Ten Fucking Years

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Post by Eldy on Mon Dec 10, 2018 10:51 am

I spent the better part of three years (on and off) playing around with different ideas for what I might say on this occasion, but for a variety of reasons, including the fact that I'm largely repeating myself in this post anyway, I'm unfortunately not sure I have anything substantial to add. I'd feel weird letting it pass without acknowledging it at all, though, so here goes nothing. For those who may have blocked out my blathering about this over the years: the original incarnation of Forumshire was created on Wednesday, December 10, 2008 by Adrian "Ady" Calow of the Isle of Man. Ady added a forum to the site because of the nascent community that had formed in the comments section of his blog, largely driven by the person we would come to know as Gandalf's Beard, who quickly became the de facto community leader of the new forum. Six days later, in Maryland on the opposite side of the Atlantic Ocean, I was putting off finishing the final paper for my International Relations class when I decided to tell someone they were wrong on the Internet. I was quickly sucked into the LOTR Fanatics Plaza and, eventually, the wider world of online Tolkien forums.

The second such forum I joined was Forumshire, when it was only a few months old and not that different from the countless other minor Tolkien forums that have dotted the web over the past 20 years. However, a combination of Ady's absentee approach as admin, GB's vaguely post-hippie sensibilities, and Odo's and Petty's original and unique ideas for what forum interactions could be like resulted in Forumshire developing a very distinctive site culture. I was rather more conventional by Tolkien fandom standards, having first joined and at the time still being most active on the largest Tolkien forum of its day--one that took itself very seriously. My style of moderation on the Plaza would've been practically unrecognizable to anyone who only knew me as a staff member here, but I valued Forumshire's rebellious streak, which was after all a large part of the reason we survived as a community and I ever got to be an admin. The forum changed me in a number of ways--I like to think I became a little more relaxed by the end of my tenure here, at any rate--but others have told me I had a significant influence on the site in turn. If nothing else, I think my (for lack of a better term) organizational skills played a role in keeping the forum a stable refuge throughout the turbulence of the Hobbit movie years, perhaps somewhat more so than it would've been without me.

As you all know, I've spent a lot of time and energy documenting our strange trajectory over the years, from virtual clubhouse, to destination for a wide range of people disaffected with "mainstream" Tolkien forums, to our present close-knit village nature. Forumshire was just as precious to me back in the clubhouse days as it's ever been, but once I became admin my sometimes-repressed ambitions started to flex their muscles. A year or so before Dark Planet Day--which was also before I became a mod on the Plaza--I had a persistent daydream of running a large and successful Tolkien forum of my own. Usually, the second-largest such forum, so that it was the cool alternative place to hang out on. I never in a million years would have expected it to come true in almost eerily accurate fashion, though many other people played a role in our growth and success, so there was a lot that had never occurred to me to imagine. But of course, that's one of the joys of meeting new people, especially through specialist forums where the only guaranteed commonality is an interest in the topic that initially brought everyone together.

There was certainly no guarantee that we would amount to anything. Setting aside the long odds of the community surviving Dark Planet Day and the subsequent migration almost entirely intact, I was not terribly optimistic about our chances of growth once we were separated from Ady's blog and the traffic it generated. In that respect, we were saved by Taz's decision to create a new forum (Bree) and by the community that organically arose there despite Taz's near-complete absence--not unlike the Old Forum. When I first "discovered" the community on Bree and introduced the two sites to each other, the initial flow of traffic was mostly from Forumshire to Bree, something I took a little bit of criticism for at the time. However, thanks to the tireless efforts of Petty and Orwell (and the mismanagement of the site by the people Taz later sold it to) our user base grew considerably as a result of our relationship with Bree. But even then, our growth was not preordained. Neither the Old Forum nor Bree ever reached 20K posts in their 2-3 years each of existence. The new forum passed 20K in 11 months (and has now existed for going on eight years). That was only the beginning, as our growth really started to spike in 2012 and we reached 100K posts in 2013. Not only was this unheard of for a Tolkien community founded later than 2003, but in terms of yearly activity we rapidly outstripped all but one of the older forums which had, for the most part, tried but failed to adapt for TH.

Generally speaking, I'm not huge on the Great Man theory of history. If the guy who founded the LOTR Plaza had never done so, some other forum would have taken its place. It had major competition, after all, and many of the people who posted actively on the Plaza would have made themselves at home on those sites. Maybe there would have been other sites founded that never came to exist in our timeline. Who knows; the point is that there was a lot more going on than any one person or small group of people. But things were different by the time we came along. The scene as a whole was smaller and the opportunities for forum growth less rosy than they had once been. We were not the only Hobbit Movie Forum, but no one else came even remotely close to us. Some of that was down to poor management, some of it due to poor discoverability, and some of it maybe just to bad luck. But all those obstacles would have been present with or without us, and I think the beneficiaries of any possible growth in membership in our absence would have mainly been larger, more established Tolkien forums rather than other young ones.

So if there had never been a Forumshire... If there had never been that grumpy (not actually that) old Californian with his defiantly anti-establishment ways. If there had never been that nerdy, neurotic teenager who felt she had to prove herself over and over again. If there had never been the man of many names with the wonderfully fertile imagination that spawned numerous well-realized forum personalities and the makings of our own jargon. If there had never been that performatively crabbit (sorry not sorry) Scottish guy with a passion for sharing creative works and building personal connections along the way... Well, it goes without saying that my life would be much poorer without all that, if I was even alive today. But as far as I'm concerned, we contributed something valuable, not just to ourselves but to the fandom at large. If not for that contribution, some of our finest members never would have found us, so we certainly saw direct benefits from it. But as someone who has spent a really long time exploring and studying Tolkien fandom, I don't think I'm solely being self-aggrandizing in saying that the broader community of Tolkien forums would have been a noticeably less vibrant and interesting place in its later years had even a single one of our four pillars not stood tall, or had our luck run out as any reasonable third-party observer probably would have expected it to.

Will it happen again? I can't say. It was unlikely enough to have a new forum rise so dramatically in the early 2010s, but we (and TORn) have descended the other side of the hype curve to rejoin the handful of other major forums still hanging on, although the threshold for "major" is so much lower than it was 7-10 years ago that I'm not sure it merits the term anymore. Moreover, the continuing displacement of forums--along with so much else about the Internet--by the consolidation of very large social media platforms makes newly successful forums a rarer site than they once were, especially for a fandom like ours that was never quite as forum-centric as, say, sci-fi or video game fandom. The Amazon series will undoubtedly bring renewed attention, at least for a little while, but even Game of Thrones has not spawned any hugely successful new forums. I'm not the best person to talk about this, though, since I spend more time cultivating other interests these days and most of my online activity is on non-Tolkien forums. If there is a revitalization effort on here or on other Tolkien forums, I'll certainly be rooting for it to succeed, but it's past my time. As with the Silmarils: "For the less even as for the greater there is some deed that [she] may accomplish but once only; and in that deed [her] heart shall rest ... never again shall I make their like". Or as I put it in my admin resignation thread: "Oh god no. One was quite enough."

No matter what the future might hold, though, I'm damn proud of our ten fucking years together.
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Post by Amarië on Mon Dec 10, 2018 11:59 am

Fuck yeah! Here's to us! May the hairs on our toes never fall out! pub
:hug:

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Post by Pettytyrant101 on Mon Dec 10, 2018 2:45 pm

{{Stuff I want to say but not worked out how to express it yet- need more buckie drunken - but I shall be back!!  Twisted Evil Unless I fall down  drunken }}

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Post by halfwise on Mon Dec 10, 2018 2:46 pm

There was actually quite a bit I had NOT heard before Eldy, thanks for that!

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Post by azriel on Mon Dec 10, 2018 6:08 pm

Well done & congratulations to achieving something that is loved, warm, cosy, secure, uplifting & just feels like going home. Something to look forward to, not just now & again, every day. Dying to see who said what.

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Post by Forest Shepherd on Tue Dec 11, 2018 12:50 am

TL;DR?

Razz

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Post by halfwise on Tue Dec 11, 2018 12:53 am

I honestly don't know what you youngsters are talking about sometimes. Mad

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Post by Eldy on Tue Dec 11, 2018 1:20 am

Pettytyrant101 wrote:{{Stuff I want to say but not worked out how to express it yet- need more buckie drunken - but I shall be back!!  Twisted Evil Unless I fall down  drunken }}

I look forward to reading your thoughts on the anniversary!

halfwise wrote:There was actually quite a bit I had NOT heard before Eldy, thanks for that!

Cheers; glad it was good for something, then. Smile

Forest Shepherd wrote:TL;DR?

Razz

No.

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Post by Mrs Figg on Tue Dec 11, 2018 1:42 am

as Norc would say, "fuck yeah" Nod

"I don't know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like more than half of you not as well as you deserve.”

But that's only when Petty used to ask Orwell to scrape out his barrel wearing Amy Pond's strip-a-gram outfit. it crossed a line that did. Suspect

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Post by chris63 on Tue Dec 11, 2018 4:13 am

Ten Fucking Years Tenor

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Post by halfwise on Tue Dec 11, 2018 12:25 pm

Mrs Figg wrote:as Norc would say, "fuck yeah" Nod

"I don't know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like more than half of you not as well as you deserve.”

But that's only when Petty used to ask Orwell to scrape out his barrel wearing Amy Pond's strip-a-gram outfit. it crossed a line that did.  Suspect


Shocked  Sure did.  Even mentioning it crosses a line. Mad

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Post by Norc on Tue Dec 11, 2018 1:13 pm

wow.. can you imagine.. ten years ago i was actually ecited about the hobbit movies?!
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Post by halfwise on Tue Dec 11, 2018 2:08 pm

Not only that, you liked the first one at least. silent

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Post by Pettytyrant101 on Tue Dec 11, 2018 2:37 pm

{{Ten years ago I was so crabbit about the LotR's films I was driven to buckie, ok more buckie drunken ten years on and I am so crabbit about the LotR's films its driven me to buckie, ok, more buckie  Nod drunken How things change in ten years!!  drunken }}

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Post by Mrs Figg on Tue Dec 11, 2018 3:46 pm

Who knows maybe the Amazon LOTRs is going to be super-dooper. Laughing

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Post by Norc on Tue Dec 11, 2018 4:36 pm

i am so excited for the new amazon series i might start posting again.. although my child innocense has been demolished so.. yeah.. i will probably die a little inside and not be afraid to not like it ... i really do want to like it though.. they won't find a better aragorn though, viggo was fucking aragorn ..
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Post by halfwise on Tue Dec 11, 2018 4:54 pm

All the women seem to think that. I would have preferred PJ's first choice of Daniel Day Lewis, even if Figgs thinks his teeth are too big.


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Post by Forest Shepherd on Wed Dec 12, 2018 4:14 am

Daniel Day-Lewis would have suited me just fine, but Mortensen is lovely too.

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Post by azriel on Wed Dec 12, 2018 5:19 pm

Viggo pops yer boots ! I love you

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Post by halfwise on Thu Dec 13, 2018 9:53 pm

He really seems to have that effect on women, and I still haven't figured it. He's fine in the part, but not commanding. I never looked at him and thought "oh yes, that's definitely Aragorn."

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Post by Forest Shepherd on Sat Dec 15, 2018 5:47 pm

It's the smooouuuuullllllder.

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Boar is badger, named after wood,
Not after forest but trees.
Where did you play on a rainy day?
Where did I eat bread and cheese?
Search inside, stay indoors,
Look up and find the secret is yours.
Your castle your fort,
Or so you thought.
The way is in four trees.
The way is in Boar in Brockhall
Under ale, under bread, under cheese.

-Mossflower, by Brian Jacques.
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Post by azriel on Sat Dec 15, 2018 8:14 pm

Confident smooooouuullder

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Post by Mrs Figg on Sat Dec 15, 2018 10:05 pm

I don't fancy Viggo. I fancied Elrond. Embarassed and Boromir.

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Post by Norc on Sun Dec 16, 2018 9:52 pm

Legolas for me. All the way. And eomer.
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Post by azriel on Sun Dec 16, 2018 10:43 pm

Mmmmm Eomer's cute Smile

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