from the Mosaic Blue Archive
As I sit down to write this, it’s already 2am. It’s rather fitting that I’m writing this entry at this time of night. I’ve been rambling on quite a bit lately in various venues about our first anniversary season and all the big plans we have for improving TCFL, both in the coming months and in the long run. Those changes are nothing compared to the changes I was rambling on about one year ago this minute.
A year ago tonight, I stayed up until 5 am, typing feverishly away to a couple of online buddies. I spent the next three days working on the first steps and the next three months bringing those ideas to fruition. Nothing went as planned. Some of those initial ideas were never implemented and completely different ideas took their place. I had no idea what I was doing, but after a lot of fumbling around and endless help from friends, the ideas from that April night became something we could all be proud of.
NOTE: If you’ve read the “Sig Line Story” thread in the Pub from February, you’ve already read a shorter version of what follows. This version is guaranteed to bore the hell out of everyone who was involved at the time as well as those who have read the short “Sig Line Story” version. I’m just writing this for posterity, and to tell the newer members why I’m getting all crazy nostalgic about a late night in April.
Maybe I should start at the beginning. A lot of you know where the original members of TCFL came from. Those who don’t know, don’t worry about it. You aren’t missing much. If you read the first entries in the FAQ (under Resources), you’ll get the gist of how all this started. We built a thriving, engaging, friendly community on CF-unfriendly soil but thought we were safe. Suddenly the hosts wanted us out of their house, but instead of saying so outright, they just started treating us like shit. We were wayward children who obviously had no idea how to behave in a public setting and needed discipline. The threads in that forum were getting ugly. The regulars were under attack. Privately, we were all thinking the same thing: Our little community was dying and we weren’t going to have each other anymore. Things were coming to a head with alarming speed and we were going to be scattered to the winds. Most of us didn’t even have each other’s email addresses.
Night of April 21/22: I came home from work and saw that the situation had deteriorated even more since I’d logged out the previous night. But something I read made me think. Two of our regulars, Frieda and Deborah if memory serves, had made comments to the effect that maybe we needed our own forum. I replied in the thread that I had a connection to a web hosting company we could use if they actually meant it. Then I went on about my evening, reading the rest of that day’s forum activity, checking my email, etc. all the while, stewing on the idea of “our own forum.”
I turned to my partner. “Honey, do you think you could help me build a website?” He stared at me for just a second before replying, just long enough for me to see he had suspected this was coming and just long enough for him to see that this admitted tech-novice wasn’t kidding. His reply was something to the effect of, “For your CF forum?” I nodded enthusiastically. “Uh-uh.” He shrugged. “Sure.”
By 2am, ideas were taking shape. A few of our regulars had moderating experience from other sites. Our little group had at least a couple of members (or partners of members) who could help us build a website. There was a graphic designer in our midst. There was a web-marketing expert among us. I knew from the last year of threads I’d participated in that not only did we have regulars who considered themselves writers, but we also had many good writers who didn’t consider themselves such.
By 3am, the PMs were going out. I wrote to Deborah and Lngilbert a series of jumbled ideas, typing as fast as I could, lest the ideas disappear. I was still honing those ideas at 5am, when I finally forced myself to bed.
April 22: I logged on the next morning with my coffee still in hand, grateful to be off work that day. The replies from Lngilbert and Deborah were just what I had hoped for: They didn’t think I was crazy… crazily ambitious maybe, but not completely crazy. I tidied up the notes from the previous night and sent them to Frieda. Meanwhile, Lngilbert started a list of our forum regulars to invite to leave with us. She and I opened email accounts specifically for this venture and spent a large portion of the evening passing back and forth drafts of an invitation. When we finally got it right, we split her list in half and sent PMs with the invitation and our email addresses to nearly 50 people.
April 23: The responses came in slowly, but gradually picked up speed. I suppose the continual downhill slide of our forum’s atmosphere contributed to it, but I was impressed nonetheless. 24 hours after the PM campaign started, we had 20 “I’m in” replies and 1 “Wait and see if things cool off first.” (The “wait and see” member eventually joined us, in case you’re wondering.) Lngilbert, Frieda, and I sent excited messages back and forth. I checked my email obsessively, flitting between that tab and the forums. My jaw dropped at the continued troubles on the latter and closed in a smile at the former.
April 24: Lngilbert and I tried to organize this effort via email and a few shared documents. It was simply too much to handle that way, and it kept the group fairly disconnected. My partner offered to build us a temporary “hidden” forum on one of his domains so we could congregate and work as a group. We took him up on the offer. By the time we got there that evening, some of our regulars had seen their accounts deleted on our old forum.
In the days that followed, we ranted and bitched about our former home as we watched its downward spiral from the safety of our (temporary) new one. We started putting together ideas and gathering start-up funds. Meanwhile, responses to the PM campaign continued to arrive in our inboxes. On April 27, we registered this domain name and had 24 members in the Temp Forum. By May 8, we had 50 members and the planning stages of TCFL were already fading into the construction stages.
So that’s how it all started, folks. Yea, we got pissed off and walked out. But that’s only part of it. We found a way to take our community with us and we followed through. Most of the members who participated in the mass exodus are still here today. Almost half of them are part of the mod/admin team that keeps this place running and continually looks for ways to improve it.
I took a break halfway through writing this and now it’s nearly 5am. Feels like old times. So that’s it. I celebrated the first birthday of the idea –to the minute- with a trip down memory lane. Maybe I’ll come up with something better next year.