Happy 2nd Anniversary to the Forum: A note from a proud papa


(Brad Kramer) #1

So last month the Forum officially became two years old!

Here’s a quick history of the Forum: BioLogos blog posts have almost always had a comment section (@beaglelady, correct me if I’m wrong, but I think we started comments sometime in 2010). In our old website, they were hosted directly through our web platform. Comments were tied to our posts; people didn’t have the ability to start their own topics for discussion. Then, in late 2014, our then-web manager Chris Snyder heard about an innovative new free software called Discourse that BioLogos could use to host discussion boards. Initially, we used the software only for discussions related to our “book clubs” (that’s how @Christy found her way here, fyi). Behind the scenes, Chris and I were hatching a plot to make Discourse our platform for all comments and discussion. There was a lot of internal discussion about this at BioLogos. While conversation and community are key values for BioLogos, the internet can be a brutal place, and it’s very difficult (and time-consuming) to keep online discussions civil—especially when talking about such controversial issues as evolution, biblical authority, and Christian faith. But we decided to give the “Forum” a try, and see what happened. It officially launched on January 13, 2015.

Here’s some stats from our first two years:
-Over 1,200 registered users (we average 2-3 new users a day)
-Over 36,500 posts on 1,400 threads
-About 378,000 page views (we get a huge chunk of that traffic through web search, and also people who observe the discussions without participating). The Forum is actually one of the most-viewed pages on the entire BioLogos website.

So here’s the proud papa speech: I think it’s fair to say that the Forum has exceeded all of our expectations. It has become a huge part of what makes BioLogos unique. We are the only organization in the origins conversation with comment/discussion boards that are truly open to people of all perspectives on faith and science. As many of you know, it is vanishingly rare to find places on the internet where topics like evolution can be discussed without either immediate rancor or forced unanimity. I am very proud that we are one of those places.

The reality is that our identity as a community stems entirely from the many gracious, thoughtful, committed participants. I marvel at the ability of a Forum like this to bring together people from all over the planet who would otherwise never be connected. It’s pretty amazing, and I’m so excited to see us grow.

We’ve got a lot of cool new stuff in the works for the Forum’s third year. Speaking of which, this a great time to publicly thank our volunteer moderators—@christy, @Casper_Hesp, and @jpm—for their countless hours here. :clap: :clap: :clap: This year, we will be revamping, upgrading, and improving the Forum to make it an even better place for conversation and community.

I’ll end with a shout-out for our March conference in Houston. All four moderators will be in attendance, and I hope to see many of you there. We’ll be making a thread closer to the conference to coordinate a Forum meet-up. I know that attending a conference like this can be a significant expense, but if you think the BioLogos message is important and want to be a part of our movement, there’s no better place to be. If you have any questions about the conference, ask below or message me privately and I’d be happy to answer them.

Thanks to all of you!


(Brad Kramer) #2

(James McKay) #3

Congratulations Brad, and to all the rest of you at BioLogos. I must agree that your achievement on the forums here is remarkable. In addition to providing a “safe space” (dare I call it that?) for discussion of the subject, you’re also doing a lot to actually teach us how to conduct ourselves civilly in any Internet discussion and how to respect other believers whose opinions are different from our own, and I think that’s something that’s of even more value than discussions about origins.

Incidentally, the programmer behind the Discourse software, Jeff Atwood, was also the pioneer of the Stack Exchange network of Q&A websites, of which the programming website Stack Overflow is probably the best known. A couple of their sites may also be of interest to regulars here on the BioLogos forums: Christianity and Biblical Hermeneutics.


#4

I like Stack Overflow. Haven’t used it lately, though.


#5

I think that Beliefnet was used to host the first forum, but that didn’t last long, thankfully.


(Andrew M. Wolfe) #6

Happy birthday to the Forum!

What I think would be truly mind-boggling is a word count. “Put together, the Forum posts would make a 36-volume set of 500-page books.” Or even, “If posters spent an average of an hour per page of prose, the Forum’s output to date represents over two man-years of labor.” :slight_smile:


(Brad Kramer) #7

@AMWolfe We once clocked a now-departed member of our community at over 86,000 words in a single month. That’s 191 pages at size 12 font.


#8

And that’s usually the same old post, right?


(Phil) #9

Congratulations! However, there is something to the reputation of “terrible twos” so buckle up. Actually, I think things are going well, and I am enjoying the diverse topics and opinions on the site.