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"Forum Culture" Decline


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#1 witchpriest

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Posted 02 August 2017 - 02:50 PM

Mods, I could not figure out the best place to post this, so feel free to move this thread!

I am going to try to be a more serious member after two years of lurking and posting light topics like music and art. So, here I go. This will be my first step, because it seems to be the reason I have not tired to get in depth in this forum (outside of time constraints, life eh?)

 

I would like to preface this thread with the following statement: I know it is gong to ruffle some feathers, and might feel like an attack on others here, but this is something I have noticed across the internet, and I have seen many elements here relating to this topic. This mostly deals with new members in the last couple of years as more people have access to the internet.

 

So what do I mean by "forum culture decline?”

 

Firstly, I would like to talk about etiquette. Forums are/can/and should be a marketplace of ideas, and a resource for knowledge and community. This only works if the members follow certain unspoken rules. I know many people have never experienced a forum before, or have limited experience with such a format. However, it is not “rocket science” to read a bit and get a feel for the flow of any forum. The first matter is redundancy. USE THE SEARCH TOOL. If a forum is open for a while, odds are most of what you want to know has been covered before. It can be tricky to find exactly what you are looking for, but there are many active members who can give help with the basics if you simply ask. There seems to be, in this forum and a few others that I was active on in the past (general occult forums), a tendency to post the most basic questions, or even more detailed ones, that have been covered for years by people who have invested years of time in the forum, not including their hours of dedication to the craft outside the digital world. That knowledge is there just waiting for you, if you take the time to find it. I honestly believe that most people are not even trying, because it is time consuming to read through threads going back years. If I have been guilty of this it is not to happen again, and I urge other new members to do the same. Double posting a topic will cause the heavy hitters and veterans of the forum to be short in response, and curt at times, as they are tired of leading a "witchcraft 101” class about the most basic topics. It also gums up the ability to search for relevant information for a specific issue with substantial information and discourse. So once again, before posting, USE THE SEARCH TOOL. Another thing I have seen here and elsewhere, lack of deference to "elders.” If someone has been an active member of the forum for years, and has spent the time to become a productive member of the forum, SHOW SOME RESPECT. I don’t care if you disagree with some, or even most of the things they say. Odds are that after years of discourse they have learned a thing or two, or a million. They have put in the time to make the forum a great resource, and even if you think they are not your "cup of tea,” I can promise you that they have some knowledge you could really use, or at least point you in the right direction. All traditional occult paths follow this model. Not talking about degrees and fancy titles. Simply giving a bit of respect to those who come before us. Etiquette rant over.

 

The next issue that bothers me is the persona many people are building when they join a forum. Joining one is intimidating for some people, as they may not know much regarding the subjects that are most often discussed. However, I see a very bad coping mechanism born out of this. People are more and more inflating their sense of self to absurd proportions. You do not have to claim to be a practitioner of a line going back generations. I would like to clarify, I know many of us have been handed bits or in some cases fairly complete systems from family members older than us, and this may go back many generations. In my case I will give an example: my mother passed to me some traditions, that her grandmother passed to her. Some of that information is really important to my practice, but much of it is blurry and not useful. I know from family oral traditions that we had healers, witches, and basically village counselors who were just wise people that helped their communities. I am happy to know that, but I can’t claim but a fraction of that knowledge as it was lost over the generations. I see many new members trying to build a “big” history to seem more legitimate. For those of you that were handed detailed information, or even the almost mythical family grimoire, right on! The reality however is usually much less exciting. Another issue regarding the trend of false personas is the issue of exaggerating skills and abilities in the craft. You are not Harry Potter or Gandalf the White. Fantasy is fun, but it is just that. There seems to be a lot of outright lying or delusion causing people to claim absurd powers, and makes them defensive when a more knowledgable or skilled practitioner weighs in. Be yourself and I promise you this, people will enjoy your presence on the forum much more. The final issue I have is humility. Most new members try to save face when they say something that is generally deemed incorrect regarding the relevance to the thread, the information stated, or being corrected or challenged by more knowledgable members. It is ok to say “I don’t know” or ask “What is that? Why is that? How do I…?” Thats why you probably joined a forum. TO LEARN. So, if you have an area of expertise please share and help others learn. However, put your student uniform on more often, and use the vast pool of knowledge to fill your cup. It is worth it for so many reasons. Persona rant over.

 

Finally, I would like to discuss a decline I have seen in many forums, and this one slowly over the last couple of years since I joined. The level of discourse is going down the toilet. If you look at the older threads, they are full of a lot of information, productive debate, and a wide range of beliefs and practices. I see that and say “pay day!” Many new members are starting new threads, or commenting on old ones. The first problem with this is that people are not adding to the discussion, but merely posting empty platitudes and useless comments. This is just more wasted space to scroll past when looking for important information. The result of this, is that our veteran members (I have gotten to know a few, by direct communication, or simply observing their posts spanning years), are not getting as involved in the public forum. They don’t have the time or desire to engage in the immaturity and watered down discussions that have been showing more frequently. If our hard hitting elders don’t want to get involved as much, we will be left with a bunch of newbies wasting each other’s time. That causes people to not be as active, and fewer people try to make it to full membership, where I can imagine from past experience in other forums, that there is knowledge you can only dream of finding. Things that are in no book, and that you have to earn a right to share. The final issue with the decline that I have seen is a social aspect. I have made friends on forums, and that is great, but I would like to remind our new members that this is not facebook. This is not a social media platform, it is a place of learning and sharing knowledge first, and if you find a friend, consider that an awesome bonus. I was guilty of this up until this return, posting mostly things outside of actual practice and not engaging in many discussions. You can talk about your favorite occult shows, share music, jokes, and the like. It is a great way to get a little fellowship. However, you should engage more in serious discussion. This will not only give you the opportunity to learn, share, and gain friendships, but also make the knowledgable members engage more, which makes the forum more valuable. Discourse decline rant over.

 

All of this being said, this is mostly about the last few years in forum culture, and mostly refers to newer members. For those of you that want to attack because your pride is hurt, feel free. To the veteran members that have inspired me to take my craft, and place here at TW to a new level, thank you for being fountains of knowledge and counsel for those that want to study! 

 

Rant over.


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#2 FooeynJomy

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Posted 02 August 2017 - 06:32 PM

I think, to some extent, that this is a natural evolution across the majority of internet forums - there is only so much new information to express. Not just in witchcraft but in any topic. You can go on reddit to learn about any hobby, and the vast majority of ideas will have been discussed in the past, there isn't much new to talk about. So you are left with relatively new people, understandably excited to talk about their new hobby, and the veterans gradually getting less and less value themselves from participating. And so they slowly drop off. 

 

And maybe that's the same here - there's only so much information to talk about. The effect is probably exacerbated to some extent in regards witchcraft, because there is so much that needs to be experienced. Words here can only ever give the merest of hints, that has been my experience. And then that experience is very hard to talk about. Firstly, it's hard to express in words, and secondly, any words at all generally diminish the whole experience. This is hard. Because then generally a new person is not even asking the right questions. So you can direct them to read old posts, but the question they're asking is probably all wrong to begin with, so they won't get anywhere. I'm not saying this as a bad thing - it's just human nature! Like when I first got into Buddhism many years ago, I would spend time grappling with all sorts of advanced concepts while not being able to settle my mind for more than 30 seconds! In this situation what I needed was more experience, not more learning!

 

This brings me onto your point around reading old posts. I've seen this advice many times and while it's not wrong, it misses out on what is most valuable at this point in time for a beginner. Which is experience. There are just so so many words written about witchcraft and the occult in general. For a beginner it becomes such a maze in which they get tangled. I know because I have been there. Reading and reading and reading. And what this can create, in my experience, is a whole mish mash of systems, and it opens the practitioner up to all sorts of things that they are far from able to handle. So they get confused and they get stuck, and they ask a question and get told to read some more. They need to stop reading! They need to be still and quiet and listen to everything around them. To open up, to take in everything, to be silent and let what comes come. But that takes a lot of patience. And words sell. So we create more and more words when really we should be more quiet!

 

In, I would say, the majority of cases, the new practitioner would be better served by shutting off the laptop completely! Stop reading and start experiencing. The path is hard, and words can only ever be a finger pointing at the moon.

 

I add this as someone that posts little, so my views may be askew to the actual issue being addressed. However I felt like adding to the conversation as it is an interesting discussion, not just about internet forums, but the nature of witchcraft and learning as well.


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#3 witchpriest

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Posted 02 August 2017 - 07:48 PM

Awesome follow up FJ! I agree that practice is more important than study in most cases. However, for those that have no idea where to begin, want a wide range of beliefs, and to learn about specific interests or stumble onto something new, a forum can be a valuable tool. If it is inundated with duplicates and watered down info, it becomes more of a headache than a tool. That was the gist of my long rant. Forums may not be for everyone, and much learning should be done in one's physical practice, but these online encyclopedias that are forums can be a blessing to those who learn from reading, or simply have no better resource.
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#4 Duchess

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Posted 03 August 2017 - 05:29 AM

What a great topic, anything with the word “etiquette” in it brings me running like a cat to a can of tuna fish. I agree with a lot of what you have said, though I still think this forum is of a higher quality than most, or at least it’s the only one I’ve ever stayed at for more than a month or so. It’s almost painful to see people post questions or go against a forum rule that is clearly posted (and even more painful to think about having done it oneself). And sometimes the slow pace of the threads is a good thing, it makes me dig deeper into the archives.

 

To me this forum has felt like one of my favorite resources for furthering my craft. There are so many unique voices, ideas, and histories that I’ve found things I would never have even thought to research. But it is only one of many. That, I think, is where the disconnect for some of the new members is coming form: treating this website like your standing here somehow impacts your witchy-ness; almost as if how the members here think of you has a direct correlation to how badass of a witch you are. While I would love to make it into the member section, it has no impact on my real connection to magic and the spirits. That is something wholly outside any forum, and something that I think is good to remember.


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#5 witchpriest

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Posted 03 August 2017 - 05:58 PM

 

What a great topic, anything with the word “etiquette” in it brings me running like a cat to a can of tuna fish. I agree with a lot of what you have said, though I still think this forum is of a higher quality than most, or at least it’s the only one I’ve ever stayed at for more than a month or so. It’s almost painful to see people post questions or go against a forum rule that is clearly posted (and even more painful to think about having done it oneself). And sometimes the slow pace of the threads is a good thing, it makes me dig deeper into the archives.

 

To me this forum has felt like one of my favorite resources for furthering my craft. There are so many unique voices, ideas, and histories that I’ve found things I would never have even thought to research. But it is only one of many. That, I think, is where the disconnect for some of the new members is coming form: treating this website like your standing here somehow impacts your witchy-ness; almost as if how the members here think of you has a direct correlation to how badass of a witch you are. While I would love to make it into the member section, it has no impact on my real connection to magic and the spirits. That is something wholly outside any forum, and something that I think is good to remember.

 

 

Wonderful take D! I agree that this is the best forum I have ever seen. I also quit most others in a couple months or less. Agreed that some people use this place for a status symbol of sorts. However, I think that most members here use this as a place of study and "fellowship" while putting more importance on real life practice. I was just noting a trend I have seen in many forums, but I am definitely happy that here this is not the rule. TW seems to be very reliable and I am thrilled to have met and chatted with many of the members :)


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#6 Llyr

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Posted 16 August 2017 - 04:29 PM

Hi Witchpriest,

 

I do agree with some points in your post but I am not going to dissect it too much as it has been a long day. First of all, use the search tool - yep to anyone who is on the site especially new use the search tool first to try and find an answer to a question. If you can.

 

You see the search tool will be able to bring up answers to basic topics and even bring up similar experiences but the whole point of being new to the craft is not understanding what the experience is and therefore not knowing what to ask the search tool. Even more experienced practitioners don't understand everything that happens to them so yes use the search tool but also new people don't be afraid to ask questions or opinions of other forum users if you want an opinion.

 

Also don't forget that just because someone shows up as a new user on this forum it doesn't mean that they don't have huge craft experience either. I don't know when this forum started but there could easily have been members back then... who then quit the forum and have rocked up years later under the guise of a seeker even though they had never stopped practising. TW is not a measurement of your abilities it is simply an excellent forum where you can have an adult debate and get a very wide range of opinions and thoughts. How long someone has been on here shouldn't matter a jot in how you treat them, everyone should be treated the same and have the same respect.

 

I myself have not witnessed the "I am descended from Merlin" attitude that you have described although I am sure that it is has happened at some point, whether it is someone trying to impress or someone feeling insecure about their knowledge who knows, but I am sure that we have all done something stupid like that at some point to various degrees and I am sure that you are not perfect and although an opinion can be valid the judgemental tone doesn't really sit well.

 

The other thing is why are you telling people how to use this forum??? This forum has rules and as long they follow those rules I would have thought that they can use this forum however they please. This forum came along before you and did just fine and whether you attain your special "member" status or not, it will do just fine when you disappear. I am beginning to think that the only reason for your post is to try and claim some sort of brownie points. Just relax!! Forget about your member status it will come if and when it comes!!

 

I come on this forum and abide by its rules, I look at new content and if it doesn't interest me I log off, if I see something, a topic that interests me I get involved. If I want an answer to a question I come on and search. if I can find I will ask. I log on to this forum when I want. Not everyone cares about membership and not everyone cares about how you wish other people would act on this forum.

 

Also you seem to be speaking on behalf of members that have been on here a long, long time. Why??? Pretty much all of the members that have been on here were new to the craft once and I find it a very sad thought if they have forgotten about that and distanced themselves from new members wanting help and guidance.

 

They are my thoughts anyways.


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#7 Duchess

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Posted 23 August 2017 - 01:51 AM

Hi Llyr,

Just as Witchpriest’s post doesn’t sit well with you, of few of your points do not sit well with me.

 

“I myself have not witnessed the "I am descended from Merlin" attitude that you have described although I am sure that it is has happened at some point, whether it is someone trying to impress or someone feeling insecure about their knowledge who knows, but I am sure that we have all done something stupid like that at some point to various degrees and I am sure that you are not perfect and although an opinion can be valid the judgmental tone doesn't really sit well.”

 

I have seen the “I am descended from Merlin” attitude, but more than that, read some of the bios. But, just because we have all done something stupid is no reason to stop pointing out recurring, disruptive behaviors. That is simply a tu quoque logical fallacy designed to stop discussions.

 

“The other thing is why are you telling people how to use this forum??? This forum has rules and as long they follow those rules I would have thought that they can use this forum however they please. This forum came along before you and did just fine and whether you attain your special "member" status or not, it will do just fine when you disappear. I am beginning to think that the only reason for your post is to try and claim some sort of brownie points. Just relax!! Forget about your member status it will come if and when it comes!!” "Also you seem to be speaking on behalf of members that have been on here a long, long time. Why???"

 

Yes, this forum did just fine before we new seekers came along, but the internet isn’t static and the change new people bring can be part of the joy of online interaction. It seems to me that there are two different subcultures here: the older members who have an established culture they wish to preserve in their ranks (which I am not criticizing), and the older seekers and newbies which has a more fluid culture to it. It did not feel to me that Witchpriest was telling the older members and seekers how to behave, but reminding the newer seekers that their disruptive behaviors can impact the quality of the forum, especially for the more longtime seekers. Perhaps it was an attempt at some sort of brownie points, but isn't that what you are doing by trying to defend the older members on a thread that is not about them? Indeed, none of them have even weighed in.


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#8 Llyr

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Posted 23 August 2017 - 09:56 AM

Hey Duchess how are you?

 

It did not feel to me that Witchpriest was telling the older members and seekers how to behave,

 

 

I didn't say that he was, I guess I need to explain... I am an impulsive poster....by that I mean that I look through the forum and read all of the new posts that may interest me and I reply immediately on impulse, I don't plan my response, I don't write it out before hand and carefully think about how I may be perceived etc.. I wear my heart on my sleeve and that is how I respond. So when I read the original post I took it as his opinion about me and others like me...labelled seekers I suppose. I simply responded my immediate thoughts. I am a part of the forum so I can take the post as I want whether you like it or not. I don't see it as his place to tell anyone how to behave full stop, that is the job of the moderators. I am not speaking on behalf of anyone I am speaking from my point of view. Also I am not responding by telling him how to behave I simply asked questions (apart from saying relax - but that was in response to him saying it was a rant.) Personally I don't understand why anyone would allow anything on this forum to upset them but if they do, so what??? nothing actually happens!!

 

 

but isn't that what you are doing by trying to defend the older members on a thread that is not about them?

 

 

If it came across like I was trying to defend anyone then either I wrote it wrong or you read it wrong. In my view the OP was a judgemental post... my response was simply who are you to judge peoples actions on here even if you don't like it. It doesn't matter if it is right or wrong. This is an adults forum, if you don't like something and it is not breaking the forum's rules then sorry but deal with it. That's not to say don't express an opinion about it but that was a bit stronger than opinion and I don't like authority at the best of times so if I feel someone with no authority attempts to rant at people and expressing what we should and shouldn't do, well.... nah.

 

 

Indeed, none of them have even weighed in.

 

So what?? what is your point?? everyone has an option to "weigh in" as you put it as if it is a boxing match, personally I would change that to "contribute" but there we go, but everyone has the option not to also, regardless of status!!

 

I enjoy your contributions Dutchess and Witchpriests also, these are my opinions on a post, not an attack and not a competition.


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#9 Ravenshaw

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Posted 23 August 2017 - 12:40 PM

I've been keeping an eye on this thread. I do think TW went through a downswing of substance, however I believe this is being remedied. Newer members are always a shotgun of luck - some end up being duds, some end up becoming incredible members that mold what the forum is. I don't think it's an attack however, Llyr, I can understand why you would take this in a sore way as a (relatively) newer member. Many of the older members, who have now left, had become close via years of communication and growing together. I think there are many current newer members who have a hell of a lot to contribute and I personally look forward to seeing how their relationship to this forum grows and changes. Don't take it as an attack, newer members (regardless of who they are) have to find their spot in the pecking order and that comes by blending in, butting heads, awkwardness, and more. Some newer members fit in great, and some flop so hard that it's painful to watch. Older members can help a community retain it's shape, and as that shape changes over it time, the results may not be so good - hence the topic of forum culture decline. Especially on a forum like this where the community is smaller and relatively tight nit, shifts are going to be noticed. 

 

I don't have much more to weigh in on at this time, just keeping an eye on the fire.  :popcorn:  


RSKHFMY


#10 Llyr

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Posted 23 August 2017 - 12:54 PM

Hahaha Give me some of that pop corn! :munch:


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#11 Tana

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Posted 23 August 2017 - 05:46 PM

I have really enjoyed reading the original post and also the responses within this thread. The issue of internet culture through forums is generally fascinating to me and related to this site even more so. Droghon and Sandy, when they started this site, had a very definite philosophy to guide the forum. It was created for Traditional practice, maybe simply defined as not Wiccan! There are plenty of more complex definitions of a Trad to seek out here as well! As long as the poster was respectful to others as human beings, many views can be expressed, there are no right answers and we don't censor. As a moderating team we tend to intervene only in the case of obvious infringement of the spirit and philosophy of the site.

I personally do a lot more reading than writing these days and often feel guilty for this. Witchpriest has a point, that older members of the site (time wise)have often posted before on topics, sometimes many times. That doesn't mean there is nothing of any value left to say though, something interesting will often emerge and provoke my thought. I find interest in many aspects of the forum. The interactions by PM. The exchange of talent in the form of art and writing. The sharing of practical skills, magical or not. The resource of the historical information, waiting to be dug out. The downloads section, an enviable resource to full members. There are so many things that are useful and interesting.

I love the connectivity of this site as a network of witches all over the world. I don't think we exploit that enough as a potential for good in this world. I have done some work with witches on this site from the other side of the world to me, with extra-ordinary results. Who knows where that sort of thing could lead to!

And look... you prompted me to post!!

)0( Tana )o(

If I break faith with thee, may the skies fall upon me, the seas drown me, and the earth rise up and swallow me.

#12 Ravenshaw

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Posted 23 August 2017 - 06:23 PM


I love the connectivity of this site as a network of witches all over the world. I don't think we exploit that enough as a potential for good in this world. I have done some work with witches on this site from the other side of the world to me, with extra-ordinary results. Who knows where that sort of thing could lead to!

 

 

 

This is probably what I find the absolute most valuable about TW, I've made some incredible connections and friends, some who I have talked to regularly for years. 


RSKHFMY


#13 Llyr

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Posted 23 August 2017 - 07:13 PM

Ok well I admit that I haven't been around long enough to see any type of decline, and if there has been a shift then it is good that it is being remedied. I do value this forum, very much so in fact. It is a shame that the older members don't post much anymore but I can understand why.

It is very difficult to get to know older members though if you never have any direct interaction with them and I guess that is the downside to it. To be fair, I havent really been bothered about it or given it much thought in the past but I guess that is the good thing about a topic like this.

We all want to learn and if we can't find a topic in the search tool and we put it in the forum as a topic, usually, but not always there are a few exceptions but usually it is the seekers posting the responses, which is fine but it could be seen as we are missing out on expertise in a certain area that we want to pursue. Does that make sense? So for example, and I hope she doesn't mind me saying this, my current project is making salves with the end result making a flying ointment using belladonna. I searched the forum but most of what I found talks about places that sell it and peoples experience of it.

The only thing I could think of was to PM Mountain Witch directly as I knew that she was an expert on this particular subject. I honestly wouldn't know which other older members may also be experts on it as we don't tend to hear much on the seekers part of the forum. To her credit MW was incredibly helpful and has given me some invaluable advice. But can you see the dilemma that can arise? By the way Tana thank you so much for posting :)

Again thanks for the responses, and insights, sharing is caring!

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#14 Kalinia

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Posted 24 August 2017 - 01:22 AM

This was really interesting to read. I've been browsing forums pretty much since forums were a thing. This is by far the best witchcraft forum out there in my opinion!

The best part about it for me is the social interaction with like minded people. Witchcraft is often a lonely path, and for some, this online interaction really inspires and motivates.

I've found that although I am introverted in person, I crave connection with other witches online.

I fully agree that the search function needs to be utilized more. I think a healthy balance of searching and discussing is the best. There is always more to learn even when we think we may know it all on a certain subject, and it seems this forum showcases that without being so repetitive.

I also think it is not unwise for newcomers to add on to old threads or start new ones. Eventually this would be deserted if no one was talking or adding to discussions.

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#15 MuireAnne

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Posted 24 August 2017 - 12:58 PM

I also think it is not unwise for newcomers to add on to old threads or start new ones. Eventually this would be deserted if no one was talking or adding to discussions.


I have wondered about this, adding on to old threads, mainly. I have been on other forums where resurrecting old threads is frowned upon and even ridiculed. I am glad that is not the case here. I think it adds to the usefulness and interest of the forums. I have read many interesting threads that I might not otherwise have happened upon had another member not commented on it.

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True magic is neither bad nor good. It is both, because nature is both; loving and cruel all at the same time. The only good or bad is in the heart of the witch. Life keeps a balance on its own. - Lirio

#16 Tricycle

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Posted 25 August 2017 - 03:01 PM

I have wondered about this, adding on to old threads, mainly. I have been on other forums where resurrecting old threads is frowned upon and even ridiculed. I am glad that is not the case here. I think it adds to the usefulness and interest of the forums. I have read many interesting threads that I might not otherwise have happened upon had another member not commented on it.

 

Me too! I wonder if it would be worth bringing up in the newbie section?


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#17 IslandBruja

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Posted 25 August 2017 - 04:49 PM

Me too! I wonder if it would be worth bringing up in the newbie section?


There's no more Newbie section! (mods - were all of those threads moved to the Full Members & Seekers section?)

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#18 Tricycle

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Posted 26 August 2017 - 10:28 AM

There's no more Newbie section! (mods - were all of those threads moved to the Full Members & Seekers section?)

That would be good! When I first joined, I knew starting new threads when old ones already exist is frowned upon, but I was also worried it would annoy people to bump those old posts.


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#19 Tana

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Posted 26 August 2017 - 04:20 PM

Two things... IslandBruja, you are right that the Seekers only forum morphed into an all members, private from the public forum.

Secondly, we have never minded the bumping and posting on old threads. When the time is right, information is recycled back to the front and added to and/or learned from. Don't waste time and energy worrying about such things.

)0( Tana )o(

If I break faith with thee, may the skies fall upon me, the seas drown me, and the earth rise up and swallow me.

#20 MuireAnne

MuireAnne

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Posted 27 August 2017 - 02:07 AM

Thanks, Tana, for clearing that up. I think it's great that we do things that way here. It's like topics and ideas seem to 'bubble up' to the top when the time is just right :)
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True magic is neither bad nor good. It is both, because nature is both; loving and cruel all at the same time. The only good or bad is in the heart of the witch. Life keeps a balance on its own. - Lirio