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 Post subject: Moving Forward
PostPosted: Sun Aug 10, 2008 12:36 pm 
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Joined: Mon Nov 21, 2005 12:41 am
Posts: 32714
Most of you have undoubtedly already read the post of my co-Thain and old friend Jnyusa, indicating that she was moving on, and leaving the board in my hands. There is no getting around the fact that Jnyusa’s departure will leave a huge hole here. Those are big shoes to fill, and I don’t expect to do so, or that anyone else will. She will be missed, both as an administrator and as a remarkably astute poster.

However, I still love The Hall of Fire very much, and hope and plan to continue to nurture this community, preserving those qualities that I and many of you value, regaining some of those qualities that seem to have been lost to some extent, and perhaps achieving new and different things as we move into the future. Most of you know me pretty well after all of these years, and all of these different manifestations, and you know how much I value civility and respect. These things will continue to be the hallmark of The Hall of Fire under my watch. With that backdrop, I wanted to share with you all some thoughts of my vision for moving forward into that future

TOLKIEN DISCUSSION
Discussing Tolkien’s works continues to be, and always will continue to be, the raison d'etre of The Hall of Fire. That is true despite the fact that the Tolkien discussion has never been the dominant topic here, and probably never will. But practically everyone here loves Tolkien’s work to a greater or lesser extent, and are influenced by that love in ways both obvious and subtle. That influence shines through not just in the actual Tolkien discussions, but in other places as well.

That having been said, I really want to encourage all of you to consider posting more in the Tolkien forums, particularly in the LOTR discussion. One of the only negatives that I can think of about my success in getting Arda Reconstructed accepted for publication is that it has helped to reinforce the false notion that one needs to be a Tolkien scholar in order to participate in the Tolkien discussions here. That simply isn’t true. Each and every one of you has insights into those books that would new and enlightening to me and to many others. I say that with tremendous confidence. Even things that may seem obvious to you will provide a different perspective to me and others; I’ve seen it happen time and time again. We each have our own perspectives about these books and what they mean; that is perhaps Tolkien’s greatest genius, that he is able to reflect so many different souls in so many different ways. So take a chance; you won’t regret it. And neither will the rest of us!

SUPPORT FOR EACH OTHER
One of the greatest successes of The Hall of Fire over the past few years has been the extent that the individuals of the community have come together to support each other when times are tough, as well as to celebrate the happy things together. I have had a number of people tell me that what they have value the most about The Hall of Fire is the supportive atmosphere. That is something that I really want to continue to foster and encourage. It seems to me that we have lost that a little bit in recent times, and it is something that I really want to work to recover.

PLAYFUL FUN
Many of us have known each other for quite a while now; five years or more. Over that time, we have had a lot of fun together. I would love to see more of that kind of light-hearted, easygoing joking around. I am convinced that that kind of light-hearted fun can co-exist with the spirit of respect and civility that is this community’s hallmark, and with the serious discussion that we strive to encourage. The keys are (1) to keep the lighthearted joking from interrupting a serious discussion (mostly by containing the joking in Bag End); (2) to be cognizant of what the reaction of other people is likely to be; and (3) (most importantly) to be inclusive rather than exclusive. This is such a fun-loving group of people, and there is no reason why we can’t enjoy that, without interfering with the other goals of the community. All it takes is a bit of awareness on each of our parts.

SERIOUS DISCUSSION
I certainly want to encourage people to continue to discuss the arts, and literature, and music, and theatre and television, and all of that good stuff. But it can not be disputed that the bulk of the serious discussion that has gone on at this site has been in the Lasto Beth Lammon forum, particularly regarding politics. This site has become known elsewhere for its political discussion. And while much of it has been tremendously exciting and insightful, it also cannot be doubted that the tone of the political discussion has sometimes dipped below the standards of civility and respect that we always seek, particularly over the past year or two. It has been a great sadness to me to learn that a number of people that I know have much to offer in those discussions have largely stayed away from that forum. And before anyone jumps to the conclusion that this is due to the influence of just one poster or one point of view, let me make it very clear that that is not the case. There is plenty of “blame” to go around (some of which lands squarely on my own shoulders). We recently had a productive discussion on this subject in the Nan Elmoth forum, which I think offers a ray of hope. In response to that discussion, I and the rest of the Marshals are developing a set of special guidelines for political discussions that we hope will help maintain an atmosphere that will allow people to all share their differing perspectives without generating the kind of negative vibes that all-too-often dominates that forum. I honestly believe that we can achieve something very special in those discussions, but it is going to take a concerted effort by all of us. I will be posting further about these guidelines in the coming days.

The other sensitive topic that has generated some astounding discussions – but also some difficult exchanges – is the topic of religion. I have seen some discussions on different aspects of spirituality here the likes of which I literally never believed were possible, and which I have not seen the like of any place else. It seems that we have avoided those discussions for the most part in recent months. I admit, they can be difficult. But I think there is still the opportunity for more of that kind of sharing, as long as everyone enters into with a spirit of extreme openness , a willingness to accept the views of others as, and a genuine interest to understand those views (and to help others understand your own views). I think we can achieve that as well. I really do.

SERVER CHANGE
Now, a more pedestrian – but no less important – topic. I’m sure everyone has notice that the service that we have gotten from our service provider has been less than stellar. There is nothing more frustrating to compose a long post and then not have it go through, or ever worse, come to check the board and not be able to get on. It is my goal to move to a new server within the next two weeks. However, I want to make sure that I do sufficient due diligence to ensure that we move to a truly better situation. The last thing we want is to go out of the frying pan and into the fire (or, as Bilbo says, to escape goblins only to be caught by wolves). I also have some concern about ensuring that the move goes smoothly and successfully. I want to limit (or hopefully eliminate) the possibility of lost posts or (my secret nightmare) losing the whole board somehow in the course of the transfer (though of course I will back up the board and save the back up before any transfer is made) . I will keep you informed about this, of course.

CHANGE IN ADMINISTRATION
Finally, there is of course some changes in the administration of the board. In addition to Jnyusa leaving her post as co-Thain, Athrabeth has also asked to step down as a Marshal. I have asked nerdanel to step in as a new Marshal, and she has agreed. The other active Marshal/Shirriffs, Prim and Cerin, will continue in their roles. They will all actively assist me in running the board. The biggest difference, I suppose, is that while before Jnyusa and I jointly had the final authority on all decisions, I now have the sole responsibility of making the final decision (after consulting with the other Marshals and, when appropriate, the membership). However, if you have any issues with how I exercise that authority, I encourage you to talk to me about it, either by starting a thread in Nan Elmoth (which doesn’t have to be just for arguments, but can be used for civil discussions about administrative decisions), or (sometimes preferably) via private message. I can’t promise that I will agree with you, but I can promise that I will listen (and honestly consider) what you have to say. While it is true that I am the “owner” of this board, I consider myself to be holding it in trust for all of you.

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Woods is most felt. Nice! it's gentle on your mind.


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