The Richard Dawkins forum. The end of a commmunity- a year on…
Looking back over the last twelve months, after my moderating position on the Richarddawkins.net forums came to an end, I have encountered mixed emotions.
I have recently browsed over all the goings on a year ago when the forum unexpectedly shut down. For those who didn’t get attached to the forum I can understand that the emotions the members were immersed in could be seen as blown out of proportion or petty. But for many of the staff and members it felt as if a hurricane had hit their hamlet of closely knit friendly atheists, taking with it a mass proportion of its inhabitants which will probably never be heard from again.
On the night of February 24th 2010 I sat at my laptop, until the early hours of the morning, astounded by what happening to the online community that I had personally tried, and spent many many hours of my free time, to keep safe from bigotry, injustice and prejudice. It was a place of rational discourse, an institution of knowledge and an assembly of like-minded individuals who over time seemed to become altruistic towards each other. I sat and I sobbed. I knew that after that night, even if the forum was switched back on, it would never recover from that hurricane. The wounds too deep to heal.
In the days that followed I had many a tearful moment. I felt as though I had been made redundant from the best job I would ever have. Pulled away from colleagues I worked so well with, we were a team like no other I had encountered. I felt humbled to have worked with them. There was a special bond between us, a small band of people spread over the globe yet completely at ease and at home in our virtual staff room.
It made the newspapers, extensively reported on blogs, forums and websites. Many people, taking into account the forum had 85,000 members, were hurt, angry and sad by what had happened. A year has passed and still people miss it.
If it wasn’t for RD.net I can truly say I wouldn’t be the person I am today. Maybe that sounds a little extreme? But when I joined I had little interest and virtually no knowledge in the subjects I love to learn about today. I believed in God, the forum opened my eyes and helped me think critically. I have done university courses I would never have even thought about doing before RD.nt. I attend Skeptics in the Pub meetings, I have an interest in the secular society and I read humanist magazines. All of these are part of my normal life now and if it wasn’t for the forum I wouldn’t have an interest in any of it. I am a changed person, a person I like, someone with more confidence than before and more intelligence. I’m someone who yearns knowledge.
So even though its gone, and its a year on I’m happy. I thank all my RichardDawkins.netters, Dawks and non dawks for the gift of reason. Now its time to draw a line under the RichardDawkins.net forum,it’s a thing of the past. As it always said in my signature…
“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened” – Dr Seuss.
Me (formally known as Jain) xxxx