My first time back here in a little while... I previously stated that I wasn't sure how much I'd be watching F1 this year, and that still remains the case. The first race of the season has crept up on me - I didn't even know that it was starting this weekend! There is an awful lot that's gone on in the off-season, had no idea Manor would be competing, and had no idea of Alonso's crash...
It also appears that an awful lot has gone on here as well. I've read a little bit of this thread, and some people are saying that this website is dying. I don't think that's the case...
I just wanted to say that when I first jumped on this website as a gawky 17 year old (unbelievable to think that was 8 years ago now), Stephen was very welcoming to me. I signed up and received a friendly pm. Our interactions were pretty brief, but he seemed like a positive guy. Maybe when Stephen stopped becoming so involved, maybe that's when things started to change?
I can't remember how I came across this site, I'm pretty sure it came in the form of spam email? I don't think I googled it. It is interesting that if you Google "Formula One Forum" this website is ranked 8th. If we wish to get more members, we need to get a little bit higher up.
This place did use to have a warm fuzzy feel, like a close knit small community. And maybe that's what's so great about this site. But people do change, their interest in F1 changes over time, or they start to get more priorities in their personal life. I know I've personally changed heaps since I was 17. I hardly have anytime for this. I used to almost view everyone on here as friends. But now I realise that there is a whole world out there and whatever happens on here is really insignificant in the stream of life.
Some people just get far too involved with this place on an emotional level, and hence get far too worked up over the goings on here.
On top of that, in order for this place to be successful we need structure. That structure comes from consistent moderating, and a rigid set of rules. The rules need to be conducive to new members joining and expressing their opinions on this wonderful sport, at the same time knowing that they won't be rubbished, belittled or name-called for their opinion. Also some people, particularly certain moderators, would post comments that blatantly disregard the spirit we were trying to create on this forum.
Some of the comments on here a year or so ago about Button and Whitmarsh would not be tolerated in society, let alone this forum. Such posts were inflammatory, created an environment that upset fans of Button and Whitmarsh, and discouraged them from participating in this forum. If Eddie Jordan or Martin Brundle said something like that, they would be taken to court. Why should we allow moderators and members of our forum get away with posting things like that?
So we really need to question what we're trying to achieve with this forum. We want to encourage new fans to join this forum, actively participate and become long term members. They will be likely running to this place after escaping from a horrible experience from another forum (face it - why else would you join a forum that's ranked 8th on Google?). For them to see certain moderators carrying on like that, and derogatory remarks being made about drivers and other fans... I don't think they'd hang around here for long. Those sorts of things should have been nipped in the bud early, but when moderators are carrying on like that, what can you do?
Or you can just keep with the current members, veterans of the site, who won't tolerate new members voicing their opinions. Eventually the numbers will keep dwindling as people's priorities change, or sagi ends up in an old folks home, or DD gets killed in some horrible pole dancing accident...
So we need to prepare for the future. Develop a society that's conducive to new members voicing their opinions. But filtering out the people who don't want to play nice. Pay Google some more money to boost our search rankings. Revamp the site with more features to attract new users and keep old hags like me popping in regularly.