Back quite a few years ago in the infancy of the World Wide Web, there existed an online forum hosted by the Baytown Sun, named Baytown Talk or maybe it was Baytown Talks. It appeared one day and slowly developed a strong following. The forum was a constant source of aggravation for the last moderator of the Baytown Sun, who I know and like very much.
Amongst other conversations, I remember reading an early thread (discussion) about the Goatman of Evergreen Road and later developed a series of 29 geocaches along Evergreen and Tri-City Beach Road because of it. The area was supposedly haunted and my series plays this up and is set up for families to take their kids to see if they can spot the dreaded Goatman.
Baytown Talk went through periods where trolls had people ready to fight each other and through the core group of us, we would get it back on track. I found it a wonderful challenge and regularly learned about the history of our town by asking the right questions and challenging those who found delight in causing trouble. The forum was rocking back and forth like a ship at sea and by the time Hurricane Katrina blew ashore it was being considered to shut it down.
|Robocop - David Alford|
Around this time someone on the forum dreamed up a contest of sorts to determine who on Baytown Talk was the funniest, the most cordial, etc., etc., and the big poobah of all of them would be voted King of the forum. Well, believe it or not, I had a reputation for logic, veracity, and an almost clairvoyant propensity for sniffing out trolls (Someone who pretends to be one or more people and are notorious for starting trouble).
One forum member who I swear to this day is my doppelganger is a woman who cryptically called herself Dagny Taggart. Whatever she wrote, it was as if I had typed it and according to her, she was equally in agreement with my views. Faithful readers of the Baytown Sun know her as Natalie Whatley. Another favorite is Anna Singleton and she has a love of reading and was known as “Books” until I christened her Booksie, due to her innocent and sweet nature.
|Chief Byron Jones|
You see where this is going? The Baytown Talk forum was an important clearing house of information and this was back before the term “Social Networking” was commonplace.
Mike Kercher was one of the original five, as was his wife and he set up a crime awareness website that lasted about eight years, named hotpursuit.com (or.cc) and recently came to an appropriate end at Mike’s discretion. Tons of information was shared during that 8 years and untold dollars spent by him to keep it running, not to mention the thousands of hours he invested to make it work. I want to speak for all of us and say kudos to Mike and from all of us in Baytown Talk land. You did good, Mike.
So, about a month has passed and there has been a good number of email messages arrive in my Inbox asking what can be done. There are now three different Facebook pages set up to try and fill the void, but here’s the problem. Facebook is a social network site, not a forum. If you really want to discuss “stuff”, you need what is commonly called in geekland, a phpBB or “PHP Bulletin Board”.
Here’s the second kicker – I know how to do it. I just didn’t want to and told folks.
Running a public forum can be very taxing for a number of reasons and that is why when I pitched the idea to David Bloom, Managing Editor of our newspaper, his management team declined for a number of reasons. Baytown really needs a forum though and believe it or not, it truly is a clearing house for information, so I stepped up to the challenge and set one up.
It’s called Baytown Talks Forum and is the third iteration and can be found here:
Unlike other forums of the past, you will be required to create a log-in identity and your email address will have to verified – and then you will have to be manually added. I say this facetiously, but I wasn’t called the King of the Baytown Talk forum for nothing.