’t think I’ve ever criticised any other forum on here, let alone criticised one unfairly. But thanks for the definitions, @AndyS. Good to know.

If being schoolboyish on the Internet is deemed illegal, God help us all…


Welcome to the forum, Andy. Excuse me while I go off on a bit of a tangent, but you’ve set me off thinking again about something I find fascinating in the way users have come to view forums.

I think your comment I’ve quoted above really reflects where local forums sit in their users’ psyches. ‘Abandon’ is an emotive word. People DO feel loyalty to forums, but I wonder why? I think many people see them as a neutral public service. They feel grateful that admins set up and run them. Indeed, many special interest forums are run by people with a real passion and for little reward. Others are run (quite legitimately) to provide a small but steady income stream to the admin.

On the flip side of the loyalty issue is the way people often feel ownership over the forums they use, especially local forums, and get up in arms when they don’t like decisions the admin makes. The truth is, any forum is a dictatorship. The admin can rule it whatever way s/he sees fit. Most admins run benign dictatorships because they want members, they need traffic and advertising. Users begin to feel that approach to running a forum is the accepted norm. They feel it SHOULD be shaped to suit them, that admins are OBLIGED to keep them happy because that’s what they experience at the user end. It’s like Facebook, but on a smaller scale. Users are the income and traffic-generating ‘product’ not the client, but they just don’t know it.

This forum has been set up with a lot of transparency about who owns and runs it, what they get out of it and what the users get out of it. In the early days much of it has been shaped by user feedback. Hopefully the result will be a forum where both members and admin mutually benefit each other. Many local forums are struggling to retain members. To survive, this forum needs to provide something users can’t get from other forums but also, and in my opinion more crucially, that is not provided by social media like Facebook and Twitter.

There’s nothing to stop people using both forums, of course, and some people do still post in both.


Sorry, I’m not yet familiar with this site - is it possible to message other participants? I can’t see any buttons for that. Thanks!


Hi @AndyS - this is a feature that is unlocked automatically for established contributors to the site.

This helps defend our members against abuse.

I heard other competitors to the old forum suffered mysterious episodes of porn being sent out to all users via private messages.

We have a number of safeguards on to help prevent this happening here.


No, it’s not illegal - and I didn’t mean to give that impression. But I reckon if you’re regarded as being deliberately provocative towards a rival that could get into a situation where things deteriorate, aggrieved parties get lawyers to write stern letters, etc etc etc. Not that I’m suggesting you have or would - just offering a free thought. The fact that there’s commercial competition might possibly undermine ‘satire’ as a defence!


Re messaging. Makes sense. Thanks for that.


Just wanted to add to this thread that I love the way local businesses, groups, society’s, association members, museums etc feel comfortable posting on this forum & not just about them but as themselves joining in conversations. I’ve not witnessed this on any other local forums.

This for me has made this forum a success already as we can post as residents even though others may know who we are & most of us are local residents after all.

Thanks @chrisbeach once again for setting this up & thanks for having me as a member of the team.

Just so everyone knows I don’t get special treatment as a local trader because I’m a team member & that’s the way it should be :slight_smile:


Perhaps that’s what happens when posts are deleted by the administrator without explanation, people leave.

Speaking for myself, I no longer participate on “The Official Community Forum for Forest Hill and Honor Oak, London SE23” because I had two posts deleted without explanation, also I was unable to find out anything about the ownership and management of that so-called forum.


Pleased to have you here, @DevonishForester.

My account was put into a special mode on The “Official” Forum, where I had to wait for the admin to approve each one of my posts before they became visible. And there was no explanation for those he rejected. Quickly got to the end of my tether with that forum.


I also resent the fact that my login was rescinded, so I was unable to send any private messages to other forum users to let them know why I would no longer be participating in the forum.


Me too - I’d rather like to defend myself and this site on the “Ignore List” thread, where a number of porkies have flown around - but I’m unable to.

Oh and new accounts require personal approval from the owner (you have to email him with your desired post). Extraordinary!


Welcome @DevonishForester. The main aim around here is to be transparent and fair. We have a team of mods who can be summoned as if by magic when @moderators is included in a post but in general we try to moderate with as light a touch as possible. The exception is political discussion which is whisked away into Politicos, which is an opt-in group separate from the main forum. Any questions - ask away! Have a mooch around and let us know what you think.