ChristianForums: Secret origin story!

2006-11-13 04:42

It’s funny, but in a way, the origin story of CF is secret.

Here’s the deal. ChristianForums merged with another forum, called King’s Tavern, in February 2002. For a while, Erwin and Josephus were labeled “co-founders” of CF. I was there, and I remember.

Something happened, and I frankly don’t know what. They’ve both told me. Both of them have told me their recollections of the story. Josephus told me how the forums were very different in size; maybe 3,500 users on KT, and 300 or so on CF. Erwin told me they were about the same, maybe 1,000 each.

Thanks to some brilliant detective work — done by the CF user Auntie — I now have actual numbers. As of February 7th, 2002, KT had 1,280 members and CF had 620.

So, here’s my thinking. All of us know, sort of, that our memories are a little unreliable. We tend to approximate things. Round things up or down a bit. We remember the most persuasive arguments, but not always the ones we didn’t think were plausible.

I’ve just said that Josephus and Erwin both told me numbers, and that the numbers they told me were false. I say now that I do not believe that either of them was lying. I believe that, with the natural flow of human interaction, people tend to drift apart sometimes, and when they have been on each others’ nerves, the natural reliability problems of human memory become worse, rather than better.

The story of what happened is a secret, in some ways. Very few people know it, even the ones that were there; it’s quite easy to forget. There are many stories that go around about why Josephus disappeared. He’s not just no longer active at ChristianForums; his account has been banned. Not just banned, so that he can’t post, either. He’s “e-banned”, the special “emergency” ban normally reserved for trolls and spammers, and as a result, his posts are invisible to normal users — even the post where he documented the population figures of his forum.

As a result, there’s a number of rumors. Some people think Josephus was banned for trying to sell CF merchandise without Erwin’s permission (as Erwin’s the site owner), but so far as I can tell, nothing of the sort ever happened.

I don’t know whether any of this will ever get fixed. But I was there, and I remember back when “Questions about Christianity” forum (now renamed again to “Questions by Non-Christians”) was still called the “Ask Josephus!” forum. And Josephus was the co-founder of ChristianForums.

The thing that I find most frustrating about this is that Josephus and Erwin both had, at the start of this, a shared vision of a Christian site which would be inclusive rather than exclusive, a site that would accommodate all the Christians, not just some of them. I obviously feel that CF has fallen short of that goal (and much moreso recently than it did in the past), but I think both Erwin and Josephus had that vision, and I believe both of them still do.

Obviously, they’re not getting along as well as they might. I hope they work things out, though, because that kind of thing tends to build resentments. I think it is quite clear (and I doubt anyone would deny it) that, since the merger, Erwin has done an immense amount of work, and contributed a fair amount of money, to build ChristianForums up. I don’t think that calling Josephus a “co-founder” diminishes this in any way. I don’t think that denying Josephus credit for his contributions to the community is a good thing.

Furthermore, the secrecy has led to speculation, gossip, and rumor, as various theories are advanced to try to justify the inexplicable disappearance of someone that many members remember as a contributor to a growing and vibrant community.

So here’s my contribution, to start the ball rolling: Neither of you is entirely correct on the details you remember, about who did what. Don’t let the details get in the way of a vision worth pursuing. Unban Josephus. He’s not “trolling” when he claims, quite honestly, to have been a co-founder of the site. That’s what it was presented as when it happened.

Reconciliation and redemption are core themes of the Christian message. They should be core themes of a Christian messageboard.

Peter Seebach

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Comments

  1. Seebs, you said:
    Furthermore, the secrecy has led to speculation, gossip, and rumor, as various theories are advanced to try to justify the inexplicable disappearance of someone that many members remember as a contributor to a growing and vibrant community.

    ThomasJoseph replies:
    The only one I have ever seen speculate on this issue is YOU. No one else. At. All. Just. You.

    It's not as much that I mind the issue, but I do mind your attempts and conflagrating the issue. You do this alot. It tends to, at least in my mind, diminish your words and opinions.

    — ThomasJoseph · 2006-11-13 14:00 · #

  2. Seebs, you said:
    Furthermore, the secrecy has led to speculation, gossip, and rumor, as various theories are advanced to try to justify the inexplicable disappearance of someone that many members remember as a contributor to a growing and vibrant community.

    ThomasJoseph replies:
    The only one I have ever seen speculate on this issue is YOU. No one else. At. All. Just. You.

    It's not as much that I mind the issue, but I do mind your attempts and conflagrating the issue. You do this alot. It tends to, at least in my mind, diminish your words and opinions.

    — ThomasJoseph · 2006-11-13 14:02 · #

  3. I'm one of the only people to speculate openly. Other people have made some comments openly, although not many.

    Lots of people have speculated and gossipped in private, or in pseudo-private settings such as staff forums, and so far as I can tell, none of them have done any fact-checking.

    With this up, that can now stop. We have actual verifiable facts on the key questions.

    Your concern about the potentially inflammatory effects of asking about things like this, and bringing them up, is a good one. I am trying to make sure that the focus here is on facts rather than gossip, and on putting things out in the open, where people can see them, comment on them, leave corrections, and so on. The intent is to reduce the number of conflicting stories told by people who haven't got all the information.

    — seebs · 2006-11-13 16:48 · #

  4. Like how you talk about a website here - and on IIDB (that place elsewhere is all talk and gossip about CF, yet CF does not allow anyone to do what you do to your site. is this a fair hearing? Your a Lawyer and seem one-way. keep talking. keep leaking. CF will always be the biggest Christian Forums. and there is nothing you can do about it. Think you need a good reading of the Bible and talk to the Lord about your actions. Get a LIFE.

    — Eric · 2006-11-13 21:43 · #

  5. Re: Eric's post above.

    The hearing seems fair to me in that the first two comments on this article were from a CF Admin.

    As fr the comment that "CF will always be the biggers Christian Forums" (sic), I am leery of using "always" to describe anything other than the Ancient of Days.

    — rigorist · 2006-11-14 00:27 · #

  6. Wasn't CF founded by aliens? Masonic aliens from Roswell.

    That's what I read on teh Intraweb, anyway

    — rigorist · 2006-11-14 21:43 · #

  7. Actually, I do corroborate with seebs some of the information about CF that he's posted. Not that I don't mind the publicity, but Erwin has sure done quite a bit of work on CF since I retired from co-leading it (yes, "co" as in co-operative). I'm happy it's now the largest Christian Forum in the world; but I think when I shared with seebs the founding vision Erwin and I had for the forum, I think we can all see that CF has a long ways still to achieve that vision. I don't plan to come out of retirement anytime soon. God has called me to other ministries. Peace and blessings.

    — Josephus · 2006-11-18 23:31 · #

  8. The flaw with Seebs dream of inclusivism of all who claim to be Christian is that most who make that claim have never been bornagain; they are not Christians.

    How does a Christian CHURCH or other ministry like a website weed out the false prophets? You judge them by the Word of God. To the prophets and the testimony...

    Seebs, why do you think you are saved? I am sure you aren't.

    — tubby · 2007-02-07 20:02 · #

  9. Seebs is not a Christian. However, he and I agree CF is messed up, albeit for different reasons. From my perspective, CF is an ecumenical whorehouse; it panders to the fringe of unorthodoxy and modernism. In the process, "regular Christians" and Fundamentalists (such as myself) pay the price. I've been censored many times for posting Bible verses to illustrate my views. Currently, I am appealing an infraction which was issued because I support the death penalty.

    ChristianForums ought to be called ApostateForums. Erwin is not a Christian, nor is the majority of Staff. It is a freak show, a joke, but a great danger to the Church nonetheless. I've stood by as many faithful Christians have turned away from the truth, due to the pagan/modernist (EVIL) influences found on that Godforsaken site.

    — Anonymous · 2007-03-22 18:38 · #

  10. Heya. I don't think I share your view of what a "Christian" is, but then, we knew that.

    I think, though, that when people from this diverse a background are able to reach consensus that something is horribly wrong, that says a great deal about just how wrong it is.

    — Peter Seebach · 2007-03-22 20:12 · #

  11. Thanks for the info seebs. I was at the top of the list of people e-banned under the "New Vision" but it's neat to see how the beast started down the current road. See ya at uberChristian! LOL

    — TwinCrier · 2007-07-27 10:08 · #

  12. You know, I knew a lot of this but time, strong drink and a willingness to forget had removed it from my memory.

    Well, for good or for ill, CF v.3 is now with us, I wonder how long until the icons fall?

    — kiwimac · 2008-01-27 20:35 · #

 
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