loses it’s edge?

There was a post on (wholly owned and operated by James Slattery-Kavanagh) the other day entitled ‘has the forum lost its edge?’. Well I think it has, and here’s why. First off, the reason I’m posting this here and not there is…

1. I’ve reached 200 posts and now have to pay £10 to continue – err, no thanks – you know your content, I helped created that. James gives the reason of costs, and how he barely breaks even – yes I’m sure it’s tough – But we’re talking text here. TEXT! It’s 2007! Jeez, his bandwidth can’t be that much can it? ALso by making people pay you’re naturally going to kill off a percentage of ‘elders’ in the group, people who have contributed the most. Mobile phone companies call this ‘churn’.

2. Over moderation/admin is another charge levelled at James. Natural flow of conversations is cut off with ‘no off topic’ remarks. James and the Mods fuss and fawn over every topic/issue post. Hypocrisy seems rife with some topics being allowed to drift and not others. You know what you’d never see on VN nowadays? Someone announcing something about their life… ‘I just passed my driving test’ or ‘I’ve had a baby boy’. All posts have to be about ‘community’ issues specifically to do with the Upper Norwood environment. People feel scared to post life trivia and it’s this that’s the oil in the community machine.

3. During Sainsbury’s take over in 2006 VN was the place to get all the latest gossip, the conversation flowed at breakneck speed and I for one logged in a couple of times a day. Now its people posting about the colour of paint of the shop next to Paddy Power – yawn – or its people moaning or complaining about things, it’s become very negative, curtain twitching and off putting.

4. Dilution of the Brand. By banning talk on crime on VN and moving it elsewhere, as well as trying to get his wiki project off the ground James is sending too many people to different places. It’s hard to get people to interact and contribute to things. People don’t want to help him build a New Jerusalem; they just want to chat about lots of stuff in one place, which leads us to…

5. The rise of Facebook et al. Does everything VN does but it’s free and integrates with the rest of your life, and these days we’re all lazy as hell right?! It may be the internet data Black hole. It also uses REAL NAMES and user photos so less libelling and fighting and a sense that you know who’s talking. You can also swear, go off topic, rant, rave and no one cares. People can vote with their feet, don’t like the way the group is going? Set your own up! And you can add images, video, apps in a second

I used to really like VN, and the people on it, but the people I liked don’t post anymore. Consequently I feel it’s just become stale. It feels like a family party that’s gone on too long, like the plot of EastEnders it’s lost its way… So I’ll not be paying a tenner; I’ll also not be creating a new account under a different user name and email, as that’s just rude. So some of us have moved on to an un-moderated Facebook groups, here, here and here to get our shits and giggles.

James and VNers, if you’re reading this, I hope you can see that the above are intended as constructive comments about VN and not a personal attack on any one person.



4 Responses to “ loses it’s edge?”

  1. 1 eyedropper August 15, 2007 at 10:34 pm

    And as if to prove it the murder of a man in Crystal Palace is the top news story on the BBC website

    and there last comments post on VN is
    ‘What shops does Crystal Palace need’

    What’s the use of a community forum if we can’t talk about things affecting the community?

  2. 2 Andrew Clark September 5, 2007 at 3:09 pm

    I had my account disabled by James for some minor offence. I think what finally did for me was saying that I agreed with the plans for Crystal Palace park and complaining about Nimby’s.

    I’m happy to see the criticism, I had my voice taken away by James for not being fluffy enough. Clearly other people think that it’s a community site and not just a private fiefdom. To be honest, if James hadn’t done this someone else would, they really are very common things these days for communities and it’s likely that an alternative would have been more open and less Stalinist…

  3. 3 martin March 4, 2008 at 8:27 pm


    I’ve had exactly the same experience, and was banned for making exactly the same criticsm of James.

    I’d been discussing the ridiculous situation of why we are not allowed to use our beautiful railway station, and I noticed that the thread was going nowhere, (like many on VN). So, thinking it was apathy, I said (paraphrased) “come on! The Palace has gone, the upper railway station has gone, and Health and Safety Nazis have stopped us going into the Victorian tiled underpass. Please can we use our station?”

    I got a warning. The post was censored but left on the board, and I got a rather smug private message telling me I had been pinged for bad language. I defended myself in a polite PM, saying that I hadn’t pointed “nazi” at a particular person, but its generic use meant all dictators (like him).

    To be honest, I’d had this creeping feeling about the site for a little while, so I wasn’t surpised when a PM arrived, saying my post had been deleted, and I needed to take notice of the rules about bad language.

    Knowing where this was going, and assuming he is either a H&S Nazi or against the use of Crystal Palace Station, I kept going, politely defending my rights, and criticizing the lack of democracy on “Curtain” again, in a PM, and not on the Forum. I was immediately banned.

    I felt ok with it, because it instantly justified what I’d said. I just wish more people knew what was going on.

    Thanks! Reading this, I know I’m not a paranoid conspiracy theorist!

  4. 4 Londoner October 6, 2008 at 10:05 am

    An interesting post. I have a great deal of sympathy and try and administer our community forum in a more relaxed way.

    I think it would get your approval. But, and a big BUT, it also brings the disapproval of people who think it too lax, too slow to pick up on possibly racists stuff, is sometimes very negative about the place and so on. Which proves there is no way to moderate (or not moderate) a community website without losing some valuable contributors and members of that community.

    In the end the real judgement is not whether moderation is too heavy/light or whatever – but does the forum work? Is it busy, is it more than just a band of regulars gossiping (though that is important).

    I too fear that our forum may one day be superseded by Facebook or its derivatives as forums effectively displayed newsgroups. Especially as I think there is something missing in Facebook that a good forum can deliver.

    But that is another rant!

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These are my personal views and not those of Channel 4 or the BBC
August 2007
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