About six years ago, I started an online forum. It was a spin off of a gaming site known as Ladies of Neverwinter (which is now defunct). My reasons for creating the site were several, but the main reason was that LoN was shut down shortly after I found it. I’d barely scratched the surface of what an online community could be, and I had enough tech savvy to start up my own.
So I did.
I got a webhost and a domain name and figured out enough php and mysql to get phpbb up and running and off I went.
A lot of it was a great learning experience. There’s a large balancing act when you’re a forum admin, particularly on a subject that many people are passionate about. (In this case, gaming. At the time everyone was about Neverwinter Nights and Baldur’s Gate.) There was fanfic, fan art, gushing about love interests, play-by-post games and things were just…good. We had daily stat posts, and ranty posts, and controversial debate posts and online forum games and all sorts of other things.
Not that it didn’t have its bumps. People butted heads, as they do. People came. People left. Sometimes people would come back after while and others would drift in and out like they were carried on some sort of electronic tide. Friendships were made and broken.
Years passed. I had another kid. Got a new job. Started a writing career. Moved. Got rung out by the housing crisis. Had back surgery.
But through it all, my site was there for me. It was a constant. I knew I could go there and be among friends and let it all hang out if I needed to. Over the years we’ve had contests, a cafepress store, a DA club, an online jukebox, some random meetings in Vegas and a bunch of other stuff that made things interesting.
But every once in a while I’d think about shutting it down, particularly when things were stressful in my real life. And many of you who know me know this. I talk about it from time to time, particularly when I’m grumpy or pensive. It’s not that the site is all that much work. At this point it’s fairly self-sustaining…but it’s certainly not as active as it has been. I mean, we get about 700 unique visitors a day, 50 to 70 registered users who visit on a very regular basis, so activity is somewhat relative. For a crappy little gaming site that used to center around a certain tiefling from Hordes of the Underdark, that’s not too bad. Clearly, people are still visiting for a reason. (And those 700 people are running about about 3000 to 6000 pageviews a day.)
Still. Many of the people I’ve known and loved have moved on to other things. Posts are down overall. I rarely post myself these days. Partially due to time and partially due to lack of interest. It costs me about $400 a year to run for hosting, although the upkeep doesn’t take long. We’ve been rather fortunate over the years to not have too many trolls and my moderators have all been level-headed and fair.
But I’ve been debating as to what to do more and more these days. I suppose I could hand the reins over to someone else…but there’s a very selfish part of me that insists that this site is my baby, and that when I go that’s the end of the story.
Maybe I’m just holding onto the past. Maybe I need to take it in a different direction or find some other way to revitalize it.
Maybe I just need to let it go.