Buzz, I created the forum on the 19th, and JOINED as the first member at 12:30pm on the 20th - but the skeleton of the forum was done one the 19th, so I use that date - BUT today is the BIRTHDAY of the FIRST MEMBER :)
So either way, we are a year old...
About my expectations. Prior to this I had a newsletter which had MANY members, but it was becoming a mailing list only thing and it had no interaction between the members of the list - it was me to them and them to me, but not them to them - hope that makes sense?
What were my expectations, honestly - I had a period from the time I had a substantial mailing list, and the time the forum started. I had lost that list in the refortmatting of my notebook where the entire mailing list was kept, so I had literally started from GROUND ZERO.
What my goals were (which I choose to use over expectations) because goals are self adminstered as where expectations are the results of those goals - was to create an enviroment where ideas on beekeeping could be shared by people from around the Internet - thus the world, where we could communicate on other topics too - in order to better to get to each other.
If I had a expectation, it was to NOT be the center of attention - I never wanted to be an answerman, and in that department I am very pleased at the result. The forum is full of questions and answers, ideas and theories, facts and suggestions and whether I am there or not - it goes on seemlessly, with the help of the Moderators, but mostly because the membership choses to return again and again and be helpful and friendly and more important - everyone enjoys to better get to know each other and assist when ever possible.
Has the forums meet my expectations or goal - indeed it has, many times over and in many ways. The forum initially was more of an accident than a concept - as I've mentioned prior, it was going to be an RV forum which never took off and I luckily said that this phpbb software would be a great way to expand the purpose of the Beekeeping Course by letting people have a HUB to come to and communicate - and even if other forums of a similar theme exisited, that really didn't matter.
This one was going to be aimed at the youngest members of a family, a site where entire young families of beekeepers could sit down and find others who respected their opinions and wanted to be able to share images, thoughts, and grow as beekeepers and fuction as a larger family unit without fear of the insult of banner ads, foul language and obsene material. Sort of the Chucky Cheese of the Beekeeping Forums - lol.
I think most of that has happened, we sure try hard to keep it that way. It is important to keep this commercial free, which sets us aside from any other forum of its type and with the chat feature and other messaging stuff, we have the ability to communicate EVEN WHEN we are not within the pages of this site.
I'm very pleased with year one, that is the answer. And never once did the number of members matter, except that I always wanted enough people here to support each other, I never wanted to be the focus of the site - I wanted Beekeeping and the members to be the center of attention. I am very happy just posting and doing my best to offer interesting topical areas for people to post in, and if I never posted here again, the forum should not miss me, because they have each other.
So being just another member was a real goal of mine - I take no pleasure in writing letters of warning if someone pushes the bounds of our simple bilaws - and I think when we lose members because of personal head-butting "between them and other members", that we are lessened by their loss.
Family is family, brothers and sisters fight - but they make up too. In the forums we need to realize that feuds can happen and it's probably better to let them fight them out - I've learned from what few events where I felt the need to interveen that it is better to stay out of it - and simple tell bothsides to take it to PM.
As we increase some of the security features, we'll have less and less spam-bots making it through our registration. I think I do a pretty good job of deleting them quickly and rarely do I hear where they have pmed anyone with links to nasty sites, etc.. But like junk email, there are no perfect filters, so we always need to keep our eyes open for the inevitable bots and humans who come here just to cause havoc.
Lastly, I look at the growth numbers as of late and they are amazing. More importantly, I see that we have a greater number of frequent posters - that latter statement is terrific, much more important than the first. It's great to have a bunch of members, but it is those who post who drive the forum, the READERS who never post are getting knowledge too, but in order to befriend someone, nothing beats a simple hello and a welcome aboard the forum when they walk through our door :)