BOAF: Time to say goodbye

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Posted by Jim Kearman on Sat, 23 Dec 2006 09:23:54 EST (

Birds Of A Feather is closed to new posts. Please visit my blog, Loose Feathers.

Birds Of A Feather went online in the Fall of 2002. My goals at the time were to create an Internet community open to all, and to learn more about Web technology. Since then the code that runs BOAF has undergone several transitions, as has its owner, me. Nurturing the Birds along these four years has taught me a great deal, about Web technology, but also about people. As a new year approaches I think it's time to move on.

In August 2005 I launched a blog called Loose Feathers, mostly to learn about how blogging software worked. Since April of this year I've been mirroring BOAF posts to the blog. Effective January 1, 2007, I'll be posting only to Loose Feathers, and the posting mechanism of BOAF will be shut down.

Two concurrent events prompted this decision. Or, rather, one event and one non-event. The code that makes BOAF run has long been a favorite target of spammers. Over the years I have spent countless hours improving security and fending off attacks. A new wave of spam attacks began this week, numbering in the hundreds a day. I loathe spam, as I feel spammers are trying to profit from my hard work. Many discussion forums using code similar to BOAF's were long ago driven off the Internet because their administrators couldn't perservere against the spammers. I'm proud to have kept BOAF running almost spam-free this long.

My second reason for shutting down BOAF is the lack of discussion. Over the past month only three people have responded to posts, and two of those were mirrored from my blog. Only one person made a new post (Thanks Bernie!). It makes no sense to host a discussion forum in which there are hardly any discussions. BOAF has become too much of a time sink. If it's going to be a virtual one-way street I might as well stick to Loose Feathers, which is moderated to preclude spamming.

I take full responsibility for the lack of discussion. Despite my best efforts, BOAF has never ranked highly on search engines. And I'm sure my personality played a key role as well. To anyone still reading BOAF who was offended by something I said, I now say "Suck it up." Nobody ever died on BOAF, nor was any population subjugated or oppressed. There are a lot worse things in the world than opinions, and the opportunity to respond was always available, with no need to register or even reveal your identity. I never cut and ran from a discussion, and I always made the effort to document my statements and back up my opinions, which is more than may be said for most wealthy talk-show pundits.

Unlike most blogs, BOAF was open to discussion on just about anything and everything -- chess, global warming, the war, politics and Florida drivers. Each April we celebrated National Poetry Month with at least one new poem a day. But after all, BOAF always was a small pond, and there are more-public forums where people can feel validated rather than challenged.

BOAF will remain open to new posts until midnight December 31, 2006. All posts made before then will remain on the server indefinitely, as will the search engine, but it no longer will be possible to make new posts. (Archived posts date back to August 2004.) If you're one of the diminishing few who sometimes appreciate what I have to say, please bookmark Loose Feathers. It's possible to respond to blog posts, but to cut off spammers, responses must first be approved by me.

To all who participated on BOAF over the past four years I say Many thanks, it's been great knowing you, and thanks for hanging in.



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