As we are all too painfully aware, a former member has decided to use the True West forum to launch a very vindictive attack against SOTOW, and, not surprisingly, a couple of other former members have chimed in to state how repressive and unfair we all are.
I was once a very active member of the True West forum. At that time BBB ran a classy site. When the occasional trouble maker came along, as they always do, they were immediately removed, and other members would publicly thank the True West staff for keeping the forum great.
Then one day, for whatever reason, Bob Bell decided to change the rules. It's his forum and he is, of course, free to run it as he sees fit. Bob decided that he wanted to see "more debate." He posted a provocative blog about an upcoming gay and lesbian exhibit at the Autry Museum in California. Those True West members who were conservative, Christian, or both, posted their reasons why they didn't think this would be a good idea. I simply stated that while I personally had no interest in seeing it myself I would not condemn anyone who did. This immediately launched nothing short of an out and out hate campaign by a very vocal, and extremely intolerant, gay member of the forum by the name of Bill Lindley. Now keep in mind a number of others had been suspended from True West for making far less inflammatory comments than Bill Lindley was making, but for some reason Mr. Bell decided to keep Mr. Lindley on the forum. Since that time there have been numerous personal vendettas launched against a number of people, including myself, on True West, but ever since Bill Lindley, the staff has turned a blind eye to personal attacks on their forum. Again, it's their forum. They are certianly free to run it as they please.
Last December a group of us decided we'd had enough of the chaos, not to mention mean-spiritedness, on True West, so I put together the SOTOW forum. Our goal was, and has always been, to make this forum a place were members could freely discuss the history of the American West and topics related to Old West culture--books, movies, historic towns, and so forth. But we didn't want to make the same mistake Bob Bell had made with True West. We wanted to be sure our forum did not degenerate into total chaos, so the first thing I did was write the Community Guidelines and see to it that they were prominently displayed on the Main Page menu. I've had to make some minor modifications since that time as specific issues have come up, but the basic rules have been here since the day SOTOW came into existence. Last July, when Ning became a pay to play site, we lost our extra pages. l had to migrate the Community Guidelines to my personal website, where they are posted on a "hidden" page that the general public can not see. A link to the Community Guidelines is posted on the upper left corner of the Main Page, so there is no reason whatsoever why any member can't have access to them.
We've tried to be as consistent as we can when it comes to enforcing the Community Guidelines. I've appointed a number of deputies to assist me, and whenever possible we try to warn a member first. If someone gets really upset I'll apologize for the misunderstanding. Contrary to what others may say I'm really not a cold-hearted bitch and I try to be as fair with people as I possibly can. However, in some instances, when the violation is intentional, or when a member has been warned and refuses to heed the warning, they are, at that point, unceremoniously shown the door.
If this is "repressive" than so be it. If you like free-for-alls, brawls and meltdowns then by all means go over to True West. But if you want a forum where you can discuss history in a civilized manner, without worry of personal attack, then this is the forum for you.