Have the Richard Dawkins Forums Died? February 23, 2010

Have the Richard Dawkins Forums Died?

***Update***: Dawkins has responded to the situation here:

Surely there has to be something wrong with people who can resort to such over-the-top language, over-reacting so spectacularly to something so trivial. Even some of those with more temperate language are responding to the proposed changes in a way that is little short of hysterical. Was there ever such conservatism, such reactionary aversion to change, such vicious language in defence of a comfortable status quo? What is the underlying agenda of these people? How can anybody feel that strongly about something so small? Have we stumbled on some dark, territorial atavism? Have private fiefdoms been unwittingly trampled?

Be that as it may, what this remarkable bile suggests to me is that there is something rotten in the Internet culture that can vent it. If I ever had any doubts that RD.net needs to change, and rid itself of this particular aspect of Internet culture, they are dispelled by this episode.

If you are one of those who have dealt out such ludicrously hyperbolic animosity, you know who should receive your private apology. And if you are one of those who are as disgusted by it as I am, you know where to send your warm letter of support.

***Update 2***: Dawkins has issued a clarification and apology.

I’ll admit I never really used them, but plenty of people visited The Richard Dawkins Foundation forums.

But now it appears the forum is dead.

Peter Harrison explains in quite a bit of detail what happened behind the scenes and why this is a problem.

If you visit the forum at www.richarddawkins.net now, you will find that you can still view threads but no longer post. All explanations seem a little vague and there is talk of misbehaving moderators. If you’ve come to the forum after all the drama, it all seems very confusing. I hope that this blog entry will allow confused forum members to understand what happened behind the scenes. It’s important that the truth is told, since the individuals behind this incident have worked hard to cover up what really happened.

(via Reality is My Religion — Thanks to Nigel for the link)

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  • Pluto2

    RDF is dead, the forum I am a mod at has gotten over 100 of the old RDF members in the last day.

  • JulietEcho

    As a moderator on the Friendly Atheist forums, I promise to post pictures if I misbehave 😛

    Seriously, it’s easy for venues like forums and even just comment sections to tank for any of a hundred reasons.

    One reason I like FA is because the commenters here on the blog and the members on the forum *generally* are here to communicate, share, and debate – not just to snipe or troll or whatever. When everyone is invested in the conversation, even when they completely disagree with one another, the result is a positive one.

  • Keith

    This looks to be a real PR disaster for Richard Dawkins and his foundation. All the creationists and their ilk will use this to say that the RDF tries to silence it’s allies who dare criticize him and the foundation, deletes their posts, etc. There’s no good way for Dawkins to spin this and there’s lots of ways it can be used against him, and the scientific and atheist communities he’s associated with.

    If this story is true, Dawkins needs to speak out against it, fire the people involved, and get things fixed ASAP.

  • CS Shelton

    Every time I’ve looked at the comments on RDF posts, they’re pretty rude and clogged with assholery. So I tend to agree with ms. Echo.

  • Revyloution

    This raises all kinds of interesting questions for the future.

    Who owns digital space? Obviously the guy footing the bill has a large say, but shouldn’t the thousands of contributers who make the site what it is be considered too?

    The Dawkins team had to make some big fixes, no matter what course they decided to take. Unfortunately, they failed to consult the users before they pulled the trigger.

    We had a similar, though much smaller, issue on a private forum I use. The owner of the forum had pretty much quit posting, but was still footing the bill and server space. It took quite a bit of wrangling, but we finally moved the forum over to a new site, and archived all of our posts. That was only 20 users, I can’t imagine how difficult it would have been for a forum like the RDF.

  • Heidi

    Just… wow. I wasn’t a member there, but I’ve been a member of other tight-knit forum communities. And I don’t blame the community members one bit for pissed off here.

    Some food for thought. A site where I used to broker digital content changed owners, shut down their forums, and made changes that hurt the vendors there last year. My partners and I closed our store, and I no longer shop there. Thus I am not making them money, nor am I spending my own money there.

    Communities matter.

  • jesse

    Wow, what a shame. That forum was huge and full of tons of amazing information. Working in IT you meet lots of admins who think they know best and have no people skills. It’s a shame when they get that much power. Hope Dawkins does the right thing.

  • Wowwwwww… I actually read all of Peter’s blog post, and felt sorry for them–I’ve been a member of some forums that were really important to me and got burnt by them–but just kinda thought, “Well, whadda ya gonna do, y’know? Shit happens.”

    But then I read what Josh did there at the end… Holy shit. I echo what everyone else is saying: could there be a worse PR disaster for an “Oasis of Reason”?
    I’m sure if Richard ever hears the other side of the story, he’s going to be pissed.

    On the plus side, I never even realized this site had a forum… maybe I should go check it out!

  • Shane

    I won’t really be shedding any tears over it. I used to be a fairly regular member there, but over the past year or so I just stopped going. I haven’t been there lately, but it had seemed to have just become a steamy incestuous pile of groupthink. Every political or philosophical question had, amazingly enough, already been “answered” to a virtual consensus on the forum. Just post something and you will quickly (and rudely) be reminded of it a few dozen times by arrogant “clear-thinking” individuals.

    I agreed, generally, with most of the “answers” (which was boring), but trying to discuss things you didn’t agree with was not very productive (case in point: libertarianism. *shudder*. THOSE threads were an exercise in stupidity–on both sides).

    There is another side to every story, and from the traffic numbers posted I think the other side goes something like: an insular “community” of aggressively abusive arseholes is using 90% of our bandwidth. Is this was Richard Dawkins really wants to do with his money? Why not clear this crap out, and provide more focused, high quality articles and related discussion. Sure, the PR is “bad” to the cloistered group of circle-jerkers who populated the forum, but it will undoubtedly be more useful to the wider population.

    My eyes still haven’t stopped rolling from the comment that shutting down the forums is somehow comparable to the burning of the libraries of Alexandria.

  • Epistaxis

    I would like to hear Josh’s side of the story, but from Peter’s it’s hard to imagine anything that could make this seem reasonable.

  • BathTub

    Thanks Hemant.

    It’s a huge loss. For me it was the Debunking Creationism forum that is the biggest loss. So much good information distilled into great posts. So many very smart people.

    It’s a real dogs breakfast.

  • Oh dude, you scared the bejeezus out of me. I saw “Richard Dawkins” and “Died” and panicked!

    Oh well– today he’s alive! Yay!

  • Thanks for this. I was a global moderator there, and the way we were treated was appalling.

    Peter’s blog tells the story quite well.

  • I am lucky enough to chat with Andrew Chalkers on many occasions, and have conversed with John from time to time. While I may not be privy to all the internal workings of the RDF web site, I do know of some of the issues and have helped diagnose and fix some.

    The existing forum software is horribly written, IMHO. It does make make use of good DB schema, it has repeated calls to the database for common functions (where one JOIN would do), the indexes seem to miss the mark, etc. In short, the combination of users (250 max users at a time, not 85,000 active users), posts and comments, ground the system to a virtual halt. The fix from the developer was “throw more hardware at it” which helped for a while, but is not a sustainable and effective solution.

    Various approaches were considered to fix the existing system, but in the end the amount of work required meant writing a new system from scratch would be easier.

    From what I know, Richard Dawkins wants the focus to be on science, rational thinking, and reasoned argument. Quality over quantity. Given this, the decision was made to switch the existing forums to read only, and enact the new system (migrating over the existing user accounts).

    I understand the new system requires the initial thread to be approved, and then allows free discussion of the topic, so long as members stick to the terms of service rules. This seems fair and balanced to me.

    I am confident that Andrew, John, and Richard are well aware of the community and have no desires to kill it. However, with progress comes change, and with change comes pain.

    Personally, I look forward to a high quality, fast, active discussion forum on RDF that has a laser focus on interesting and challenging ideas. Bring it on!

  • Jesus Christ

    Andrew Skegg, the problem is it was pretty shoddily handled by Josh. On many occasions he withheld information from the mods or even outright lied to them.

    Then, to cap it all, he thanks them by making several demands, including that nobody makes another forum somewhere else.

    That bloke needs to learn some serious communication skills. Or just some human decency. All he needed to do was keep people (especially the mods) informed of what he was doing,

    Also a nice message on the forum saying something like this: “…but if you want free discussion go to this other forum”. Instead he just deleted all the posts of quite a few people who complained. Then he tries to disables all means of communicating between forum members (editing signatures etc).

    He is either an idiot (I doubt it) or very incompetent in this area.

  • It was a damn fine forum, big mistake to kill the community.

  • muggle

    Just protect this one! It would really suck to lose The Friendly Atheist. Whatever you’re doing moderation-wise is working.

    Moderation is a necessary evil. Without it forums dissolve into a bickering mess and trolls overrun the place. Trolls are assholes that are never going to go away much as you or I can’t understand having such a sad life that you just sit at your computer and get your jollies by wrecking other people’s fun. The internet version of a home invasion.

    I’ve never been to these forums and I’m not going to waste my time reading about the mess but it makes me think of what happened to AU’s blog (boy, is Jesse lucky he didn’t wind up there). I used to like that blog but left in disgust long before they shut it down to comments and removed the previous.

    Because it dissolved into a Christian vs. others mess. Wiccans, Pagans, Atheists and Agnostics were as bad as the Xian fundies. I was trying to weed my way through the mess for the good comments and interact as best I could. If I really can’t stand another commenter’s assholeness (a problem I haven’t had here, we’ve been lucky in that respect) I just scroll by anything with their name on it but it got so bad I was scrolling through 3/4 of the comments and, hey, I like reading comments and interacting with other commenters. (Thank you all here for being so cool.)

    I finally lost my cool when a kid from Liberty U came on and commented. Okay, I’ll grant you that I don’t think much of his choice of a school but, you know what, that’s his choice. He was polite, respectful and seemed to ask sincere questions in a sincere attempt to understand where the non-Xian crowd was coming from.

    This kid got slammed just because he mentioned going to school at Liberty University. I logged on to see them all deriding him just for going to that school and admittedly blew my top. I was not innocent. I had exchanged like for like with some of the fundies, one of whom liked to make hints that he was all for a holy war against non-Xians. But this kid had done nothing to warrant the hatred that was slammed his way.

    So I called them on it. Big mistake. The guys stopped short and abasedly admitted to being overly defensive and getting carried away. The worse offender was a woman Wiccan and another one who doesn’t say where she stands religion wise (which I can understand not wanting to be prejudged by it and that’s her business so I’m okay with that) and who really wasn’t the worse but had always had a Queen Bee attitude and was always trying to run the board her way (she’d go as far as to tell them they shouldn’t censor certain words and tried to make them make an issue of free speech even though AU’s purpose is church-state separation) got snotty as hell demanding I show her where she was prejudiced.

    I copy and pasted a couple of her comments where she accused the kid of certain things just because he mentioned going to Liberty University but didn’t bother mentioning that she wasn’t the worse. (At this point, I rather knew there was no point in trying to discuss it maturely.) To this day, (we both tune in to The American Heathen’s radio show Friday nights and go in the chat room during the show where I mostly ignore her or try to, have, definitely not to my credit, let her drag me into the stupidity at times, espcially when she ragged on AU for closing down comments), she claims I never showed her where she displayed such bigotry. Shrug.

    The Wiccan just kept up the viterol and occassionally pops into the chat room Friday nights to help her friend be nasty along with a third woman who I never knew and she’s even managed to drag a couple of the guys over for assistance.

    My conclusion: some people really need a freaking life. Maybe I’ll handle it differently next time, however. Instead of directly confronting the assholes, I’ll sneak around behind their backs and e-mail the moderators and ask them to please do something. Wish I had done that at AU. But I guess you learn from your mistakes.

    AU had to shut the blog down because the viterol got so bad. (Probably some people who wanted a decent forum had more sense than me and complained.) They had warned several times before-hand that they had to worry about their image (no lie, the Religious Right is always out to cast AU and Barry Lynn in particular in a bad light going so far as to even accuse him of not really being an ordained minister) and if they did not stop the viterol, they would be forced to take steps long before they did.

    I left long before that happened in disgust. I posted a comment as to why and left. In hindsight, I should also have e-mailed the board moderators and let them know; to my shame, I didn’t. I was just disgusted at all the hatred and fed up with wading through it to find the comments that weren’t b.s. hate spewing at one another.

    Now they’re slamming AU for temporarily shutting the blog down and then reopening it but without the comment section and are really pissed that all the previous ugly comments have been removed. I say I don’t blame AU. Quite the opposite. I think they should have done it sooner. In any case, they chose to live to fight another day and since I want them to be able to do that and support their doing that, well, they get two thumbs up from me for doing so.

    And, at least now, I can go back and read their blog without seeing any of that garbage.

    I don’t know if it got this bad at Dawkins’ forums but if this is what it was like or anything similar, I say it too was a necessary evil and for much the same reason. They weren’t reflecting him but you can bet, they sure would have been represented as doing so by the Religious Right. Hopefully, he can reopen it back up down the road with some better moderation. That remains to be seen. But I do have every sympathy for him in this.

    Unfortunately, there isn’t any good way to weed out the assholes while allowing free and open commenting. I am impressed with how well you’ve succeeded in doing so here, Hemant. Cudos to you and to your trusted team of moderators. Good job.

    And I have definitely learned a thing or two about diplomacy by your fine example. A forum that makes me grow as a person is a good forum to be on.

  • debunk

    This is the message the moderators received on the RD forum:

    “Dear forum moderators,

    We wanted you all to know at the earliest opportunity about our new website currently in development. RichardDawkins.net will have a new look and feel, improved security, and much more. Visits to the site have really grown over the past 3 1/2 years, and this update gives us an opportunity to address several issues. Over the years we’ve become one of the world’s leading resources for breaking rational and scientific news from all over the net and creating original content. We are focusing on quality content distribution, and will be bringing more original articles, video and other content as we grow.

    The new RichardDawkins.net will have a fully-integrated discussion section. This will be a new feature for the site, similar to the current forum, but not identical. We feel the new system will be much cleaner and easier to use, and hopefully this will encourage participation from a wider variety of users.

    We will leave the current forum up for 30 days, giving regular users an opportunity to locally archive any content they value. When the new website goes live, you are welcome to submit these posts as new discussions. The forum will then be taken down from the web. You will not loose your username on the new system.

    The new discussion area will not be a new forum. It will be different. We will be using a system of tags to categorize items, instead of sub-forums. Discussions can have multiple tags, such as “Education”, “Children”, and “Critical Thinking”. Starting a new discussion will require approval, so we ask that you only submit new discussions that are truly relevant to reason and science. Subsequent responses on the thread will not need approval—however anything off topic or violating the new terms of service will be removed. The approval process will be there to ensure the quality of posts on the site. This is purely an editorial exercise to help new visitors find quality content quickly. We hope this discussion area will reflect the foundation’s goals and values.

    We’re confident that these changes will improve the site experience and we look forward to seeing what you do with the new system.

    We know that this is a big decision. We know some of you moderators will be against this change. We ask that you respect our decision and help make this transition as smooth as possible. These decisions have all been approved by our organization, and we ask that you don’t add to our work by causing trouble.

    We will not be migrating moderator roles to the new discussion site. Again, we’re sure this might come as a shock, and we hope you don’t take it personally. We can’t thank you enough for your contributions to the old forum. The new system will not require a large team of moderators, as the discussion area will be more focused. We encourage you to contribute to the new discussions area, and are welcome to flag inappropriate activity for review.

    Please understand that this transition is going to be a lot of work for us. I’m sure as you read this, you will have a lot of questions and concerns. We also know that this is a change from what we had been discussing previously. This announcement does not require a response, but we wanted you to be aware. Please do not email Richard with complaints, we have discussed this transition thoroughly with him, and he is currently on tour in Australia and New Zealand. Please do not attempt to inflame the users, start any petitions, or “relocate” groups of users to a separate forum. Do not use any of the data held by the foundation (such as email addresses) through the control panel to cause any trouble. Any behavior of this kind will not be tolerated. We don’t expect you to do these things, but we say all of this only to discourage any well-intentioned moves that would only frustrate the situation.

    Many thanks again.

    Josh Timonen
    Andrew Chalkley
    The Richard Dawkins Foundation”

    After some moderators (who had their accounts and all their posts deleted as a repercussion) and users voiced their dismay this was posted:

    “Update: We had intended to leave the forum fully-funtioning for 30 days, but due to the inappropriate posts by some users and moderators, we have decided to leave the forum in a read-only state. You can still download and archive your posts and private messages, but the ability to enter new posts has been disabled. It’s unfortunate that it had to come to this. We know that change can be difficult and sometimes frightening, but we are all very excited about the direction of the website and the future.”

    I know a few sociopaths who would have handled this better.

  • debunk

    I forgot to mention, I ran a script to back up the entire forums last night. When I looked at my screen late this morning I noticed that the script exited because someone at the RD website redirected forum.richarddawkins.net to yougotrickrolled.com.

    You can see for yourself with the program “wget”. Try a wget -r -np forum.richarddawkins.net.

  • Claudia

    I’m afraid that trolling, thread kings/queens, over-zealous mods, tribal loyalties, intraparty squabbling and purity brigades are simply the inevitable consequences of becoming a very large site.

    I saw the same thing during my stint as a blogger. My blog split off from another blog that claimed to be “moderate” but became basically mainline Democrat and basically ran the few moderate conservatives out. My blog was founded as a new “moderate” blog with a more conservative lean. I was the biggest lefty. But as the blog grew and attracted more commenters, dissent was tolerated less, comments threads became less about discussion and more about mutual mental masturbation and the blogger makeup became more and more conservative until I left, the day after I saw a crude photoshop of Obama set against a mushroom cloud backdrop.

    I’ve seen this elsewhere and I’ve seen it in forums. I think that essentially the problem is that there simply aren’t that many people interested in discussing ideas. Certainly I understand and share the wish to have a “safe place” where likeminded people can meet, but I also like discussing things with people with different views. I found some of the discussion on the abortion thread the other day awesome, but although many people were able to make arguments that were reasoned and reasonable and remain civil to those who disagreed with them, but some did not.

    I wish the Friendly Atheist forums (which I have never visited despite telling myself I will every other Tuesday) well, but if this site is “blessed” to become as large as the RDF forums I’m afraid we’re going to find the same issues every blog, right or left, atheist or religious finds. Because even the most reasonable and rational ideologies do not immunize you from being a micromanaging, egomaniacal, thin-skinned douchenozzle.

  • Red


    We’re accepting refugees from RDF.

  • jemand

    I can understand that perhaps (and I don’t know) the attitude in the forums wasn’t good. I do NOT understand the antipathy to allowing the community to make a new forum not connected to the foundation. I do NOT understand deleting users irrevocably, before they had a chance to archive their posts. That is inexcusable, and I cannot figure out why they did that other than pure abuse of power.

  • Richard Prins

    Sufficient advice from the people who make the forum software was given to make the technical problems go away, especially when it was compared with much larger sites using the same forum software, and which run just fine.

    And if it includes ‘throwing more hardware at it’, then that is what in fact is needed, to sustain such a volume, and of course, if the will is there to support such a growing community.

    Amazon or wordpress don’t run small hardware either (think data center operations), let alone with an outdated version of an operating system riddled with security holes (one hopes).

    The site has long had problems because it was cobbled together by Josh (in the beginning) in an amateurish manner. Eventually it will break.

    Aside from the technical details it is really more a matter of how much freedom one wants to give to the visitors of the site in how they engage with each other. A forum offers more freedom, as opposed to hand picked articles or commentary (like blogs) on which users can then comment. The forum also used to have a good search index, so people could locate arguments and resource quickly for use in new debates, both on-site and off-site. Letting Google take care of the indexing didn’t cut it. Not by a long shot.

    RD.net’s social network died a quiet death, its chat room got killed, and now the forum follows suit.

    Other sites will be glad to offer better ways for people to engage in topics that matter to them, and that can be started by them. atheisnexus.org shows one way of doing it. The beta for thinkingaloudforum.com is another.

    What’s left for RD.net is the usual suspects of the front page articles (which already had the tendency to devolve in banter/sniping) with added bells and whistles, soon to be revealed.

    I’m certainly curious to see what functionality will be offered in the near future, and hope it’s not just a glossy make-over.

  • Ed Zwart

    I don’t think for a second that it’s the logical consequence of a community becoming large that it dissolve into read-only status.

    What the leaders, Dawk included, seem to have missed is that openness is its own reward. The benefits outweigh the costs (many of which are just perceived anyway).

    It’s hard to accept that you’ve botched something, and then be open about it, especially when what you’ve botched is not being open enough.

    It would be great if RDF took part in — led even — this explosion of open communities that we’ve been seeing the last few years. It’s too bad they reverted to the same old protectionist stance that hasn’t worked anywhere it’s been tried. Understandable, but too bad…

    From one fan: Please fix it!!!

    ps. When you’re done reading this site, check out http://friendfeed.com/aasfshnr for one small example of it working elsewhere

  • stogoe

    I do NOT understand the antipathy to allowing the community to make a new forum not connected to the foundation. I do NOT understand deleting users irrevocably, before they had a chance to archive their posts. That is inexcusable, and I cannot figure out why they did that other than pure abuse of power.

    Agreed. If you’re moving to different software, or you hate forums in general and want to shut them down for spite, fine, whatever. Those things happen. But when you try to tell people “you have to play in my new awesome-cool sandbox or you CAN’T PLAY AT ALL!” that’s when you’ve crossed over into dickface territory.

  • Why can’t we all just get along?
    Oh, that’s right…because I’m right and you’re wrong.


    We’re ALL guilty of this.

  • It reminds me vaguely of the drama that was always present in MMORPG forums, particularly Everquest in the early days of version 1. The customer service rep for the game company was absolutely horrible at dealing with customers and that regularly stirred up hornet nests of dissention.

    That said, it was always drama, drama, drama… most of it quite silly to anyone looking in from the outside… and this situation at RDF seems to have many of the same characteristics of that old EQ forum drama.

    All in all, it’s a discussion forum… on the internet. Sure, people may have been treated poorly, but it’s not catastrophic and I’m sure people will find other places to have intelligent discussions on a variety of topics.

    I sympathize with the mistreated moderators but wish the Dawkins Foundation every success with the new discussion format.

  • Fraser

    Yes RP, it will be interesting to see where natural selection takes the remains. But the bottom line is the collateral damage will require a great deal of time, materials and money to repair.
    Not to mention immediate termination of employment for those persons who caused this meltdown to occur. The forum was the heart of the site and a place people felt comfortable enough to discuss almost anything (within the FUA).

  • Take a deep breath and then count to 10.
    Life will go on. Six months from now, no-one will even remember that this all happened.

  • NYCatheist

    Richard Dawkins just posted a message regarding the issue:

  • Aj

    I can’t imagine the group of mourners, especially the people calling the administrators names, are that big of a group. I can sort of understand why they’re upset that their forum is going, something they probably invested a lot of time in, although I’ve never joined such a community fully or for a long period. Certainly there’s a place for a large open forum for atheists on the net, if people feel so strongly about it, perhaps they should set up their own.

    The people who pay for and run the site get to decide what their site is about. I’m interesting to see what it’s going to be like. Usually I prefer openness, with emergent properties, because crowd and community sourcing adds so much value, for free. Editorial value is only worth as much as the editors. Wikipedia has a mixture of editors with privileges and standard peons with democratic rights. Alternative solutions to thread quality filtering would be a community voting system, it has the advantage of being unmanned. It would suck to want to start a thread but have to wait hours for someone to approve it.

  • Joel

    Richard Dawkins’ response did surprisingly little to settle the situation. He has a point, people do resort to name calling far too easily on the internet. Anyone on the internet knows this. But is that really all he has to say about the topic? He describes this Josh dude as “a greatly liked and respected person” which doesn’t seem to be true after hearing what the former mods have to say. The fact that the good Dr does not mention the way the mods were treated by Josh suggests that he is still not entirely aware of the situation and should read Peter’s blog. After all, it is the treatment of the mods that is the real issue from all of this. At least, that’s how it seems to the outside observer who has nothing to lose.

  • Thanks for linking to the blog. There will be many lost and confused ex-members of the forum that also haunt your blog and hopefully this will allow them to find their old friends and new homes. It’s appreciated.

    Further update if anyone is interested: http://realityismyreligion.wordpress.com/2010/02/25/update-on-dawkins-forum-closure/

  • Regardless of where you stand on the forum issue – and I do think that internet communities can be a bit too resistant to change sometimes – the depressing thing about Dawkins’ response is his inability to understand that forums are actually IMPORTANT to some people. I would’ve hoped the reactions to what happened should’ve clued him in on this, but instead he makes the common mistake of unintelligent people: If I don’t think something is important, it can’t be important, and everyone else should just calm the fuck down and stop whining about it. I would blame his age, but there are plenty of oldish people who know just how important internet communities can be. Basically he’s screwed up and it makes me sad.

  • Jemima Boucher

    I’d have had more sympathy had RD not bleated on about being “a greatly liked and respected person”. Do you think he’s started believing his own publicity too much?

    I’m also inclined to the observation that he who lives by insulting and sneering at others, is likely to die by it when one annoys one’s fans (especially the type who live vicariously via internet forums).

  • muggle

    Actually, I liked his answer. And I often find him a pompous ass. Not this time. Quite the opposite. I find all the people vilifying him pompous asses with a misguided sense of entitlement.

  • Well done on actually posting some real news! About time someone actually did their research and got their facts straight on this! 🙂

    With the sudden collapse of the Richard Dawkins Forum (the biggest forum of its kind on the internet), many members have banded together and started their own forum. We have all the old moderators from RDF and all of our old friends are back together;

    We encourage all to join no matter what your beliefs or outlooks are.

    Diversity is paramount to stimulating discourse!

    We are somewhat new and improved there. We are still committed to the guidelines allowing criticism of ideas but not attacks on the person. Now we have been able to rationalise the structure without the Richard Dawkins sales/fan aspect and with wider science range. On the old site there was General Science and then evolution and biology. The new site now includes Physics, Astronomy, Chemistry, Geology and more. The area on religion is more comprehensive and focused as is the scope of topic areas for debunking creationism, pseudo science and other enemy of reason stuff.

    Read the full story of the collapse of the old forum and controversy with Richard Dawkins here; http://www.rationalskepticism.org/viewtopic.php?f=40&t=454

  • acoustamatix

    i’m no atheist but unfortunately i’m addicted to culture and i read about the rd.net demise at the times online and then went to peter harrison’s blog and now i find myself here

    as a regular lurker and sometime poster on a football website which is close to my heart i do find it a shame that all those regular contributors to such a thriving community should now find themselves cyber-homeless, not only that but just the way the final blow was delivered, seems cold but not the end of the world but what the heck do i know i wasn’t a member

    i hope everyone finds a welcome home and the “clear-thinkers” don’t disappear into the gaping void which beckons

  • Aj

    Jemima Boucher,

    I’d have had more sympathy had RD not bleated on about being “a greatly liked and respected person”. Do you think he’s started believing his own publicity too much?

    He was clearly talking about Josh…

    I’m also inclined to the observation that he who lives by insulting and sneering at others…

    That’s not true, but that’s not going to stop you.

  • I’ve seen similar conundrums on other sites before.

    Suffice it to say, I sympathize with the forum regulars. Having read Richard’s response, I don’t think he really fully grasps how an online community works, and that the proposed changes, even the ones he’s espousing, can easily destroy that community. Admittedly, Richard has no reason to understand this, because he’s probably not a forum-type person.

    Nevertheless, his listening to his web-guy instead of to the community in general shows that he doesn’t “get it”, and that the online community formed over there truly is dead.

  • that is truly unfortunate.
    The RD forums were a wealth of anti-theist insight and perspectives.

    I rarely posted as most discussions were way above my academic level. However, one recent thread I remember reading was in reference to Roger Ebert (unapologetic atheist) who began posting on the site (rebert), but was brutally challenged by moderators and accused of being a hoax….very childish of late

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